Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hop, Hop, Hop!!

Book Blogger Hop
Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books (http://www.crazy-for-books.com/) hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. Make sure you leave a comment on the blogs you find it helps drive up traffic for my fellow book bloggers. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: How do you spread the word about your blog? I'm still learning. I started with Book Blogs Ning. From there I learned about different blog hops. I did general Google searches. I found out about BookExpo America and the Book Blogger Convention. I went to both of those events, and passed my business card everywhere. Days, weeks pass by and I've forgotten who I gave them to. But soon I had people coming to me asking for reviews. As much as I hate to admit it, Twitter has been a big help. I was anti-Twitter before I started my blog. But my mother said it will be a big helper. IT IS!! Twitter has helped me reach a bigger audience. I love what I'm doing. This is just the beginning.

I hope to develop a new feature called, "What's up Tweeps?" For now, it will be a monthly feature. I hope to make it weekly. I want more interaction with readers. It won't always be book-related. It could just be whatever nonsense question popped up in my head. The inaugural question is, "Why do you follow blogs?" Be honest. If you follow just for giveaways, say that. If it's for the content, say that. I want to group the responses in one post, so if you want to participate e-mail me at bookangel224@gmail.com. I will be taking entries until Oct. 15. Thanks for stopping by!!

Here are some blogs I came across:


Note: Now I'm going back to writing a review of Hush by Eishes Chayil. It will be up in a couple of hours, so please come back!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My take on: The Twin's Daughter

Take a look at that cover. Do you think this is a happy story? Or do you think something sinister is going on? Sinister it is! My ARC cover is different from the finished product, but the finished cover got my attention. A dagger between two innocent looking women, there has to be a story there. I'm going to have to buy the finished product just to get that cover.

They say everyone has a twin out there. I personally would be scared to meet another person like me (I can be a little testy sometimes). Would you embrace that person if you ever got the chance to meet? The Sexton family in The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted chose to embrace a long-lost twin.

One day, teenage Lucy Sexton opens the door to a woman who looks like her mother Aliese, but the shabbily dressed woman isn't her mother is she? After all how can Lucy not recognize her own mother? Aliese is a woman of high-social standing, and she wouldn't be caught dead dressed like a beggar. The woman in the shabby gray dress is Helen Smythe, Aliese's identical twin. The sight of Helen causes Aliese to faint. For her entire life, Aliese has lived under the guise that she was born into a wealthy family, when in fact Aliese and Helen are the biological children of a maid. Aliese was adopted by a family of means, while Helen lived in poverty in an orphanage.

Despite coming from two different worlds, Aliese wants a relationship with her sister -- as long as her sister can be molded into a proper lady. Aliese and her husband, Frederick, make it their mission to change Helen. Soon Helen's speech and dress are almost identical to Aliese, so much that even Lucy has a hard time telling them apart. Lucy has grown to love Aunt Helen. She can relate to Aunt Helen on a level that she can't with her mother. Both are still learning what is proper and what isn't. There is more freedom for Lucy to express herself with Aunt Helen, more of a big sister than an aunt.

It all comes crashing down with a horrible murder. If you call this next tidbit a spoiler, then stop reading...

Seriously...

You've been warned...

I've changed my mind, I don't think it's too "spoilery" (is that a word?) to say that one of the twins is murdered. In fact it's not a spoiler at all, since the jacket copy hints at it any way. Which one I won't tell you. But Lauren Baratz-Logsted will keep you guessing. One moment you think you've got it figured out, and then the story flips. The entire novel is told from Lucy's point of view, and right along with Lucy I'm wondering which twin is still alive. There is a motive on both sides. Helen gains instant social standing by pretending to be her sister. Aliese can get rid of person she doesn't like anymore.

The first half of the novel moved a little slow for me. I kept wondering when is the juicy part coming. When is the cover image going to come to fruition? The first half had me thinking I was reading a sweet family story. I was kind of "Meh," until the murder occurs. Is that bad of me? I wanted the blood and gore, and the not the family stuff. But after that, I was hooked. With each chapter there are clues to the truth. It turns from family drama to a suspenseful whodunit!


