...never judge a book by its movie

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Winning Wednesday! Winners of Odd Jobs by Ben Lieberman and The Creed Legacy by Linda Lael Miller!

We have winners!

BTW, I LOVE how much easier Rafflecopter makes it for me; I'll have to do MORE giveaways now!

The Creed Legacy by Linda Lael Miller

The winner of The Creed Legacy by Linda Lael Miller is:

And the winner is...

Entry #42 Brittany Gale

Odd Jobs by Ben Lieberman


The winners of Odd Jobs by Ben Lieberman:

And the winners are...

Entry #25 Anita Yancey
Entry #9 Jennifer Ryder


Congratulations to all of you!  I will be emailing you soon; thanks for visiting and entering!

Julie

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Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch - BOOK REVIEW

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
Title:  Jamrach's Menagerie
Author:  Carol Birch
Publisher:   Doubleday Publishing, a division of Random House
Release Date:  June 14, 2011
Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN 10:    038553440X
ISBN 13:  9780385534406
The Book Depository / Amazon

AWARDS:


Goodreads description:

A thrilling and powerful novel about a young boy lured to sea by the promise of adventure and reward, with echoes of Great Expectations, Moby-Dick, and The Voyage of the Narwhal.

Jamrach's Menagerie tells the story of a nineteenth-century street urchin named Jaffy Brown. Following an incident with an escaped tiger, Jaffy goes to work for Mr. Charles Jamrach, the famed importer of exotic animals, alongside Tim, a good but sometimes spitefully competitive boy. Thus begins a long, close friendship fraught with ambiguity and rivalry.

Mr. Jamrach recruits the two boys to capture a fabled dragon during the course of a three-year whaling expedi­tion. Onboard, Jaffy and Tim enjoy the rough brotherhood of sailors and the brutal art of whale hunting. They even succeed in catching the reptilian beast.

But when the ship’s whaling venture falls short of expecta­tions, the crew begins to regard the dragon—seething with feral power in its cage—as bad luck, a feeling that is cruelly reinforced when a violent storm sinks the ship.

Drifting across an increasingly hallucinatory ocean, the sur­vivors, including Jaffy and Tim, are forced to confront their own place in the animal kingdom. Masterfully told, wildly atmospheric, and thundering with tension, Jamrach's Menagerie is a truly haunting novel about friendship, sacrifice, and survival.


My Take: 

First Sentence:  I was born twice.

A young, poor boy from Bermondsey is almost swallowed by a tiger when walking the street.  Thus begins the adventure of Jaffy, who is befriended and somewhat sponsored by the owner of the tiger, Charles Jamrach, an importer and seller of various exotic animals and birds.  While working for Jamrach, Jaffy discovers that he has a quieting way with animals and his gift serves him well at this, his second job.

Jaffy has always dreamed of becoming a sailor, and eventually he and his friend Tim, who also work for Mr. Jamrach, sign on to The Lysander, a whaler,  to sail on a mission with Dan Rymer, a sailor who often brings Jamrach animals on commission.  There is another point to this particular excursion:  Dan is to bring back the Ora - a dragon of sorts, for the owner of the ship, Mr. Fledge. 

We follow Jaffy on his new adventures, meeting new and exotic people and traveling to far-flung lands.  Some things work out as expected, and some tragically don't.

The first part of this story is delightful in places, but if all this tale was about was a poor boy's tale of working with animals during the day and in a tavern at night, unrequited young love, and an at-times antagonistic burgeoning friendship, the storyline would have quickly become stale.

The whaling adventures and misadventures, a heartbreaking tragedy at sea, and a tale of desperation brought about by starvation - THIS is where I see how this novel is deserving of a Man Booker Prize.  Impeccable pacing brings the reader into the choppy sea, in one of a pair of flimsy lifeboats, after the Lysander is capsized.  I really can't say much more without spoilers; but I felt as though I were fighting to survive along with the characters.  This is a tale of the triumph of the human spirit, able to beat back against seemingly insurmountable odds.  Ms. Birch loosely bases the Lysander's sinking on that of the Essex (the inspiration for Moby Dick), and inserts another real-life character in Mr. Jamrach.  Nineteenth-century England, with all of its grit, poverty, desperation, and hope comes to life in these pages.

If you like historical fiction, adventure, or character-AND-action driven literary-type fiction, you can't go wrong in picking this one up.

