Sunday, November 30, 2008

Book Review and Giveaway: Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

Last day of November - last giveaway in my November Book Blowout.

Aurelia is the headstrong crown princess of Tyralt, a middle ages type kingdom with decidedly modern inhabitants. Robert, son of the palace's former spymaster and a former classmate of Aurelia's, is called in to help uncover a plot against her life.

This a short, satisfying read that excels in its characterizations, even of minor players. The assasination attempts and Robert's endeavors to sniff out the culprit(s) may drive the plot, but it is Aurelia's spunk and genuine concern for her subjects that steal the show. Recommended for anyone who likes their princesses with some backbone to go along with their whalebone corsets.

I have one extra copy to give away. If you'd like it, please leave a comment telling me who your favorite princess is and why by December 5th. This one is open internationally.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Book Review: Guernica by Dave Boling

This is the story of two Basque families in Spain during the Spanish civil war – and of the infamous German bombing of civilians in Guernica, it’s repercussions in the two families, and of the famous mural painted by Picasso when he heard about the atrocities and suffering.

We learn in the prologue that Justo, once the town’s most celebrated citizens, is one armed and miserable two years after the bombing. This has the effect of giving the subsequent narrative a strong sense of foreboding, something I did not like. As the early section speeds through Justo’s youth, marriage, the birth and maturation of his daughter Miren and the birth of his granddaughter, giving us lovely vignettes of their strong bonds to family and country, I could not help but think of the prologue and what must happen to Justo’s family for him to be so alone.

After the inevitable happens on April 26, 1937, the novel shifts focus slightly to include a British couple who help displaced Basque children and a group of people who smuggle goods and people from Nazi occupied France into Spain.

Justo, Miren, and a blind girl named Alaia whom Miren befriends are standout characters here and it’s alone worth reading the novel just to spend time with them. Though I was really ready to chuck the book at a wall after the bombing, I am glad I stuck with it to the end (which was satisfying despite being obvious to me and based on a huge coincidence).

Guernica is now out in hardcover. This is my second (and last) review that qualifies for the LT Author Challenge hosted by Dawn at She’s Too Fond of Books.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Book Giveaway: Penguin "Publicist's Choice" Pack - 6+ books!

YAY - I have another surprise addition to my November Book Blowout giveaway series. Penguin is donating a whole box of YA books (at least 6) to one lucky reader in the US or Canada. All books in the prize pack are from 2008.

All you have to do to win is leave a comment by December 5th saying which Penguin title you most want to read (and choose carefully, because that title might just end up in your prize pack if you're chosen by the powers that be at Gain a second entry by posting the contest on your blog.

Not sure which YA titles have been released this year by one of Penguin's many imprints? Well, I'm not going to list ALL of them here, but here are some I've reviewed (with links to my reviews to help you decide) and some I myself want to read:

The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
Chalice by Robin McKinley
Paper Towns by John Green
Storm: The Ghost Machine by EL Young (scroll down linked page for review)
Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber
Death by Latte by Linda Gerber
Violet by Design and Violet in Private by Melissa Walker
Oh.My.Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
Specialists: The Winning Element by Shannon Greenland
Specialists: Native Tongue by Shannon Greenland
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman
The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

Aurelia by Anne Oesterlund

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger (fan girly review at Reviewer X)
Looks by Madeleine George (awesome review at Teen Book Review)
Eon: Dragon Reborn by Alison Goodman (thoughtful review at Oops...Wrong Cookie)
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen (frank review at Bookshelves of Doom)
Peeled by Joan Bauer (nice review at Reviewer X)
Frostbite, A Vampire Academy Novel by Richelle Mead (gushing review at The Story Siren)
Savvy by Ingrid Law (refreshing review at The Well Read Child)
Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee (tasty review at Abby Librarian)
Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler (gripping review at Reading Mania/Elaina Reads)
La Petite Four by Regina Scott (fun review at Once Upon a Bookshelf)

You can of course also choose one I did not mention here and good luck!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Book Review and Giveaway: You are so Undead to me by Stacey Jay

For Megan Berry, being a Zombie Settler is a pain in the shoulder – literally. Not only do dead zombies get grave dirt on her favorite sundress and ruin her dates with “hot” guys, she also had a run in with some reanimated zombies some years back whose bites left marks both on her skin and her psyche. And now, someone in town is messing with black magic – putting her life and most importantly her chance to go to homecoming in danger.

So where to start? I love the premise here and the whole twist on the zombie idea, that there is a secret society whose purpose it is to take messages from the dead who are unsettled enough about some aspect of their deaths to crawl out their graves (one pervy guy just wanted to see a girl naked before he went to his eternal slumber). Author Stacey Jay gets points for creating a pretty plausible paranormal/real world co-existence.

If you asked me what genre this was, I wouldn’t really know what to say. The inclusion of zombies makes it paranormal, but it is not scary. Megan goes on dates with “hot” guys, but it’s not romantic. No one knows who the black magic villain is, but it’s not mysterious (and I figured out one of the “baddies” early on even though this person’s motive is out of left field and their m.o. highly dubious). There is a lot of kicking zombie butt, but I wouldn’t classify it as action. And both Megan and the story are way too shallow for it to be a drama. It’s kind of like the author tried to make it everything, but nothing really stuck.

I wouldn’t have really minded the uneven narrative if Megan had been a stronger character. She is said to possess the most impressive settler power in 70 years, but she spends most of her time rhapsodizing about how “hot” all the “hot” guys in her life are. (Granted, you’d find a lot of that if you read my diary from my sophomore year of high school, but fortunately you never will.)

Still, I liked the world creation so much that I would definitely be interested in reading the planned sequel Undead Much! I can only hope Megan will have grown out of her semi-grating boy crazy phase by then.

Want a second opinion? Hillary of The Book Reader also read it recently and loved it saying it was one of the best books she’s read in months.