Rating: Superb (The ending swayed me big time!)


Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher as part of a blog tour. For more information on auther Lauren Baratz-Logsted visit: http://www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com/index.html

Blog Q&A with Lauren Baratz-Logsted


Here are a few questions I had for Lauren Baratz-Logsted author of The Twin's Daughter:

The Twin's Daughter1. The ARC cover and the finished cover are very different. Why the change? The publisher was not in love with the initial cover and I wasn't either. It was decided that we should all be in love. So they went through twenty some-odd versions - more than I've seen any publisher ever take on my behalf before - until we were all in love. I realize that's a lot of "in love" for one small paragraph, but it is accurate in terms of how I feel about that cover and the effort that went into it.

2. Unless I missed it, I didn't see a specific year that the book is set in. It's obviously not modern times, but what drew you to this particular time period? What kind of research did you do? You didn't miss a specific date. There's a play the characters go see, "Patience," a Gilbert and Sullivan play that opened the Savoy in 1881 if that helps. The novel begins less than a year before that and ends approximately five years later. What drew me? I love books set in Victorian England and this was my third time setting a book there, the other two being the adult novel Vertigo and the YA novel The Education of Bet. My research involved drawing on a life reading about and watching movies and films set in that time and place plus a few other details looked up: like what play someone might go see at the Savoy when the theatre opened.

3. Whom or what was your inspiration for Lucy? I wish I could say something profound here but the creation of characters doesn't go that way for me. I get an idea for a story and immediately a main character to drive the story appears. I've known more than my fair share of identical twins - in college one year, there was something like eight sets that lived in my dorm - but to the best of my knowledge I've never known anyone who was the offspring of an identical twin, which is Lucy's defining feature.

4. You write books for children, teens, and adults. What is it about this story that you felt would resonate with teens? Kit. Kidding. Kidding! I actually think the book would work fine as an adult novel too but teens are so exciting to write for right now. You can write about stories, themes, ideas that are just as mature as anything published for adults, but the audience is still so excited by the world and so willing to stretch their imaginations and entertain new ideas.
 
5. I was browsing through the bio on your website. Still have a "half-Masters?" Ever long for the days when you worked as a doughnut salesperson? What about your Amazon ranking? I'm sure it's going to go up with this one. Heh. I hope so. The best Amazon ranking I ever had was for one of my adult novels on Amazon France: 132, I believe it was. Here, let's do that in bold this time: 132. Now I realize in most areas of life being 132nd would not be impressive but there are several million titles to compete with. I can only hope one day the U.S. loves me as much as France has loved me. As for your other questions: I do not long for my days as a doughnut salesperson, but if you've got a chocolate creme-filled on you I will eat it; and I still have my half-Masters - you can't take my incompleteness away from me! - although some day I would like to finish if anyone will let me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Monday, what's on the cover?

Testarossa    City of Tranquil Light: A Novel 

I'm a little sleep deprived lately, so my reading has slowed a little bit. I'm still reading Up From The Blue, Hush, Going Away Shoes and Heavenly. A review of The Twin's Daughter and blog Q&A with author Lauren Baratz-Logsted will be posted on Wednesday. I will be finished with Hush this week, and a review will be up on Friday.

Now, on to the business at hand. When I'm done with one of my many books, I will be starting Testarossa by Julie Dolcemaschio. That badge is ruling over the city of Los Angeles, or at least the detective in the story might try. I love a good mystery. Detective John Testarossa is a man with a secret, and I can't wait to find out what it is. Since I'm trying to plan ahead these days, a review and blog Q&A will be up on Nov. 4.

Next up on the hit parade will be City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell. I'm drifting back into historical fiction with this one. A young couple put their marriage to the test with a missionary trip to China. The cover definitely screams tranquil to me. A couple walking along the river. Are they looking for some alone time? Or are they seeking the solution to a problem?

