...never judge a book by its movie

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No posting from me today

I will be taking a break from posting today.  Bebe Boy James has been sick since yesterday, and I am just going to use the day to snuggle and read and play with him.  I will post this evening after he has gone to sleep.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm the featured blogger at "Simply Stacie" today!

Before I started blogging "for real", there were a few blogs I visited on a regular basis.  I didn't always leave comments (because back then I didn't realize how comments let a blogger know that people were actually reading the stuff they took so much time writing!), but I visited a few on at least a weekly basis.  (Now that I'm actively blogging, I make the time to visit many more blogs, and I really love the blogging community!)

One of those initially-loved blogs was Simply Stacie.


Simply Stacie

She always had great giveaways, and I loved her "Random" posts.  She is based out of Canada, and right now, she's an extremely busy busy bee!  If you visited my blog before the beginning of this month, you'll have noticed the wonderful change in it's look.   Stacie and her friend Kelly (of Kelly's Lucky You) ran a "Beautiful Blog Week" with great tips on how to make your blog more attractive, helpful tips, and they also ran some giveaways featuring great blog designers.  I was lucky enough to win a blog makeover from Michelle at Shabby Creations.  You can read more about her, her work, and the redesign by following this link

Waaay back in April, when I had REALLY only just begun blogging, Stacie offered to feature me in her weekly Blogger Spotlight!  So, this is the week, and this is the link!  Head over and show Stacie (and myself, of course) a little comment love!  Keep in mind that the 'interview' was eons ago in blogger time, and that this blog hasn't moved in the initial direction I thought it would, but I'm loving it just the same!


Thanks, Stacie!!  You rock, girlfriend!!
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War by Sebastian Junger audiobook - GIVEAWAY - {CLOSED}



Title:  War
Author:  Sebastian Junger
Read by:  Sebastian Junger
Category: Biography and Autobiography
Format:  Audio Book
Publish Date: 5/11/2010
ISBN:  9781607881988
Price:  $29.98

From the publisher's website:

In WAR Sebastian Junger gives breathtaking insight into the truths of war-- the fear, the honor, and the trust among men. His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. Through the experiences of these young men at war, he shows what it means to fight, to serve, and to face down mortal danger on a regular basis. 

Listen to an Excerpt

I am listening to this now and will post my review once I'm done; in the meantime, Anna at Hachette Books was kind enough to offer you, my readers, a chance to win a copy for yourself!

If you or someone you know are a documentary buff or a war afficionado, this audio is for you.  It 'reads' like a documentary into the nitty gritty of the current war in Afghanistan.  Stewart Junger is a journalist who lived, ate, and worked with this platoon 24/7.  As he says so clearly, "Once you're fighting a war, the politics no longer matter."  

BUY IT:  You can purchase this book through the publisher's website, at Amazon, and through other online and offline booksellers.

WIN IT:  Anna at Hachette Books was kind enough to offer up to 3 audiobooks for you, my readers, to enjoy!  Thanks so much, Anna!

Note that I said UP to 3 books?  For every 15 unique entrants, I will add an audiobook to the giveaway.   That means that in order to giveaway 3 books, I will need 45 unique entrants!

MANDATORY ENTRY:  What is your favorite war film, documentary, or book?

IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you have already received this title for review from Hachette or already won a copy, per their review/giveaway guidelines, please do not enter this giveaway!!! 

EXTRA ENTRIES (please leave a separate comment for each; if you already follow or subscribe prior to this post, leave 2 comments for each):

1. Follow Knitting and Sundries publicly on Google Friend Connect and/or Twitter

2. Subscribe via RSS and/or newsletter to Knitting and Sundries (buttons to the right) - I hate clutter in my email box, so my emails are just the headlines of whatever posts I put up that day - if you see one you like, you can click on it to read the full post - 1 entry for each you do

3.  Spread the word! Tweet (maximum of ONCE daily - include @jewelknits and @GrandCentralPub in the tweet so that I see it. To make it easy, you can use the "Share" button at the bottom of this post!  Blog about - 2 entries/comments.  Sidebar link to giveaway - 1 entry/comment (leave the URL)

4.  Enter another one of my giveaways that are current at the time you post your entry comment. You can get one extra entry for each giveaway that you enter.

ALL ENTRIES:  Please leave your email in your comments: Like this: imacrazedmommy at whydidihavekids dot com OR like this imacrazedmommy(at)whydidihavekids(dot)com to avoid the spam bots.  If I can't reach you, you can't win!

