...never judge a book by its movie

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - August 31, 2010

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:

The blond buxom nurse sensually leaned over and discreetly brushed her large protruding breasts into my face while suturing the wounds on the back of my head. I tried to move my face away from her smothering heavenly breast, but she seemed to have her way with me.

- page 160 Spirit by Andrew Feder 

No  .. this is not erotica (which I don't read) .. AND .. it makes me really really sad, because I keep hoping that the book will get better as I go along.  So now, not only will I have to cope with phrasing that reads as though I'm reading an old comic book, I have also been warned that I will have to read phrasing that sounds like letters to the editor of Penthouse ... Note to self: Why did you make that promise to finish reading EVERY book that you've agreed to review?

The only saving grace is that I finished a solid 5 star book, "By Fire, By Water" by Mitchell Kaplan, prior to reading this and that I broke THIS book up with a marathon reading session of "Hunger Games" and "Catching Fire" (both finished within 24 hours on Saturday).
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Winners! One Season of Sunshine by Julia London winners!

This was a very good read; I'm certain that you will enjoy it!

Random.org did it's thing:


And the winners are:

Meredith!  who said:

15. Meredith said...
I would also like to read Highland Scandal. meredithfl at gmail dot com
and Debbie!  who said:

6. debbie said...
I would like to read hot ticket. twoofakind12 (at)yahoo(dot)com
Congrats, winners!  I will shoot off an email to you this evening before I turn in!  Please respond within 72 hours with your mailing address and I will forward your information to the publisher for fulfillment!
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Mailbox Monday, August 30, 2010

"Mailbox Monday" is the brainchild of Marcia at The Printed Page) 

Starting this month, Mailbox Monday will be going on a blog tour.  I will be hosting for the month of October, 2010.  Click here to see the tour schedule!

This month's host is Chick Loves Lit.
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!

There is no way that I can possibly list all of the books I've received and bought this month while I've been mainly off-line.  If you'd like, visit me at Good Reads to see what's new on my shelf!  Be my friend there and we can share with each other!  :) 
My mailbox this week:

Dismantled:  A Novel by Jennifer McMahon
Bought from Amazon.
Henry, Tess, Winnie, and Suz banded together in college to form a group they called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto—"To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart"—these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism and plotting elaborate, often dangerous, pranks. But everything changes when one particularly twisted experiment ends in Suz's death and the others decide to cover it up.
Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour's drive from the old cabin. Each is desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but their guilt isn't ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide—apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard—it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their inquisitive nine-year-old daughter, Emma.
Is there someone who wants to reveal their secrets? Is it possible that Suz did not really die—or has she somehow found a way back to seek revenge?
Full of white-knuckle tension with deeply human characters caught in circumstances beyond their control, Jennifer McMahon's gripping story and spine-tingling plot prove that she is a master at weaving the fear of the supernatural with the stark realities of life. 

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Bought from Amazon
Another Landmark Book by Rick Warren. You are not an accident. Even before the universe was created, God had you in mind, and he planned you for his purposes. These purposes will extend far beyond the few years you will spend on earth. You were made to last forever! Self-help books often suggest that you try to discover the meaning and purpose of your life by looking within yourself, but Rick Warren says that is the wrong place to start. You must begin with God, your Creator, and his reasons for creating you. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. This book will help you understand why you are alive and God’s amazing plan for you—both here and now, and for eternity. Rick Warren will guide you through a personal 40-day spiritual journey that will transform your answer to life’s most important question: What on earth am I here for?

Knowing God’s purpose for creating you will reduce your stress, focus your energy, simplify your decisions, give meaning to your life, and, most importantly, prepare you for eternity. The Purpose Driven™ Life is a blueprint for Christian living in the 21st century—a lifestyle based on God’s eternal purposes, not cultural values. Using over 1,200 scriptural quotes and references, it challenges the conventional definitions of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. In the tradition of Oswald Chambers, Rick Warren offers distilled wisdom on the essence of what life is all about. This is a book of hope and challenge that you will read and re-read, and it will be a classic treasured by generations to come.


The Purpose Driven Life Journal by Rick Warrent
Bought from Amazon
The perfect companion to The Purpose Driven® Life! Features include Scriptures and quotes by Rick Warren, taken from the bestselling trade book, plus space to record reflections, prayers, and goals while seeking God’s plans for life.











 
 
Daily Inpiration for the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Bought from Amazon
With over 1,000 Scriptures outlining each day of the 40 Days of Purpose, this book is a wonderful reference. Winner of the Retailers Choice Award.