Friday, September 24, 2010

My take on: Low Red Moon

A couple of months ago, I caught five minutes of the first Twilight flick. No offense to the Twilight lovers out there, but those are five minutes I will never get back. Ever since, I vowed not to read any paranormal--YA or adult-- book. Those five minutes of wooden acting and, "Jacob...Bella...Edward," turned me off vampires and werewolves. So why did I agree to read and review Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin? It's very simple. In this book blogging world, I make an effort to discover and read new blogs. A lot of those blogs focus on YA. I saw so many YA books that piqued my interest, including Low Red Moon. When the opportunity came to participate in a blog tour with Bloomsbury, I jumped at the chance.

In Low Red Moon, we meet 17-year-old Avery Hood, who has just witnessed the murder of her parents. She knows she saw something horrific, but can't remember the details. Avery is found covered in blood, trying to put the pieces of her mutilated parents back together. All Avery can remember is the color red--blood red-- and a flash of silver. She's certain that flash of silver was not human.

In the small town of Woodlake, there have always been stories of wolves. The wolves rule the forest, and at night you can hear their calls from the woods. Legend has it, the wolves made a deal with the settlers of Woodlake. The deal ensured wives for the wolves, of course the wolves aren't 100 percent animals, they are also part human. An old wives' tale for sure, but Avery starts to wonder if there is some truth to it after meeting the mysterious and beautiful Ben Dusic.

Avery has lived her entire life in the woods, away from the heart of town, and away from her grandmother, whom she calls "Renee." Without her parents, Avery must stay with Renee. But, living in town is not the same. The forest keeps calling to her. Late nights in the forest are more comforting than living in Renee's guest bedroom, and lead to heart-to-heart talks with the new boy in town. Ben is not part of a clique. Something attracts Avery to Ben. There's something different about Ben -- something not quite human. His eyes occasionally have a flash of silver. Is it that same silver Avery saw on that fateful night? The revelation that Ben is a wolf doesn't scary Avery away, initially.

Should she stay away from Ben? Did he kill her parents? What is this power that the forest has over her? Or is she the one with the power? The story is beautifully told. You feel for Avery as she struggles with her grief. Who can she turn to? A grandmother she barely know? Instead she turns to her one true home and connection to her parents -- the forest. Avery and Ben's relationship doesn't seem forced, instead it has a natural progression. For me their relationship is the larger focus, the mystery of the wolves in Woodlake is just a backdrop. While she has some family left, Ben is the one she can talk to. It's easier for Avery to be herself around him.

The ending, however action-packed it might be, falls a little short for me. I don't want to give anything away, but the ending came out of left field for me. After all the buildup and mystery surrounding the town, Ben, and the wolves, the ending didn't seem to fit the story. It seems more like this is just the beginning for Avery and Ben. Perhaps Devlin is just setting the foundation for future adventures between Avery and Ben (Hint Hint).


Rating: Give it a try


Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher as part of a blog tour. For more information on the author visit: http://www.ivydevlin.com/

Blog Q&A with Ivy Devlin


Here are a few questions I had for Ivy Devlin author of Low Red Moon:

Low Red Moon1. What was your inspiration for the book? Did your own experiences as a teenager play a part? How did you know I was in love with a guy just like Ben? Just kidding! My teen years were nothing like Avery's, thank goodness. (I know I couldn't have handled what she goes through).

As for how I got the idea, I was inspired by the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood.

2. What do you hope readers get out of Low Red Moon? I hope they enjoy it!

3. In three words how would you describe Low Red Moon? Intense, steamy, surprising!

4. The way the book ends it seems like this is just the beginning for Avery. Will there be a sequel? I hope so!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Let's hop!


Book Blogger HopEvery week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books (http://www.crazy-for-books.com/) hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. Make sure you leave a comment on the blogs you find it helps drive up traffic for my fellow book bloggers. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: When you write review, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book? I take notes while I read. I try to get themes and big plot points down. It has slowed down my reading lately. But I realized, I retain more information that way. Sometimes I write the review right away when I have time. But sometimes I wait until my weekend. I have more time on the weekend to focus.


Here are some blogs I came across:

Has Lady O influenced my bookshelf?