In addition, if you follow, tweet, etc., please leave the name or email address you follow/tweet/subscribe under.

Eligibility: US and Canada, 18 and older.  These audiobooks will ship directly from the publisher, so no P.O. Boxes, please!

End date:  July 13, 2010 at 11:59 PM EST

I will pick the winner(s) using Random.org.  I will post the winner(s) on the site AND send an email to the email address used to enter.  The winner will then have 48 hours to reply with their mailing information; otherwise, a new winner will be picked.  The email will be easy to spot; the subject line will begin "You WON on Knitting and Sundries"

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this title from Hachette Audiobooks to objectively review.  No other form of compensation was received for this post, and I am not required to post a positive review.

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Teaser Tuesdays - June 29, 2010

So this week I start with a fun type of meme - Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along; you don't have to be a blogger! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My Teasers:

He wore a freshly laundered guayabera.
He was all skin and bones.

- page 274, Ransomed Dreams by Sally John

I'm not up to this part of the book yet, but I really have to look up the word "guayabera" now.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? June 28, 2010

"What Are You Reading?" is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  Click over to see what other readers are into this week and add to your TBR pile!

Read:





Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives by Josie Brown - enjoyable read - Review coming this week










Alibi by Teri Woods - Review and Giveaway (open to US/CAN - up to 5 winners depending on amount of entries)










Shiva's Arms by Cheryl Snell - Review/Giveaway/Author Chat (giveaway and chat through 6/29/2010)








Not Read:





Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola - this is the first book for some time that I have not been able to push myself through - Link to Review (or non-review, as the case may be)






Reviewed:





Sugar by Bernice McFadden - Review and Giveaway - INTERNATIONAL giveaway - 3 winners









The Art of Devotion by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin-Review









Upcoming:





War by Sebastian Junger audiobook giveaway scheduled for June 29th














A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker - Review with guest reviewer Bebe Boy James scheduled for June 29th





 


The Secrets of Newberry by Victor McGlothin - Review/Giveaway scheduled for June 30th




Ransomed Dreams by Sally John - Review scheduled for 7/1/2010





 



Innocent by Scott Turow - audiobook - review scheduled for July 2nd






My goal is to finally have a week where everything goes as scheduled!  LOL!


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Mailbox Monday

 "Mailbox Monday"  is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page) 

Visit her blog to see links to the latest and greatest books arriving in mailboxes!  Be aware, though, visiting can lead to book envy and toppling TBR piles!


I am NOT going to be lazy this week and I will post my "What Are You Reading?" meme separately!  LOL!

Last week, I was introduced to Net Galley by an author.  What a great resource! If you don't mind viewing galleys online, on your computer, or in your reader, this is a great way to get your hands on yet-to-be-released as well as published books.  All that is asked in exchange is that you post a review.  I went a little crazy, but got some books for myself, the bebes, and one for the grandbebes!

In my mail (or in my eMail in the case of Net Galley):

One Season of Sunshine by Julia London -
Adopted as an infant, Jane Aaron longs to know the identity of her birth mother and why she gave her up. Her only clue is the name of the small Texas town where she was born, so she’s come to Cedar Springs for answers.
Handsome ad executive Asher Price lost his wife, the beautiful, mysterious Susanna, in a terrible car crash eighteen months ago. When he hires Jane as the nanny for his two children, sparks fly. Jane finds herself falling in love with both Asher and his children, but begins to suspect that Susanna was not the perfect mother and wife the family portrays her to have been.
As Jane gets closer and closer to finding out the truth about both her own and Susanna’s past, devastating secrets begin to emerge that may be more than anyone can bear. Will the truth bring Jane and Asher closer together or tear them apart forever?
For Review/Blog Tour/Giveaway scheduled on July 26th - Mark your calendars, as we are firming up details for a possible author chat on that day!


Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas - the moving and powerful story of a small town after a devastating avalanche, and the life changing effects it has on the people who live there.
Ultimately, each story serves as an allegory to the greater theme of the novel by echoing that fate, chance, and perhaps even divine providence, are all woven into the fabric of everyday life. And it’s through each character’s defining moment in his or her past that the reader understands how each child has become its parent’s purpose for living. In the end, it’s a novel of forgiveness, redemption, survival, faith and family
Won from Minding Spot


Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo -
When he arrives in Eudora, Mississippi, Ben meets the wise Abraham Cross and his beautiful granddaughter, Moody. Ben enlists their help, and the two Crosses introduce him to the hidden side of the idyllic Southern town. Lynchings have become commonplace and residents of the town's black quarter live in constant fear. Ben aims to break the reign of terror--but the truth of who is really behind it could break his heart. Written in the fearless voice of Detective Alex Cross, Alex Cross's Trial is a gripping story of murder, love, and, above all, bravery.
Won from  My Book Views










Cake Keeper Cakes (100 Simple Recipes for Extraordinary Bundt Cakes, Pound Cakes, Snacking Cakes and Other Good-To-The-Last-Crumb Treats) by Lauren Chattman

For Review from Net Galley

Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton - Scheduled publication date:  11/15/2010 - Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.
     Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.
For Review from Net Galley 

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hawn - Scheduled publication date:  9/6/2010 - When twelve-year-old Florence boards the crowded horse-drawn coach in London, she looks forward to a new life with her great uncle and aunt at Crutchfield Hall, an old manor house in the English countryside. Anything will be better, she thinks, than the grim London orphanage where she has lived since her parents' death.
          But Florence doesn't expect the ghost of her cousin Sophia, who haunts the cavernous rooms and dimly lit hallways of Crutchfield and concocts a plan to use Florence to help her achieve her murderous goals. Will Florence be able to convince the others in the household of the imminent danger and stop Sophia before it's too late?
For Review from Net Galley

Tom Thumb:  The Remarkable True Story of a Man in Miniature by George Sullivan - Scheduled publication date: 2/28/2011 - When Charles S. Stratton was born in 1838, he was a large baby, perfect in every way. But then he stopped growing. At age four, though a happy and mischievous child, he was just over two feet tall and weighed only fifteen pounds—the exact same size he had been as a seven-month-old baby. It was then that the notorious showman P.T. Barnum dubbed him Tom Thumb and put him on display, touring him around the world as a curiosity.
     A natural performer, Charley became enormously popular and wealthy, more so than any other performer before him. In this spirited biography—the first on its subject—George Sullivan recounts the fascinating adventures of Tom Thumb, and raises challenging questions about what constitutes exploitation—both in the 19th century and today.
For Review from Net Galley



B is for Bufflehead:  Flying Through the ABC's with Fun Feathered Friends by Steve Hutchcraft - B is for Bufflehead is an entertaining and educational ABC book filled with fun birds, photos and facts. Open a child's eyes to the wonderful world of birds while teaching them about nature and the alphabet!
For Review from Net Galley






For Review from Net Galley







What reading goodness did you get in YOUR mail this week?  If you are participating in this meme, feel free to link YOUR Mailbox Monday post in your comments!


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Book Blogger Appreciation Week


Even though I'm a relatively new blogger, I'm happy to be participating in Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  From the BBAW website:

**************************************************
 This is a week long festival celebrating the community of book bloggers and their contribution to preserving a culture of literacy through book reviews and recommendations, reading reflections, and general bookish chat.  BBAW also includes an awards component.  For more information on the BBAW 2010 Awards and how to participate, please visit the BBAW 2010 Awards Blog.  BBAW events include daily blogging topics, blogger interview swaps, special guest posts, and so much more!
 
Who:  If you self-identify as a book blogger, this festival is for you!  We have been excited to welcome participants from all over the world for past BBAWs.

When:  September 13-17, 2010.

Where: Right here at the Book Blogger Appreciation Week blog.  You can participate in the comfort of your own home and the convenience of your own time zone.

Why:  Because book blogging is a fun and time intensive hobby that has created communities around books and played a crucial role in the continuing evolution of what books mean in our society.

How Can I Participate?
You can participate by filling out the registration form for BBAW 2010. Subscribe to the blog’s feed and follow us on Twitter to keep up with all of the developments!
***********************************************
I lost myself a little (hey! quiet in the Peanut Gallery!) when I was reading through the registration process, so I THINK that as a new blogger, I only need to list 3 posts within the niche category (Literary Fiction) and 2 posts within the general category (New Book Blog), but to be safe, I'll just list 5 within each, Since most of these posts fall within both categories, there will be some cross-over:

For Literary Fiction:

Damaged by Alex Kava
Shiva's Arms by Cheryl Snell
Fever Dream by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston
Art of Devotion by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin
Sugar by Bernice McFadden

