Monday, November 30, 2009

Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Spooky and lovely all at the same time.

It's hard to believe that a children's book can create such a great amount of buzz in such a short amount of time. I heard of parents that were outraged when they read the first few pages of this book after it appeared on their children's 7th grade summer reading list. I also heard that The Graveyard Book was the recipeint of some very prestigious awards -- The John Newberry Medal, ALA Notable Children's Book, The Hugo Award, Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice and Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award, just to name a few. I was intrigued, especially by the controversy, but not having read the book, I couldn't put my two cents in. Until now.

Nobody Owens, "Bod" to his friends, is a typical boy who grows up in anything but a typical place. The night his family is murdered by the man named Jack, he decided to crawl out of his crib and pad up the street to the local cemetary. His mother's recently deceased spirit pleads with the ghosts in the graveyard to protect her son. They agree, and the Graveyard becomes Bod's home, and the ghosts become his family, for the next 14 years.

I loved this book. The first 5 pages are not only spooky, they are goosebumps-on-your-arms and chills-up-your-spine scary. It's not the first children's story to begin with a boy whose parents are killed - Harry Potter, anyone? The difference is that the murder weapon in Harry Potter is a wand, which leaves no marks, and in the Graveyard Book, it's a knife. "The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor...the knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet."

A boy growing up in a cemetary doesn't exactly sound like the story dreams are made of, but there are beautiful moments in this book. Without giving anything away, there are some wonderful scenes between Bod and his guardians, and there are also some touching moments Bod has with the cemetary's resident witch. There really is not much that Bod experiences in the graveyard with the spirits who live there, that he wouldn't experience outside of it in the world of the living.

I couldn't help but be reminded of Her Fearful Symmetry when exploring this graveyard through Bod's eyes. Like Niffenegger's book, it's not what happens inside the cemetary that's frightening, it's what's outside the cemetary that we should be afraid of.

One of my favorite lines of the books is in the beginning, when the ghosts are discussing whether or not to allow the boy to stay. Bod's guardian pleads the boy's case:

"For good or for evil - and I firmly believe that it is for good - Mrs. Owens and her husband have taken this child under their protection. It is going to take more than just a couple of good-hearted souls to raise this child. It will, said Silas, "take a graveyard."

All of the graveyard's spirits keep Bod safe from harm by allowing him to be a Friend of the Graveyard. The help to keep him safe, but not by protecting him and hiding him. Instead, they teach him how to protect himself, hide himself, fight for himself, and, in the end, he must save his own life, as the man Jack comes back to finish the job he started when Bod was just a baby.

I find it a shame that some parents judged this book by the first five pages. I wish they had read the whole book through. If they had, they would have found a lovely story wrapped in a supernatural package that appeals to both young and old.

To read an excerpt or to hear an audio excerpt, visit the publisher's website for more information on The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

Watch the book trailer:

About the Book:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; Later Printing edition (September 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060530928
ISBN-13: 978-0060530921

Will be available in paperback July 2010.

Bethlehem Writers Group: Book and a Nook!

I was out and about yesterday, as it was a beautiful day here in Central New Jersey. Of course, I stopped into my favorite little book store, the Clinton Book Shop, where I ran into a few of the members of the Bethlehem Writers Group.

They have a great book out entitled, A Christmas Sampler: Sweet and Strange Holiday Tales, which is a compilation of twelve short stories commissioned by the Bethlehem Writers Group. What a great gift for book lovers -- and under $20!

If you are local to NJ or PA, check out their website for readings and book signings, and also (no matter where you live) to find out where you can find a copy of the book.

ALSO, if you sign up on their website, you are automatically entered in their Nook Giveaway contest!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I don't normally read short stories, but I'm not sure Olive Kitteridge is your typical anthology of short stories.

For one thing, it reads like a novel, throughout which we see the character of Olive Kitteridge appear. Sometimes she is the main force behind the whole story; other times, she merely breezes through a room. Several of the characters make multiple appearances, which help to build each short story and give us different shades to the people we meet.

Everyone in the small town of Crosby, Maine knows Mrs. Kitteridge. Many remember her as their 7th Grade Math teacher, an unforgettable figure in any one's childhood. (Right, Mrs. Smith?) Others know her as a neighbour, a wife, a mother, and very few know her as a friend. Yet, when we are shown a softer side to Olive, it comes as naturally to her as are her aggressive outbursts toward her husband.