Fair warning, this will be a long post. Last week Oprah announced her latest book club pick, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Now that some of the fanfare and controversy has died down, I decided to take stock of some my book picks. I admit it, I am one of the people who was a little perturbed by the pick. When Oprah picked his previous book, The Corrections in 2001, I bought it. I found it to be rather BORING, but at 19 I probably wasn't in the right frame of mind to read it. The themes were probably bigger than I could wrap my teenage brain around. At 28, I might have a greater appreciation for it now. I must admit, I'm tempted to buy Freedom. But before I do that, I want to take a look back on how Oprah has influenced my bookshelf.

1996:
The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard (did not read it)
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (did not read it)
The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton (did not read it)

1997:
I Know This Much Is True (Oprah's Book Club)She's Come Undone (Oprah's Book Club)She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb (I did read this one, but I bought it years after Oprah picked it. I read it during college, and loved it. Didn't even notice the Oprah moniker, but this is one of her great picks.)
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi (did not read it. until today, I had never heard of it)
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds (did not read it)
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou (see above)
Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris (ditto!)
White Oleander (Oprah's Book Club)A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (maybe Oprah hasn't influenced me, didn't read this either)
Where the Heart Is (Oprah's Book Club)The Best Way to Play by Bill Cosby (no)

The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby (still no)
The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby (maybe I just wasn't into reading then)
A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons (no)
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (no)

1998:
The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (P.S.)Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (I have read this one, but again not because of Oprah. I saw the movie on a cross-country fight before I read the book. I thought the movie was cute, and a couple of weeks later I picked up the book. I like the book and the movie, a rare occurrence for me.)

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (I really want to read this one. I saw it on a shelf in Borders a couple of months ago, without the book club sticker. Didn't know this was one of her picks until now.)
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage (nope)
While I Was GoneMidwives (Oprah's Book Club)I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb (LOVE THIS ONE! It took me several months to get through, but I loved it. I'm not sure if Lady O influenced this. I read this one in 2001, but back then that sticker meant something to me. If Oprah picked the book, it must be good.)
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat (no)
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen (nope)
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman (no)
Paradise by Toni Morrison (no, but maybe at some point)
The Corrections: A Novel1999:
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

The Bluest EyeVinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy (I've heard of her, but never read one of her books.)
Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes (no)
East of EdenWhite Oleander by Janet Fitch (This one I picked up in an airport. Where I was? I have no idea, but I remember it was an airport. That sticker did mean something, but the story equalling compelling. I thought the movie was awful. Big chunks of it were left out, making for a bad move!)
Cane RiverThe Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve (no)
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (no)
Jewel by Bret Lott (no)
2000:
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (no)

Night (Oprah's Book Club)Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz (no)
Open House by Elizabeth Berg (no again)
Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club)The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (I have to thank Oprah for introducing me to Barbara Kingsolver. I loved the Poisonwood Bible. I have since read Pigs in Heaven, The Bean Trees, Prodigal Summer, and Animal Dreams -- all by Kingsolver. The Poisonwood Bible started it all.)
Middlesex: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)While I Was Gone by Sue Miller (Bought it because of Oprah, and didn't like it. I found it boring.)
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (I read this one for a college English class.)
Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell (I have to find another word for no)
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (nope)
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (no)

2001:
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (After reading it, I didn't get the hype.)
Cane River by Lalita Tademy (I bought it, read one chapter and haven't read it since. It wasn't my cup of tea.)
Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir (no)
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio (no)
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (no. wasn't this a Lifetime movie?)

2002:

Sula by Toni Morrison (no)
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (no)

2003:
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton (no)

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (I know this is a classic, but I bought this because of Oprah. I read about 100 pages and stopped. Not because it was a bad book, but I went long periods without reading it. I will return to it someday.

2004:
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (no)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (I'm tempted, but it's so long.)
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (nope)
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (no)
2005:
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (I have not read it, but I loved watching Oprah's smackdown of Frey.)

Light in August by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (no)

2006:
Night by Elie Wiesel (Read this one for a high school English class. Awesome book, everyone should read it.)

