Sunday, January 31, 2010

IMM (7)

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

I wasn't actually expecting anything this week (except Fallen, which I won from The Crooked Shelf back in the beginning of December - but I've sort of given up on it coming at this point, thinking it must have been lost in the mail), so I was pleasantly surprised when two books did arrive!

For review (I actually requested this a while ago but had forgotten about it):
-The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

Because Becky at the Bookette knew how much I wanted to read this and is super incredibly nice:
-Ondine by Ebony McKenna

And that's it for this week! :-) I'm pretty psyched about both of these books! What did you guys get?

All links go to Amazon through my Associates Account.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Massive Undertaking. . .

Good Books and Wine is hosting a Read-A-Long. But not just for any book. It's a Read-a-Long for that LONG, daunting book that either you have been avoiding reading for a very long time or have been too afraid to even think about reading.

What book is that, you might ask?

That's right - she's hosting a War and Peace Read-A-Long.
I can't even tell you how many times I have thought: I should try to read War and Peace, and then given up before even starting.
Not this time. She has suggested that she is going to read it for about 15 minutes everyday, and for me, that just seems so DOABLE! I can do War and Peace for 15 minutes a day.
Go check out her read-a-long post here, and if you're brave, don't hesitate to join in. It will be more fun if a lot of us are doing it together.

If it takes me a whole year in the end - no problem. If it ends up taking me more than a whole year - no problem. I'm going to read War and Peace, and I'm not going to stress out about it.
And what's more exciting - I'm going to update you guys along the way! I know, I know -you must be VERY excited about this! :-)
I've got it downloaded (for free!) into my Kindle, and I'm hoping to start this weekend, so be expecting your first update soon!
For now, go check it out, and be sure to come back and let me know if you're going to read along!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

French Friday (11)

Before I get to the post of the day, I just want to express my sadness over the death of a literary legend, J.D. Salinger. As most of you know, he died yesterday at the age of 91, and in his wake he left behind "Catcher in the Rye" and "Franny and Zoe," two amazing works that I would even go so far as to call masterpieces.
If you haven't read Catcher in the Rye, go do it.
He also wrote several other short stories and books, but I haven't actually read any of them. Needless to say, with his death yesterday, we lost an artist who was ahead of his time, and I'm just happy that he got to live a very full 91 years of life!

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.

Bonjour, tout le monde!! The past couple weeks I have focused on French authors and specific French books. This week, I'm going back to covers.
I was in the bookstore the other day when I saw the most HORRIFIC thing! Seriously. I was absolutely mortified.
It was this:

Now, tell me if I'm wrong but is the American version not a bagazillion times better?!?

The French title, "Treize Petites Envellopes Bleues," is an exact translation of "13 Little Blue Envelopes," so at least they didn't butcher that. But really, I don't know that I have ever been so horrendously turned off by a cover of a book that I loved. See here for my raving review. Am I wrong? Which cover do you prefer?

Now, it seems to me that the only other Maureen Johson book to have been translated into French is "Suite Scarlett," so I of course had to look up that cover, too.

From left to right: the French version, the US paperback, the US hardback

I'm partial to the US hardback, although the US paperback is in a close second. The French version - not so much. What do you guys think?

Now, on to the fact that only 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Suite Scarlett have been translated. Ummm, what about Devilish?!? I mean, that book was awesome! I think Maureen Johnson deserves just a little better than that! Charlotte from The Book on The Hill - perhaps you could talk to your boss about this travesty?

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this week's covers. And speaking of Charlotte, be sure to head on over to The Book on The Hill and check out her French Friday this week!

A vendredi prochain!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blog Tour Review: Lone Star Legend by Gwendolyn Zepeda

Title: Lone Star Legend

Author: Gwendolyn Zepeda


Who Should Read It? People looking for a light, funny, somewhat heartwarming read. I think this will especially appeal to people in the blogging world, since the main character is a blogger. While it is not geared at teens, I can absolutely see fans of YA appreciating this book.

What I Have to Say: This book was fantastic, really. And yet sitting here, trying to write this review, I find myself at a loss of words. It's one of those days, perhaps. I'll do my best.

All of the characters were amazing, well-thought out, likable characters, with the exception of the one you weren't supposed to like, and he was just perfect in his lack of likability. The plot was touching and exciting and lacking nothing. The language and writing style were fluid and catchy.

The book starts off when Domingua Rodriguez, aka Sandy, discovers that the online publication for which she writes has been sold. . .and will become Nacho Papi, which she basically considers trash. Sandy has to decide whether or not to sacrifice her ideals (and morals) to keep her job. Lone Star Legend is the story of Sandy dealing with this huge change in her life (and deal with the fact that her personal blog has now become food for the masses) while at the same time trying to hold onto herself. In essence, this is a coming of age story.

