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Showing posts from August, 2009

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

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One of the most fantastic elements of the "book world" is the sheer variety of books available, even when limiting to certain genres and subgenres. Within the paranormal romance field right now, there are so many options that the choice of what to read can be overwhelming.

After reading a few raving blog postings on various book blogs about
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber, I decided that I couldn't miss this particular paranormal romance.

Because taste is so personal, I don't feel bad to report that I didn't care for the book at all. I actually found the book rather cheesy. So far, I'm the only blogger I've come across to feel this way, though, so let me know what you think if you've read the book already or read the book in the future.

Think Victorian London (1867), and the foggy, mysterious, Gothic tone is set.

Enter Percy Parker, a rather intriguing young lady, one capable of speaking with ghosts, with a uniq…

The Winner of Shiver

The winner is The Certifiable Dieter!!!

Heading your way with an extra surprise or two included in the package.

Thanks to everyone who left comments.

13 Media Favorites of 2009

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[Leave a comment on my review of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater by the end of the day tomorrow for your chance to win my copy!]

Public Enemies movie. [I suspect that I'm fortunate my daughter went to kindergarten this month. Her conversation with a friend in pre-school this summer. My daughter: "My mom's in love with John Dillinger." Friend: "Who's that?" My daughter: "A bank robber."]

Life, the series that NBC axed. Sniff.

Dangerous Passion by Lisa Marie Rice--See my review here.

True Blood on HBO.

I've been thinking more about my favorite John Hughes-related moments on film since his death. He definitely added something special to my teenage years.

My Kindle, which I talk about way too much on here. I think one of the new Sony devices would have snagged me if I made my purchase decision today, though.

Blogs. I can't pick just one (or even thirteen!) favorites. I'm a blog addict.

The YA novel Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols. Read…

Paranoia by Joseph Finder

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There are a lot of digital books available as free downloads through Amazon for the Kindle. Sometimes an author's older work is offered for free at the time a new book is released, obviously with the hope of getting the reader to order the new book after enjoying the older book. Such is the case with the free download for Paranoia by Joseph Finder, an author I probably wouldn't have ever discovered without this free offer.

And, yes, I'll be reading more from Finder later.

The New Yorker on Paranoia, as reported on Amazon.com:

"In another age, a genre thriller fairly required the brandishing of a weapon and blood smeared on the floor. Finder's latest is the archetype of the thriller in its contemporary form: e-mail is the means of communication and threat, industrial espionage among Nasdaq competitors the field of violence. The novel's great strength is its fetishistic attention to the idioms and buzzwords of the tech business and the up-to-the-second catalogue …

This and That

Here's the list of what President Obama's reading on his current vacation.

And what does it say about our contemporary world that everyone reporting on his reading list seems to think that's too many pages for him to "get through" in a week away?? Ugh. I don't think so!

Never too early to start thinking about Banned Books Week, which is September 26-October 3 this year. Learn more from the ALA (American Library Association) here.

My best friend is a serious fan of Diana Gabaldon and her epic series about Claire and Jamie, so I know what a big deal the release of the next installment on September 22 is for Gabaldon's followers. Learn more about the book from Gabaldon's blog.

My question to you, if you're a Gabaldon fan, is what's your level of excitement about this new release? Do you wish the series had ended with the last book? Are you counting the days until you can get your hands on a copy of the new release?

What have you heard lately tha…

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

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[If you're interested in reading this book, leave a comment by Friday, August 28, 2009, and my copy could be yours. I'll have my five-year-old daughter pick the winning commenter number. I'll announce the winner here on Saturday, August 29.]

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater--think lyrical, cool (as in chilly) writing style, werewolf/human girl love obsession, and a teenage heroine emotionally estranged from her parents (of course). The take on the werewolf is very unique, and I enjoyed how the changes are gradual and also related to temperature. I don't want to give away too much on that.

Grace is a teenage girl who was saved from the pack of wolves living in the woods behind her house by one particular wolf when she was a child [see the excerpt below]. Sam is werewolf; he spends winters as a wolf, watching Grace, and summers as a human--for now. Six years after he saved Grace, Sam needs her help.

