Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Banned Books Week Hop



The Banned Books Week Hop begins on Friday, September 28, 2012 and runs through Sunday, October 7, 2012. This hop has been organized by I Read Banned Books and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. In honor of Banned Books Week, all participating blogs will be sponsoring giveaways tied to banned and challenged books. The Book Diva's Reads will be giving away a 60th Anniversary edition of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. This edition includes text not included in previous editions.

To enter, please visit my giveaways page. All entries must use Rafflecopter (comments do not count as a entry). Although following is appreciated, it is not required to enter. This is an international giveaway but entrants must ensure that BookDepository.com ships to their country.  

For more information on banned and challenged books, please visit the American Library Association: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Coming Soon: UNSTOPPABLE

Coming soon...Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic, an inspirational memoir. 



Watch this incredible book trailer:



Download and read Chapter One. Look for Unstoppable in bookstores and online October 2, 2012.


Monday, September 24, 2012

2012 THE NINTH ORPHAN Review


The Ninth Orphan by James Morcan & Lance Morcan
ASIN: B0056I4FKC
Publication date: June 16, 2011
Publisher: Stirling Gate Books

How do you catch a man who is never the same man twice? 
That is the question posed in The Ninth Orphan, a new release international thriller novel... 

An orphan grows up to become an assassin for a highly secretive organization. When he tries to break free and live a normal life, he is hunted by his mentor and father figure, and by a female orphan he spent his childhood with. On the run, the mysterious man's life becomes entwined with his beautiful French-African hostage and a shocking past riddled with the darkest of conspiracies is revealed.
 
Fast-paced, totally fresh and original, filled with deep and complex characters, The Ninth Orphan is a controversial, high-octane thriller with an edge. Merging fact with fiction, it illuminates shadow organizations rumored to exist in the real world.

Tackling genetic selection, mind control, secret societies and a chase around the globe, The Ninth Orphan also has a poignant, romantic sub-plot. The story contains the kind of intimate character portraits usually associated with psychological novels.

Imagine twenty-three genetically bred children are brought into existence by a super-secret organization. Now imagine that this organization has raised these orphans to be whatever might be needed, industrial spy, industrial saboteur or assassin. Nine has lived the vast majority of his life being told what to do by the Omega Foundation. He, along with twenty-two others, was genetically modified to be super-smart and trained to be industrious and lethal, when the need arises. Unlike the other twenty-two orphans, Nine wants out and he's found a way to obtain his freedom. 

The Omega Foundation has a history of finding funds when the need arises, and Nine has found a way to thwart the latest Omega Foundation quest for money and power while simultaneously funding his quest for freedom. Unfortunately this quest has put an innocent in danger. Initially Nine, or Sebastian (the name given to him at birth by his mother), plans to kill Isabel Alleget. He fears that she may have taken his picture, even though he was in disguise, in a French marketplace. His plan to kill her is changed to abduction when his mentor, Tommy Kentbridge, finds him at Isabel's apartment. What follows is a game of cat and mouse as Sebastian attempts to stay one step ahead of Tommy and orphan Seventeen. Is Sebastian smart enough to elude these highly trained killers, especially since they have had the exact same training? Can he keep Isabel safe? Will he ever experience true freedom?

All of these are questions raised and answered in The Ninth Orphan. If you love thrillers, then The Ninth Orphan has a lot to offer: international intrigue, secret societies, and kidnaping to name just a few. At the heart of this story is the simple need for freedom that Sebastian craves. He is tired of the life of spying, killing, disguises and jumping constantly from one job to another and he's willing to do anything to get it. The Ninth Orphan read like a combination of the Bourne series meets Mission Impossible, with subtle undertones of the television show The Pretender. The only character I found remotely realistic, at least at first, was Isabel Alleget. I found the action to be too over-the-top to be believable. Perhaps I'm just not attuned to thrillers but I think that if this was classified as a science-fiction thriller I might have found it to be a little more acceptable. Now, just because this didn't suit my taste doesn't mean it may not be a good match for others. 

NOTE: I'm very indebted to the unbelievable patience of the authors of The Ninth Orphan. Due to months of delay after delay due to my medical problems, these authors exhibited not only patience but also caring and sympathy for my situation. I'm thankful to them for their patience as well as the opportunity to read and review The Ninth Orphan.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this ebook free for review purposes from the authors. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."




Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Book 184: BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD Review


Because It Is My Blood (Birthright series #2) by Gabrielle Zevin
ISBN: 9780374380748
Publication date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux


Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.


Book two in the Birthright series, Because It Is My Blood introduces a host of new characters and new intrigues in Anya Balanchine's life. Leo, Anya's older brother, has been safely hidden in Japan, with the help of Yuji Ono. Nataliya, or Nattie, has been sent to a summer camp for gifted children and returns a young woman. Scarlet, Anya's best friend is in a relationship with Gable, much to Anya's dismay. Anya, Leo and Nattie are still grieving the death of their grandmother Galina. Anya realizes that her continued relationship with Win is on dangerously shaky ground as a result of his father's campaign to become District Attorney. Imogen Goodfellow is currently functioning as Anya and Nattie's nanny, and is the only constant adult presence in their lives except for the family lawyer, Mr. Kipling.

As Anya struggles to keep herself and Nattie safe from Balanchine family machinations, she must also find a school willing to accept her for her senior year. Unbelievably, the latter is much harder than the former. Anya also finds herself embroiled in Balanchine family squabbles as a result of Mikhail "Mickey" Balanchine taking over the business now that his father, Yuri, is incapacitated. If that wasn't enough to deal with, Anya is used as a tool in the district attorney campaign race (the opponent constantly uses Anya's familial criminal ties, not to mention Anya's crimes, and her relationship with Win, to detract from the campaign of Charles Delacroix) and is constantly besieged by various adults with ulterior motives.

Just when it seems like Anya's life might be gradually turning around, she is arrested again, charged with violating the terms of her release, and then poisoned while in custody at Liberty. It is then decided that she should leave the country and arrangements are made for her to travel to Mexico and live with Sophia Bitter (Mickey's wife) Balanchine's family, the Marquez family. While in exile as an escapee from Liberty, Anya learns about the growing and production of cacao from this family. Again, just when it appears that things are going well for Anya an attempt is made on her life and the youngest son of the Marquez family is caught in the crossfire. This attempt ends with Anya returning to the US, making a deal with the new district attorney, a return trip to Liberty, and a brief home confinement.

To say that Anya is living a difficult life is a massive understatement, but even though she has moments of despair, she perseveres. Because It Is My Blood features political machinations, familial machinations, numerous attempts at murder, strange business plans and partnerships, and routine teenage angst. Once again, Ms. Zevin pulls the reader into Anya's world and it isn't possible to feel Anya's pain, fear, love and confusion as she attempts to make sense of everything that is happening. Nattie, Mr. Kipling, and even Simon Green are more prominently featured, as are Yuji Ono, Scarlet, and Gable. This was a fast read that held my attention from the first page until the very last. My only disappointment is that I have to wait for book three to find out what will happen to everyone. As I stated with All These Things I've Done, Because It Is My Blood may be classified as a YA book but it can truly be enjoyed by readers of all ages. If you read book one in this series, run and get book two (if you haven't read book one, add it and Because It Is My Blood to your to-be-read list ASAP) . . . you won't be disappointed.

Watch the book trailer: 

Read an excerpt:

I
I AM RELEASED INTO SOCIETY

COME IN, ANYA, have a seat. We find ourselves in the midst of a situation,” Evelyn Cobrawick greeted me, parting her painted red lips to reveal a cheerful sliver of yellow tooth. Was this meant to be a grin? I certainly hoped not. My fellow inmates at Liberty Children’s Facility were of the universal opinion that Mrs. Cobrawick was at her most dangerous when smiling. It was the night before my release and I had been summoned to the headmistress’s chambers.

Click here to read the full excerpt.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher through ShelfAwareness Pro. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."









Sunday, September 16, 2012

2012 Book 183: SWEAT Review


Sweat by Mark Gilleo
ISBN: 9781611880519
Publication date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: The Story Plant

When Jake Patrick took a summer internship at his estranged father’s corporation, he anticipated some much-needed extra cash and a couple of free meals from his guilty dad. He would never have guessed that he'd find himself in the center of an international scandal involving a U.S. senator, conspiracy, backroom politics, and murder. Or that his own life would hang in the balance. Or that he’d find help, and much more than that, from a collection of memorable characters operating on all sides of the law. Jake’s summer has turned into the most eventful one of his life. Now he just needs to survive it.

