Thursday, April 29, 2010

YA Blogger Community Thanksgiving

So, a little while ago, Adele from Persnickety Snark deemed it YA Thanksgiving; she wrote about all of the things she appreciates about being a part of the blogosphere, and she invited other bloggers to do the same. I'm a little late to the game, but I didn't want to pass up such a wonderful idea.

So here we go! What I love about blogging and bloggers!

*I have personal blog in which I write about my life. I also used to write about books in that blog. I would rate them and then give them one or two sentence reviews. I usually did about 10 of these in the same entry. And my friends complained. Because, unfortunately, quite a few of my friends aren't readers. They loved my blog, they said, but they didn't want to CONSTANTLY hear about all the books I was reading. So I started Brizmus Blogs Books, and I lengthened my reviews and started saying EVERYTHING I wanted to say, as opposed to editing myself down. And then people started coming and reading what I had to say. And saying super interesting things about it. And NO ONE COMPLAINED. People came because, like me, they ALSO want to talk about books. And that is just amazing!

*Going along with that last thing, it's been so amazing to hear what other people have to say about what I have to say. Or just period. To see when people agree with me and why and when people disagree with me and why. And often times, it gives me a new perspective on things; it opens my mind to think about things and books in new, fresh, different ways. Which is fabulous! Even if it doesn't change my mind about certain books or genres, I LOVE reading why another person perceived a book in a different way. Blogging has really been an eye-opener for me.

*I am sure everyone has said this, but I have come to know some AMAZING people through book blogging. I don't really do twitter (I try, but like I was with MSN, I'm just bad at it - I don't have the patience), so I feel sometimes as if I'm not as much a part of the "community" as other bloggers seem to be, but I feel like I've started to get to know some AMAZING people with some AMAZING blogs, such as Becky from The Bookette, Charlotte from The Book on the Hill, and Simcha from SFF Chat. They are awesome, and I really hope to someday meet them all!

*And then there are the amazing bloggers that I have come to love, despite not really getting to know them at all. Their blogs (like those of the people above) inspire me and give me new ideas and new food for thought. Blogs like BOOKLUST, Good Books and Wine, and The New Dork Review of Books. There are tons more, of course, and I'm sorry to not give a shout out to you all.

*I have discovered SO MANY amazing books through blogging! I have rediscovered a love of YA, but I've also found myself discovering new genres which I previously knew very little about. I love it when bloggers recommend obscure books that end up being amazing.

*Adele said this one, and I have to agree with her: LISTS! I love lists, and I feel like bloggers, as a community, make the BEST lists. Lists of the top 100 ya novels, of the most obscure books, and the best historical fiction, etc. . .

Okay, I am sure that I could really go on forever, but I'll stop here. Suffice it to say, I appreciate blogging and bloggers more than I could have ever imagined I would when I first started blogging (especially since I've never previously been particularly GOOD at being on the internet. I suck at sending e-mails, I can't do twitter, I can't do online chat; I just get so antsy! But I can blog, and I can peruse other blogs! It's amazing!). It and you (bloggers!) have opened my eyes and given me new perspective and new loves!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

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.

Waiting on Wednesday two whole weeks in a row! I guess there are lots of upcoming books I'm excited about, what can I say? This week's pick is:

Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

Publication Date: August 10, 2010
Publisher:Random House

“It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.” Who needs a summary when you have this blurb? It's enough to make me wish I could run out and buy the book right now! But because I'm nice, I'll give you the summary as well.

Summary: In Let’s Take the Long Walk Home, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gail Caldwell has written a powerful and moving memoir about her coming-of-age in mid-life, and her extraordinary friendship with the author of Drinking: A Love Story, Caroline Knapp—fellow writers, AA members, dog lovers, and observers of life.

In her younger years, Caldwell defined herself by rebellion and independence, a passion for books, and an aversion to intimacy and a distrust of others. Then while living in Cambridge in her early 1940s, “an age when the view from the hill can be clear and poignant both,” Caldwell adopts a rambunctious puppy named Clementine. On one of their bucolic walks, she meets Caroline and her dog, Lucille, and both women’s lives change forever.

Though they are more different than alike, these two fiercely private, independent women quickly relax into a friendship more profound than either of them expected, a friendship that will thrive on their shared secrets, including parallel struggles with alcoholism and loneliness. They grow increasingly inseparable until, in 2003, Caroline is diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Caldwell writes: “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.”

In her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion and grief in this wise and affecting account about losing her best friend. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is also a celebration of life and all the little moments worth cherishing—and affirms why Gail Caldwell is rightly praised as one of our bravest and most honest literary voices.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: Tokyo Fiancee by Amelie Nothomb

Title: Tokyo Fiancee

Author: Amelie Nothomb


Who Should Read It? People interested in French or Japanese culture that are able to get past ridiculously horrible protagonists. Or those that have read and enjoyed Amelie Nothomb's other works.

What I Have to Say:
Amelie Nothomb is some weird mixture of French and Belgian and Japanese that I still don't quite understand. And my attempts at understanding left me occasionally confused. Despite each of her works being separated memoirs, each of which can supposedly be read not in conjunction with the others, I feel like, if I wanted to better understand this book, I should have read some of her other works, which she constantly referenced, first. She seemed to just assume, in any case, that I knew all of these things about her that I didn't know.

This would have been okay, except that her simplistic writing style was, in a weird way, captivating, and it left me feeling exceedingly curious. I WANTED to know more about her. Her story of living in Japan and her relationship with a somewhat eccentric Japanese man (well, eccentric, from what I know, for a Japanese man) was fascinating. I loved Amelie and Rinri together; I loved the way their relationship advanced in what she described as a "typical Japanese fashion." I really felt like I understood what it would be like for a westerner to date a Japanese man in Japan. I also loved the brief glimpse I got of what it must be like for a Westerner to live in Japan, and I can only hope that my stay here will be as full of exciting things as hers was.

Unfortunately, my love of all of these things left me absolutely HATING her by the end of the book. Hating her for the type of person she is and some of the things she did. Funny story: the day after I finished this book, I met up with a friend at a cafe in Paris, and I just do happened to end up at a table RIGHT NEXT TO Amelie Nothomb. And it was very difficult to me to conceal my disgust with her. I literally had to stop myself from getting up and asking her "HOW DARE YOU!" or telling her how disgusted I felt with her after reading her book. She was so egotistical, spoiled, ridiculous, and self-centered that it was a wonder anyone could manage to fall in love with her.

