Life is what happens to you, while you're busy making other plans. ~John Lennon

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Book Review: Explorer X-Alpha by LM Preston

Book Review: Explorer X-Alpha by LM Preston Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Phenomenal One Press (February 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984198903
ISBN-13: 978-0984198900

Rating:  3/5
Source:  Review copy provided by the author

Book Blurb:
For most kids, a trip to space camp is the trip of a lifetime; for Aadi it was life altering. After receiving a camp immunization needed for travel to Mars, Aadi finds that the immunization is the catalyst of an insidious experiment. He realizes what is happening too late for a change of fate. The full experiment is set in motion when he and his co-pilot, Eirena, crash in a distant galaxy called Shrenas, where they change and realize the full extent of their power. This turn of events forces him to grow up quickly, accept his change, and to decide to save a world, or to do what he was trained to do dominate it. His power is coveted by the warring leaders of Shrenas, and he is forced to choose sides a decision that may prove just how much humanity he has left.

My Review:
Thought that this was an interesting story, but it's more science fiction than fantasy. Because I'm not really into science fiction with space ships, robots, and simulations, I found myself focusing more on the character's personalities and their relationships with each other.

The main character is a boy named Aadi, a child prodigy who did not really want to attend the space camp run by his parent's employer. This is supposed to be a trial run for the camp, and all of the campers are children of TEGRC employees. The campers are divided into teams and put through various simulations and training in preparation for actual space travel. I thought that the simulations became a little violent for a book aimed at young adults, and the mystery Aadi's team discovers had disturbing implications.

Gave this book a 3/5 rating because while I enjoyed the story, I'm not a big science fiction fan. Also, the dialogue seemed a little stilted at times, and the author doesn't seem to like contractions. What child doesn't use contractions (will not instead of won't, can not instead of can't)? I did like that the girls in the story were strong and intelligent, holding their own with the boys. Not a bad story, and I'm curious what happens next with Aaid, Eirena, and the rest of the team.

Don't forget to enter to win the Explorer X-Alpha Prize Pack!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

In My Mailbox (34)

In My Mailbox
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I have included links to Goodreads should you want more information on the books.

Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione | Alexia's Books and Such
Won a copy of Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione from a contest over at Kelly Moran's blog. Kelly has written several books of her own, but also hosts several giveaways to highlight other authors. This is book 4 in the series, but I'm hoping I'll like it enough to justify buying the first 3 books!
Lore is a Seminus half-breed demon who has been forced to act as his dark master's assassin. Now to earn his freedom and save his sister's life, he must complete one last kill. Powerful and ruthless, he'll stop at nothing to carry out this deadly mission.

 Stressed in Scottsdale
Received a review copy of Stressed in Scottsdale from the author via a Bostick email. Looks like a quirky book, so I'm looking forward to a fast, fun read!
With the absurdities of desert living set in her literary cross hairs, Fine once again skewers some of Scottsdale's finest while her protagonist, Jean, tries to find sanity in a world where it rains dirt and blind sheep fall off mountains. Modern living isn't for sissies and Fine addresses the deeper issues of the environment and political corruption as she couches them in laugh-out-loud lines. It is wickedly funny.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review: Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

Book Review: Better Part of Darkness by Kelly GayMass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Pocket; Original edition (November 24, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439109656
ISBN-13: 978-1439109656

Rating:  4/5
Source:  Personal Library

Book Blurb:
Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim -- but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

My Review:
Really enjoyed this book! Think it's the first time I've read a book where the tough-as-nails heroine is also a divorced mother. Her child isn't a baby either, but an 11 year old girl named Emma. I liked that Emma was a large part of Charlie's life instead of a story device trotted out every now and again, then conveniently disappearing when not needed.

Charlie has been plagued by nightmares ever since her resurrection from the dead, and is also noticing strange new abilities. But she doesn't let that get in the way of her job; her newest assignment is trying to discover who is flooding the streets of Atlanta with a dangerous new drug. Charlie and her partner Hank work well together, despite Hank being a Siren and Charlie being human. Charlie and Hank are both smart alecks, and I really enjoyed their banter. You could tell that they both cared for one another, but not romantically, which was refreshing. Where is it written that partners have to be romantically involved? That gets old after awhile. I thought Kelly handled the "aliens" well, and the descriptions of Elysia and Charbydon were incredibly interesting.