And what we get as Sandy "comes of age" is a delightful, witty, dramatic story that will sometimes have you hoping, sometimes have you cringing, and almost always have you laughing. Zepeda's subtle way of twisting humour with important life lessons is refreshing, uplifting, and best of all, completely realistic. It's not so in your face that you feel like you're being preached at, but there are times when this book will make you sit back and question some of the sacrifices you may have made in your life.

The biggest problem that I had with this book was Sandy's relationship with her boyfriend, which seemed extra contrived. At times, it almost felt as if she had gone back and added him in as an afterthought, just to add drama. While he did occasionally had a hilarious blog entry to the book, for the most part all of the scenes involving him just felt too forced. He didn't fit Sandy, and he didn't fit the book.

My absolute favorite part of this book was the relationship between Sandy and Tio Jaime, aka the Chupacabra, a friend of her late aunt's that she decides to use to do an advice column in Nacho Pap Tio Jaime is so good and pure, and his advice columns, while utterly hilarious, seem to go against the nature of Nacho Papi itself, just as Nacho Papi seems to go against what Tio Jaime stands for. It is only through Tio Jaime, I found, that Sandra can truly see herself, and her weekly visits with him seem to be the only thing keeping her sane as her life is thrown to shambles. To me, these scenes were a setting for everything important in the book, and, luckily, every single one of them was perfect. Each word was cleverly and lovingly picked and place so that the reader will be learning something, living something important while at the same time laughing their pants off.

So, conclusion? Read this book! It's more than just your everyday chicklit. It was really just delightful, and I would absolutely highly recommend it to anyone!

Summary (straight to you from GoodReads): When Sandy Saavedra lands her dream job with the popular website ¡Latino Now!, she can't wait to write hard-hitting pieces to combat all those stupid Latino stereotypes. While visions of Pulitzers dance in her head, her editor in chief is suddenly laid off, replaced by the infamous Dolores Villanueva O'Sullivan. Dolores has one mission: make ¡Latino Now! an internet phenomenon, no matter how many pandering puff pieces she has to pack onto its pages. Sandy doesn't see how she can keep this job without losing her soul, especially when she's sent to Middle-of-Nowhere Texas to investigate the dumbest legend her people ever created, the Chupacabra. She fears she's about to fail an assignment-and lose her job-until she meets Tío Jaime, a grandfatherly hermit who might be crazy, or might be the best thing that ever happened to Sandy's career.

Cover Story: This cover is interesting. It is vibrant and beautiful, but there's something about it that puts me off. I wouldn't see this cover and immediately think that I need to read the book. It also doesn't really seem to fit with the theme of the book for me.

To learn more about the author, be sure to check out her website and to check her out on Twitter.
And, if you're interested, you can always read an excerpt of Lone Star Legend over at the Hachette site!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me by Hachette Books to give an honest review.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blog Tour Review: A Highlander's Destiry by Melissa Mayhue

Title: A Highlander's Destiny

Author: Melissa Mayhue


Who Should Read It: This book is definitely for people who thoroughly enjoy formulaic paranormal romance.

What I Have to Say: It's hard to explain why, but this book really just didn't do it for me. I enjoyed reading it, for the most part, and there was suspense and plot twists galore, but in the end it mostly left me indifferent. I know it was a formula romance, but even keeping that in mind, everything just seemed so. . .contrived. This could be because I've just read too many formula romances lately, but putting that aside, I still had quite a few problems with this book.

There were faeries, which I thought I would love, but really, the faeries might as well have been human for all the fairy action going on in the book. I haven't read many books about faeries, though, so maybe this is always the case?

Destiny, the heroine, seemed like a cool girl, except that her actions seemed to contradict all of the things she thought about herself. She was always saying or thinking one thing and then actually DOING something completely different.

Then there was the love story between Destiny and Jesse, which would have been sweet, except that it was totally unbelievable. These two people, both completely weary of love, both supposedly with these huge iron cases around their hearts, suddenly miraculously falling in love. . .after just spending a few days together and barely even getting to know each other. I just didn't buy it. Which made it especially hard for me to "buy" the rest of the story. Of course, Destiny and Jesse were fun together, and the way their interactions definitely got a laugh out of me on more than one basis.

I guess I should say now that this is the fifth book in the series. And that I haven't read any of the other ones. One of the things I liked about it was that I didn't feel lost at all; I never once felt like I might have missed something in one of the previous books. The story definitely stood on its own, and the story itself was quite exciting and intriguing. Some of the twists Mayhue weaved into the mix were unexpected and delightful.