It was therefore hard for me to enjoy the book as a whole, even though the writing style was quite lovely and some of the content was brilliant and extraordinarily honest. Because I sort of hated her, the protagonist. And yet it was at the same time compelling enough that I want to go back and read her previous works. To give her the opportunity to redeem herself in my eyes.

Summary: A darling of the French literary scene, Nothomb delivers a complex story of first love set in late 1980s and early 90s Tokyo. Amélie is a 21-year-old Belgian student studying Japanese in Tokyo when she begins tutoring Rinri, a sweet, shy and wealthy 20-year-old, in French. The relationship quickly evolves into a friendship and, soon after that, into romance. Rinri is a young soul who is easily swept up in his love for Amélie, and his charm is undeniable as he courts her, but Amélie wrestles with the classic situation: she loves spending time with Rinri, but she doesnt love him, and she cannot deny her need for independence. Nothomb thankfully forgoes the standard approach to passion and unrequited love, leading the reader to hope the adorable couple dont get married and instead find their own separate happiness. Nicely told, intimate and honest, the book depicts perfectly a nontraditional romance.

Cover Story: I've put the French cover here because I actually read this book in French. The French title, Ni d'Adam, Ni d'Eve, translated From neither Adam nor Eve, does not, in my opinion, fit this book at all. The American title suits it much better. As does the American cover. I absolutely adore the French cover, but it has nothing to do with the book. There is nothing in this book that even remotely lives up to the coolness of the cover.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Review: Define Normal by Julie Ann Peters

Title: Define Normal

Author: Julie Ann Peters


Who Should Read It? This is a great, important read for all teenagers and junior high/high school students. It's appeal is so wide spread, though, that I think that most adults (especially those who had geeky, awkward, difficult teen moments) will also enjoy it.

What I Have to Say:
This book was GOOD and, dare I say, important. When Jazz and Antonia fime themselves in peer counseling together, Antonia is annoyed. On the surface, they are two people that couldn't be more different: Jazz with her "punk" looks and her richer, over-present parents; Antonia (or Tone, as we come to know her) with her prissy looks, her lack of a Dad, and her sick mom. As they develop relationship through their peer counseling, though, we begin to learn that these two girls might have more in common than what the surface shows; more than that, they might have more to offer each other than one could ever imagine.

The bond formed between Tone and Jazz is fresh and unexpected (not that they form a bond, but the bond itself), and it teaches us that there is more to most things than meets the eye; we should never judge anything (including a person) by what we see on the surface. As hard as we try, this is a lesson that so many people have trouble learning, especially in junior high and high school. I wish some of my peers could have read this book when I was in junior high or high school. More than that, I wish I could have read this book. Jazz reminded me of a more slightly extroverted version of my high school self, and I think seeing the way she dealt with her struggles might have helped me immensely. And while her problem's and Tone's problems were different from my problems, they were all, in a sense, everyone's problems.

This book was edgy and somewhat gritty, and Peters dug right down into the heart of the matter, creating a fierce, intense story that wasn't so fierce or intense that it would be too much for a younger YA reader. Her story is believable, and I'm sure most readers will find a little bit of themselves in Tone and Jazz. So much so that it's almost impossible not to spend the whole book hoping for them and believing in them. And that's what makes this book important. The reader, even if for just a moment, is required to take a step back and stop subconsciously judging the world around them based on superficial things like image. In high school, that is big.

More than that, this books is such an enjoyable read that once you start, you won't want to put it down until you are done. "Define Normal" will make you realize just how unimportant the word normal really is.

Summary: Antonia is a "priss," Jazz is a "punk." Antonia belongs to the math club. Jazz hangs out at the tattoo parlor. Antonia's parents are divorced and her mother struggles to pay the rent. Jazz is from a traditional family and lives in a mansion with a pool. But when these two very different girls find themselves facing each other in a peer-counseling program, they discover they have some surprising things in common. Alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, this is an absorbing read that will keep audiences thinking and laughing.

Cover Story: While I imagined these two girls VERY differently than the cover portrays them, I still think this cover is quite nice. It's plain and simple and yet strangely compelling.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Doing the Blog-Hop (1)

So this week, I had a little bit of free time for the first time in ages, and instead of catching up on some reading (oops, gulp!) or getting some back posts done for my blog, I decided to participate in the Book Blogger Hop!

It's hosted over at Crazy for Books, dna you can get all of the information here.

The gist of it is - you hop around the blogosphere and discover and support some new (to you) blogs.

I discovered some super cool ones, some of which are:

Tell Me a Story
Fragments of Life
Super Reader Girl's Book Reviews

If you head over via the hop, be sure to leave me a comment to let me know, and I'll head on over to your blog! :-)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog Tour Review: Firefly Rain by Richard Dansky

Title: Firefly Rain

Author: Richard Dansky


Who Should Read It? This is for people that like books that present things slowly and subtly. I think if you like Richard Dansky's other books, you'll enjoy this one. Also, if you enjoy some of Stephen King's more subtle stories, this could absolutely be for you! Even though I didn't LOVE it, I can see how some people might.

What I Have to Say:
Firefly Rain was an exciting, suspenseful ghost story that, for some reason, didn't sit well with me. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't find it riveting or horrifying or spine-chilling or any of the other things I was expecting it to be.

Richard Dansky starts off by introducing us to Jacob Logan, who has just returned home to small-town Maryfield, North Carolina after a business failure in Boston. His parents have been dead for some time. And then he spends the entire first half of the book introducing us to Maryfield and letting us see that it really is a small-town. There were times when I actually thought "Okay, I get it, Maryfield's a small, closed town. Now what's going to happen?" Weirdish things occasionally happened, but nothing that couldn't be explained by the ordinary, nothing that I would have thought of as "paranormal."

The most interesting and intriguing thing about the first half of the book was Jacob's transformation. I think that, ultimately, Jacob was a very 2 dimensional character, never doing anything unexpected and never saying or doing things that really gave you the impression that you got to know him (until the very end that is). And yet, still, it was amazing to see how living in a small-town really did change what we knew of him. His actions and way of speaking slowly transformed from city man to country boy so subtly that the reader almost didn't even notice what was happening. That in and of itself made me realize that Dansky really does have some amazing writing talent.

