Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: As You Wish by Cary Elwes

Entertaining!


First, allow me to say that I am a huge fan of The Princess Bride.  If you've never seen the movie or read the book, do so without delay.  For those of us who are already familiar with the movie, and its famous lines such as, "Have fun storming the castle!" and "Hello, my name is Indigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die," put this on your wish list.

I made the absolute right choice by waiting for the audiobook version.  Not only does Cary Elwes narrate his stories, but throughout the book, other famous voices from the movie interject their take on their views of particular stories and scenes: Rob Reiner (Director), Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, Wallace Shawn, Robin Wright, and Billy Crystal.


The stories within this book will not only bring you back to your favorite scenes from The Princess Bride, they will add to them by sharing what was happening behind the cameras.  There is special attention to those actors who have passed on since the making of the movie - Andre the Giant especially. This movie was a labor of love, and it endures today.  I found great joy in sharing the movie (over and over again!) with my own children. I will never look at Cary Elwes as anything other than Wesley, and Robin Wright, even though she has gone on to become an incredible serious actress, will always be Buttercup to me.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride is a delight!  Any fan of The Princess Bride would find so much joy in reading this book. 


About the Book:
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1St Edition edition (October 14, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476764026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476764023
  • Audiobook: 7 hours
  • Simon and Schuster Audio


About the Author:
Cary Elwes is a celebrated English actor who starred in The Princess Bride before moving on to roles in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Glory, Days of Thunder, Twister, and Saw, among many other acclaimed performances. He will always be indebted to The Princess Bride, he says, for changing his life and giving him a career that has spanned decades. He lives in Hollywood, California, with his family. Find out more about Cary Elwes on Twitter @Cary_Elwes.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

David Baldacci: Interview


Last week, I was lucky enough to have a front row seat to an exclusive interview with bestelling author David Baldacci.  Let me begin by saying, once I discovered Baldacci's work in the late 90s, I became a fan right away, powering through his stand-alone novels and series like Camel Club alike. November 18th saw the release of Baldacci's 3rd book in the John Puller series, The Escape and March saw the release of his very first young adult (10+) novel, The Finisher.  All of his books promise exciting plots, hyperactive pacing, and strong characters.

Speaking of strong characters, David Baldacci spoke a bit about why his female characters are strong, and not a "damsel in distress" to be found:
 I grew up with a force of nature in my mother.  And I'm married to a force of nature with my wife, whose name is Michelle.  So, if you're wondering who the role model for Michelle Maxwell was, you have the answer.  So, that's why.  

The Finisher not only opens David Baldacci's work up to the younger reader, he also takes on the challenge of writing fantasy fiction for the first time:

...as a kid growing up, I read a lot of fantasy and I'd always loved that.  And I've always felt that a writer, if you don't stretch, you sort of wither on the vine.  So, for me, it was a challenge to get out of my comfort zone and write in a genre and in a way that I'd never written about before.   
It took me five years to do this book, and four and a half years was sort of banging my head against the wall and trying to get the story and the characters and everything right so I could really sit down and write this book the way I wanted to write it...I'm prolific because I'm just a kid.  I'm a seven-year-old boy looking at a blank piece of paper, exercising my imagination.  And that's really what I do.  
And I call it a job, but it's really not.      

More on his writing process:
...I just sit down in front of my computer or sometimes in front of a legal pad and just let it fly and see what works. 
And some days I think I'm going to go in one direction but I happen to go in another because it just feels right.  I think my instincts over the years have served me well.  So, I really just like to innovate and be creative right there while I'm sitting down in front of the screen and just let the words pop out of me. 
I know it feels like it's almost happening spontaneously, but I've always thought the subconscious is just another way of saying things you've been thinking about a long time at a certain level, and they bubble to the surface.  And we think we just thought of them, but actually we've been ruminating on them for a long time.  