In the end, I think this will definitely appeal to the people towards whom it is geared: those that love paranormal romance. And I'm guessing if you enjoyed the other books in this series, you'll probably also thoroughly enjoy this one.
Yet I'll warn you - don't be expecting anything TOO special.

Summary:The Nuadian Fae have discovered a long-forgotten path to dark powers and all that stands between them and the helpless Mortal world is Jesse Coryell. Another failed romance and Jesse's disillusioned. Even spending time in the Realm of Faerie and training as a member of the Elite Guard hasn't made him happy. Something he can't identify is missing in his life and according to his magically gifted niece, Rosie MacKiernan, that something is his destiny. When Jesse intercepts a letter from Destiny Noble, a young woman desperately searching for her missing younger sister, life and destiny collide. Not even Destiny's Faerie heritage and her ability to see glimpses of the future can protect the pair from the unknown evils they'll face. But, if they're lucky, the magic of True Love just might save them both before it's too late...

Disclosure: This book was sent to me by Pocket Books to give an honest review.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review: Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber

Title: Vampire Kisses

Author: Ellen Schreiber


Who Should Read It? This book was very clearly aimed for a middle grade audience, and I think most people in its target audience (middle grade readers interested in vampires) will love it. Unfortunately, I don't think it has much reach outside of that.

What I Have to Say: While I did enjoy reading this cute, fun book, it also sort-of fell flat for me, mostly in terms of the characters. We never really got to know any of them, with the exception of Raven, our main protagonist, and she was just slightly annoying. At every point in her life, she seemed far too grown up for her age while at the same time coming across as exceedingly immature. Because of this, I found it exceedingly hard to relate to her at times, even when I tried to channel my old high school self.

I did enjoy the romance aspect of the book, but at the same time, we never actually got to know the love interest - aside from a small tidbit here and there. It was therefore hard to really care about their relationship. Still, seeing Raven in like/love felt very real to me.

My favorite aspect of the book, perhaps oddly, was the relationship between Raven and Trevor, the school bully. Their interactions were quirky, enjoyable, and spot on. I kept hoping that Trevor would show up random moments, and happily for me, he did!! Unfortunately, though, this aspect of the book didn't play out as I had hoped.

The last thing I have to say is that, as an adult, I felt like things fell into place way too easily, which made it very hard for me to believe (and I'm REALLY good at believing unbelievable things). After much thought, though, I've decided that this was not necessarily a negative thing, as it works well in a middle grade book, and I think, for the right age group, it will make the reading process run far more smoothly and enjoyably.

So, good, but not great! Cute and fun, but also very young and immature!

Summary: The mansion on top of Benson Hill has been empty and boarded up for years. But a new family has moved in. A family that never ventures out during the day. Who are these creepy people; especially the handsome, dark, and elusive Alexander Sterling? Or rather, what are they? Could the town gossip actually be true? Are they vampires? Raven, who secretly covets a vampire kiss, both at the risk of her own mortality and Alexander's loving trust, is dying to uncover the truth.

Cover Story: I think it's quite cute, with the thumb with the black nail polish holding the sign with the title. At the same time, I find the colors to be kind of dull. It could be more vibrant, I think! The mansion in the background is very appropriate!

Disclosure: I received this book as a gift.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blog Tour Review: Gentlemen Prefer Succubi by Jill Myles

**This book is Rated R!**

Title: Gentlemen Prefer Succubi

Author: Jill Myles

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? HIGHLY recommended for all paranormal romance; think Gena Showalter, Kresley Cole. Fans of sort of campy books that make fun of themselves.

What I Have to Say: So, I'll say it straight up: I don't like sex scenes in books. And yet, I love to read so much, and I'm mostly happy reading anything, so it sometimes happens that I find myself reading a book with graphic sex scenes. When that happens, the first question I ask myself is: What would this book be WITHOUT these sex scenes?
The answer in the case of Gentlemen Prefer Succubi is: AWESOME!
For those that enjoy the sex scenes, these were hot, sweaty, sexy, and not too graphic. They were just right.

And the book could have easily gone without them and not lost anything. I mean, this book really has everything. It's got (extraordinarily HOT) fallen angels, it's got (extraordinarily HOT and sometimes evil) vampires, it's got campy humor, it's got nerdy librarians (well, sort-of) and hot porn stars,. . . Best of all, it doesn't take itself too seriously, so you never feel like you're laughing at the book; you're laughing with it. :-) And when I say you'll be laughing, I mean it. This book is hilarious!

