Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
I found The Memorist to be a more satisfying novel than The Reincarnationist. Plot and character development were much improved and the conclusion was far more engaging. A great read!
Sorry for the incredibly short review, but I need to pack for my return trip to Germany.
The contest which I first announced on my review of The Reincarnationist has been extended until January 6th! So far, I will be giving away 3 Reincarnationist paperbacks and I'd love to give out all 5, so enter now either by commenting on this post or at the original post. If you live in the US or Canada, you can also win the grand prize which is both The Memorist and The Reincarnationist.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Linda also gave me a bag of books she's read already including:
In the DVD department, I got:
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I got books for most everyone on my list (in some cases, it didn't make sense). I didn't participate in SantaThing because I knew I didn't need the extra weight in my suitcase. I did take part in a YA gift exchange and I got Invisible Touch by Kelly Parra which I am very excited about!
Looks like while I'm away, the cat will play! Daniel sent me this picture of Miss Emmy engaged in one of her favorite activites:
Monday, December 22, 2008
Life aint fair, Santa"
Sunday, December 21, 2008
It all starts out with Naked George. He's Frankfurt's resident crazy man (and a former patient of Daniel's mother) who has a permit to walk around stark naked. Whenever we ran into him on the street, he'd stop to chat with us. One day, he told Daniel he wanted to visit our apartment but Daniel's mother had told us we shouldn't let him in because then he'd think he could hang out there all the time. Well, Daniel felt sorry for him, so he told him he could visit one time. To commemorate this wonderous occasion, George insisted we take a photo of him with Daniel. So we did. I had it printed and meant to give it to him, but then I couldn't find it so I sort of forgot about it.
Six months later, Daniel and I were in the bookstore and I grabbed a copy of the Lonely Planet Guide to the Baltic States to look up some hotels to prepare for our trip to Riga, Latvia. I was flipping through and saw a picture. I turned it over and yes, you got it - it was that picture of Daniel with Naked George. We had bought that same copy months before while planning an aborted Baltic States visit (we went to Romania instead) and returned it with a very interesting bookmark.
Friday, December 19, 2008
1. No killing (if you do you'll come back as a dog - a fate worse than death if you consider how badly dogs are treated in Burma)
2. No stealing (or you'll be reborn as a poor person)
3. No womanizing (apparently only for men - because if you do this as a man, you'll come back as a woman)
4. No lying (or you'll come back mute)
5. No getting drunk (or you'll come back mentally ill).
Obviously, MJ Rose, author of The Reincarnationist and The Memorist knows enough about reincarnation to plot two novels around it. She provided the following guest post about her experiences and the genesis of her books.
(Don’t forget to enter my contest to win a two book MJ Rose prize pack with a paperback copy of The Reincarnationist and a hardcover copy of her new book The Memorist. I am also giving away up to 5 paperback copies of The Reincarnationist. Read my review and enter here. Comment on this post for your extra entry.)
The Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang said: “To Buddhism, however, death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions.”
Many other reviewers have compared this to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, and I have to admit that’s the first comparison I made while reading as well. Both focus on a controversial topic, have antagonists from the Catholic Church and feature exotic locations. This novel didn’t flow nearly as well as the Da Vinci Code, though the plotting is more believable.
I have always had an interest in archeology, and I really enjoyed the historical aspects of this novel – the forays into ancient Rome as well as the 1800s were rich with detail and interesting characters. It’s the present day story that could have used a bit more polish. Josh comes off as a strange combo of boring and creepily nuts and pretty archeologist Gabriella pretty much spends the entire novel reacting to tragedies by freaking out.
About midway through, I woke up in the middle of the night with an epiphany about where the novel was headed, based on the assumption that the memory stones were what the book was all about. I don’t want to go into spoilers, so I will just say that my assumption turned out to be wrong and I thought the resolution suffered for it.
Who do I think would like this? Fans of high concept thrillers, those interested in the idea of reincarnation, and yes, people who liked The Da Vinci Code (whether they admit to it or not).
And guess what? I have some copies to give away! The grand prize winner will get a two book prize pack with a paperback copy of The Reincarnationist and a hardcover copy of MJ Rose’s latest release The Memorist (which I am in the middle of now and enjoying even more). I will also give away one paperback of the Reincarnationist for every 20 people who enter the giveaway (up to 5 copies!). All you have to do is comment on this review. Comment on Author MJ Rose’s guest post later today for a second entry. The grand prize is open to US/Canada residents only, but I will send the paperbacks internationally. Enter by Saturday, December 27 at 9 pm CST. CONTEST EXTENDED TO JANUARY 6th!
