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Friday, November 27, 2009

Hachette Book Giveaway - Seventh Heaven - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

7th Heaven

By James Patterson, Maxine Paetro

Thanks to Valerie at Hachette Book Group. I have five copies of Seventh Heaven to give away.

The Women's Murder Club faces not one-but two-terrifying cases that may tear it apart. The teenage son of California's ex-governor has mysteriously vanished-and the pressure on Detective Lindsay Boxer to find him is overwhelming. When she finally does get a lead, it's devastating. At the same time, Lindsay and her partner, Rich Conklin, must investigate mysterious fires that are destroying some of San Francisco's most beautiful homes-and leaving their owners dead in the debris. But when Lindsay enlists her friends in the Women's Murder Club to help uncover the arsonist, the blazes suddenly rage much too close to home .
Publish Date:12/1/2009
Size: 4-3/16" x 6-3/4"

The giveaway ends December 15th and winners will be selected by random drawing through random.org. I will announce the winners sometime after that date and send and email to you.
  • US and Canda only.
  • No P.O. Boxes and
  • I am going to say it is for 18 and over only.
  • Hachette books will send you your copy.
To enter just leave a comment with your email address. This will get you one entry. You get another entry just for following this blog. Let me know if and how you follow. Tweet, Facebook, or post about the giveaway and you get five extra entries.

Good Luck!

There is a reading group guide for this book: (click here for other book extras)

Reading Group Guide Below (May Contain Spoilers)

1. Arson is a very curious crime to commit. Why do you think someone would be drawn to this crime? Do you believe in Freud’s theory as stated in the book?

2. In your opinion, would Junie’s occupation affect her credibility in the courtroom? Should it? For example, is a lawyer or doctor a more credible defendant/witness than a garbage collector?

3. In trying Junie Moon, Yuki tried to use public sympathy for Michael Campion to turn the jury against the defendant. What do you think of that type of tactic in a trial setting?

4. Conklin suspects Chuck Hanni, the arson investigator, for actually committing the arson crimes in the book. Why do you think serial murderers would choose professions close to their crimes?

5. Junie Moon’s intelligence and self esteem are brought up by the defense as reasons why she could have given a false confession. Do you think everyone who confesses is guilty? Do you believe interrogations should be taped?

6. In Junie Moon’s trial, much of the prosecution’s case is based on spoken testimony. What is your opinion on convicting someone for murder without physical evidence, but compelling testimony?

7. The Moluccan cockatoo Peaches, formerly known as Horndog, was described as depressed when it was living in the pet store. Do you think it is possible for animals to get depressed or have psychological problems like people?

8. Joe voices his worry that Lindsay’s relationship with Rich has become more intimate than the typical office relationship. Do you think Lindsay’s relationship with Rich could lead to something inadvertently? Should she request a change of partner out of respect for her relationship with Joe? Who do you think is better suited to Lindsay?

9. Connor Campion was very controlling of Michael because he feared for his son’s life. How can modern parents set appropriate boundaries with their children in an age where kids have access to cell phones, computers and other devices that allow them to live lives fairly independent of their parents?

10. As prosecutor it is Yuki’s right to believe the Junie is guilty and her duty to try her as such. There is a moral dilemma if a prosecutor feels that a defendant could be innocent or if a defense lawyer feels their client may be guilty. How do you think defense lawyers and prosecutors reconcile these conflicts?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kindle Review - A Device Review by Toni

I just have to report in on my Kindle. I haven't read single full book on it yet, but will report when I do.

I can't stay quiet any longer. I have to say I am becoming Kindle addict. So shameful, but I have a feeling in book blog land I will be understood. Right? Please tell me that you understand.

Here are my thoughts:

The screen: Clear and easy to read with six font sizes to select.

The audio: The text to speech function is not bad. (This is where the text can be read to you). It gave me a few laughs hearing A Tale of Two Cities "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.." in male and then female robot voice, but it would do the trick if you needed your eyes for something else at the time..like knitting!

The functionality: I don't know about a lot of you but a lot of times when I get a new gadget, phone or what not, I am lost for a few days figuring things out. I didn't find that to be the case with the Kindle 2. I was able to navigate in simple ways and ways that made sense right from the get go.

The basic web function: It works great. Not for surfing the next but it is capable to get a message across if needed. If you want to google something or even send a Tweet. Not that I need the Kindle 2 for that but it is nice to have the option. And since I belong to an online book club I can easily send a quick note if needed right from the device.