It's a super easy, fast-paced read, and ALL of the characters are likable in their own way (even the evil vampire queen). Part of it even takes place in Egypt; for someone like me, with an odd obsession with ancient Egypt, this was super exciting! My biggest problem was with this book was Jackie herself, the main character, the nerdy museum docent turned succubi. She was strong and witty and sharp and a totally enjoyable, likable character, but I wanted to know more about her past. She went through all these changes right in the beginning of the book, and so we only got to see "going through tough changes Jackie" and thus never really got to know her. I would have liked to get to know her.

I loved reading this book. So much so that I've already downloaded the sequel into my kindle and can't wait to get to reading it.

Summary (straight to you from Amazon): Who Knew An Angel Could Get A Girl In So Much Devilish Trouble?

Jackie Brighton woke up in a Dumpster this morning, and her day has only gotten weirder. Her familiar B-cups have somehow become double Ds, her sex drive is insatiable, and apparently she had her first one-night stand ever...with a fallen angel. All she remembers is gorgeous Noah's oddly hypnotic blue eyes...and then a dark stranger whose bite transformed her into an immortal siren with a sexy Itch. With help from Noah, Jackie begins to adapt to her new lifestyle -- until she accidentally sends Noah into the deadly clutches of the vampire queen and lands herself in a fierce battle for an ancient halo with the queen's wickedly hot righthand man. Who just happens to be the vampire who originally bit her. How's a girl supposed to save the world when the enemy's so hard to resist?

Just in case my review didn't convince you that this book will be super fun to read, I leave you with the hilarious book trailer:

Cover Story: Don't really love it. . .I don't find the man attractive, but more than that, I don't know who he's supposed to be, as he looks nothing like Noah or Zane.

Disclosure: Thanks to Sarah from Pocket Books for sending me this book to give an honest review.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

IMM (6)

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

This week, all of the books I received are for review. I can't remember the last time that happened. And I am super excited about all of them, even though there's not a single YA in the bunch! :-)

Gentlemen Prefer Succubi - Jill Myles
A Highlander's Destiny - Melissa Mayhue
Knit, Purl, Die - Anne Canadeo
Legend of the Caryph - Lynn Moyle
Veracity - Laura Bynum

What did you get this week?!?

All links go to Amazon via my Amazon Associates Account.

Friday, January 22, 2010

French Friday (10)

French Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. We both live in France, so it's where we write about Frenchy bookish things.

Bonjour, and welcome to this week's version of French Friday, where I'm going to introduce you to an old French author that was recently introduced to me, Rene Barjavel.
Maybe you've already heard of him.

Rene Barjevel is a French author who lived from 1911 to 1985. For the most part, he is known for his science fiction, and also for being the first to write about the grandfather paradox in time travel. Basically, he is awesome. Check out Rene Barjevel's English Wikipedia page to learn more about him.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine lent me a book called "L'Enchanteur," or in English, "The Enchanter," although after reading the book, I would go more with "The Wizard." I absolutely couldn't put it down. It was an entrancing version of the story of Merlin, Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere, the Lady of the Lake, and all of the other characters of that time period.
The writing was beautifully descriptive, at times hilarious, at times devastating, and always intensely engaging. It was, without a doubt, the greatest "Arthur" book that I had ever read. It was also the only one that I had ever read that focused on ALL of the characters. I had never before even heard the love story between Merlin and Viviane (aka the Lady of the Lake), and reading about it for the first time via Barjavel's passionately beautiful prose was the best introduction to them I could have had. I'd never even heard of Perceval or, oddly enough, Galaad (apparently I am not well versed in Arthurian legend). In this one amazing book, I read all of their stories and more!
"L'Enchanteur" was told so differently than I expected, and Barjavel's way of weaving ALL of the stories together, via the search for the grail, to make them seem just one was just marvelous, as was the story itself and the world in which it took place. This book, I thought, as I was reading through the last chapter, is a book that everyone NEEDS to read.

So, when I was done, I was so excited to write my review, to be able to share this amazing read with you guys, only to discover that THIS BOOK WAS NEVER TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH! This book, written in 1984, known today is one of Barjevel's best works, was never translated into English. A modern tragedy is what I call that.

Luckily for us, though, some of his other works (5 out of the 29, it would appear). And that very same fried of mine just so happened to lend me one of the books that was translated - La Nuit des Temps, translated as The Ice People. I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing it, as if my feelings about "L'Enchanteur" are any indication of how I will feel about this book, it's going to be AWESOME!!