 
Room:  A Novel by Emma Donoghue
ARC for Review from Shelf Awareness
Release Date:  9/13/2010
To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world....
It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn.  There are endless wonders that let loose Jack's imagination-the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma's clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it's the prison where she's been held since she was nineteen-for seven long years.  Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside her own desperation-and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely....
Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience-and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

Little Princes:  One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
ARC for review from Shelf Awareness
Release Date:  01/25/2011
“Funny, touching, tragic. Conor Grennan’s Little Princes is a remarkable tale of corruption, child trafficking and civil war in a far away land — and one man’s extraordinary quest to reunite lost Nepalese children with their parents.”
— Neil White, author of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts













 
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Blockade Billy by Stephen King - BOOK REVIEW

Title: Blockade Billy
Author:  Stephen King
Publisher:  Scribner, a division of Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: May, 2010
Paper over Board, 144 pages
ISBN-10: 1451608217
ISBN-13: 9781451608212




From the publisher's website:

From New York Times bestselling author Stephen King comes the haunting story of Blockade Billy, the greatest Major League baseball player to be erased from the game.

Even the most die-hard baseball fans don't know the true story of William "Blockade Billy" Blakely. He may have been the greatest player the game has ever seen, but today no one remembers his name. He was the first--and only--player to have his existence completely removed from the record books. Even his team is long forgotten, barely a footnote in the game's history.

Every effort was made to erase any evidence that William Blakely played professional baseball, and with good reason. Blockade Billy had a secret darker than any pill or injection that might cause a scandal in sports today. His secret was much, much worse... and only Stephen King, the most gifted storyteller of our age, can reveal the truth to the world, once and for all.

Originally published through Cemetery Dance Publications on April 20, 2010 as a $25.00 limited-edition hardcover, Stephen King and Cemetery Dance have made an arrangement with Scribner to make available a less expensive hardcover edition of
Blockade Billy, with an on-sale date of May 25th, the same date the audiobook goes on sale. The Scribner edition will be available in all U.S. and Canadian retail outlets. Both the Scribner book and the Simon & Schuster audiobook will feature a bonus short story ("Morality").

My take:  I am probably the biggest Stephen King fan ever.  I have every single book of his ever written (that I know of) under every pseudonym and of every type, including Danse Macabre and other obscure King titles.

Some haven't been that great .. others, including the Watchtower series, have been riveting.  Many, like Blockade Billy, have just a wonderful storytelling twist that is so utterly King that when you come across the twist, you say to yourself, "Ah!  Knew it had to be in here (it IS King, after all), but sure didn't see THAT one coming!"

Although really only a novella (it's a bit long to be considered a short story), "Blockade Billy" is definitely worth the read.

Told from the point of view of one of the players on Billy's team (third base coach and equipment manager George Grantham "Granny") and removed by time, even a non-baseball fan like me is quickly drawn in to the characters and personalities.

The Titans are a footnote in history by now, and New Jersey will likely never see another Major League team, but they were a big deal when they were around.  This was before the days of games being televised all over the country, a short ten years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

Billy Blakely is a last-minute catcher, a replacement from a rural league brought in due to injury, and only mean to be a stopgap until the Titans can find a "real" catcher.

A young man of few words, he still manages to become fast friends with Danny Dusen (the Doo), the loudest-mouthed pitcher in baseball.

Billy's talents as a catcher become obvious so quickly that he becomes known as "Blockade Billy" - no one can get past him to the plate.  "Road Closed" signs show up in the stands, and Billy is a hit, all in spite of the fact that there's something definitely "off" about him.  He speaks of himself in the third person, and often simply repeats what has just been said to him.

The finishing touches to the story are classically King; the ideas that come from his head never cease to amaze me.  Pick up the book; you'll love this one.

Story Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

There is a bonus story included, "Morality", that I didn't love so much.

Nora and Chad are a young married couple, struggling financially. Chad is a substitute teacher, and Nora is a caregiver for a wealthy, rather eccentric man named Winnie.

One day Winnie proposes something to Nora, something that would allow Nora and Chad to start fresh, in a new state, Their dream come true ... live in a small town in Vermont, allow Chad the time and money to work on a new novel, and Nora the chance to get a new private gig or work in a local hospital.  Time to enjoy each other without worrying over every single expense...

But .. the proposal is a morality test.  Can Nora do the unthinkable, something that doesn't really hurt anyone for any length of time, tape it, show the tape to Winnie, get the money and still live with herself?  Can she and Chad look at each other afterward?