At first, Mrs. Kitteridge comes across as a cranky old lady, but as we continue through the stories, we are introduced to other sides of her, sides that are almost likable.

Unfortunately, her marriage was not her greatest display of empathy, at least not in the beginning. Regardless of how she treated Henry, Olive was loved by her husband, and she did, on some level, love him back. Henry's love for her gives the reader hope that there is something beneath Olive's rough exterior.

At one point in the book, Olive is thinking about her son, Chris, and compares his behavior to her own. "Olive can understand why Chris has never bothered having many friends. he is like her in that way, can't stand the blah-blah-blah. And they'd just as soon blah-blah-blah about you when your back is turned. 'Never trust folks,' Olive's mother told her years ago..." I felt this passage says a lot about Mrs. Kitteridge and why she is the way she is.

I am pleased to say I found things to love about Mrs. Kitteridge. At times, when a small act of kindness comes from someone you least expect, it means more somehow. It feels more genuine. So, from Mrs. Kitteridge, a pat on the hand, or a passing of a tissue, is enough for someone to take notice of its underlying sentiment.

Once I discovered a few of Olive's more tender moments, I was able to connect with her and, consequently, with the book as a whole.

Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout was a pleasant surprise.

For more information about Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout or to read an excerpt, you can visit the book's page at the Random House website.

About the Book:
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0812971833
ISBN-13: 978-0812971835

This book is a part of my personal library.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Book To Movie Review: New Moon

I read. I saw. I swooned.

I'm a Jacob girl. Always was. These last few days, I've been finding my wagon is a little more crowded that it was before. Hmmm. Just so we're clear, I will not call him Taylor Lautner until February 2010, when he turns 18 and officially becomes an adult. Until then, he will be the FICTIONAL character, Jacob Black, who it is not at all creepy to cause me to swoon.

First and foremost, I just have to say that the New Moon movie was leaps and bounds better than the Twilight movie. Was it the new director? Could be. Was it the werewolves? Maybe. Was it a whole lotta Jacob running around without his shirt? Oh yeah.

Back when I was trying to convince my friends to join me in reading the Twilight series, I got a lot of moaning and groaning about New Moon, the book. Well, I have to say that the movie has not only done the book justice, but I actually think that it has brought previous New Moon critics around! It was not my favorite book in the series, but this big screen installment is going to be tough to beat.

What was everyone's complaint about the book? The lack of Edward. What did I love about the movie? The lack of Edward. No offense, Robert Pattinson, but your pained grimace, sparkly skin and longing looks were not missed. Instead, we got biceps, warmth, a winning smile and, best of all, a sense of humor.

The only Cullen with a funny bone is Emmett, and we never see nearly enough of Emmett, in my opinion. I like a man that makes me laugh. Sue me. Since the entire Twilight series shows him as a minor character, I'm going to have to take the side of the funny guy with a heartbeat.

Now, I was lucky enough to have enjoyed my first screening of New Moon with my BFF. We were pleased that the movie closely followed the book, as I'm sure other fans were excited about as well. The few changes that were made were not only necessary, but worked really well and did not deviate from the original 563 page story in any major way. The first thing the BFF said to me when the movie got going was, "how are they going to fit this whole book into the movie?!?" The first thing I said to her was, "Woah, Jacob." I was a little distracted by the man-boy with no shirt.

Luckily, instead of being completely distracted, Kristen Stewart's Bella seems to shine with Jacob. A lot less brooding, pouting, and breathy sighing this time around...thank goodness! See? Both Bella and Kristen are better off with Jacob!

So, in short, we got better acting, a great director, awesome effects, and a movie that will make fans of the book extremely satisfied.

Loved it!

Now I'm looking forward to Eclipse, due out June 30, 2010!

For more, Visit the official New Moon movie website.

Stephenie Meyer's Official site is here.

My favorite Twilight fan site is here.

Review: Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

Do you want to know one of the reasons why I love being in a book club? Books like Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. I never would have picked it up otherwise. The synopsis immediately turned me off, and I wasn't sure if I was going to read it at all. I am so glad I did.