Some other Barjavel titles that have been translated into English:
-Ravage, translated as Ashes, Ashes
-Le Voyageur Imprudent, translated as Future Times Three
-Tarendol, translated as the Tragic Innocents
-Le grand secret, translated as The Immortals

Know that I am serious when I say - if you ever come across any of these books, you should read them without hesitation!
And don't forget to check out Charlotte's weekly French Friday post!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Hush, Hush

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick


Who Should Read It? EVERYONE!!! Especially those who love YA supernatural!

What I Have to Say: Um, can I just say WOW! It is so awesome when a book lives up to the high expectations I have for it, and Hush, Hush absolutely did! After all the non-stop raving reviews I had read, I was almost afraid to read it. I shouldn't have been.

Becca Fitzpatrick easily pulled me into the world of Nora and Patch, and within the first few pages, I was hooked. Even after just the very first page, I felt like I couldn't put the book down (and I didn't!). When Patch finally made the scene, I actually felt a frisson of anticipation, of excitement.

I was afraid I wouldn't like him, as I'm not really a huge fan of the "bad boy" persona, but Patch is more than just a bad boy. He has the look and the front, for sure, but he's also sweet and sexy to the core. Really, he's mostly a good guy. And he and Nora are perfect for each other. They absolutely complement each other perfectly. The way they sort-of repel each other while at the same time being unable to stay away from each other, and Fitzpatrick's splendid descriptions of their attraction, are really what make this book. The story itself is intriguing and enrapturing, and the fact that it's about Patch and Nora and their relationship just makes it all that much more impossible to dislike this book.

The dark, scary fog that Fitzpatrick writes over their world is so creepy that the reader will experience a shiver that lasts the whole book.
While I admire Nora for her strength and presence, there was one small thing that annoyed me about this book. It was so hard to know things that she didn't. Sometimes, it seemed like things should just be so evident to her, and it was hard for me to sit back and watch when they weren't.
I can't wait for the sequel! For serious!

Summary (from Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Cover Story: Just look at it in all its awesomeness! Need I say more?

This book was purchased by me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blog Tour: Knit, Purl, Die by Anne Canadeo

So, here's yet another blog tour that I'm going to be late for. :-( Knit, Purl, Die was supposed to be reviewed in Brizmus Blogs Books today, but it is unfortunately sitting at the post office waiting for me to pick it up tomorrow. At least, I hope it is - I supposedit could be a different package.

So, as usual, a brief introduction to the book:

Title: Knit, Purl, Die

Author: Anne Canadeo

Summary (from Simon & Schuster): Counting on each other...

Meet the Black Sheep knitters -- five smart, funny
women who love to knit, gossip, and solve crimes.

Gloria Sterling had it all -- money, looks, and a new sexy young husband. So when she's found floating face down in her own swimming pool, shock waves ripple through tiny Plum Harbor. At the Black Sheep Knitting Shop, Maggie Messina and her circle are devastated to lose their dear friend -- a woman as colorful as her fabulous yarn creations.

The police are quick to call it an accident, but sorting out Gloria's final hours leaves too many loose ends to satisfy her friends. The vivacious, fiftysomething cougar had her French manicured tips in more than a few pots, and the threads of some inside deals stashed in her chic knitting tote.

Who was the last person to see Gloria alive on that quiet summer night? Two empty wine glasses suggest she wasn't home alone knitting the entire evening.... The Black Sheep need to know the truth and set out to unravel -- stitch by stitch -- the weighty secrets that pulled poor Gloria under.

About the Author (also from Simon & Schuster): Anne Canadeo lives and knits in Northport, New York. While My Pretty One Knits is her debut novel, and the first in the Black Sheep Knitting Club series.
You can find out more about her here.

Disclosure: Information was taken without permission from the Simon and Schuster website. This book is being sent to me by Pocket Books to give an honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

I haven't done this one in a while, because I'm often not very up to date on what's about to be coming out. I'm trying to change that, so without further ado: Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

This week's pick is a book about kids that like punk rock. So even if one of the characters is a chain smoking 16 year old (ick!), I'm in! I mean, YA about punk rock, ohhh yeah!!!!

The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni.
Publication Date: March 4, 2010
Publisher: Penguin
Summary from Penguin Website: Sebastian Prendergast lives in a geodesic dome with his eccentric grandmother, who homeschooled him in the teachings of futurist philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. But when his grandmother has a stroke, Sebastian is forced to leave the dome and make his own way in town.

Jared Whitcomb is a chain-smoking sixteen-year-old heart-transplant recipient who befriends Sebastian, and begins to teach him about all the things he has been missing, including grape soda, girls, and Sid Vicious. They form a punk band called The Rash, and it's clear that the upcoming Methodist Church talent show has never seen the likes of them. Wholly original, The House of Tomorrow is the story of a young man's self-discovery, a dying woman's last wish, and a band of misfits trying desperately to be heard.

