Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Giveaway -- The Obamas (ends March 24th)

Publisher's Summary: When Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, he also won a long-running debate with his wife Michelle. Contrary to her fears, politics now seemed like a worthwhile, even noble pursuit. Together they planned a White House life that would be as normal and sane as possible.

Then they moved in.

In the Obamas, Jodi Kantor takes us deep inside the White House as they try to grapple with their new roles, change the country, raise children, maintain friendships, and figure out what it means to be the first black President and First Lady. Filled with riveting detail and insight into their partnership, emotions and personalities, and written with a keen eye for the ironies of public life, THE OBAMAS is an intimate portrait that will surprise even readers who thought they knew the President and First Lady.

Giveaway Rules: Today I am giving away ONE copy of this behind-the-scenes look at the nation's first couple!

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 Entries: Sign up to follow my blog (or let me know that you are a current follower); follow me on twitter (DCMetroreader) and on Facebook (Metroreader). NOTE: These extra entries MUST be left in a separate comment or 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.
Limit one winner per household regardless of the site won from.

Giveaway ends March 24th. Good Luck!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Chapter -- First Paragraph -- Tuesday Intros

Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros. This week's intro is from The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley:

Norfolk, England

I have the same dream every night. It's as if my life is thrown up into the air and all the pieces are sent down . . . back, to front and inside out. All part of my life and yet in the wrong order, the view fragmented.

People say that dreams are important and they tell you something, something that you are hiding from yourself.

I am hiding nothing from myself; I only wish I could.

I go to sleep to forget. To find some peace, because I spend the whole day remembering.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mailbox Monday -- February 27th!

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, my final one as host. I have thoroughly enjoyed hosting this month! Next month's host is Anna at Diary of an Eccentric.

Please leave your link at Mr. Linky and don't forget to leave a comment to enter this week's giveaway. Thanks for sharing a great month with me!

1) Far from Here by Nicole Baart. Publisher's Summary: Danica Greene has always hated flying, so it was almost laughable that the boy of her dreams was a pilot. She married him anyway and together, she and Etsell settled into a life where love really did seem to conquer all. Danica is firmly rooted on the ground in Blackhawk, the small town in northern Iowa where they grew up, and the wide slashes of sky that stretch endlessly across the prairie seem more than enough for Etsell. But when the opportunity to spend three weeks in Alaska helping a pilot friend presents itself, Etsell accepts and their idyllic world is turned upside down. It’s his dream, he reveals, and Danica knows that she can’t stand in the way. Ell is on his last flight before heading home when his plane mysteriously vanishes shortly after takeoff, leaving Danica in a free fall. Etsell is gone, but what exactly does gone mean? Is she a widow? An abandoned wife? Or will Etsell find his way home to her? Danica is forced to search for the truth in her marriage and treks to Alaska to grapple with the unanswerable questions about her husband’s mysterious disappearance. But when she learns that Ell wasn’t flying alone and that a woman is missing, too, the bits and pieces of the careful life that she had constructed for them in Iowa take to the wind. A story of love and loss, and ultimately starting over, Far From Here explores the dynamics of intimacy and the potentially devastating consequences of the little white lies we tell the ones we love.

2) The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley. Publisher's Summary: Spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from the Wharton Park estate in England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family, whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences.
As a child, concert pianist Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the grand estate where her grandfather tended exotic orchids. Years later, while struggling with overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to this tranquil place. There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation.
When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed the estate. Their search takes them back to the 1940s when Harry, a former heir to Wharton Park, married his young society bride, Olivia, on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt for generations to come.
This atmospheric story alternates between the magical world of Wharton Park and Thailand during World War II. Filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption, The Orchid House is a beautiful, romantic, and poignant novel.

Both thanks to Simon and Schuster!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giveaway -- Girl Land -- ends (March 17th)

Publisher's Summary: Caitlin Flanagan's essays about marriage, sex, and families have sparked national debates. Now she turns her attention to girls: the biological and cultural milestones for girls today, and how they shape a girl's sense of herself.

