Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bored Now: Sepulchre by Kate Mosse


Bored Now

Bored Now will be my new quickie posts about which books I just couldn't finish. I get a ton of books from the library and half of them I don't make it through. So, in case you're wondering "What ever happened to the review for ...?" after seeing my Library Loot posts, this might help. :)

And, in case you didn't already know, "Bored now." is a quote from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Doppelgangland, spoken by the Vampire Willow from an alternate universe. Hence, the picture above.



I tried the first disc and a half of Sepulchre and even though Donada Peters did a lovely job with the reading I just could not bring myself to care about the characters in the least and all the French was just too annoying since I don't actually understand it. Plus, the story just dragged on, and on, and on. Halfway through disc two there was still nothing interesting going on so I finally just gave up mid-chapter.

In 1891, young Léonie Vernier and her brother Anatole arrive in the beautiful town of Rennes-les-Bains, in southwest France. They've come at the invitation of their widowed aunt, whose mountain estate, Domain de la Cade, is famous in the region. But it soon becomes clear that their aunt Isolde—and the Domain—are not what Léonie had imagined. The villagers claim that Isolde's late husband died after summoning a demon from the old Visigoth sepulchre high on the mountainside. A book from the Domain's cavernous library describes the strange tarot pack that mysteriously disappeared following the uncle's death. But while Léonie delves deeper into the ancient mysteries of the Domain, a different evil stalks her family—one which may explain why Léonie and Anatole were invited to the sinister Domain in the first place.

More than a century later, Meredith Martin, an American graduate student, arrives in France to study the life of Claude Debussy, the nineteenth century French composer. In Rennesles- Bains, Meredith checks into a grand old hotel—the Domain de la Cade. Something about the hotel feels eerily familiar, and strange dreams and visions begin to haunt Meredith's waking hours. A chance encounter leads her to a pack of tarot cards painted by Léonie Vernier, which may hold the key to this twenty-first century American's fate . . . just as they did to the fate of Léonie Vernier more than a century earlier.



Review: Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander Series #1)

First in the Kurt Wallander series. It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. And as if this didn’t present enough problems for the Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman’s last word is foreign, leaving the police the one tangible clue they have–and in the process, the match that could inflame Sweden’s already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments. Unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the beautiful but married young prosecutor who has peaked his interest, in this case, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, but soon comes to realize that it will require all his reserves of energy and dedication to solve.



This was the unabridged audiobook on CD edition (7 CDs/8.5 hours).

After seeing the three Wallander specials on PBS Masterpiece Mystery I decided (with gentle nudging from a friend) to try reading the books. I was hesitant, since I did like the specials, but I'm glad I capitulated.

This was a translation, obviously, but it was such a good translation that it didn't really feel like a translation at all.

It was a bit irritating that there were no real descriptions of what people looked like, which made it difficult to differentiate between the characters and really identify with them as individuals without more information. The names were also difficult, but the name issue was made significantly better since I listened to it rather than reading it.

The reader was rather stilted at points which could be distracting, but he was still quite good. I recognized his voice from Dean Koontz's Strangers and I remember he was rather stilted there as well.

This one gets seven stars. It was a good, solid story but it did drag on a bit at points. I think it helped that I'd seen the PBS specials before reading the books to at least get a vague idea of the characters, especially Wallander and his daughter Linda. Dick Hill did a nice job with the reading.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆



Monday, June 29, 2009

Mailbox Monday - June 21 - 27th


Mailbox Monday is hosted by The Printed Page and is where we share all the books we received in the mail over the past week.


There's trouble at the Castle, and it's all because Merrin Meredith has returned with Darke plans for Septimus. More trouble awaits Septimus and Jenna in the form of Tertius Fume, the ghost of the very first Chief Hermetic Scribe, who is determined to send Septimus on a deadly Queste. But Septimus and Jenna have other plans—they are headed for the mysterious House of Foryx, a place where all Time meets and the place where they fervently hope they will be able to find Nicko and Snorri, who were trapped back in time in physik. But how will Septimus escape the Queste?

Queste, like all the books in the Septimus Heap series, is filled with nonstop action, humor, and fantastical adventure as Septimus continues his journey of Magykal self-discovery.

For a friend abroad.






Like a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac, Elisa ghostwrites love notes for the boys in her school. But when Elisa falls for Theo Moses, things change fast. Theo asks for verses to court the lovely Lila—a girl known for her beauty, her popularity, and a cutting ability to remind Elisa that she has none of these. At home, Elisa's father, the one person she feels understands her, has left on an extended business trip. As the days grow shorter, Elisa worries that the increasingly urgent letters she sends her father won't bring him home. Like the undercover agent she feels she has become, Elisa retreats to a pond in the woods, where her talent for ice-skating gives her the confidence to come out from under cover and take center stage. But when Lila becomes jealous of Theo's friendship with Elisa, her revenge nearly destroys Elisa's ice-skating dreams and her plan to reunite her family.

National Book Award nominee Beth Kephart's first young adult novel is a stunning debut.

For a friend abroad.





A spy thriller, a love story and a chilling look at a resurgent superpower...

