Monday, August 31, 2009

Mailbox Monday -- August 31st

Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page I'm participating in the Mailbox Monday round up. This week I received the following review copies:
1) Playing House by Fredrica Wagman
2) The Shimmer by David Morrell

Thanks to FSB Associates.

3) The Sum of His Syndromes by K.B. Dixon

Thanks to the publicist.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reading for the Dog Days of Summer.

Summer 2009 is quickly receding into the past. The Dog Days of Summer are here and calendar pages will soon be turned to the unofficial last gasp of Summer -- Labor Day weekend.

If you are one of the fortunate ones who will be traveling to respites near or far and seek good beach reads look no further. My library system, Howard County Public Library, has put together a staff recommended reading list. It has some true goodies. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Books with a Past

A few days ago I noticed a fellow rider reading from a Kindle. Suddenly, a wave of emotions washed over me: one part drooling envy mixed with one part ambivalence. Its slick design, amazing storage capacity, not to mention the lure of instant reading gratification will almost certainly convert me. . . . eventually.

Still just as I prefer to hand my deposits to a bank teller, have my groceries rung up by a cashier, and purchase my movie tickets from a teen manning the box office, I will never abandon my love affair with the printed page. The tactical sensation of cracking a spine of a new best seller is too primal a call for me.

I also love the draw of books with a past. These are used books with a back story. Many times I have come home with my “new to me” books only to discover they have a past: airline tickets used as bookmarks; personal photos left in between the pages, and my favorite, inscriptions on the inside blank pages. The best inscriptions tell of new lives started (either literal or figurative) and I love to imagine where the recipients are today. Are “Dick and Jane” still happily wed, is little Johnny still the apple of his parents’ eyes; and did Mary ever learn to mediate from the New Age book that John gave her on her 50th birthday?

Today I thought I’d share one of my recent acquisitions with a past. From a copy of An Exhilaration of Wings The Literature of Birdwatching Edited by Jen Hill is the following inscription:
There is something special about birds. No wonder so many people are (and have been through the ages) absolutely enthralled and obsessed with studying these marvels of God’s creation.
I hope this inspires some more of your writing.
I hope so too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Salute to a Presidential Reader!

I love reading about other prolific readers because they are such interesting folks. I guess they are my heroes. And I also love reading about what others are reading because it gives me ideas. So for those inquiring minds here is Bill Clinton’s summer reading list.

I'm editing this post to add Barack Obama's too.

How many have you read or are reading?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mailbox Monday -- August 24th

Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page I'm participating in the Mailbox Monday round up. This week I received the following review copies:

1) $20 Per Gallon by Christopher Steiner

2) Ravens by George Dawes Green

Thanks to the great folks at Hachette Book Group

3) Fearless by Max Lucado

Thanks to Thomas Nelson.

4) Forgetting English by Midge Raymond

Thanks to the author.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Lost Dog Winners!

The winners of The Lost Dog Giveaway have been confirmed and are:


Congrats to the lucky winners! Also don't forget there is still time to enter The Blue Star giveaway.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How It Ends

Summary by Publisher: All Hanna's wanted since sophomore year is Seth. She's gone out with other guys, even gained a rep for being a flirt, all the while hoping cool, guitar-playing Seth will choose her. Then she gets him -- but their relationship is hurtful, stormy and critical, not at all what Hanna thinks a perfect love should be. Bewildered by Seth's treatment of her and in need of understanding, Hanna decides to fulfill her school's community service requirement by spending time with Helen, her terminally ill neighbor, who she's turned to for comfort and wisdom throughout her life. But illness has changed Helen into someone Hanna hardly knows, and her home is not the refuge it once was. Feeling more alone than ever, Hanna gets drawn into an audiobook the older woman is listening to, a fierce, unsettling love story of passion, sacrifice, and devotion. Hanna's fascinated by the idea that such all-encompassing love can truly exist, and without her even realizing it, the story begins to change her.

Until the day when the story becomes all too real...and Hanna's world is spun off its axis by its shattering, irrevocable conclusion.

Review: “When happily ever after fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales”

The End of Innocence by Don Henley

Who doesn’t love a happy ending? And who hasn’t told a “white lie” to spare a friend’s feelings? But what if you had built a relationship on a foundation of well intentioned lies? How would you confess your deceptions to the person you love in a way that she would understand? In How It Ends by Laura Wiess, the terminally ill, Helen, wants to “come clean” with her surrogate granddaughter Hanna before it’s too late.