I wasn't drawn into this one at all.  I didn't feel the conflict that was meant to be portrayed here, although the premise was rather original.  Since I never felt a connection with the characters, this short story just felt like a surface story to me.

Story Rating:  2.5 out of 5 stars

QUOTES:

From Blockade Billy

There was something strange about him, something off, something that made folks nervous . . . but that something made people take to him, too.  Kinda sweet.  Something that made you want to like him in spite of feeling he wasn't exactly right in the top story.

The point is that he knew how to play baseball - instinctively, I'd say - but otherwise he was a blackboard with nothing written on it.

From Morality: 

"Sin for its own sake.  Deliberately planned and executed.  Do you find the idea exciting?"

Had she thought he had a sheep's face?  How stupid of her.  How unseeing.  Nor was it a wolf's face, not really.  It was somewhere in between.  A dog's face maybe.  The kind of dog that would bite and then run.

Buy the book.  Even though I didn't care much for "Morality", "Blockade Billy" made it well worth buying.

Buy it on Amazon, through the publisher's website, or at on and off-line booksellers.

Browse inside.

Disclaimer:  This book is part of my personal collection.  I received no compensation for my review, and opinions expressed are purely my own.
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Queen Pin BOOK REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY {CLOSED}



Title:  Queen Pin
Author:  Jemeker Thompson-Hairston, David Ritz, Geoff Martin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Books
Publish Date;  6/22/2010
Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN: 9780446542883

From the publisher's website:

Jemeker Thompson-Hairston paid a heavy price for her involvement in the drug game. Learning from her sources of a federal investigation, Jemeker went on the run. It was love for her young son that brought her back to Los Angeles, even though she knew she would be arrested. A subsequent 12-year sentence would cost her not only her legitimate business and the fortune she'd amassed through the drug trade, but the most precious thing of all: time with her child. But not all was lost. Fortunately, while Thompson-Hairston was serving out her sentence, one pivotal moment helped her turn her life around, setting her on a path to help and inspire others like her.

My Take:   It's always been interesting to me to see how people choose to live their lives and to figure out what makes people take a certain path.

This book attempts to describe the life of someone who finds herself drawn into the world of drugs and money.  NOT because she had no other choice, but because she was vain and money-hungry, really.

I felt no sympathy at all for her - she chose to live a certain life, and even when that voice inside was telling her to quit, she kept doing it.  And she paid a heavy price for it. losing the rest of her son's growing up years in prison.

Although this seems as though it could have been a great memoir, it was all surface to me. There was not enough detail to make anyone seem drawn to life, even though it is an autobiography.  The writing was rather detached and clinical, and, as such, I felt as though I were reading a newspaper account.  There is no real lesson in the book either.  No real moralizing on how wrong the path taken was, no real true-blue shaking of the faith, either. For me, this was a dry, rather lackluster account of snippets of someone's life that somehow didn't seem very cohesive or tied together.

A friend of mine, on the other hand, LOVED this book and blew through it, giving it back to me the day after I gave it to her.

This is why I say that my rating system is based on my OWN enjoyment of a book.  What's good for one may not be as good for the next reader.  Maybe it's because most memoirs (with exceptions, most notably "All Souls") all feel to me as though the person narrating is not actually the person who lived that life (in this case, with ghost writers, it's true).

You can read a bit for yourself:







QUOTES:

Soon as it was over, Muh'Dear pulled me aside.  "Don't you ever speak out against family, Meechee."  She looked me in my eyes and said, "Friends come and go but your family is forever, You don't go against your family, no matter what."                


"Remember me?" I asked, tapping her on the shoulder.  From the look on her face, I didn't think she did. But it didn't matter.  I knew who she was and as I threw the first punch I let her know who I was.   I was Daff's wife.


I could and would be the queen of anything I set my mind to.

Book Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

About the author

BUY IT:  From the publisher's website, through Amazon, and at other on and offline booksellers.

WIN IT:  Thanks to Anna at Hachette, I have up to 3 copies to give to you, my loyal readers! 

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

MANDATORY ENTRY:  Help me like memoirs more!  Have you read one that you really really liked?  What was it and what was it about?

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 books will ship directly from the publisher, so no P.O. Boxes, please!

End date:  September 12, 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 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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Sunday Share Linky - List YOUR blog giveaway(s) here! - August 29, 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!



Have a great weekend!

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Winner! Masked edited by Lou Anders! 3rd winner!

I realized that I forgot to draw a 3rd winner for this one!