In the second half of the book, things did pick up, and paranormal "ghost story" aspect became more and more evident. Dansky, over time, slowly gave the reader (and Jacob Logan) clues that would allow him to see the ghosts for what they were and to understand what was going on. It was fairly easy to figure out the identity of the ghosts, but I for one didn't REALLY understand what was going on until the very end. It wasn't frightening, and it didn't have me on the edge of my seat with bated breath, but I did find myself interested in knowing how all of the little clues were going to fit together. I tend to like it when things build up slowly, but I think the problem with this book was that things built up a little bit too slowly, and there wasn't enough imagery or character detail to keep me distracted.

My absolute LEAST favorite part of the book was Jacob's friend from Boston, Jenna. She was hard-headed, loud, over-bearing, and obnoxious, and it seemed like Jacob often thought so, too. This would have been okay, except that it was clear we were supposed to like her, and I just didn't. For this and several other reasons, I really didn't like the ending. And I think that a great ending is the only thing that could have made this book take a step up for me.

Luckily, the quality of writing was there to redeem this book. If it weren't for Dansky's beautiful descriptions of the southern town and its inhabitants, I don't think I would have enjoyed this in the end. It was just so right on, so southern, and, the people inhabiting the town were, for me, the creepiest part of the book. I also enjoyed the first person narration by Jacob Logan. As a small-towner moved to a big city, it was interesting to see things from the point of view of someone who did the exact same thing.

I'm therefore ultimately exactly in the middle of the fence about this book. I enjoyed reading it, and I read it quickly, but there were quite a few things about it I didn't like, and it didn't seem to be like the type of book it was supposed to be. I was expecting things from it and wanting things from it that it was just incapable of giving me, and I found it lacking in originality. Small town with scary secrets. I can see, though, how there are some that might absolutely ADORE this kind of book. It's, in a sense, a subtle paranormal mystery that you really do have the opportunity to solve for yourself.

Summary: A riveting supernatural mystery like you've never read before.

The prodigal son leaves the big city to return to his dearly departed parent's house in North Carolina only to find, now that he's home, that something is trying to make damn sure he stays there--even if it means burying him out back.

In a small town with dark secrets, one man struggles to find a way out before the spirit of the town can find a way in.

Marking the debut of our brand-new imprint dedicated to showcasing the best new voices in speculative fiction, Firefly Rain is one of the most chilling, unique ghost stories ever penned. Mystery lovers will devour the clues. Fantasy readers will be sucked in by the magical atmosphere. No one will be able to put it down--until the very last twist comes to light.

Cover Story: I'm not the hugest fan of this cover. I like the pretty covers, but there's something that seems childish about it, as opposed to creepy. The other cover, which I can't find an image of, which has a sort of twisty house, I think is amazing, and it fits the book perfectly!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by Pocket Books.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

I haven't done Waiting on Wednesday in AGES!, and I'm really not planning on making it a regular feature. But Wednesdays when there is a book that I am SUPER excited about, I will participate. So, logistics.
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, I'm SUPER excited about

My Name Is Memory by Anne Brashares

Publication Date: June, 2010
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Summary: Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has "the memory", the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he's previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel's unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now "Lucy" in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

A magical, suspenseful, heartbreaking story of true love, My Name is Memory proves the power and endurance of a union that was meant to be.

I love Anne Brashares, and this one looks EXTRA fantastic!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: Steel Drumming at the Apollo by Trish Marx and Elen B. Senisi

Title: Steel Drumming At the Apollo

Author: Trish Marx and Elen B. Senisi


Who Should Read It? This book is a necessity in libraries in schools in more difficult areas. I think it is a great read for anyone interested in inspirational stories of musicians.

What I Have to Say:
This book was accompanied by a CD that I listened to before actually reading the book. As such, I went in to the book already impressed. These steel drummers are COOL! And talented. Even if the kind of music they make isn't your cup of tea, it's impossible not to notice that they're good at what they do, not to occasionally find yourself caught up in the beats.

I think it was probably smart for me to do it in this order, CD then book. The book starts off with a brief biography of each boy in the steel drum band. Their stories are interesting, but if I hadn't listened to the CD first, it might have been a bit like reading the biography of the singer of a band I'd never heard of. Potentially interesting in general, but without much personal interest for me.

After that, the story of these musicians on their quest to Showtime at the Apollo was absolutely FASCINATING and refreshing. I love stories about passionate people, especially when their passion helps them to break free from negative circumstances. And that describes the story perfectly.

As such, I think that this book is a necessity in libraries in schools in more difficult areas. And if those schools happen to have music classes, this book is a perfect pick for music teachers to read with their students. It is inspiring and influential.

Each page is accompanied by beautiful, glossy color photos that really give the story of this Steel Drumming group a 3D element, and help you really feel as if you are getting to know the band. I would recommend this to everyone, not just students.

Summary: A photo-essay following the members of a high school band through several rounds of Amateur Night competitions at the Apollo Theater in New York City. Includes a CD of the band playing their competition song, plus original compositions.

Cover Story: It's the perfect cover! It's a great picture of the Steel Drum band, and I find the design quite appealing. Fabulousness!!

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

Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: The Girl Made of Cool by Alan Fox

Title: the Girl Made of Cool

Author: Alan Fox


Who Should Read It? These are three great stories, and I think if you give the format a chance and allow yourself to get into it, most people would enjoy it. Or most adults, I should say, as some of the content is slightly cynical, and I think some younger people might have trouble relating to that.

What I Have to Say:
I was pleasantly surprised by "the Girl Made of Cool." I had read some interesting reviews of this book that had me very curious about it, but going into it I really didn't think that I would like it as much as I did. People had said that it might be difficult to get into the "screen play format," and after reading the book, I'm still wondering what they're talking about. What screen play format? It's true that the format was a bit different than what one is used to in books - the place and time were often written out explicitly before conversations and things would take place, but it was still nothing like any screen play I've ever read.