Reading this elegantly written novel is like looking through a kaleidoscope with a different picture in every chapter. The novel seamlessly alternates between two perspectives: the teenager’s (Hanna) and the senior citizen’s (Helen). Both characters are grappling with major life events. Hanna is sharing a rollercoaster relationship with her boyfriend, Seth. She wonders why love is so difficult – shouldn’t it be happily ever after if you love someone? The dying Helen knows that love is a lot more complicated than in fairytales, but she fears that her secrets will destroy Hanna’s love for her. When Helen finds a way to share her story with Hanna, by listening to an audiobook, the kaleidoscope twists again for an entirely new picture.

Each story individually in How It Ends: Hanna’s; Helen’s; and Louise’s (from the audiobook), is compelling. Collectively, however, the triad is a symphony. This novel is a profound generational love story that will stay with you long after you have discovered How It Ends.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Giveaways -- Don't Forget to Enter

The Lost Dog Giveaway ends tomorrow. You can enter here.

The Blue Star Giveaway end 9/4, so there is still plenty of time to win. You can enter here for it.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Getting It Through My Thick Skull

Summary by Publisher: "I think, every once in a while, about the life I should be living, the one I fully expected to be enjoying right about now. In the life I was supposed to have, my husband and I would be admiring the view from our waterfront home in the town where we were both born and raised. Good friends and neighbors would be next door, up the street, and all over the neighborhood. Our parents would live only blocks away, in our childhood homes. We'd be taking our grandchildren to the beach club on weekends, enjoying the fruits of our labors and looking forward to a peaceful retirement. That was the plan, anyway . . . but the whole world knows how that turned out."

Mary Jo Buttafuoco's anonymous life as a suburban wife and mother in sleepy Massapequa, New York, on Long Island, ended in May 1992, when she was shot in the head on her own front porch. The 'Long Island Lolita' saga sparked a media frenzy that has not died to this day. As the years passed and Mary Jo steadfastly stood by her man while Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher continued to make headlines, one question lingered in the minds of women everywhere: Why did she stay for so long? In Getting It Through My Thick Skull, Mary Jo finally answers that question fully and convincingly. The answer is simple, yet it took almost three decades of turmoil: She was married to a sociopath. And while Mary Jo's face and story are known all over the world, she's just one of countless women who have become similarly enmeshed with a partner who wreaks utter havoc on the lives around them.

Using her own experiences, Mary Jo helps readers determine if they are indeed involved with a sociopath and offers hope and help for them throughher tragic and triumphant life lessons. In addition, readers will be inspired by Mary Jo's comeback: A true reclamation and re-creation of her life from the inside out. Through private details of the resiliency and rebuilding she has forged over the past sixteen years, Mary Jo shares with readers for the first time:

* Her addiction to painkillers and her recovery through the Betty Ford Center
* Her overdue decision to leave Joey and start over again on her own in California-3,000 miles from her support system
* Taking control of her physical, spiritual, and emotional health and learning to feel attractive and in control again, despite the scars and trauma of the gunshot
* Her highly controversial and public forgiveness of Amy Fisher
* The new love in her life and how she found the courage to trust, believe, and find hope in a committed relationship once again

“Stand by your man
And tell the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man.”

Stand By Your Man by Tammy Wynette

Mary Jo Buttafuoco stood by her man through sex, drugs, and an assailant’s bullet. And all she got in return was more of the same from her charming, but soulless husband, Joey, and scorn from the world. Before there were the O.J.-Nicole-Ron and the Scott-Laci-Amber sagas, there was the Amy Fisher-Joey and Mary Jo Buttafuoco triangle. While the who- done- it part of the shooting (Amy Fisher) was solved in a few days, the why part, as in why did Mary Jo stay with Joey remained a mystery until now.

Getting it Through My Thick Skull by Mary Jo Buttafuoco with Julie McCarron is Mary Jo’s rebuttal to the naysayers. An older, wiser, and now- divorced Buttafuoco explains that for nearly thirty years she was emotionally tethered to a sociopath: her former husband Joey. Poignantly, the memoir also sheds light on the devastating toll Joey Buttafuoco’s antics took on their two children.