From the sweatshops of Saipan to the most powerful offices in Washington, Sweat rockets through a story of crime and consequences with lightning pacing, a twisting plot, an unforgettable cast of characters, and wry humor. It is another nonstop thriller from one of the most exciting new voices in suspense fiction.

Jake Patrick is a relatively naive young man as he still sees things in black and white, good or bad. After the death of his mother, Jake contacts his estranged father and requests a job for the summer. His plan is to learn a bit more about his father's import/export business, save some money, and go back to graduate school. Unfortunately for Jake, this summer is going to be hot in ways more than just the temperature.

Jake's father, Peter Winthrop, is considered the proverbial "middleman" in the import-export business. He helps link businesses meet the supply-demand requests around the world. One such business is Chang Industries, a clothing production facility, located on Saipan on the Mariana Islands. The advantage Chang Industries (a Chinese owned and operated facility) has by being on the Mariana Islands is that they can compete by legitimately being branded as "made in America" as the Mariana Islands is an American territory. Earlier that summer Peter Winthrop had traveled to the Mariana Islands with a Massachusetts senator, in order to videotape Chang Industries for an upcoming senate vote on overseas wage legislation. Unbeknownst to the senator (or perhaps he's simply unwilling to accept and admit), Chang Industries is a sweat shop that basically brings in young women from China and other Asian countries, to work in harsh conditions and reside as virtual prisoners. Some of these women are even forced into prostitution on behalf of the company. One such girl is Wei Ling, a seamstress that is forced to "serve" the needs of the senator and Peter. This one night results in international intrigue that results in blackmail, kidnaping and murder with Jake being caught in the middle of it all.

In more ways than one, the title Sweat seems to refer to not only the sweat shop but also the fact that Jake is constantly sweating as he tries to stay one step ahead of his father and bad guys. It may also reference several other characters sweating out their illegal behavior and resulting consequences. If the international aspects of the story aren't enough, Mr. Gilleo adds another layer of "sweat" by creating tension between Jake's new girlfriend, Kate Sorrentino, and her connected father. The only person Jake can count on throughout his investigation into his father's business, legal and otherwise, is a homeless former government information specialist. As the death toll mounts, will Jake be able to steer clear of his father? Can he obtain the documentation needed to prove what is going on with the senator and Chang Industries? And more important, can he stay one step ahead of the bad guys?

Mr. Gilleo has crafted a fast-paced thriller with Sweat. He provides glimpses of the behind-the-scene political machinations in Washington, D.C. with the plotting, planning and actions of Senator Day. He also gives a glimpse into the dirty world of sweat shops and illegal imports. Throughout all the international intrigue and thrills, Mr. Gilleo has provided the reader with a character to cheer for with Jake Patrick. I think that Jake's naïveté is what makes him so believable. Sweat is filled with a variety of characters, good and bad, but all are realistic in their actions. If you enjoy international intrigue, murder, mayhem, political scandal and a bit of romance, then Sweat is the perfect read for you. This was a fast and enjoyable read. I look forward to reading more from Mr. Gilleo.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."








Monday, September 10, 2012

BOOKMarks Book Festival



As planned, I was able to attend the BOOKMarks Book Festival this past Saturday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. My 15 y.o. niece, Cayla, and I arrived early and walked around for a while, visiting all of the books. Of course, I picked up a few more books, including another copy of Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (I also own Kindle and EPUB ebook versions of this book). One booth visited was the North Carolina Literary Map, which provides a geographical map of the North Carolina's literary heritage. I received a wonderful bookmark from this group and the following is found on the back: "Explore the North Carolina Literary Map and discover our state's rich literary heritage! The University Libraries at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, partnering with the North Carolina Center for the Book, has developed a robust online literary resource to support public interests, encourage student research, and document writers from all geographical areas of North Carolina. Their map includes novels, biographies, historical works, poetry, plays, short stories, children's books, and young adult literature...just about anything you can image connected to writing in and about North Carolina." Even though I don't reside in North Carolina, I took advantage of the festival discount and joined at the Bookworm level. 

