"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

News About the Soon to be Released Cress

USA Today recently interviewed Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder and Scarlet about her upcoming book to be released next February - Cress.  Marissa reveals the cover for Cress and, thanks to the publisher, you can read an excerpt from Cress now.  Visit USA Today for this exciting opportunity!

Can you guess which fairy tale Cress is adopted from?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: About a Girl by Lindsey Kelk

About a Girl
Author:  Lindsey Kelk
Published:  July 2013
Publisher:  Harper
Paperback:  416 pages
Source:  ebook 

Author's website:  http://lindseykelk.com/books

I’d lost my job. I’d lost the love of my life. My mum wasn’t talking to me. My best friend was epically pissed off. And my flatmate probably had a hit out on me by now. I never meant for things to get so out of hand…

Tess Brookes has always been a Girl with a Plan. But when her carefully constructed Plan goes belly up, she’s forced to reconsider.

After accidently answering her flatmate Vanessa’s phone, she decides that since being Tess isn’t going so well, why shouldn’t she try out being Vanessa? With nothing left to lose, she accepts Vanessa’s photography assignment to Hawaii – she used to be an amateur snapper, how hard can it be? Right?

But Tess is soon in big trouble – she isn’t a photographer, she isn’t Vanessa, and the gorgeous journalist on the shoot with her, who is making it very clear he’d like to get into her pants, is an egotistical monster.

Far from home and in someone else’s shoes, Tess must decide whether to fight on through, or ‘fess up and run…

My Thoughts:

Tess Brookes has a dream job, two best friends (one of whom she is secretly in love with - Charlie), and life is going well.  Oh, and she has the worst roommate ever!

Then the worst week of her life happens and Tess makes a rash decision to pretend to be her roommate, take a photography job in Hawaii, and disappear from her life in London....a life that has been turned upside down.  In Hawaii she may find herself...she certainly finds a super hot guy....

I can't imagine doing what Tess did.  Tess used to be stable, even predictable but taking on Vanessa's persona gives her a bit of freedom to be someone else and to see another aspect of life.  She's fun and beautiful but not so sure she is either.  She is real and Nick likes all of that. But oh what a web Tess has woven for herself.  You can't help liking her though.  She is so down to earth, and lively, and she's taking chances some of us would only dream about.  Totally out of character, but then she's not Tess in Hawaii.  She can redefine herself....if she wants to.

If you like chick lit like Confessions of a Shopaholic but with a bit more language and certainly more love life, then you will have fun reading About a Girl.

The next in the series "What a Girl Wants" is expected out next summer.  (2014)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Man Booker Prize Long list 2013 Announced

The 2013 long list consists of 13 books.  Here it is:

Tash Aw, Five Star Billionaire (Fourth Estate).

NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names (Chatto & Windus).

Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (Granta).

Jim Crace, Harvest (Picador).

Eve Harris, The Marrying of Chani Kaufman (Sandstone Press).

Richard House, The Kills (Picador). 

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Bloomsbury).

Alison MacLeod, Unexploded (Hamish Hamilton).

Colum McCann, TransAtlantic (Bloomsbury).

Charlotte Mendelson, Almost English (Mantle).

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate).

Donal Ryan, The Spinning Heart (Doubleday Ireland).

Colm Tóibín, The Testament of Mary (Viking)


Have you read any of these?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Extraordinary Rendition - now available as an Amazon Big Box Deal for a limited time only.

Extraordinary Rendition was just chosen for an Amazon Big Box Deal and it’s available now for just $0.99.   The deal will be going on from now until August 4/13. (http://amzn.to/13SJ6sv)

Read an excerpt here.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Letters From Skye
Author:  Jessica Brockmole
Published: July 2013
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Pages:  304
Source:  thank you to TLC book tours and the publisher for the complimentary copy of Letters From Skye, receipt of which bears no influence on my opinion nor this review.
See more reviews for Letters From Skye on the TLC book tour here.  

A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.
March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.
June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.
Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail, Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.
My thoughts:
It all starts with a fan letter and becomes Letters From Skye to the states and back, growing into something much more.  Years later the coincidental likeness of daughter Margaret's relationship to her own, stirs deep seated feelings within Elspeth.  She tries to warn Margaret of the dangers but as is often the case of young love, it falls upon deaf ears.  It takes a bomb and her mother's disappearance for Margaret to begin to understand.  The clues are few but Margaret must know.
This debut at first reminded me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  which I love.  Both stories were revealed through the correspondence of the characters.  Both occur over the same time period, that during world war.  Both take place overseas.
The characters are different.  Their stories dissimilar.  Only the circumstances bear a resemblance but Jessica Brockmole crafts a story of love and secrecy that allows this novel to stand on its own and it succeeds incredibly well.
The personalities of Elspeth and David are quirky, a little eccentric, and smart.  It's no wonder a love develops between the two.  I loved to read how they encouraged each other, drew out desires, withdrew fears and hopes and dreams.  I enjoyed seeing their love blossom.
I understand Elspeth's fear for Margaret who has fallen in love with an air force pilot during what is yet again war time.  It must have felt very much like de ja vu.  We learn of these fears through correspondence so we feel of these emotions more than we hear them.  I think that is hard to do but Jessica accomplishes it with ease.
For lovers of historical romance; an emotional tale that is joyous, sad and yet hopeful; it's all here.  All in all Letters From Skye is a beautiful story that I will read again and I would most definitely recommend it.
Jessica Brockmole spent several years living in Scotland, where she knew too well the challenges in maintaining relationships from a distance.  She plotted her first novel on a long drive from the Isle of Skye to Edinburgh.  She now lives in Indiana with her husband and two children.
To learn more about Jessica and her work, visit her website atwww.jabrockmole.com.