Rock on!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Review: Decoding the Lost Symbol by Simon Cox

Title: Decoding the Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Authoritative Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction

Author: Simon Cox


Who Should Read It? Anyone curious about mysteries and conspiracy theories. If you read the Lost Symbol and were curious about the things talked about, this book is DEFINITELY for you! If you are planning on reading the Lost Symbol, this book would be great to have nearby when reading, to look up things you may want to know more about.

What I Have to Say: I am an absolute fanatic when it comes to "mysteries" and Freemasons and alchemy and that sort of thing. One of the greatest classes I took in college was called "Alchemy and Transformation of Self." So, when reading the Lost Symbol, I wanted more facts, was literally thirsting for more facts. I knew a little bit about most of the things Dan Brown was talking about in his extensively researched novel, but I just needed more.

Simon Cox has given us that. In his well-organized Lost Symbol reference guide, you will find, in alphabetical order (of course!), brief descriptions of every possible thing one might have wondered about while reading the Lost Symbol. And he gives you just enough to satisfy your curiosity. As such, it doesn't get boring if you're reading a subject that's not particularly interesting, but you still get a good fill of all of the things that you find fascinating.

Still, I was so curious about some of the things he said that I'll definitely be doing a bit more research. I had never heard before, for example, that some people believe that Shakespeare didn't actually write any of his works. And that some people believe that maybe Sir Francis Bacon (whom I've always adored) did write them. I'll definitely be looking more into this.

All in all, even though it's a reference guide, it's extraordinarily easy and fascinating to read. Simon Cox has done a great job of separating Lost Symbol fact from Lost Symbol fiction while at the same time presenting the reader with enough knowledge to feel, well, knowledgeable.

Summary: Dan Brown's new novel once again features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, this time in the United States, racing to uncover clues and crack codes involving secrets that are perpetuated to this day. But how much of the novel is true and what is pure fiction? Simon Cox, bestselling author of Cracking the Da Vinci Code and Illuminating Angels & Demons, offers the first definitive guide to all the mysteries featured in The Lost Symbol.

Based on extensive research, this A-to-Z guide lists the real people, organizations, and themes featured in Dan Brown's latest novel, explains their histories and their meanings, reproduces and analyzes the symbols themselves, and provides insider knowledge gleaned from years of exhaustive study. From the monuments of Washington, D.C., to the secrets of Salt Lake City and the hidden enclaves in Langley, Virginia, Cox knows where the facts are hidden about the Freemasons, Albert Pike, the Rosicrucians, the Founding Fathers, and more.

This is the only resource you'll need to understand and enjoy the complex new world of The Lost Symbol.

Cover Story: While I'm not a HUGE fan of this over, I think it complements nicely the cover of the Lost Symbol, which I also, unfortunately, didn't really like at all.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me by FSB Media to give an honest review.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Blog Tour Review and GIVEAWAY: Denise's Daily Dozen by Denise Austin

Title: Denise's Daily Dozen: the Easy, Everyday Program to Lose Up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks

Author: Denis Austin


Who Should Read It? Anyone looking for awesome tips and motivation on how to lead a healthier lifestyle! Anyone looking for a great, easy, step-by-step exercise and eating program to help in becoming healthy or losing weight.

What I Have to Say: This is, BY FAR, the BEST exercise book I have ever read. I should premise by saying that I didn't read it because I need to lose weight. I'm supposedly actually underweight. My interest in this book came from the fact that I NEED to start exercising, and I was hoping for a book that would motivate me and give me some tips.

This book did so much more than that. The focus was so much more on healthy living and healthy eating than to help you to lose weight than on diets or over-exercising to lose weight. It gives you healthy, balanced (and, unfortunately, not vegan) meal plans and exercise plans every day for three straight weeks, making following the Daily Dozen plan as easy as possible.

Having the exact exercises to do there in front of me made things so easy. I didn't have to think about which ones to do and the order in which to do them and for how long to do them. Denise did that for me. And with her bubble personality shining through on every page, I find myself excited to get up and exercise in the mornings. I have been exercising EVERY SINGLE DAY for the past two weeks (this is BIG for me, you guys!)

More importantly than that, I can already see a change. My arm and leg muscles are both starting to show more definition; I can actually feel my abs for once. And I have energy to do all of the mini exercises throughout the day that she calls Fidget-Cisers. It's just plain awesome.