For three days leading up to the book’s release date of December 23rd, you can watch VLOGs and hear some excerpts read from the book. The VLOG schedule is as follows:
Sunday, December 21st – Liv’s Book Reviews - http://livsbookreviews.blogspot.com/
Monday, December 22nd – What Vanessa Reads - http://whatvanessareads.wordpress.com/
Tuesday, December 23rd – Lisa Schroeder, author - http://lisa-schroeder.livejournal.com/ AND http://myspace.com/writerlisa
Help spread the word, and you might win a fabulous prize!
Copy and paste THIS entire blog entry into your blog between now and December 21st, then come back to Lisa’s blog at either Livejournal OR Myspace and leave a comment with the link to your blog and you will get TWO enteries to win a number of prizes.
Wondering what you might win? Here is the list (there will be multiple winners):
~ An Advanced Review Copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, by Carrie Ryan
~ An Advanced Review Copy of SOMETHING, MAYBE, by Elizabeth Scott
~ Young adult novel GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones
~ Young adult novel, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas
~ Young adult novel, UGLIES by Scott Westerfield
~ Pair of YA fairy tale retellings by Cameron Dokey (BELLE and BEFORE MIDNIGHT)
~ TWILIGHT movie soundtrack
~ $15.00 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some Harry & David’s chocolate moose munch
~ And of course, a signed copy of FAR FROM YOU
For more chances to win, watch one or all of the VLOGs and leave a comment on that vlogger’s page, and you get another entry. That means if you post the schedule on your blog AND comment on all three VLOGs, you can have FIVE entries for the contest!
A live drawing with winners announced will be done by Lisa Thursday morning, December 24th, in a special holiday VLOG.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Natalie defines herself by her transfer status (she thinks freshmen year is when most college friendships develop and she missed the boat), by her family relations (she has 6 older brothers, one who committed suicide), by her socio-economic background (blue collar poor), and most of all by her lack of experience in the sex department (she thinks being a virgin at 20 makes her the freakiest of all freaks). There isn’t a lot of plot beyond day to day college life and Natalie’s “relationship” with Patrick which means the reader’s enjoyment of the novel relies heavily on whether or not they like Natalie as a character. Personally, I had trouble relating to her. I wouldn’t say she was poorly developed, but her perpetual insecurity and proclivity to make really bad choices increasingly grated on my nerves. It’s probably a bad sign that the parts of the novel I enjoyed the most were the academic snippets of her lectures and exams having to do with Russian history.
College Girl comes out in hardcover on December 26th.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Yes, had a little adventure in the SFO airport because even though I was on a connecting flight from Atlanta, my sister-in-law parked in the International parking garage and then walked to find me. We ended up walking around lugging my suitcase full of books for a good hour and a half looking for her car. The signage is very bad (at least to a brain which hasn't slept in over 24 hours) and there was NO ONE around. It's like a ghost airport at 8 pm. Well, once we finally found the car, sister-in-law couldn't find her parking ticket. After she searched fruitlessly for a few minutes, I suggested we just drive to the ticket booth and take the consequences. Turns out they were able to tell what time she drove in by her license plate number. $14 for all that fun!
But despite that frustration at the end, I the rest of my trip went very smoothly. I watched Transsiberian, Mamma Mia, Pineapple Express and half of Baby Mama (wasn't in the mood). I also finished The Reincarnationist by MJ Rose (review, giveaway and guest blog coming up on Dec 19!) and started College Girl. My seatmate also had a stack of gossip mags and glossies that she shared with me so I'm caught up on all that. So which is it? Is Angelina having a girl? Or twins again? And is she using botox?! Say it isn't so!
I'll be back tomorrow for TuesdayThingers (and yes, there IS a new pic of Emmy), and then I'm travelling again on Wednesday (so there may not be a Waiting on Wednesday this week). Thursday I'll put my College Girl review and return to my regular commenting frequency. I have been skimming through my google reader but haven't had the chance to write more than a few comments - but I'm still out here!
One of the coolest things going on this week has to be Reviewer X's Girl Week. Check it out for a bounty of awesomeness!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
These are the books I'm carrying on:
College Girl by Patricia Weitz
The Reincarnationist by MJ Rose
The Memorist by MJ Rose
I, Lorelei by Yeardly Smith
Kind of ambitious, but we'll see!
What was the last book you read on the plane?
Friday, December 12, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Today, we'll be discussing the middle chapters entitled With A Boy, Avon and Frank - right here.
With a Boy was quite short and delved deeper into the consequences of Joon's drug use, specifically how it affected her roommate/love interest Blue Fly. What did you think about the fact that she didn't mind Blue Fly selling himself, but when she thinks he's cheating on her with his nurse, she flips out? We also see how her personal hygiene suffers and I found it amusing/sad how impressed she is with a shower full of assorted scented shampoos.