So if you think this is something you’d like to read (despite my reservations), and you want to read it before its January 22nd release date, leave a comment telling me if you are on team zombie or team unicorn by Dec. 5th. I’ll announce the winner of my one advanced copy the next day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We have LOTS of book winners!

I still need to e-mail everyone, so if you haven't gotten an e-mail yet and your name is listed here, please send me your mailing address to lenoreva AT hotmail DOT com.

Winners of Audrey, Wait! (in addition to instant winner Yan) are Carolina, Kimberly Derting, Book Lover Lisa and Simply Megan. Funny thing - Carolina had 3 entries and all three were picked by - guess she must have done A LOT of sucking up :)

Winners of Chalice (in addition to instant winner Jana) are S.Krishna, AC, Jeane, and Cuileann (who is in Iceland now, but I still hope she'll send her address soon).

The winner of Schooled is Mari.

The other winner of Beautiful Americans (Kelsey got the instant win) is Amber which is super crazy and cool because not only is she an exchange student RIGHT NOW, she lives a half hour away from me! So we met today at the Darmstadt Christmas market and she posed with her new book. Amber was the official YABC teen reviewer in 2007 and now reviews for Teens Read Too (you can see a list with links to her book reviews here) and Daniel and I enjoyed meeting her. We plan to meet again in February for some "crack sushi" here in Frankfurt.

Waiting On Wednesday (10) Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Time again for Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine) where I get to talk about a book I just can't wait to read. This week I am extremely excited about Jasper Fforde's new book which also happens to be a dystopia - how exciting is that?! I love the creativity and world creation of his Thursday Next series and the premise of this one - A brilliant new novel about a world where social order and destiny are dictated by the colors you can see - sounds highly orginal.

The product description from amazon:

Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie’s world wasn’t always like this. There’s evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.
See a pictorial teaser at Jasper's website.

OK. WOW. Too bad we all have to wait until July 2009!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Library Thing Tuesday (29) + Pic of Emmy

Today's question- Blog Widgets. Do you use them? yes Do you have them on your blog? yes Do you know what I'm talking about? :-) Of course! A blog widget is that list of books "From my LibraryThing" and such, that you'll sometimes see on someone's sidebar. If you use it, do all of your books show up or do you have it set to only show certain books? All my books. Do you have a search widget, which would allow your blog readers to search your library? no Have you ever made a photomosaic of your book covers? Yes - it looks really pretty! You can find widgets and photomosaic information on the "Tools" tab in LibraryThing.
In general, I love widgets, and I think the "books in my library" widget from LibraryThing is one of the best around. Mine shows 18 books (I thought I had set it to 20, will have to check that) that I have read and even I like checking every once in a while to see which ones show up. I've been thinking of getting a widget to show which books are coming up for review like I've seen on some blogs, anyone think I should? Maybe using the one from GoodReads...that's where I have some of my TBR listed (it's a bit outdated though).


Now that the winter cold has arrived in full force, it's once again FREEZING in our apartment. The building we live in was built in the early 20th century (one of the relative few in Frankfurt to escape bombing in WWII) and is it not well insulated. It also has very high ceilings so it's hard to keep warm without spending thousands on heating bills (beauty has its price!). So Emmy is seeking out warm places to hang out more than ever - mostly on our laps and under blankets. But she still likes to look out the window - so she now uses the one which is directly over a (antique) heater...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Book Giveaway: Signed Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray!

As some of you know, I met Libba Bray during the Frankfurt Book Fair in October (see here for more info and picture) and she was super sweet to sign her entire Gemma Doyle trilogy so I could give it away here. The set includes trade paperbacks of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels and a hardcover of The Sweet Far Thing. One lucky winner will get all three!!

Here's what you have to do: Comment on this post and tell me about a recent book you read that you loved for one entry. My first 10 entrants automatically get one extra entry. For two extra entries, post about this contest on your blog (sidebar is fine), on a social networking site or book lovers forum (LibraryThing, RandomBuzzers, Book Divas, etc.) and tell me that you did. Open internationally, please indicate international shipping on your entry.

Enter by 9 pm CST on December 5th - and good luck!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

20,000 visits! And a long list of thank yous...

Today Sitemeter logged my 20,000th visit - how cool is that? I've had so much fun with the blog since it transformed into a book review blog back at the end of April this year. I've written over 100 book reviews, had tons of interesting discussions, and made a lot of new bookish friends. So I have to say a big thanks for everyone who has been a part of this - and what better way to do that than to compile a list of people who commented in the past month (little did I know this would take me HOURS - which means I skipped any post which had a contest attached - though I am very pleased if you entered the contests!). I really look forward to your comments and I appreciate each and every one :) Thanks also to my 64 followers, to my 160ish subscribers (last time I checked), to my lurker friends who stop by without leaving comments (but who show up at my door asking to borrow books I've reviewed), to my fellow LibraryThing tuesday thingers who insist that I post a picture of Emmy every tuesday, to the amazing publicists who keep me wading in books, and to all the awesome authors I've had the pleasure of interviewing.

Alea of Pop Culture Junkie
Steph of Reviewer X
Lauren of Shooting Stars Mag
Beth Kephart author of House of Dance, Undercover and Nothing but Ghosts
My aunt Linda of Linda's Sunflower (yes, she is really my aunt)

Jen (aka Ladytink)
Steve of The Zombie Chronicles
Susane Helene Gottfried of West of Mars - Win a Book
Dar of Peeking Between the Pages

Jeane of Dog Ear Diary
Khyrinthia of Frenetic Reader
PJ Hoover author of The Emerald Tablet
Joanne of Book Zombie
Lisa of Minds alive of the shelves
Anna of Diary of an Eccentric
Dawn of She's Too Fond of Books
Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit
Alyce of At Home with Books

Gabbi of All Five Stars
Cathy of Kittling: Books
Kathy of Oklahoma Booklady
Sandra of Fresh Ink Books
Andi of Tripping Toward Lucidity Estella's Revenge
Melissa Walker author of the Violet series
Ali of Worducopia
Michele of Michele only one L

