Sunday, October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox


In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren. It's our opportunity to get a peek into what books everyone is receiving for review, borrowing from libraries, buying in bookshops and download onto eReaders.
Adult Books:



BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES by Kristina McMorris (Kensington Publishing; Paperback, 2/28/12)
OUT OF OZ: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire (William Morrow; Hardcover; 592 pgs; 11/1/11)

Young Adult:



NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer (Speak, paperback, orig. pub date: 10/19/10)
SHINE by Lauren Myracle (Amulet Books, Hardcover, April 2011)
ASHFALL by Mike Mullin (Tanglewood Press; Hardcover; September 2011; 465 pages; ages 14+)

Middle Grade:


THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster, ill by Jules Feiffer (Knopf, Hardcover, ages 8 and up)
TOYS COME HOME by Emily Jenkins, Ill by Paul Zelinsky (Schwartz & Wade; hardcover; 144 pages, ages 6-10, 9/13/11)
RUMORS FROM THE BOYS' ROOM by Rose Cooper (Delacorte; hardcover; 208 pgs; 10/11/11; ages 10+)
SAMMY KEYES AND THE NIGHT OF SKULLS by Wendelin Van Draanan (Knopf; hardcover; 320 pgs; 10/11/11, ages 10+)
Children's Books:



THE BIPPOLO SEED AND OTHER LOST STORIES by Dr. Seuss (Random House; hardcover; 72 pgs; September 27, 2011; ages 6-9)
LOTS OF BOTS! A Counting Pop-Up Book by David A. Carter and Noelle Carter (Robin Corey Books, Hardcover, 16 pgs; 10/11/11; Ages 4-8) -- App coming!
11 EXPERIMENTS THAT FAILED by Nancy Carpenter and Jenny Offill (Schwartz and Wade; Hardcover; 40 pgs; 9/27/11; ages 4-8)



I WILL COME BACK FOR YOU: A Family in Hiding During WWII by Marisabina Russo (Schwartz and Wade; hardcover; 40 pages; 9/27/11; ages 4-8)
THE THREE LITTLE ALIENS AND THE BIG BAD ROBOT by Margaret McNamara, ill by Mark Fearing (Schwartz and Wade; hardcover; 40 pages; 9/27/11; Ages 3-8)
WHAT DAT? The Great Big UGLYDOLL book of things to look at, search for, point to and wonder about by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim (Random House; Hardcover; 32 pages; 9/27/11; Ages 6-8)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Booking Through Thursday


I don't usually participate in  the Booking Through Thursday meme, but I was just thinking about this very thing the other day.  For those of you who don't know what BTT is, each week book bloggers are given a question to ponder, and share their answers with their readers and one another.   Here it goes:


What’s the hardest/most challenging book you’ve ever read? Was it worth the effort? Did you read it by choice or was it an assignment/obligation?


By far the most challenging book I've ever read is ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy.  The first time I read it was in college, and I read it from a student's perspective, in preparation to write a paper, so not only was my focus limited, but it was stunted at best.

The second time I read ANNA KARENINA was for my book club, which I love.  We were discussing Classics that we always wanted to read, but never got around to.  Titles like LITTLE WOMEN and JANE EYRE were tossed around.  I'm not sure why we chose ANNA KARENINA but I'm so glad we did.  My view of the world and my experience as a reader had changed drastically since my first read, and my appreciation for this hefty classic increased tremendously.

If you haven't read it yet - it's worth the effort!

My next challenging read?



*If you would like to share your own answer to the Booking Through Thursday question, feel free to do so below, or if you have a blog of your own, feel free to add your link below, as well as on the BTT main page (link above).


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Zombies are not for me.

There has been a recent surge in Zombie Apocalypse books recently, and I wanted to see what all the buzz was about.  When I read the blurb for WARM BODIES, I thought, ok, zombie love story?  This doesn't sound too horror/creepy.  I'll give it a try. It also didn't hurt that Stephenie Meyer gave the blurb on the cover!


Synopsis (from Goodreads):
    A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.
    R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.
    Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving.



This book has been sitting on my shelf since May, but I figured this was the perfect time to pick it up, especially with Halloween just around the corner.  Stephenie Meyer wasn't the only author whose work I admire that loved this book - Maggie Stiefvater also raved about it.  I wish I shared their love for WARM BODIES. 