Avon is a long chapter dealing with Joon's Avon job (I was surprised that no one at the squatter apartment stole her samples!) and her unwanted pregnancy. This chapter has a lot of unpleasant content - what made you the most queasy?
Frank is another short chapter - one scene at a narcotics anonymous meeting (I assume that's what it is). Joon is in rehab for her drug use and meets Frank who claims to have been sober for 462 days yet he immediately invites Joon to go out drinking with him. Do you think he would've really gone through with it? What did you think of Frank saying Joon wasn't even close to being done with drugs? Do you feel hopeful for Joon at this point?
Ok, time to get chatting!
Monday was at: J Kaye's Book Blog
Tuesday was at: Pop Culture Junkie
Wednesday is: here
Thursday will be at: Worducopia
Friday will be at: All four blogs!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I have reviewed every non-picture* book I've read since the end of April except for one: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. The reason I didn't was because I happened to read Jen Robinson's review (or reaction to it as she calls it) right before I was about to write mine, and what she said was exactly what I would've said, so I left good enough alone. *(I read a ton of children's picture books that I don't review on the blog).
In most cases, I post my reviews either right after I finish reading or a day or two after (depending on how my scheldule is). If a publicist or author requests that I hold my review, I wait on reading the book too. I have A LOT of books to read, so there is no problem for me to find one that is already out or about to be released. That means I have a lot of MUST READ books that I haven't gotten to yet...but I am patient.
I post many of my blog reviews to LT (when I think about it) and a few to amazon (if an author requests it or if I loved it and feel like it is underrepresented there). I don't post more to amazon because I am wary of their system. Whenever I posted a less than flattering review, I would get a ton of unhelpful votes (I never had a review removed though). Sort of turned me off to contributing there to be honest.
NOTE: This may be the last Emmy pic of the year since I am flying to the US on Saturday and can't take the kitty with me. Or I could run pictures from the archive if demand is high (let me know in the comments).
Emmy spends about 16 hours a day sleeping and she likes to sleep on our laps/arms while we are working. Here is her "contribution" to Daniel's output:
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
We made two kinds: shortbread cookies with cookie cutters and these frosted christmas trees. In this picture, Theo is holding them upside down.
As far as Christmas music, I have two main playlists - one which contains Daniel's approved list and one to play when I am by myself . Let's start with the former:
God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman by Aimee Mann
Blue Christmas by Johnny Cash
O Little Town of Bethleham by Elvis Presley
Fairytale of New York by The Pogues
Rudy by The Be Good Tanyas
Away in a Manger by Sufjan Stevens
Good King Wenceslas by Loreena McKennit
And then come the songs I love but Daniel just tolerates:
O Holy Night by Emmy Rossum
The First Noel by Leigh Nash
What Child is This by Josh Groban
O Come O Come Emmanuel by Carter's Chord
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Tori Amos
Winter Wonderland by Tony Bennett
Ding Dong! Merrily on High by Chanticleer
I would love to find good versions of the following:
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Do you hear what I hear?
Let it Snow
Silver Bells (thinking of getting the version by Relient K)
Oh Come All Ye Faithful (maybe the Faith Hill version?)
I Saw Three Ships
Rockin around the Christmas Tree (something not so cheesy)
What Christmas songs and versions are your favorites?
Saturday, December 6, 2008
The winner of The Gemma Doyle Trilogy signed by Libba Bray is Keri Mikulski! Keri recommended Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt and I'll admit I'm intrigued. This one is going on my Christmas wish list/to buy if I don't get for Christmas list. Thanks Keri :)
The winner of You are so Undead to Me is Shalonda who is 100% on team zombie and thinks unicorns are corny. She may be on to something there, but I'm reserving judgement until I read Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (set to drop May 2009). I recently found out Diana and Daniel have the same editor at HarperCollins. Very cool!!
The winner of the 6+ books from Penguin is Allisonmariecat who couldn't quite decide between Death By Latte, Confessions of a Triple-Shot Betty and Savvy. Good choices! Please let us know what books you end up getting Allison. (On a side note, Allison is the second person to win two contests on my site. I believe Kelsey is the other.)
And finally, the winner of Aurelia is Carol of Carolsnotebook. Her favorite princess is Fiona from Shrek. Mine, in case you are interested, is Beauty from the book Beauty by Sherri Tepper.
Congrats to all my winners! Please send me your mailing addresses asap. And if you didn't win, don't despair. I have a few more cool contests coming up this month. YAY!
