Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Update

Okay, so on Sunday I am leaving for Japan, I am super duper psyched!!!!
One of the things this means is that my other blog, Vegan in the Land of Frog Legs and Cheese, is going to have to change names. I haven't come up with anything interesting yet, but I've decided I want it to be a name that I will be able to keep even when I am not in Japan. Suggestions, anyone?

The other thing that this means is that I will not have access to the internet until April 5. I've got a ton of reviews of books I've been reading written up in a notebook, but I'm not sure yet if I will have time to type them up before I leave. I wouldn't mind not having a post for 5 whole days, but I've just got so many reviews written that it seems silly to have such a long hiatus. So I will do my best to type some up, but if not, well, sorry.

I also apologize in advance for the lack of comments in your blogs over the next little while. Even once I have internet, I'm pretty sure that getting settled in Japan is going to be hectic. Wish me luck!

Anyhow, that's all for now, I guess. I hope everyone is having a fabulous week, and I look forward to regular blogging again once everything gets dealt with in JAPAN!!!!

Happy reading, everyone!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

French Friday (19)

French Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. We both live in France, so French Friday is a meme to write about Frenchy bookish things.

Once again, French Friday is happening on Saturday. Sorry! Yesterday was moving out of hte apartment and into the boyfriend's parents house for the few days I have left before Japan day. I don't think I even turned on the computer. But since this is potentially my LAST French Friday (I might do one again next week), I couldn't miss it!

This week, I decided we'd do another cover comparison, this time looking at books of my favorite author of all time, Neil Gaiman. Man,I love him!

First, we will look at one of my absolute favorite Neil Gaiman books, also known as onz of the top 3 greatest books of all time, American Gods.

I adore the American cover of this book, and the French one kind of makes me laugh. What's with the coke looking thinbg and the George Washington on the cover? I don't know why, but it just seems SO wrong for the book to me. Maybe it appeals more ot French people? Maybe they were trying to go with the comic book style cover because the French were, at the time, more likely to know Neil Gaiman as a writer of comics.

And speaking of George Washington on the cover, let us now look at the covers for Anansi Boys:

What is with the French and George Washington? Anyhow, I love the US cover of this book, but I think the French one, which almost seems silly to me, actually contains more of the book content. I oddly can't seem to find anywhere on the internet cover of the book that I have. If I had it with me, I would take a picture. It's definitely my favorite of the covers.

Now, since we can't look at ALL of his books, as he is very prolific, we'll take one last look at Neverwhere, a book I absolutely ADORE!

I'm super attached to the American cover, almost out of some weird sense of loyalty, but in the end, I actually think I PREFER the French cover. Which is weird because it just seems so, well, FRENCH to me. If I had seen the cover and not known it was the French cover, I would have guessed. I am continually shocked by how culture can change the sort of book cover that will appeal to someone. The French covers are often so different from the American ones, and while I find the American ones more appealing, I'm guessing the typical French person must find the French ones more appealing. It's weird how that works.

Anyhow, I also think it's slightly odd that the majority of Gaiman's books have the same names in French and English. U've been thinking about why that might be, and I just really can't figure it out. Ideas, anyone?

Anyhow, I hope that you have enjoyed this week's French Friday on Saturday! Be sure to make your way on over to the Book on the Hill!

Maybe a vendredi prochain!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blog Tour: the River King's Road by Liane Merciel

Title: the River King's Road

Author: Liane Merciel

Not a Review: So, as usual with the Pocket Book tours, there's been a problem. I STILL haven't received this book. :-( I don't know what the deal is. Theoretically it was shipped at the same time as Demon Posessed, which I did receive. So I'm guessing it must be lost in the mail somewhere. Which is unfortunate, as I have been really psyched about reading this book. It looks AWESOME!

I also always want to read books that people disagree about, and this one has been getting some great reviews and some not so great reviews.
So, if it is lost in the mail, I hope it makes it's way to me sometime soon and isn't forever lost.

Summary: A thrilling new voice in fantasy makes an unforgettable debut with this "intriguingly twisted tale of treachery and magic" (New York Times bestselling author L. E. Modesitt, Jr.). Liane Merciel’s The River Kings’ Road takes us to a world of bitter enmity between kingdoms, divided loyalties between comrades, and an insidious magic that destroys everything it touches...

The wounded maidservant thrust the knotted blankets at him; instinctively, Brys stepped forward and caught the bundle before it fell. Then he glimpsed what lay inside and nearly dropped it himself.

There was a baby in the blankets. A baby with a tear-swollen face red and round as a midsummer plum. A baby he knew, even without seeing the lacquered medallion tucked into the swaddling—a medallion far too heavy, on a chain far too cold for an infant who had not yet seen a year.

A fragile period of peace between the eternally warring kingdoms of Oakharn and Langmyr is shattered when a surprise massacre fueled by bloodmagic ravages the Langmyrne border village of Willowfield, killing its inhabitants—including a visiting Oakharne lord and his family—and leaving behind a scene so grisly that even the carrion eaters avoid its desecrated earth. But the dead lord’s infant heir has survived the carnage—a discovery that entwines the destinies of Brys Tarnell, a mercenary who rescues the helpless and ailing babe, and who enlists a Langmyr peasant, a young mother herself, to nourish and nurture the child of her enemies as they travel a dark, perilous road . . . Odosse, the peasant woman whose only weapons are wit, courage, and her fierce maternal love—and who risks everything she holds dear to protect her new charge . . . Sir Kelland, a divinely blessed Knight of the Sun, called upon to unmask the architects behind the slaughter and avert war between ancestral enemies . . . Bitharn, Kelland’s companion on his journey, who conceals her lifelong love for the Knight behind her flawless archery skills—and whose feelings may ultimately be Kelland’s undoing . . . and Leferic, an Oakharne Lord’s bitter youngest son, whose dark ambitions fuel the most horrific acts of violence. As one infant’s life hangs in the balance, so too does the fate of thousands, while deep in the forest, a Maimed Witch practices an evil bloodmagic that could doom them all...

In the meantime, since you won't be getting my review today, be sure to check out the author's website. You can actually read the first two chapters there, so if you're interested, it's definitely worth a look-see.

Also, be sure to check out the other reviews on the blog tour, as I'm guessing most of them did receive their book on time.

Pam’s Private Reflections:
Book Junkie:
Cheryl’s Book Nook:
Steph the Bookworm:
The Bibliophilic Book Blog:
I Heart Book Gossip:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
My Book Addiction and More:
Book Gardens and Dogs:
Taking Time For Mommy:
Thoughts In Progress:
Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer:
Books And Things:
She Reads:
Blog Business World:
Carol’s Notebook:
Crazy Books & Reviews:
Books Gardens & Dogs:
Just One More Paragraph:
Drey’s Library:
My Life In Not So Many Words:
Geek Girl Reviews:
Starting Fresh:
Poisoned Rationality:
Temple Library Reviews:
The Wayfaring Writer:
Booksie’s Blog:
See Michelle Read:
Genre Reviews:
My Book Views:
Wendy’s Minding Spot:
Book Tumbling:
Literarily Speaking:
Books R Us:
Brenda Loves Books:
Lucky Rosie’s:
You Wanna Know What I Think? :

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review and GIVEAWAY: the Bird Room by Chris Killen

Title: the Bird Room

Author: Chris Killen

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? I don't really know how to say. It's an interesting book. I guess if you like black comedy this will appeal to you.

