Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Man Booker Prize... The Who, What, Where of this Literary Honor












On Tuesday July 28th the 2009 Man Booker Dozen were announced. The Man Booker Dozen is like a baker's dozen, because it's a list of 13 books that are chosen to compete for the coveted Man Booker Prize for Fiction. This list is also called the longlist, because on Sept. 8th of this year the list will get smaller (also known as the shortlist) until Oct. 6th when the Man Booker Prize will be awarded.

What exactly is The Man Booker Prize? The prize, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, aims to reward the best novel of the year. Books eligible for the Man Booker prize must be written in English, but not by an author from the USA. So Australians, Indians, Irish, Canadians and Caribbean authors, amongst others, are eligible. Actually any citizen from the Commonwealth or The Republic of Ireland. Past winners are automatically considered, as are those short-listed in the past ten years. The novel must be an original work in English (not a translation), full length and must not be self-published. The judges on the panel include a literary critic, an academic, a literary editor, a novelist and a major figure. Publishers can submit 2 books. And then there's something called "The Call In's"... those are other titles beyond the publishers limit of 2 books that they wish the judges to consider. And the judges are obligated to "call in" 8 to 15 additional titles. But it seems the judges usually find these books "entertaining" more than anything else. The prize is $50,000 GBP or $82,432 in US dollars. But the money isn't the only thing that the writer receives- he or she achieves an amazing amount of worldwide fame & publicity!

But what I found really interesting was reading the judges blog on the Man Booker Prize website! In their blog they "talk" about the process of picking the books... how every year the judges identify themes. This year there were quite a few books about the WWII. ( Our book club saw that in more than a few choices we read this year!) They also talk about the liberties some authors take with historical fiction- are inaccuracies a killer? They also pay attention to best and worst opening sentences.... And they read all the books submitted, which this year was well over 100! Here's a link to the Judges Blog if you'd like to read it! And here's the link to the Chair's Blog, who also gives us some interesting insights.

So, Here's the Man Booker Prize Longlist:

AS Byatt..................... The Children's Book

J M Coetzee............... Summertime

Adam Foulds............. The Quickening Maze

Sarah Hall.................. How to paint a dead man

Samantha Harvey..... *The Wilderness

James Lever.............. Me Cheeta

Hilary Mantel............ Wolf Hall

Simon Mawer............ The Glass Room

Ed O'Loughlin............ Not Untrue & Not Unkind

James Scudamore..... Heliopolis

Colm Toibin ............... *Brooklyn

William Trevor .......... Love and Summer

Sarah Waters ............. *The Little Stranger

And if you're interested to learn a little more about these books, go to The Man Booker longlist . And just as a little aside, there is also The Man Booker International Prize, awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language. The judges use their own discretion in choosing the author. This year the winner is Alice Munro! You can read more about that here.

What was the best book you've read this year?! Have you read any of these books? Any predictions on the winner? Leave a comment and let me know about any of the books here! And if you think they left out any book you think should be here!

*P.S. The books with asterisk's are Kindle Ready!

Happy reading....
Suzanne

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Giveaway: The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser

Giveaway : The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser

The Giveaway has ended! Winners have been notified by email, so check your email to see if you won! Thanks to everyone who joined in on the fun and entered the giveaway! The winners will be announced here when I hear back from everyone!

About the Book...
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.

About the Author...
Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was fourteen. She was educated in Melbourne and Paris and has worked as an editor and a book reviewer. The Lost Dog is her third novel. It was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and received the 2008 Christina Stead Prize for fiction. Like to learn a little more about Michelle? You can find more info at her author page at Hachette Book Group.

I've read quite a few good reviews for this book... "Filled with luminous writing and startlingly wise observations, this is also a funny, moving and a beautiful contemporary Australian love story and a juicy mystery all at once." and I'm looking forward to reading it and reviewing it myself! In the meantime, I have 5 copies of The Lost Dog to Give Away courtesy of Valerie of Hachette Book Group!

To Enter this giveaway...

*For one entry leave me a comment with your email address!