Libraries and Reading...
And libraries, for me, I've always considered them the foundation of the democracy.  You walk into a building and it's filled full with books.  But, it's really filled with ideas and diversity of opinion, and the things that are very important to people in a free and open society.
And I've always thought that readers are far more interesting than people who don't read, because you just are exposed to so much more.  Your level of tolerance is far higher.  You're open-minded and you're open to new ideas and opinions.  
...And filling a place with books and walking in and seeing these ideas on a shelf is just the coolest thing in the world.  And we're a nation that's built on that type of concept, and we're a nation of libraries.  And that's something we have to keep and hold dear.  

David Baldacci's Wish You Well Foundation funds literacy programs in all 50 states. He also collects books at all of his tour stops, shipping them to food banks across the country. 

People going in to seek food assistance tend to have low literacy skills.  And sending them home with books is always a good thing, and we've shipped out over a million books in the last four years.  

*More on the book collection effort can be found at:  www.feedingbodyandmind.com.


In closing, there is something that David Baldacci said during our interview that hit home with me and bears repeating:

I'm a writer today because I was a reader as a kid.  And I know that for a fact, and that's why I stress the importance of reading so often.  



ABOUT THE ESCAPE
A prison unlike any other. Military discipline rules. Its security systems are unmatched. None of its prisoners dream of escaping. They know it’s impossible . . . until now.

John Puller’s older brother, Robert, was convicted of treason. His inexplicable escape from the country’s most-secure prison makes him the most wanted criminal in the country. Some in the government believe that John Puller represents their best chance of capturing Robert alive, and so Puller is ordered to bring in his brother to face justice.

But Puller quickly discovers that his brother is pursued by others who don’t want him to survive. At the same time, Puller is pushed into an uneasy, fraught partnership with Veronica Knox, an agent who may have an agenda of her own.

They dig more deeply into the case together, and Puller finds that not only are Knox’s allegiances unclear, but there are troubling details about his brother’s conviction. It becomes clear that someone out there doesn’t want the truth to ever come to light. As the nationwide manhunt for Robert grows more urgent, Puller’s masterful skills as an investigator and strengths as a fighter may not be enough to save his brother—or himself.

ABOUT THE FINISHER
Vega Jane was always told no one could leave the town of Wormwood. She was told there was nothing outside but a forest filled with danger and death. And she always believed it – until the night she saw Quentin Herms run away.

Vega knows Quentin didn’t just leave, he was chased. And he left behind a trail of clues that point to a dark conspiracy at the heart of Wormwood. To follow the clues will attract the attention of influential people willing to kill to keep their secrets. To stay safe, Vega just needs to keep her head down and her mouth shut. There’s only one problem – Vega Jane is not the kind of girl who walks away from a fight.
Master storyteller David Baldacci introduces an unforgettable heroine who must think fast, hit hard, and defy all odds to uncover the truth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Baldacci is a global #1 bestselling author. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 110 million copies in print; several have been adapted for both feature film and television. David Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. Still a resident of his native Virginia, he invites you to visit him at www.DavidBaldacci.com and his foundation at www.WishYouWellFoundation.org.

LEARN MORE
Visit David Baldacci’s website
Find David Baldacci on Facebook


*Many thanks to Scholastic and Big Honcho for allowing me to be a part of such a special event with such a powerhouse writer! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!




Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Spotlight: The Dog Year by Ann Garvin


The Dog Year by Ann Garvin


Synopsis:
Dr. Lucy Peterman was not built for a messy life. A well-respected surgeon whose patients rely on her warmth, compassion, and fierce support, Lucy has always worked hard and trusted in the system. She’s not the sort of person who ends up in a twelve-step program after being caught stealing supplies from her hospital.

But that was Lucy before the accident—before her husband and unborn baby were ripped away from her in an instant, before her future felt like a broken promise. Caught red-handed in a senseless act that kept her demons at bay, she’s faced with a choice: get some help or lose her medical license.

Now she’s reluctantly sharing her deepest fears with a bunch of strangers, avoiding her loneliness by befriending a troubled girl, pinning her hopes on her husband’s last gift, and getting involved with a rugged cop from her past. It’s only when she is adopted by a stray mutt and moves her group to the dog park that she begins to truly bond with the ragtag dog-loving addicts—and discovers that a chaotic, unplanned life might be the sweetest of all . . .