The festival provided eight stations with a variety of authors available at each. My first session of the day featured Tayari Jones, Michael Malone and Daniel Wallace on "The Blessing and the Burden of Place." This was a rather lively session and each author provided their thoughts and perspectives on the importance of place (setting) for their works. Mr. Malone noted that he was advised by author Willa Cather to let your fiction grow out of the land beneath your feet. Ms. Jones stated that she felt that her work was a somewhat historical record of places and times even though the works are fictional accounts. All of her novels have been set in Atlanta and the Atlanta of the past. Mr. Wallace mentioned that his settings are all basically a fictionalized version of his grandparents' town in Alabama because he felt a strong connection to that town based on his childhood visits.


After this session, I was able to get my copy of Silver Sparrow signed by Ms. Jones. She is an extremely warm and gracious person and even consented to taking a photo with me (I'm in white).



The next session attended featured Gillian Flynn, author of Sharp Objects, Dark Places and Gone Girl. Ms. Flynn noted that she is working on a screenplay adaptation of Sharp Objects and that Gone Girl has been optioned for a screenplay adaptation by Reese Witherspoon's production company. She stated that Dark Places was somewhat of an homage to In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Ms. Flynn loves to read noir mystery and it is perhaps for this reason that all of her books are very dark. She noted that although she starts writing with a theme, she never really knows how a story is going to end. She even wound up throwing out 200 pages of a draft of one story simply because she tried to make a character a "good girl" and the story seemed force. Once the changes were made, the story made more sense and worked. When asked about the differences between writing a novel and a screenplay, she noted that it was quite a different process but she had researched screen-writing and was fortunate enough to grow up in a household with books (her mother was a teacher) and movies (her father taught film). To learn more about Ms. Flynn, please visit her websitehttp://gillian-flynn.com/.

Gillian Flynn at the BOOKMarks Festival
The last session we attended also featured Tayari Jones. She began with  reading the first chapter of Silver Sparrow. Ms. Jones stated that she actually wrote all of her books on typewriters, simply because it was too easy to delete work on a computer but a typewritten page that is thrown out can always be retrieved. This session featured a host of questions about the premise of the book as well as the book as it was discussed by a number of book groups that had read it over the past year. Ms. Jones did mention that she is working on a new novel. I enjoyed the reading and session and have now placed Silver Sparrow in the top 10 on my TBR list. My niece is even interested in reading this book as a result of this session. I'm debating whether or not I'll allow her to read my signed copy or simply go out and purchase a copy for her to keep. To learn more about Ms. Jones, please visit her website: http://www.tayarijones.com/


Although my migraine headache was quickly going from moderate to moderately-severe by mid-afternoon, I'm very glad I was able to attend the BOOKMarks Book Festival. (My only regret is that I was unable to attend the sessions featuring Kay Hooper, author of Haven, or Gail Tsukiyama, author of A Hundred Flowers.) I think I'll have to make this an annual event, as it was well worth the six-hour round-trip drive.

What did you do over the weekend? Did you read any good books? Please share with us...

2012 Book 181: THE SURVIVOR Review


The Survivor by Gregg Hurwitz
ISBN: 9780312625511
Publication date: August 21, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

One morning in Los Angeles, Nate Overbay—a divorced former solider suffering from PTSD and slowly dying from ALS — goes to an eleventh-floor bank, climbs out of the bathroom window onto the ledge, and gets ready to end it all. But as he’s steeling himself, a crew of robbers bursts into the bank and begins to viciously shoot employees and customers. With nothing to lose, Nate confronts the robbers, taking them out one-by-one. The last man standing leaves Nate with a cryptic warning.
Nate soon learns what that message meant. He is kidnapped by Pavlo, a savage Russian mobster and mastermind of the failed heist. Unable to break back into the bank to get the critical item inside, Pavlo gives Nate an ultimatum—break in and get what he needs or watch Pavlo slowly kill the one thing Nate loves most—his ex-wife Janie and his teenaged daughter Cielle—both lost when he came back from Iraq broken and confused. Now he’s got one last chance to protect the people he loves, even if it’s the last thing he is able to do.