Here goes .. Random.org did it's thing:


And the third winner is:  Betty: Reflections with Coffee! who said:

5. Betty: Reflections with Coffee said...
twittered http://twitter.com/BettyMc/status/19369754249 bmcbroom @ gmail DOT com
Congrats, Betty!  I will be shooting off an email in a bit!  Please reply within 72 hours with your mailing address and I will have your copy off to you this week!
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Book Blogger Hop - August 27, 2010

Well, I need to get fully back in the swing, and what better way to do it than to get in on the Friday (well, really Friday through Monday) Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jennifer over at Crazy for Books?

What is it?  Well, it's a way to for bloggers and readers to find each other.  You write a little post about the subject of the week and link it up.  THEN (and this is the important part), you hit a few of the other linked up blogs (you can spread it throughout the weekend), visit, comment, follow if you like what you see, and make new friends.

I really like that she asks a different question each week for us to answer to participate.  This week's question is:

Do you use a rating system for your reviews?  If so, what is it and why?

Well, yes, I do ... it's right over in the right sidebar, but here it is as well:

I'm not a book snob. I may consider myself a bit intellectual, but a book doesn't have to be high and lofty for me to enjoy it. My ratings system is based purely on my own personal enjoyment while reading:

1 star - read only if you regularly read cereal boxes for entertainment
2 stars - read if you're VERY hard up for something, ANYthing to read
3 stars - didn't HATE it, but ... would rather have been washing my hair
4 stars - worth the read, even if it stutters a bit here and there
5 stars - a keeper; fun and engaging all the way

My problem with rating is that I'm very reluctant to rate a book below 3 stars (although I have done so on occasion).  Right now, one of the books I'm reading is going to be 2 stars if it's lucky .. just attempting to read it is giving me a headache.  I just keep thinking to myself, "Look at all of the lovely books you have sitting there just waiting to be read and enjoyed, and here you are wasting good reading time on THIS".  Sigh .. but I have made a promise to myself from now on to finish a book once I've committed to reviewing it, no matter how bad it is at the beginning, because sometimes they get better, and it's really only fair to the author to give them a fair shot. 

On the other side, you'll also rarely see a 5 star rating from me.  I just finished a five-star book by Mitchell Kaplan, however, and reading a book like that makes it easier to at least give that (so far) 2 star book a chance. 

To me, writing a book is a craft.  It takes much time and thought and patience and the finished product is like that author's "baby", so I need to at least give respect to the author's effort.  It would be like me spending a month or two knitting a bright orange, yellow, black and white striped scarf .. even though the end product is almost hideous, I DID put a lot of time into it and I created something out of a few lengths of string, really.  Creating something from pure thought is an even more difficult process, and it's a skill that I really don't have - at least not enough to actually form a full novel or even a short story, so I feel a great deal of respect for those who are willing to put their creations out there for us to enjoy (or not).

I appreciate that publishers, publicists and authors value my opinion enough to offer me their "babies" for review, and if occasionally, a baby that needs a bit of a spanking slips through the mainly enjoyable creations, then I just have to toughen up a bit and call it like I see it, even when the author feels that it's the best baby in the world.
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Forget You by Jennifer Echols BOOK REVIEW




Title:  Forget You
Author:  Jennifer Echols
Publisher:  MTV Books, a division of Simon and Schuster
Publish Date:  July, 2010
Format:  Paperback, 340 pages
ISBN-10: 1439178232
ISBN-13: 9781439178232






From the publisher's website:


WHY CAN'T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET . . . AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER? 


There's a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey's fear that the whole town will find out about her mom's nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she's the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon. 


But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there's one thing she can't remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.

My take:  Zoey is a teen with a selfish and philandering father and a mother who works as a public defender.  She is on the school swim team, and she works at her father's park (along with many of her friends) during the summer.  This summer, when things go totally south with her parents, her mother ends up having a nervous breakdown.  Zoey walks in to find her mom overdosed on prescription meds, has to deal with getting her to the hospital and then with her father, who grudgingly has her come stay with him and the new girlfriend (who happened to also work at her father's park before getting cozy enough with the boss to get pregnant by him).  When she is at the hospital, she sees one of her swim team mates, Doug, talking to his brother, who is also the policeman who accompanied her and her mother to the hospital. 

Zoey's football player friend Brandon (who always talks to her about his troubles juggling this girl and that one) ends up becoming more than a friend when Zoey attends a beach party with the members of her swim team.