I quite enjoyed the way he set things up, as the "the Girl Made of Cool" seemed more to me to be a social commentary on relationships and the different ways there are of approaching them than anything else, and by setting up the setting in such away, it allowed Alan Fox more freedom to work with what he was trying to say and to use his beautiful style for the things that actually mattered in the book.

Ridley and Chet, roommates, are two very different people, both in love with the same girl. It was incredibly interesting watching how these two totally different personalities approached the same situation. Chet was slightly psychotic, totally self-interested, and didn't hesitate to turn himself into another person in order to get the girl. He did his best not to think about love, as for him, ACCOMPLISHMENTS are what matter most. Ridley, however, seemed overcome by emotion and was unable to move forward without explaining his every move and over analyzing everything. I was often time horrified by some of the things that Chet thought and did, but there is a soft spot forever in my heart for Ridley. He's absolutely the kind of guy I could fall for.

Jayne, the object of their interest, had a slightly exaggerated personality, which was perfect for allowing us to really understand the way that type of girl might react to the differences in Chet and Ridley. The conversations she had with Ridley were interesting, insightful, and by far my favorite part of this story. Her relationship with Chet was horrifying in that it made me wonder if I have ever been so easily duped by a charming guy. It's so easy not to see what's right in front of us, in so many ways.

"The Girl Made of Cool" was a great story, but it was not the only story in the book. It was the best, but "Hell Has Blue Skies" and "The Lovely Lady at the Love Museum" were both also quite good.

"Hell Has Blue Skies" made me scared to ever have to have a real job in the business world. If Fox's portrayal of life in an office in "Hell has Blue Skies" is anything close to truth, well, I will be crazy one day. This simple story had me laughing out loud and physically cringing.

"The Lovely Lady at the Love Museum" was an incredibly short, easy read, and I was glad that it was the last story in the book, as it left me with a warm, happy feeling in my heart. This was the only one, to me, that seemed slightly out of touch with reality. Or rather, that looked at the world in a slightly positive light (as opposed to a cynical light).

"The Girl Made of Cool" was without a doubt the best story in this book - it contained the most substance and the most humour, but I would still recommend reading the whole thing. The two short stories at the end are still full of Alan Fox's cynical humour and creative writing style, and if you like the "Girl Made of Cool," you'll probably like those two as well. I think the YA crowd may have some trouble relating to the content of this book, but other than that, I think it's quite likable. I guess the only issue is if you can deal with the format (though, honestly, it didn't disturb me at all. I liked it, even. I have slight trouble understanding why others had so much trouble with it). If you have ever been duped by a charming guy or worked in the crazy business world, give this book a try!

Summary: THE GIRL MADE OF COOL (First Edition) -- Featuring a new novel and two other stories by Alan Fox. ---- Author ALAN FOX writes love stories, filled with a sense of awe and wonder, and set against a brutal world. "THE GIRL MADE OF COOL" is his vibrant new novel and the centerpiece of this collection. Here, Fox tells the story of a young man and woman who are falling in love with each other, but the young woman doesn't know it. She believes that she's falling in love with the man's far more handsome, more perfect friend. ... As the story unfolds and deepens, we see how these two highly talented young men must suffer, struggle, and wage battle to woo this young woman. This, as all the while, she grows into an ever greater beauty, a more charismatic personality, and an all-the-more alluring woman. ... This, as all the while, this young lady grows to become an elegant woman made of shining love and elusive cool. -- Also featured here in this collection, you will find: The Novel "HELL HAS BLUE SKIES" -- A love story about intense relationships in an office, whose unusual line of business is to train people to become 'world-class experts.' And the short story "THE LOVELY LADY AT THE LOVE MUSEUM" -- A colorful tale of romance and high-level maneuvering in the big city. ---- ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Alan Fox writes love stories about people looking for a sense of wonder in a brutal world, people pursuing beauty in the face of insanity. His previous novel, "The Seeker in Forever," is now available in a second revised edition.

Cover Story: I think it's unfortunate that this book wasn't given a real cover. Some interesting covers could have come from the content.

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


Friday, April 16, 2010

(Pseudo) Review: The Vampire Diaries 5: the Return: Nightfall

Title: the Vampire Diaries 5: the Return: Nightfall

Author: L.J. Smith


Who Should Read It? This book is really only for those that REALLY love the Vampire Diaries and feel like they HAVE to read it, and even then they might be disappointed. It seems, unfortunately, that L.J. Smith just threw something together as quickly as possible, without really looking over it.

What I Have to Say:
This book was utterly ludicrous and ridiculous, and it is for that that I enjoyed it. In her previous Vampire Diaries books, L.J. Smith had created stories with substance, 3-dimensional and somewhat annoying characters, and story lines that were easy to follow.

But oh no, not here. We have Elena, a floating angel ball of energy who is back from the dead, no longer a vampire. She floats around mostly naked and kissing everyone on the lips in order to get to know them. There was something sort of fantastic about it.

And then, when she came back to herself, she was a MUCH more likable character than she was in the first 4 books. I actually enjoyed her, which was a big change for me. I loved the first four books, but I never once felt, during them, that I loved Elena.

Anyhow, throughout this book, ludicrous, ridiculous, unreal things happen non-stop, and some of them are just so out there that the reader will without a doubt find themselves confused for pages at a time. I think that this would bother most readers, but for the most part, it just had me laughing hysterically on the inside. And then Stefan, calling Elena his "little lovey love." It so made me want to vomit, but at the same time it was utterly hilarious and ridiculous.

You may notice that I have used the word ridiculous about a million times in this pseudo review. I also probably should have used the word ludicrous that many times. And maybe confusing. Because I can't stress enough how ludicrous, ridiculous, and confusing this was.

The thing I liked most about this book was the tie-in to Japanese fox myth, which absolutely fascinates me. Unfortunately, even this part of the book was ludicrous and ridiculous. There was very little of the myth that was actually explained, and we just knew that the bad guy was some weird fox creature referred to as kitsune. I really would have liked for her to go into more detail about this.

While *I* really enjoyed this book and found it utterly hilarious, I don't think I would recommend it to anyone. I think if you loved the Vampire Diaries, you will be thoroughly disappointed, unless you are capable of thinking of it as fan fiction written by someone other than L.J. Smith herself. Or unless you are like me and able to see the humour in how bad it is. I think if you didn't like the other books, well, there is just no way you'll like this.