Just Blinded Book Reviews
caite of A lovely shore breeze
Amy of My Friend Amy
Keri Mikulski author of Screwball
Marie of The Boston Bibliophile and host of TuesdayThingers
Luanne of A Bookworm's World
Kristi of The Story Siren
Shana of Literarily
Lisa of Books and Cooks

Wendi of Wendi's Book Corner
Kirsten of We Be Reading
Wendy of Literary Feline/Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Ms. Bookish
Meghan of Medieval Bookworm
AS King author of The Dust of 100 Dogs
Rebecca aka The Book Lady
Margaret of BooksPlease
Icedream of Reading in Appalachia
Traci of Traci's Book Bag

Melissa of Shh...I'm Reading
Nadine (aka TruBlu93) of Starry Night
Alexa Young author of Frenemies
AC of A Novel Idea
Confessions of a Bibliovore
Julie of Booking Mama
Aerin of In Search of Giants
The Book Muncher
Bethany of B&b ex libris
Yvonne of Socrates Book Reviews

Stacey of Book:Thirty
Stephanie's Written World
Carol's Notebook
Rol of Sunset over Slawit
Amanda of That Teen Can Blog!
The Book Spot
Jena of Muse Books Reviews
Sarahbear9789 of Sarah's random musings
Liviania of In Bed with Books
Taren of The Chick Manifesto

Carol of Bookluver-Carol Reviews
simply_megan of Simply Books
Hope of Hope's Bookshelf
The Bookworm of Au Courant
Julie of Julie's Jewels
mari of Mari Reads.
Mrs. Yingling of Mrs. Yingling Reads
Em of Em's Bookshelf
Janette Rallison author of Just one Wish and My Fair Godmother
Tracy of Bookroomreviews

Natasha of Maw Books Blog
Trish of Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
Fyrefly's Book Blog
Lana of A Hoyden's Look at Literature
Jill of Breaking the Spine and founder of Waiting on Wednesday
Emily of That One Girl Emily
Joy Hall
katayoun of Katayoun Massoudi
Violet of Violet Crush
Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog

Tower of Books
Charlotte of Charlotte's Library
Meredith of Meredith's Musings.
Amee of Bookity Book Books
Book~Adorer of Book~Adorer
Eli of nineseveneight book reviews
John Marco author of the upcoming Starfinder
Wrighty of Wrighty Reads
Diana Dang of Stop, Drop and Read
jocelyn of Teen Book Review
Jenn of Jenn's Bookshelf
Heather J. of Age 30 Books
Paradox of Paradoxical
Readingjunky of Readingjunky's Reading Roost
Mariah of The Fanatic Reviewer
Ruth of Bookish Ruth
Sara of What a Girl Reads
Renay of YA Fabulous
Library Cat

Evie S.

Thank you :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

A love letter to design books that inspire

We have a whole bookcase full of art and design books (which are technically the property of my graphic designer/illustrator husband Daniel - see his daily drawings blog here) so it was difficult for me to choose just five to highlight today, but these are the ones we are always pulling off the shelves and showing to guests and the ones we go back to time and time again.

The Creation: Pictures from the Book of Genesis by Christian Montenegro

Up-and-coming Argentinean illustrator Montenegro has painted some wonderfully strange compositions to accompany the text of Genesis including the creation story, the fall of man, the flood, the tower of Babel, Lot, and the patriarchs. The style brings a distinctly modern twist to the ancient stories, and it’s something I can get lost in for hours.

A Smile in the Mind by Beryl McAlhone & David Stuart

This book is all about witty thinking in graphic design and I often open its pages to get inspiration or just for fun. There are too many favorites for me to list here, but I’ll point out just one: have you ever taken a really close look at the FedEx logo to see the designer’s hidden bonus? Genius!

Lovemarks by Kevin Roberts

This sensational book about brands that connect so powerfully with consumers that they become lovemarks is written by the CEO of advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi. He talks about brands that inspire loyalty beyond reason – everything from IKEA, to Apple, to Where the Wild Things Are - and the reasons that they do. Very enlightening and enjoyable reading.

The Art of the Incredibles by Mark Cotta Vaz

I love the “Art of” Pixar movies series from Chronicle Books where you get to see conceptual art and the illustration development process of making a film. In the Incredibles installment you learn tidbits like Edna Mode (the superhero costume designer) was originally supposed to be this imposing, sexy woman, and how it was she came to be only 3 ft tall.

Jim Henson’s Designs & Doodles: A Muppet Sketchbook by Alison Inches
This is exactly what the title says it is and it is fascinating to see early incarnations of childhood classics like Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Kermit the Frog. It’s also a biography of the artist himself – his influences, his successes and his creative genius.
What are some art and design books you enjoy reading and/or just looking at?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book Review and Giveaway: Schooled by Anisha Lakhani

One of my favorite reasons to read fiction is to get an inside look at experiences I will probably never have myself – such as teaching at an exclusive Manhattan private school and tutoring the children of the super rich. The protagonist of schooled, Anna Taggart is fresh out of college and ready to make a difference in her 7th graders lives with her amazing lesson plans. Soon enough she discovers that the ever present mothers are happier (and send high priced gifts) the less engaged her students are. She is also shocked to find out that most of her student’s work is not actually done by her students, but by high priced tutors like her stylish colleague Randi. And soon enough, she too is lured into the tutoring world…

I enjoyed reading about Anna’s outrageous experiences at school and with the students she taught and tutored – and after seeing episodes of shows like “My sweet 16” I can believe that stuff like kids having Kanye West perform at their “faux mitzvah” really does happen. What struck me while reading was Anna’s singular focus. She does have a couple of friends and her family, but she doesn’t have a boyfriend and never mentions a romantic interest in anyone throughout the whole book – teaching is really her whole life.