What I Have to Say:
I thought that maybe putting a little time between the end of this book and my review would give me more clarification on how I felt, but nope. I still think that it was just weird. Did I enjoy reading it? Yes! Did I LIKE it? Maybe yes, maybe no. Because really, it was just plain weird.

My favorite thing about this book was that I absolutely adored the writing style. It was one of those books where you sort of feel like the main character is talking to you while at the same time feeling as if he doesn't care about you at all. It just sort of plods along, if that makes sense, and yet the story itself is completely non-linear. It goes back and forth and back and forth while at the same time slowly and succinctly moving forwards. In a way, this caught me off guard, and yet it was also a pleasant surprise. I love books that are written like this.

This book is also extremely interesting in that you never actually get to know any of the characters, which could come from the fact that they never really get to know each other, and yet it is very much character driven. Who is Will, who is the other Will, who is Alice? None of this is really important, as they are only important characters inasmuch as they are important to the first Will. They are all so flawed and confused.

While the style of this book makes it easy to read, the content does it. It's an intriguing look at the sex-lives of adults, at our perception of love and sex . It's an intimate look at relationships, and it's so real. While I didn't relate at all to the relationships in the Bird Room, as I didn't relate at all to the characters, the ideas presented through their relationships did make me think a little bit about the relationships in my life. And how real they may or may not be.

Will (the first) disgusts me, and he absolutely deserves everything he gets. I would NOT deal well with having a person like him in my life. And yet, the book is narrated from his point of view, and I absolutely ate it up. He made me laugh, he made me think, and he almost made me sad while at the same time shunning him.

So it's a good, well-written book, but it will not make you feel good. It might even depress you. And you may like it without actually liking it's content. It's GOOD while at the same time. . .leaving you unsure as to what exactly there was about it that you liked.

Summary (from Amazon): Painfully average and introverted Will finally has a bird. Her name is Alice. She's smart, sexy, and much to Will's surprise, she is in love with him. But the course of love never did run smooth, and soon devotion—and its uglier manifestations—lead Will to a dark place within himself.

Elsewhere in the city, Helen is an actress—or she will be some day. For now, she finds work as a "model"—or whatever her online acquaintances need her to be. Her real name is Clair, but she desperately wants to be someone new, someone glamorous and real—someone worth something.

A love story with a twist, this exuberant and funny debut novel brings Will and Helen's lives together in a tale as tight as a rope and as black as tar. Sharp, playful, and brimming over with wicked comedy, The Bird Room heralds the arrival of a major new literary talent.

Cover Story: I actually love this cover. It's like it examines every part of this beautiful girl. It fits with the book in a weird way.

I'm so excited that I have one copy of this book to give away! Just click here to fill out the form.
(Sorry - I tried to embed the form, but there were some issues; the colors weren't showing up right, and you couldn't see the words.) Be sure to comment on my review before you click to fill out the form!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Interview: Peter Bognanni, Author of the House of Tomorrow

As those of you that read my review know, when I read Peter Bognanni's the House of Tomorrow, I absolutely fell in love! Which is why I am more excited than ever that Peter agreed to answer a few questions for Brizmus Blogs Books. Let's get started!

Brizmus Blogs Books: Hi Peter! Thank you SO MUCH for taking time to answer a few questions for Brizmus Blogs Books. I absolutely ADORED the House of Tomorrow, and I am so excited to be hosting an interview with you. My first question is just this: Buckminster Fuller? He just seems like such a random basis for a book. Could you please talk a little bit about your relationship to him, how he came to be such a major part of the book.

Peter Bognanni: To be perfectly honest, I started the book knowing very little about Bucky. I had seen him on a postage stamp once (great stamp by the way) and I knew a little about geo-domes. But everything started after a conversation my wife had at a party. Someone at this party told her, pretty much out of the blue, that he lived in a dome with his grandmother. My wife related the conversation to me in the car on the way home, and the next day I started to become dome-obsessed. I must have looked at domes for four hours the next morning. This obsession led me to R. Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome. And the more I read about him, the more I became fascinated. Such wild ideas. Such enthusiasm. Such large glasses! He wanted to encase all of Manhattan in a giant climate-controlled dome. He wanted humans to live in floating dome cities that would migrate around the globe. He firmly believed in telepathy. How can you not love this guy? I started to imagine what it might be like for someone to grow up living Bucky’s principle to the fullest. That’s how the protagonist of my book, Sebastian, was born.

BBB: Where did you get the idea to write about a boy who had had a heart transplant? Was it something that just happened over the course of the book because you needed Jared to be sick, or did you set out with this idea in mind?

Peter: Jared was actually a character that I kind of air-lifted from another novel that was going exactly nowhere. He’s loosely based on someone I knew growing up, or at least the detail of the transplant is. I really knew a chain-smoking transplant recipient. Only he played the drums, not guitar. Jared’s personality is much different though, a kind of amalgam of a lot of funny and caustic people I hung around with in high school. I never really thought of the transplant as a “fictional device” per se; it was just always the way I envisioned the character. But from the beginning, I liked the idea of writing this enigmatic person who was both vulnerable and abrasive at the same time. Also, I think his affliction allowed him to be both delightfully immature, and wiser than his years, sometimes on the same page.

BBB: I read that you were in a (bad) punk band in high school, and I’m very curious about this. What were you called, did you ever record anything, and is Jared and Sebastians‘s punk band experience based on your experiences?

Peter: The band I played with in high school had about ten different names, if memory serves. We could never decide on one. And it might be unfair to call us a punk band. We were more a play-as-loud-and-out-of-tune-as-you-can-until-you-get-tired kind of band. Some ungodly brand of noise rock, I suppose. But if you’d asked us if we were punks, we might have nodded. And yes, that experience acted as an influence on Sebastian and Jared’s band. Undeniably so. I can still remember learning my first power chords, plugging into an amp for the first time, and many other small moments that pretty much ended up in the book wholesale. Despite my lack of talent, music was enormously important for me growing up. It was a way to imagine other lives, other selves. It was transformative. And it made me feel better about my bad haircut and large dental apparatus.

BBB: Are you working on anything else right now? Can we expect more YA from you in the future?

Peter: I’m working on two things right now and they are currently battling for supremacy in my laptop. As far as YA goes, this book is being cross-listed as adult and young adult and I love the idea of reaching both readers. I really like writing teenage characters, so I’m sure they’ll continue to appear in my books, but I might go a little older with my next protagonist. I turned 31 this year. I probably have an expiration date on my ability to write from the perspective of a profane teenager. But it helps that there’s one locked inside of me.