Summary: Elena Gilbert is alive—again.
When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her—the handsome, brooding Stefan and the sleek and dangerous Damon—she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back.
Now Elena is not just human. She has powers and gifts that were bestowed on her in the afterlife. What's more, her blood pulses with an overwhelming and unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire.
Stefan wants to find a way to keep Elena safe so that they can make a life together. Damon, however, is driven by an insatiable desire for power, and wants Elena to rule as his princess. When Stefan is lured away from Fell's Church, Damon seizes his chance to convince her that he is the brother she is meant to be with. . . .
But a darkness is infiltrating the town, and Damon, always the hunter, is now the hunted; he becomes the prey of a malevolent creature that can possess him at will, and who desires not just Elena's blood but her death

Cover Story: I like these covers, actually, though I'm sad they created new covers with this release instead of sticking with the awesome 80's old ones.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blog Tour: Forty-Eight X: the Lemuria Project by Barry Pollack

Title: Forty-Eight X: the Lemuria Project

Author: Barry Pollack

What I Have to Say: I'm beginning to think that Louisiana is some weird black hole in the United States. When I get books shipped there, it always takes them AGES to arrive, if they ever do that is. It's like they're just suctioned out of the world. Anyhow, I was supposed to read this book for the Pump Up Your Books tours, and I was sure it was going to arrive before I left for Japan. It did not. I thought for sure it would at least arrive in time to get forwarded to me. Nope. I then thought that it had to at least arrive before the day I was supposed to review it. It still hasn't arrived.
So I don't know what the deal is.
In any case, I think this book looks absolutely fabulous, and I LOVED reading Barry Pollack's guest post, so you know I'll be looking forward to reading this book when and if it ever does arrive. In the meantime, I hope you'll check out the summary, and, if you haven't done so yet, go back and check out his guest post.

Summary: On the tropical island of Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the United States has gathered together its most talented geneticists to work on the top-secret Lemuria Project. These secret experiments create a revolutionary new warrior so strong and so valiant that the age of casualties of war would become only a sad and distant memory. Haunted by a dark and dangerous past, Colonel Link McGraw is the officer chosen to train these new soldiers. He understands the rules of engagement and agrees to serve his country, reestablish his professional reputation, and secure his freedom in the process. As a trained and commissioned officer in the United States Armed Forces, McGraw knows what constitutes the perfect soldier: following orders without question. When Egyptian beauty Fala al Shodaha and Israeli Joshua Krantz, scientists in their own right, stumble across the top-secret project, they are determined to uncover its true nature and pursue their quest to Diego Garcia. Tensions mount as Krantz and McGraw clash over the project—and vie for the affection of the lovely Fala. When they discover they aren’t the only ones on the island competing for her attention, shocking truths are revealed that beg the question, Is it too late to save themselves—and the entire human race—from almost certain annihilation?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Instructions by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess

So, as many of you that have been following my blog for a while know, Neil Gaiman is one of my FAVORITE authors of all time. Maybe I shouldn't say one of - he really just is my favorite author. I love him, and that's all there is to it.

And one of my favorite things that he has done was Stardust illustrated by Charles Vess. I absolutely adore it when he works with Charles Vess. And with Dave McKean, though McKean tends to be more adult in his illustrations. I like the innoncence and magic and simplicity of the Charles Vess illustrations.

That said, I am incredibly excited about his upcoming book, Instructions, illustrated by Charles Vess. Especially since his last book with Charles Vess was called Blueberry Girl, and I therefore had to not read it, as even just hearing the word blueberry makes me want to throw up.

And so I was even more excited when I saw THIS posted in Neil Gaiman's blog a little while back. I've been meaning to share it for a while, but I just keep forgetting. If you haven't seen it yet, please watch! It's amazing!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blog Tour: Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartlin

Title: Alexandra, Gone

Author: Anna McPartlin

What I Have to Say: So this is one of those books for the Pocket Books tours that I just did NOT have the time to read. :-( Unfortunately. It got to me so ridiculously late, and it just wasn't possible. I really am super psyched to read it, though!! It looks great, I think. I'm happy to say, though, that I WILL have finished the next Pocket Books tour book in time for the tour. In any case, I've heard great things about this book, and I've read some great reviews of it today, so I hope you'll check it out. And be looking for my review some time in the near future!

Summary: LETTING GO FOR GOOD . . .

Once, Jane Moore and Alexandra Walsh were inseparable, sharing secrets and stolen candy, plotting their futures together. But when Jane became pregnant at seventeen, they drifted slowly apart. Jane has spent the years since raising her son, now seventeen himself, on her own, running a gallery, managing her sister’s art career, and looking after their volatile mother—all the while trying not to resent the limited choices life has given her.

Then a quirk of fate and a faulty elevator bring Jane into contact with Tom, Alexandra’s husband, who has some shocking news. Alexandra disappeared from a south Dublin suburb months ago, and Tom has been searching fruitlessly for her. Jane offers to help, as do the elevator’s other passengers—Jane’s brilliant but self-absorbed sister, Elle, and Leslie Sheehan, a reclusive web designer who’s ready to step back into the world again. And as Jane quickly realizes, Tom isn’t the only one among them who’s looking for something . . . or traveling toward unexpected revelations about love, life, and what it means to let go, in every sense.

In this insightful and irresistible novel, by turns profound, poignant, and laugh- out-loud funny, acclaimed Irish writer Anna McPartlin tells a story of friendship and love, of the families we are born into and the ones we create for ourselves, and of the hope and strength that remain when we fi nd the courage to leave the past behind at last.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Review: Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez

Title: Dead is the New Black

Author: Marlene Perez


Who Should Read It? This is a great read for those that enjoy paranormal mysteries and are looking for a book to take them away from thinking for a little while.

What I Have to Say:
This books is absolutely adorable - a light, fun, engaging joy of a mystery. I love books where, over the course of the story, we discover that none of the characters are quite what they seem. "Dead is the New Black" is a prime example of that kind of story. Nearly each and every one of the characters (at least the ones that were sufficiently developed) defied the expectations that I had of them in the beginning.