At the dawn of the new millennium, Finn, an MI6 spy, and Anna, a colonel of the KGB, have been sent to spy on each other. Instead they find a love that becomes to only truth they can trust. A source deep within the Kremlin tells Finn of a plan, hatched in the depths of the Cold War, to dismantle the edifice of the communist state and to bring about the rise of a new imperium within Russia: a plan to control the whole of Europe. Finn's masters in London are blinded by the new wealth pouring out of Russia and he must leave the Service and work in secrecy to uncover the deadly threat it poses to the freedom of every one of us.

ARC received from the publisher for review.






With The Whiskey Rebels, David Liss added to the rapidly growing audience for his extraordinary brand of historical suspense fiction. His unforgettable tale of spies and conspiracies in post-Revolutionary War America was a "gripping, visceral adventure," according to New York Times bestselling author Matthew Pearl. Now Liss delivers another riveting historical suspense tale — this one set in 1700s London.

When Benjamin Weaver is blackmailed into stealing documents from the ruthless British East India Company, he soon discovers the theft of trade secrets is only the first move in a daring conspiracy within the eighteenth century's most powerful corporation. To save his friends and family, Weaver must infiltrate the Company, navigate its warring factions, and uncover a secret plot of corporate rivals, foreign spies, and government operatives. With the security of the nation in the balance, Weaver will find himself in a labyrinth of hidden agendas, daring enemies, and unexpected allies.

With explosive action and scrupulous period research, The Devil's Company depicts the birth of the modern corporation, and is Liss's most impressive achievement yet.

ARC received from the publisher for review.



Sunday, June 28, 2009

Library Loot - June 21 - 27th


Here goes this week's Library Loot!



Have you ever found yourself asking, “How did my life get so out of control?” Or wondering if this bigger life you have created is actually a better life?

Most of us have lives that are as cluttered with unwanted obligations as our attics are cluttered with things. The bigger-is-better idea that triggered the explosion of McMansions has spilled over to give us McLives–leaving us with chaotic, overcommitted schedules and no time to do what we want to do.

In The Not So Big Life, architect Sarah Susanka expands her revolutionary philosophy on inhabiting space to show us how to better inhabit our lives. Through simple exercises and inspiring stories, Susanka reveals that all we need to do is make small shifts in our day–subtle movements that open our minds as if we were opening windows to let in fresh air. The result: We quickly discover that we have all the space and time we need for the things in our lives that really matter. These small changes can yield great rewards. In her elegant, clear style, Susanka convinces us that less is truly more–much more.

Unabridged audiobook edition.





Don't have time to exercise? Don't belong to a gym? It doesn't matter.

Now you can get a complete workout, anytime, anywhere, with the secrets of isometrics. Millions of people can't seem to find the time to exercise. Now they can with The Complete Book of Isometrics. Fitness expert Erin O'Driscoll has compiled the best isometric exercises that can be done in the office, at home watching TV, flying in an airplane, or even driving a car–no equipment required.

Rather than using expensive machines or lugging around a set of dumbbells, you use common objects and your own body's resistance to work out the muscles. Isometric exercises are especially helpful to people recovering from injuries that limit range of motion. A special chapter shows how even people with disabilities can use isometrics to build muscle tone and strength.

Using the secret of resistance, isometrics are the basis for yoga, Pilates, and all the core stabilization techniques that are so popular today. Now, learn the original, simple, and effective way to a complete workout without moving a muscle!





Think big, but plan small: That seems to be the message of Creating The Not So Big House, Susan Susanka's clarion call for coziness. This bold pictorial heeds the obvious: That activities should define the space, not vice versa. One doesn't have to be house-hunting to benefit from the book's interior designing advice. For example, mastering the concept of "bilateral symmetry" can help the most budget-strapped home owner learn how to clarify his or her space needs, and the discussion of opening up rooms applies to almost any living space. Ultimately, this well-constructed book is uplifting: For the first time, it frees us from being prisoners of our four walls.







Simplicity, comfort, and intimacy define the cottage—and they are the hottest ideas in domestic design today, as seen in a host of new books and magazines celebrating the not-so-big house. The personal, easy-living style of the cottage has formed a compelling counter-trend to the overblown, oversize McMansions of the 1990s. Today, quality of place is more important than quantity of space, and no home style demonstrates that value more appealingly than the cottage.

Presenting charming retreats perched on rocky coasts, hidden in leafy woods, and nestled on rolling farmland, The Cottage Book explores the roots of this iconic and beloved style. Century-old examples of simple, beautiful getaways from Maine to California—along with delightful variations on the theme—are captured in richly detailed, atmospheric photographs.

In this gorgeous paean to the cottage tradition—now available in paperback—artist, designer, and cottage expert Carol Bass showcases a group of classic early cottages (all still in happy and active use), leads us through a collection of updated and new cottages, and delineates those stylistic elements that define cottage life. Primary residence or weekend haven, The Cottage Book inspires an irresistible fantasy of a home of our own.