BBB: Okay, last question! Give me some quick one-word answers!

Favorite geodesic dome: The Botanical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. This is a clear geodesic dome in my hometown. I went to a Homecoming Dance here and suffered humiliations similar to those of my characters.

Favorite punk band: The Buzzcocks. I can’t get enough of them. They’re funny. They rock. They make me feel angry and bemused simultaneously.

Literary Idol: Ah, torturous question to answer. I absolutely devoured Kurt Vonnegut in high school, and no matter how many more literary heroes I have and will amass, I always feel a little dishonest when I don’t mention him. He made me want to be a compulsive reader. Which, in turn, made me want to be a writer.

Favorite music to listen to while writing: Can’t really do this. Too distracting. I’ll start writing the lyrics of a song right into the prose. The night was like a…Blitzkrieg Bop. For this book though, I would stop here and there to listen to songs I was writing about. It’s nice to take a break from trying to write something literary only to listen to a Ramone shout about sniffing glue.

Favorite food to eat while writing: Get ready for the least Punk Rock answer of all time. You ready? Yoplait Yogurt. That’s right, I said it.

BBB:Back to me now - what a GREAT interview! Again, thanks SO much Peter for answering a few questions for me, especially with such fabulous answers! I laughed on more than one occasion. For those of my readers that haven't read Vonnegut or listened to the Buzzcocks, I highly recommend you do so now!
I also highly recommend that you check out this awesome trailer for the House of Tomorrow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Not an IMM

No In My Mailbox post for you this week, as I (THANKFULLY) didn't receive a single book. Seriously, I don't know what I would have done with it had I received a book, as I've already got pretty much everything packed to go to Japan, and there is no room for ANYTHING else. Not even another book.

BUT, I just wanted to let you guys know that you should check back tomorrow because I am going to be posting an AWESOME interview! Seriously, this is one that I am SUPER excited about. I actually did a happy dance when he agreed to answer some questions for me. And his answers - well, let's just say I laughed a lot.

Anyhow, I won't say who he is, because I want it to be a surprise for tomorrow, but do be sure to check back. You won't be disappointed!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

French Friday (18)

French Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. We both live in France, so French Friday is a meme to write about Frenchy bookish things.

I guess this week it's actually French Saturday. Or maybe even really French Sunday, as it's presently midnight exactly. It's been a long day of packing and moving, and this is actually the first time I've been on the computer all day. Still, yesterday I promised a French Friday on Saturday, and given that I might not have too many French Fridays left, it's a promise I really wanted to keep. So here we go!

And this week, I want to do some cover comparisons. For books by an author that I absolutely LOVE - Sophie Kinsella.

The first is for Confessions of a Shopaholic - Confessions d'une accro du shopping in French, and it translates pretty much exactly.

Guess who likes the French cover better for once? Yeah, that would be me! (and oops, I just made the covers really big, but I really don't feel like going back and changing that - sorry!). The US version is so, well, boring, for such a fabulous, girly, fluffy book!

Next, we'll look at the Undomestic Goddess. In French, it's Samantha, bonne a rien faire, which means Samantha, Good at Nothing (it sounds nicer in French, I think, but I'm still not sure about this title).

Here, it's hard for me. I like them both, but I think I'm going to have to go with the US one. The French one makes it look like there's magic going on, and as there's no magic in the book, it's sort of misleading.
Also, I always thought that I would be PERFECT for the part of Sam if ever they make a movie, and I don't really look like that girl on the cover.

Last one, Lexi Smart a la memoire qui flanche (Lexi Smart's memory is giving out) aka Remember Me? What is up with French titles having the name of the main character in them. It doesn't really jive with me, that.

Even though the girl sort of looks as if she might be nude in the shadow, I absolutely prefer the French cover. The flower on the US cover is pretty, but the French cover is fun and scattered and wonderful!

Anyhow, that's it for this week. Sorry this was so late, but I hope you enjoyed nonetheless. I'd love to know what you think. :-)
Don't forget to check out Charlotte's French Friday at The Book on the Hill.

Now, good night, I'm off to read!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Blog Tour Review: Songbird Under A German Moon by Tricia Goyer

Interrupting this regularly scheduled French Friday program to present to you a blog tour. Be sure to check back tomorrow, as if things go as planned, French Friday will be posted on Saturday this week!

Title: Songbird Under a German Moon

Author: Tricia Goyer


Who Should Read It? If you like a little bit of historical fiction mixed in with your suspense novels, and you don't mind a little Christianity in the mix, this fluffy, fabulous read is absolutely for you!

What I Have to Say: Songbird Under A German Moon is one of those fluffy, feel-good mysteries that, despite the horrible things that happen along the way, leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart. It's nice to think that there are some good people amidst all the bad ones out there.

Betty, a singer in a canteen during the war, is psyched when she hears that she will be going to Germany to sing for the troops. She is glad to finally feel that she is doing her part. But when she arrives, she discovers that the war being over does not mean that things are all just fine and dandy. Betty is so sweet and pure and innocent and good; she will leave you wishing that everyone else in the world could be more like her.

Frank, a combat photographer during the war, has managed to come out clean and pure on the other side, but he's a little upset with his newest assignment - taking pictures of girls singing in Festpielhaus in Nuremburg, Germany. The upside of his mission is the beautiful Betty.

Frank and Betty together are just wonderful. They fit together like, well, like two peas in a pod. And it was so exciting following along with them as they tried to solve the mystery of Festpielhaus (even if I had already solved it before they even realized there was a mystery to solve). I would love to see them cracking cases again in future books.

What I liked most about this book, though, was all of the historical detail. I switched high schools at a weird time, and as such, I pretty much missed World War II history straight up. It was cool getting to learn a little bit about how things were in Germany after the war, learning about Wagner. I didn't know that a Wagner opera had supposedly "inspired" Hitler to start a mass genocide. Any book that makes me curious enough to want to read some non-fiction gets an A+ in my book, and this book absolutely did that for me.

In Songbird Under A German Moon, Tricia Goyer has created a beautiful love story combined with a historical and suspenseful mystery that will keep you turning pages even if you have already figured everything out. If you don't mind a little Christianity mixed in with your fiction, this is a fabulous read!

Summary (from Amazon): The year is 1945. The war is over and 21-year-old Betty Lake has been invited to Europe to sing in a USO tour for American soldiers who now occupy Hitlers Germany. The first nights performance is a hit. Betty becomes enthralled with the applause, the former Nazi-held mansion theyre housed in and the attention of Frank Witt, the US Army Signal Corp Photographer. Yet the next night this songbird is ready to fly the coop when Bettys dear friend, Kat, turns up missing. Betty soon realizes Franks photographs could be the key to finding Kat. Betty and Frank team up against post-war Nazi influences and the two lovebirds hearts may find the each other. But will they have a chance for their romance to sing? The truth will be revealed under a German moon. \

Cover Story: Bah, I don't dislike it, but I don't like it, either. I suppose I feel slightly indifferent.