Damaged by Alex Kava
Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran
Sugar by Bernice McFadden
Art of Devotion by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin

If you're a book blogger (or if you just like to read and visit book blogs), visit the site to register.  You can participate simply as a visitor to the blogs, as a volunteer, as a judge in a certain category, as a sponsor for the giveaways, or as a participating book blog.
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The Art of Devotion by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin - BOOK REVIEW



Title: The Art of Devotion
Author: Samantha Bruce-Benjamin
Publisher: Gallery
Publication Date: June 2010
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
ISBN-10: 1439153949
ISBN-13: 9781439153949



From the publisher's website:

In the tradition of bestselling authors Ian McEwan and Anne Enright, Samantha Bruce-Benjamin’s brilliant and timeless debut unveils the dark side of human nature as four women share the poignant tale of love, obsession, and ultimate betrayal that binds them forever.

Have we all not wished to keep forever the one person we love the most?

The secluded beaches of a sun-drenched Mediterranean island are the perfect playground for young Sebastian and Adora. Emotionally adrift from their mother, Adora shelters her sensitive older brother from the cruelties of the world. Sophie does not question her children’s intense need for one another until it’s too late. Her beloved son’s affections belong to Adora, and when he drowns in the sea, she has no one else to blame.

Still heartbroken years later, Adora fills her emptiness with Genevieve, the precocious young daughter of her husband’s business associate and his jealous wife, Miranda. Thrilled to be invited into the beautiful and enigmatic Adora’s world, the child idolizes her during their summers together. Yet, as the years progress, Genevieve begins to suspect their charmed existence is nothing more than a carefully crafted illusion. Soon, she too is ensnared in a web of lies.

Stunningly told in the tragic voices of four women whose lives are fatefully entangled,
The Art of Devotion is evocative and haunting, a story of deceit, jealousy, and the heartbreaking reality of love’s true power.

My take:  In this book, you are taken into a world of privilege and serenity through the voices of 4 women:
  • Sophie - mother to Adora and Sebastian
  • Adora - married to Oliver
  • Miranda - married to James who is a good friend of Oliver's, mother of Genevieve
  • Genevieve (Gigi) - who reveres Adora and thinks more of her than of her own mother
We are aware of the life-shaping tragedy in Adora and Sophie's background:  a tragedy that still affects them both years later - the drowning death of Sebastian at a young age.

In a lyrical fashion, we are slowly pulled into the charmed and privileged world of Adora and Oliver, the beautiful couple, who live on a Mediterranean island in the beautiful home where Adora and Sebastian grew up.  They fill this home with guests and laughter.  Always at the center of this universe, Adora, whose name means "adored" - and she was, indeed.

As I read, I felt ... not jealous .. but ENvious.  "Wouldn't this type of life be great to live?  So serene, so care-free?"  Even though Adora and Oliver aren't able to have their own children, their love for each other is so obvious and profound that it almost seems to make up for it.

But all is not as it seems.  Sophie blames Adora for Sebastian's death and avoids seeing her as much as possible.  Her tale is full of bittersweet regret and sorrow.

Miranda has a daughter, Gigi, who spends her summers with Adora and Oliver.  Miranda feels almost as though Adora has 'stolen' her daughter from her, which we find is somewhat true.  She is also in a marriage that lacks even the most basic intimacy, so her daughter is all that she has to hold on to.

As the book comes out, betrayals, lies, deceit and more of the life-shaping story of Sebastian are artfully woven into each chapter.  In a couple of places, I felt my mouth open in an "Oh!' of astonishment.  "Didn't see THAT coming".

I have a difficult time really describing the flow of this book.  It's sort of like a warm, slow-flowing river.  You are floating along on your back with your eyes closed, enjoying the ebb and flow, when an undertow grips you and pulls you down a bit.  As you open your eyes, the undertow eases, and you are again floating along on a river of words.  You close your eyes once again, and then the undertow hits once more.  As more and more of the intricate connections in this book are revealed, the curtain is slowly pulled aside, and the illusions of both the reader and the characters are slowly ground underfoot.

Go along for the ride and watch out for the undertow.  This book is well-worth the read.

Quotes:

Genevieve:  No, your friends saw only the incomparable beauty of a woman who had lost practically everything, yet beamed graciously through it all.  In all honesty, I don't think they cared to look much deeper than the image you projected or the magnificent generosity you displayed.  They were too busy reveling at the lavish parties you held or taking siestas in the exclusive hotels you pulled strings for them to stay in, during their sojourns on your island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Sophie:  It is a dark thing for a mother to admit, but I couldn't bear to think of him being alone.  I never escaped the feeling that Adora failed him by living only to serve his memory.  Indeed, by continuing to live.