*For another entry, follow my blog and leave a comment to let me know you just became a follower. (if you already are a follower you will get an extra entry!)

*Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.(No PO boxes). The books will be shipped to the winners directly from the publishers. Contest ends 11:59pm EST on August 22nd. I will randomly pick the winners the next day and email them! (please check your email.. winner must reply to me within 3 days! Thanks!) Good Luck!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Giveaway: Do Over! by Robin Hemley

Giveaway : Do-Over by Robin Hemley

If you had it all to do over again, would you? OK, how about just 'parts' of it?! Well, that's just what Robin Hemley does...

The Giveaway has ended.... Congratulations to Heidi, Gaby, & Rebecca! They each won a copy of Do-Over! And Thank you to EVERYONE who entered the giveaway!

About the Book...

Robin Hemley's childhood made a wedgie of his memory, leaving him sore and embarrassed for over forty years. He was the most pitiful kindergartner, the least spirited summer camper, and dateless for prom. In fact, there's nary an event from his youth that couldn't use improvement. If only he could do them all over a few decades later, with an adult's wisdom, perspective, and giant-like height...

In the spirit of cult film classics like Billy Madison and Wet Hot American Summer, in DO-OVER! Hemley reencounters paper mache, revisits his childhood home, and finally attends the prom--bringing readers the thrill of recapturing a misspent youth and discovering what's most important: simple pleasures, second chances, and the forgotten joys of recess.

Robin Hemly, 48 and a father of three girls, had some regrets growing up... In second grade he had one simple line to say and he blew it! In summer camp he was a failure (not athletic enough) and was always the last one picked for teams, He didn't go to his prom at 16 because he was too shy to ask out Lizzie Clark, and the list goes on. He didn't consider himself a failure, but inside he still felt like the kid who forgot his lines in second grade. He thought if he could go back and redo some of these 'failures', maybe he could unburden himself and live a happier life "internally". So he makes a list.... A Do Over list...

What a fun read too! Especially the interactions he has with the children he encounters as he tries to 'fit in'! It's interesting to see how the he handles his do-overs with an adult perspective, and touching how he even gets advice from one of his young daughters, Olivia, of the finer points of dodgeball... The writing is entertaining, funny and well worth the time. The story held my interest! I rooted for him, maybe because as he succeeded I felt like I succeeded too! Because I'm sure we all have things we'd like to do-over... I know I do! And I want to thank Anna B. of Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy to review! Thank you I really enjoyed it!

Now About the Giveaway...

NOW for the Giveaway! I have 3 copies of Do-Over! for a giveaway to my readers courtesy of Anna B. of Hachette Book Group. Thank you Anna for the opportunity to share this wonderful book!

To Enter this giveaway...

*For one entry leave me a comment with your email address!

*For another entry, follow my blog and leave a comment to let me know you just became a follower. (if you already are a follower you will get an extra entry!)

*Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.

* For an extra entry, share with us something you'd like to "do over" from your childhood!

I know I'd like to do over the day I got sent to the corner in first grade when Mrs. B. thought I was rocking JoAnne's chair back & forth when we were all suppose to be listening to her. ( it was actually JoAnne rocking back & forth on her own and I just happen to place my hand on the back of her chair) Talk about humiliating. I was so shy I didn't say anything, I just walked into that corner and stood there for what seemed hours...and I'd have to think now what to do, but it sure is a vivid memory! :D

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.(No PO boxes). The books will be shipped to the winners directly from the publishers. Contest ends 11:59pm EST on August 22nd. I will randomly pick the winners the next day and email them! (please check your email.. winner must reply to me within 3 days! Thanks!) Good Luck!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel... A Review

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

I just finished Last Night in Montreal... I’m at a loss for words.
It was hypnotizing....
It was like a jigsaw puzzle of people and places... and it was wonderful!

From the Inside Cover...

Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along the way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she’s safe.