First the good.  

The writing.  WARM BODIES is written in the first person (not always my favorite) from Zombie R's perspective.   I would have given up on page 5 if it weren't for Isaac Marion's innate ability to turn a phrase and make the thoughts of R not only interesting, but enlightening.  I didn't think it was possible to root for the zombie, but I did.  Marion didn't take the story too seriously, though.  There were definitely times I gave a chuckle, and appreciated a little levity when the future of M was looking bleak.

The gore.  There wasn't too much horror for me in terms of eating brains and spilling blood; although, there was some of that. What's a zombie story without some old fashioned brain-eating? 

"R".  R has more consciousness than your average zombie.  He is driven by more than eating brains; in fact, he is evolving into another kind of zombie.  I enjoyed seeing his transformation, and the spark that ignited it.

The relationships.  There was a friendship between R and his friend, M, that I really loved.  The relationship between R and Julie reminded me a bit of Stephenie Meyers's The Host - memories of someone else's relationship guiding the beginning of their connection.

Now the not-so-good.

Zombies are not sexy.  They smell like rotten meat, their skin is gray and slowly disintegrating off their bones, they are not strong, they moan, and their body parts *ahem* don't work.  Marion himself said zombie sex was like "slabs of meat slapping off of one another."  I lost my appetite over that one. 

I couldn't get passed the zombie thing.  I found myself repulsed by the idea of them.  I understand that the zombies are metaphorical for something greater, but I could not get beyond the literal zombie body.  I know, I know, suspension of disbelief and all that, call me shallow.

Vampires - they might want to drink your blood, but they're sexy.  Werewolves - strong and vicious, but sexy.  Faeries - mischievous, but sexy.  Fallen angels - flawed, but oh so sexy.

Zombies are not for me.



Book Extras:
Author Isaac Marion's website, Facebook, Twitter

About the Book:
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439192316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439192313


  • About the Author:
    Isaac Marion was born in north-western Washington in 1981 and has lived in and around Seattle his whole life, working a variety of strange jobs like delivering deathbeds to hospice patients and supervising parental visits for foster-kids. He is not married, has no children, and did not go to college or win any prizes. Warm Bodies is his first novel.






    *Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Review: Don't Sing At The Table by Adriana Trigiani

    Read this book...then read it again!

    I've been struggling to find the words for this review for quite some time.  Each time I try, I fall into this sappy sweet, personal zone of over sharing.  Adriana has that effect on people!  To know her is to love her, and to read her writing is to open a door to her family, where you are a welcomed guest. 

    DON'T SING AT THE TABLE: Life Lessons From My Grandmothers is Adriana Trigiani's first non-fiction book; although those of us who have read her works of fiction now understand where she finds her inspiration. 

    Adriana was lucky enough to have grown up with two grandmothers who were loving, thoughtful, hard-working, strong, and genuine.  Viola (Yolanda) and Lucy (Lucia) lead by example, and imparted their wisdom to their granddaughter on a variety of topics - from staying fit and healthy, to packing smart when traveling.  This book shares the life lessons and history of these two inspirational women.

    DON'T SING AT THE TABLE is a gift.  Literally and figuratively.  When I met Adriana back in May, she gave me a copy of this book.  Since then, I have picked it up countless times.  Sometimes I pick it up just to re-read a passage that came to my mind that day - like the day I went shopping and saw a navy blue polka dot dress.  Other times, I may be feeling a bit lost and need something to bring life back into focus. 

    Now for the over share.  I lost both my grandmothers before I was a teenager, before I was able to appreciate and learn from their wisdom and legacy.  My sister has tried to tell me about the relationship she had with our grandmother, but I never realized what she meant until I read this scene from one of Adriana's visits with her grandmother, Lucy:


    "When I came into the room (and I was so chic at the time - an eleven-year-old with style, wearing a long rope of wooden beads with a navy blue scooter skirt), she looked up at me and smiled.  Beamed.  Whenever I came into the room, she'd light up, so happy to see me.  No one ever in the course of my entire life was ever as happy to see me as she was.  Looking back, now, I realize that you only ever need on person who lights up that way when you enter a room.  One person is all it takes to give a kid confidence."