QUOTES (from an ARC; may differ in final copy):

The women in the Spoony Sailor were whorier than the ones in the Malt Shove, but not as whory as those in Paddy's Goose, though the Goose girls were by far the swishiest and the prettiest.  I knew a girl there who wouldn't be called a whore, said she was a courtesan.  Terrible women, some of them, I suppose, but they were always nice to me.


I had never walked like this, hand in hand with a man as I had seen others walk with fathers, and it made me feel peculiar.  My own father's name I didn't know for sure.  Sometimes Andrea, sometimes Theo, you never could tell with Ma.  A dark sailor with a glass to his eye.

"I was lying in the gutter," said Dan, "and a small dog had just pissed upon my shoulder."  He took a drink.  "'Dear God', I said. 'Thank you.  Thank you , my God.  It could have been my face.'"

Writing:  4 out of 5 stars
Plot:   5 out of 5 stars
Characters:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion:  4.5 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING:   4.5 out of 5 stars

Sensitive Reader:  It's a book about sailors; expect cursing like a sailor :)

BLOGGERS:  Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.

Read an excerpt

BUY IT:  At Amazon, The Book Depository, through the publisher's website,  and through other on-and-off-line booksellers.


 
This book is one of my listed titles for the 2011 ARC Reading Challenge

CymLowell

This post is linked to Cym Lowell's Book Review Wednesdays; feel free to leave a link to your own Book Review Wednesday post in the comments!

Disclosure:  I  received a  complimentary copy of this title from the publisher  to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was received and I was not required to post a positive review.
Julie
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It's Wednesday! Time for Cym Lowell's Book Review Party! - August 31, 2011

Can you believe August is almost over?  That means that the year is 3/4 of the way done!  Wow!  Christmas will be here before you know it!  (I know, I know)

Just a quick reminder that it's time for Cym Lowell's Book Review Party!  Click on the banner below, and link up one of YOUR reviews that you want a bit more publicity for!  Don't forget to visit the other bloggers who have linked up when you're done!


CymLowell


Julie



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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays - August 30, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

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!

Next up on my hard copy reading:




My teaser this week: 

The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji
I watched them as they picked through the garbage for food and things they might barter, both of them golden-haired, a sign of beauty when it wasn't one of malnutrition.  These kinds of scenes were so commonplace that to remark on them feels strange.

- page 214 (ARC), The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji (The Book Depository / Amazon)

From the Goodreads description:

A story of forbidden love and familial dysfunction that interweaves multiple generational and cultural viewpoints, The Sweetness of Tears is a powerful reminder of the ties that bind us, the choices that divide us, and the universal joys and tragedies that shape us all.



As I'm writing this to post, I haven't started reading it yet, but that teaser makes me think I'm in for some tears of my own.

Feel free to leave your teaser or link to it in the comments section; I find that I always end up adding to my to-buy list when I visit!

Julie
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Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Monday - What Are YOU Reading? - August 29, 2011

What Are You Reading?

"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!

I was wondering to myself why I didn't participate last week.  THEN I remembered that I didn't have internet connectivity Monday or Tuesday!  With the help of a readathon, no internet for 2 days last week, and no electricity for a day last week, my reading pace definitely picked up!  This encompasses the past two weeks:

READ:

Lydia Bennet's Story by Jane Odiwe
Amazon
 
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Amazon
Review Upcoming 
This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park
Amazon
Review Upcoming
A Young Wife by Pam Lewis
Book Depository
 Amazon
Review Upcoming
Acacia by David Anthony Durham
Grave Expectations by Charles Dickens, Sherry Browning Erwin
Amazon
  Review Upcoming
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
Amazon
Review Upcoming
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Amazon
Review Upcoming
Destined to Live, Despite Me by Yolanda Shanks
Amazon
Review Upcoming
A Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
Amazon
Review Upcoming
The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts
Amazon
Review Upcoming

REVIEWED:  (click the cover to go to the review):  
Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill
3.5 of 5 stars
Half a Life by Darin Strauss
4 of 5 stars
The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie Mcgill
4 of 5 stars
Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens
3 of 5 stars
The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie Mcgill
4 of 5 stars
Acacia by David Anthony Durham
4 of 5 stars



CURRENTLY READING:
(Click on the cover for the Goodreads page, exc. War & Peace, which goes to Amazon)

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Woman in White by Wilkie CollinsWitchlanders by Lena Coakley




Next to be read on the personal pile (click cover for Goodreads page):

I just realized how close to the end of the year it is for reading, so you'll likely be seeing a lot of challenge books here.  The Yellow Wallpaper is for the Classics Bribe Challenge and for a 1000-Books-To-Read-Before-You-Die group, Still the One and Hannah's List are for other challenges.
           