In the opening line of the book we read “ No one stays forever” and with this we begin unraveling the mystery behind Lilia... We first meet Lilia casually walking out the door of her apartment going for the paper never to return. She leaves behind Eli, who starts to notice the time and wonders where she is... then desperately realizes that she’s gone... her only mark on the apartment they share, a polaroid photograph of her when she was twelve, neatly removed from above the headboard.... From here we are thrown into Lilia’s life before Eli, as she was growing up, constantly on the move with her father, changing names & identities, moving from state to state on an adventure of a lifetime, starting with a early morning ‘abduction’ in a snowy driveway, from a home she had known for 7 years into the arms of a recognizable stranger, bandages on her arms...

In a refreshing style, Emily St. John Mandel moves from present to past (and back again) from chapter to chapter with incredible continuity. Writing the story moving back and forth in time kept my attention. And made it so interesting! How parts of stories lead into other stories was amazing sometimes. The bits of information that were dropped like crumbs thru the story made me keep turning those pages to learn more. There are really 3 stories here, the story of young Lilia’s abduction and wanderings, the story of the detective who sacrifices his life looking for her, and the story of how everything in the past connects to the present day and how it all comes together in the end. The story rushes forward until the present and the past collide in Montreal....

With rich characters that are so human, so believable, so sad, I was drawn into their story. Their histories well developed. The writing done well. I loved Lilia and her cryptic life, but I think Michaela was my favorite character. She's the daughter of the detective searching for Lilia. As he searches for Lilia, Michaela becomes a lost soul and an integral part of Lilia's story in the end...

A story of love, loss, sacrifice and obsession. The story is moving. I recommend you pick it up and read it! You will enjoy it! And Last Night in Montreal is Emily St. John Mandel’s debut in the world of publishing! I can’t wait to see what other words she’ll be putting down on the page in the future!

I had heard so much buzz about this book, I am glad that I finally was able to read it! A Big Thank You to Caitlin of Unbridled Books for sending me a copy!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Salon

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and
read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book....

And this week is my first week participating in the Sunday Salon! Currently there are 416 book bloggers who belong to the Salon! I thought it would be fun to sit down with a cup of coffee and share what books and bookish things happened all week!

First off there was plenty of reading this week! I finished our book
club read, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. What an amazing book! Have you read it yet? First of all for anyone not familiar with the book, it is a memoir. And Jeannette Walls holds no punches. To say her life was unconventional is an understatement. She had two sisters and a brother. They lived out of the cars, in various shacks, their beds were cardboard boxes, they sometimes went days without food... their mother was a free spirit and a painter, their father a charismatic drunk. They learned how to pack up in the middle of the night and leave in a hurry... Surprisingly Jeannette, her sister Lori, and her brother Brian all grew up to be normal, healthy individuals. And she doesn't write with bitterness about her upbringing. It was like a wonderful adventure at times. And I think it hardened their resolve to live normal lives on their own. Eventually they all moved to New York. And Jeannette's parents did as well, but they chose to still live on the streets... If you get a chance to pick this book up do it!

I Also read Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti. I already wrote a
review post on this book, but thought I would mention it again as a fun quick read that won't disappoint! Also read Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandell, and loved it! I will have a full review up on Monday. It's about this girl Lilia and her life as she constantly disappears from one place to another... The writer did such a unique job of writing her story back and forth thru time without missing a beat. There was a lot of buzz on the book blogs about this one and I am glad I finally got a chance to read it! Anyone else read it? Please let me know what you thought about it! Especially the ending! It's another book you should put on your TBR list if you haven't read it already!

Now I just started reading Seduce Me by Robyn Hart. I received in the mail for a blog tour the author is going to have in mid-Aug. Robyn Hart is a historical romance writer and Seduce Me is the first in what is going to be the Legend Hunter series. The Legend Hunters are a secret group that are after treasures, antiquities, etc. The beginning of Seduce Me is kind of like an Indiana Jones film, with dark musty stone corridors and a treasure being hunted for. In this case the treasure is the legendary Pandora's box, which is found and which lands in the hands of scholarly Esme, who can't help but get herself cursed by mishandling it. (It is Pandora's Box!) She is cursed by LUST and I can't wait to see how and if she get's herself out of it! Of course there is a handsome guy who is helping Esme try to solve the problem... I'm halfway thru and it reads like an adventure story with some sparks, but it is a romance and I'm sure it's going to heat up even more as it goes along! Will let you all know about it!