This is the second book I've read recently where the main character has been brought back from the dead, so I wonder if this is a new trend in urban fantasy? Not that there's anything wrong with that. ;) Gave this book a 4/5 as I really enjoyed almost everything about it. Good plot, writing, and characters. Think that Kelly did a great job with her debut novel, and I'm looking forward to reading The Darkest Edge of Dawn, the sequel.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Review: One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Book Review:  One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniHardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Voice; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401340997
ISBN-13: 978-1401340995

Rating:  4/5
Source:  ARC reviewed via Shelf Awareness

Book Blurb:

Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers, and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There's little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself.

My Review:
Really enjoyed this book! The author does a good job of introducing us to the nine people waiting, and then trapped in the office after an earthquake. At first, we get just a general idea of who they are through Uma's eyes, the young graduate student mentioned in the blurb. But as each shares their story, we get to know them a little bit better.

We meet Lily, the Chinese teenager with the pierced eyebrow, and her elderly grandmother who has a secret of her own. Tariq, the angry young Muslim-American. Cameron, the ex-soldier who the others turn to for guidance. Mr. and Mrs. Pritchett, the upper-class couple with a shaky marriage and secrets of their own. Mr. Mangalam, the handsome visa officer. And Malathi, the young woman manning the customer service desk.

Each story is fascinating in it's own way. Didn't find it hard to keep track of who was telling the story as Chitra made it clear at the beginning of each chapter. I think my favorite tale was Jiang's, Lily's grandmother. Loved how she surprised her granddaughter with one of her secrets! Malathi's story was engrossing as well, with a surprise I didn't expect but really appreciated. And Mr. Pritchett's story was a little heart-breaking. Actually, they were all good stories!

Gave this a 4/5 rating as I really enjoyed the book. Chitra is a very talented writer, and some of the passages were simply beautiful. She kept control of the story, and the nine different narrators were easy to keep track of while still advancing the plot. You could feel yourself trapped with the survivors, and understood their desire to share their stories in order to pass the time. Loved the writing, the characters, and even the ending. It just seemed right. Highly recommend this one, and I'll definitely be reading more of Chitra's books!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Over the Top! Award

Your Blog Is Over the Top Award
Dana at Rantings of a Bookworm Couch Potato and Lynne at Lynne's Book Reviews were both nice enough to give me the Your Blog is Over the Top Award. Aside from having an awesome blog name, Dana writes great reviews on current fiction titles! I love Lynne's blog header, and she has great reviews and contests as well! The rules state that I have to answer the following questions with one word answers, and then pass the award on to 5 more deserving bloggers. Was harder than it sounded, so here we go:

(1) Your Cell Phone? ignored
(2) Your Hair? straight
(3) Your Mother? sweet
(4) Your Father? retired
(5) Your Favorite Food? cheeseburgers
(6) Your Dream Last Night? forgotten
(7) Your Favorite Drink? tea
(8) Your Dream/Goal? happiness
(9) What Room Are You In? family-room
(10) Your Hobby? reading
(11) Your Fear? failure
(12) Where Do You Want To Be In Six Years? retired
(13) Where Were You Last Night? here
(14) Something That You Aren't? organized
(15) Muffins? apple
(16) Wish List Item? bookcase!
(17) Where Did You Grow Up? Ohio
(18) Last Thing You Did? dishes
(19) What Are You Wearing? jeans
(20) Your TV? husband's
(21) Your Pets? cat
(22) Friends? cherished
(23) Your Life? mine
(24) Your Mood? nervous
(25) Missing Someone? no
(26) Vehicle? Honda
(27) Something You Aren't Wearing? make-up
(28) Your Favorite Store? Barnes & Noble
(29) Your Favorite Color? red
(30) When Was The Last Time You Laughed? yesterday
(31) Last Time You Cried? January
(32) Your Best Friend? husband
(33) One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? library :-)
(34) Facebook? Farmville
(35) Favorite Place To Eat? couch

The rules state that I'm supposed to pass this along to five other bloggers. Although I know many deserving people with outstanding blogs, I also know that some people don't like awards and others are so busy that they just feel pressured when they receive an award. This was a fun meme, so I'm going to open it up to anyone who wants to play! Please let me know if you decide to participate, as I'd love to see your answers! Those one word answers weren't as easy to come up with as you'd think! Have fun! :-)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In My Mailbox (33)

In My Mailbox | Alexia's Books and Such
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I have included links to Goodreads should you want more information on the books.