In her new essay collection, the beloved author of High Tide in Tucson brings to us from one of history's darker moments an extended love song to the world we still have. From its opening parable gleaned from recent news about a lost child saved in an astonishing way, the book moves on to consider a world of surprising and hopeful prospects, ranging from an inventive conservation scheme in a remote jungle to the backyard flock of chickens tended by the author's small daughter.

These essays are grounded in the author's belief that our largest problems have grown from the earth's remotest corners as well as our own backyards, and that answers may lie in those places, too. In the voice Kingsolver's readers have come to rely on — sometimes grave, occasionally hilarious, and ultimately persuasive — Small Wonder is a hopeful examination of the people we seem to be, and what we might yet make of ourselves.

Unabridged audiobook edition.





Live in less space but have more room to enjoy it. Does that sound like a contradiction? Smart readers will discover that, on the contrary, living small can free up your mind, your wallet, and your soul. With the cost of living rising, and the environment suffering from excessive building, now is the time to scale back. Join the movement.

Little House on a Small Planet is a guidebook and an invitation. With floor plans, photographs, advice, and anecdotes, this unique book asks and answers, “What fills a home when the excess is cut away, and how do we get there from here?”

Discover how to

– Build, remodel, redecorate, or just rethink your needs
– Think, sometimes literally, outside the box
– Live close and simple
– Apply spiritual and social solutions to your material desires

Pockets of people all over the continent are realizing the benefits of scaling down. You, too, can build a joyful, sane life that emphasizes home life over home maintenance.





Houses of the future will be smaller, more energy-efficient, and better suited to their environments. And intelligent design solutions can help expand the scope and livability of a compact house, making it elegant as well as practical.

In 1990, Storey Communications sponsored the Compact House Design Competition, a juried contest open to architects, designers, and architecture students. From the numerous entries that were received from all over North America, professional architects Don Metz and Peter Woerner selected the best and most innovative designs to include in New Compact House Designs. Although the top three designs received cash awards, all 27 of the designs in this book are winners -- and each design illustrates a classic or contemporary approach to living gracefully in a small house.

The basic guidelines were clear: design a single-family house with a minimum of two bedrooms whose gross floor area does not exceed 1,250 square feet. Aside from these stipulations, almost anything went, and the broad spectrum of designs included in this book reflects the geographical and stylistic diversity of the winning entries -- from a classic New England farmhouse to a sophisticated postmodern design, from a New Mexican desert hacienda to a fanciful house with Elizabethan overtones.

The perfect idea book for current and future homeowners, New Compact House Designs will also appeal to anyone interested in architectural design. Each entry included in the book features a site drawing, floor plans, elevation and section drawings, judges' comments, and a complete description of the project. Addresses for architects and designers are also provided for readers interested in obtaining scale plans or more information on any particular house.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

Giveaway: The Law of Connection by Michael Losier Audiobook

In LAW OF CONNECTION, Michael J. Losier gives you the key to successful communication. Using the principles of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), you will soon master the few simple skills needed to create better understanding with people in every aspect of your life.

Listen to an excerpt.
Visit Michael Losier’s website at www.michaellosier.com.



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

Contest runs from June 27, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 14, 2009. Winners will be announced July 15, 2009. Open to residents of US and Canada only.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Giveaway: The Juror by George Dawes Green Audiobook

Annie Laird is Juror 224. A sculptor with a career going nowhere. A single mother struggling to raise a son. A good citizen who has been summoned to what looks like a routine tour of civic duty. But the trial she is called to serve on is no ordinary trial. It is a mob trial, whose outcome has been meticulously orchestrated by a man of insidious power and deadly precision. A man who lives by the teachings of Lao Tsu...whose magnetism is irresistible...whose mind is as brilliant as it is twisted. He is know to some as the Teacher, and he's set his sights on Annie Laird.

Pulled into the most chilling depths of the criminal underworld, Annie will be seduced by double-edged promises, stalked by the specter of terror, then, finally, driven to a shocking decision by the most basic motivation a woman can know. THE JUROR is a tour de force of crime and obsession, evil and innocence -- a story that taps into fears so primal they linger long after the last page has been read.

Listen to an excerpt.



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

Contest runs from June 27, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 14, 2009. Winners will be announced July 15, 2009. Open to residents of US and Canada only.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Review: A Tiny Home to Call Your Own by Patricia Foreman and Any Lee

Impress your neighbors with style and freedom rather than with larger-scale impersonally built square footage. Small is beautiful in housing. Smaller scale homes can be more livable, cozy, magical, homey, enjoyable, low maintenance and easy to clean. They can be more affordable and socially responsible than the current trend of "MacMansionization" that is chewing up our farm land. Some tiny homes can be built on existing lots without requiring new land purchase.

You can live in an attractive, appealing, upscale house AND have a home that is quality built, architecturally beautiful, highly marketable and profitable. Uses for tiny homes include:

  • A home for anyone who wants less space to take care of in exchange for more time, freedom and money.
  • As a personal "get away" or "away space", home office, professional work space, writer's or artist's studio, or rental for passive income.
  • For an elderly parent, student or return-to-the-nest kid to have an independent place of their own, yet be close by.

Tiny Homes is leading a grass-roots movement toward smaller homes. It shows that small is beautiful in housing.