The only thing that detracted from this fun novel for me was the way Manhattan tutoring was depicted as all or nothing. Characters were all in and blissfully non-caring about helping students cheat or they were totally against it and despised those who did it. What’s wrong with actually tutoring those who are doing their own work and just want an extra edge? And if you get $250 an hour for it to augment your sad teacher paycheck, all the better.

Schooled is out now in hardcover. I’m giving away my copy (ARC) as part of my November Book Blowout. So if you want it, tell me why you’d like to read it in the comments before November 25th at 9 pm CST. Open internationally.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Waiting On Wednesday (9) Swoon by Nina Malkin

I saw this in Simon & Schuster's Frankfurt Rights Guide and I was smitten with the cover and with the premise: A girl falls in love with the vengeful spirit who is taking over her town. Tagline: Sin is coming - prepare to swoon!

Here's the description from the catalogue:

Torn from her native New York City and dumped in the land of cookie-cutter preps, Candice is resigned to accept her posh, dull fate. Nothing ever happens in Swoon, Connecticut...until Dice's perfect, privileged cousin Penelope nearly dies in a fall from an old tree, and her spirit intertwines with that of a ghost. His name? Sinclair Youngblood Powers. His mission? Revenge. And while Pen is oblivious to the possession, Dice is all too aware of Sin. She's intensely drawn to him—but not at all crazy about the havoc he's wreaking. Determined to exorcise the demon, Dice accidentally sets Sin loose, gives him flesh, makes him formidable. Now she must destroy an even more potent—and irresistible—adversary, before the whole town succumbs to Sin's will. Only trouble is, she's in love with him.

And a short excerpt:

"Love at first sight must be glorious. I wouldn’t know, since
at first there was no sight. There was smell, the salty scent
of horses. Plenty of other sensations, too. But I’ll get to that.
The point I want to make up front is that by the time I
finally laid eyes on Sinclair Youngblood Powers—in the
flesh, that is—I was already in love with him. Nothing could
change that. Not even the fact that he was dead."

I'm prepared to swoon - how about you? Coming May 2009.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Giveaway: Chalice by Robin McKinley

And now for another surprise addition to my November Book Blowout: Penguin has kindly donated 5 copies of Chalice by Robin McKinley to my readers in the US and Canada (no international entries this time, sorry). I reviewed this recently (read my review here) and quite enjoyed it.

Want a copy? The first person to comment here claiming a book is an instant winner! The other 4 copies will be distributed at random between those who comment on this post. I'll award 1 extra entry to anyone who comments on my review of the novel, and 2 extra entries to anyone who posts about the contest on their blog (sidebar is fine). Let's keep the contest open for one week so you have until Tuesday, November 25th (9 pm CST) to enter.

See what other books I am giving away this month here.

NOTE: Only those who have not previously claimed a prize this month are eligible for the instant win.

Library Thing Tuesday (28) + Pic of Emmy

Popular this month on LT: Do you look at this list? sometimes Do you get ideas on what to read from it? not really Have you read any of the books on the list right now? sadly not.

Here's the list:

1.The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2.Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
3. Nation by Terry Pratchett
4.Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
5.Anathem by Neal Stephenson
6. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
7.The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
8.The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski
9.Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland
10.Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3) by Stephenie Meyer

I own #3 and will be reading it soon. #7 is on my holiday wish list. #1,2,8 I would pick up from a book sale or the library. #5,6,10 I might possibly read someday - never say never. #4 and 9 I probably won't read, ever.


Now that Daniel is also working part time from home, we've been redecorating the home office. We finally made our reading corner very comfy with the addition of a lamp this past week. Now if Emmy would only let us actually sit there...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Book Review: This Book Isn't Fat, It's Fabulous by Nina Beck

Riley Swain is a Manhattan rich kid full of self confidence and snark. But while her friends spend break on the senior trip to Mexico, Riley’s being sent by her father and step-monster to an upstate fat camp. Obviously she doesn’t want to go – if she’s comfortable with her full-bodied curves, then why can’t everyone else be?

Before you dismiss this as yet another novel preaching the old mantra of loving yourself the way you are – too thin, too fat, too whatever – consider that Riley is one of the coolest characters I’ve come across in YA lit AND she has a romance at camp (with the headmistress’ son Eric no less) that is so authentically sweet it made me positively giddy (and trust me, that doesn’t happen often).

Riley is a bit self-involved and queen bee bitchy at the start of the novel and her Manhattan frenemies are varying degrees of annoying, but while camp may or may not slim her waistline, it certainly does give her time to develop real relationships with her mousy roommate Samantha and the aforementioned Eric as well as a big heart.

Not only did I have fun reading this book, I had a big old goofy smile on my face at the end. Go Riley!

This Book isn’t Fat, It’s Fabulous is out now in hardcover.

Bookworm Award meme

Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit has given me this award which comes with the following instructions:

Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following there.

Well, the pile closest to me is board books and picture books all under 56 pages, so the next closest book is Words That Work: It's not what you say, It's what people hear by Dr. Frank Luntz.

"When I talk about the loss of conversational language, at least in the written form, I certainly don't mean to imply that all changes are for the worse. Language is a dynamic, living thing. What were once fresh metaphors become so widespread that they harden into cliche."

That is not the quote I would have chosen to represent this very interesting book written by the language guru who for example turned the term "estate tax" into the term "death tax" consequently turning more voters against it. But I followed the rules!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Book Review and Giveaway: Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag

A group of American teens embark on an exchange year at an exclusive Parisian high school. Each has high hopes for the year: Olivia wants to join a ballet company that will increase her chances of getting a college scholarship, rich and spoiled Alex wants to live the high life, effortlessly beautiful PJ wants to escape her past and trendy Zack wants to explore his homosexuality far away from the confines of his strict Baptist upbringing.