2007:
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (no, that looks long)

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (no)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Buy enough books online, and you get a lot of suggestions sent to you. This is one of my suggestions. I bought it, and it has been sitting on my shelf for nearly a year. It will get read, I just don't know when.)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (I haven't read it, but I've heard mixed review on it.)
The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier (no)
2008:
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (no. It seems new age, and not my style.)
Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian JungleFreedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)2009:
Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan (no)

2010:
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Maybe. If I'm in some place where it's deeply discounted, I might break!)

If you made it all the through, THANK YOU!! So, Lady O has made 64 selections for her club. Of those 64 I have read or am tempted to read 15 of them. It's about to become 16, because I was typing this post while watching Wednesday's episode of Oprah. Former captive Ingrid Betancourt was on Wednesday's show, and after watching I REALLY want to read that book! In conclusion, I guess Lady O has influenced me -- roughly 25% of the time. Overwhelming scientific isn't it?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blog Q&A with Rick Mofina

Here are a few questions I had for Rick Mofina author of The Panic Zone:

1. There are so many plot lines going on, was there any specific case that inspired The Panic Zone? Well, with this book, I recalled reading a news story years ago about a mother whose baby died in a house fire - was incinerated with nothing left.

For years the mother had always believed in her heart that her baby was alive somewhere. Somehow later a child surfaced and DNA proved it was her child and they were reunited. I think the story was that the baby had been abducted from her crib during the fire, or something. Anyway, I thought of that when I created my fictional mother.

2. How much of your own experiences as a former crime reporter inspired the character of Jack Gannon?  I was a working at the Calgary Herald when Columbine broke and I was dispatched to cover the story -- told to get on the next plane to Denver with nothing but a laptop and a credit card -- to buy what I needed in Colorado.

The Panic Zone (Jack Gannon)My stomach was in knots at the magnitude. When I left, the fear was 10 deaths. When I landed in Denver, President Clinton was on the airport TVs offering condolences and the fear was 25 dead. My knees nearly buckled. I drew upon that tension for Jack Gannon, when he's dispatched from New York to fly to Rio de Janeiro to cover the breaking story of a cafe bombing -- I used my experience of being thrown into chaos with a deadline clock ticking.

In Jamaica I was doing a story on the murky background of an ex-Jamaican cop who murdered a police officer in Canada. I rode in the back of a pickup with Jamaica's anti-drug task force on drug raids in the slums of Kingston. As our vehicles marshalled and the cops locked and loaded these two white guys in dark glasses materialized and asked: Who are you? Reporter, I said. Who are you? – We're not here, they said.

Later one of the cops beside me told me the strangers were CIA working on something. It stayed with me and got me thinking about the ghost work carried out in exotic places and worked some of it into The Panic Zone.

3. Who are some of your favorite crime authors? Do you take inspiration from other writers? There are so many. William Peter Blatty, I liked his character, Detective Kinderman, James M. Cain and Thomas Harris.

4. The ending sounds like there is more in store for Jack Gannon. Do you have his next adventure planned out? Absolutely, check out IN DESPERATION when it is released in April 2011.


Note: I previously posted a review of The Panic Zone. Have a look at: http://asiturnthepages.blogspot.com/2010/09/my-take-on-panic-zone.html

Monday, September 20, 2010

What's on the cover?

The Twin's DaughterGoing Away Shoes 

Boo me!! I forgot to to include The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted in my post last week. I have finished it, but I can't post a review until Sept. 29. I read it as part of a blog tour. What I can tell you is, "WOW!" The ending was a surprise for me. Take a look at that cover. Can you see the hidden image? I had to look at it a couple of times myself. Once I got, I realized this book was more sinister than I thought! Stay tuned!

HeavenlyGoing Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle is a bit of a departure for me. It's a collection of short stories, something I haven't read in years. I'm not sure what to make of the cover. Are the arrows coming full circle? Are the characters coming full circle? It's a little early for me to tell. I made it through two stories, and I have nine more to go!!

Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens is another first for me. I don't think I've ever read a book involving guardian angels, teenage love, and the hardships of raising an autistic child. To some it might not seem like the two go together, but so far I'm enjoying it. The cover is fairly simple, an angelic face amidst the clouds. He looks like he's longing for something. Is it love? I'll find out soon enough. In the meantime, take a look at the book trailer!




 


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