The protagonist, Professor David Lurie, is far from what one would consider a hero, or even a character worthy of empathy. Teaching in Cape Town in post-Apartheid South Africa, he is twice divorced, yet has no problem finding sex. He either pays for it, or coerces one of his students. In this case, the student is Melanie, and Lurie finds himself disgraced and without a job. Unsure of what to do with himself, Lurie retreats to his daughter Lucy's farm. He becomes caught up in a complex social, political and emotional situation when an unspeakable crime is committed against his daughter while he is locked up in the next room unable to help her.

The word "rape" is mentioned only once in the situation with Lurie and his student, but not in the horrific event with his daughter and the three men who came to attack her, yet it's one of the major themes of this book. One can not help but see the irony in that Lurie himself did not consider the relationship with his student rape, "Not rape, not quite that, but undesired nevertheless, undesired to the core." He is disgraced by his rape of his student, yet his daughter is disgraced by something she did not cause, something she had no control over, and something that in my country, in my time, a woman should not be ashamed of. Meanwhile, Lucy "would rather hide her face, and he knows why. Because of the disgrace. Because of the shame. That is what their visitors have achieved; that is what they have done to this confident, modern young woman...they showed her what a woman was for."

Thankfully, Coetzee saves his readers from a gratuitously graphic scene in both cases. Still, we can infer what happened, and our own imaginations allow us to reach the worst possible conclusions.

In addition to the rape element to this story, there are several other themes that are woven around this place and time: poetry, religion, race, sex, relationships, family, friendship, aging, politics, and, most of all, disgrace. If I went into detail on each element, my review would be longer than the Nobel Prize winning book itself.

I have to say, although I hate this word when describing a book, I feel that with such deep subject matters it has to be said -- Disgrace, despite the heavy content, is extremely readable. Coetzee is brilliant in saying what needs to be said without beating a dead horse, and without taking one hundred pages to say what could be said in ten. I think it's what he leaves unsaid that makes Disgrace such a beautifully written book.

Disgrace is one of those books that stays with you for a while after you read it. I am extremely glad I read this book. Many thanks to Laurel for choosing it, and to Nancy for allowing me to borrow it.

For more, check out Penguin's Reader's Guide.

Disgrace can be seen on the big screen with John Malkovitch as David Lurie. For more information on the movie, go here.

Watch the movie trailer Here.

About the Book:
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); 25th Printing edition (October 31, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0140296409
ISBN-13: 978-0140296402

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Update: Fall Into Reading Challenge

As of today, I have one month left until the end of fall and the end of Callapidder Days Fall into Reading Challenge.

To see how I'm doing, check out my list here.

The short version?
I have 31 books on my list.
I have read and reviewed 15.

I'm hoping that the chilly weather will get me reading more. Aside from sitting in a lounge chair poolside, my next favorite place to read is under a comfy blanket next to the fire with a hot cup of coffee.

Off to go read some more!

What are you reading?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review: Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich

What would a vacation be without my favorite bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum?

I am so glad that I started reading Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. They are fun, leave your brain at the door, hilarious escapades and Three to Get Deadly is no exception.

We find our heroine, a wise-cracking Jersey girl, looking for yet another so-called "easy" FTA, or failure to appear. Only this time, it's the beloved candy-store owner, a Burg icon, affectionately known as Uncle Mo. It seems Uncle Mo failed to appear in court after being charged with carrying a concealed weapon -- not really a crime in New Jersey, is it?!? The whole neighborhood is against her for bothering poor old Uncle Mo. Soon, Stephanie learns that everyone knows Uncle Mo...but nobody knows Uncle Mo, if you know what I mean.

Well, you know what comes next. Nothing in Stephanie's world comes easy, and she finds herself on yet another wild chase, taking her on twists and turns into places she would rather soon forget. Bodies pile up, people are shooting at her, and yet she never seems to lose her appetite.

I love this cast of characters -- Uncle Vinnie, Connie, Lula, Grandma Mazur and Morelli...ahh, Morelli. I still swoon over him, and it certainly looks like he will be sticking around for a few more Stephanie Plum installments. I hope I'm not wrong.

And the cars! Every book, Stephanie is driving another car. Too funny!