Nate Overbay had an almost perfect life. He was married to the woman of his dreams, he had a good job, a beautiful daughter, a nice home, and good friends. All of that changed after his return from his military service after 9/11. His best friend died, he's suffering from extreme PTSD, he's lost his job, and he doesn't know how to fix things with his wife, Janie, and daughter, Cielle. Fast forward ten years and Nate is estranged from his wife and daughter. The divorce is almost final and only requires his signature of the final papers. He has a new job as a Professional Crisis Responder with the LAPD, and he's been diagnosed with ALS. Nate decides that rather than have his wife, and he continues to think of Janie as his wife, and daughter Cielle watch his slow decline, he'd rather kill himself. So off he goes to the 11th floor of the First Union Bank and climbs out on a ledge, but just when he's ready to jump, six robbers enter the bank, killing several people. Nate goes out on a metaphorical ledge when he decides to stop the robbers as they antagonize a mother and threaten to kill a small child. His heroic efforts save the lives of the remaining bank customers and workers, but now Nate's life literally hangs by a thread as he has thwarted the wants of a notorious Eastern European mobster.

Nate is in a race to beat the clock, as he's been allowed five days to retrieve the information he stopped the robbers from obtaining or he may be forced to see his family, Janie and Cielle, killed. Nate must be as unnoticed as possible while attempting this task because he has become a person-of-interest to the FBI. Agent Abara knows that there is more going on than Nate is telling him, and he isn't sure if the lies of omission and commission are directly or indirectly related to the bank robbery. Nate also has to deal with the watchful eye of Yuri, sent by Pavlo, to keep Nate in check. As Nate struggles with the task assigned by Pavlo, he decides to confront Janie and tell her everything that is going on. As time winds down on Nate's deadline, Pavlo decides to show Nate that he isn't joking about his threats to Janie and Cielle. After an attack on his family, Nate must decide how to proceed. Is it possible for him to outsmart not only the FBI but also Pavlo and his gang? Can he do all of this even though his ALS symptoms are getting worse?

Mr. Hurwitz has provided a smart, suspense-thriller with The Survivor. It isn't possible to dislike Nate, even though he has pushed himself away from his family. There are times when I felt sorry for Nate and all of the things he has had to deal with: the death of his mother at a young age, an alcoholic and emotionally distant father, the Gulf War, the death of his best friend Charlie, his PTSD leading to the estrangement from his wife and child, and his diagnosis of ALS. Nate never sees himself as a hero and feels guilty for all of the harm he's brought to the people that he loves. Most of his guilt is centered on the fact that he did "nothing" when a bomb was left on the helicopter overseas. His buddy Charlie throws himself onto the bag containing the bomb and saves the lives of Nate and others. Even though Nate was able to free Charlie from the debris of the wreckage, Charlie dies from his injuries with Nate by his side. These moments provide the reader with glimpses of who Nate really is as a man. Even Janie and Cielle are able to forgive him from running away from them when the PTSD was really bad, and they are willing to work with Nate to thwart the bad guys.

There's a lot of action, past and present, in The Survivor, and all are realistic. All of the characters, even the bad guys, are wholly believable. Nate may not consider himself to be a hero, but he's definitely one in the eyes of his family and to this reader. I felt sorrow, anger, and even fear while reading this story and never once did anything feel unrealistic or implausible. If you're looking for a well-crafted suspense thriller to read, then look no further. The Survivor is a great read and one that should be added to your to-be-read list as soon as possible. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed this story.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."






Saturday, September 8, 2012

2012 Book 180: MONSTROUS BEAUTY Review


Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
ISBN: 9780374373665
Publication date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux


Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.
Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.


Once upon a time there was a beautiful mermaid and her name was Syrenka. She lived for hundreds of years off the coast of Massachusetts, enamored with numerous men through the years, until she met Ezra Doyle. Ezra was a naturalist and was excited about learning as much about sea life, its creatures and myths. In 1872 Ezra met Syrenka and they fell in love. Unfortunately their love was doomed because Ezra was human and could not survive living in the sea and Syrenka was a creature of the sea and could not live on land, or could she?