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour here.

AND, if you want to win a copy, leave a comment on Tricia’s blog or send an email through her website CONNECT page and answer this question: What era in history do you wish you'd lived in and why?

Earn extra entries by signing up for Tricia's newsletter , becoming a Fan on Facebook or Tweeting about the contest on Twitter (use hashtag #songbird)!

You’ll be entered to win one of three signed copies of Songbird Under a German Moon.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me by LitFuse Publicity in exchange for a review.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blog Tour (not) Review: Demon Posessed by Stacia Kane

Have you entered my contests yet? I've got 5 going on right now! Just go to Brizmus Blogs Books and right at the top under "My contests."
Also, be sure to check back Monday when I'll be posting an interview with Peter Bognanni, author of the House of Tomorrow. I am SUPER psyched!

Title: Demon Posessed

Author: Stacia Kane

What I Have to Say: I'm not going to review this book, as I didn't finish it, so I don't think that's fair. It is VERY unlike me to start a book and not finish it (I got through the God of Small Things, aka worst book ever - you would think I could get through anything) - I actually think this might be the first time I have ever done so. And the only reason I felt okay with putting it down and saying "I will not finish this now" is because it is the third in a series.

And the fact is - I was confused. Just a little bit, but confused nonetheless. Mostly, though, I just didn't care. This really seemed like one of those books that would just be better if you read the other two books first. Because then you would know and care about the characters as opposed to just thinking "meh, who cares." Which is sort of how I felt.

So, the plan is to acquire the other two books in the series, read them, and then come back to this one. Because I think I could enjoy it. And I can't just NEVER finish it. I started it after all.

It seems like it would be a fun, sometimes funny, sometimes intense, fast-paced read.
So, I am sorry that I can't give you a real review now, and I hope you'll check out the other reviews on this blog tour if you're interested.

Summary (from Amazon): Psychologist and psychic Megan Chase has grown remarkably comfortable hanging out with demons. The demon "family" she leads is happy, her solo practice is stabilizing, and she and her steamy demon lover, Greyson Dante, are closer than ever. But when the couple books a week at a luxury hotel to attend a meeting of demon leaders, some unanticipated problems appear. An FBI agent with an unhealthy interest in less-than-legitimate demon business practices shows up; the demon community is urging Megan to undergo the rite that will make her a real demon; and a slightly shady minister is holding one of his wildly popular "weekend exorcisms" just down the road. And oh, yes, someone with scary magical abilities is attempting to kill her. Then, just when it seems as if things couldn't possibly get any worse, a secret comes to light that could jeopardize Megan and Greyson's future -- if Megan manages to live that long. With things heating up, it's becoming difficult for her to keep a cool head...

Disclosure: This book was provided by Pocket Books for review.

Other Blogs on the Tour:

Book, Books Everywhere:
Book Junkie:
Cheryl’s Book Nook:
Steph the Bookworm:
The Bibliophilic Book Blog:
Patricia’s Vampire Notes:
Sexy Women Read:
I Heart Book Gossip:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
My Book Addiction and More:
Just Short of Crazy:
The Book Lush:
Brizmus Blogs Books:
Taking Time For Mommy:
Thoughts In Progress:
Books And Things:
The Wayfaring Writer:
Wendy’s Minding Spot:
Beguile Thy Sorrow:
You Wanna Know What I Think? :

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Veracity by Laura Bynum

Title: Veracity

Author: Laura Bynum

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? Lovers of dystopian fiction, young and old alike. Anyone looking for an exciting, fast-paced sci-fi read that doesn't mind a little bit of politics added into the mix.

What I Have to Say:
ve-rac-i-ty: habitual observance of truth in speech or statement; truthfulness; conformity to truth or fact

Veracity is one of the most believable dystopian fiction novels I have read, because it is so closely based on what seems to be happening in our world today. Slowly, all of their freedoms are taken away for the sake of "security." Over half of the population is killed from a huge pandemic (in real life, "they" keep announcing that one is going to happen any day now). The government slowly takes more and more liberties with the peoples' lives in the name of making their lives more easily livable. Slowly, their world becomes socialist, which slowly and easily turns into totalitarianism. Hmmmm. . .sounds very familiar to me, and I can easily imagine what is happening in the United States today turning into this book. We'll still be allowed to smoke cigarettes, killing everyone around us, and eat meat, thus torturing the animals of the world, but words will be Red-Listed, and if we say them, the slates implanted in our necks will give off an electric charge, quite possibly killing us.

Laura Bynum's "Veracity" was so spine-chilling and frightening because IT COULD HAPPEN. It makes you grateful for the world you live in while at the same opening your eyes to the fact that the path on which we are presently might lead us to such a devestating freedomless world, in which you can't even say the word "democracy" unless you are willing to risk possible death from slate-shock.

Her descriptions of this future dystopic world were vivid and gruesome, and the characters with which she peopled her world were well thought-out and brutal, from the moniters with their extra-sensory abilities to the Blue Coats who raped and tortured without a second thought to the resistance who stayed strong and believed in truth and freedom through it all.

Harper Adams is a very interesting protagonist, and in a way, she sort of makes the book. She's a complete walking contradiction - strong yet weak, bold yet timid. At times she's a leader, and at other times it seems like circumstances have her following a course that she might not otherwise have followed. If it weren't for her daughter, would she ever have found the courage to do what she did? Would she ever have had the desire? She was an amazing protagonist, and it was an absolute joy reading her story.

There were, of course, a couple problems that I had wwith this book. It jumped time periods with regular consistency, and since the time periods were always so close together, it was sometimes hard to follow. I kept having to look back to see if the previous chapter also took place in 2045, and if so, in what month. Also, I wanted to know SO MUCH MORE! There was so much more background information that I wanted, but it just wasn't there. And it would have been hard to put it there because there was alreay SO MUCH INFORMATION! I think that the book could have been a good 100 pages longer, but at the same time, if it had been this might have been overwhelming for some.

These problems, though, in no way dampen the impact and enjoyability of this book. It will have you turning pages in a frenzy and thinking for days. I highly recommend it to all lovers of dystopian fiction!

Summary: Harper Adams was six years old in 2012 when an act of viral terrorism wiped out one-half of the country's population. Out of the ashes rose a new government, the Confederation of the Willing, dedicated to maintaining order at any cost. The populace is controlled via government-sanctioned sex and drugs, a brutal police force known as the Blue Coats, and a device called the slate, a mandatory implant that monitors every word a person speaks. To utter a Red-Listed, forbidden word is to risk physical punishment or even death.