As she continues to attempt to cope with a mother who is hospitalized and mentally ill, as well as with a father who very obviously doesn't want to be bothered with her, Zoey copes the only way she knows how:  by keeping up appearances, pretending nothing is wrong and not letting anyone know, even her best friends, Keke and Lila (twins), what is actually going on.  She constantly worries that Doug will tell someone what he knows, and she has a boyfriend who isn't returning her texts or calls.

She and her friends decide to 'crash' a football players beach party, and she wakes up to find Doug calling to her to get out of her car after she's had a wreck with another swim team mate named Mike. Doug's leg is broken, and Zoey can't remember anything from the time she decided to go to the party until she woke up in her wrecked car.  She also can't remember anything from the time the police arrived until she woke up in her own bed the next morning.

NOW she's also worried that people will know she lost her memory and that she may have a mental illness like her mother (thanks to some prompting from her horrid father).  She determines to find out what actually happened that night without admitting to anyone that she can't remember.

I really didn't see how Zoey could be so smart and still be in such denial over certain things in her life.  I feel that her character was only surface and no substance.  Any teen I know that had a father who was so cruddy would STEW over it; it seems that Zoey barely gave it a thought.  Her 'boyfriend' is nowhere around to give her a shoulder to cry on, and she barely notices it as neglect.

Although the premise of the story was interesting, Zoey just didn't feel real to me.  I couldn't really identify with her, because even a teen would recognize many of the things that Zoey just doesn't "get".  I can't really go into too many details about that without spoilers, so I will leave it at that.

My Middle Bebe Girl Jasmine, however, (she is 21), LOVED this book.  She kept asking me, "WHAT happened that night?  Just tell me; I really want to know".  Of course, like any self-respecting reader, I told her, "You'll have to keep reading to find out".

This book is labeled on the publisher site as written for 13-18 year olds; however, I would personally not recommend it for a younger teen, as some of the subject matter is sexual.


QUOTES: 

I hadn't counted on Brandon kissing and telling.  But he was drunk, and I forgave him.

Zoey's father the day after Zoey's accident:

He spat toward Ashley, "There goes Hawaii.  We have to take her back to the hospital.  And another hurricane's forming in the Gulf.  God knows how long we'll be grounded if we miss this flight." ..... "You'd better be damn sure you have amnesia."

"You're an escapee from the loony bin," I said.  "You're the butt of every joke ever told.  You might as well be the chicken that crossed the road"
"It's a chemical imbalance," she whispered to the window.

Browse Inside the book 

Jennifer Echols biography

My Book Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Middle Bebe Girl Jasmine's Book Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

BUY IT:  On Amazon, at the publisher's website, and through various on and off-line booksellers.  It is also available as an e-Book.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Winner! Cheerios Do What You Love Winner!

All right!  So Random.org did it's thing:





And the winner is:

Hannah!  who said:


57. Hannah said...
tweeted: http://twitter.com/achrissmile/status/19581721057 aigcanada7 at hotmail dot com
Congrats, Hannah!  I will be sending you an email later today; please reply within 72 hours and I will forward your information on to My Blog Spark for fulfillment!

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Winners! Masked and Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile WINNERS!

Whew!  Been a long time coming, but here's a new batch of winners!

First up, "Masked" edited by Lou Anders (you'll love this book! Woot!)

Random.org did it's thing:

    

The winners are:

Meredith!  who said:
22. Meredith said...
Entered the Day by Day Armageddon giveaway. meredithfl at gmail dot com
and ShootingStarsMag! who said:

3. Shooting Stars Mag said...
twitter follow: @shootingstarmag lauren51990 AT aol DOT com
Next, we have the giveaway for Day by Day Armageddon:  Beyond Exile by J. L. Bourne.

Once more, Random.org did it's thing:

    


Misusedinnocence who said:
30. Misusedinnocence said...
Reefer Madness. Singing zombies are my favorite. ;) misusedinnocence@aol.com

Bookventures who said:

1. Bookventures said...
Hmm Pet Cemetery by Stephen King (the movie) I saw it when i was younger and it really sacred me. bookventuresbookclub AT gmail DOT com

And, last but not least, Melanie L who said:

8. Melanie L said...
Already a GFC follower #1. peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com


Congrats, winners!  I'll be shooting an email off to you before I sign off tonight!  Please reply within 72 hours so I can get your info off to the publisher!
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Book Review Party, Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Wednesday, and if you have a book blog or even a blog that occasionally reviews books, you should be participating in the Book Review Party!
CymLowell

It's easy to participate:

Link up any (old or new, any genre) book review that you have written to the McLinky on Cym's site. (Mclinky will not be available until 9pm EST on Tuesday evenings).