A woman, her dog, and two secrets that both make her and break her.

After Lucy loses everything dear to her, she is caught red-handed in a senseless act that kept her grief at bay. Now, Lucy must share her deepest secrets with a group of misfits each with secrets and something to offer.

Think Juno meets Must Love Dogs, for funny and sad characters you won’t soon forget.

Book Extras:
The Dog Year on Goodreads
Author WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Pinterest

About the Book:
The Dog Year by Ann Garvin
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (June 3, 2014)

About the Author:
Ann Garvin worked as a registered nurse while finishing her doctorate in exercise psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is a professor of health and nutrition at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. Additionally, she teaches creative writing in the Masters of Fine Arts program at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire. She is the author of one previous novel, On Maggie’s Watch. She lives in Wisconsin.

Here’s what people are saying about The Dog Year:

“I know of few authors who are funnier or more sympathetic than Ann Garvin, and I know of few heroines more in need of comic relief and sympathy than Dr. Lucy Peterman." -Wiley Cash, author of This Dark Road to Mercy and A Land More Kind than Home.

"...hilarious, until it’s poignant, until it’s heartbreaking." -Jacquelyn Mitchard


WIN A COPY OF 
THE DOG YEAR BY ANN GARVIN 

(Closes 11/9/14)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Publisher's Weekly's Best Books of 2014


It's hard to believe the year is coming to a close, but the "Best Of" lists are already rolling in!  Get out your pencils, and call your local bookstore!

Here are a few of the books on the PW list I'm cheering for this year!  A few of my favorites didn't make THEIR cut, but I'll be sure to let you know which books those are in the upcoming weeks.

Read the full lists here:  PW's Best Books of 2014



YOUNG ADULT:



MIDDLE GRADE:









Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: US by David Nicholls


Heartfelt and funny!


Synopsis: (from publisher)
David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.
Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.
The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.
Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the caf├ęs of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?


Blindsided in the middle of the night by his wife's announcement that their marriage has run its course, Douglas seems to move around in a haze of disbelief and grief.  How long did she know?  Why didn't he see it?  What did he do?  Is there someone else?  When she fills him in on her plan to keep their imminent divorce hidden from their son until after their last vacation as a family, a tour of Europe, he dreads what the vacation will involve.  Slow to start, I struggled a bit with the first hundred pages.  I felt it was too depressed and full of pity for poor Douglas, but about halfway through the novel, Douglas changes on us.  He decides to fight for his marriage, for his family, and for his own happiness, and from this point forward, the novel takes off.  It is at this point, when fans of David Nicholls' ONE DAY will breathe a sigh of relief, if they can stop from grinning, smirking, and chuckling at the smart and fast-paced writing we are used to.

Life isn't always perfect, and marriage isn't always easy, but the messiness of life is where David Nichols lives, and readers are in for a treat as they take this journey with Douglas.


Book Extras:
Author website, Facebook
Link to US on Goodreads,
Purchase US on Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes and Noble

About the Book:
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062365584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062365583

About the Author: (from publisher)

David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway. Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.


About the TLC Book Tour:


This review is a proud stop on the TLC Book Tour.
Please visit the US by David Nicholls tour page for more information and additional reviews.





Video:


* A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Halloween!



Halloween is around the corner and I rounded up a few books to help get you in the spooky spirit!


Adult:






Teens:



Middle Grade:




Children:





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Random House Open House!



Attention all book lovers!  

Random House opens its doors twice a year for an all-day publishing event right in their own offices.  Listen to editors and authors talk about trends and new books, have lunch with fellow book lovers, meet authors and have them sign your books, and enjoy a special gift bag for each attendee. There is more information below.  If you are interested, go to the OPEN HOUSE LINK to register!

Friday, November 14
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Random House - New York, NY 
Explore Random House's New York headquarters during Open House.