But there are those who resist. Guided by the fabled "Book of Noah," they are determined to shake the people from their apathy and ignorance, and are prepared to start a war in the name of freedom. The newest member of this resistance is Harper -- a woman driven by memories of a daughter lost, a daughter whose very name was erased by the Red List. And she possesses a power that could make her the underground warriors' ultimate weapon -- or the instrument of their destruction.

In the tradition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Laura Bynum has written an astonishing debut novel about a chilling, all-too-plausible future in which speech is a weapon and security comes at the highest price of all.

Cover Story: Okay, so I don't like this cover. I like the color, but it doesn't really feel like the book to me at all. It seems to be a complete misrepresentation.

Disclosure: This book was provided by Pocket Books, which in no way reflected my review.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review and GIVEAWAY: Riddle of Berlin by Cym Lowell

Title: Riddle of Berlin

Author: Cym Lowell

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? Lovers of international thrillers that don't mind taking a little extra time to sort things out for themselves.

What I Have to Say:
It's weird, but I really don't know how to review this book. I feel like there are so many critical things I could say about it, but I don't really want to, because when it comes down to it, I liked it. It was a good book. I'm not really your typical reader of thrillers, but when I hear the word thriller, I think fast-paced page turner. And so I went into this book trying to read it that way, and I found myself incredibly confused. I kept thinking I had missed something. I tried sitting down for long periods of time, thinking that I wasn't going to want to put it down, even though there was really so much information that I felt like I needed a break after every chapter.

After about a third of the book, when I realized I had no clue what was going on, I stopped and took a minute to put everything together. I summarized all of the facts in my head and put them together so that I finally was able to form a cohesive story out of everything.

After this, I read much more slowly, taking a short break every two chapters or so. And suddenly I found myself actually enjoying the book, enjoying the story, and curious about what was happening and what was going to happen. This is not a fast-paced, action-packed, page turner of a thriller. There is action, but this is more an intelligent, information-packed international thriller, and it needs to be read as such.

In Riddle of Berlin, Cym Lowell has written of the terrorist plot of the decade (or the century or the millenium), and it was almost funny sitting back watching (reading) as NATO made idiotic mistake after idiotic mistake and idiotic assumption after idiotic assumption trying to get to the bottom of the non-stop terrorist attacks. There were times when I was absolutely baffled by some of the conclusions that they came to, sometimes so much so that it was almost unbelievable.

Cym Lowell has peopled his book with intriguing characters, most of them in the wrong place at the wrong time, but luckily, as the book moves on, some of them start finding themselves in the right places. As I slowly got to know them over the course of the book, I found myself caring for them and hoping that things turned out well for them. There were certain character story lines that I enjoyed more than others, but they were all intriguing and some were even slightly funny (imagine a terrorist arms dealer dressed up as an old granny). My only real complaint about the characters is that their emotions were expressed almost stoically. I managed to get attached to the characters, but I thought that the emotions were presented as only facts should be presented.

Anyhow, so in the end, I would definitely say that I enjoyed this book. Even if there were some things I was still confused about when it was all over. And even if it wasn't the page-turner of a read I was expecting it to be. It was still exciting and suspenseful. I definitely recommend this to lovers of international thrillers; just be ready to think. :-)

Summary: An arms dealer orchestrates acts of terrorism throughout the world, vexing international authorities. Mark Anton is an Internet wunderkind living in Germany, a 27-year-old Californian who went abroad to take advantage of the wild free market conditions in Eastern Europe. Little does Anton know that his empire has caught the attention of an international terrorist mastermind. The Lion, frequently posing as an old German frau, is a sophisticated and cultured criminal holdover from the Old World who orchestrates attacks from a plush library in his suite at Berlin's finest hotel. The shadowy international financier decides to frame Anton-as well as his unsuspecting mother-as the perpetrator of a series of attacks on NATO intelligence and civilians in Germany, using Anton's online venture, an auction site for sports memorabilia, as a coverup for arms dealing. Anton's only hope of escaping this nefarious web-one that also includes the American vice president (who is a friend of his mother's) Chinese militants and the FBI-is an investigator named John Jaëgerman, a decorated war hero and skilled soldier who somehow knows to warn Anton a few days before the first attack. Jaegërman, however, jumps off the Notre Dame Cathedral into the Seine shortly thereafter, in hopes of meeting a mysterious female entity who resides in the water. He is rescued by a Slovakian nurse driven by her own carnal and spiritual desires. For such an integral character in the book, Jaegërman is touched upon too infrequently and without enough emphasis. His relationship with the Slovak Carmen is distracting and even unnecessary in light of the tremendous amount of action going on elsewhere in the book. These disparate storylines eventually come together, but the novel as a whole feels overly plotted. The European settings are top-notch, a Jason Bourne-like mix of sex, immense manses and fast cars. However, NATO seems like a prosaic and harmless target for such a skilled criminal to focus on, and more so, the ability of The Lion to repeatedly defeat the authorities is not entirely plausible. A dense amalgam of genre elements, but fans of international thrillers will be pleased.-Kirkus Discoveries

Cover Story: It's pretty cool. I don't really know where it is, unfortunately, or else I might like it more. I like the color with the sort of numbers ensconced in smoke.

Now, first of all, if you haven't checked out Cym Lowell's blog, do so now. It's awesome!

Secondly, I am SO EXCITED to announce that, thanks to the awesomeness of Cym, I have a SIGNED COPY Of this book to give away! Just fill out this form to enter. Or you can fill it out right below there.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me as a gift by the author.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Shiver

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? This is great YA with just the right amount of paranormal. I would recommend it to anyone who regularly enjoys YA reads. In its own way, it will appeal to both the adult end of the YA spectrum and the much younger end of the spectrum.

What I Have to Say:
This book starts off like poetry, like breathing. Each page is a lyrical inhale, a lyrical exhale. Nothing has to happen - all that matters is Grace and Same, a girl and her world.

This is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever read, and yet, to call it romantic would be an understatement. Every word, every phrase, every paragraph was written with such love and care that to call it romantic would cheapen its beauty, its impact. It's just love, pure and simple, and yet somehow also oh so complicated.

Grace and Same are one of the most intense and believable couples I have ever read. How they fell for each other, their immediate attraction, seems so real and makes so much sense to me. And their interactions with each other reinforce their intrinsic attraction over and over again. They are so different and yet so alike; they complement each other perfectly. They made me laugh, they almost made me cry, and they regularly made me hold my breath in anticipation, full of hope and desire that things would work out for them.

They are both incredibly well-developed characters with incredibly well-developed, beautiful stories. The secondary characters are also full of life and history, and I felt almost as connected to them as I did to Sam and Grace. Isabel with her straightforward spunk, never whom you expect her to be; Trevor, so full of anger and yet also so full of hope; Rachel, with the bit of livelihood and humour she brings to an otherwise heart-wrenching story. Through Stiefvater's poetic cadence, they all became so alive, so important.