Get some traffic to a review that you want more exposure for; and visit the other sites on the hop to find some more books for your list!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

More Church Folk by Michele Andrea Bowen - BOOK REVIEW and GIVEAWAY {CLOSED)


Author:  Michele Andrea Bowen
Category:  Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publish Date:  7/28/2010
ISBN: 9780446577762



From the publisher's website:

It is now 1986, and the preachers of the Gospel United Church are preparing for their much-anticipated Triennial General Conference. The last time readers encountered the good Rev. Theophilus Simmons, he was a newlywed and the pastor of a modest-sized congregation in Memphis. Now he's the father of three and running a congregation in St. Louis. His best friend, Rev. Eddie Tate, is now with a fast growing church in Chicago, but he is getting real frustrated with the way things are run in the Gospel United Church. Marcel Brown and his father, Ernest, along with Sonny Washington and Bishop Larsen Giles have had two decades to perfect their slimy methods of "tapping" church funds and other misdeeds. Now they've found a secret weapon that will allow them to make fast money and accomplish what they failed to do 20 years ago--buy off enough power to dominate the entire denomination, put their cronies in key spots, and ransack the church like it is the spoils of war. It won't be long before the two opposing sides face off..."church-folk" style.






You can get a sneak peek inside by using the Open Book widget above!

My Take:  This book is the follow up to Ms. Bowen's "Church Folk" (which I have not read).

I kept going back and forth from this book .. not because it didn't have an interesting story (it IS interesting and imaginative), but because I had a struggle with reading the vernacular that much of the dialogue is written in.  We're talking about highly-educated people in many cases, and I, for one, don't know any educated black folk that talk like this, but that could be just me.  I also struggled a bit with the fact that even the "good" preachers were noticing things like double D's sitting in the next pew over.  

For me, especially near the beginning of the book, I felt that the personalities and events worked too hard to prop up the stereotype of black church-going folk ... Yes, sometimes people DO fall out ... and there are those bossy biddies who think they run everything, including the preacher, but I'm talking about the corruption inside the highest circles of the church - I just felt that someone who had never experienced the soulful experience of attending a "Holy Spirit" church would be totally put off by it and that reading this would only reinforce any bias they might have against it.

Whew!  Having said THAT, I did eventually get over it as the story delved deeper into the inner workings of the church and focused more on it's "good" preachers.  

The premise of THIS double-cross is truly original, and the fact that one of our "good" preachers also doubles as an FBI agent only adds to the fun.  I love the interactions between the preachers and their wives - they are well written and true-to-life. 

There is a huge assortment of characters, but Ms. Bowen introduces them into the story in such a fashion that there's no getting mixed up as to who is who.  The paradox of how to get rid of the bad influence in the church while striving to do it in a Christian manner (and sometimes failing) is also at times totally hilarious.

I think that if you read this story with an eye towards the fact that it is simply supposed to be an enjoyable read and not a treatise on black churches in America :), you WILL enjoy it.  I know I did.

QUOTES:

It was a magnificent casket.  George Wilson had seen many a casket in his day, but he'd never seen one like this.
First, the casket was painted a sparkling lime-green.  Even the metal casket rack was lime-green.  Then it was trimmed in gold.  But as if that weren't enough, the casket had pictures of Old Daddy painted on both sides.  Instead of flowers on the top, they had anchored one of Old Daddy's black silk top hats, with a lime-green brocade band around the crown.

It troubled his soul that two of his bishops had died under some very awful circumstances, and were involved with activities that put their eternal souls in jeopardy.  Folks needed to quit playing around and toying with Hell like that.  It was as if theses people thought that they would die and then discover that somebody had conveniently slipped "Get Out of Hell Free" cards in their caskets.

Book Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

BUY IT:  You can purchase this book through the publisher's website, at Amazon, and through other online and offline booksellers.  It is also available as an eBook.

WIN IT:  Hachette Books was kind enough to offer up to 3 copies 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 one book to the giveaway.   That means that in order to giveaway 3 books, I will need 45 unique entrants!

MANDATORY ENTRY:  Have you ever attended (or do you currently attend) a predominantly black church?  If so, what was your impression? - I know that for me, going to a black church really makes me feel "fired up" - the music, the passion, the true fire that I see in many of the churchgoers energizes me in my faith.

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 books will ship directly from the publisher, so no P.O. Boxes, please!