The book is told in the first-person, alternating between Grace and Sam&#…

Tangobaby Blog

Another new-to-me, but not so new to many others with the 10,000+ hits on the profile, blog that I absolutely love is Tangobaby.

Julie has the most fantastic photos on her blog as part of her i live here:SF (San Francisco) project. Anyone living in the Bay Area, or planning a visit, can contact her to make arrangements to be a part of her project. Her work moves beyond photography as remembrance to photography as art.

And the ring on her first finger in the header photo for the blog is an exact replica of my set of costume jewelry earrings and brooch that used to belong to my grandma. How could I not like Julie and her blog?

Happy blogging and blog reading!

Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

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Okay, I admit it; the cover for Best Intentions by Emily Listfield influenced my purchase decision when the book appeared on the list of books that I might enjoy from Amazon.com. Ironic when you don't get a beautiful, color cover on Kindle! Yep, I wish Kindle did provide color graphics. . . .


The book starts with a tiny blurb, the notice in a newspaper, about the body of a thirty-nine-year-old woman being found. Then we jump backwards into the story of Lisa Barkley, her husband Sam, and their college friends Deirdre and Jack, as seen from Lisa's perspective, that leads to the murder.

Although a couple back when the four were in college together, Jack is married to someone else while Deirdre has a twisted, on-and-off relationship with a hard-to-like professional photographer. Since Lisa and Deirdre were best friends in college, the two couples spent a lot of time together back then.

When Jack comes to Manhattan to celebrate his fortieth birthday with his three friends, a series of…

Killing Joe by Marie Treanor

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Product description from Amazon.com about Killing Joe by Marie Treanor:

"How many times can one man die? To professional assassin Joe, life is cheap, and crash researcher Anna just another hit. Until his own unplanned car crash changes everything. Dr. Anna Baird, dedicated to the point of obsession, suddenly finds her state-of-the-art crash test dummy haunted by a weird and exciting stranger-who seems doomed to repeatedly experience the fate he-d intended for Anna.

Lost in a reality only he and Anna inhabit, Joe finds himself falling in love with his intended victim, and ultimately fighting to save her life-because whoever hired him still wants her dead.

Warning: This title contains explicit sex, occasional bad language and extreme violence perpetrated against crash test dummies."

I would probably say "inhabited by" instead of "haunted by" in the line above because Joe isn't actually dead.

I enjoyed the unusual story, though the book is really too short …

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

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I'm so fortunate that Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay is a quick read because I couldn't stop once I started late last night until I knew what happened to Sarah and, to a lesser degree, Julia.

Here's the synopsis:

"Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in Fra…

Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn

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If the story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow was romanticized in the newspapers and true crime serials of the 1930s, and even the poetry left behind by Bonnie, Jeff Guinn's Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde goes a long way to deromanticizing their lives, apart and together, and time on the run.

Guinn paints a harsh picture of the poverty in their West Dallas and provides an almost farcical collection of facts about the crime spree. One of my favorite lines from the movie Thelma & Louise seems fitting here--"Brains will only get you so far, and luck always runs out." And I can't say that Clyde seemed to have much of either brains or luck.

Mostly stealing fast cars and stealing money from stores, when Clyde finally robbed an actual bank, he chose one that had just failed. There was one clerk, and no money in the bank. That pretty much epitomizes almost every decision made during the entire "crime spree" as reported by Guinn. The…

Michael Vick Poll

I'm running a poll on Michael Vick's return to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles on my Maya's World blog if you want to vote.

Vick's the professional (American) football player who went to jail for dogfighting.

Here he is asking for a second chance from football fans, especially Eagles' fans, in an article published today, and here's more about the rescued dogs.

As an aside, I think his signing with the Eagles, in tough, racially-divided Philadelphia, is interesting.
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Many thanks to my friend Kym for pointing me to the free download of Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann offered on Oprah.com last week. I had the opportunity to read and enjoy a book that I probably wouldn't have ever read otherwise.