This book ends the same way it begin - like poetry, like breathing. Your heart will be breaking while at the same time bursting with hope. And maybe even joy. I think at heart Maggie Stiefvater is really a poet. And it's hard not to get caught up in the beauty and tragedy of this book.

Summary (from GoodReads): For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human ... until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Cover Story: I think this cover is beautiful, just like the book. The subtlety greatly appeals to me - the wolf hiding in the background, so you almost don't notice him, captures the feel of this book perfectly.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

IMM (12)

In My Mailbox awesomeness is brought to you by Kristi at the Story Siren!!!!

First, HAVE YOU ENTERED MY CONTESTS YET? If you haven't, now is the time!
1)Win a copy of Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb - INTERNATIONAL - ends March 23
2)Win an uncorrected bound proof of Ondine by Ebony McKenna - INTERNATIONAL - ends March 25
3)Win your choice of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, the Dresskeeper, or Books 1 & 2 of the Bartimaeus Trilogy - the Amulet of Samarkand and the Golem's Eye - INTERNATIONAL - ends March 27
4)Win an ARC of Magic Under Glass - INTERNATIONAL - ends March 27

Now, I'm super psyched about ALL of the books I got this week!

For review:

-Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey (was actually won from a GoodReads giveaway!)
-The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
-Raven's Ladder - Jeffrey Overstreet
-Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue

We had our moving away party this weekend, and I am so psyched to have received these two books as going away gifts!

-Fear and Trembling - Amelie Nothomb
-Les Japonais by Karen Poupee (this one doesn't seem to have been translated into English, but it's about the Japanese people and their culture, and it looks AWESOME!)

And that's all for this week! What did YOU get in YOUR mailbox?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

GIVEAWAY: ARC of Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

With all the giveaways I seem to have going on, I should have made an event: MARCH GIVEAWAY MADNESS! Maybe it's not too late. If you haven't entered any yet, check them out:

Win a copy of Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb - INTERNATIONAL - ends March 23

Win an uncorrected bound proof of Ondine by Ebony McKenna - INTERNATIONAL - ends March 25

Moving Away International Mini-Giveaway - ends March 27

Now for a new one! As some of you might know, I was picked last month for Lenore's International Book Blogger Mentor program, and she sent me three AWESOME books!

I've been feeling guilty about keeping them all, though, and so I decided to spread the love! One lucky reader will win an ARC of the fabulous book, Magic Under Glass, by Jaclyn Dolamore. Just fill outhe form below to enter, or click here to fill it out! OPEN INTERNATIONALLY! Ends March 27!

My review of Magic Under Glass

Friday, March 12, 2010

French Friday (17)

French Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. We both live in France, so French Friday is a meme to write about Frenchy bookish things.

I don't normally like to post twice in one day, as I know that too many entries can be overwhelming. But I had a blog tour review to post today, and it's Friday, and I couldn't skip French Friday. So I'm going to try to keep it super short this week.

Let's look at the cover Airhead, by Meg Cabot. In French, the title is Blonde, which I guess makes sense, as that is probably the best way for the French to understand the term Airhead.

I also think it's interesting that they're practically the same cover, just the French one is zoomed in more. Which makes it seem less sleek to me, as does the title blonde. I really like the effect of the Runaway in the US cover, and I don't think the color of the font in the French cover does anything for the girl's skin. Anyhow, I just thought it was interesting how I get such a different feel from both of these covers when they're practically the same.

Okay, that's it for this week. Sorry if it was uninteresting. I wnated it to be short, and now I've run out of time (I just realized I was supposed to leave half an hour ago to meet someone. Oops!). Hopefully next week will be more fun!

In the meantime, don't forget to check out Charlotte's French Friday at The Book on the Hill.

Blog Tour Review: Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue by Chuck Black

Title: Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue

Author: Chuck Black


Who Should Read It? This is a great book for those that enjoy epic fantasy.

What I Have to Say: So, I didn't realize when I decided to read this book that it was the 4th in a series, and I'm one of those people who really likes to start at the beginning. When reading the first chapter of this book, which gave some background information on the Knights of Arrenthetrae, I thought "Uh oh," as frankly, I found it hard to follow.

And then the second chapter came along. And all was good. :-) Throughout the rest of the book, I never once felt lost, and I actually became excited about the prospect about going back and reading the previous books, which I don't think were ruined in any way by the fact that I read this one first.

Now with that aside, this book was WONDERFUL epic fantasy! It was action-packed with a loyal, likable kick-butt female heroine. Seriously, Chuck Black has the epic fantasy novel down pat - awesome hero goes on a quest in a make-believe land where the characters have super rad names; horrible things happen on the queset that lead to mini quests, most of which end up having to do with the original quest. Oh, and of course, you can't forget to add a couple surprises (perhaps people aren't who you think they are, perhaps the world is not as it seems). And there you have it. Writing Epic Fantasy 101. Now, that may sound like a criticism of this book, but let me assure you: it is not. Epic fantasy, when done correctly, is, in its own way, unique and exciting enough to keep you guessing at every turn and not feel like you're reading some pre-determined format. And Chuck Black does it right.

Lady Carliss is a Knight of Arrenthetrae, fighting for the glory of the Prince and His Son. She is unwavering in her faith, compassion, and goodness. By the end of the first chapter (well, the first one about her), I knew that I was going to love her. And I did. She stayed loyal and true to her cause throughout the entire book. I don't know if it was meant to be so, but I loved the way she and her quest were reminiscent of Arthurian Legend. I loved her empathy and sympathy and, I repeat again, how she never wavered or strayed. She was a good person to the core.

Another thing I loved about this book was that it was a contradiction. The background story was a metaphor for the story of Christ and his teachings and lessons and the "knights" that fight for him. And Chuck Black used the quest of Carliss to teach Christ's lesson: the devil will try to tempt you into a world of fantasy where everything is as how you want it to be, but you must resist temptation, because behind that fantasy land will always lie hate and destruction and evil. And he used a fantasy novel to teach this lesson, which I thought was just brilliant. It was like saying: escaping from real life is okay from time to time, as long as you remember Christ as you are escaping.

Non-Christians (like myself), don't let that last paragraph scare you, as this book proselytizes none at all. It uses metaphors to teach important life lessons, but if you choose not to learn those lessons, they're not forced on you. It is allegory, pure and simple.

If you're in for heart-pounding, seat-grabbing, action-packed epic fantasy, then check out this book. It's short (I actually would have liked for it to be longer, with a little more background info on some of the characters and places) and easy and fun to read, and it will leave you wanting to be a better person.

Summary (thank you, Waterbrook): Determined, smart and a master of both the sword and the bow, Lady Carliss has proven herself as a veteran Knight of the Prince. Returning from a mission of aid, Carliss is plunged into adventure once again as she searches for the marauders responsible for kidnapping a friends’ family. Along the way she is reunited with Sir Dalton and discovers that the struggle in her heart is far from over. When Dalton falls to the vicious attack of a mysterious, poisonous creature, Carliss finds herself in a race against time. As Dalton clings perilously to life, she must find the antidote in the distant and strange city of Moorue.

