Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: THE HERETIC'S WIFE by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

"WAITING ON WEDNESDAY"
is hosted by Jill from
Breaking the Spine.

Join in and tell us . . .

What are you waiting for?


St. Martin's Press
March 2010

"A novel that illuminates the public pageantry and the private passions of men and women of conscience in the treacherous times of Tudor England." (from the publisher)

Click here to visit the author's website.

About the author:
The oldest of three children, Brenda was born in 1945 in White County, Tennessee, to a World War II veteran and his "Rosie the Riveter" wife. She grew up in a series of small towns in the Southeastern United States. The Illuminator, a story of love, art, and religion, is dedicated to Brenda's parents, Barney and Arlene Rickman. Brenda still resides in Nashville with her husband of 31 years to whom her second novel is dedicated. The Mercy Seller was published by St. Martin's Press in hardcover in March of 2007. The paperback edition was released from St. Martin's Griffin, April, 2008.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lookalikes: ooh, ooh, ooh! What a little Photoshop can do!



by Carolyn Parkhurst

by Lisa Tucker

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog Tour and Book Review #20: THE PROMISED WORLD by Lisa Tucker



Pub. Date: September 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Format: Hardcover, 336pp
Sales Rank: 7,891
ISBN-13: 9781416575382
ISBN: 1416575383

Synopsis (from the publisher):
Lisa Tucker captures the hidden heart of the modern family. In her widely acclaimed novels, she has established her unique gift for depicting the bewildering nature of love, the poignant quest to belong, and the deep desire for a place to call home.

Now from the bestselling author of
The Cure for Modern Life and Once Upon a Day comes a riveting story of suspense about a literature professor whose carefully constructed life is shattered after the death of her twin brother and the unraveling of the secret world they shared.

On a March afternoon, while Lila Cole is working in her quiet office, her twin brother Billy points an unloaded rifle out of a hotel window, closing down a city block. "Suicide by police" was obviously Billy's intended result, but the aftermath of his death brings shock after shock for Lila when she discovers that her brilliant but troubled twin — the person she revered and was closer to than anyone in the world — was not only estranged from his wife, but also charged with endangering the life of his middle child and namesake, eight-year-old William.

As Lila struggles to figure out what was truth and what was fiction in her brother's complicated past, her job, her marriage, and even her sanity will be put at risk. And when the hidden meaning behind Billy's stories comes to light, she will have to act before Billy's children are destroyed by the same heartbreaking reality that shattered her protector and twin more than twenty years ago.

A love song to the redemptive power of books and stories, The Promised World is a mesmerizing tale of intimacy, betrayal, and lost innocence that will haunt readers long after they haveturned the final page.

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

My thoughts:

THE PROMISED WORLD by Lisa Tucker is certainly a haunting and disturbing story but one well worth taking on. This story proves Tolstoy's famous opening line of ANNA KARENINA: 
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. The dysfunctional home in which Lila and her twin brother Billy grew up is unlike any other. But just what happened to them is so deeply buried that even Lila is unaware of the exact truth. Lila is a professor of literature, and she finds solace and security in American fiction. As becomes clear pretty quickly, she has found solace and security in a fictionalized past as well. After Billy commits "suicide by police" she begins to take apart their past piece by piece as she searches for answers as to exactly what drove Billy to this crushingly cruel final act.


Told from several different viewpoints, THE PROMISED WORLD examines how the same events can be experienced and interpreted differently by each individual involved. The suspense of discovering the truth kept me turning page after page. I didn't always like the characters, and I sometimes had a little trouble keeping the storyline straight. However, Lisa Tucker does a great job of sorting out the various perspectives and infusing her characters with realistic flaws and and tender frailties. Eventually, I had a lot of sympathy and understanding for all of the characters, and THE PROMISED WORLD ultimately has an optimistic resolution.   

This was my first Lisa Tucker novel, but I'm making room on my TBR List for all four of her previous books.  If you like psychological fiction and suspense or family dramas, I would recommend that you read THE PROMISED WORLD.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to visit the author's website.