Anyone with an iPhone? I downloaded the free app this week from Barnes & Noble for my iPhone. Have you heard about it? It's a cool app that allows you to photograph a book cover with your iPhone and then it will search for that book, give you reviews and find & reserve that book at any Barnes & Noble bookstore. Say, you're at a friends house and want a book she has... just by a touch of the button you photograph it, hit search on the iPhone and the book and all the info appears on your screen. What I thought was also cool ( and a little 'big brotherish') was that it asks you if you want to find the book locally and if you press yes, it will bring up on the screen all the local Barnes & Nobles near you. I know it must use the GPS to know where you are, because it doesn't ask for your location, but it still was amazing. And I'm sure there are glitches and older titles probably will not register, but interesting app....

So, that's all my reading for this week... How about you?! What have you been reading this week! Let me know what you've got a bookmark in!

Happy reading.....
Suzanne

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Paul Martin Midden Virtual Book Tour for Toxin and a Giveaway!

Toxin by Paul Martin Midden
The Book Tour, Interview & Giveaway!

About Toxin...

Jake Telemark, a junior senator from Wisconsin, enjoys his position as a moderate, common-sense legislator in Washington, D.C.—until the phone call that changes his life forever. Isadore Hathaway, daughter of the late Frank Hathaway, a renowned senatorial powerhouse, demands to see Jake immediately. During a mysterious meeting with Isadore, Jake learns an uncomfortable truth: a group of fanatical right-wing evangelicals, who call themselves The Bookkeepers, are planning to destroy the US democracy.


Shocked by Isadore’s revelation, but initially unwilling to get involved in something he can scarcely believe, Jake soon learns why Isadore Hathaway singled him out for this clandestine meeting: she’d uncovered a part of Jake’s past that he’d fought to keep hidden, not just by law, but by of the demands of his sanity. Isadore’s plea is both startling and matter-of-fact: she wants Jake to kill the men involved in this sinister plot—because if Jake doesn’t kill them, they will kill him.


When parts of Isadore’s scenario begin to come true, Jake becomes ensnared in a dangerous and deadly plot. With the country at risk and freedom hanging in the balance, Jake is thrust into excruciating circumstances. Forced to confront the demons of his past, and the demons that threaten the future of the country he serves, Jake inconveniently falls in love with Isadore. As this burgeoning relationship plays out against the backdrop of the most tumultuous time in US history, Jake Telemark must wage an intense tug-of-war between his promise to never harm another human being, and his duty to the country, and woman, he loves.

A gripping
first person novel that reads like non-fiction, Toxin is briskly-paced and filled with urgency. Part provocative political thriller, part powerful psychological narrative, Toxin delivers a terrifyingly-real storyline that deftly blurs the lines between fiction and reality. Novelist Paul Martin Midden displays remarkable dexterity in his extraordinary character development, exquisite understanding of the texture and complexity of human relationships, and ability to keep the pages turning in this powerful thriller.

I had the wonderful opportunity to read Toxin recently and enjoyed it immensely. Toxin has all your usual political thriller elements- government conspiracy, secret societies, terrorism, deaths of government officials. But Toxin is so much more than that. Toxin reads more like a psychological thriller as we get inside the characters and see their motivations. The main characters of the story, Jake the jr. senator and Dora the daughter of the a powerful deceased senator, almost become the story themselves because they are so well developed.


I also had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Midden, here's what we "talked" about...

Can you tell us a little about your background.

I am a psychologist with thirty plus years experience in clinical practice. Most recently—for the past seventeen years—I’ve been the Clinical Director of a treatment program for Catholic priests and religious. I got into writing fiction as a hobby and surprised myself by liking it a lot.