While there, Carliss uncovers the master plot of a powerful Shadow Warrior that will soon overtake the entire Kingdom. Her faith in the Prince and her courage as a knight are tested as she faces evil Shadow Warriors and a swamp full of dreadful creatures. The lives of many, including Dalton’s, depend on Carliss. But she cannot save them all, for time is running out. She faces an impossible choice: save Dalton, or let him die so that others may live.

Author Info:Chuck Black, a former F-16 fighter pilot and tactical communications engineer, is the author of nine novels, including the popular Kingdom series. He has received praise from parents across the country for his unique approach to telling biblical truths. His passion in life is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to love his wife, Andrea, and their six children. He lives with his family in North Dakota.

Cover Story: Well, that girl is not AT ALL how I imagined Carliss looking. And the swamp in the background - also not the swamp I imagined. What can I say, I'm not really a huge fan of this cover.

This book was supposed to be reviewed in conjunction with Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreat, but unfortunately, due to recieving the books late, I have not yet read it. Look for that review soon!

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Review and GIVEAWAY: Ondine by Ebony McKenna

Title: Ondine: The Summer of Shambles

Author: Ebony McKenna


Who Should Read It? This is a great book for anyone who loves retellings of classic fairy tales. I think most YA and middle grade readers will absolutely get a kick out of it, but I would also recommend it to adults with a penchant for YA or adults just looking for a brief, funny escape.

What I Have to Say:
Ohman, this book was so absolutely quirkily and wittily fantastic. It starts off when Onine De Groot, native of the fantasy country of Brugel, accompanied by Shambles the ferret she just recently met, runs away from psychic summer camp and returns to her home, which just so happens to be in a bar. With a psychotically overprotective father.

On her way home, she discovers that Shambles can actually talk. Why? Because he's not a ferret, but a cursed prince. What follows is a laugh out loud hilarious retelling of the classic fairy tale, with Ondine the princess and Shambles the frog (don't tell Shambles I compared him to a frog, though - I'm sure he would be mightily offended). Shambles, with his Scottish accent and expressions (thank goodness there were footnoted translations, otherwise I would have been helplessly lost) and his quick-witted humour, absolutely made this book. His interactions with Ondine and the rest of her family had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

Ondine herself was funny, and she was very much your typical teenage girl. Her "falling in love" and "imagining hot guys" reminded me so much of my high school years that it made all those other books seem like they've got teenagers all wrong. Which at times made her ridiculous and annoying but was also slightly refreshing. We never really got to know her family too well, but what we did see added nicely to the image I had formed of Ondine, and their interactions (especially with her father and mother) were sometimes nearly as funny as the scenes with Shambles.

My biggest problem with this book? I would really like to know what Ebony McKenna has against vegetarians. There were so many references in here that made it seem like she thinks that vegetarians are unhealthy wusses. Which is ridiculous, because healthy vegetarians are by far healthier than meat eaters. And how is it wussy to choose a lifestyle that doesn't promote torture? It was weird, and it bothered me on more than one occasion.
I also had trouble understanding the whole "falling in love" part of the book. Of course it had to be there, but I didn't really feel like it was developed as well as it could havae been. It just seemed to happen, and in a way, didn't make sense to me.
Oh, and we never really got to see what makes Brugel so awesomely different. I wanted to know more about Brugel.

Still, Ondine was an absolute pleasure to read, and if you've got an hour or two in which you want a good laugh without having to think, I absolutely recommend picking up a copy of this book!

Summary: This is a brilliantly witty fairy tale with a mystery that is as surreal as it is sinister. One girl. One boy. One spell to be broken. Ondine de Groot is a normal fifteen-year-old who lives with her family in the European country of Brugel. She has a pet ferret called Shambles. But Shambles is no ordinary ferret...He's Hamish McPhee, a boy cursed by a witch. A witch who happens to be related to Ondine. When Shambles turns back into Hamish temporarily, Ondine knows that she has to help him break the spell. He is the most gorgeous boy she has ever met and her one true love! He just can't remain a ferret forever. Can he?

Cover Story: I absolutely love this cover. It's sort of enchanting, in a way, which totally goes along with the feel of the book, which is, after all, about an enchantment. I actually like the Australian cover (which you can see all small-like to the left there) even more. It focuses more on magic and enchantment and less on Ondine's face! I like! :-)

Now, Becky from the Bookette knew how much I wanted to read this book, so she was so kind as to pass along to me an uncorrected bound proof. So nice, right? Well, since I immensely enjoyed this book, I want to pass along the love to one of my followers! Enter the form below to win a copy or click here to access the form on another page.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: Vampireville by Ellen Schreiber

Title: Vampire Kisses 3: Vampireville

Author: Ellen Schreiber


Who Should Read It? This book is for middle grade vampire lovers! Also, if you enjoyed the first two, you will like this one even more. If you were only so-so about the first two, I'd say still give this one a try!

What I Have to Say: This series is FINALLY starting to get to me! I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I enjoyed the first two. In a way, I feel like Ellen Schreiber is finally starting to find her groove.

Raven is finally starting to act her age, and in the process, she's turned into a cool, understanding, likeable character - no longer the annoying brat I found her to be in the first two installments. There were still cliches, but they were immensely downplayed. I think the term "gothic mate" was used only twice (maybe more, but not much more) throughout the entire book. What a relief! In my head, this is a major improvement.

The story itself also finally took off. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it was action-packed, there was definitely some major good-guy/bad-guy action going on. The bad guys are evil, but understandably so, and through their interactions with Raven, Alexander, and Trevor, we really begin to feel the loneliness and solitude that comes from being an outcast, something I thought was missing in the first two books.

Thanks to the new-found action and the new characters introduced, I actually enjoyed reading this book the entire way through (not so for the first two). While I was once again glad that it was short, I was also shocked to never once find myself bored.

I wouldn't go os far as to say this book was excellent, as it still had its fair share of problems, but it definitely opened me up to the possiblity of reading the 4th book. It's good, and I think most middle grade readers will thoroughly enjoy it and finally begin to relate to Raven.

Summary: For goth-girl Raven, dating her dream boyfriend is complicated, especially because Alexander's secret means that they can see each other only at night.

And now the pair must be extra wary in the dark with Alexander's archrival, Jagger, appearing around town. As if Jagger isn't enough cause for worry, Luna, his strikingly pale sister, has also surfaced and seems to have her sights set on Raven's longtime nemesis, Trevor. Together, Raven and Alexander must begin a terrifying search for Jagger and Luna's hideout to drive them away -- that is, if it's not already too late to save Dullsville from becoming Vampireville.