    I may have missed out on this feeling, which is probably why my sister has become my biggest fan - grandmotherly love by proxy - but I will do everything I can to make sure that I am healthy enough to give this gift to my own grandchildren.  (Funny I think this way...my oldest child isn't even a tween yet!)

    In the meantime, I may just have to take a day trip to Martin's Creek, PA, just so I can breath the same air as Viola!  She was a strong, elegant, and full of practical advice:


    "Viola said, keep illusion on the screen at the local movie house; in life, face the facts...Viola worked in extras in her budget...However, there was no hiding the numbers or manipulating them to put anyone's mind at ease temporarily.  Building wealth takes a plan, an honest and ongoing assessment of expenditures and sacrifice.  Treat yourself, Viola believed, but never go into debt doing so."


    Since I do not have a daughter, I gave a copy of this book to one of my dearest friends in the whole world.  This was a gift I could not keep to myself! 


    Book Extras:
    Adriana Trigiani website
    Harper Collins page - excerpts, audio clips, etc.
    Adriana Trigiani on Facebook, Twitter

    About the Book:
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061958956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061958953


  • Adriana Trigiani and Alison
    (flanked by Sheila, Book Journey, and Julie, Booking Mama)
    *Photo courtesy of Beth Fish Reads


    About the Author:
    Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for her hilarious and heartwarming novels. Adriana was raised in a small coal-mining town in southwest Virginia in a big Italian family. She chose her hometown for the setting and title of her debut novel, the critically acclaimed bestseller Big Stone Gap.
    Full bio here.


    Many thanks to Harper Paperback and TLC Book Tours for including me on the blog tour for DON'T SING AT THE TABLE.






    *Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. 

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

    Lives up to all the hype - this YA fantasy is not to be missed!

    Karou is a very cool, funky and mysterious art student who lives in Prague.  She has no family, other than Issa and Brimstone, the chimera (monsters, for the uninitiated) she works for by running otherworldly errands.  By using a portal in Brimstone's shop, Karou is able to travel the world in the blink of an eye.  Unfortunately, her errands are often dangerous and always secret, even to her best friend, Zusana.  Beneath her blue hair and tattooed palms, Karou's only truth lay in her sketchbook, the stories of which are told with a sly smile so no one realizes the tales she tells are real.

    Akiva, a haunted soul, and a beautiful angel who appears in the story by leaving scorched hand-prints on portal doors around the world, sees Karou.  He battles with her at first, but then can't help but follow her.  He quickly realizes that all paths forward are in jeopardy after Karou learns more about her past.

    I first heard of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE on Twitter from another author who gushed after reading an advanced copy.  When I saw Laini Taylor at BEA - and who could miss her awesome pink hair - I didn't hesitate to meet her and grab a copy for myself. 


    I couldn't put it down! 

    "She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil's lair.  She wasn't innocent now, bu she didn't know what to do about it.  This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself were something was most certainly missing."

    The writing...amazing.
    The characters...smart and interesting.
    The scenery...vivid.
    The storyline...complex.

    I look forward to reading more...

    Book Extras:

    About the Book:

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316134023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316134026


  • About the Author:
    LAINI TAYLOR is the author of three previous novels: the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the National Book Award finalist Lips Touch: Three Times.
    She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter, Clementine.
    Visit her at lainitaylor.blogspot.com, or follow her at www.twitter.com/lainitaylor.

    *Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher at BEA.  Thank you, Little Brown!

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    What Are You Reading?


    Today is Monday, October 17, 2011...What Are You Reading?

    This weekly meme is hosted by the warm, vivacious, colorful, sweet-smelling, non-decomposing Sheila from Book Journey!  (I'm reading about Zombie Apocalypse right now, and if you've got a heart beat, you're OK in my book!)
    I'm still in a bit of a reading funk.  When this happens, I usually resort to my "girls" - Stephanie Plum and Sookie Stackhouse - but I am all caught up.  I read Dead Reckoning last month, and I'm waiting for the unfortunately-titled Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich next month. (It may be an hilariously appropriate title, we'll see!).  Since I can't read my book candy, I am flying through a lot of the middle grade and young adult fiction on my shelf...and having an AMAZING time!