Denise's Daily Dozen is full of practical tips and easy, step-by-step insructions as to how to lead a healthy life. They're so easy, and she's so upbeat about giving them to you, that you can't help but want to follow! Her system is a way of life, and she has given you enough to have step-by-step instructions for every day of that new way of life for as long as it takes for you to no longer need them.
This book is golden (even if I haven't used the non-vegan friendly meal plans at all), and I'm planning on buying a Daily Dozen CD when I really feel like I need new exercises.

Summary (from GoodReads): From Denise Austin comes the perfect health book for anyone who wants to live better but just can't seem to find the time. Much more than just another excercise book, Denise's Daily Dozen covers a whole range of health and diet related concepts yet manages it all in a no-stress, time-conscious program of 12's. At it's core, this book contains the minimum daily requirements to keep the reader flexible, strong and trim. Organized simply into seven chapters, which equal the seven days of the week, it covers a full week in daily allotments. Each day will have it's own focus from Monday being "fat burning day" to Sunday's "recharge and rejuvenate."

Denise has created a total body program, including a 7-day balanced meal plan that includes healthy recipes, and a workout that encompasses 12 exercises done in 12 minutes each day. Everyone can take just 12 minutes, at whatever time of the day works for them, and turn it over to these simple and fun exercises. Cardio, toning, yoga and breathing exercises...they're all here but in a way the maximizes effect while minimizing time.

Beyond a dozen exercises for each day of the week this book will include many other of Denises dozens for each day.

Now, this awesome book could be yours! It's open internationally and ends on February 1!
Just fill out this form to win a copy of your very own!

Disclosure: Thanks to Anna from Hachette for sending me a copy of this book to give an honest review and for sending the copy to give away.

Blog Tour: Veracity by Laura Bynum

So, I was supposed to review Veracity by Laura Bynum here in Brizmus Blogs Books today, but unfortunately, I still haven't received it. :-( Everyone else on the tour seems to have received their copy, so I'm hoping mine wasn't lost in the mail or something. I'm very excited about it, though, so be expecting my review soon! It's supposed to be like 1984 or Fahrenheit 451, both of which I ADORED! In the meantime, a little bit about the book:

Title: Veracity

Author: Laura Bynum

Summary (direct to you from GoodReads): 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.

About the Author (from Laura Bynum was born in Springfield, Illinois in 1968. Childhood plans to be a writer of novels and screenplays and a director of films are currently underway. Laura completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communications at the University of Illinois at Springfield and Eastern Illinois University respectively. She’s since done some filmmaking (Ugly Girl Productions) and marketing consulting. In 2006, Laura won the Rupert Hughes Literary Writing Award at the Maui Writer’s Conference. As a result, she was signed with the Writer’s House. Her Literary Agent is Dan Conaway and her Books to Film Agent is Sylvie Rabineau of Rabineau, Wachter, Sanford & Harris. Laura’s first novel, Veracity, is due out January of 2010. In the summer of 2008, while moving from Illinois to Virginia, Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer and has since been successfully treated.

Laura’s favorite books are both by Steinbeck- East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath. Her favorite song is Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. Her favorite movie is The Quiet Man. She lives with her husband and three daughters in a small Virginia town in the Shenandoah foothills and is currently writing her second novel and first full-length screenplay.

Check back soon for a review of this book, which is being sent to me by Sarah of Pocket Books!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

IMM (5)

Before I get to In My Mailboxness, I just need to say this:


The Saints won last night against the Cardinals, which is AWESOME news. Now they just have to win against the Vikings, and to the Super Bowl they will go.
Why do I care, you may wonder? Well, my sister and brother and father have all been huge Saints fanatics for basically, well, their entire lives, supporting them through all their terrible playing. I've tried to care, but really, football just doesn't interest me.
This year, though, I SO want the Saints to go to the Superbowl! Not because I've suddenly developed an interest in football (I haven't seen a single game this season), but because my father has offered to buy me a plane ticket home and then plans on taking us all to the Superbowl. If they Saints are there. So, a free trip home? Awesomeness check! A free trip to Miami from home? Awesomeness check? A chance to get to hang out with the whole fam when it's not Christmas? Awesomeness check! A chance to get all those books I haven't read that I had to leave at home at Christmas time because of space issues? Awesomeness check!

Now on to things that might actually interest you guys.

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

Despite the fact that I have a HUGE TBR pile that has to be finished by the end of March, I managed to talk the boyfriend into buying me two books this week while on an outing at Fnac. Yay!

Is it weird that one of the reasons I am most excited about these books is because of how beautiful they are from the side? Maybe you can't tell because of the flash, but that bottom book is a beautiful silver on the side!!