Samantha "the Divine" Deveraux, with her black clothes and coffin backpacks and head cheerleader status, was ballsy and independent, different and fun, and I can only wish that all high school "mean girls" could be just a little bit more like her. It ended with her as my favorite character.

Daisy was funny and easy to relate to, with just the right lack of self esteem to make her understandable without being annoying. Her constantly unsure relationship with Ryan might seem unrealistic to some, but it was so reminiscent of my high school relationships that I instead found myself proud of Daisy's stability in dealing with such instability.

Perez's writing style is fluid and easy, and her simple way of filling the town with paranormal creatures just seemed so "normal" that it was hard to believe that the things going on might be PARA-normal. I believed that such a town could exist.

The mystery part of the story was exciting and fun. The biggest problem was that I had figured it out before I even realized it was a mystery, so it wasn't suspenseful, so to speak. This in no way stopped me from enjoying it. Sometimes, you just need a fun book that allows you to stop thinking for a couple hours, and this one was an absolute pleasure to read.

Summary: Welcome to Nightshade, California; a small town full of secrets. It's home to the pyschic Giordano sisters, who have a way of getting mixed up in mysteries. During their investigations, they run across everything from pom-pom-shaking vampires to shape-shifting boyfriends to a clue-spewing jukebox. With their psychic powers and some sisterly support, they can crack any case.

Teenage girls are being mysteriously attacked all over town, including at Nightshade High School, where Daisy Giordano is a junior. When Daisy discovers that a vampire may be the culprit, she can't help but suspect head cheerleader Samantha Devereaux, who returned from summer break with a new look; Samantha appears a little . . . well, dead, and all the most popular kids at school are copying her style.

Is looking dead just another fashion trend for Samantha, or is there something more sinister going on? To find out, Daisy joins the cheerleading squad.

Cover Story: I ADORE the pink on the cover, and the contrast with the black is just magnificent! I'm definitely a fan of this cover!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Update

This is becoming a thing for me, that I do updates on Sundays. Maybe I'll try to keep it up. I've seen people doing "The Sunday Salon," which I gather is a sort of Sunday Update meme. Does anyone have any idea where this originated? Maybe I will try to participate.

Anyhow, my first week in in my new home went smashingly. I am SUPER psyched to be here, and I love my new town. There is so much animal life everywhere! I almost stepped on a ginormous lizard today! It was literally, like, 2 feet long. I also got a sunburn today. Oups! Guess I need to buy some sun block. Anyhow, for those of you that missed it, you can check out MY PERSONAL BLOG if you're interested on keeping up with my life in Japan. I'm doing my best to post pictures, etc. . . as often as possible. I hope you'll follow! :-)

Other than that, I hope you all had a GREAT read-a-thon weekend. I really wanted to participate, but I figured this would be a good weekend to try to get to know my new city. I did my best to read lots, though, and I did manage to read 2 1/2 books this weekend (which is normally what I read in a week), so GO ME! I also managed to find *2* book stores in which I can buy English books. I can't decide if I am psyched about this or not. As I really want to be only buying books for my kindle so as not to have a bagazillion to lug back with me. But then, BOOKS! REAL BOOKS! How can I stop myself?

That's all for now, folks! Be looking for some great reviews this upcoming week! Oh, and also, if anyone happens to want to send me VEGAN food, I'm hungry here since I can't read any of the ingredients. So let me know if you want to (:-)), and I will send you my address and love you forever and, of course, send you some fun Japanese thing in exchange.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Review: the Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

Title: the Left Hand of God

Author: Paul Hoffman


Who Should Read It? This book is for anyone who loves a great, epic, heroic fantasy. I can't recommend this book enough, though I think you should know going into it that it does move rather slowly.

What I Have to Say:
I can't even remember the last time I was so immediately drawn into a book. Seeing the cover, my brother said "That looks good." My response was "It's the best book I've read in a long time." I was only on page 8. And as the book continued, I felt more and more that my initial response was right on.

The Sanctuary, with the Redeemers and the Accolytes, is gruesome and dry, creating a fearful and fearsome world I know I won't be forgetting for ages. Life in the Sanctuary, placed in the middle of an endless, freezing desert, is horrifying and gritty and would have been unrealistic if Hoffman's descriptive writing hadn't been so vivid as to make me a believer. Boys are raised to be killers in a mad, religious war against the Antagonists. Who are the Antagonists? The boys will never know; most are too afraid to ask. Questions mean beatings, as do most other things in this horrific "sanctuary." Cale, a boy of merely 14, though after living in the Sanctuary you would never know, unwittingly sets off on an epic journey that will lead us to discover the rest of Hoffman's amazing world.

Really, the only part of this book that fell flat for me was its nonchalant attitude to cigarettes and smoking. At one point, IdrisPukke even assures Cale that "once he got over his initial dislike, smoking would be both a great pleasure and one of the few truly dependable consolations that life had to offer." I was disgusted, even though Hoffman did slightly redeem himself later. IdrisPukke's other life philosophies, though, were frequent, somewhat drole, and immensely enjoyable. He came out with some brilliant little gems. For example: "to desire love is to desire to be chained to a lunatic." In IdrisPukke's attitude, the reader will find a nice reprise from Hoffman's horrific world.

Lord Vipont, Arbel Swan-Neck, and most of the other characters were all extraordinarily alive, each of their stories weaving its way into the bigger picture so that everything, right down to the smallest blade of grass in the world, just breathed with trueness and life. Hoffman's style of writing ranges everywhere from extremely gritty to breathtakingly beautiful; so beautiful it brought images of cherry blossoms and white winters from old Japanese poetry. Love, hate, war, religion, and politics all blend together in "the Left Hand of God" to create the first 1/3 of what is sure to be one of the most memorable heroic trilogies of the decade. Because, when it comes to heroic fiction, this book is ACE. I'm dying for the sequel!

Summary: "Listen. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp is named after a damned lie for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary."

The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a vast and desolate place - a place without joy or hope. Most of its occupants were taken there as boys and for years have endured the brutal regime of the Lord Redeemers whose cruelty and violence have one singular purpose - to serve in the name of the One True Faith.

In one of the Sanctuary's vast and twisting maze of corridors stands a boy. He is perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old - he is not sure and neither is anyone else. He has long-forgotten his real name, but now they call him Thomas Cale. He is strange and secretive, witty and charming, violent and profoundly bloody-minded. He is so used to the cruelty that he seems immune, but soon he will open the wrong door at the wrong time and witness an act so terrible that he will have to leave this place, or die.