There was a great deal of extraneous information in the book, such as sections on remodeling a 1,600 square foot home to almost double its size which was totally inapplicable to 99% of the readers. The book also seemed to be aimed towards the upper middle class, which was unfortunate. They kept mentioning how the size of your home doesn't mean that you're not rich and that most of their clients can afford to buy whatever size house they want but they choose to buy small homes, etc. I mean, come on!

This one gets six stars. While it was a fast read, it was badly proofread with numerous typos and formatting errors. If the authors are going to sell their slim paperback for over $20, they should at least fork out the cash to get it professionally proofread! In addition, a large portion of the homes discussed were created by Tiny Homes Inc. - the owners of which wrote the book, which meant that at times it almost read like a catalog of their products. The book does contain some beneficial information, but it is more an advertisement for the author's website and company than truly to help people.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆



Friday, June 26, 2009

New Book Arrival: Red to Black by Alex Dryden

The publisher, HarperCollins, generously sent me an ARC of Red to Black to review.



A spy thriller, a love story and a chilling look at a resurgent superpower...

At the dawn of the new millennium, Finn, an MI6 spy, and Anna, a colonel of the KGB, have been sent to spy on each other. Instead they find a love that becomes to only truth they can trust. A source deep within the Kremlin tells Finn of a plan, hatched in the depths of the Cold War, to dismantle the edifice of the communist state and to bring about the rise of a new imperium within Russia: a plan to control the whole of Europe. Finn's masters in London are blinded by the new wealth pouring out of Russia and he must leave the Service and work in secrecy to uncover the deadly threat it poses to the freedom of every one of us.



New Book Arrival: The Devil's Company by David Liss

The publisher, Random House, generously sent me a copy of the new book The Devil's Company for review.


With The Whiskey Rebels, David Liss added to the rapidly growing audience for his extraordinary brand of historical suspense fiction. His unforgettable tale of spies and conspiracies in post-Revolutionary War America was a "gripping, visceral adventure," according to New York Times bestselling author Matthew Pearl. Now Liss delivers another riveting historical suspense tale — this one set in 1700s London.

When Benjamin Weaver is blackmailed into stealing documents from the ruthless British East India Company, he soon discovers the theft of trade secrets is only the first move in a daring conspiracy within the eighteenth century's most powerful corporation. To save his friends and family, Weaver must infiltrate the Company, navigate its warring factions, and uncover a secret plot of corporate rivals, foreign spies, and government operatives. With the security of the nation in the balance, Weaver will find himself in a labyrinth of hidden agendas, daring enemies, and unexpected allies.

With explosive action and scrupulous period research, The Devil's Company depicts the birth of the modern corporation, and is Liss's most impressive achievement yet.



Giveaway: Any Minute by Joyce Meyer Audiobook

Sarah Harper is driven to achieve success no matter what the cost. She wants to do good and not hurt the people she loves--especially children and her husband, Joe--but her desire to succeed in her career too often leaves little time for family.
One cold, autumn afternoon, all of that changes when Sarah's car plunges off a bridge and into a river. She is presumed dead by those on the "outside," but Sarah's spirit is still very much alive. What she discovers on the other side transforms everything about Sarah's view of life--past, present, and future.

When Sarah is revived, she is a changed woman. And the unsuspecting world around her will never be the same again.



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

Contest runs from June 26, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 14, 2009. Winners will be announced July 15, 2009. Open to residents of US and Canada only.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Giveaway: How Successful People Think by John Maxwell Audiobook

The perfect, compact listen for today's fast-paced world, How Successful People Think (derived from Maxwell's previous book, Thinking for a Change) will teach listeners the 11 secrets successful people know. Arranged in an easy-to-follow format, America's leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, will teach listeners how to expand their thinking and achieve their dreams.

Listen to an excerpt.

Visit John Maxwell’s website at www.johnmaxwell.com.




Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

Contest runs from June 26, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 14, 2009. Winners will be announced July 15, 2009. Open to residents of US and Canada only.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Review: Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

And if I should die before I awake,

I pray the popular attend my wake.

Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is invisible. Even worse: she's dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear. But being dead doesn't stop Charlotte from wanting to be popular; it just makes her more creative about achieving her goal.

If you thought high school was a matter of life or death, wait till you see just how true that is. In this satirical, yet heartfelt novel, Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at some times and the lengths we'll go to be seen.



First of all, this was a ridiculously unwieldy hardcover. I have no idea why they couldn't just make it a paperback. It was oddly shaped and had a bad center of gravity making it difficult to hold so you had to rest it on something which was incredibly annoying.

That said, the book was rather predictable. The characters weren't even particularly likable either. It felt like the Sunnydale High edition of Heathers meets The Sixth Sense.

This one gets six stars. It was more of a 6.5 stars as it didn't really feel like either a six or a seven, but I'm rounding down. It had its funny and sad moments. It was generally a decent enough book, good but not great. I don't think I'll be reading the second in the series.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆



Thursday, June 25, 2009

Giveaway: Swimsuit by James Patterson Audiobook

THE BEACH...