Only received one book in the mail this week. I had won a copy of book 2 in the Blood Lily series and the blurb sounded so good that I decided to buy book 1 and read them in order. Tainted introduces us to Lily, and right now there are 3 books in the series, so shouldn't be hard for me to catch up.

Tainted by Julie Kenner | Alexia's Books and Such

Lily Carlyle has lied, cheated, and stolen her way through life. But in death, she'll really get to be bad...When her little sister is brutalized, a vengeful Lily determines to exact her own justice. She succeeds at the cost of her own life, but as she lies dying, she is given a second chance. Lily can earn her way into Paradise by becoming an assassin for the forces of good. It's the job Lily believes she can really get into-but she doesn't realize that she may not be able to get out.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else received in their mailboxes this week!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Book Review: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth PattilloPaperback: 272 pages
Publisher: GuidepostsBooks; Original edition (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0824947932
ISBN-13: 978-0824947934

Rating:  4/5
Source:  Review copy provided by Phenix & Phenix Publicists

Book Blurb:
Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister's behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn't looking for Mr. Anyone. She's been dating Neil -- a nice if a bit negligent -- sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen's Pride and Prejudice -- in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy -- leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author's own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil's unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire's journey to finding her own romantic lead. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn't logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places.

My Review:
Really enjoyed this book! Claire is a likable character who has had a bit of a rough life. Her parents died when she was 18 and rather than letting her family break up, she took on the responsibility of raising her younger sister. Fast forward a few years, but Claire is still taking care of her well as brother-in-law and twin nieces. After losing her job, Claire goes to an Oxford seminar in her sister's stead. How cool that it was on Pride and Prejudice? While Claire was not really a fan, this is one of my favorite books!

Claire has a steady boyfriend who is a nice enough guy, but she's not even sure that he knows she left. He's a big sports fan and not always attentive. Needless to say, Claire is not doing well in either her personal or professional lives. Hopefully, this week will give Claire a chance to take a breather and figure out what she wants to do next. At least, that's the plan.

Let's just say that things don't go according to plan. One of the other seminar participants, James, is handsome enough to make every bit of oxygen in Claire's lungs disappear, and she almost slides to the floor in a faint when she first sees him from across the room. Now that's handsome! Alas, he is also rude, arrogant, and unpleasant most of the time. But wait...doesn't that sound a little like Mr. Darcy? Could James be Claire's Mr. Darcy?

The other main character Claire meets is Harriet. She's a nice little old lady who Claire met in the park and escorted home. She seems harmless enough, but is she actually delusional as her daughter claims, or does Harriet really have the origianl draft of Pride and Prejudice? It would it be an unbelievable experience to read a lost draft by a famous author!

I really enjoyed this book! I liked Claire, and was glad to accompany her through her one week of life-changing discoveries. So much happened in only one week! Claire made several eye-opening discoveries, may have read an original draft of a famous book, befriended a sweet old lady, and had her entire life turned upside down. All while still attending the seminar!

Gave this a 4/5 as I really liked and enjoyed this book. The characters were believable, the action was well-paced, writing was good, and I enjoyed the plot. Didn't really like Claire's sister, but she was still believable. I was pleased with the ending, and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story. It's not really a light chick-lit type of book, as Claire does face some hard truths. Not really a romance. There is an element of mystery as well. It's just a good, well written story, which are getting harder to find these days. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Word Verification Balderdash (20)

Word Verification Balderdash is a weekly meme hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia. He is the Balderdash King, so be sure to stop by and check out his site!

Balderdash is a pretty easy game. You know all of those annoying word verifications you have to deal with when posting comments on certain blogs? Be sure to write them down, then play Balderdash by making up your own definition for the word!

Here are my words for the week:

Calsa:  New dance club craze combining Salsa dancing with Calypso music.

Warmetic:  An armed conflict instigated by mathematicians who insist that the metric system is the most logical and practical unit of measurement available. 

Coldem:  New pharmaceutical for the treatment of influenza, insomnia, colds, bulimia, and various other illnesses. Side effects may include high fever, headache, nose bleeds, loss of smell, sleep driving, weight gain, chills, and/or temporary blindness. Not recommended for children under 12 years of age.

Holomma:  A three-dimensional image of your mother. Basic models are static; upgrades include assorted animations as well as messages of maternal wisdom, both vocal and written.