    If anyone is ever in a reading funk, I highly recommend taking a turn in the Young Readers' section of your bookshop or library!


    Completed:


    DARTH PAPER STRIKES BACK (An Origami Yoda Book) by Tom Angleberger (Amulet; August 2011; Ages 8-12)
    THE 39 CLUES #8: THE EMPEROR'S CODE (Scholastic; April 2010; ages 9-12)
    HOLES by Louis Sachar (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; September 2008; ages 9-12)
    WAITING FOR ROBERT CAPA by Susanna Fortes (Harper Perennial; September 2011) 


    Currently Reading:


    THE WINTERS IN BLOOM by Lisa Tucker (Atria Books; September 2011)
    WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion (Atria Books; April 2011)

    Listening to:


    SILVER GIRL by Elin Hilderbrand (Reagan Arthur; June 2011)

    Planning to Read this Week:


    READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline (Crown; August 2011)
    EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS by A.S. King (Little, Brown; October 3, 2011; Young Adult)
    HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford (Ballentine Books; January 2009)


    What are YOU reading??

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Review: Waiting for Robert Capa by Susana Fortes

    Not what I expected.

    I had trouble getting into this book, especially in the beginning.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I was having a bit of Book ADD at the time I was reading this book, so my inability to become immersed in it may not have been the fault of Susana Fortes.  I take much of the blame, and offer my apologies to Ms. Fortes.

    That being said, the writing was not as compelling as the story itself - does that make sense?  All the elements of a wonderful war-torn love affair were there - the drama, the passion, the scenery - but the cadence was off.  It felt disjointed and choppy.

    BUT, once I was involved in the story, I understood why I was holding this book in my hands.  It really was a beautiful, unbelievable story based on two very real, very interesting people.  I had to remind myself that what I was reading was not total fiction, and this made me want to turn the pages even when I was tempted to put it aside for something lighter. 

    If you enjoy stories about real people, and want to become immersed in the drama of the 1930s, then give WAITING FOR ROBERT CAPA a try...just don't give up on it too soon!



    Synopsis: (from publisher)
    Susana Fortes offers a gorgeously written, English Patient-style novel about the real-life romance between two photojournalists furiously in love: Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. During the Spanish Civil War, Capa and Taro risked everything documenting Francisco Franco’s Fascist uprising—even as they risked everything for love. The two artists’ passion stands out in sharp relief against the terrifying realities of war in this internationally acclaimed novel, a book that will resonate with fans of Possession, Loving Frank, Suite Francaise, and Pan’s Labyrinth. With a film adaptation already underway from producer Michael Mann (Public Enemies, The Insider, Manhunter, Collateral), Fortes’ Waiting for Robert Capa is a tale that will touch millions of hearts, mixing the poignancy of a timeless love story with the immediacy of a vivid snapshot from a bygone era.


    About the Book:
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Tra edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062000381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062000385

  • About the Author:
    Susana Fortes graduated in Geography and History at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, and in American History from the Universidad de Barcelona. She has recently spent time in the USA, combining teaching Spanish in Louisiana and participating in university conferences at the Universidad Interestatal de San Francisco. She currently teaches at a secondary school in Valencia. She has won many awards, including the 1994 Premio Nuevos Narradores, the Premio Primavera, the Premio de la Crítica, and, for Waiting for Robert Capa, the Premio Fernando Lara 2009. Her novels have been translated into almost twenty languages. She is a regular contributor to EL PAIS, as well as various cinema and literature magazines.




    Many thanks to TLC Book Tours and Harper Perennial for inviting me to become a host for WAITING FOR ROBERT CAPA by Susana Fortes. 






    *Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Review: Darth Paper Strikes Back (An Origami Yoda Book) by Tom Angleberger

    As hilarious and entertaining as THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA!

    I rarely give out a squee of joy when I open my mail, but when I saw this book AND our very own Darth Paper, I yelled for my son, who promptly took it out of my hands and ran to start reading it.  It was a happy mail day! He reluctantly gave it back to me so I could read it...but we're still fighting over the ownership of Darth Paper.