This installment of the beautiful Americans story covers the ups and downs of their first semester at the school and is told from four very contrasting points of view. Having been an exchange student myself, I found their lives abroad pretty engaging and even tame compared to the exchange years I experienced. Yes, there is a lot of seduction, getting drunk, and acting out – that is what happens when a bunch of 16 year olds are on their own in a foreign country for the first time.

That said, there were a couple of things that bothered me, and they mainly had to do with the character of Alex. She was quite simply a royal pain in the rear end. Competitive, catty, and completely unrepentant of her increasingly bad behavior, Alex is the type that would have been sent home in the second week in any real exchange program. I mean, are we really expected to believe that she would get away with walking out on a two thousand Euro restaurant check? No way.

The teens portrayed in Beautiful Americans are certainly more glamorous than most of the ones in any of my programs, but they face the same kind of challenges – trying to get along with host families, making new friends in an unfamiliar environment, falling for exotic foreigners and consequently falling out of love with long term honeys back home, and hoping to avoid the dreaded letter bomb (an e-mail from home with bad news).

Look for this in January and the sequel in Fall 2009. Cannot wait that long? Well, I have two copies to give away. One I will give to the first person who claims it in the comments and the other I will randomly give to one other person who comments on this post by November 25th. This one is open internationally.

NOTE: Only those who have never previously claimed a prize this month are eligible for the instant win.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Highlights from my Holiday Wish List

I’m supporting and contributing to Buy Books for the Holidays (see my latest post there about board books for babies and toddlers) and we were asked to link to our own wish lists. I use my default Amazon wish list to bookmark books and many won’t be released by Christmas so I created a separate list here. So far, I was able to put 13 books on it. Here are a few highlights:

The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland - I’ve read most of Coupland’s novels and his newest about two misfit Staples employees who write each other in diary entries but don’t acknowledge each other otherwise sounds great.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks – I’ve seen great reviews of this novel, about a English village struck by plague, on several book blogs this year including this one from Lisa at Books on the Brain and this one from Jen at Devourer of Books.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – I’ve seen blogger love for this all over – the peer pressure to read it is killing me ;)

The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson – Alternate history Scotland with mediums and murder? This was my first request of the Harperteen First Look program, but I didn’t get it. And I still want it. Khyrinthia's review at The Frenetic Reader makes me want it even more.

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine FletcherSteph of Reviewer X fame recommended this novel, about a girl in 1940s Chicago who takes up taxi dancing in order to support her family. Sounds awesome! Julie at Booking Mama (read her review here) certainly liked it a lot too.

Undercover by Beth Kephart – Liviania of In Bed with Books describes it (here) as a poetic slice of life story populated with characters she could see herself knowing. Carolina of Bookluver Carol says (here) it is “beautifully written and so descriptive that you can see the book in your head like a movie”. I NEED to read this one!
What books are on your holiday wish list?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Review: The Grift by Debra Ginsberg

Marina has been working as a psychic since she was a child, but she doesn’t believe in the gift. She earns her living by being able to read people and being able to tell them what they want to hear. So she’s pretty shocked when she one day actually does get the gift – she can see dead people, see the future, and read people’s minds. And she’s also shocked to learn that her years long “grift” (defined as getting money under false pretences) was actually more lucrative and popular with clients than the real thing.

This novel is billed as a thriller – and there is a murder mystery involved – but it’s also a love story and a great character study of a woman who suddenly really becomes what she always pretended to be. I really enjoyed reading about Marina and her journey of self discovery and empathized with her having to deal with all her annoying and self absorbed clients (whose travails could have been cut down a bit as I felt they were the weakest link here). The author relies a bit too much on showing us the thoughts of the characters when we could get the same information with a bit of action or dialogue, but that is a small quibble. The murder mystery is well done – pretty much everyone is suspect – and the quick paced plot keeps you turning the pages.

The Grift is out in hardcover now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Waiting On Wednesday (8) The Rapture by Liz Jensen

I read a very inventive book last year called My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time about a prositute/housekeeper in 19th century Denmark who finds a time machine in the basement of the house she's cleaning and is transported to modern London where she falls in love (read an excerpt here). The author is Liz Jensen (who also wrote the well-reviewed The Ninth Life of Louis Drax) and when I saw she has a new one coming up with an apocalyptic premise and a spooky cover, I instantly thought "Gotta have it!"

Here's the description from Bloomsbury:

In a merciless summer of biblical heat and destructive winds, Gabrielle Fox's main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her career as a psychologist after a shattering car accident. But when she is assigned Bethany Krall, one of the most dangerous teenagers in the country, she begins to fear she has made a terrible mistake. Raised on a diet of evangelistic hellfire, Bethany is violent, delusional, cruelly intuitive and insistent that she can foresee natural disasters - a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion. But when catastrophes begin to occur on the very dates Bethany has predicted, and a brilliant, gentle physicist enters the equation, the apocalyptic puzzle intensifies and the stakes multiply. Is the self-proclaimed Nostradamus of the psych ward the ultimate manipulator, or could she be the harbinger of imminent global cataclysm on a scale never seen before? And what can love mean in 'interesting times'? A haunting story of human passion and burning faith set against an adventure of tectonic proportions, The Rapture is an electrifying psychological thriller that explores the dark extremes of mankind's self-destruction in a world on the brink.

The Rapture comes out June 1, 2009 in the UK and July 14, 2009 in the US. What books are you looking forward to this week?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Book Giveaway: Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

And now for a surprise addition to my November Book Blowout: Penguin has kindly donated 5 copies of Audrey, Wait! to my readers in the US and Canada (no international entries this time, sorry). This is a fun YA book that I reviewed this summer (read my review here).

Want a copy? The first person to comment here claiming a book is an instant winner! The other 4 copies will be distributed at random between those who comment on this post. I'll award 1 extra entry to anyone who comments on my review of the novel, and 2 extra entries to anyone who posts about the contest on their blog (sidebar is fine). Let's keep the contest open for two weeks so you have until Tuesday November 25th (9 pm CST) to enter.