Did you come across any fun word verifications this week?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blogger Buddie Award

Blogger Buddie Award
I received the Blogger Buddie Award from J.Kaye for being one of her top commenters in January. I've learned a lot from her, and hope that one day my blog will be half as good. If you're not familiar with  J.Kaye's Book Blog, be sure to stop by to say hello. Her blog is amazing, and she hosts most of the challenges I've joined.

I'd like to pass this along to some of my favorite blogging buddies! I've met so many amazing people since I've started blogging, and the blogosphere as a whole has been incredibly welcoming to me. So without further ado, I'd like to pass this along to the following blogs:

Mom's Mutterings
 One Person's Journey Through a World of Books
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Tif Talks Books
He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him?
My World...In Words and Pages
Steph the Bookworm
Boston Bibliophile
Book Dreaming
Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings
Pen and Paper

Sorry if I've forgotten anyone, but I wanted to acknowledge the top twelve readers who stop by and visit. I appreciate each and every one of you, and really enjoy reading your comments! Thanks again for being my blogging buddy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book Review: The Seven Rays by Jessica Bendinger

Book Review: The Seven Rays by Jessica BendingerReading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Juv) (November 24, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416938397
ISBN-13: 978-1416938392

Rating: 3/5
Source:  Public library

Book Blurb:
You are more than you think you are.

That is the anonymous message that Beth Michaels receives right before she starts seeing things. Not just a slept-through-my-alarm-clock, late-for-homeroom, haven't-had-my-caffeine-fix kind of seeing things. It all starts with some dots, annoying pink dots that pop up on and over her mom and her best friend's face. But then things get out of control and Beth is seeing people's pasts, their fears, their secrets, their desires. The images are coming at Beth in hi-def streaming video and she can't stop it. Everyone thinks she's crazy and she's pretty sure she agrees with them. But crazy doesn't explain the gold envelopes that have started arriving, containing seeing keys and mysterious tarot cards. To Beth, it all seems too weird to be true. You are more than you think you are? But here's the thing: What if she is?

My Review:
Have been looking forward to reading this book ever since I first saw it featured in a post by Kristi at The Story Siren. Love the cover! There's just something about it that's really appealing, and it actually has something to do with the story! How often does that happen? :-)

Have read mixed reviews about this one, but I enjoyed it. Beth is a good girl who can be a little mouthy at times. What my grandmother used to call 'fresh'. I loved her attitude, and liked that she wasn't the stereotypical smart girl with all the answers, who meekly follows orders. I could relate to her, and I enjoyed her attitude. She never became obnoxious, which was a nice change of pace.

Why is Beth seeing little pink dots? Are they floaters that her eye doctor can fix with laser surgery? Is Beth mentally ill? And what should she make of the cryptic messages that keep arriving in the mysterious gold envelopes? Rest assured that Jessica explains everything, including the title!

Gave this a 3/5 as I really liked the story, but didn't love it. Overall, the plot was pretty good, and was easy to follow. The only speedbump I hit while reading was the slang that Beth and her friend Shirl used. Seemed a little forced, and I wonder if teens really use those expressions? The slang was the only dialog that didn't ring true for me, but I enjoyed everything else. Was an fun read, mainly because of Beth, and I would definitely read the sequels should it become a series.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Award Catch-up!

Was lucky enough to receive the following awards from some very generous blogging friends and wanted to publicly thank them for thinking of me! Should have posted this awhile back, but I'm playing catch-up.

The Kreativ Blogger Award
The Kreativ Blogger Award was given to me from The Sweet Bonjour. Love that name! The rules say your're supposed to list seven interesting things about yourself, then pass it along to seven other interesting bloggers. Don't know if I can come up with seven, but I'll try!

1. I'm easily distracted when it comes to anything but reading.
2. I was an editor for my high school newspaper. Even had my own column.
3. I'm not very observant. A man dressed as Superman walked by me once, but I never noticed! DH had to point him out to me. How could I miss a man wearing tights & a cape?
4. My husband & I renewed our wedding vows with Elvis in Las Vegas.
5. I'm a compulsive list maker, but never seem to cross everything off.
6. Don't think I could live happily without pets.
7. I once got hit in the face with a pie for a charity auction.