Now, for my favorite New Jersey line of the whole book:

"Adaptation is one of the great advantages to being born and bred in Jersey. We're simply not bested by bad air or tainted water. We're like catfish with lungs. Take us out of our environment and we can grow whatever body parts we need to survive. After Jersey the rest of the country's a piece of cake. You want to send someone into a fallout zone? Get him from Jersey. He'll be fine."


I have a lot more books to read for my Fall Into Reading challenge, but I'm going to force myself NOT to pick up the next Stephanie Plum book until after it's over. I am so glad that I decided to put Three to Get Deadly on my list!

About the Book:
Three to Get Deadly (Stephanie Plum #3) by Janet Evanovich
Mass Market Paperback: 396 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; later printing edition (July 15, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312966091
ISBN-13: 978-0312966096

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

True Blue by David Baldacci: More Stuff

There was so much extra "stuff" on David Baldacci's newest book, True Blue, that I couldn't fit it all into the review page.

David Baldacci is currently on his True Blue tour. Check out his tour schedule here.

If you can't make it to see David in person, you can try out an On-Line book signing. To learn more about how this works, go here.

I wrote my own review, which you can read again, but there are other reviews that you might want to check out. Click on the publication below to read other reviews.

The Daily Beast
The Richmond Times Dispatch
Mainly Mysteries Book Reviews

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review: The Ninth Daughter by Barbara Hamilton

Set in Boston during the American Revolution, The Ninth Daughter by Barbara Hamilton takes a unique approach to the murder mystery genre.

Ever since I found out that I was a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR), I have been fascinated by this period of American history. This book brings to life the people we all know from textbooks -- John Adams, Paul Revere, Sam Adams and John Hancock. The Ninth Daughter takes history even further and brings us a fictional story full of action and mystery with Abigail Adams at its center.

Abigail arrives at the home of her friend, Rebecca, only to find another woman brutally murdered on the floor, and Rebecca missing. Also missing is an important ledger with the names and codes of the Sons of Liberty. Clues found at the crime scene are quickly whisked away by Sam Adams, and Abigail herself pockets a note in the woman's pocket, which may incriminate someone close to her. Lieutenant Coldstone, the redcoat assigned to the case, is eager to prove one of the Sons of Liberty guilty of the crime, and even more eager to accuse John Adams. Still Abigail must work together with Lieutenant Coldstone to solve the mystery of who murdered the woman and find her friend. Amidst the tension between the Sons of Liberty and the redcoats loyal to the mother land, Abigail Adams finds herself walking a thin line between finding out the truth and her commitment to the greater cause.

As a murder-mystery alone, I found Hamilton unable to live up to the Patricia Cornwells and Mary Higgins Clarks of the genre. Sometimes, I wanted to rush through the details of the mystery and hear more about the Revolution. However, a murder-mystery set in 1773, a mere weeks before the Boston Tea Party, and a setting drenched in politics and war, made The Ninth Daughter a joy to read. The historical fiction side of this book was written beautifully.

Abigail Adams has been described as a woman of vast intelligence, competent, willful and opinionated. She was a true partner to the second President of the United States throughout his political career, and truly was the first American feminist, voicing her opinions on women's property rights and education for women. Barbara Hamilton succeeds in following through on Abigail's strong character, as she is the one who pursues and persuades her way to finding the truth.

If you enjoy historical fiction, and you enjoy a good murder-mystery, you will enjoy The Ninth Daughter by Barbara Hamilton. I certainly had fun taking a trip back in time to visit the Old North Church, Kings Chapel and Faneuil Hall. Now, I need to take a trip to Boston.

The Ninth Daughter: An Abigail Adams Mystery is the first in a new series.

About the Book:

The Ninth Daughter: An Abigail Adams Mystery
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425230775
ISBN-13: 978-0425230770

A review copy of this book was furnished by the publisher.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: True Blue by David Baldacci

If True Blue were written by any other author, it would have been a train wreck. David Baldacci manages to carry two murder mysteries and a large cast of fascinating characters, weaving them all together with seemingly very little effort.

In the center of True Blue is Mace, the little sister of the Washington D.C. police chief. Mace Perry, an ex-cop herself, has just finished a two-year sentence for a crime she did not commit. In addition to searching for those responsible for her incarceration, solving a murder case in attempt to get her reinstated to the police force, bumping into the bitchy US Attorney who put her in jail, and managing to start a new life and carry on a new job, Mace stumbles into what could possibly be a romance. Did I mention she gets shot at a lot?