You have very impressive career in the medical field, with not only your clinical practice, but you've also been on the medical and academic staffs of major hospitals. What prompted you to begin a career in writing?

The specific incident which led to writing my first book was preparing for a talk. I have some anxiety about doing presentations, so I decided to write the whole thing out and practice reading it aloud. I discovered that I actually enjoyed the writing part, if not the presenting part. I had been thinking about fiction for awhile, so I decided to give it a go.


Your novel Toxin is a political thriller, but it feels more like a psychological thriller because of the way you get under the surface of your characters and their underlying motivations. How would you classify your novel?

This is a good question. It did not occur to me that Toxin might be a thriller (or mystery or suspense) work until the reviews starting coming in. I just thought it was a way of writing that was different, since it is a first-person narrative. Once I got going on the writing of it, I had to admit it had a lot in common with political thrillers and the action did go in that direction. So a lot of the reviews made sense along those lines. I would say it’s a thriller with perhaps unusually strong character development.


Speaking of motivations, your character Isadore Hathaway is the daughter of a deceased powerful senator. She approached our protagonist Jake Telemark and revealed to him her belief that there was a conspiracy of right- wing fundamentalists trying to take over our government. She wanted his help. Jake was immediately attracted to "Dora", do you think this influenced his decision to help her? do you think that the relationship between Jack and Dora was a necessary part of the story?

To answer the last question first: I think the relationship between Dora and Jake was central to the story. They were thrown together in extraordinarily intense circumstances; they were both attractive and available; and it would have been incongruous for there not to have been an erotic tie. On the other hand—and to answer the first question—Jake knew right off that he was drawn to Dora. But he was also put off by what he saw at first as her lunacy. I think he would have helped her in the end anyway, but the attraction helped him along.


Jake, the senator/sniper, was particularly well written. He easily was able to switch roles between the junior senator from Wisconsin and his role as killer soldier. How did you develop the character Jake?

I don't really know how I develop characters. Since I write every day on a project, they come to life slowly, one and a half pages at a time. He's a quirky, unconventional guy who looks 'normal' on the surface, as many of my characters seem to be. I don't have to look too far to do 'research' on those types of people.


Toxin explores the tensions between the right-wing fundamentalists and secular America. It's about conspiracy and ultimately makes us wonder "Is the U.S. vulnerable to an attack from within?" where did you get your idea for this book? And did the present day political atmosphere influence your writing Toxin especially with the U.S. concerns with terrorism?

When I write, the first ‘inspiration’ comes with the opening chapter or two. I start writing and a dramatic scene presents itself. Then the story takes on a life of its own. I am sure, at the same time, that the current political situation had a great deal of influence. The minister who is referred to in the book, J.D. Rushdoony, is a real person who actually espoused the notion of turning the US into a religious oligarchy. And there are many who espouse this idea directly or indirectly even today. Those elements who want to tear down the wall of separation between Church and State and who want to legislate morality; those who are fanatical about single issues; those who long for some imagined past time of peace, tranquility and righteousness: all of these people are out there and have followings. Perhaps they are small, but as both the Oklahoma bombing and 9/11 reminded us, it doesn’t take a lot of people to do major damage or to disrupt the business of the nation.


Toxin is written with Jake Telemark telling us the story. Do you think writing a novel in the first person gets the reader more involved? Why first person?

I do think there is a tendency for the reader to get more involved with the narrator, since he looms so large over the entire book and all the action is filtered through him. It’s impossible to get away from him: he’s on every page.


How do you write your stories? Idea for a plot first, characters first, characters develop as the story does?

When I was a young psychologist starting out in practice, I asked an older colleague where patients came from. His response was that they “. . . came from God.” Ideas for stories seem to come in the same inexplicable way. I love playing with opening lines and opening paragraphs. If an idea is potent or fecund enough, it can blossom into a story. But then the day to day writing takes over and allows that to happen. I am a psychologist, so the people (read ‘character’) part is especially intriguing to me.


Would you like to share with us about what your next novel is about and when we can look forward to seeing it on the shelves?