Using the true event of Philippe Petit walking a tightrope between the two World Trade Center buildings on August 7, 1974 as a backdrop, McCann explores the lives of several people in New York at the time who are all connected, one way or another. Besides learning about each person through his or her own eyes, we have the opportunity to explore certain happenings, like a tea in an Upper East Side apartment attended by mothers who have all lost at least one son in Vietnam and a fatal car accident, from different points of view.

McCann covers a range of characters--two Irish brothers who are as different as can be, a Jewish judge and his wife who lost their only child to Vietnam, a black woman who lost all three of her sons to Vietnam, and the hip…

Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels--Free Download--Review

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I read my free download of Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch, the Harlequin Intrigue by B.J. Daniels, yesterday.
The prologue of the book shows a murder in an old well on Cardwell Ranch. Fast forward seventeen years to the start of the book, when the discovery of the body brings ranch owner Dana Cardwell into contact with her ex-fiance and acting Sheriff, Hudson Savage, after five years apart. To add a little spice, the discovery of the body happens on Dana's birthday.
Excerpt from a surprise birthday party at the fabric shop Dana co-owns with her best friend Hilde:
p. 30 ""Quick! Make a wish!" her friend Margo cried.
Dana closed her eyes for an instant, made a wish, then braving the heat of thirty-one candles flickering on a sheet cake, blew as hard as she could, snuffing out every last one of them to the second chorus of happy birthday.
"Tell me you didn't wish Hud dead," Hilde whispered next to her as the smoke started to dissipate.
"And have my wish not…

A Book a Day Blog

A Book a Day: Adventures of a Compulsive Reader from Angie is one of my favorite new-to-me blogs.

Here's the blog's About the Book a Day Project section:

"I decided to start this blog because I have more spare time than anyone I know and I need to stop using so much of that time watching Dallas reruns. So starting on January 1, 2009, I began reading a book a day for the entire year and writing about it here.

So please join me for a fun, light hearted, interesting (I hope) journey through my year of compulsive, indiscriminate reading."

Besides her writing style, which is entertaining and includes lots of personal information in addition to her book reviews, Angie covers a nice range of books in her selections. Books read in just August include The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand, Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Park, and Wifework: What Marriage Really Means for Women by Susan Maushart.

I'm hoping Angie continues to b…

Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels--Free Download

As part of the Harlequin Ambassadors program, I just received an e-mail with a free download of Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch, a Harlequin Intrigue by B.J. Daniels, to read and share with friends and family.

Here's the description from the e-mail message:

"After Hudson Savage betrayed her, Dana Cardwell hoped never to lay eyes on the seductive cowboy again. But now Dana's life is on the line and Hudson will do whatever it takes to keep Dana close and safe--even if it means risking his own heart for a second chance for both of them. . . ."

Let me know by September 10th if you would like me to forward a copy of the e-mail with the free download attached to you. After the 10th, I'll be deleting the e-mail from my inbox.

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Susan Koslow

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The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow begins when Molly is already dead. Through memories and what Molly observes in the lives of her loved ones after her death, we learn about Molly's life, especially her seven years of marriage to plastic surgeon Barry Marx and her too-short time as little Annabel's mother.
Koslow does an effective job of slowly revealing details about Molly's life and her death through this funny, touching narrative. Were Molly and Barry content in their marriage? How did Molly die? And was it murder, suicide, or an accident?
An excerpt from the beginning of the book, when Molly is observing her funeral:
"Wherever it is I’m off to, I hope they notice the shoes—black satin, terrifyingly high slingbacks, with excellent toe cleavage. I only wore them once, those shoes, and that night Barry and I barely left the dance floor. When we shimmied and whirled, it was almost like sex: we became the couple people thought we were. The Dr. and Mrs. Marx I, …

Sweet Persuasion by Maya Banks

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Although I've often looked at her books in stores, Sweet Persuasion is my first reading of a Maya Banks book, and I don't think I'll rush to read another one by her.

Serena James is the owner of Fantasy Incorporated, a woman who has spent her career making the (nonsexual) fantasies of her clients come true. She seeks assistance from Damon Roche, a friend of a friend and the owner of a very successful private BDSM club, in finding someone to make her personal fantasies of being a submissive come true. After meeting Serena and reading her explicit letter about her exact fantasies, Damon offers to be Serena's dominant partner.