Review: Reluctantly Related by Deanna Brann, Ph.D.

Reluctantly Related
Author:  Deanna Brann, Ph.D.
Illustrator: Donald Hoenig
Publisher:  Ambergris Publishing
Published:  2013
Pages: 185 including a questionnaire and a brief biography
Genre:  self-help: relationships
Edition:  ARC

Source:  I received this advanced reader's copy from Rebecca at Cadence Group in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

With humour, compassion and focus, in-law expert Dr. Deanna Brann shows you step by step how to bring positive, lasting change to your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law (MIL or DIL) relationship.  Her groundbreaking research and powerful techniques have helped women nationwide to live happier, healthier and more peaceful lives with the women in their extended-by-marriage families.

  • Understand why your in-law relationship is so hard
  • Learn powerful tools and techniques to bring peace and lasting change to your in-law relationship
  • Change your relationship without having to confront your in-law

My thoughts:

When I was asked to consider reviewing Reluctantly Related I really wanted to so I could be sure I would be the kind of mother-in-law I wanted to be, not that any of my grown children are married yet but they will be, right?  Reluctantly Related helped me beyond my original intent.  It helped me realize that I, perhaps, am not the most ideal daughter-in-law.  Gasp!

Dr. Deanna Brann eases the reader in by telling her story of a conflict with her daughter-in-law from both her own perspective and then from her DIL's, helping us to see both sides to the story, because there are always two sides, right.

Following which, we are introduced to the three main types of MILs and DILs, not to mention the types of sons-in-law and husbands.  I want to be Comfortable Carla, to have an identity beyond being a mother and to be clear about my new role as mother to a grown son.  I don't want to be, most of all, the Off-the-Wall Wanda!  (see page 74 for clarification).

Now, just so you don't think I am totally to blame in my DIL relationship with my MIL, let me share a couple scenarios.  

MIL comes up, a 6 hour drive, for an extended visit.  Upon viewing our new house she says, "That reminds me.  I have to clean my blinds." Or another visit where she just got out the vacuum and started vacuuming!  My house is not dirty but at the time I had five young kids and little things like dusting were not so important as taking care of our family was, plus I had a full-time job outside the home.  I think I dusted the blinds once a month.  So now I am getting defensive.  See the pattern?
Dr. Brann helps the reader identify patterns. Examining backgrounds of the individuals with case examples, she helps the reader to see beyond their own situations and to better understand the intent behind actions and words.  

Now, understanding that my MIL is likely a Mothering Margaret, I can tolerate her actions a little better and know how to react in a peaceful manner without holding in my temper and later sulking and telling on her to my husband.  Yes, I did that!

So, what began as an endeavour to be a good MIL myself, might just make me become a better and understanding DIL too.  More good than I bargained for.

If you have relationship "issues" or have the same desire as I, to be a good MIL or DIL; I highly recommend Reluctantly Related.  PS Having your husband read it too would be a good thing!

Monday, July 15, 2013

What's the Buzz? Did you know JK Rowling published a mystery under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith? Check it out!!

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.
The Cuckoo's Calling was published April 30, 2013 by Little, Brown and Company.

J.K. Rowling's statement regarding The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith: 

"I hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience! It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name. 
The upside of being rumbled is that I can publicly thank my editor David Shelley, who has been a true partner in crime, all those people at Little, Brown who have been working so hard on The Cuckoo’s Calling without realising that I wrote it, and the writers and reviewers, both in the newspapers and online, who have been so generous to the novel. And to those who have asked for a sequel, Robert fully intends to keep writing the series, although he will probably continue to turn down personal appearances."

After her success with the Harry Potter series and a somewhat disappointing foray into general fiction with Casual Vacancy (depending upon whose review you read), J.K. Rowling has revealed she is the mystery writer behind Robert Galbraith's mystery novel "The Cuckoo's Calling."

It sold incredibly well on its own merits, proving that JK Rowling's writing bears respect even without her famous name attached.

Now this inquiring mind wants to know who of you plan to read it now that you know JK Rowling wrote it?  Do you think she needed to write under a pseudonym?  Does this book's success prove her talent to you?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: 419 by Will Ferguson

Author:  Will Ferguson
Published:  2012
Publisher:  Viking (an imprint of Penguin Canada)
Format:  hardcover
Pages:  399 including acknowledgments and notes
Source:  borrowed (but I am going to buy a copy so I can read it again.  It's that good!)