The transition from girl to woman is an experience that has changed radically over the generations: everything from how a girl learns about her period to how she expects to be treated by boys and men. Girls today observe these passages very differently, and yet the landmarks themselves have remained remarkably constant-proof, Flanagan believes, of their significance. In a world where protections of girls' privacy and personal freedom seem to disappear every day, the ultimate challenge modern parents face is finding a way to defend both.

Giveaway Rules: Today I am giving away THREE copies of this fascinating read!

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 Entries: Sign up to follow my blog (or let me know that you are a current follower); follow me on twitter (DCMetroreader) and on Facebook (Metroreader). NOTE: These extra entries MUST be left in a separate comment or 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.
Limit one winner per household regardless of the site won from.

Giveaway ends March 17th. Good Luck!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First Chapter -- First Paragraph -- Tuesday Intros

Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros. This week's intro is from Blue Nights by Joan Didion:

In certain latitudes there comes a span of time approaching and following the summer solstice, some weeks in all, when the twilights turn long and blue. This period of the blue nights does not occur in subtropical California, where I lived for much of the time I will be talking about here and where the end of daylight is fast and lost in the blaze of the dropping sun, but it does occur in New York, where I now live. You notice it first as April ends and May begins, a change in the season, not exactly a warming -- yet suddenly summer seems near, a possibility, even a promise. You pass a window, you walk to Central Park, you find yourself swimming in the color blue: the actual light is blue, and over the course of an hour or so this deepens, becomes more intense even as it darkens and fades, approximates finally the blue of the glass on a clear day at Chartes, or that of the Cerenkov radiation thrown off by the fuel rods of nuclear reactors. The French called this time of day "l'heure bleue." To the English it was "the gloaming." The very word gloaming reverberates, echoes -- the gloaming, the glimmer, the glitter, the glisten, the glamour -- carrying in its consonants the images of houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the shadows. During the blue nights you think the end of day will never come. As the blue nights draw to a close (and they will, and they do) you experience an actual chill, an apprehension of illness, at the moment you first notice: the blue light is going, the days are already shortening, the summer is gone. The book is called "Blue Nights" because at the time I began it I found my mind turning increasingly to illness, to the end of promise, the dwindling of the days, the inevitability of the fading, the dying of the brightness. Blue nights are the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but they are also its warning.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mailbox Monday -- February 20th

Welcome to Mailbox Monday -- the President's Day edition. Happy birthday George and Abe! And thanks also for having birthdays in the (usually) snowy, icy and bitter cold February. However you are celebrating this holiday weekend, I hope it is a relaxing one. Anyone baking a cherry pie?

Again this week I only have one book to list (I have been cutting back to catch up). Please leave your link at Mr. Linky and don't forget to leave a comment to enter this week's giveaway.

1) Blue Nights by Joan Didion. Publisher's Summary. From one of our most powerful writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter. Richly textured with bits of her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion examines her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old.

Blue Nights opens on July 26, 2010, as Didion thinks back to Quintana’s wedding in New York seven years before. Today would be her wedding anniversary. This fact triggers vivid snapshots of Quintana’s childhood—in Malibu, in Brentwood, at school in Holmby Hills. Reflecting on her daughter but also on her role as a parent, Didion asks the candid questions any parent might about how she feels she failed either because cues were not taken or perhaps displaced. “How could I have missed what was clearly there to be seen?” Finally, perhaps we all remain unknown to each other. Seamlessly woven in are incidents Didion sees as underscoring her own age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept.

Blue Nights—the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning”—like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profoundly moving.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Chapter -- First Paragraph -- Tuesday Intros!

Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros. This week's intro is from Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on the Life with John F. Kennedy:

Jackie when do you think the President first began to think and act seriously about the presidency? When did he begin to see himself, do you suppose, as a possible president?

I think he was probably thinking about it for an awfully long time, long before I even knew, and I say this because I remember the first year we were married, I heard him at the Cape. He was in a room with his father, talking and I came in and they were talking about something -- about the vice presidency. Well, this was just the year after he had been elected a senator.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mailbox Monday--February 13th!