End date:  September 6, 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 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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Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Feature! Poetry Corner with The Starving Artists Project

I received a wonderful response when I posted "Train Tracks: A Work in Progress", a poem that my Bebe Girl Autumn wrote as she began to read "The Book Thief".  She is part of a group of promising young spoken word artists called "The Starving Artists Project".  These artists also participate in Slam U, a group of artists that compete in spoken word.  If you've never been to a poetry slam, you should get to one ASAP!  You don't know what you're missing!

Because of the positive response to that poem, I feel that it would be great to offer up a biweekly "Poetry Corner" with a work by one of these talented artists.  This week your artist is "Verb" Odum.  Enjoy!

Sensitive reader:  Some sexual language and reference to violence

Spin The Chamber
by Eric Odum

Hammer pulled back
Click
No stronger sound in the world than a strap pulled from a space in your spine,
Like backbones could be make of metal, slipped out from under flesh--you invertebrate,
Follow me around the bend since you’ll fall forward forever bent, spineless
Slip metal into slots, always reloading, pulling brain cells in bullet form,
You’ve been burnt out longer than the last shell you shed,
Click, click, click
How a wasted casing sounds when it’s hit the ground
For a gun to be so loud the bullet is assassin silent when it digs through flesh reaching aquifers of blue blood,
Fossil Fuel
It would take years to replenish the amount spilled,
Dark Knight in the dark night, no masks,
Villains rarely hide identities,
Essence, refused to be erased, permanent marker on sidewalks, less likely to wash away then chalk outlines,
Release reality like some pent up orgasm, it spills over the Earth like God’s first flood, no rainbow, blood doesn’t reflect light like water does,
It doesn’t stink the same, stain the same as slain runoff,
Sticky honey nectar, changes color,
Pump, fills holes like wine cups molded by metal craftsman
Smith…Wesson…reload, revolve back,
Holding a glock between ya legs don't make you a man, power between ya thumb and index nah bruh you're measuring your manhood, your life span. Neither is impressive.
I bet it made you hard holding it in front of a 15 year old
Made you drip when you cocked it and saw his eyes widen
Bet your knees buckled when you thought about pulling the trigger
What rorschach photos would his brains make on the side of his grandfathers car,
That’s what you wanted
On the west side of Cleveland
A piece of steel with rubber wheels that you would joy ride before ditching, cause you were just looking for a good time,
Go home and play Russian Roulette, load the chamber, spin, click, pull the trigger
Pull the trigger; feel what being dead is like, only for a little while, no stage of life can be permanent right?
Sounds scare you like alley cats, side street pussy
run away…
To leave a kid I consider my son standing in the dark, sweat trickling from pores like internal tears drops being released,
Cause he used to this…
At 15, accustomed to gun play like its monopoly
Residency is far past Go, he’s trying to lap around
The $200 is small reward for making it to his next breath
SORRY, The WHEEL OF FORTUNE never lands where it should, but if it could…it would have spun the bullet, into the chamber,
Ejected like jet pilots in burning planes, into empty space
But think of it like this
Every bullet has a name on it
It just didn’t have a Cleveland West Sider’s name on it…
I wonder whose final song is written in a spiral on silver sheets of paper
Etched in gun powder.

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And One Last Thing by Molly Harper BOOK REVIEW




Title:  And One Last Thing ...
Author:  Molly Harper
Publisher:  Gallery Books, a division of Simon and Schuster
Publish Date:  July, 2010
Format:  Paperback, 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1439168776
ISBN-13: 9781439168776






From the publisher's website:


"If Singletree's only florist didn't deliver her posies half-drunk, I might still be married to that floor-licking, scum-sucking, receptionist-nailing hack-accountant, Mike Terwilliger." 

Lacey Terwilliger's shock and humiliation over her husband's philandering prompt her to add some bonus material to Mike's company newsletter: stunning Technicolor descriptions of the special brand of "administrative support" his receptionist gives him. The detailed mass e-mail to Mike's family, friends, and clients blows up in her face, and before one can say "instant urban legend," Lacey has become the pariah of her small Kentucky town, a media punch line, and the defendant in Mike's defamation lawsuit. 

Her seemingly perfect life up in flames, Lacey retreats to her family's lakeside cabin, only to encounter an aggravating neighbor named Monroe. A hunky crime novelist with a low tolerance for drama, Monroe is not thrilled about a newly divorced woman moving in next door. But with time, beer, and a screen door to the nose, a cautious friendship develops into something infinitely more satisfying. 