I have a couple more surprise giveaway additions coming up and instant win chances so it pays to be follower or to add me to your reader. Plus see what other books I am definitely giving away here.

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take very long! Yan is confirmed as the instant winner of Audrey, Wait! Congrats! And good luck to everyone else - better suck up to :)

Library Thing Tuesday (27) + Pic of Emmy

Today's question: LT Things- t-shirts, bags,cue cats- are you into the "stuff"? Do you use a cuecat to enter your books, or do you enter them manually? What do you think of the stuff?

I don't have any LT stuff, and I don't really need the cuecat since I only add books as I read them rather than as I get them. I can think of a few people who might enjoy one as a gift however!

I do like book swag though. I have signed bookmarks, laminated buttons with book covers, a Diary of a Spider t-shirt, a huge cardboard cutout of Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events, a branded water gun (from Jack Ferraiolo's The Big Splash) and a branded guitar pick (from Stephanie Kuehnert's I wanna be your Joey Ramone). Do you have any unique book swag?


I just love the following Emmy pic:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Book Review: The Likeness by Tana French

Some months after the events of In the Woods (read my review here), Detective Cassie Maddox has transferred off the murder squad with no intention of ever going back. But then fellow detective and boyfriend Sam calls her to a crime scene and Cassie comes face to face with the corpse of her double, who has been living under an alias (Lexie Madison) that Cassie created years before when she was working undercover. With no leads in the case, Cassie’s former undercover boss Frank convinces her to help try to solve it from the inside – by posing as Lexie and moving in with her tightly knit housemates.

I loved this book just about as much as Trish at Hey Lady Whatcha Readin' did (she gave it 100/100 – her highest rating ever) - it’s just amazing. Cassie was one of my favorite aspects of In the Woods so I was thrilled to get a whole book from her perspective. She’s had some psychology training and she’s somewhat of a natural criminal profiler so her insights are always sharp and fascinating. And it’s a good thing too – Lexie’s circle is very enigmatic, from their insistence on not talking about their pasts to their complete trust in ringleader and house inheritor Daniel.

It's a murder mystery, yes, but it's also so much more: Author Tana French looks at class divisions and how history still effects the present, asks what "real life" really is, and explores the slippery nature of identity.

The scenes are so well written that they take on that rare cinematic quality where you almost feel like you are living the book. Here’s an example, when after poring over the details of Lexie’s life, Cassie finally goes in:

“It took my breath away, that evening. If you’ve ever dreamed that you walked into your best-loved book or film or TV program, then maybe you’ve got some idea how it felt: things coming alive around you, strange and new and utterly familiar at the same time; the catch in your heartbeat as you move through the rooms that had such a vivid untouchable life in your mind, as your feet actually touch the carpet, as you breathe the air; the odd, secret glow of warmth as these people you’ve been watching for so long, from so far away, open their circle and sweep you into it.”

I was swept into this novel and I hope you will be too.

Book Giveaway Carnival Winners! has spoken!

The two winners of signed copies of Thanks for the Memories are WordLily (confirmed) and Janie (confirmed).

The winner of Death by Bikini is Cynthia of Springmott Cottage (confirmed).

Thank you to everyone for entering - the response was HUGE! Remember more giveaways are coming up this month so there are more chances to win. See what other books I'm giving away here and keep checking back to see when the contests go live.

I am also excited that I won something this week: You Suck by Christopher Moore in audio book format from Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit. Thanks so much Serena - you ROCK!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Book Review: The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman

Ever since Honor moved to Island 365 with her parents from the wild Northern Islands, she’s been noticing that her parents don’t quite fit in. Island life is peaceful and orderly since Earth Mother enclosed what land was still inhabitable after catastrophic weather terrorized the Earth. But her parents don’t worship Earth Mother like everyone else does, and they don’t follow the rules. And that scares Honor, because she learns that those who are unpredictable disappear – and they don’t come back.

I really liked the premise of this dystopia because the societal ills stem not from your usual far right nightmares, but from a militant form of tree hugging. Not that I’m not all for preserving our environment, but this novel asks at what cost? And the answers are chilling.

Author Allegra Goodman spends a large part of the narrative on world creation and does it fantastically well. I loved how she took well known speeches from our world such as The Lord’s Prayer and The Pledge of Allegiance and twisted them into Earth Mother propaganda. Even classic literature like the Wizard of Oz has been edited to fit Earth Mother’s agenda of predictability. The resulting society is scary and powerful enough that its’ agents are pretty much everyone – individual villains are quite beside the point.

Against this background Honor is realistically conflicted – she wants badly to fit in and for her parents to fit in, but she doesn’t want them to be taken or harmed. When the inevitable happens though, Honor wakes from her Earth Mother induced coma and comes out kicking for an edge of your seat climax and resolution not to be missed.

The Other Side of the Island is out now. Thanks to JL for her extreme generosity!

Friday, November 7, 2008

A love letter to some favorite classics

As I like to say, classics are classics for a reason - they are excellent literature. Even when it takes a big dose of will to actually start one, once you do, they invariably draw you in with their masterful plots and characters. Today I want to talk about a few of my favorites.

The Power and the Glory - Graham Greene

I still have an old 1966 Compass Books edition (only $1.65) that was my mother's with her notes in the margins. This was one of my mother's favorite books and is in my father's top 10. It's set in Mexico and follows a drunk priest on the run from anti-catholic forces who want to erradicate the church. It is a dark adventure story with a wonderfully complex and flawed main character, and though a bit slow in the beginning, it's a beautiful book that gets even better with subsequent readings.