Not a very interesting list. Maybe I should have been more "creative"? *L*

The Splash Award
The Splash Award is given to is given to alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive, and inspiring blogs. Wow! Thanks go to Froggy from Froggaritaville's Bookcase for this lovely award! I had started writing this post a few months ago, but never finished for some reason. Sorry Froggy! It may have taken me awhile, but I didn't forget! :-)

You Don't Say - Super Comments Award
Ryan at Wordsmithonia was kind enough to present me with the You Don't Say - Super Comments Award. Ryan has a wonderful blog with great reviews, fun memes, and thoughtful discussion posts. He also happens to be the Word Verification Balderdash King, so be sure to stop by and say hello!

I'm almost caught up with posting the awards I've received over the past few months. I'm going to open these up to anyone who would like them, as I think all of my readers are award-worthy! Thanks again to everyone who has been kind enough to pass them along to me. Makes me feel a little like Sally Field - You like me! You really, really like me! :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Book Review: Sea Clearwater by Selene Cardenas

Book Review:  Sea Clearwater by Selene CardenasPaperback: 182 pages
Publisher: Infinity Publishing (October 16, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0741455625
ISBN-13: 978-0741455628

Rating:  2/5
Source:  Review copy provided by Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

Book Blurb:
Thirteen year old Sea Clearwater discovers fourteen year old Thomas Saise, helping unravel the truth of her identity. Join them as they battle the evil Eric Shade, ruler of black benders. In addition to learning fighting skills as a water bender, Sea gains a greater understanding of a life beyond anything she imagined as she encounters wizards, fairies, gentle creatures and violent ones.

My Review:
Trying not to sound overly harsh or critical, but you could tell that this book was written by a 13 year old. The writing is somewhat rough, and was a little hard to read at times because of awkward sentences. It read more like a rough draft instead of a finished manuscript. However, I am impressed that she was able to finish an entire book at such a young age, so kudos for perseverance!

I'm not going to lie to you; this book was a tough read. I was going to put it down several times, but kept reading because I wanted to try to figure out what I was missing. I've only seen a handful of reviews on this one, but they all raved about it and gave it a 5/5 rating. One reviewer even compared it to the Harry Potter books!

Gave this a 2/5 rating because while I was able to finish it, I didn't really enjoy the book. There were too many rough spots with both the dialog and the plot. There are several illustrations scattered throughout the book as well, which I'm assuming were drawn by Selene. The drawings, like the book, were obviously done by an amateur and I'm not sure why they were included. However....the author was only 13 when she wrote this story. I think Selene needs a good editor to work with her and help her polish her skills, then maybe in a few years she'll be ready for publication. Is she ready yet? In my opinion, no. But in a few out!

Giveaway for Explorer X-Alpha Prize Pack!

Explorer X-Alpha
For most kids, a trip to space camp is the trip of a lifetime for Aadi it was life altering. After receiving a camp immunization needed for travel to Mars, Aadi finds that the immunization is the catalyst of an insidious experiment. He realizes what is happening too late for a change of fate. The full experiment is set in motion when he and his co-pilot, Eirena, crash in a distant galaxy called Shrenas, where they change and realize the full extent of their power. This turn of events forces him to grow up quickly, accept his change, and to decide to save a world, or to do what he was trained to do dominate it. His power is coveted by the warring leaders of Shrenas, and he is forced to choose sides a decision that may prove just how much humanity he has left.

Thanks to LM Preston and her publisher, I'm offering one lucky person the opportunity to win an Explorer X-Alpha prize pack! Not only will they win a copy of the book, but also a poster, bookmark, and magnet!

This contest to anyone with a US mailing address. The one thing that everyone HAS to do in order to enter this contest is leave a comment...doesn't matter what the subject so long as you comment. :-)

For extra entries: tweet, blog, or otherwise promote this giveaway and be sure to leave me a link. One extra entry for each link. No verifiable link, no entry.

Ever go to camp as a child? What kind of camp, and what's your favorite camp memory? That's an extra entry as well!

The contest ends at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, February 28, 2010.

Please make sure to include those links! If you would like an email if you win, please leave an address. Otherwise, be sure to check back to see if you've won! Winner will be chosen via a random number generator, and the prize pack will be mailed directly from the publisher.

Thanks, and good luck!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

In My Mailbox (32)

In My Mailbox | Alexia's Books and Such
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I have included links to Goodreads should you want more information on the books.

Deadtown by Nancy Holzner
I actually had this one on my list to pick up at the bookstore when I found out I won a copy from J.Kaye's Book Blog! The original winner hadn't claimed it, so I was lucky enough to win Deadtown before buying it. So excited to read this, as it looks right up my alley!