Summary:  "From internationally bestselling travel writer Will Ferguson, author of Happiness™ and Spanish Fly, comes a novel both epic in its sweep and intimate in its portrayal of human endurance.

A car tumbles through darkness down a snowy ravine.

A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in sub-Saharan Africa.

And in the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the Internet, looking for victims.

Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help…

Will Ferguson takes readers deep into the labyrinth of lies that is “419,” the world’s most insidious Internet scam.

When Laura Curtis, a lonely editor in a cold northern city, discovers that her father has died because of one such swindle, she sets out to track down—and corner—her father’s killer. It is a dangerous game she’s playing, however, and the stakes are higher than she can ever imagine.

Woven into Laura’s journey is a mysterious woman from the African Sahel with scars etched into her skin and a young man who finds himself caught up in a web of violence and deceit.

And running through it, a dying father’s final words: “You, I love.” (Amazon.ca) 

My thoughts:

From a writer best known for his travel literature and/or humour, Will Ferguson has entered his third foray into literary fiction with his most recent work, 419.  How does a writer known for other genres branch out to fiction?  According to his interview at the Arden Theatre, he uses a bit of humour [a love of travel, an inquisitive mind] and a bit of parental experience and the gap is bridged.  As he stated in an interview with MacLean, "I try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. I think it uses different parts of your brain."

When I'd heard Will Ferguson had won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel 419, I had to learn more about the book but it took me a year to finally make time to read it.  I picked up a copy after meeting Ferguson at the Arden Theatre in St. Albert in June.  I wish I'd done so sooner.

419 opens with a car crash which may or may not have been a suicide and the ensuing police investigation wherein we meet the family of the deceased, particularly a daughter who is intent on revenge.    419 then "travels" to Nigeria where a nameless pregnant woman leaves her tribe and walks alone across deserts, through villages, before she meets up with a man who will take her to the deeper south.  

The story of the oil industry in Africa is a caustic bi-line that introduces a new character, the man who befriends the nameless woman.  A significant portion of the novel follows Nnamdi, a "mechanic" and secondary driver of a tanker hauling stolen oil.  His story allows you to see a different Africa.  If you thought the oil industry here was bad, take a read at just how horrible it could be in the hands of Ferguson as he portrays a time when the Niger Delta was in an uproar over the oil. 

We also meet Wilson, a 419 scam artist who preys upon people using the internet as a fraudulent means of getting money from unsuspecting individuals.  At first Wilson is on his own but when he has some success and is about to score big, a mafia boss has him brought in to force him to work for him.  

As the stories converge, they each play a role, knowingly and unknowingly in each other's lives and in the outcome of the book.

What some might call disjointed, I found as an interesting sideline as Ferguson brought together four main characters, passing between their stories, and in the end merging them together to a climax that both made me angry and glad.  You have to read it to discover why.  No spoilers here.

419 is a book that is difficult to put down, shocking, eye-opening and could very well be non-fiction if it weren't fiction.  For me it was phenomenal and I would highly recommend it!


The following was written of the winning book, 419, by the jury for the Scotiabank Giller Award: 

"Will Ferguson's 419 points in the direction of something entirely new: the Global Novel. It is a novel emotionally and physically at home in the poverty of Lagos and in the day-to-day of North America. It tells us the ways in which we are now bound together and reminds us of the things that will always keep us apart. It brings us the news of the world far beyond the sad, hungry faces we see on CNN and CBC and far beyond the spreadsheets of our pension plans. Ferguson is a true travel writer, his eye attuned to the last horrible detail. He is also a master at dialogue and suspense. It is tempting to put 419 in some easy genre category, but that would only serve to deny its accomplishment and its genius."

Meet the author:
photo taken by myself at the Arden Theatre
in St. Albert June 14, 2013
Will Ferguson is a travel writer and novelist  and has authored several award-winning memoirs, including Beyond BelfastHitching Rides with Buddha, and the humorous anecdotal collection Canadian Pie. His novels include Spanish Fly, Happiness™, and 419. Will has been nominated for both an IMPAC Dublin Award and a Commonwealth Writers Prize and is a three-time winner of the Leacock Medal.  Published in more than 20 languages around the world, one might say even his written works are well traveled.  He won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for best fiction (419) by a Canadian author in 2012.

Tour Scotland Street with Alexander McCall Smith, author of 44 Scotland Street and many more....

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Elizabeth Gilbert's New Book: The Signature of All Things

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Exclusive New Book Video!

It's Official Today: Random House and Penguin Group Have Merged...

“Today, Penguin and Random House officially unite to create the first truly global trade book publishing company. As separate companies, we have long performed outstandingly by every benchmark; as colleagues, we will share and apply our passion for publishing the best books with our enormous experience, creativity, and entrepreneurial drive. Together, we will give our authors unprecedented resources to help them reach global audiences—and we will provide readers with unparalleled diversity and choice for future reading. Connecting authors and readers is, and will be, at the heart of all we strive to accomplish together.”  ~ CEO Markus Dohle http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/press-release/ceo-markus-dohle-announces-penguin-random-house-global-leadership-team


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