Adora:  It is a dull sensation, your heart breaking, like the sound of a pebble dropping on the sand.  Not a shattering, not a tearing apart, there is nothing shrill or grandiose about the sensation.

Miranda:  I've often considered what might have been if I'd simply turned the other way, welcomed life instead of steeling myself against it.  And yet I did know once what it was to yearn for the days of happiness, each one better than the last.  I learned my lesson when they all ended.

Book Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

BUY IT:  At Amazon, the publisher's website, your local bookstore and other online resellers.  It is also available for purchase as an eBook

About the Author

Author's Website

Read more reviews at the Blog Tour post

I would highly recommend this book for your book club.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this title from Gallery Books to objectively review.  No other form of compensation was received for this post, and I was not required to post a positive review.  The Amazon links in this review are affiliate links, and will result in a small stipend if purchased through.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Share Linky! List YOUR Blog Giveaways! 6/27/2010

If you are a blog owner hosting your own giveaway(s), please feel free to share your link below.  Enter your blog name, a brief description of the prize, ending date and eligibility (US, Can, International, etc.)

EXAMPLE:  Best Blog on the Block - $50 Gift certificate - 6/30 - US/Can

NO SPAM - you'll be banned - I'm not kidding!

Don't forget my current giveaways!   (LOOK! Over there at the top left!)


 

Hope your weekend has been great!
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Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola - BOOK REVIEW




Title:  Jesus Manifesto
Authors:  Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Jacketed hardcover, 240 pages

ISBN: 0849946018
ISBN-13: 9780849946011




From the publisher's website:


“So that in everything He might have the supremacy.”
—Colossians 1:18

Christians have made the gospel about so many things—things other than Christ. Religious concepts, ideas, doctrines, strategies, methods, techniques, formulas, "its" and "things" have all eclipsed the beauty, the glory, and the reality of the Lord Jesus Himself. On the whole, Christians today are starved for a real experience of the living Christ. We know a lot about our Lord, but we don't know Him very well. We know a lot about trying to be like Jesus, but very little about living by His indwelling life.

JESUS MANIFESTO presents a fresh unveiling of Jesus as not only Savior and Lord, but as so much more. It is a prophetic call to restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ in a world—and a church—that has lost sight of Him. 

Every revival and restoration in the church has been a rediscovery of some aspect of Christ in the process of answering the ultimate question that Jesus put to His disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" 

Read this book and see your Lord like you've never seen Him before.

My take:  I tried, I really did.  For over three weeks.  Almost every page I managed to get through had a statement or two or three that clashed so resoundingly with my own belief system that I couldn't even push myself to get through it. 

While there is nothing implicitly wrong in stating that Jesus should be more present in Christian speech, and at the pulpit on Sunday (He should), I don't believe that the center of Christian worship is Jesus, although the belief of salvation through His sacrifice is a must.

I believe that the 'center' of Christianity should be a deep faith in God himself coupled with works to help other men 'see' what that faith in God brings about.  Striving to be "Christ-like" in our actions means aspiring to love all, help all, and heal all. 

I don't want to make this review a philosophical or theological debate, so I will leave my own opinionizing on the subject at hand at that.

As a book reviewer, I know that I should be able to objectively examine these works and comment on the content, how well-paced and well-written they are, etc. However, when it comes to matters of faith, objectivity is sometimes not possible, as my own belief system has been developed over many years of independent study.

I can't rightfully rate a book that I couldn't even read through half of, so there will be no rating from me on this book.


Look inside:



Buy
Read


Other reviews:
BUY IT:  This book is available for purchase on the publisher's website, as well as through Amazon and other online resellers.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers' program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  Any Amazon links in this review are affiliate links and will result in a small stipend if purchased through
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Coming Soon! CSN Stores Review and Giveaway

If you haven't heard of the CSN Stores by now, you've probably been hiding under a rock .. seriously!

With over 200 branded stores carrying everything from the bathroom sink

to home decor items


to kid's items

and everything in between, there is something for EVERYone, at prices ranging from the extremely affordable to the utterly extravagant.

Coming soon, I'll be reviewing a product from one of their stores and offering a giveaway to you, my readers!