According to Getting it Through My Thick Skull, “living with a sociopath disrupts every normal part of life --- sex, money, parenting, employment. . . .” The Buttafuocos’ marriage was certainly no exception to this pattern. The book details Joey Buttafuoco’s addictions to cocaine, sex, free spending, and reckless thrill-seeking. Sociopaths thrive on manipulating others through pathological lying to advance their own selfish desires or simply for kicks. As Buttafuoco relates, “if you haven’t ever been under a sociopath’s spell be grateful. They can charm the birds out of the trees and tell you black is white, and have you believing it.”

Buttafuoco also reveals her own personal demons – an addiction to prescription pain pills and clinical depression. Later after kicking the pill addiction and forgiving Amy Fisher, Buttafuoco finally musters the courage to leave Joey. And in true fairytale fashion she finds true love.

Getting it Through My Thick Skull is both a sad tale of one family’s descent into chaos at the hands of the male head-of-household and inspirational in the sense of watching Mary Jo bloom.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mailbox Monday -- August 17th

Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page I'm participating in the Mailbox Monday round up. This week I received the following books for review:

1) The Blue Star by Tony Earley

Thanks to the great folks at Hachette Book Group

2) Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie

Thanks to FSB Associates

3) Extreme Dreams Depends on Teams by Pat Williams

Thanks to Pump Up the Volume

Friday, August 14, 2009

Another Freebie Friday: The Blue Star Giveaway (ends 9/4)

Summary by Publisher: Seven years ago, readers everywhere fell in love with Jim Glass, the precocious ten-year-old at the heart of Tony Earley's bestseller Jim the Boy. Now a teenager, Jim returns in another tender and wise story of young love on the eve of World War Two.

Jim Glass has fallen in love, as only a teenage boy can fall in love, with his classmate Chrissie Steppe. Unfortunately, Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw's girlfriend, and Bucky has joined the Navy on the eve of war. Jim vows to win Chrissie's heart in his absence, but the war makes high school less than a safe haven, and gives a young man's emotions a grown man's gravity. With the uncanny insight into the well-intentioned heart that made Jim the Boy a favorite novel for thousands of readers, Tony Earley has fashioned another nuanced and unforgettable portrait of America in another time--making it again even realer than our own day.

This is a timeless and moving story of discovery, loss and growing up, proving why Tony Earley's writing "radiates with a largeness of heart" (Esquire).

Giveaway Rules: Soon I will be reviewing this novel, but in the meantime I am hosting this fabulous giveaway. Thanks to Valerie at Hachette Book Group, I have the opportunity to give away FIVE copies of The Blue Star!

First Entry: Comment with your email address in the body of the comment (you can list it as mary123 (at) yahoo(dot)com). If you do not list your email address your entry will not count.

Extra Entry -- sign up to follow my blog (or let me know that you are a current follower). Note: This extra entry MUST be left in a separate comment or it will not count.

The giveaway is open to Canadian and US residents only.
You must be 18 years of age or older.
NO P.O. Boxes for the winner’s mailing address.

The contest ends on September 4, 2009.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Don't Know Much About Anything Else

Summary by Publisher: For years, Kenneth C. Davis has enlightened and enthralled us, opening our minds and tickling our fancies with his wonderfully irreverent, fun, and factual Don't Know Much About® books. He has carried readers on wild and edifying rides through history, mythology, geography, the Bible, the Civil War, even across the universe. Now, following on the heels of his triumphant New York Times bestseller Don't Know Much About® Anything, comes Don't Know Much About® Anything Else, his latest one-stop potpourri of intriguing information. Chock-full of delightful historical snippets and fascinating people, remarkable milestones and boneheaded blunders, and eye-opening, brain-boggling facts about simply anything and everything in the world, here is the ideal companion for those long car rides, plane flights, quality family hours, or relaxing downtime.

Review: Everyone has a dream. For some it is performing on Broadway, writing the Great American Novel, or running a marathon. For my son it has been to be a contestant on Jeopardy. Like a moth to the flame whenever tryouts for Jeopardy are announced in a nearby locale my son is one of the first in queue.

And like any good parent I have spent a small fortune on books spanning the physical sciences to the arts in furtherance of the Jeopardy quest. After reading Don't Know Much About Anything Else by Kenneth C. Davis, the latest installment in the Don’t Know Much Series I might have been better off if I had restricted my purchases to those penned by Davis. The book is comprised of series of one page quizzes on subjects ranging from Japan to the paths of the post-breakup Beatles and almost everything in between. The quizzes are well crafted and easy to read.