The Awakening - Kate Chopin

I always say that every woman should read this, because it speaks to the female experience so eloquently. I was disturbed to see several one star reviews of this around the web that say essentially "Spoiled woman gets bored with her life and commits suicide" because that's exactly the sort of superficiality that Edna wanted so badly to escape. She says, "The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth." She tries to be a "bird with strong wings" and her affair with another man gives her an understanding: "She felt as if a mist had been lifted from her eyes, enabling her to look upon and comprehend the significance of life, that monster made up of beauty and brutality." But tragically, she is not as strong as she needs to be in the end.
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

I've read this numerous times and I'm always fascinated by the idea that when people live in a "civilized society" and never develop any personal morality beyond external restraints how quickly they succumb to "the horror" of total lawlessness. I have trouble understanding why anyone would think Conrad is racist here - he seems to me to hold the african natives in the Congo in higher regard than the Europeans who try to bring their "light" into the darkness (the narrator mentions an image of a blindfolded woman with a candle to drive this point home). A must read.

Middlemarch - George Eliot

The subtitle to this 19th century novel is "A Study of Provencial Life" and it really does go into the minutiae of ordinary lives which on the outset may sound kind of boring, but somehow Eliot manages to make us care so much about the characters that the narrative becomes excitingly suspenseful and incredibly moving. The main character, Dorothea, also struggles with adapting to the role that society has allotted her and is refreshingly aware of her failures but still tries to make the best of life.

The Stranger - Albert Camus
An ordinary man attends his mother's funeral in Algeria, accidently murders a man, and is sentenced to death - none of which seems to emotionally impact him. The court judges this lack of emotion harshly and the reader sees the whole thing as absurd. This is an experiment in existentialism and is ingenious in its seeming simplicity. Not a comfortable book to be sure, but certainly profound. (And by the way, this is another book that I have in English and in German - read that discussion from Tuesday here).
What are some of your favorite classics?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Book Giveaway: Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber

I have an extra copy of Linda Gerber's Death by Bikini to give away this week. It's the first book in a YA mystery series that continues with Death by Latte (also out now) and Death by Denim (to be released May 2009 - I can't wait!).

Want the book? Then just comment on this post and tell me why you should be the winner. I will give one extra entry if you comment on my review of Death by Bikini here and one extra entry if you comment on my review of Death by Latte here.

Since this is part of the Book Giveaway carnival going on over at Book Room Reviews this week, all entries must be received by midnight CST on November 9th. Also open internationally - just indicate that on your entry. Good luck!

PLUS: Check out this post to see all the books I am giving away the rest of November and make sure you come back for them. Oh, and enter my contest for 1 of 2 signed copies of Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern if you haven't already.

Book Review and Author Interview: Everything Beautiful in the World by Lisa Levchuk

Edna’s mother has cancer and the only good thing about that is people are willing to let her get away with pretty much anything. If she fails a test, is late, or misses tennis practice, everyone understands. What they wouldn’t understand is her illicit romance with her art teacher, the one thing that makes her feel happy lately. Not that she’s going to tell anyone – especially not her therapist who wants to convince her to visit her mother in the hospital. But she just can’t and no one is going to make her...

I was blown away by this book, pure and simple. Debut Author Lisa Levchuk manages to capture perfectly the feeling of being a teen that has a mother with cancer (and I should know). Edna’s voice is so raw and honest while still managing to be witty and endearing. You want to give her a hug at the same time you want to shake her and make her come to her senses.

The narrative tension is two-fold: Will she overcome her fear and visit her mother and will she and her teacher get caught? The novel is rich, deep, and ripe for discussion – from the characters relationships with one another (not just Edna’s relationship with her teacher but also with her distant father), to the pressures of small town life and the importance of music and art.

I found it absolutely beautiful. And I was lucky enough to get an interview with the author herself. So read on (no spoilers)...

This is your first book. Can you tell us a bit about the origin of the idea for the novel and your road to publication?
Everything Beautiful in the World began as a short story. I started writing it when I was in graduate school. At the time, my thesis advisor suggested that it might really be a novel. I had that idea in the back of my mind for quite some time before I sat down and wrote the book. It took many years and many false starts before I felt it was finished. The road to publication was quicker than the road to finishing the book.

Why did you set the novel in the early 1980’s instead of today?
Today’s world seems much more complicated to me, especially in terms of communication. I felt the story needed to take place in a time before cell phones and Facebook. I’m not sure I could see Edna using technology the way kids do today.

Music is discussed by the characters quite a bit in the novel. What was on your playlist while you wrote?
I have quite a bit of music on my playlist, but the albums that most inspired me to write were Cat Stevens’ Mona Bone Jackson , Outlandos D’Amour by The Police and Greetings from Asbury Park by Springsteen.

As a Young Adult novelist, do you read a lot of other YA novels? Which are your favorites?
I teach high school English and spend a great deal of time rereading classics. My favorite books about young adults are Jane Eyre and The Catcher in the Rye. I’m not sure if it’s a young adult book, but I recently read I book I liked very much by a writer named David Mitchell. It was about a teenage boy and it was titled Black Swan Green.

Ooh! I even reviewed that one on my blog. So tell us, do you have any other literary projects in the works?
Yes. I’m working on another book.

Great! Looking forward. Thanks for stopping by!

Everything Beautiful in the World is out in hardcover now. What are you waiting for? Go get it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Waiting On Wednesday (7) My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

So I first saw this one over at The Story Siren's Books to Pine For. I am super excited about it because it incorporates two of my favorite things: fairy tales and time travel.

Here's the summary from the Bloomsbury Winter 2009 catalogue (it comes out January 2009):

After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.

Charlotte of Charlotte's Library has already reviewed it and says "This is a great romp through the cliches, pitfalls, bitter realities and ultimate romantic triumphs of fairy tale land. I'd give this one to anyone who loved Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted, or Sarah Beth Durst's Into the Wild."

Author Janette Rallison also has JUST ONE WISH coming out in March 2009 from Putnam and that one is in my TBR pile. I can only hope MY FAIR GODMOTHER will soon join it!

Help! My iTunes shuffle has taken over my life (meme)

I was tagged by Eli of nineseveneight for this fun, nonsensical meme:

1. Put Your iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
4. Put the artist after a dash following the song name.
5. Put any comments in brackets.
6. Tag some lucky people to spread the disease.