My next novel, One Voice Too Many, is about a man who struggles to stay sane. He’s an average-seeming guy, but he has a dark history and some powerful internal struggles. I hope to have it published within this next year.


What was the last book you read? And what's on the nightstand now?The last few books I’ve read have been nonfiction: A Voyage Long and Strange was my last. Wonderful story. Right now I’m working on The Indifferent Stars Above, the story of the Donner party. Another great read. Neither of them is fiction.


If you could spend an afternoon with any one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why? There are a number of candidates, but I’d have to say Lao-Tsu. He was one of the first humans to comprehend the flow of life. I’d like to know how he got there so quickly.


Anything else you'd like to share with us? Only that I thought answering your thoughtful questions would be a chore, but it was actually a pleasure. Thanks for hosting this interview.


A BIG Thank you to Mr. Midden for his time in answering my questions and sharing a little bit of himself with us! To learn more about Paul Martin Midden, please follow the link to his website HERE.



Paul Martin Midden is giving away a signed copy of his book, Toxin, to one lucky tour visitor! Go to his book tour page : Toxin Tour Page, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN: 6371, for your chance to win. Entries from Chick with Books will be accepted until 12 noon (PT) July 26th! No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on the book tour page next week.


This is the last day on The Toxin Virtual Book Tour... Here are the other stops Paul made...


Bookish Ruth , Jen's Book Thoughts, Allie's Musings, The Book Zombie,

Wendi's Book Corner, Petit Fours and Hot Tamales, Café of Dreams,

Mystery Reader Discussion, Bookish Ruth

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Len Edgerly and The Kindle Chronicles... and my little interview on his podcast!

Len Edgerly and The Kindle Chronicles
...and a link to a little interview I did with Len on his weekly podcast!

If you have a Kindle you should know Len Edgerly! If you're thinking about buying a Kindle this is the man with the answers! Len Edgerly is the mind behind The Kindle Chronicles, a popular weekly podcast covering "All things Kindle". Each friday, The Kindle Chronicles podcast covers current Kindle news, a Tech Tip, an interview, a quote and comments he's received from the Kindle community.... and this past Friday Len interviewed me on my coming out of the closet with my love for the Kindle!

With a warm and engaging manner, Len is a wonderful interviewer. Our podcast interview sounds like two friends chatting together over coffee... And what we talked about was the love of reading and how the Kindle has added a a new dimension to my enjoyment of a good book! We also talked a bit about how the Chick with Books blog came to be and how I've started to integrate the Kindle into the blog. Here's the link to my interview .

A graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, Len has worked as a business journalist, an editor of an energy magazine, and an executive at a natural gas company. AND he has a Masters in Fine Arts in poetry! Of course he has a book on Kindle... A Poet's Progress at Bennington , "a mix of commentary on poets and my own original poems". I enjoyed reading his original poems, and I was particularly touched by his poem The Day Mary Died, about the unfortunate passing of a beloved dog...

Want to learn more about The Kindle Chronicles? Here's THE LINK! Going back to his first podcast July 2008, you can listen to any of any of the 52 podcasts already posted. You can also subscribe to the Kindle Chronicles on iTunes HERE. Len also has his own blog, which covers "all things Len Edgerly" HERE.

Thanks Len for making me feel right at home in the interview chair, and sharing all your knowledge every week on The Kindle Chronicles podcast!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti.... A Review

Why is it so impossible to get a relationship between two middle-aged misfits to work? The answer lies in the story of Benny & Shrimp...

An offbeat love story so charming you'll never want it to end!

Benny's a Swedish farmer, a country boy in his 30's with 24 milk cows and followers (followers are the babies...) plus a few sheep. He orders his clothes from a catalog...

Shrimp's a widowed Swedish librarian, in her 30's living in a sterile apartment with a white sofa. She eats vegetarian and dresses in beige...

He wants a farmers wife... She wants someone to go to the opera with...