While I don’t know if Don't Know Much About Anything Else is the magic key to the Jeopardy kingdom, my son will at least have a few laughs while absorbing, for example, the history of Leap Day. As Davis puts it, “fun and education can mingle.”

Don't Know Much About Anything Else is highly entertaining and should be required reading for any would be Jeopardy contestant.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Now What? : 90 Days to a New Life Direction

Summary by Publisher: In Now What? pioneering life coach Laura Berman Fortgang shares the process that she has used so successfully to help hundreds of clients make major changes in their lives. Whether it's moving on from a dead end job, discovering an entirely new creative outlet, or answering the age old question "What am I meant to do with my life?" this book provides a clear and infinitely practical 90-day program that can help you make major changes in your life.

For anyone who feels drawn toward a life-changing move but is not sure exactly what to do or how to move forward, Now What? provides a concrete process for finding and pursuing a new path in life. Full of inspiring and empowering exercises and tools, this book guides readers-day by day and step by step-through a 90-day process that will lead to true life satisfaction and fulfillment.

Review: Now What?: 90 Days to a New Life Direction by Laura Berman Fortgang is a guidebook for people stuck in a career they no longer love (or never did) and want to know where and how to begin again. Transitioning to a new career is often an anxiety ridden process. Berman Fortgang is living proof that one can leave behind one dream (singer/actress) and successfully embark on a new path (career coach).

Now What seeks to sweep away the “stuck in the headlights” angst with a ninety day action packed plan. According to Berman Fortgang “career and life satisfaction stem less from what we choose to do for a living, and more from who we get to be everyday while we are performing those tasks.” The first part of Now What involves finding your “Life Blueprint” (purpose/it). After uncovering your Life Blueprint the rest of the book details the mechanics of implementation.

Now What is filled with revealing insights that run counter to conventional wisdom. For instance, Berman Fortgang notes that just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Rather having a strong connection to the field/skill is the key factor. In addition, Now What deftly navigates the logistics of starting over such as how to afford a career change or what to do if your new path involves significant educational preparation.

In these turbulent economic times, with new corporate lay offs announced daily, Now What may be just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mailbox Monday -- August 10th

Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page I'm participating in the Mailbox Monday round up. This week I received the following books for review:

1) The Full Plate Diet by Stuart A. Seale, M.D. & Teresa Sherard, M.D. (freebie board)

2) The Promised World by Lisa Tucker

3) Daughter of Kura by Debra Austin

Thanks to Simon and Schuster!

4) How It Ends by Laura Wiess

Thanks to Pocket Books.

5) Getting it Through My Thick Skull by Mary Jo Buttafuoco

Thanks to the Publicist via Shelf Awareness.

6) Apples and Oranges by Marie Brenner

7) Buffalo Gal by Laura Pedersen

Thanks to the Book Report Network

Friday, August 7, 2009

Freebie Friday: The Lost Dog Giveaway (ends 8/21)

Summary by Publisher: Tom Loxley, an Indian-Australian professor, is less concerned with finishing his book on Henry James than with finding his dog, who is lost in the Australian bush.

Joining his daily hunt is Nelly Zhang, an artist whose husband disappeared mysteriously years before Tom met her. Although Nelly helps him search for his beloved pet, Tom isn't sure if he should trust this new friend.

Tom has preoccupations other than his book and Nelly and his missing dog, mainly concerning his mother, who is suffering from the various indignities of old age. He is constantly drawn from the cerebral to the primitive--by his mother's infirmities, as well as by Nelly's attractions. THE LOST DOG makes brilliant use of the conventions of suspense and atmosphere while leading us to see anew the ever-present conflicts between our bodies and our minds, the present and the past, the primal and the civilized.

Giveaway Rules: Thanks to Valerie at Hachette Book Group, I have the opportunity to give away FIVE copies of The Lost Dog!

To enter leave a comment with your email address in the body of the comment (you can list it as mary123 (at) yahoo(dot)com). If you do not list your email address your entry will not count.

The giveaway is open to Canadian and US residents only.
Only one entry per household.
You must be 18 years of age or older.
NO P.O. Boxes for the winner’s mailing address.