Downloading books: I have downloaded classic BIG FAT books in 16 seconds or less. I have used Kindle's document service to convert pdf's in a very short time for a very small fee. I have also used Kindle's document free document service and it works great and quickly also. On the the free service you have to actually hook Kindle up to the USB to get the file to the kindle. It was as easy and drag and drop.

Audio Books: The Kindle 2 plays my MP3 audio books from Audible just great. It is nice not to have to carry the Ipod and the Kindle. I know, I know, how big is an Ipod? But again.. One little 10 ounce device is really cool.

The problem: I lay in bed or just about anywhere I go and I am so indulgent. I read a little Moby Dick, a little Charles Dickens, a little Jane Austin, and then I listen to my audio books. I browse and browse for books and before I know it, It is past my bedtime. It is definitely slurping away hours. But you know hours lost to books, authors or literary reasons, are not hours lost at all. It is over all life enrichment. I also am a bit unfocused right now with my piles of ARC's to be read and reviewed. And the Kindle calls .....

Have I lost my craving to wander among the book stores? No! Have I love to the desire to stare into the artwork of a lovely book cover, NO! Have I lost the urge to hold a chunker book in my hands? No! Have I lost my urge to go to the library and check out books? Nope nope. This is a great way to have my literary options at my fingertips and control the number of books coming into this house. (please don't quote me on that or hold me to it).

I really love my Kindle as a modern day device to enhance my bookish pleasure. Is it just a new gadget? Or will it stand the test of time like my first copy of Gone with the Wind? Time will tell and I will keep you posted.

***I bought my kindle and I am reviewing for my own pleasure. I am not affiliated with Amazon or any amazon companies. This is not an ad.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mailbox Monday 11/23

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page:

I had another great week. I know I need to be forthcoming with some reviews. Things got so out of control with many things in my life. I really want to settle down and read, knit and blog. So I just need to calm down and read some books!

This week I got a copy of: I will be getting two. One for me and one for a giveaway.
(Check back.. I will post the giveaway this week)

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, (Harper - Thank you!)

Say You're One of Them, by Uwem Akpan ( From Hachette, thank you!)

The Piano Teacher, Janice Y. K. Lee ( From Penguin- Thank you!)

I will post more about these books later in the week or with their reviews. I received these books as free copies to review.

I have two more giveaways coming this week. Don't forget to check back and have a lovely week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mailbox Monday - November 16th

Hello there! Happy Monday! What showed up in your mailbox this week? Care to Share?
Join this fun Blog meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. It is where we all link up to share what books came in our mailboxes this past week.

This week I got:

The Last Song, Nicholas Sparks
( A free review copy from Hachette books)

About the book:
#1 bestselling author Nicholas Sparks's new novel is at once a compelling family drama and a heartrending tale of young love.

Seventeen year old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alientated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.

The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels--first love, love between parents and children -- that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts...and heal them.

A Separate Country, Robert Hicks
( A free review copy from Hachette books)

About the book:
A Multi-Cast Production Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army--and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. Starting fresh after the war, he married Anna Marie Hennen and fathered 11 children with her, including three sets of twins.

I also have a bit of great news. This weekend I became the proud owner of a Kindle 2. Stay tuned for my review. So far the only thing I have read in full was a Fairy Tale called, "One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes." And I have to report that I thoroughly enjoyed it. So far I have to say that the device exceeds my expectations and I am thrilled over my purchase. (I was happy about the new lower price).

It took less than 17 seconds to download War and Peace. I have also added two knitting patterns that I am knitting. NO MORE printing paper patterns. I can highlight as I work on a row and make permanent notes! I can enlarge the font for easy following! Oh shush my mouth, I need to save it for the review. Have a great Week

Winners - November Hachette Audio Book Giveaways.

Hey everyone!
Thanks for signing up for the giveaways. We've got winners to announce!

9 Dragons, by Michael Connelly, Audio Books:


A Change in Altitude, A Novel by Anita Shreve, Audio Book


Say You're One of Them, Uwem Akpan, Audio Book

It's Just Me Wendy
Belinda M

You can click on the titles to link for information on the audio books. If you didn't win, I'd like to say I have read a lot of great reviews on these titles which is one of the reasons I wanted to host a giveaway for them. A great big thanks to Anna at Hachette books for the opportunity to offer these great books.