About the author (from the publisher):
Lisa Tucker is dedicated to the craft of telling a good story. Her novels are heartfelt tales of family struggles with universal themes, but readers will also be delighted to know that they’re also ripping good page-turners. Tucker’s multi-layered approach to storytelling has generated many fans and glowing reviews.

Click here to read Meet the Author on the Barnes & Noble website.



Thank you to Lisa at TLC Book Tours
for organizing this tour
and supplying me with my review copy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Book Review #19: THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEEFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL by Laurie Halse Anderson; Illustrated by Ard Hoyt


illustrated by Ard Hoyt

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pub. Date: June 2009
ISBN-13:
9780689858093
Sales Rank: 12,573
Age Range: 6 to 10
32pp


Description (from the Publisher):
Mom and Dad Fleefenbacher think their daughter Zoe's hair is wild and beautiful. And for her kindergarten teacher, Zoe's vivacious tresses were a comfort. But Zoe's about to start first grade, and her new teacher doesn't fool around....

"School has rules," she says. "No wild hair in my class!"

So what are Zoe and her free-spirited hair going to do now?

With exuberance and humor to spare, Laurie Halse Anderson and Ard Hoyt, the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, tease up a terrific tale of hairy hijinks, classroom chaos, and the importance of teachers and students learning to work together.


My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEEFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL is one of the silliest books I've ever read. Just figuring out how to pronounce her name brought out the giggles at my house. Zoe's got a head of hair to rival some the most famous tresses in fiction.  Rapunzel's hair was only good for visitors' climbing in and out of her tower home.  Lady Godiva's served as a stand-in for her gowns.  Zoe's multi-talented hair is industrious and adventuresome - it brushes Zoe's teeth and wrestles the lid off the cookie jar! In kindergarten, it soothes and cuddles the children at naptime. But when Zoe and her happy red hair enter first grade, her no-nonsense teacher considers the independent locks to be more troublesome than helpful.  She tries to put a lid on the shenanigans - literally. Of course, the results are explosive (literally), but everyone ends up learning a lesson in tolerance and cooperation.

I thought the first grade teacher was unrealistically severe and her redemption too complete, but this little parable is painted with quite broad strokes all around. It's also very interesting to experience this other side of the author, Laurie Halse Anderson, who is more widely known for her hard-hitting young adult novels.  The illustrations by Ard Hoyt are wonderfully colorful, detailed, and comic. I was not familiar with his work before I read Zoe's story, but now I'll be on the look out for his other books.

This is a fun book for anyone with little ones just starting school.  There's already a waiting list for it at our local library!

Click here to visit the author's website.

About the creators (from the publisher):

Laurie Halse Anderson grew up in Syracuse, New York, and now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. Her first novel, Speak, a Printz Honor and National Book Award finalist, is available on audio from Listening Library.


 
Ard Hoyt has illustrated a number of books, including Utterly Otterly Day, One-Dog Canoe, Saying Goodbye to Lulu, When the Cows Got Loose, and the New York Times bestseller I'm a Manatee by John Lithgow. Ard lives in Bentonville, Arkansas.

My review copy was borrowed from
the Portsmouth Free Public Library.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Giveaway: HOW TO RULE THE WORLD FROM YOUR COUCH by Laura Day


THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

A Sea of Books is hosting a giveaway
 for two (2) copies
of the upcoming new release from Laura Day:


Rules for entering this giveaway are at the bottom of this post.


by Laura Day
Atria, October 2009
Hardcover, 288 pages
ISBN-10: 1439118205
ISBN-13: 9781439118207

Book description (from the publisher):

In her new book, How to Rule the World from Your Couch, Laura Day teaches you or your company how to create success in any area by using your brain in unique and compel-ling ways so that your innate intuition can propel you ahead to successful solutions.

Laura's work has helped demystify intuition and demonstrate its practical, verifiable uses in the fields of business, science, medicine, and personal growth. Her list of clients and students includes doctors, financial investors, scientists, engineers, and celebrities. Day has shown that 98% of success is planning and that you, therefore, have the power to transform your life.