The contest ends on August 21, 2009.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Salute: To A Reader

I still remember getting my first public library card. I had just started reading and my parents signed me up for my very own card, so I could borrow books on my own. My card had a star stamped on it which meant that although I was a minor my parents gave me permission to borrow ANY book in the library (children and ADULT). And borrow I did – Beverly Clearly, Judy Blume, Madeline L’Engle, Louisa May Alcott and many, many, more books from terrific authors. I don’t know if my love affair with reading started on that day or not, but it certainly was a memorable day in my life.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian, Louise Brown, age 91, is about to borrow her 25,000th book. Brown started her reading adventure in 1946 and reads approximately 12 books a week! Wow!

So today Louise I am saluting you: This book is for you!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Motion of the Ocean

Summary: Choosing a mate is like picking house paint from one of those tiny color squares: You never know how it will look across a large expanse, or how it will change in different light.

Meet Janna and Graeme. After a decade-long tango (together, apart, together, apart), they're back in love -- but the stress of nine-to-five is seriously hampering their happiness. So they quit their jobs, tie the knot, and untie the lines on a beat-up old sailboat for a most unusual honeymoon: a two-year voyage across the Pacific. But passage from first date to first mate is anything but smooth sailing. From the rugged Pacific Northwest coast to the blue lagoons of Polynesia to bustling Asian ports, Janna and Graeme find themselves at the mercy of poachers, under the spell of crossdressers, and under the gun of a less-than-sober tattooist. And they encounter do-or-die moments that threaten their safety, their sanity, and their marriage.

Join Janna and Graeme's 17,000-mile journey and their quest to resolve the uncertainties so many couples face: How do you know if you've really found the One? How do you balance duty to others while preserving space for yourself? And, when the waters get rough, do you jump ship, or do you learn to navigate the world...together?

Review: Hopping off the hamster wheel daily grind to sail away to Margaritaville is a common dream. For most this nautical desire never goes beyond the fleeting thought stage. For Graeme and Janna Cawrse Esarey it was reality for two and half years. Stuck in a relational and career rut, Graeme and Janna decide to embark on a B-HAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal): to sail away to the South Pacific.

The Motion of the Ocean is more than just a travel-adventure drama, however, rather it is a real life love story set on the Pacific Ocean. And just like the unpredictable course of the ocean waves, so too are the currents of couplehood. Esarey’s writing is at turns confessional and deeply moving. She admits that “sometimes the space between people feels totally innavigable . . . . Right now I’m having a hard time just navigating the islands of me and Graeme – the person I love, the person I thought I knew best in the world.” Later, she discovers that “even though the honeymoon ends, so too, do the storms. We just have to stick around long enough.”

In other parts, the memoir reads more like a comedy. When describing their Labrador retriever Scout’s refusal to be “sailbroken” Esarey channels Dr. Seuss: “She will not pee on a mat. She will not pee on a hat. She will not pee on a boat. She will not pee on a coat. She does not like our green mat plan. She does not like it, Janna and Graeme.”

After the trip’s termination, Esarey reflects upon the accomplishment of many personal goals: escaping her workaholic lifestyle; fulfilling her youthful dream of sailing to the Southern Cross; and finding her personal purpose (becoming a writer). While Esarey takes pride in these achievements, she professes that, “It’s not so important what Graeme and I did . . . its more important how we did it . . . By giving to each other, by relying on each other, by seeking support when each other wasn’t enough.” In short, “life’s biggest, hairiest, most audacious goal . . . [may be] Figuring out how to make love last.”

The Motion of the Ocean is the perfect Staycation read!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mailbox Monday -- August 3rd

Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page I'm participating in the Mailbox Monday round up. This week I received the following books for review:

1) Don't Know Much About Anything Else by Kenneth C. Davis

2) Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller

3) The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky

Thanks Book Report Network!

4) NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Thanks Hachette Book Group!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Spotlight: Become an Industry Insider (or Fake It)

As a journeyman book blogger I am constantly seeking sources that will improve my blogging. One component of successful blogging, I believe, is providing readers with valuable and interesting content. Recently, I discovered a great site with news from the publishing world: Shelf Awareness.

Shelf Awareness is a great resource for book bloggers. Each day, the daily newsletter, available for free, delivers industry news such as: book award recipients; forthcoming books; author publicity tours; reviews; and other insider information. In addition, it is a source for obtaining ARCs for review. The ads in the newsletter often list books that are available for reviewers.

If you have a few moments check out Shelf Awareness – you will be glad you did!