Mace is living with her sister, Beth Perry, when a call comes in about a lawyer who was raped, murdered, and left in the firm's refrigerator. There are several suspects, and a string of enigmatic clues left by the victim. Mace teams up with Roy Kingman, a colleague of the murdered woman. Will Mace solve the case before the cops do? If she does, will it get her back on the force? Is she partnering with the murderer himself? Will she live long enough to find out?

This is pure David Baldacci. Murder. Action. Mystery. D.C. shady politics. Conspiracies. Black Ops. It also reads like The Camel Club in the sense that the reader senses there will be a sequel. There is a lot of back story, but not so much that it deters from the action. The biggest difference between The Camel Club and True Blue is the abundance of strong female characters.

My only problem with True Blue is Mace Perry's diatribes on how much she wants to be a cop again. Anyone and everyone she comes into contact with in the book hears it...and the reader has re-read it. We got it the first time. Thanks.

All in all, I liked True Blue, and hope that I'm right in guessing that it is the first in a series. I had no trouble turning the pages and read all but the last 50 pages on a 3-hour flight. Maybe I should have gone to Costa Rica for the extra 30 minutes.

For more information go to David Baldacci's website.
Read Chapters 1-5 here.

About the Book:

True Blue by David Baldacci
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 27, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446195510
ISBN-13: 978-0446195515

A review copy of True Blue was provided by the publisher.

Giveaway Day!!

It's giveaway day!! Before I announce which three lucky winners will receive The Gate House by Nelson DeMille, I would like to extend a special thank you to Hachette Book Group. They put up with an awful lot from me, and I'm extremely grateful that they are still so good to me.

Winners were chosen by

Without further ado, here are my winners:


Congratulations to all!

Thanks for entering! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

One More Day to Enter November's Book GIveaway

Just a friendly reminder that today is the last day to enter this month's book giveaway. Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I will be giving away 3 copies of Nelson DeMille's The Gate House. I've already heard some great things about this book, and can't wait to read it myself.

All you have to do is go to the ORIGINAL POST and comment with your e-mail address to enter. That's it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm back!

I'm back! Did you miss me?

It's been quiet around Alison's Book Marks, and I'm sorry about that. I took a little vacation with my family this past week. We went to warmer weather, where I was able to sit in a lounge chair by the pool with my books -- my absolute favorite place to read! We also took a little side trip to Disney World, where I neither sat nor read. There is no lounging at Disney.

While I was away, I also got to watch the YANKEES win the WORLD SERIES!!!

When I wasn't watching baseball or sampling the beers and wines of the world in Epcot, I read about several strong women (Including one of my favorites, Stephanie Plum!), which you will hear about in my reviews, which are coming. I promise! More reviews are coming!! I actually have about 6 books sitting in my "to be reviewed" pile and they're all giving me the stink-eye. Unfortunately, none of the books I read while on vacation have made it to my Top 10 List of 2009. Very sad, I know. I hope that doesn't discourage you from reading the reviews...and telling me where I went wrong.

While I catch up on my review-writing, feel free to take a look at past reviews of books that ARE on my Top 10 List of 2009 (a list I will post in full in December).

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Thank you for your patience!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review: Tempted (House of Night Series #6) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

I threw the book across the room when I turned the last page. Those of you who have read Tempted by P.C. and Kristin Cast already know exactly why I did this.

Since I have a very strict "no spoiler" rule in my reviews, you can trust that I will not give anything away. Not a whole lot happens TO give what little there is, I promise to keep to myself.

What I can reveal is that we see the story not only from Zoey's point of view this time, but also from other characters' perspectives. While this is not the first book I've read that uses this technique, it is a first for this series. I am not sure it was the right approach -- at least not with so many points of view. Zoey is the new High Priestess for the regular vamps and fledglings, and we continue to read the story from her first-person narrative. There is a whole other side to the story now with the red vamps, so we get to take a fly-on-the-wall look at what Stevie Rae is up to, as she is considered the new High Priestess of the Red Vamps and Fledgelings. Outside of these two characters' points of view, the others are unnecessary.