Lacey has to make a decision about her long-term living arrangements, though. Should she take a job writing caustic divorce newsletters for paying clients, or move on with her own life, pursuing more literary aspirations? Can she find happiness with a man who tells her what he thinks and not what she wants to hear? And will she ever be able to resist saying one . . . last . . . thing?

My take:  Wonderfully funny book!  Lacey does the thing that many of us wish we could have done when we're in the middle of a stunning betrayal and she does it with aplomb.  I found myself laughing in so many places from the very beginning through the end.

Lacey is just a normal housewife.  She put her own life and ambitions on hold to be what her husband wanted her to be.  He didn't want her to work, because it would reflect badly on him that his wife worked, so she turned down the job that was waiting for her at graduation.  She has little contact with real friends of her very own, as they weren't to Mike's liking, so she only socializes at business gatherings with clients or business associates.  She has a wonderfully gay brother who somehow shocks the sensibilities of Mike and his strait-laced parents, so at her OWN surprise birthday party, not only does she not see any of HER friends, she doesn't even see her own brother, who wasn't invited.

Like a "good" wife, however, she has strived to keep her marriage afloat and accept a lesser role as a support to her husband.  When she receives a bouquet of flowers that were not meant for her from her husband, she drives to his business and sees a PDA between Mike and his secretary/receptionist right through the plate glass window while parked on the street.

Since she is in charge of writing and distributing the company newsletter, she decides to take the modern approach to it.  Instead of addressing and mailing hard copies (which Mike insists on), she decides to email blast the newsletter to the entire list, letting all of them know in no uncertain terms that she will no longer be writing to them and letting them know why.  She forgets that the list includes members of Mike's family as well as her own, and soon, she is receiving calls, emails, and visits from all over the country.  Her newsletter goes viral, and she escapes to her parent's lakeside cabin for peace and quiet.

She hires a wonderful divorce attorney named Sam who doesn't let her feel sorry for herself, and feels that she may also have found a great friend.

Her relationship with her neighbor gets off to a VERY rocky start, but eventually they at least start speaking to each other.

This book is well-paced, funny, believable, and most of all, just plain enjoyable.  I would recommend it to anyone who loves a great read with unexpected chuckles. Even the bit of romance is chuckle-worthy.


QUOTES: 

Maybe I would lie here long enough to die and Mike would have to explain the soggy, woebegone corpse in his master suite.

This didn't necessarily mean I enjoyed spending time with my mother-in-law.  If passive aggression were an Olympic sport, Wynnie would have own own Wheaties box.  She couldn't seem to get through a conversation without lovingly correcting me, whether it was the way I fried chicken or showing the proper reverence for the roof "her boy" put over my head.

Lacey's thoughts on a book that she is writing:

The more rational part of my brain realized that as long as I wanted Laurie to punish Greg or his mistress, she wasn't going to be a bigger, better person. She was going to be the same person she was at the beginning of the book.  And she'd be stuck in an evil house that ate people.


Browse Inside the book 

Molly Harper biography

Book Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

BUY IT:  On Amazon, at the publisher's website, and through various on and off-line booksellers.  It is also available as an e-Book.
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Sunday Share Linky - List YOUR Blog Giveaways here! Sunday, August 22, 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!


Hope your weekend was great!
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New Computer, New Day

It wasn't the router ....

It was spyware ... BAD BAD spyware.  I couldn't get rid of it after days and days of trying, so I just gave up on it.  Sometimes I could get on, and then freeze or get tons of popups or weird error messages when I tried to visit pages; most often, however, I couldn't even get on.

Although my older Bebe Girls inform me that they've been keeping up my Farmville land on Facebook (LOL!), having THEM keep my blog updated would have been a bit much to ask!  

With the computer being 6 years old and on it's third hard drive, I figured that it was time for a new one, so I saved my pennies and got a new, pretty nifty one on sale from Alienware.

After being almost totally offline for the last 4 weeks, I have a lot of catching up to do.  I missed you and if you've sent me emails, I've generally tried to take a moment or two at work to skim through and catch a few of them, but I know that I haven't caught all of the emails that I should, so I'll be doing that behind the scenes.

I have some great little giveaways and some reviews of great books lined up, so I will post 2 to 3 a day until I get caught up.

If you've been waiting for a prize from me and haven't received it, I will also be getting your mailing information ready to go, I didn't have everyone's information written down offline, which is something I know to do from now on.

Now it's time to buckle down and get to work ...  first up, a review of Molly Harper's "One Last Thing", a book that I loved reading (any book that makes me laugh out loud is a good one!)
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