Welcome to another week of Mailbox Monday! Happy Valentine's Day (a day or two early)! Is everyone ready for Valentine's Day? I'm not, but hope to be soon (LOL I know I am a big procrastinator).

Below is the Mr. Linky and my Mailbox (actually the received it a few weeks ago, but forget to post then). Leave a comment to be entered for a mystery prize. Also, if you missed leaving a comment on last week's Mailbox Monday feel free to leave one now. I have decided to keep each week's entry post open the whole month of February, so that I only have one trip to make to the Post Office.

1) What Would Jesus Drink? by Brad Whittington. Publisher's Summary. What would Jesus drink? As every new generation arrives at the age of majority, the question is asked again. For the sincere follower of Jesus, the answer is not as easy to find as one might expect.

Was Jesus really the miraculous bartender by creating wine at a wedding, as some have said? Did Jesus really drink wine at the Last Supper? Was the wine in the Bible really grape juice? Is drinking wine, beer or liquor a sin, or just a personal preference? Should a Christian abstain anyway, even if it’s not a sin?

I decided to dig deeper, to find every verse in the Bible that touched on this topic, and figure it out. I set aside any sermons I might have heard, any personal history, any personal preference, and began a search for the truth, committed to following it wherever it might lead.

This book is a quick-read, a chronicle of that search and my conclusions. For those who also want to take the time to dig deeper, at the end of the book I include a list of all 247 verses in the Bible that refer to wine and strong drink so you can easily read them for yourself and go read them in context like I did. I also include a bibliography of other books on the topic, most of which disagree with my conclusions.

Thanks to the author!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lovesick Blog Tour

I am thrilled to be today's official stop on the Lovesick Blog Tour. As part of the tour, I have an exclusive excerpt and interview with the author. So come on in and enjoy the party!

First up, the author Spencer Seidel has graciously agreed to answer a few questions:

1. Where do you do most of your writing?

At a small wooden desk my father made for me in a small office with the lights off and the door shut tight.

2. Do you have any quirks that come out while you are writing?

I think I’m secretly half-terrified that some psychologist will casually pick up one of my books and have a long, hard look at those quirks. “Perhaps a long rest in a relaxing countryside villa is in order, Mr. Seidel? Or these medications, maybe?”

3. What is your daily routine as a writer?

When I’m trying to finish a manuscript, I write every day for about two hours when possible. I get uncomfortable missing more than one day of writing because then I risk losing momentum, and that can be a death sentence for a new manuscript, particularly a first draft. Oh, and I’ve begun to write in the evenings, after dinner. I like the open-endedness of writing in the evenings.4. What book are you reading now?

I’m reading “11/22/63” by Stephen King and really digging it, much more than I have other recent novels of his. Lots of resonance in this one because he’s dealing with (mostly) real events. I love the “It” tie ins with the town of Derry. He gets it just right, I think.

5. What are your current projects?

I’m now working on a horror novel, or what you might call a supernatural thriller. It’s not gory, just creepy. It’s a bit of a departure for me, but I’ve been wanting to do it for a while. I’m not quite ready to reveal the plot or title, but I am excited about the project.

Publisher's Summary. Late one night out on the Eastern Promenade Trail in Portland, Maine, the police discover an incoherent teenager sitting in a pool of blood, holding the body of his best friend and the murder weapon. The girl they both love has been missing for weeks.

The kid’s jealousy clearly drove him to murder. He says the missing girl is the love of his life. She also happens to be the girlfriend of the murder victim.

It’s an open and shut case, or so most of Portland thinks.

Dr. Lisa Boyers, forensic psychologist, receives a call from an old friend, a connection to her troubled past. Attorney Rudy Swaner wants her to interview the young killer Paul Ducharme, who is claiming he doesn’t remember the events leading up to the murder.

In her jailhouse interviews, Lisa helps Paul to recover his memories. But something about Paul’s disturbing love story shakes Lisa to the very core of her being. To understand Paul, she is forced to confront her own ugly, violent secrets.