The Power of Half
The Power of Half is a book I had read about in a magazine, and it had sounded interesting enough for me to make a note. Was thrilled when I was offered a chance to review it, as I find stories like this very inspiring. Could I get rid of half of my possessions in order to support a charity? I honestly don't know.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
Received a review copy of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter from Hatchette Book Group. Think I was meant to read this book as we had just finished watching the Ken Burn's Civil War documentary, so Lincoln was on my mind. Lincoln + vampires? I couldn't resist!

Doors Open by Ian Rankin
I may have mentioned once or twice how much I like Ian Rankin, so was excited to win a copy of Doors Open from Pam at Mom's Mutterings. I've read almost all of the books in his John Rebus series, so am looking forward to a non-Rebus title.

Admit One: My Life in Films
Received a review copy of Admit One: My Life in Films from an email offer from Online Publicist. While this isn't my usual genre, I love gossipy books like this. They make a nice change of pace, and I'm looking forward to reading this one!

I love seeing everyone's mailboxes, as I discover so many new authors and titles through this meme! Thanks Kristi!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Book Review: Penguin Luck by Kay Mupetson

Book Review:  Penguin Luck by Kay MupetsonPaperback: 292 pages
Publisher: (August 26, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1440160589
ISBN-13: 978-1440160585

Rating:  3/5
Source:  Review copy provided by Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.

Book Blurb:
In the novel Penguin Luck, Doreen Lowe is a young, sophisticated junior associate in a small Manhattan law firm that primarily serves the lower echelons of society. Regularly visited by three ghosts, Doreen is forced to listen to their pleas that she "carry on for them"- after the Holocaust- all while balancing the demands of her career and personal life.

After Doreen marries a banker with an entrepreneurial spirit, he achieves his dream of establishing a telecommunications company. Within a few years, Doreen is serving as the company's legal counsel while simultaneously raising a son, but is still being tormented by her spirits. As the young couple rides out the tech boom of the late 1990s, Doreen must reconcile her unorthodox personal choices with her widowed father, her friends, and her large conscience.

Penguin Luck is a compelling tale about one woman's emotional journey as she learns to cope with a burdensome family history, a trio of determined ghosts, and the power of luck.

My Review:
This was an interesting story of a woman breaking free from the expected path and following her heart. I really liked how Doreen felt she needed color in her life, while the expected path was black and white with only a few shades of gray. Then she meets Ty, who came to New York in search of color. How could she possibly resist?

The spirits mentioned in the blurb are actual spirits. The back of the book states that they are ghosts, so it won't be spoiling anything to reveal that Doreen has been living with the trio for years and they are not happy with her choices. I felt that they were a little unnecessary, but guess they symbolized the weight of her heritage or somesuch. I just found them annoying. Her father isn't too happy with his new son-in -law either, but Doreen believes that she made the right decision and has no regrets.

I kept forgetting that this book was set before the proliferation of cell phones, and wondered why on earth Ty would carry a beeper. Hasn't been that long since you had to hunt down a pay phone if you wanted to call someone away from home, so I was amused by how I'm now taking it for granted that everyone has a cell, including fictional characters! *L*

The penguin in the title refers to the affectionate nickname Doreen and her friends have given her parent's generation (as they sort of resemble penguins - short, balding, and waddle when they walk). Her parents, as well as her aunt and uncle, were all Holocaust survivors. Their lives, as well as their children's lives, were all shaped by this event. The ghosts are also from the Holocaust, and keep reminding Doreen that she has "obligations" as a child of survivors.

Gave this a 3/5 rating as I enjoyed the book, but did not love it. The writing was good and I had no complaints about the plot, but I felt that overall it needed a little more polish. This is Kay's first book and I think that she has a strong future, as the story was compelling. I loved Doreen and all of the people in her life. Could have done without the ghosts, but they were still interesting.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Word Verification Balderdash (19)

Word Verification Balderdash is a weekly meme hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia. He is a Balderdash expert, so be sure to stop by and check out his site!

Balderdash is a pretty easy game. You know all of those annoying word verifications you have to deal with when posting comments on certain blogs? Be sure to write them down, then play Balderdash by making up your own definition for the word!

Here are my words for the week:

Meduke:  Innovative new field studying the healing properties of the ukulele. During controlled studies, patients exposed to ukulele music recovered 33% faster than patients listening to other music.

Voses:  Just in time for Valentines Day, a new hybrid of rose with stems in the shape of a vase. No separate container needed, voses can be placed anywhere as the plant is self-contained. Available in red only.