Of course, Damon really wants a woman who can become his permanent submissive. Is Serena that woman? Or will they go their separate ways at the end of her fantasy?

There was actually quite a bit more substance to this book than I expected. The reader learns a lot about Serena. That being said, the sex scenes are also very graphic and left me feeling u…

Remaking America's Health-Care System, The Lancet

The current issue of The Lancet, based out of London and one of the top medical journals, has a one-page editorial titled Remaking America's Health-Care System that is worth a read.

The most revealing factual information:

"The cost of the current U.S. health system is astronomical--$2.5 trillion a year (the highest in the world)--comprising a fifth of the nation's economy and roughly $6600 spending per person. A third of every U.S. dollar spent on health is lost to bureaucracy."

Access is available to this editorial free of charge after registering at the site, or let me know, and I can e-mail a copy to you.

As an aside, I'm a Democrat, very liberal on many issues, yet not a fan of President Obama. While I'm not completely sold on the President's healthcare reform package, I strongly believe something needs to be done. Too many Americans are suffering physically, mentally, and financially because they are either uninsured or underinsured.

And, yes, I believe a…

13 Current Loves

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[Thinking concrete, materialistic kinds of love--not people or dogs or sunshine or playing in the park kinds of love.]1. The bookmark my sister sent me from their trip to Hawaii. "Aloha from the land of many Waterfalls" with four photos. Lovely. Plus a ton of postcards--and even some letters. I finally found an upside to the fact that my sisters pack for trips like they won't be returning home for a year; she wrote in part to cut weight because of the current airline restrictions. 2. My new Marucca purse. My exact fabric isn't on the site, but here's the general idea of what I have. I have a black fabric with pink and beige designs. I think Maya has kept her hands off the purse because it's not bright and sparkly. Whew.3. My Kindle. Can't say that too often. Love it!4. Dangerous Passionby Lisa Marie Rice. There's nothing better than when a long-awaited book actually meets your expectations.5. bing from Microsoft. Truly a better search experience than …

Dangerous Passion by Lisa Marie Rice

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Oh, the fun of wakening yesterday, release day, to find my much-anticipated copy of Dangerous Passion by Lisa Marie Rice waiting in my Kindle. I absolutely love the instant gratification of the Kindle, and I can't repeat that often enough!!

Viktor "Drake" Drakovich is a billionaire--ruthless, lived on the streets as a kid, and now living a life surrounded by security and luxury. His fascination with artist Grace Larsen's creations on the gallery wall lead to a fascination with the artist herself. Content to secretly watch Grace during her twice-monthly visits to the art gallery, from whom Drake buys all of her work, of course, his interest is brought into the open when Drake's new enemy targets Grace to get to him.

This story reads a lot like Rice's Sequestered in the collection Secrets, Volume 9: The Best in Women's Erotica. (See my review here.) I enjoyed Sequestered, so seeing the story with different characters in a longer version is a plus to me. And, …

The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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The Double: A Poem of St. Petersburg, originally published in 1846, is the second work from Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, later referred to as Golyadkin senior, is a civil servant. A regular working guy, tied to a desk, dealing with office politics and a rather boring life, is my take on the start of the book.

Then Golyadkin's double, called Golyadkin junior, appears. Same name, same appearance, working in the same office--and out to get Golyadkin senior.

Is Golyadkin junior real? Is Golyadkin senior delusional, paranoid, schizophrenic, or what? While I'm not at all sure, I think the book reads like a descent into madness narrative, leaving me to believe that Golyadkin junior is real only in Golyadkin senior's own mind.

Here's an example of the internal dialogue that reads like madness:

"Yet the danger was imminent; it was evident; Mr. Golyadkin felt it; but how to grapple with it, with this danger? - that was the question. The thought even flashed thr…

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann--Free Download!

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Thanks to a tip from my friend Kym, I went to Oprah's site today to download Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann for free. This offer is only good through Wednesday, so move now if you're interested.

From the publisher, as listed by Barnes & Noble:

"Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to pr…