Praise:

"How to Rule the World from Your Couch is perhaps the greatest book ever written. Everyone that's ruled the world has read it and it worked. Bill Gates, George Bush, Oprah. Saddam Hussein didn't read it and was hanged, so if you wanna rule the world and not be hanged, read this book." – Chris Rock

"Laura Day is a remarkable woman with remarkable abilities. But for me, what is most remarkable about her is how she has taught me to believe in myself and my own intuition. As a woman and as a mother, I have seen Laura’s commitment to educating people and releasing their fears.” –Demi Moore

"Laura Day teaches you how to awaken your inner genius so you can have a deeper more fulfilling experience of life." – Deepak Chopra, author of Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul

"I believe in the gut and I believe in Laura Day." – Brad Pitt
 
Click here to read an excerpt.
 
On sale October 6, 2009. Click here to pre-order.

Click here to visit the author's website.
 
About the author (from the publisher):

Laura Day is the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Intuition and has spent over two decades helping companies as well as individuals use the power of intuition to achieve their dreams. Her global clientele includes celebrities, scientists, business executives, and other professionals. She speaks regularly both here and abroad, and has appeared in numerous publications (Marie Claire, People Magazine, Newsweek) and on television including CNN, The View, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Fox News, and Good Morning America.

RULES FOR ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY:

• Leave a comment on this post telling me you would like to win. Include an email address with your comment so that I can contact you if you do win. Use a spam-thwarting format such as geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com or geebee.reads [at] gmail [dot] com

You must leave an email address in order to qualify. If I can't contact you, you can't win!

• You can earn an extra entry by being or becoming a Follower or Subscriber of this blog and telling me about it in a separate comment.

• Blog about this contest and provide me with the link to the post in a separate comment, and I'll give you yet another entry.

• Tweeting about this contest and providing me the link in a separate comment will get you one more entry. I've added a Retweet button at the bottom of every post.

• Stumble this blog, Digg it, or Technorati Fave it, whatever, and leave a separate comment for another entry.

• Winners must provide a U.S. or Canadian street address - no P.O. Boxes.

Deadline for entry is 11:59 p.m. EST on Saturday, October 3, 2009.

• Winners will have 48 hours to respond to my email announcing that they have won; if I don't hear from a winner, I will draw another name.

Thank you to Aura
at Wiredset
for making this giveaway possible.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Finds

FRIDAY FINDS is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.
What great books did you hear about / discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!


This week, it's all about the picture books for me!



Tina at Tutu's Two Cents picked DO NOT OPEN by Brinton Turkle as a My Favorite Reads this week.  She warns that it is out of print, but I'm already hot on the trail of a reasonably priced used copy. (I'm taking a pass on the collector's edition that's going for $182.09 through Amazon!) Swing on by Tina's blog, Tutu's Two Cents and read why this book is a much treasured family favorite. Just don't nab a copy out from under me!


I was too slow to participate in the giveaway for BIG CAT, SMALL CAT by Amy Rubinger that was hosted recently by Janelle at Brimful Curiosities. But come on! Just look at that cover! You know this book will be fun.  Take a hop over to Brimful Curiosities to read a description and Janelle's review.


And finally, if you're not familiar with the weekly meme, My Favorite Reads, hosted by Alyce, you could click on over to At Home with Books and check it out.  This week she picked a family favorite:  BAD KITTY GETS A BATH by Nick Bruel. I've given more than one cat more than one bath, so I KNOW this book must be hilarious! Sounds like Alyce's family sure thinks so.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Favorite Reads #8: PETERSBURG by Emily Hanlon

Alyce of At Home with Books hosts My Favorite Reads, a weekly feature spotlighting favorite reads from pre-blogging days. Because it's been a while since the books were read, these posts are not reviews per se, but rather impressionistic remembrances of a positive reading experience. I think of this feature as an opportunity to more deeply explore the range of my reading interests and those of other book bloggers and readers of book blogs outside of the current crop of new releases.

Do you have an old favorite that you'd like to share?