Want a chance at an early entry?  Simply leave a relevant comment on this post with the URL of something you've seen and liked at Just Vanities, one of the CSN stores, including an email address (imacrazedmommy(at)whydidihavekids(dot)com) so that I can contact you if you win the upcoming giveaway. Oh, yeah, the item you choose can't be one of the above, although I know they are all droolworthy!
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sugar by Bernice McFadden - BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY {GIVEAWAY CLOSED)

 

Title:  Sugar
Author:  Bernice McFadden
Publisher:  Plume (The Penguin Group)
Category:  Fiction
Format:  Softcover, 204 pages
Originally published;  January, 2001
ISBN-10: 0452282209
ISBN-13: 9780452282209

From the publisher's website:

"Strong and folksy storytelling...think Zora Neale Hurston...Sugar speaks of what is real." --The Dallas Morning News 

From an exciting new voice in African-American contemporary fiction comes a novel Ebony praised for its "unforgettable images, unique characters, and moving story that keeps the pages turning until the end." The Chicago Defender calls Sugar "a literary explosion...McFadden reveals amazing talent." The novel opens when a young prostitute comes to Bigelow, Arkansas, to start over, far from her haunting past. Sugar moves next door to Pearl, who is still grieving for the daughter who was murdered fifteen years before. Over sweet-potato pie, an unlikely friendship begins, transforming both women's lives--and the life of an entire town.

Sugar brings a Southern African-American town vividly to life, with its flowering magnolia trees, lingering scents of jasmine and honeysuckle, and white picket fences that keep strangers out--but ignorance and superstition in. To read this novel is to take a journey through loss and suffering to a place of forgiveness, understanding, and grace.

This re-release of author Bernice McFadden's powerful debut novel is perfectly timed to coincide with her newest novel, "Glorious".  I was fortunate enough to win a copy of both of these books from Bookin With Bingo, and I must say, I was totally blown away.  It took a while for me to formulate this review, as I didn't want to write a mini-novella myself.  Read on for my review of "Sugar". 

My take:  The publisher's blurb does not do this book any justice.  This is truly a must-read book for anyone:  male/female, black/white, anyone who's a grownup and loves to read.

The book opens powerfully: to a tragic scene of loss.  The very first line;  Jude was dead 

A mother (Pearl) loses her only daughter in a horrible fashion - before the girl has had a chance to taste what it's like to be a woman.  The loss sets her reeling and takes away her laugh.  Even her loving and faithful husband and adoring sons can't bring the smile back into her eyes.

15 years later, in 1955, a young woman (Sugar) who has had a life almost devoid of any real human connections moves in next door in small-town Bigelow, Arkansas.  Her mother dropped her off almost at birth with a family of women who ran a house of prostitution, and the only life she's known has involved selling her body to get by.  She's never owned or had anything of her own, even a family.  Inheriting her own house (from someone she's never known, met, or even heard of) changes this and she decides to take full advantage of this opportunity.  She pays the bills the only way she knows how, which sets tongues to wagging and even some tempers to flaring.

Pearl has been asked by her minister to take Sugar under her wing when she arrives.  It takes a few visits and a few shattered sweet potato pies for these two to finally become friends.  Pearl's life, even with her loss, has been rather sheltered, revolving around her family, her small circle of friends, and her church.  It takes quite a while for her to figure out what her neighbor is doing to earn her living.  Despite this, she perseveres in her friendship with Sugar, who has an almost uncanny resemblance to her lost daughter Jude.  

Pearl, who is the soul of propriety and has never even gone to a juke joint (that is, until she met Sugar), is vilified by her "friends" almost as much as Sugar is. And yet ... there is just something about this young girl who could be her own that draws her in.

The tale of Sugar's life and of this friendship are the core of this book.  The tale of how many of the characters are connected comes out piece by tantalizing piece.  You, the reader, will know more about these connections than many of the characters themselves by the end of this journey.

This is the type of book that stays with you.  You will continue to think about it long after you've turned the last page.  It is not a pleasant book.  If you are a parent, you may not be able to get through the first few pages without crying, or, at the least, feeling your heart rip in pain for the tragedy that is described.  You will want to step inside of it's pages and punch some of the characters dead in their faces. Some of the scenes will punch YOU in the face. It will not end the way you want it to, but, considering the story itself, the ending is appropriate.  You will not believe that this is the author's debut novel, as it is so well and powerfully written.