Fast forward to present day and meet Hester Goodwin. Hester is a seventeen-year-old girl that has decided she can never fall in love, marry or have children. She arrives at this decision because her mother died shortly after her birth. Her grandmother died shortly after giving birth to her mother, and all evidence points to the same occurrence happening to all of the women in Hester's matrilineal ancestry going back to her great-great-great grandmother, Marijn Crotty. If this wasn't strange enough, Hester meets a young man named Ezra in a cave off of the beach one summer night. For some reason Hester and Ezra are pulled toward one another. As Hester tries to discover what may be causing the women in her family to die after giving birth, and always to a female child, she uncovers more and more strange information about her ancestors and their possible ties to strange and disastrous events in the past. As Hester continues to investigate, at the urging of her new friend Ezra, she virtually ignores her old friend, Peter Angeln.

Ms. Fama has crafted a unique and ghostly love story that spans several hundred years. The mystery and suspense build throughout the story, and kept this reader eagerly turning each page to learn more about Syrenka, Ezra, Hester, Marijn, and Peter. Monstrous Beauty offers a little bit of everything: romance, touches of horror, mystery, suspense, murder, revenge, mythical creatures, a sea monster, and even ghosts. As a result of all of these elements, it is somewhat difficult to classify Monstrous Beauty, but I think that neo-gothic romance fits. Monstrous Beauty is a fast read that captured and held my attention from the first page until the very last. Although classified as a YA read, I believe that Monstrous Beauty is suitable for readers of any age. If you're looking for a great read, this is one you should definitely consider.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher through ShelfAwareness Pro. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."




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Friday, September 7, 2012

BOOKMarks Book Festival

I'm planning to drive down to Winston-Salem, NC to attend the BookMarks Festival on Saturday, September 8, 2012 (if I don't have another severe migraine headache that will derail all travel plans). If you're in the area, you don't want to miss this event. I'm looking forward to seeing several of my favorite authors, including: Gail Tsukiyama, author of A Hundred Flowers; Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl; Kay Hooper, author of Haven; Sherrilyn Kenyon, author of Time Untime; and Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow. That's just a short list of authors attending this book festival.

The BOOKMarks festival is a free one-day street book festival featuring readings, discussions, book signings, workshops, etc. with over 40 authors. Reading-related exhibitors and food vendors will be present, along with a Young Readers Central Area, and an onsite bookstore. The festival will be in the Downtown Arts District on Sixty and Trade Streets in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

What are your plans for this weekend? Hope you all have a great weekend with some awesome reads.

Happy reading!




























Guest Post: Ron Gavalik of Grit City Publications & Emotobooks


Emotobooks: The Fusion of Written Fiction and Expressionistic Art
Ron Gavalik

Thank you to The Book Diva for allowing me to guest post.

As a writer and publisher, it’s always been a goal to bridge the gap between the cerebral gratifications of well-plotted fiction writing and the visual stimulation of illustrative art. The one day I had a mini-epiphany. Insert expressive, emotionally representative imagery in written stories, during moments of emotional consequence. By delivering a visual of what a character feels, the reader becomes more intensely immersed in the story.
Emotobooks are written fiction stories, not comics or graphic novels. The few emotional abstract images woven in the stories are the dream-like visuals each of us experience in the middle of the night.
The term Emotobook is a portmanteau word I conjured as a memorable label for the very first fiction medium for smartphones and tablets. For the first time, readers can now see actual representation of character emotions right on the page for a fun, interactive experience.
Stories are published as EmotoSerials or EmotoSingles. EmotoSerials are monthly-released, continuing stories, much like TV dramas or miniseries that continue until their climactic ends. EmotoSingles are individual experiences.
I launched Grit City Publications in July of 2011, with the first Emotobook series titled Grit City, a seven-part story about Dillon Galway, an idealistic freelance journalist, who scrapes out a living reporting on corruption. Since then, we’ve grown the Emotobooks Catalog into an array of fun genre fiction titles in Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, and Horror.
Each Emotobook title consists of three creators: the author, editor, and illustrator. It’s our philosophy that three contributors on each Emotobook delivers a richer, more flavorful story. The creators even offer Autograph Cards and suggest mood settings, such as food, drink, and music. This way our fans can achieve a full-bodied experience.
Emotobooks accommodate a new audience, who desire a fast “full story experience” on smartphones, iPods, computers, or tablet readers in about 30 to 60 minutes. They can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
Our editors are currently seeking the best genre fiction for the Emotobooks transformation. It’s required that fiction writers read our submission guidelines and the free handbook, How to Create Emotobooks, before submitting. Our publishing model is unique and we require long-term participation from authors for everyone’s success.
Now that you’ve been introduced to the Emotobooks Revolution, I hope you’ll join our Readers Cult and begin collecting the coolest titles. We even offer free Autograph Cards to our fans. What it really comes down to is we write, edit, and illustrate the best modern fiction for our fans. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. Thank you.
Ron Gavalik’s Bio:
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ron Gavalik is a seasoned freelance journalist and fiction author of the successful Grit City thriller series. As Publisher for Grit City Publications, he oversees the Emotobooks Revolution. Ron holds an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and a B.S. in Marketing Communications from Point Park University. When not writing, you can find him in the outdoors of Southwestern Pennsylvania on his trail bike, hiking, or fishing.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