PETERSBURG
by Emily Hanlon
ISBN-13: 9780804104845
ISBN-10: 0804104840
Publication Date: 9/30/1989

Synopsis (from the publisher):
The most glittering city. The greatest love story. The passion and paradox of a time when lives were turned upside down by the powerful events surrounding them. Petersburg is a superlative, brilliantly crafted historical novel of imperial Russia swept up in the first great wave of revolution, telling the odyssey of four people.

Alexei Kalinin, the peasant who becomes one of Russia’s richest men, finds that his wealth, power, and obsessive love for Anna Orlova nearly allow him to bury his murky past.

Anna, a magically gifted pianist and sheltered daughter of old Russia, is ill-prepared for the passionate world into which her love for the mysterious Kalinin takes her.

Defiant and sensuous, Irina Rantzau is at home among the most hedonistic pleasure of the court, but chooses instead to embrace the growing rebellion.

Misha Kalinin, Alexei’s nephew and heir, transforms his raw energy and fear of violence into the spirit and determination that make him a true fighter for the people, and a tortured soul.

Particular and powerful passions catapult these four into a strange and different world of blood, betrayal, and rebellion, a world that forces each to face the most bittersweet choice of all.

Why I Chose This Book:

PETERSBURG has had a secure home on my shelves now for 20 years. It has withstood numerous shelf clearings, downsizings, and changes of residence. I read it when it first came out, was completely enraptured, and fully intend to read it again -- some day!  I didn't know much about Russian history when I first picked this book up, but it inspired me to purchase and read cover-to-cover RUSSIA: A CONCISE HISTORY , a pretty fascinating book in its own right.

If you like historical fiction with a slightly romantic bent, PETERSBURG is an engrossing and enlightening read. Most likely, you'll have to look for a used copy or check your local library, but it's definitely worth hunting down.

About the Author:

Emily Hanlon is the author of eight books of fiction, including Petersburg, (Putnams) which was translated into several languages and reached the best sellers list in England. Her latest book, The Art of Fiction Writing or How to Fall Down the Rabbit Hole Without Really Trying, is based on her twenty-two years of teaching creative writing and leading writers on the creative journey. Her novels, The Swing and The Wing and The Flame have just been re-released. Her weeklong writing retreat for women, Writing, Creativity and Ritual, will be held in the Tuscan hills outside of Florence, Italy in late September 2002. Her ongoing writing workshops are in Westchester County, New York. Emily works with writers around the country on the phone and teaches at the International Women’s Writing Guild conference at Skidmore College. She was a founding member of the National Writers Union. Her website is The Fiction Writer's Journey. This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not MY Giveaway! THE KILLING WAY by Tony Hays at Passages to the Past


Amy at Passages to the Past is hosting a giveaway for THE KILLING WAY by Tony Hays. I think it sounds too good to pass up. If you think so too, you can enter Amy's giveaway here. Deadline is October 13, 2009.

SYNOPSIS: It is the time of Arthur, but this is not his storied epic. Arthur is a young and powerful warrior who some would say stands on the brink of legend. Britain’s leaders have come to elect a new supreme king, and Arthur is favored. But when a young woman is brutally murdered and the blame is placed at Merlin’s feet, Arthur’s reputation is at stake and his enemies are poised to strike. Arthur turns to Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, a man whose knowledge of battle and keen insight into how the human mind works has helped Arthur come to the brink of kingship.

Malgwyn is also the man who hates Arthur most in the world.

After the death of Malgwyn's wife by Saxon hands, he became Mad Malgwyn, killer of Saxons and right-hand lieutenant to the warrior Arthur. Right hand, that is, until a Saxon cut his sword arm off and left him to die on the battlefield. Arthur rescued him. Now a one-armed scribe and a heavy drinker, Malgwyn rejects the half-life that his liege gave him. But loyalty is sometimes stronger than loathing…and Malgwyn is pulled toward a puzzle that he can’t walk away from.