The Girl with Glass Feet - Ali Shaw
The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson

I'd never heard of the first book, but it just sounded so interesting; I kept going back to it over and over again, so finally I had to get it. Right when we got home, I read over at The Bookette that Becky also is planning on reading this book soon. The Gargoyle is a book I have actually been wanting to read for a while now.

So I'm psyched.

I'm also psyched because the boyfriend also bought a huge stack of books for himself, most of which I am super excited about!

-City of the Dead - Herbert Lieberman [I have to admit that I probably won't be reading this one]
-La Theorie des Jeux (Game Theory) - Gael Giraud [This book doesn't seem to be out in English. It looks super interesting, though!!]
-The Green Brain - Frank Herbert
-Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubuer [already read this one!]
-Weave World - Clive Barker [YAY!!!!]
-Thorns - Robert Silverberg

And that's all for this week, folks! :-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Neil Gaiman's Exciting News!

So, as some of you have probably seen and some of you have probably not seen,

Neil Gaiman's Getting Married!!!!

Neil Gaiman is my absolute FAVORITE author of all time (I'll actually theoretically be hosting a Neil Gaiman week some time in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled for that), so I am very excited for him! I'm also hoping this will motivate him to write another adult novel in the near future. I feel like it's been a while. The last was Anansi Boys, if I am not mistaken, and that was over 4 years ago.

Now, if, unlike me, you don't follow his life closely, you might be wondering to whom he is getting married. Well, to Amanda Palmer, of course. Some of you might know her as from the Dresden Dolls. Some of you might know her from this:

They officially announced the news to the world today in Neil Gaiman's blog. Check it out here!!

Anyhow, I'm very excited for them, and if you're excited for them, too, you can wish them both congratulations via twitter: @neilhimself and @amandapalmer


Friday, January 15, 2010

French Friday (9)

French Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. We both live in France, so it's where we write about Frenchy bookish things.

This week, I've decided to focus on an American Author who writes books about France and living in Provence. Oddly enough (because I'm featuring him), I DIDN'T LIKE the book I read by him!

Peter Mayle was born June 13, 1939. He spent 15 years in the advertising business, first as a copywriter and then as a reluctant executive, before escaping Madison Avenue in 1975 to write educational books for children.

In 1990 Mayle published A Year in Provence, which became an international bestseller; his books have since been translated into more than 20 languages, Mayle has contributed to The Sunday Times, the Financial Times, The Independent, GQ, and Esquire.

He and his wife, Jennie, and their dogs live in the south of France.

So, the one and only book I have read by him was "A Year in Provence." I read it after about 20 (possibly more) people suggested it to me as a book I would absolutely LOVE! I live in France, I love books, and I love food (vegan food, but food nonetheless), and they had all LOVED the book, so they just knew it was for me.
I unfortunately found it exceedingly boring and, well, gluttonous. It seemed like the whole book was Peter Mayle acting like an idiot then going into restaurants, eating really disgusting totally not vegan food, commenting on it (snobbishly, if I do say so myself), and then feeling full. I know there was more to it than that, but that's just how it felt to me. I also found Peter Mayle to be slightly snobby, and I can't help but wonder what France he is living in. As his descriptions are NOTHING like the France I am living in today.
With 89 5 star reviews on amazon and only 7 one star reviews, I really somehow must have missed the genius behind it. Because really, the ONLY good thing I have to say about it is that it was really well written with beautiful (and sometimes, unfortunately, grotesque) descriptions. Peter Mayle at least knows how to write.

Because of my incredible distaste for this book, I was just not able to read Peter Mayle's other books about Provence, all of which my aunt had let me borrow. I just couldn't read more snobbery about food and more fiction about Provence.

So, since I disliked "A Year in Provence" so much, you might be wondering why I chose to feature Peter Mayle this week.
1)I know the book was immensely popular, so just because *I* didn't like it doesn't mean *you* won't like it. So, on the off chance you hadn't heard of Peter Mayle, I wanted to bring him to your attention.
2)I think it is important that people understand that Peter Mayle's view of Provence is exceedingly skewed. What he has presented in A Year in Provence, and probably his other books, is a fantasy about living in Southern France, not a reality.
3)It's been a very long time since I posted a review that was actually NEGATIVE, as it's been so long since I read a book I didn't like. I wanted to show you guys that I really don't love ALL books, in case you'd forgotten.
4)Sometimes I like being mean; it can be so fun to say mean things!! :-P (I'm just kidding about this one, in case you didn't get that).

And now that concludes this week's French Friday! I do hope you've enjoyed your time here! In the meantime, if I somehow peaked your interest, you can check out Peter Mayle at his website here. And don't forget to check out Charlotte's weekly French Friday Contribution at The Book on the Hill.

The biography was copied without permission from his website.

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