Did you come across any fun words this week? I didn't visit many blogs this week and ran into several "real" words, so the pickings were slim. Will try to do better next week. :-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winner of What I Know: Uncommon Wisdom and Universal Truths!


We have a winner! Wanted to thank everyone who entered, and I hope that the winner will enjoy this book as much as I did! I used to pick the winning name, but it wouldn't let me copy the winning number for some reason. The winner is:

Melissa at My World

Congratulations Melissa! I'll send you an email to get your mailing information. The book will be mailed directly from the author, so I'll forward your info as soon as I receive it. Thanks again to everyone who entered! Will have a new contest coming up, so keep an eye out!

What I Know

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I am always surprised when someone presents me with an award, and I'm not ashamed to admit that it makes me feel all warm & fuzzy when someone thinks of me! Received two lovely awards awhile back and while I'm embarrassed that it took me so long, I'd would like to share the love:

Humane AwardI received the Humane Award from GMR over at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers. She has a great blog with excellent reviews, so be sure to head on over and check it out!

This award is to honor certain bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily (or close to) basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendship through the blog world. I'm supposed to nominate 10 bloggers that I feel deserve the Humane Award, but I've passed this award along at least twice before, so would like to open this to anyone reading this post. Enjoy!

One Lovely Blog award I received this lovely award from both In The Hammock and The Sweet BonjourIn The Hammock is a gorgeous blog, with book reviews and fun memes! The Sweet Bonjour mainly reviews YA books, but also takes part in some memes and has several author interviews under her belt as well! They are both very cute blogs with great content, so be sure to stop by and say hello!

So here are the rules: Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I'd like to pass this award along to:

Caroline at One Book Away From Heaven

SusiSunshine at The Geeky Bookworm

GMR at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Yunaleska at Nayu's Reading Corner

Elie at Ellz Reads

Dannie at Opinionated Me

Tena at Crazy Book Slut

Steph at Steph the Bookworm

Wendy at The Book Lush

Shannon at Book Dreaming

Kathy at Inside of a Dog

Booknerds Are Pretty Too

Kate at Midnight Book Girl

Read Now Sleep Later

Good Books and Good Wine

Some of these are new blogs and some of them have been around for awhile, but are new to me. All of them have interesting posts that are well worth a look! I've received a few other awards that I need to acknowledge but rather than waiting another month, decided to go ahead and post these. I really appreciate it when someone thinks of me, but I'm a horrible procrastinator! *L*

Monday, February 8, 2010

Would I lie to you? Why yes, yes I would

memCreative Writer Blogger Award
Kathy at Bermuda Onion received the "Creative Writer" Blogger Award from Lesa's Book Critiques and invited us all to play. It looked like fun, so decided to give it a shot. Apparently, I'm a better liar than I thought, as no one guessed my one truth. Good thing this wasn't a video though, as I tend to start laughing whenever I try to tell outrageious lies. :-)

Here are my six outrageous lies and one outrageous truth.

1. After college, I went to Europe with my roommate's brother. He was 39 and worked on an oil rig. I was 22 and jobless. Backpacked the entire continent. Best. Trip. Ever. LIE We had one date, but sadly, he did not take me back to Europe with him

2. On our first trip to London, my husband and I were detained for 7 hours at Heathrow. Convinced it was because our last name is Irish, but the agents wouldn't confirm it. LIE Thought 7 hours was excessive enough that everyone would know this was a lie. Guess not, as this was the one most thought was true.

3. I have itchy feet and have visited 22 different countries. Actual visits; airport layovers don't count.
TRUE! Could've sworn I've talked about my itchy feet before...

4. I'm a linguistic geek and fluent in English, Italian, French, and Spanish. Speak passable Portuguese and German, can read Latin, and struggling to learn Hindi. LIE I'm barely fluent in English, and am linguistically challenged! *L*

5. I was 1st runner up in the Miss Ohio pageant. My talent was tap. LIE But I did take tap dancing lessons once

6. As an intern for Nick Clooney, I briefly dated his son. Who knew the little jerk would grow up to be George Clooney? LIE But did see George once, from a distance. Wish it was true!

7. Was invited to Woodstock, but didn't go because it was supposed to rain. LIE This happened to my husband though, so does that count?

Who knew I was such a good liar? Have a terrible poker face and usually can't stop laughing! Too funny! *L*

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