    Tom Angleberger takes the hybrid middle grade novel (the weaving together of text and illustrations) and combines it with legendary Star Wars characters for a witty and memorable story.

    Tommy is back with another case file to help Dwight and his Origami Yoda.  There are those that believe, and those that do not.  Harvey, in an attempt to steal some of Origami Yoda's thunder has created Darth Paper and the chaos that ensues is either of his doing...or that of the Dark Side of the force!

    I laughed out loud while reading the first chapter!  Tom Angleberger is not only hilarious, but Star Wars fans will also really appreciate the clever dialogue and witty twists in this book.

    A note to Tom Angleberger:  I'm stealing your fundraising idea, the next time my kids have to sell popcorn/cookie dough/nuts for little league!!  My dad will thank you!

    Parents ask me all the time - Alison, my son fell in love with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, what's next? - I don't hesitate a beat when I tell them about THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA.  It's original, humorous, smart, and now there is another installment that is just as funny as the first! 

    Book Extras:
    Origami Yoda blog
    5-fold Origami Yoda
    Origami Darth Paper

    About the Book:

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 176 pages 
  • Publisher: Amulet Books; 1 edition (August 23, 2011) 
  • Language: English 
  • ISBN-10: 1419700278 
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419700279

  • About the Author:
    Tom Angleberger’s Strange Case of Origami Yoda was hailed as “delightful” by the New York Times and called “the most original novel of the year” by the Boston Globe. Angleberger is also the author of Horton Halfpott. His website is OrigamiYoda.com. He lives in Christianburg, Virginia, with his wife, the author-illustrator Cece Bell.
    *Disclosure:  A review copy of this book (and a funky little origami Darth Paper) was provided by the publisher.


    Monday, October 3, 2011

    National Reading Group Month - October eBook promotion!


    Harper, in celebration of National Reading Group Month, has set up a great eBook promotion that I had to share with all of you. For the entire month of October, as part of what we’re calling The Book Club Girl e-Book Bonanza, we’re offering 12 of our best book club e-books for just $2.99 each! The discounted e-books are available at all retailers: Amazon, B&N, the ibookstore, the Google bookstore, and from all indies that sell e-books through Google.



    The Light of Day by Jamie Saul
    The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek
    The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle
    The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar
    Commuters by Emily Gay Tedrowe
    Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart
    Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
    The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
    The Safety of Secrets by DeLaune Michel
    The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle
    In a Perfect World by Laura Kasischke
    The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel


     There is even a landing page for the promotion on Facebook

    Go to Book Club Girl for direct links to all the books. 

    And what’s exciting about these 12 books is not only are they great book club books, they’re all books discussed on Book Club Girl on Air – where you can listen to the great book club conversation that Book Club girl (and company) had with that author!
    Learn about more about National Book Group Month events at: Women's National Book Association


    **Thank you to Harper and to Book Club Girl for allowing me to share this special promotion with my readers!

    What Are You Reading?


    Good morning!  Today is Monday, October 3, 2011...What Are You Reading?

    This weekly meme is hosted by the tech-savvy, the connected, the up-to-date, the in-the-know, the high tech, the wi-fi browsing, E-mail checking, Facebook surfing, remote Twittering, welcome to the 21st century, Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila is discovering the whole new world of Smart Phones this week.  It's going to change your life, Sheila!  Enjoy!

    Now, what I'm reading.
    Books Completed This Week:


    THE IRON KNIGHT (The Iron Fey Series #4) by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin TEEN; October 25, 2011)
    GUYS READ: THRILLER by various artists, edited by Jon Scieszka (Walden Pond Press; September 2011)
    BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu (Walden Pond Press; September 2011)
    DON'T SING AT THE TABLE by Adriana Trigiani (Harper; November 2010)

    Books Currently Reading:


    39 CLUES #8: THE EMPEROR'S CODE by Gordon Korman (Scholastic; April 2010)
    SILVER GIRL by Elin Hilderbrand (Reagan Arthur; June 2011)
    READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline (Crown; August 2011)
    THE WINTERS IN BLOOM by Lisa Tucker (Atria Books; September 13, 2011)

    Books I Plan to Read this Week:

     


    WAITING FOR MR. CAPRA (Harper Perennial; October 2011)


    What are YOU reading??
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