Many reviewers have stated that there is no redemption in this book.  I respectfully disagree.  There IS a sort of redemption in having a taste of happiness when you haven't known any before.  When a life is this difficult, even having a day of love and laughter and knowing what it is is better than never having a chance to know it at all.  Being able to open yourself up to love someone new and to laugh again after a horrible loss is redemptive as well.

Some well-deserved awards:

Black Caucus Ala Literary Award
Black Writers Alliance Award
Gold Pen Award
Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award

Some other blog reviews (these are what made me really really want to read this book):

http://peekingbetweenthepages.blogspot.com/2010/04/book-review-sugar-by-bernice-mcfadden.html

http://www.rundpinne.com/2010/03/sugar-by-bernice-l-mcfadden.html

http://www.gerberadaisydiaries.com/2010/01/book-review-sugar.html

Sensitive Reader:  This book is not for you, due to violence, language, and sexual content

Quotes (also not for the sensitive reader): 

...When he made it to the clearing there was his father. Beaten so hard and for so long that his skin had bubbled up purple.  The top of his head was open and there he saw precious memories and somehow-someday dreams wrapped in I Love You colors spilled out for all of Bigelow to see.  Then came the wail and Black John lost a little bit of his time on earth.

The storm walked into their small town on two legs in spiked, red patent leather heels.  She waltzed right through the main square, blond wig bouncing to the rhythm of her walk, a leopard print pocketbook slung over one shoulder, matching suitcases in each hand.

"Ain't you got a mamma?" she said with shocked disbelief.
Sugar just stared blankly at her.  She had a May, a Sara and a Ruby. She didn't have a "mamma,"
"What's a mamma?" she asked ...

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

BUY IT:  At Amazon, your local bookstore and other online booksellers.

Author's Website




CymLowell


WIN IT:  The author was kind enough to contact me and offer a copy for giveaway in conjunction with my review.  Because I feel so strongly about this novel, I am personally offering up two copies myself.  This makes it a total of 3 copies, open anywhere The Book Depository ships.  (Check this page to see if your country is included)

MANDATORY ENTRY:  Go to the Author's Website and tell me something you learned about her or her books there.

EXTRA ENTRIES (please leave a separate comment for each; if you already follow or subscribe prior to this post, leave 2 comments for each):


1. Follow Bernice McFadden on her blog, on Twitter, and/or "like" her on Facebook (1 entry per)
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3. Subscribe via RSS and/or newsletter to Knitting and Sundries (buttons to the right) - I hate clutter in my email box, so my emails are just the headlines of whatever posts I put up that day - if you see one you like, you can click on it to read the full post - 1 entry for each you do

4. Spread the word! Tweet (maximum of ONCE daily - include @jewelknits in the tweet so that I see it. To make it easy, you can use the "Share" button at the bottom of this post!  Blog about - 2 entries/comments.  Sidebar link to giveaway - 1 entry/comment (leave the URL)

5.  Enter another one of my giveaways that are current at the time you post your entry comment. You can get one extra entry for each giveaway that you enter.

ALL ENTRIES:  Please leave your email in your comments: Like this: imacrazedmommy at whydidihavekids dot com OR like this imacrazedmommy(at)whydidihavekids(dot)com to avoid the spam bots.  If I can't reach you, you can't win!

In addition, if you follow, tweet, etc., please leave the name or email address you follow/tweet/subscribe under.

Eligibility: International, 18 and older. 

End date:  July 10, 2010 at 11:59 PM EST

I will pick the winner(s) using Random.org.  I will post the winner(s) on the site AND send an email to the email address used to enter.  The winner will then have 72 hours to reply with their mailing information; otherwise, a new winner will be picked.  The email will be easy to spot; the subject line will begin "You WON on Knitting and Sundries"

Disclosure:  This is a review of a book I personally own.  The author was kind enough to offer a complimentary copy for a giveaway in conjuntion with my review.  The Amazon links in this review are affiliate links, and will result in a small stipend if purchased through.  I was not compensated in any fashion for this review.















 
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Sorry for the 2-day absence!

I'm back!  I had an incident and just got back home from the hospital.  I'm OK; I guess they just needed to keep me for observation.  Since I totally suck at pre-scheduling my posts, even though my daughter brought over HER laptop, all of the stuff I needed was home on MY desktop.  So, be prepared for quite a few posts in the next 2-3 days as I try to catch up. 

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