Media attention mounts. Reporters stream into Portland. All eyes turn to the psychologist who seems intent on exonerating the vicious teen killer. Soon Lisa finds herself the focus of an over-zealous reporter with a knack for digging up dirty secrets.

But the killer who has Lisa in the crosshairs already knows them all.

Review: Lovesick is one part murder mystery and one part drama, but all parts a solid read. The plot hooked me from the beginning (always a good sign) which starts with a whodunit scene of the crime. I kept reading, however, because I cared about the characters. I wanted to know if the alleged killer, Paul Duracharme, ever sorted out his feelings about his best friend, Lee, and, Wendy, the girl he loved. I wanted to know what the deal was with Wendy who seemed bent on self destruction with the wrong guy. I also wanted to know if Dr. Lisa Boyers, the forensic psychologist, would confront her bottled up emotions concerning a dark secret in her past. Mainly, however, I just wanted to know how it all ended. Lovesick didn’t disappoint!

Now check out the excerpt below:

The kid was soaked through in blood and looked scared, confused. The knife lay in the little pile of puke next to him. When he got closer, Jimmy saw that the victim had been cut ear to ear. Blood from his sliced neck had poured down his chest in a bloody waterfall.

“Take it easy kid. Just going to put the cuffs on you, okay?” Jimmy said softly.

“My name is Paul. Paul Ducharme,” the kid said, his intense unblinking eyes wide with fear. “And I think there’s something wrong with Lee.”

Continue reading tomorrow at: PS Mom Reviews.

Thanks to the publicist for the advance copy to review!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First Chapter -- First Paragraph -- Tuesday Intros!

Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros. This week's intro is from Last Dog on the Hill by Steve Duno:

Lou's last meal was a sirloin fed to him on the day of his passing. He couldn't walk anymore, but he still could eat, that big-hearted dog, the steak flagging from his jaws like bloody treasure. The sanctity of food: eat through the pain -- that's dog law.

During his sixteen years he battled coyotes and kidnappers, charmed babies and soothed the sick and elderly. He caught rapists, foiled robberies, graced the cover of a book, taught sign language to kids, and peed on knights in shining armor. Lou's intellect and abilities won me a life changing job, which led to my sitting here now writing about him. He danced with wolves, herded sheep, charmed snakes and celebrities, won contests, climbed mountains, got kipnapped, and mastered a vocabularly bigger than that of some people I know. Lou redefined what it meant to be a great dog and a hero. Four years later I can still smell him, still hear his collar jingle, still see his movie star mug looking up at me. Lou deserved that sirloin and a thousand more. I miss him more than I can say.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mailbox Monday--February 5th!

Yippee February is here! And I am this month's host for Mailbox Monday!

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia and is gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists. Below is what I received this week.

Also, if you have trouble with Mr. Linky please let me know as I have never used this before. Lastly, feel free to leave a comment too. And if you do you're entered to win a mystery prize!  Thanks for stopping by!

1) The Last Dog on the Hill by Steve Duno.  Amazon Summary.  Born of guard dogs on a secret marijuana farm in Mendicino County, Lou truly was one dog in a million. On the winter day that the ailing, tick-infested feral pup was rescued by Steve Duno, neither dog nor man had a clue as to what they were getting into, or where the relationship would lead.

Last Dog on the Hill tells the story of an indigent young Rottweiler mix who, after abandoning his pack and the hills of his birth, went on to change the lives of hundreds of people and dogs, including the author’s, whose career as a behaviorist and writer was made possible through Lou’s extraordinary intelligence and heart. Lou won the respect of gang members, foiled an armed robbery, caught a rapist, fought coyotes and kidnappers, comforted elderly war veterans and Alzheimer patients in their final days, taught ASL to kids, learned scores of unique behaviors and tricks, amassed a vocabulary of nearly 200 words, helped rehabilitate hundreds of aggressive dogs and saved them from euthanasia. He was also a clown, consummate performer and Steve’s best friend for sixteen years. His story will make readers laugh and cry in equal measures.

This was a gift.