They meet in a cemetery and fall in love... Benny mourning the loss of his mother; Shrimp mourning her husband. Detesting each other at first because they are forced to share what they feel should be a private moment alone on a bench in the cemetery where their loved ones are buried. Every day they make the same trip... Loneliness hangs off them like the morning dew, but a chance smile between them one day starts to melt their mistrust... Benny & Shrimp is an offbeat, fun, romp in the hay love story! I absolutely loved this book! In alternating chapters Benny and Shrimp each take turns telling their story from their own perspective. And it is a hoot at times...

" Going to the grave is my only breathing space, and even then I never feel I can just sit there thinking. I have to rake and plant and weed before I can let myself sit down. And then she's there..."

" It was a clear, cold autumn day and I took my usual walk to the grave on my lunch break. The Forest Owner was sitting there on the bench; he glowered at me, as if I were trespassing in his own private cemetery. His paws were all soily..."

It's an honest, down-to-earth look at love, sprinkled with humor and a pinch of sadness. It's about how two people who are mad about each other have a hard time putting it all together to make it work... It will touch your heart.

The writing is wonderful! Katarina Mazetti's choice of writing in alternating "character" chapters is a perfect way to tell this story and I think adds to its charm. You will start to look forward to reading how Benny and then Shrimp "sees" the situation. I loved the characters because of their quirkiness. The dairy farm where Benny has his life feels like a throw back to a simpler time and sets the stage for the story (and some differing of opinions) wonderfully. Their lifestyles are so different, but they are both intelligent & caring people. Could Shrimp learn to make meatballs? Could Benny not sleep thru the opera? What makes two people fall in love? With genuine affection between Benny & Shrimp you will be hoping thru each turn of the page that they can work things out. Benny & Shrimp is already an international hit! On July 28th it is going to be released in the U.S. by Penguin Books! Don't miss out reading this one! Their story will delight you!

Would you like to learn more about the book? Take a peak HERE! There's also a great reading guide for book clubs and an author interview HERE!

I want to thank Caitlin of FSB Associates for sending me a review copy so I could share it with my readers! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend this book to my readers! Thanks Caitlin!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Name is Will by Jess Winfield.... Giveaway!

A Tale of Two Shakespeares... with more in common than their names!

Struggling UC Santa Cruz grad student Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is trying to write his thesis about the Bard. Kind of...

Cut off by his father for laziness, and desperate for dough, Willie agrees to deliver a single giant, psychedelic mushroom to a mysterious collector, making himself an unwitting target in Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs.

Meanwhile, would-be playwright (and oppressed Catholic) William Shakespeare is eighteen years old and stuck teaching Latin in the boondocks of Stratford-upon-Avon. The future Bard's life is turned upside down when a stranger entrusts him with a sacred relic from Rome... This, at a time when adherents of the "Old Faith" are being hanged, drawn, and quartered as traitors.

Seemingly separated in time and place, the lives of Willie and William begin to intersect in curious ways, from harrowing encounters with the law (and a few ex-girlfriends) to dubious experiments with mind-altering substances. Their misadventures could be dismissed as youthful folly. But wise or foolish, the bold choices they make will shape not only the 'Shakespeare' each is destined to come... but the very course of history itself.

MY NAME IS WILL is a New York Times Book Review "Editor's Choice" and a California Book Award Finalist. Learn more about the author Jess Winfield at his Website! Read an excerpt HERE! It's gotten great reviews as a fun, off-beat enjoyable read! I haven't read it yet (another one on the TBR list!) But I have 3 paperback copies available to giveaway courtesy of Valerie of Hachette Book Group!

To Enter this giveaway...

*For one entry leave me a comment with your email address!

*For another entry, follow my blog and leave a comment to let me know you just became a follower. (if you already are a follower you will get an extra entry!)

*For another entry Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.(No PO boxes). The books will be shipped to the winners directly from the publishers. Contest ends 11:59pm EST on Aug. 8th. I will randomly pick the winners the next day and email them! (please check your email.. winner must reply to me within 3 days! Thanks!) Good Luck!

*P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready! (not part of the giveaway though...)

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