In the latest installment of her popular Vampire Kisses books, Ellen Schreiber continues the startling story of two teen outsiders -- she from the mortal world and he from the Underworld -- who share a thrilling, extraordinary romance

Cover Story: I really like Raven's outfit, but after that, this cover leaves me slightly indifferent.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Review and GIVEAWAY: Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb

Title: Crazy Heat

Author: Thomas Cobb


Who Should Read It? For language and sexual content, I would mostly only recommend this to adults. I think after that, it's got a very specific type of person who will like it. I think thos book is for those that like country music, extra sympathetic or empathetic people, those that have ever had alcohol problems. I also think that it will be appreciated by those that know how to appreciate good, honest writing.

What I Have to Say:
Crazy Heart is, essentially, the story of the downfall of the one-time famous country singer, Bad Blake. It is one of the most brutally honest books I have read. Period. Bad Blake, a chain-smoking raging alcoholic who has done a lot of bad in his life, has trouble with relationships, and has suffered more than your average person, comes across as sympathetic and authentic. He's got problems, and his circumstances are not typical, but he's really just a nice guy trying to get by.

I think it is a testament to Thomas Cobb that he was able to turn such a screw-up into an amazingly deep and confused character with whom the readers will ultimately sympathize and possibly even feel sorry for, despite the fact that all of his problems were brought on by himself. There were times when I wanted to reach out and give Bad a hug. And steal all of his alcohol and cigarettes. But then, I would have been afraid that he'd grope me while I was trying to console him. When it comes to most things in life, he tries so hard, but he just doesn't get it.

In a way, this book is like the country songs it is about. It is straightforward and genuine, and there is nothing (or very little) hiding in the cracks or underneath the surface. It is beautiful and twangy and will absolutely break your heart (and leave it up to you to put it back together), but it will have you laughing and loving along the way. And that's why, despite the fact that I only ENJOYED this book while reading it (i.e. I didn't absolutely adore it), I would still go so far as to call this book brilliant. It IS country, and it gives such an honest portrayal of what life on the road must be like, about the drugs and alcohol and women that come along with being a country singer, that it's hard to believe it might not be based on a true story. Bad Blake is not just someone I once read about in a book, he is someone I knew and cared about once upon a time.

Because of the constant drinking and smoking and LANGUAGE, I wouldn't recommend this book to a younger crowd. It is adults only. And even for all its brilliance, I don't think it's for all adults. I can see how some people might have trouble relating to or sympathizing with Bad Blake, despite how solidly Thomas Cobb describes his suffering.
So it's hard to say. I want to say I highly recommend this, because, as I said, I thought it was brilliant. But if, in the end, you don't sympathize with Bad Blake, you might find it lacking in life.

Summary: At the age of fifty-seven, Bad Blake is on his last legs. His weight, his ticker, his liver, even his pick-up truck are all giving him trouble. A renowned songwriter and "picker" who hasn't recorded in five years, Bad now travels the countryside on gigs that take him mostly to motels and bowling alleys. Enter Ms. Right. Can Bad stop living the life of a country-western song and tie a rope around his crazy heart?

Cover Story: I really like the movie tie-in cover. I haven't seen the movie yet, but the Jeff Bridges on the cover is the PERFECT Bad Blake to me, and the coloring of the cover combined with him with his guitar just perfectly sets up the feel of the book for me.

Now, you want to win a copy? Just fill out the form below! Open internatioanlly! Ends March 23.
Note: Thanks the Michelle @ the True Book Addict, I just noticed that the "other ways to enter" is multiple choice, and I can't figure out how to change the form. Ooops! If you do more than one, please let me know in the "promote my contest" paragraph section!

Disclosure: This book was provided to me for review by the publisher. This in no way affected my review.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

If you haven't entered my Moving Away International Mini-Giveaway, you can do so here. Open until March 27!!

Title: Eating Animals

Author: Jonathan Safran Foer


Who Should Read It? EVERYONE! And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. Well, maybe parents shouldn't read it to their young children, but they should certainly summarize it for them as they are reading it.

What I Have to Say:
Jonathan Safran Foer - the boy knows how to write! For serious! I'm sometimes skeptical when fiction authors I love wander into the realm of non-fiction, but with Foer's literary talent (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close AND Everything Is Illuminated = pure brilliance!) and subject matter, I didn't hesitate for a second to pick up (and then devour) "Eating Animals." I wasn't disappointed. Foer presented the truth of the horrors of the farming industry in the US (I don't even need to put factory beforehand, because I now know that factory farms are pretty much ALL there is) in such a way that is was actually ENJOYABLE to read. Sure, I was repulsed, I was disgusted, I had to stop several times to dry heave or to tell my boyfriend yet another horrifying fact, but it was still GOOD.

Early on, Foer states that he didn't set out to write a book trying to convince people to go vegetarian. And I believe him. Because that's not what this book was about. It was about his quest for himself to see what meat was all about. And the fact is, the facts he found are all he needs to try to convince people to become vegetarian. He showed absolutely EVERY possible side of the story, including from interviews with ranching vegetarians and slaughterhouse workers to sections written by hardcore vegans and slaughterhouse owners and factory farm owners, etc. . . If there is another side to the story, I haven't found it - what Foer gives are the cold, hard facts. And the facts are so horrible that, no matter how you present them, it sounds like you're trying to convince. And what can I say, if you know the facts, you're probably wanting to convince people to go veggie.

So even though he didn't "set out" to write a book trying to convince people to go vegetarian, this book tries to convince people to go vegetarian. Which is a GOOD THING! It makes the convincing all that much more real.

Honestly, I am a vegan. And this book made me gladder than ever to be a vegan. At the same time, in a weird way, it makes me wish that I hadn't been a vegan beforehand and that the book had turned me. Because it would make my pleadings for you to go out and read it hold so much more weight. I want to go out and buy a copy for every single person I know and sit with them and make them read it. But then, I'm afraid. Because what if they didn't stop eating animals afterward? How could I respect them then?

In the meantime, I can only hope that I remember all of the facts he has presented, and that, when discussing veganism, I find a way to present said facts in such a succint, interesting, knowledgable way as Foer has in this brilliant memoir. I can only hope that people will choose to stop living in denial and start learning the facts, even though they know that what they learn will be horrifying.

Summary: Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between carnivore and vegetarian. As he became a husband and a father, he kept returning to two questions: Why do we eat animals? And would we eat them if we knew how they got on our dinner plates?
Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, and his own undercover detective work, Eating Animals explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits-from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth-and how such tales justify a brutal ignorance. Marked by Foer's profound moral ferocity and unvarying generosity, as well as the vibrant style and creativity that made his previous books, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, huge bestsellers, Eating Animals is a celebration and a reckoning, a story about the stories we've told--and the stories we now need to tell.

Cover Story: I love the vibrant green of the cover, and I love the way the font invokes images of animals. I think there are several different covers that would have done this book justice better than this one, but at the same time, I find it oddly appropriate. It's not too overwhelming and yet, it does make you interested. It makes you wonder what this is all about.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me by review from the publisher. This in no way affected my review.


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