A breathtakingly beautiful supermodel disappears from a swimsuit photo shoot at the most glamorous hotel in Hawaii. Only hours after she goes missing, Kim McDaniels's parents receive a terrifying phone call. Fearing the worst, they board the first flight to Maui and begin the hunt for their daughter.

...WILL NEVER BE...
Ex-cop Ben Hawkins, now a reporter for the L.A. Times, gets the McDaniels assignment. The ineptitude of the local police force defies belief--Ben has to start his own investigation for Kim McDaniels to have a prayer. And for Ben to have the story of his life.

...THE SAME FOR YOU AGAIN.
All the while, the killer sets the stage for his next production. His audience expects the best--and they won't be disappointed. Swimsuit is a heart-pounding story of fear and desire, transporting you to a place where beauty and murder collide and unspeakable horrors are hidden within paradise.



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

Contest runs from June 25, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 14, 2009. Winners will be announced July 15, 2009. Open to residents of US and Canada only.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Giveaway: Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Deception by Eric Van Lustbader Audiobook

After Bourne is ambushed and nearly killed while in Indonesia, he fakes his death to take on a new identity and mission- to find out who is trying to assassinate him. In the process, Bourne begins to question who he really is and what he would become if he no longer carried the Bourne identity. Across the globe, an American passenger airliner is shot down over Egypt-apparently by an Iranian missile-leaving the world wondering if it was an accident or an act of aggression. A massive global team lead by Soraya Moore is assembled to investigate the attack before the situation escalates.

When Bourne's search for his would-be assassin intersects with Soraya's search for the group behind the airplane bombing, Bourne is thrust into a race to prevent a new world war. But it may already be too late.



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

Contest runs from June 25, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 14, 2009. Winners will be announced July 15, 2009. Open to residents of US and Canada only.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Interview and Giveaway: The Texicans by Nina Vida

Today Nina Vida, author of the The Texicans, is joining us for a great interview and giveaway!

Beth: Hi! Welcome to Beth's Book Review Blog! It's great to have you here today! Thank you for taking the time to join us and answer some questions.

Congratulations on your seventh book, The Texicans, being published! Can you tell us a little bit about it?


Nina: The Texicans is a book set in Texas in the 1840’s. Joseph Kimmel, a reclusive Missouri schoolteacher has gone to San Antonio to settle his late brother’s estate. He’s an unlikely and reluctant hero, but a hero nonetheless. In Texas he can’t seem to say no to anyone in trouble. He marries Katrin, an Alsatian girl, to save her from an Indian chief, rescues Luck, a runaway slave, from the bounty hunters, and, despite his marriage, falls in love with Aurelia, a Mexican girl who some say has the power to see the future. He becomes the largest landowner in Texas, but his passion for Aurelia torments him. That passion and what it does to his life is what powers the novel.

Beth: The Texicans is quite an epic story! How did you get the idea for it?

Nina: I chose Texas as the subject for a novel because I wanted to portray the bravery of the people who left their homes in the east and, without any guarantee that where they were going was better than where they had been, forged a trail west.

Beth: I'm a huge fan of audiobooks. How amazing was it to have your book made into an audio read by George Guidall?

Nina: It was great having George Guidall record The Texicans. My novels Goodbye, Saigon and Between Sisters were recorded on audiobook, but they were abridged, which made for a certain choppiness in spots. The Texicans was recorded in its entirety, which made me extremely happy! And, of course, George Guidall’s voice is extraordinary.

Beth: I hear you're currently at work on your eighth novel already! Can you give us a sneak peek at it?

Nina: The current novel, Lilli, is the story of a Lithuanian girl who escapes Hitler’s Europe and ends up in Shanghai. From a sheltered upbringing she becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Beth: Do you have any special writing routines? Do you always write in the same place at the same time of day?

Nina: I have no writing routine. I can go days without writing, and then spend days doing nothing else but writing, even waking up in the middle of the night to climb the stairs to my office, where my desk and computer and books are always waiting.

Beth: I'm always curious about what other people are reading. What are you reading now?

Nina: Right now I’m reading a book I began a long time ago and didn’t finish. A Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez. It’s wonderful.

Beth: And finally, do you have a favorite book of all time?

Nina: My favorite book has to be Pride and Prejudice! I never tire of the goings-on of the Bennett family and I’m in awe of Jane Austen’s wit.



About Nina:

Nina Vida's writing career began when her children went off to college and she enrolled in the University Without Walls program at California State University Dominguez Hills to pursue a long-deferred degree in English. One of the requirements of the degree was a semester of creative writing. Nina, who had never written fiction before, decided to write a story about her 38-year-old sister's open-heart surgery. The professor said it brought her to tears. Nina's husband had been a Navy journalist in the Korean War, and when he read the story he said he thought Nina had the makings of a writer and should try her hand at a novel. That was in 1980. Since then Nina has had seven novels published. The seventh novel, The Texicans, was published by Soho Press.

She is a native born Californian, lives in Huntington Beach and is a well known collector of antique Asian porcelain.








Thank you so much to Nina for joining us today! If you'd like to pick up a copy of her book The Texicans, click the cover image below.