Check your emails this week for a winners announcement email. Thank you everyone.

Have a great week. I close with a photo of The Pirate and The Hound two of my favorite guys!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mailbox Monday 11/9

Mailbox Monday is Hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Thank you Marcia.

This week I won the first book over at Bookin' with Bingo. You have to trek on over there to see her giveaways and her great blog.

I got:

Love Your Body, Love your Life (5 steps to End Negative Body Obessession and Start Living Happily and Confidently) , by Sara Maria

I also got The Heretics Daughter, Kathleen Kent from Valerie at Hachette Books. (Click here to check out the details of this one)

That is about it for the week. I am busy busy and I am trying to make up my mind over a Sony Pocket Reader vs. The Kindle 2.

Rain - W. Somerset Maugham - A Review by Toni

Rain, W. Somerset Maugham

Rain is a short story by W. Somerset Maugham. I really enjoyed the story. I am a newbie to Maugham, even though I have acquired quite a collection of his works. If the writing in this story is any indication of the rest of his works, then I will be immersed in more of his works this winter. I read this from a paperback book off my shelf called: The Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham Vol. I, Rain and other stories. It looks like I have the second edition printing, 1968 by Washington Square Press. I got the book at a library book sale for less than 50 cents.

The story is descriptive and well written. I enjoyed getting into the plot and scenery from the very onset of the story. We have a doctor and his wife traveling with a missionary and his wife. They end up on a Pacific South Sea Island called Pago-Pago. The story takes place over a short period of time while the travelers are detained on this island due to an outbreak of measles that causes a temporary quarantine.

The missionary and his wife are self righteous. While of the same class/race as the missionary couple, the doctor and his wife are a bit less pious and judgemental. They have "paired" as traveling companions with the missionary couples if only for the reason that no one else "qualifies" to be companions with them. They look down on the sins of the fellow travellers as well as the natives whom they view as completely sinful. They are forced to share a place of lodging with a woman who is less than pious and righteous in her ways and that sets the stage of the story. At first we don't quite know the extent of this woman's brazen behavior, but she does drink, play the gramophone, and entertain men at night. Regardless of her state of "righteousness," the doctor's wife and missionary's wife have judged her by her appearance before they even know, claiming she "looks fast."

The wives are bent of gawking and judging while the missionary husband is set on a mission to cleanse her of her sin. He is bent on bringing her to her knees to repent. He makes a visit to her room one night to stop her behavior.

What unfolds is interesting and the author clearly exposes the religious hypocrisy of the missionary man.

The "fallen" woman in the story was quite funny at first. I couldn't help but be reminded of Cathy Bates role as Molly Brown in Titanic. I am not sure if you recall but she wasn't bad at all, but the others looked down on her for her spunk and her "new money. " Sorry, I digress.

I won't reveal any more. I enjoyed the descriptive, eloquent writer. I really love the mastery over writing that Maugham displays in this story. I love books that are written in a South Seas setting.

Here is a sample:
When he came on deck next morning they were close to land. He looked at it with greedy eyes. There was a thin strip of silver beach rising quickly to hills covered to the top with luxuriant vegetation. The coconut trees, thick and green, came nearly to the water`s edge, and among them you saw the grass houses of the Samoaris; and here and there, gleaming white, a little church. Mrs. Davidson came and stood beside him. She was dressed in black, and wore round her neck a gold chain, from which dangled a small cross. She was a little woman, with brown, dull hair very elaborately arranged, and she had prominent blue eyes behind invisible pince-nez. Her face was long, like a sheep`s, but she gave no impression of foolishness, rather of extreme alertness; she had the quick movements of a bird. The most remarkable thing about her was her voice, high, metallic, and without inflection; it fell on the ear with a hard monotony, irritating to the nerves like the pitiless clamour of the pneumatic drill.

This story gave me just want I wanted out of a short story. It was fast, well written, engaging, descriptive. So much better than a 30 minute sit-com. If you want to read it on line you can do so HERE.

Have a great week. Enjoy your books. If you have a review of this work, feel free to link in a comment so we can check it out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bear Portraits - A Review by Toni

Bear Portraits, by Jill Greenberg

Full Description:
(from the publisher)

A top celebrity portrait photographer, Jill Greenberg has a unique ability to coax powerful emotions out of her subjects - whether human or animal. Her portraits of bears, collected here for the first time, surprise and engage. We encounter cubs as cute as a child's Teddy, grizzlies that look like they might swallow you whole, and Polar bears seated in Sphinx-like tranquility.