His only hope of survival is to escape across the arid Scablands to Memphis, a city the opposite of the Sanctuary in every way: breathtakingly beautiful, infinitely Godless, and deeply corrupt.

But the Redeemers want Cale back at any price… not because of the secret he now knows but because of a much more terrifying secret he does not.

Cover Story: Could this cover be any better? It's dark and gritty, just like the book, and, in a way, it's also creepily beautiful.

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

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healy

Title: Guardian of the Dead

Author: Karen Healy

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? This book is a great choice for all fans of paranormal YA, as long as you don't mind a super slow start. It is an especially good choice if you are interested in the Maori of New Zealand.

What I Have to Say:
"Guardian of the Dead" was, unfortunately, hard to get into. For the first hundred pages or so, it felt like things kept starting to happen without ever actually happening. Some of these things, which were, in the scheme of things, mostly unimportant, were never really fully explained, which left me feeling slightly confused and turning back pages, trying to see if I had missed something. I hadn't.

In the beginning, I found it hard to get to know Ellie, and I found it hard to understand her relationship with Kevin and Iris. Her supposed obsession with Mark was never enough elaborated on to give me a sense that she actually had a crush on this strange, unwashed boy. Things that I assume were supposed to be used as foreshadowing or to add a bit of suspense left me frustrated more than anything else. I almost felt like the entire first 1/3 or even 1/2 of the book could have and should have been diminished down to 20 pages or so. She started too much that was unnecessary, and she didn't fully explain it.

Luckily, the book did eventually pick up. Ellie turned out to be a super cool, kick-butt, totally likable heroine. Her relationships with the people around her, once they started to make sense, were fun and fresh, even if her attraction to Mark was never developed enough to be believable. Things that had seemed boring in the first part of the book suddenly became interesting and full of life, as if they had just been introduced too early. The story itself was engaging, and, in the end, suspenseful. The descriptions seemed so accurate that at times I felt like I really was in Ellie's head, making sense of this new paranormal aspect to my previous normal world in the same way she was. I felt lost or confused when she felt lost or confused; I had amazing bursts of clarity at the same time she did. And when I finally understood what all of the action was about, what it was I was rooting for, I was absolutely on Ellie's side.

The story, as I said, ended up being exciting and engaging, but my absolute favorite part of this book was all of the Maori history and tradition that was so seamlessly weaved into nearly each and every page. Healy introduced characters from aspects of their legends and creation myths with elegance. I loved hearing about the Maori and their beliefs, as outside of Australia/New Zealand, they are very little talked about. What made it even better was that, at the end, she explained what was true and what wasn't, and she gave some great recommendations for books I can read to learn more.

If you think you can handle wading slowly through the first 100 pages, this book can be a great read for all fans of paranormal YA.

Summary: In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.

Karen Healey introduces a savvy and spirited heroine with a strong, fresh voice. Full of deliciously creepy details, this adventure is a deftly crafted story of Māori mythology, romance, betrayal, and war.

Cover Story: I've heard people say negative things about this cover, but I actually love it. It's what made me want to read the book to begin with, more than the name or the summary or anything else. I think it's kinda spooky and pretty at the same time, with the big mask like that.

Disclosure: This review is based on an ARC of this book that I won from a GoodReads giveaway.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blog Tour Guest Post: Barry Pollack, author of Forty-Eight X: the Lemuri Project

Today we have Barry Pollack with a guest post at Brizmus Blogs Books! He writes about how his book, Forty-Eight X: the Lemuria Project, came about. He also gives a little background as to why what happens in the book maybe isn't that impossible. It's super interesting, and I hope you'll read it!

I've been writing for forty years and have made it a habit to clip articles or record notes about interesting things I read or hear about. They sit about like dormant seeds, ready to germinate if you fertilize them with good characters and plot. One such story I saved was an obituary of Robert Graham who died in 1997. Graham was an American entrepreneur who made millions designing the first plastic eyeglass lenses. He was also a eugenist, an out of favor theory that suggests that "nature is more important than nurture," that it is our genes that make us predominantly who we are, not our upbringing. Graham became most famous perhaps for creating what was colloquially called "the genius sperm bank," a repository of sperm provided by Nobel prize winners. His life story led me to do more research on eugenics, then genetics in general. And, with daily headlines describing a world entangled in an apparent never ending battle with terrorism, I wondered why we couldn't use genetic engineering to create a chimera, a soldier part animal, part human, to fight our battles and put an end to the atavistic process of bloodying our our best and brightest young people on battlefields. It's science fiction but not so much a fantasy that it couldn't soon fall into the realm of science fact. And, then the story of FORTY-EIGHT X : The Lemuria Project unfolded.

Barry Pollack
Forty-Eight X: The Lemuria Project
Medallion Press December 2009

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blog Tour: In the Shadow of the Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck

Title: In the Shadow of the Cypress

Author: Thomas Steinbeck

What I Have to Say: So, I've decided, for the time being, to stop participating in the Pocket Books tours. Every single time, I somehow end up getting the books so late that I'm not able to get to them on time. Which means most of the time that they end up getting pushed back to way late. I received this book during all of my packing and the hecticness of moving to a new country, and I just did NOT have the time to get around to it. Which is super sad, because it looks AWESOME! And I am SUPER looking forward to reading it!
Anyhow, I have two other books from this time around, and I am going to TRY MY BEST to get to them on time, but after that, no matter how tempted I feel, no more Pocket Book Tours for me. :-( Especially now that the books would have to be forwarded to Japan, and there is NO WAY I would get them on time.
Anyhow, read the summary and be tempted. This book looks super rad times infinity!

Summary (from Amazon): Thomas Steinbeck has been praised by Publishers Weekly for his stylistic brilliance and “accomplished voice.” Now, his enthralling novel In the Shadow of the Cypress blends history and suspense with literary mastery and brings vivid realism to California’s rich heritage.

In 1906, the Chinese in California lived in the shadows. Their alien customs, traditions, and language hid what they valued from their neighbors . . . and left them open to scorn and prejudice. Their communities were ruled—and divided—by the necessity of survival among the many would-be masters surrounding them, by struggles between powerful tongs, and by duty to their ancestors.