Giveaway!

Nina has generously sent me a copy of her book The Texicans, to give away to one lucky reader!

To enter see below:

Contest runs from June 25, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 31, 2009. Winner will be announced August 1, 2009. Open to US residents only.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post, commenting on the interview. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this interview and contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this interview and contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Giveaway: How to Score by Robin Wells

How to Score by Robin Wells

HER LIFE COACH

Museum curator Sammi Matthews isn't just in a dating slump, she's putting men on the injured list. After giving one date a black eye and cracking another's rib, Sammi decides she needs professional help. Enter life coach Luke Jones, who advises Sammi on how to overcome her klutziness. And their phone sessions work! Sammi soon meets a sexy FBI agent who seems to know just what she needs.

IS CHANGING HER LIFE

When his brother Luke goes into federal protection, FBI Special Agent Chase Jones agrees to cover for him. Then Sammi's hot voice sizzles down the line, and the usual "phone only" rule is out. With "Luke" coaching her by day, and Chase dating her by night, Sammi's confidence soars, along with her appeal. Chase falls hard, but how will Sammi feel if and when he comes clean? Chase would rather she break all his bones than risk breaking her heart.

IN WAYS SHE'S NEVER IMAGINED!




Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have five copies to give away!

Contest runs from June 24, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 14, 2009. Winners will be announced July 15, 2009. Open to US and Canada residents only. No PO Boxes.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Giveaway: My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel

My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel

TORN BETWEEN...

Alexandrine Marit is a witch in mortal danger. An evil mage craves the powerful, mysterious talisman that supplies her magic, and the only person who can keep her safe is a dark and dangerous fiend called Xia. With his fierce animosity toward witches, he's hardly the ideal bodyguard. Yet as days turn into nights, she can't deny the white-hot passion between them.

DESIRE AND TEMPTATION

Xia hates witches. They enslave and mercilessly kill his kind. But he's been ordered to protect Alexandrine, who, to his surprise, has a spirit he admires and a body he longs to possess. With the mage and his henchmen closing in, Alexandrine and her protector must trust the passion that can unite them...or risk losing everything to the enemies who can destroy them both.






Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have five copies to give away!

Contest runs from June 24, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 14, 2009. Winners will be announced July 15, 2009. Open to US and Canada residents only. No PO Boxes.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Giveaway: A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore

A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE…

Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his best friend and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul…until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands—and his wife.

TORN BETWEEN TWO HUSBANDS…

Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game—where the stakes are not only love…but life and death.




Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have five copies to give away!

Contest runs from June 24, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST July 14, 2009. Winners will be announced July 15, 2009. Open to US and Canada residents only. No PO Boxes.

To enter - earn one entry for each of the following activities (up to four entries per person):
  1. Leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail address so I can contact you.
  2. Follow or subscribe to this blog, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you're a subscriber. If you're already a follower or subscriber, comment telling me that.
  3. Blog about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your blog entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest and include a link to this post. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
Post one comment for each entry.
Each comment must include your e-mail address.



Review: Tiny, Tiny Houses by Lester Walker

Tiny Houses contains the plans for forty-four houses so small that anyone can afford to have one—and so thoughtfully designed that anyone can build one—each offering the dream of solitude, a place to escape for a weekend of romance, meditation, or whimsy. Award-winning architect Lester Walker shows how, with a little energy and imagination, everyone's dream of owning a home, or having a second home in the country, is within reach.



This was an interesting read. While most of the homes featured aren't really functional for full-time living, since they lack kitchens or bathrooms, they seem adequate for camping purposes. There are some that could, of course, be adapted to include kitchens and bathrooms, of course, which is nice.

This one gets six stars. Unfortunately, the pictures were in black and white and they would have been infinitely better in color as the author made repeated references to siding and paint colors that could not be seen in the photos. The title Tiny, Tiny Homes is rather misleading also. I was under the impression that these were fully functional homes, but most are just shelters. I don't believe you can call a shelter a home unless you have a kitchen and bathroom! In any case, it was a quick and interesting read.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Review: Death of a Celebrity by M.C. Beaton (Hamish Macbeth #18)

Access to Lochdubh is along a single, twisting, one-track road, but even its isolation can't keep Crystal French of Strathbane Television from dragging her crew and cameras into town. There to do a new show focusing on village life, Crystal quickly earns the outrage of the local folks when she rakes up old scandals and intimate secrets - tactics that promptly get her high ratings. Soon, even the local astrology column is hinting that Crystal had better watch her step. And no one, least of all Constable Hamish Macbeth, is surprised when she is killed." "Glum with the news that his former fiancee, the incomparable Priscilla, has found a new love interest, Macbeth fails to notice that the writer of the astrology column, a pretty lady named Elspeth Grant, has taken a fancy to him. He spends his time with his dog Lugs, all the while bucking the police brass with his own theories about who murdered Crystal." Warned off the case by his Strathbane superiors, Macbeth is left to question a troupe of gypsies about quarters stolen from the Lochdubh Laundromat. But when violence again disrupts the placid Highland air, Macbeth finds his theories evaporating. With a new threat appearing on the horizon - one that would forever tear him away from his beloved Lochdubh - everything is unclear in Macbeth's world, except for his own haunting suspicion that the killer is someone he knows all to well ...