Full-grown brown bears, grizzlies, black bears, Polar bears, and bear cubs are photographed on location against a portrait backdrop. The poses and facial expressions are at turns oddly comedic, pensive, terrifying, and sometimes unexpectedly human. Alive with Greenberg's signature lighting and seen through the unique perspective of her lens, these startling bear
portraits bring us face to face with our fears and fantasies.

About the Author: (From the publisher)

Jill Greenberg regularly shoots advertising and celebrity portrait photography for such clients as Dreamworks, Sony Pictures, HBO, Bacardi, Rolling Stone, Time and Newsweek. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and began her career in New York City. Jill now resides in Los Angeles with her husband Robert and children.

My thoughts:

Do you like Bears? Actually it doesn't matter if you love them or not because you probably will after reading this book. I love bears. I love to knit bears and just see them. Not that I'd want to run into a live one, but I do love them.

This book is chalk full of stunning Bear Portraits. Once again I jumped into the book to look at the pictures without reading the wonderful detailed introduction from the author. I had a lot of questions, when I went back and read all about the author and the bears the pictures meant so much more. The photos are stunning and there are a lot of celebrity/famous people quotes to flavor up the portrait viewing.

This is a wonderful tribute to bears. I really really enjoyed the book and I will enjoy it for a long time to come. I recommend this lovely book to anyone. It is a perfect gift Idea. Even for yourself.

Thank you Anna From Hachette Book Group for sending this great book.


The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck - A Reivew by Toni

The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck - 1961

This book, as well as John Steinbeck's complete works, has been on my list of books to read for quite a while. I choose this book for our Sept/ Oct reading selection for our reading club, The Page Turners. The book was not a hit with my book club. I will go on a limb to say it is possibly because after reading East of Eden, and Grapes of Wrath, perhaps the bar is raised to high story and character-wise for some to enjoy this particular work of Steinbeck. Also perhaps this story does not compare to a lot of the more dramatic story/plot driven themes of fictional books that are out currently. So, I think this is going to be a very challenging review for me to write. I will give a little summary and let you make up your own mind.

Brief Summary:
The book is about Ethan Hawley. He comes from a family that has generations of respect and wealth. The family fortune has drizzled and been depleted by the time we get to the story, all Ethan has is the family house and a small inheritance that came to his wife from her brother. Ethan is a clerk in a store owned by Alfio Maurillo an Italian immigrant. Ethan has also survived serving in WWII so we see how that experience has affected his life and his views on morals and integrity to country, family and self.

In my opinion Ethan could be happy with this life if not for the needs and wants of his wife and children along with social pressure. He is a man with a wonderful work ethic and very high moral ground. He knows that his wife (Mary) and kids (Allen and Ellen) are wanting material things that he can not afford such as cars, TVs, and other things that he can not provide for them. Even a simple family vacation is not in their grasp. He sees signs of moral decay in his children. He sees the decline in respect for their elders and work ethic. Ethan is a man of high moral integrity and he has no desire to bend and stoop to the lowered standards of morality in which seem to surround him and yet he is tempted.

In this story we watch Ethan struggle to justify bending the rules to get ahead in life. We have an inside view to his actions and thoughts via the awesome first person narrative voice. He comes across opportunities to get ahead that very from lightly sinister to very criminal. Through Steinbeck's clever and elegant prose we get to see how these actions and behaviors are justified and played out to bring Ethan the opportunities for wealth. Some of the opportunities are whether or not he will turn in Maurillo for being an illegal immigrant? Will he go after a sexy middle aged seductress? Will he take a surcharge on supplies for the shop? Will he rob a bank?

Opinion and Thoughts
I liked the story. I have a hard time saying, "go get this book and read it, you won't regret it," because I think it could be one of those hit and miss books. It might not seem relevant, and yet it can be relevant. But it took some thinking on my part to see it as relevant. Once my mind got going with moral corruption and decay I couldn't help think in our time we are so desensitized to moral corruption because of all the high profile people in one money, sex, or corrupt scandal after another, that Ethan's actions may seem commonplace. Or maybe we can't see why he is so conflicted.

When the book opened up, it read like a 1960's movie. While reading I was thinking of what the other members were thinking of it and I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoy it now in my memory. It was witty, sarcastic and well written.