How would you describe yourself?
Karma Police - Radiohead [Hardly.]

How do you feel today? Whole Lotta Trouble - Cracker

What is your life’s purpose? Take me to Riot--Stars [Ha Ha!]

What is your motto? Swing, Swing - The All American Rejects

What do you think about very often? What's a Girl to do? - Bat for Lashes

What is your life story? Pace is the Trick - Interpol [So true]

What do you want to be when you grow up? Baker, Baker - Tori Amos [I do bake some excellent chocolate chip cookies]

What will you dance to at your wedding? So Pure - Alanis Morrisette [I don't think this was on our playlist at our wedding, but it's not a bad choice]

What will they play at your funeral? You'll Never Walk Again - Gene [Umm.. no kidding!]

What is your hobby/interest? The Mummer's Dance - Lorena McKennitt

If you could do anything right now, what would it be? Red Rubber Ball - Cyrkle [Ok, that doesn't make much sense]

What do you want most of all? Fly Away - Poe

What is your greatest fear? The World Has Turned and Left Me Here - Weezer [Wow, that's pretty accurate]

What is your darkest secret? Middle Distance Runner - Seawolf [That's right, I secretly run all the time - be afraid, be very afraid!]

What is your favorite thing in the world? Skankill Butchers - The Decemberists [Not!]

If you could have one wish, what would you wish for? Supergirl - Reamon

What is your theme song? Goodnight and Go - Imogen Heap

The next time you hear this song (aside from now, that is), you must dance. Sink to the Bottom - Fountains of Wayne [Can I just tap my toe instead?]

What will you post this as? Highwayman - Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash

I tag:

Linda aka my aunt (because she loves things like this)
Steph aka Reviewer X of awesomeness (because I want her to stop NaNo-ing)
Amy aka mega creative author of Dust of 100 Dogs (because I am very interested in what she has on her iTunes)

and anyone else who wants to!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Library Thing Tuesday (26) + Pic of Emmy

Today's question: Work multiples. Do you own multiple copies of any books? Which ones? Why? Can you share your list?

I own three copies of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold. One is the Spanish language version which is still in storage in my father's garage so I can't say what edition it is. The second copy (Ballantine Mass Market Paperback 1984) I got in college from a used book store and the third copy (Penguin Trade Paperback 2007) I bought for Daniel to read not realizing I had the second copy...oops! Daniel seems to be finding a bit difficult (he's still on page 14) so maybe we'll be getting a fourth copy - in German.

Daniel has a beat up old copy of Tomi Ungerer's Die Drei Raueber (The Three Robbers) from his childhood and at the Frankfurt book fair I saw that Phaidon is doing a reprint English language version coming out in February 2009. I will definitely be getting this as Ungerer is awesome.

EDITED TO ADD: It seems I also have three copies of The Little Prince. One in French and two in German (I had one and Daniel had one). None in English though. And I also have a couple of language versions of Beauty and the Beast (Disney) including Danish, French, and English AND a couple of The Very Hungry Catepillar including Japanese, German and English.


Today we have a blast from the past - a picture of Emmy at 7 weeks old with her mother. Her mother is lilac point, but otherwise they look very similar! And Emmy still loves to do poses like this.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Book Review and Contest: Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern

Justin, an American professor of architecture guest lecturing in Dublin, donates blood. Joyce, an Irish estate agent, gets a blood transfusion and starts to know things about architecture she couldn’t know, remembers places she’s never been, and has dreams about a blonde child she’s never met. An intriguing premise to be sure, and Author Cecelia Ahern pulls it off admirably.

Considering a part of him flows through her veins, Joyce becomes justifiably obsessed with finding Justin. And after a couple of chance encounters between the two strangers, Justin becomes obsessed with finding Joyce, not knowing she’s the one who received his blood. As per typical chick-lit convention, the two are kept apart as long as possible, with lots of screwball scenes (the one where Joyce and her father are on Antiques Roadshow in London being my favorite) and random obstacles to overcome.

Apart from the main plot, the novel also has a deeper side. Both Justin and Joyce are separated and are ready for but also wary of new romantic relationships. Joyce has suffered a devastating miscarriage and is still not over the death of her mother 10 years before. Much of the narrative explores her complex relationship with her elderly father and how they depend on each other despite their differences. Aherns ruminates on the passage of time and making the most of life.

If you’d like a chance to read this book before it’s out in the states (it is already out in the UK and Canada), comment on this post and you could win one of two SIGNED paperbacks. Anyone worldwide can enter, but please indicate International in your comment if you aren’t in the US or Canada. Extra entries will be given to anyone who comments on any of my posts this week, including my review of Moonstone from yesterday. And remember, PLEASE leave a way for me to contact you if you win.

This contest is part of the Book Giveaway carnival going on over at Book Room Reviews this week and will be open until November 9th. After you enter my contest, go on over and check out all the contests held by other book bloggers.

PLUS: Check out this post to see all the books I am giving away the rest of November and make sure you come back for them.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Book Review: Moonstone by Marilee Brothers

15 year old Allie’s life is already pretty abnormal. She lives in a travel trailer with her deadbeat mother, her best friend is the elderly town “witch” and she has a crush on a former gang member. But her life gets even weirder after an accident with an electrical fence sets off her psychic powers, she inherits a powerful moonstone and learns about a prophesy that names her as a “star seeker” who must save the world from evil.

I really liked the flippant, almost campy tone of this book. Allie was very likeable and it was surprisingly easy to identify with her plight despite the paranormal aspects of the book. Junior is a nicely complex love interest and the relationship between Allie and her mother rang true. I wish the villains had been more than vaguely menacing, but otherwise, this first book in the Unbidden Magic series was a very enjoyable read.

If this sounds good to you, you're in luck! The Book Muncher is giving away two copies of the book here. Contest ends on Saturday, November 8th so enter now!