Then, in the wake of natural disaster, fate brought to light artifacts of incredible value along the Monterey coast: an ancient Chinese jade seal and a plaque inscribed in a trio of languages lost to all but scholars of antiquity. At first, chance placed control of those treasures in the hands of outsiders—the wayward Irishman who’d discovered them and a marine scholar who was determined to explore their secrets. The path to the truth, however, would prove to be as tangled as the roots of the ancient cypress that had guarded these treasures for so long, for there are some secrets the Chinese were not ready to share. Whether by fate, by subtle design, or by some intricate combination of the two, the artifacts disappeared again . . . before it could be proved that they must have come there ages before Europeans ever touched the wild and beautiful California coast.

Nearly a century would pass before an unconventional young American scientist unearths evidence of this great discovery and its mysterious disappearance. Taking up the challenge, he begins to assemble a new generation of explorers to resume theperilous search into the ocean’s depth . . . and theshadows of history. Armed with cutting-edge, moderntechnology, and drawing on connections to powerful families at home and abroad, this time Americans and Chinese will follow together the path of secrets that have long proved as elusive as the ancient treasures that held them.

This striking debut novel by a masterful writer weaves together two fascinating eras into one remarkable tale. In the Shadow of the Cypress is an evocative, dramatic story that depicts California in all its multicultural variety, with a suspense that draws the reader inexorably on until the very last page.

Review: the Puzzle King by Betsy Carter

Title: the Puzzle King

Author: Betsy Carter

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? If you have any interest whatsoever in World War II (and you're a girl), then this book is absolutely for you! Other than that, I'd say this book is for people that enjoy a great story with tons of history weaved and that don't mind crying at the end of a book.

What I Have to Say:
I ADORED this book. Those of you that read by review of Songbird Under A German Moon know that I unfortunately sort of missed out on World War II history. This is one of the many reasons for which I absolutely adore books that give me a glimpse of what it was like. In Betsy Carter's gripping tale of love and family and heartache, that is exactly what she does. She brings Jewish characters to life in the times leading up to war. She breathes life into faceless characters who were previously no more than a name. She brings Judaism in America and Germany alive in a time when the focus was on death.

Betsy Carter did an amazing job of showing what it must have been like to be a Jewish living in America at the time, trying to remember their roots and their families back in Europe but at the same time trying to become American and to take advantage of the opportunities that being American brought to them. How does one balance such things in a such a time, when these interests are clearly conflicting? It is clear that extensive research went into the writing of this book, and it seems like she covered all of the bases. Both the story and the style were engaging, and I found that I learned a lot from a book that, ultimately, I found I couldn't put down.

Simon Phelps and Flora Grossman are two European born Jewish Americans, and when they meet, it seems as if things are meant to be. The love and history and life they share is nothing short of beautiful. These two people really existed, and Simon Phelps really was the puzzle king, but after that there is no way of knowing their true stories. I like to believe that there story is at least something like the story of these two amazingly strong, caring people in the book. The stories of their families are just as engaging.

The only real problem I had with this book, and the reason I didn't give it 5 stars, is that it ended too soon. Towards the end, it sped up too quickly and then suddenly ended, when there were still things that I wanted to know. What happened to Flora's family, to her sister Seema and to her niece and everyone else. These people had become important to me, and they seemed to have no real endings.

Despite that, this book struck me, and when, in the end, I learned that Simon and Flora Phelps nee Grossman existed and were actually related to the author of this book, I almost started crying. I needed to call everyone I know and tell them about this wonderful, touching story. It is, without a doubt, one I won't be forgetting for a long time to come.

Summary: On a gray morning in 1936, Flora Phelps stands in line at the American consulate in Stuttgart, Germany. She carries a gift for the consul, whom she will bribe in order to help her family get out of Hitler’s Germany. This is the story of unlikely heroes, the lively, beautiful Flora and her husband, the brooding, studious Simon, two Jewish immigrants who were each sent to America by their families to find better lives. An improbable match, they meet in New York City and fall in love. Simon—inventor of the jigsaw puzzle—eventually makes his fortune. Now wealthy, but still outsiders, Flora and Simon become obsessed with rescuing the loved ones they left behind in Europe whose fates are determined by growing anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic.

Inspired by her family’s legends, Betsy Carter weaves a memorable tale. In the tradition of Suite Française or Amy Bloom's Away, she explores a fascinating moment in history and creates a cast of characters who endure with dignity, grace, and hope for the future.

Cover Story: I like this cover, but I don't think it really gives a feel for what the book actually is until AFTER you have read the book, if that makes sense. I felt one thing about it before I read the book, and then, after reading the book and understanding the cover, I absolutely fell in love with it.

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


Monday, April 5, 2010

Brizmus Blogs Books Is Back!

That's right! After a week-long hiatus, Brizmus Blogs Books is back! I made it safe and sound to Japan, I had a fabulous time in Tokyo, and now I am headed south to find my new apartment.

I know a lot of you have expressed interest in seeing pictures and hearing about my life in Japan. I invite you to follow my other blog. Right now, it's called Vegan in the Land of Frog Legs and Cheese. That will obviously be changing now that I am in Japan; I just haven't come up with a name yet. Anyhow, so if you're interested, I'll hopefully be posting lots of fun Japanese pictures there!

Now for some blogger news!
A VERY long time ago, I participated in the Big Fat Nerd Journal tour, and I totally and completely forgot to write about it here. Oops! Unfortunately, the person who had the journal after me still hasn't posted about it but I hope you'll go check out my post about my time with the Big Fat Nerd Journal.

Some of you also right remember that I was chosen as a mentee for the first month of Lenore from Presenting Lenore's International Book Blogger Mentor Program. She sent me three totally awesome books (the third of which I have just finished!!) and was there for me to answer questions throughout the entire month. Unfortunately, with the hecticness of moving to Japan, I did NOT take enough advantage of her, and I'm wishing I could do the whole thing over again. Anyhow, point being - her first post about the program is up!, and I do hope you'll go check it out!

Be looking for lots of reviews coming up in the near future!
Now I've just got to figure out how to navigate blogger in Japanese, and we're all good!

My Contests

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