I am a huge John Steinbeck fan and for me the book did not disappoint. I would read it and I couldn't seem to put it down. But I did not find myself rushing to pick it back up even though I knew that each time I didn't want to put it down. I read it in three to four sitting over a month. That is rather strange for me for a book that I like. The first time I stopped to keep pace with the group. Then it felt like a chore to pick it up. Perhaps I knew I knew I wouldn't get lost in a super plot driven book. And perhaps I knew I would feel Steinbeck's agitation. Yes, I think so! I could feel Steinbeck in there struggling it out with Ethan. Sometimes it was frustrating and seemed like work. Oh! The power of a good writer!

The book has lingered with me and even today in my office I sit here observing others and wonder if they are having an "Ethan Hawley" moment. For me that mean holding high moral integrity, or being able to justify the wrong action as reasonable, as an end to a means. For East of Eden fans, this will bring to mind Timshel. I believe that John Steinbeck had this always in his mind and his thoughts and in his writing. And that is why I continue to be a fan and will continue to savor his works. This was the last work published before he died. A year later he won the Nobel Prize for literature. It was a prize he didn't feel he deserved. I firmly believe as much as any one has ever deserved it, he did.

I found a detailed amazing review here.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Knit the Season - A Review by Toni

Knit the Season
, by Kate Jacobs is the third book in the Friday Night Knitting Club Series. I was lucky enough to read The first book, The Friday Night Knitting Club and Knit Two with my online book club, The Page Turners. In many ways we are like the Friday Night Knitting Club members. We enjoyed both books and we had the pleasure of Kate Jacobs joining in our live book chat. (book club visit link) It was a special event for our club.

It takes about 30 seconds to sink down into the book and get reacquainted with the members of this remarkable knitting club. It is just a delight to get back into the lives of the club members. Each woman in the club has their hurdles and joys that are unique to them. Their issues feel so real and believable. It really could be any of my friends or family or even me!

This time around, surrounded by the holiday themes of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and the Special New Year's celebration, we get to spend another truly special time with Dakota, KC, Catherine, Peri, Darwin, Anita, Marty and the rest of the gang. Will we get to back to Scotland to spend time with Gran? And will that very special wedding finally happen?

The book is about family and friendships. It is about a legacy of a woman and her daughter, and the special bonds that can never be broken even long after one has left this world. The glimpses into Georgia's life through memories will bring many kinds of tears to your eyes. It is truly special and makes this book extra meaningful and addictive. I really have missed Georgia and this is a wonderful way to get to "spend time with her." In fact it is a special way for any of us who have lost a special person to bring them back into our lives whenever we need to smile through our tears.

This book did not disappoint me in anyway. It surpassed my expectation. I will go out on a limb and say that I feel I enjoyed it as much if not more than the the other books in the series. The book is charmingly addictive and satisfying.
This book is on sale today! I wholeheartedly recommend this book, as well as the series, to anyone. I will also note that this book is special to me because of the knitting shop and the knitting projects, but you do not have to be a knitter to enjoy this series.

Kate Jacobs has a friendly website. Check it out!
My friend Dar at Peeking Between the Pages has an interview with Kate on her site today.

PS. Knit Two, (The second book in the series) is also on sale today in paperback!
Here is my review.
Here is a review from Dar from Peeking between the Pages.

Thank you to the publisher for my free review copy and thank you Kate for another heartwarming book in the series. I truly can not wait for the next one!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mailbox Monday - November 2nd

Mailbox Monday - Hosted by Marcia at the Printed Page. Stop by to see what everyone got in their mailboxes this week.

I got some good stuff over the last few weeks. I have been a little busy to post but I really really love Mailbox Mondays. It is great to share the fun stuff that came.

Bear Portraits by Jill Greenberg. Thank you Anna From Hachette.

Ansel Adams in Color (click here for my review) Thank you Anna from Hachette.

When Everything Changed, The Amazing Journey of American Woman from 1960 to the Present, by Gail Collins.

Between Here and April, Deborah Copaken Kogan, from Algonquin. Thank you!!!!

Outlander, Diana Gabaldon - a cool pocket book edition from Bantam Dell Marketing.

I also ordered and received The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude, Sarah Ban Breathnach.

I am very excited that November 3rd Kate Jacobs new book Knit the Season is coming out. Please come back to A Circle of Books to hear a little buzz about the book. I just love this series.