Tempted picks up on the same night where Hunted left off. I don't think Tempted spans more than a few days at most, and there is not a lot of action. For example, Zoey will get an urgent message that people are waiting for her in the cafeteria; meanwhile, she will stop and chat with 3 people on her way. Was each of these conversations critical to the plot? No. Did it kill the anticipation of the meeting in the cafeteria? You bet.

Zoey may be the most decorated vampyre fledgling in history, but she is still a teenager. There is more wishy-washy drama between Z and the men in her life. While I had high expectations of her new role as High Priestess, Zoey's character does not seem to grow in this book at all -- and it was not as if she didn't have opportunities to show her maturity!

All in all, I thought Tempted was just okay. That being said, I'm sure that when I need something light and supernatural to read, I will still pick up Burned (The House of Night Series #7) which is due out May 2010.

Tempted is the 6th book in The House of Night series by the Casts. You can read my reviews of Marked (House of Night #1) and Untamed (House of Night #4). I read, but did not review, Hunted (House of Night #5).

For more, visit The House of Night website.

About the Book:
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (October 27, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312567480
ISBN-13: 978-0312567484

This book came from my own library.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

In a word -- twisted.

If you remember, I hosted a book giveaway for Beat the Reaper earlier this month. I hope that all of my winners have received their copies, because I can't wait to chat about this one!

Beat the Reaper is a day in the life of Dr. Peter Brown -- only, that's not his real name. It's the name he was given by WITSEC, otherwise known as the Witness Protection Program. We learn what happened in Peter's life to lead him to this day, probably the worst day of his life.

To anyone following along, I'm from New Jersey. Peter Brown grew up in West Orange, and, surprise surprise, gets involved with the mob (the author takes the mob thing so over the top, it can't help but be hilarious). I don't know how Josh Bazell does it, but even though this guy could snap a man's neck without blinking, and has the most sarcastic pain-in-the-ass attitude on the planet, I couldn't help but root for the guy!

Josh Bazell has a BA in literature from Brown and an MD from Columbia. Penned during his medical residency, Beat the Reaper, blends Bazell's two talents perfectly. Throughout the book, there are footnotes, which sound as if they could be distracting to the rhythm and flow of the book, but they aren't. Instead, they feel like "asides" from a play, when an actor speaks directly to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, while staying in character. Beat the Reaper is being made into a movie with Leo DiCaprio. I really hope they don't lose this nuance of the story.

Beat the Reaper has been described by critics as a cross between Tarantino films and Gray's Anatomy. In my mind, it's a little more House, and way more Tarantino - lots of blood, lots of violence, and lots of great one-liners. All you need is Harvey Keitel. It's twisted, but it's smart, too. I had a hard time putting this one down.

Good thing there's going to be a sequel!

First line (because it's my new thing):
"So, I'm on my way to work and I stop to watch a pigeon fight a rat in the snow, and some fuckhead tries to mug me!"

For more on Beat the Reaper, visit Hachette Book Group's website, where you can read excepts, about the author and find the Reader's Group Guide.

About the Book:
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (September 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316032212
ISBN-13: 978-0316032216

More reviews:
NY Times
Entertainment Weekly

A review copy of Beat the Reaper was furnished by Hachette Book Group.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Giveaway: The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

A new month! A new book giveaway!

Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I'm really excited to give away 3 copies of Nelson DeMille's The Gate House!

Giveaway runs from today through Sunday, November 15th.

About the Book:
The Gate House by Nelson DeMille
Paperback: 800 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (November 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446564230
ISBN-13: 978-0446564236

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille delivers the long-awaited follow-up to his classic novel The Gold Coast. When John Sutter's aristocratic wife killed her mafia don lover, John left America and set out in his sailboat on a three-year journey around the world, eventually settling in London. Now, ten years later, he has come home to the Gold Coast, that stretch of land on the North Shore of Long Island that once held the greatest concentration of wealth and power in America, to attend the imminent funeral of an old family servant.

To read an excerpt of The Gate House:

An interview with author, Nelson DeMille:

Here's How to Enter:

- The contest will run from today, November 1st through Sunday, November 15th
- To enter, leave a comment below (include your e-mail address and/or URL)
- Extra entries for followers, Facebook followers, and posts about this entry on your blog
- Contest is only open to residents of US or Canada
- No P.O. Boxes -- sorry!

Good luck, everyone!!
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