Friday, December 5, 2008
I invited her and another friend, Jay, for a girls’ night to try out the recipes. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get a babysitter (and she’s allergic to Emmy). So it was just Jay and me. We decided on the only two recipes that didn’t look too complicated, didn’t need fancy kitchen appliances (which I don’t own), and had ingredients that were easy to find in the organic food stores near my apartment (that excluded any recipe that called for an essential oil other than rose oil).
The first one we tried was the Sugar Mommy Scrub. The only thing I needed to buy was the rose oil, which set me back 4 Euro. We put the ingredients in a glass bowl and whisked them together. Then we massaged the mixture all over our faces for a couple of minutes and washed it off. Jay didn’t like the oily feel of the scrub but we were both pleased with the results – I don’t think my face has ever been so soft.
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 drops rose oil
1 drop vanilla extract
Degree of difficulty: very easy
Feel of mixture: a bit too oily
Scent of mixture: ok
Results: Excellent – very soft skin and no breakouts, even days later.
Likelihood of repeat session: High
We also tried the Lemon Cheesecake Whitening Mask. I had all the ingredients already for this one, but our manual whisking didn’t thicken the mixture, so you probably need an electric hand mixer (which I don’t have). This one smelled heavenly, but felt tight on our faces. We were directed to leave it on for 15 minutes, but Jay said it started to burn her skin so she washed it off earlier.
2 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons plain yogurt
1 egg white
Degree of difficulty: medium (if you don’t have an electric mixer)
Feel of mixture: very runny and sticky
Scent of mixture: Excellent
Results: Ok, but nothing special
Likelihood of repeat session: Low
The Green Beauty Guide is more than just recipes however. Author Julie Gabriel also suggests store bought products that are good for your skin and helps you understand the nature of your skin and the beauty industry. I have an ARC of the book, which means I am missing chapters 10-16 and a list of toxic ingredients that help you weed out products in your bathroom that are doing you more harm than good. I’d definitely like to get the full version.
This review is part of the TLC Blog tour. Click here to find out more about author Julie Gabriel and to check out other reviews of this book.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I read this novel with a great deal of fascination. Thanks to Shevaun’s memories somehow being a part of her, Erin learned several languages without even trying, is brilliant at fencing the first time she picks up a sword, and has other innate talents and knowledge that a normal 16 year old would not have. How this is all possible is one of the central questions of the narrative and one that apparently caused a lot of confusion for many readers (if you go by the reviews on amazon). The premise IS complicated, no doubt, and I know it’s hard to find the right balance between explaining too much (and risk losing your audience to boredom) and explaining too little (and risk losing your audience to confusion). For me, the amount of explanation was just right, but I guess some readers want/need more.
The story deals a lot with dreams, and because it is so dreamlike, many of the characters come off more as abstractions than flesh and blood mortals. Shevaun, a vampire created in the 15th century, is the most developed of the characters and the most interesting. Atwater-Rhodes is known for her shapeshifter novels, and this novel appears to exist within the same universe (see a Q&A with the author here), so fans of her other books will most certainly like this one too.
Persistence of Memory will be released in hardcover on December 9th.
On a side note, one of my favorite poems, Dream within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe, appears in the front of this book. I started to read it aloud to Daniel and he recited it from memory!! Wow!
Here it is:
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
This much let me avow---
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand
How few! Yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep --- while I weep!
Oh God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
Oh God! Can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
"Emily Whitman's Radiant Darkness takes a very interesting route with its tale. Hades is the kind of fellow a girl would want to give up natural sunshine for and (I was a little unclear on this but I HOPE it's the case) Demeter is the villain. How perfect is that? You're shacking up with your boyfriend/husband and here comes mom to hurl you back up to the surface where you do not want to be. Tell me a teen can't relate to that?"
I love mythology and Persephone's story has always been one of my favorites. It will be interesting to see where Whitman takes this! Radiant Darkness will be released April 2009.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Ever since doing a term paper on Charlotte Corday (the assassin of Marat, a key revolutionary figure and leader of the reign of terror), I have been fascinated with the French revolution and its aftermath. This novel is a successful historical thriller with elements of the supernatural woven in. Each of our three main characters is shrouded in mystery that is slowly revealed during the course of the narrative (though a few details are left open – perhaps saved for a possible sequel).
Some reviewers thought Sido was too passive as a character, but I thought she served the historically accurate storyline. Yann was well rounded enough to distract from Sido’s deficits, and I’m sure Sido would bloom once given the chance to live outside the extreme confines of her upbringing.
This is one I gulped down in one sitting – maybe you will too. The Red Necklace is out now in hardcover.