This was the unabridged audiobook on CD edition (6 CDs/5.25 hours).

It was nice to visit Lochdubh again since I've been away from it for a while to read the Agatha Raisin series. I do prefer to listen to the Hamish Macbeth books since there are so many names that I'm not sure how to pronounce and it's so much easier to just listen to them and not have to be distracted trying to figure them out.

Really, Priscilla is just too much! She and Agatha Raisin's James should get together - they deserve each other! I do like Elspeth though. She's quite an interesting addition to the cast and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her.

This one gets seven stars. It was a solid, interesting mystery with, of course, a culprit that I didn't suspect. Graeme Malcolm did a nice job with the reading, as usual.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆



Monday, June 22, 2009

Mailbox Monday - June 14 - 20th


Mailbox Monday is hosted by The Printed Page and is where we share all the books we received in the mail over the past week.


Skye Titan's wealthy father thinks he can still dictate his daughter's choice in men. Now widowed and a single mother, Skye isn't the yes-girl she once was. Especially since the love of her life is back in Texas after eight long years. He won't like the answers to the questions he's asking. About why she left him at the altar. And about her eight-year-old daughter.

Former navy SEAL Mitch Cassidy comes home to find nearly everything different. His wounds from battle have changed the way people treat him. His cattle ranch is suddenly organic. But time hasn't touched his desire for Skye -- or the sting of her betrayal. Forget lip service. He's asking that luscious mouth of hers to reveal the truth. But will Mitch be able to put the past aside to help Skye get out from under her father's thumb…and help himself recover from a broken heart?

For my aunt.





Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble....

Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos -- a senior track star and Angel's secret crush -- taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.

That's when Miguel Badalin -- from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte -- opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.

For a friend abroad.





Saint-Saveur Cathedral of Aix-en-Provence is an ancient structure of many secrets-a perfect monument to fill the lens of a celebrated photographer, and a perfect place for the photographer's son, Ned Marriner, to lose himself while his father works.

But the cathedral isn't the empty edifice it appears to be. Its history is very much alive in the present day-and it's calling out to Ned.

For a friend abroad.










The third novel in the acclaimed Gaius Petreius Ruso series by the New York Times bestselling Ruth Downie—this time set in ancient Gaul.

At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home—to Gaul. Having received a note consisting only of the words “COME HO ME!” Ruso has (reluctantly, of course) pulled up stakes and brought Tilla to meet his family.

But the reception there is not what Ruso has hoped for: no one will admit to sending for him, and his brother Lucius is hoping he’ll leave. With Tilla getting icy greetings from his relatives, Lucius’s brother-inlaw mysteriously drowned at sea, and the whole Ruso family teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, it’s hard to imagine an unhappier reunion. That is, until Severus, the family’s chief creditor, winds up dead, and the real trouble begins…

Engrossing, intricate, and—as always—wonderfully comic, Ruth Downie’s latest is a brilliant new installment in this irresistible series. This is everything we’ve come to expect from our charming, luckless hero.

Received from the publisher for review.





By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . .

They even built humans.

Emigrees to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn't want to be identified, they just blended in.

Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.

For a friend abroad.




The sixteen short stories featured in Skip Horack’s prize-winning debut collection paint a richly textured vision of the American South. Set in the Gulf Coast over the course of a year torn halfway by the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, these stories, filled with humor, restraint, and verve, follow the lives of an assembly of unforgettable characters. An exonerated ex-con who may not be entirely innocent, a rabbit farmer in mourning, and an earnest young mariner trying to start a new life with his wife—all are characters that populate the spirited cities and drowsy parishes in Horack’s marvelous portrait of the South. "A knockout winner" for guest judge Antonya Nelson, The Southern Cross marks the arrival of a standout new voice.

Received from the publisher for review.









He was a handsome English aristocrat, sprawled in the dunes, dying of thirst. She was a white-skinned savage, fleeing the aborigine tribe that found her and raised her but still shunned the fiery-haired outcast.

Suddenly Meg is able to escape her primitive life as Luke introduces her to the strange ways of Victorian England. In a search filled with adventure and excitement that spans three continents, Meg uncovers the clues to her true identity - and realizes someone is trying to kill her. But the mysteries and secrets of the aborigines still pulse through the Victorian young lady, enabling Meg to triumph in the final desperate battle for survival and claim the only man she will ever love.

For a friend abroad.



Sunday, June 21, 2009

Library Loot - June 14 - 20th


Here goes this week's Library Loot!



Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I should die before I awake,
I pray the popular attend my wake.

Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is invisible. Even worse: she's dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear. But being dead doesn't stop Charlotte from wanting to be popular; it just makes her more creative about achieving her goal.

If you thought high school was a matter of life or death, wait till you see just how true that is. In this satirical, yet heartfelt novel, Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at some times and the lengths we'll go to be seen.







In over his head with two pigs, a dozen chickens, and a baby due any minute, the acclaimed author of Truck: A Love Story gives us a humorous, heartfelt memoir of a new life in the country.