WHAT'S INCLUDED
Each $60 Open House ticket includes:
  • Full access to interactive sessions and book signings featuring authors and experts
  • Autographed copy of THERE WAS A LITTLE GIRL by Brooke Shields
  • UNBROKEN (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive
  • Advance Readers Edition of HOUSE OF ECHOES by Brendan Duffy – before it’s on sale in April 2015
  • Advance Readers Edition of THE SAME SKY by Amanda Eyre Ward – before it's on sale in January 2015
  • Selected book from Random House Children’s Books
  • Holiday gift from Talbots
  • Coffee and breakfast
  • Lunch provided by Dean & DeLuca
  • Snacks provided by Joe Coffee, KIND Healthy Snacks, Twinings Tea, Walkers Shortbread, Guylian Belgian Chocolate, and more!
  • Cocktail party with Skinnygirl wine
  • Random House canvas tote bag 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

American Sniper: Movie Trailer

Opening December 25, 2014



If you have not yet read the book, AMERICAN SNIPER by Chris Kyle, the most lethal American sniper in history, I have failed you.  But no worries, Warner Bros has made Chris Kyle's life story into a movie, and I hope to heaven they have done his life justice.  Above is the trailer, below is more information.



From Warner Bros:

From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. In theaters December 25th.

http://www.americansnipermovie.com/
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanSnip...

U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and, as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world.

Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, personifying the spirit of the SEAL creed to “leave no one behind.” But upon returning to his wife, Taya Renae Kyle (Sienna Miller), and kids, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.

A two-time Oscar nominee for his work in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” Cooper heads the cast, which also includes Sienna Miller (HBO’s “The Girl”), Jake McDorman, Luke Grimes, Navid Negahban and Keir O’Donnell.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Unforgiven”) is directing “American Sniper” from a screenplay written by Jason Hall, based on the book by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwan and Jim DeFelice. The autobiography was a runaway bestseller, spending 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, 13 of those at number one.

The film is being produced by Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan. Tim Moore, Jason Hall, Sheroum Kim and Bruce Berman are serving as executive producers.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes Oscar-nominated director of photography Tom Stern (“Changeling”); Oscar-nominated production designer James J. Murakami (“Changeling”) and production designer Charisse Cardenas; Oscar-winning editor Joel Cox (“Unforgiven”) and editor Gary D. Roach; and costume designer Deborah Hopper.

Opening December 25, 2014, Warner Bros. Pictures presents In Association with Village Roadshow Pictures, A Mad Chance Production, A 22nd & Indiana Production, “American Sniper.” The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book Spotlight: THIS OR THAT 2


Would you rather walk on hot coals or swim in the Arctic Ocean? Learn to fly a helicopter or learn to perform open-heart surgery? Be frozen and then thawed out in the future at the age you are now, or live forever? Welcome to the book of choices, where every answer brings you one step closer to discovering your hidden self. Want to find out your ideal career? The country that best suits your idea of the good life? The species of your inner animal? Through in-depth exploration and analysis of the inner workings of your mind, we'll peel you back layer by layer and you won't even realize it. In this hysterically fun and simple quiz book, you'll find out things about yourself that you don't even know we're asking. Each vividly colored page is so exciting, fun, and revealing that you will want to share with your parents, friends, and yes, even your brother and sister. So stop wasting your time trying to discover the true you—let us do it for you!

About the Book:

  • ISBN-13: 9781426317194
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 9/9/2014
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 422,646
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

About the Authors:

JR Mortimer is a frequent writer for National Geographic Kids. 

Matt Bellace, Ph.D., has been a youth motivational speaker and stand-up comedian since 1995. Dr. Bellace has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology (subspeciality in neuropsychology), is a member of the National Speakers Association and the author of the book, A Better High. His "How to Get High Naturally" program encourages over a hundred thousand students a year to make healthy choices. Matt was a recurring comedian on truTV's "World's Dumbest." His stand up can be heard - and requested - on Sirius XM's Comedy Channels.


I am a big fan of NatGeo books, especially when trying to add some non-fiction to my kids' bookshelves. I am an even bigger fan of Matt Bellace. Professionally and personally, one would be hard-pressed to find a smarter, kinder, and more genuine man - it doesn't hurt that he's funny as hell. The kids will love this book! 
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