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Bilman
Still the One by Robin WellsHannah's List by Debbie Macomber


Next to be read on the hard copy review pile (click cover for Goodreads page):

All of these arrived at the end of May, and I'm just getting to them; I'm a bad, bad book blogger.

The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji
Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carre'Pompeii by T. L. Higley


FAVE OF THE WEEK:

Believe it or not, there was no stand-out fave these past two weeks. While I enjoyed many of the books I read, none of them had that "suck you in until you can't stand to put it down" feeling throughout.  But, since I usually pick one, it will be:

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

There definitely WERE suck you in moments in this one, and the writing is almost impeccable.  How was YOUR reading week?  Please leave a link to YOUR "What Are You Reading" post in the comments (I'd love to come visit) or simply comment with what your reading week was like!

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The Killing Song by P. J. Parrish - Mini BOOK REVIEW

The Killing Song by P. J. Parrish
Title:  The Killing Song
Author:  P. J. Parrish
Publisher:   Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster
Release Date:  July 26, 2011
Paperback, 384 pages
ISBN 10:     1439189366
ISBN 13:  9781439189368
The Book Depository / Amazon

Goodreads description:

In this standalone novel, Miami journalist Matt Owens chases down his sister's murderer on a European adventure readers will never forget.

My Take: 

A murderous cellist and women being murdered in similar ways in different countries - that is the impetus of this sometimes dark, always fascinating crime fiction read.

Matt Owens ("Bear") is a reporter living in Miami when his "little" sister Mandy, 21 years old, comes to visit.  They go to a club together, and as Mandy is having "just one more dance" on the dance floor, Bear looks away.  When he looks back, his sister has disappeared.

A heart-breaking loss, a love gone wrong, a brilliant but twisted killer, and a brother seeking justice all combine to make this an intelligent crime thriller with character.  I enjoyed it very much.

QUOTE (from a galley; may differ in final copy):

Mandy . . . I had talked big to her, telling her to live her life large.  But I had lived my own life so very small.

BOOK RATING:   4 out of 5 stars

BLOGGERS:  Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.





If your browser doesn't support embedded video, you can view the trailer here.

Browse Inside

BUY IT:  At Amazon, The Book Depository, through the publisher's website,  and through other on-and-off-line booksellers.

 
This book is one of my listed titles for the 2011 ARC Reading Challenge


Disclosure:  I  received a  complimentary eGalley of this title from the publisher through their Galley Grab program to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was received and I was not required to post a positive review.
Julie
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Bout of Books Readathon Wrapup - 8/29/2011



The Bout of Books Read-a-thon was hosted by Amanda at On a Book Bender!   You can click here for my starting line post.  NOTE:  I don't see a wrap-up format on Amanda's blog yet, so I may need to come back to update later.

I am SO proud of me!  Really!   I think that this is the first read-a-thon EVER where I actually made my goals.  For this read-a-thon, the goals were to finish the two books I was currently reading (Acacia and Grave Expectations) and to read 4-5 other books.  (Let's just forget that I had two days with no internet and then another day with no electricity  - that had NOTHING to do with it - hmph!)  :)

Books Read Since Last Update: Finished The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts, finished Grave Expectations by Charles Dickens, Sherry Browning Erwin
Pages Read Since Last Update: 278
Hours Read Since Last Update: 4 hours

***********************************************************
Total Books Completed: 7
Total Books Read:  5, plus 1/2 of two others
Total Pages Read: 2,397
Total Hours Read: 40 hours, 16 minutes (which calculates to about 1.6 pages per minute - I know, I'm a geek - but I just had to figure it out!)
 
COMPLETED BOOKS (Click the covers for Goodreads page):

Acacia by David Anthony Durham
COMPLETE
Grave Expectations by Charles Dickens & Sherri Browning Erwin
COMPLETE
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
COMPLETE
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
COMPLETE
Destined to Live, Despite Me by Yolanda Shanks
COMPLETE
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
COMPLETE
The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts
COMPLETE

I did a little mini-review of Acacia here and I will be doing mini-reviews of The Map of True Places, Cutting for Stone, and Grave Expectations.  For all of the others, I will be soon posting full reviews.

If you participated and you have a wrap-up post, please feel free to link to it in your comments.  I'd love to visit and cheer you for how well you did!
Julie

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