Last seen sleeping off his wedding night in the back of a 1951 International Harvester pickup, Michael Perry is now living in a rickety Wisconsin farmhouse. Faced with thirty-seven acres of fallen fences and overgrown fields, and informed by his pregnant wife that she intends to deliver their baby at home, Perry plumbs his unorthodox childhood—his city-bred parents took in more than a hundred foster children while running a ramshackle dairy farm—for clues to how to proceed as a farmer, a husband, and a father.

And when his daughter Amy starts asking about God, Perry is called upon to answer questions for which he's not quite prepared. He muses on his upbringing in an obscure fundamentalist Christian sect and weighs the long-lost faith of his childhood against the skeptical alternative ("You cannot toss your seven-year-old a copy of Being and Nothingness").

Whether Perry is recalling his childhood ("I first perceived my father as a farmer the night he drove home with a giant lactating Holstein tethered to the bumper of his Ford Falcon") or what it's like to be bitten in the butt while wrestling a pig ("two firsts in one day"), Coop is filled with the humor his readers have come to expect. But Perry also writes from the quieter corners of his heart, chronicling experiences as joyful as the birth of his child and as devastating as the death of a dear friend.

Alternately hilarious, tender, and as real as pigs in mud, Coop is suffused with a contemporary desire to reconnect with the earth, with neighbors, with meaning . . . and with chickens.





Agatha Raisin’s detective agency has become so successful that now all she wants is some R&R. But as soon as she cuts back her hours, Agatha remembers that when she has too much quality time, she doesn’t know what to do with it. So it doesn’t take much for the vicar of a nearby village to persuade her to help publicize the church fête—especially when the fair’s organizer, George Selby, happens to be a gorgeous widower. Problem is: Several of the offerings in the jam-tasting booth turn out to be poisoned…and the festive family event soon becomes a murder scene. Now Agatha must uncover the truth behind the jam tampering and expose the nasty secrets lurking in the seemingly innocent village—all while falling for handsome George, who may just have some secrets of his own.








Both Foreman and Lee are licensed contractors in Virginia. They have been building tiny houses—ranging from 300 to 1,000 square feet in size—for 15-plus years and are active in promoting conservation subdivisions, cluster housing, and ecologically healthy home construction. Following discussion of what a tiny house is and the type of people tiny houses suit, they present examples of houses and housing communities they have built to explain the issues and considerations to be taken into account, as well as the many benefits to be realized by those who choose a tiny home.













William Coperthwaite is a teacher, builder, designer, and writer who for many years has explored the possibilities of true simplicity on a homestead on the north coast of Maine. In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and Helen and Scott Nearing, Coperthwaite has fashioned a livelihood of integrity and completeness - buying almost nothing, providing for his own needs, and serving as a guide and companion to hundreds of apprentices drawn to his unique way of living.

A Handmade Life carries Coperthwaite's ongoing experiments with hand tools, hand-grown and gathered food, and handmade shelter, clothing, and furnishings out into the world to challenge and inspire. His writing is both philosophical and practical, exploring themes of beauty, work, education, and design, while giving instruction on hand-crafting the necessities of life: house, tools, clothing, and furniture. Richly illustrated with luminous color photographs by Peter Forbes, the book is a testament to a new/old way of life.





Tiny Houses contains the plans for forty-four houses so small that anyone can afford to have one—and so thoughtfully designed that anyone can build one—each offering the dream of solitude, a place to escape for a weekend of romance, meditation, or whimsy. Award-winning architect Lester Walker shows how, with a little energy and imagination, everyone's dream of owning a home, or having a second home in the country, is within reach.







First in the Kurt Wallander series.

It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. And as if this didn’t present enough problems for the Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman’s last word is foreign, leaving the police the one tangible clue they have–and in the process, the match that could inflame Sweden’s already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.

Unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the beautiful but married young prosecutor who has peaked his interest, in this case, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, but soon comes to realize that it will require all his reserves of energy and dedication to solve.





Baking expert Flo Baker rises to the occasion with more than 200 celebration-worthy recipes for baked goods. Whether it's an impressive Dark Chocolate Custard Tart to wish someone a happy birthday, a blue ribbon-worthy batch of Fresh Mint Brownies for the annual family reunion, or an Old World Braided Coffee Cake to impress the Bridge Club, each recipe is custom-crafted to commemorate life's special events. Lots of introductory information on techniques and ingredients ensure that each treat will be baked to perfection, making this a fabulous reference for any cookbook library. Baking for all Occasions makes each day something to celebrate.







SIMPLE SHELTERS, COZY COTTAGES, HUMBLE HIDEAWAYS

Wonderfully illustrated with hundreds of photographs and scale drawings, a little house of my own is an exploration of a unique and eccentric fascination: the tiny home. Featuring Henry David Thoreau's Cabin at Walden, the Fredericksburg Sunday House, George Bernard Shaw's rotating Writing Hut, the Cape Cod Dune Shack and many more, it's a charming collection for anyone who's ever wanted to get away from it all-and still have it all under one roof.