2012 Book 177: THE TIME KEEPER Review


The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
ISBN: 9781847442253
Publication date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion


From the author who's inspired millions worldwide with books like Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most imaginative novel yet, The Time Keeper--a compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours. The man who became Father Time.
In Mitch Albom's newest work of fiction, the inventor of the world's first clock is punished for trying to measure God's greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.
He returns to our world--now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began--and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.
Told in Albom's signature spare, evocative prose, this remarkably original tale will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it and how precious it truly is.


Dor, a man from the time of the building of the Tower of Babel, is fascinated with measuring time. Unfortunately his fascination leads to his being banished to a cave. In this cave he is forced to spend eons listening to mankind's request for more time. After spending six thousand years in this cave, Dor is released for his final mission, teach two humans about time. 

Needless to say, Dor's release into the twentieth century is somewhat of a shock. He must learn modern languages, man's history, and achieve an understanding of all modernity has to offer. While Dor is learning all he can about mankind and new ways to measure time, the reader is introduced to Victor Delamonte is an elderly business man who has received a death sentence. His cancer has metastasized and is no longer treatable; at best he has a few months to live. Victor decides to use his wealth and attempt to cheat death. Sarah Lemon is an introverted and academically gifted teenage girl. She has no close friends and latches onto the first person to show her any signs of friendship, a popular boy from her high school.

Mr. Albom has done an excellent job in portraying the lives and motivations for the actions of the man characters, Dor, Victor and Sarah. He has also deftly tied their stories together, in that the lessons that Victor and Sarah learn about time (wanting more and giving up on it) also impart a lesson to Dor. The Time Keeper is an inspirational, modern moral tale or fable about the precious value and sanctity of time. I found The Time Keeper to be a somewhat fast read, although it did go a little slow in the passages discussing Dor's life. However, the story would not have made as much sense without those passages as they were necessary in order to understand the overall message. 


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this ebook free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

TIMELESS DESIRE Giveaway Offer

The author & publisher of Timeless Desire are giving away an awesome pair of shoes to promote the publication of Timeless Desire: An Outlander Love Story by Gwyn Cready.




What's the prize? A pair of snake-skin print Kelsi Dagger pumps, a $125 value (or a Zappos gift card)



How can you take advantage of this wonderful offer? There are five easy ways to enter:

  1. Send an email of this offer to five friends or send this URL to five friends:  http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=cd86b66b0b2ec6cfdca9c657a&id=b27cf1e64d&e=e3bbce2a0c, copying gywn@cready.com by midnight EST on September 14, 2012.
  2. Send a picture of yourself holding a copy of Timeless Desire to gwyn@cready.com by midnight EST on September 14, 2012.
  3. Send a copy of your purchase receipt for Timeless Desire to gwyn@cready.com by midnight EST on September 14, 2012.
  4. Tweet about Timeless Desire and mention @GwynCready in your tweet by midnight EST on September 14, 2012
  5. Click here to go to the "Gwyn Cready, Romance Novelist" Facebook page and share any post on the page with your friends by clicking the "share" button (NOT the "like" button) under the post by midnight EST on September 14, 2012.


You can enter using each method for a total of five entries.

Contest rules: Only only to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Void where prohibited. Entering this contest will automatically add you to the Gwyn Cready mailing list. Friends to whom you forward this email will not be added to the Gwyn Cready mailing list unless they, too, enter the contest. Limit of one entry type per person. No personal information or email addresses will be sold or shared. Entries must be received by midnight EST on September 14, 2012. Winner will be posted at cready.com on September 15, 2012.


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