Think CSI: Medieval: gritty, powerful, and with the true ring of historical perspective and a character who sees more than those around him. The Killing Way is the first in a mystery series that is sure to be a hit with both mystery readers and historical fans alike.
 
Click here to read an excerpt.
 
Click here to visit the author's website.
 
Tony Hays is a journalist and novelist. He has covered topics as varied as narcotics trafficking (earning his newspaper the Tennessee Press Association award for Public Service in 2000), political corruption, Civil War history, and the war on terror. His short fiction has appeared both in the United States and Japan, and he is the author of three novels. He resides in Tennessee.

Sneak Peak: HOW TO CATCH AND KEEP A VAMPIRE by Diana Laurence


I've been seduced!

First, I was oblivious to the current vampire craze. Then I conciously ignored it. Slowly, my curiosity was piqued. Then I peaked!

And now, even I know that if you give a vampire an invitation into your home . . . he's gonna want some blood to go with it!

Here's a sneak peak at a fun book coming out in October -- start saving your pennies!


HOW TO CATCH AND KEEP A VAMPIRE
by Diana Laurence
Publisher: Sellers Publishing, Inc.
Pub. Date: October 2009
ISBN-13:
9781416205524
Sales Rank: 170,006
144pp


From the Publisher:
Discover the Secret of the Red Satin Ribbon . . .  In How to Catch and Keep a Vampire: A Step-by-Step Guide to Loving the Bad and the Beautiful, author Diana Laurence explores the romantic fascination we mortals have for the undead. Why do perfectly normal people fall for such sinister beings? And more importantly, what should we do about it when we do? Diana Laurence knows. With loads of personal experience to draw upon, Laurence does everything from explaining the attraction to blood-drinkers, to sharing what red satin signifies to them. In this book, she has created a road map to show readers how a vampire relationship can be achieved and conducted in harmony with everyday existence.



Click here to visit the website: http://www.howtocatchandkeepavampire.com/

Waiting on Wednesday: THE RED DOOR by Charles Todd

"WAITING ON WEDNESDAY"
is hosted by Jill from
Breaking the Spine.
Join in and tell us . . .

What are you waiting for?


THE RED DOOR
by Charles Todd

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: December 29, 2009
ISBN-13:
9780061726163
352pp

Haven't found any details on this one yet, but it's an Ian Rutledge mystery, and those are always good!

You can check out the author's website by clicking here.

Arthurian Challenge 2009-2010

The other day I noticed that Gina at Book Dragon's Lair had just signed up for the Arthurian Challenge hosted by Becky at Becky's Book Reviews. Well, I thought, I simply MUST have this button/badge on my blog! (It's gorgeous, and was designed by Robin of A Fondness for Reading.) And, since my fall TBR list includes several Arthurian tales, the timing is perfect!

If you're interested, the challenge runs through March 2010, so you've still got plenty of time. You have your choice of books, short stories, poetry, tv shows, movies, even comic books. Come on! I'm notoriously bad at challenges, but even I can do this one! Sign up here.

What's first on deck for me? (It's also good for the Middle Grade Reading Challenge.)

KING ARTHUR and THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE
by Benedict Flynn
illustrated by Young Ran Choi
narrated by Sean Bean

Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
Pub. Date: March 2008
ISBN-13:
9781402212437
Sales Rank: 135,341
Age Range: 7 to 9
144pp
Series:
Hear It Read It Series
Edition Description: With Audio CD

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Giveaway: Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Hachette Book Group

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Hachette Book Group
is generously sponsoring another great book giveaway!

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th thru October 15th), Hachette Book Group has authorized me to give away to five lucky winners this wonderful collection of five books. That's right -- 5 winners will each receive a set of 5 books! How cool is that?
Just look at what you could win! Click on the book titles below for more information about each book.
Rules for entering the giveaway are at the bottom of this post.


Zumba® By Beto Perez , Maggie Greenwood-Robinson

Evenings at the Argentine Club By Julia Amante

Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz By Belinda Acosta

Tell Me Something True By Leila Cobo

Amigoland By Oscar Casares


RULES FOR ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY:
• Leave a comment on this post telling me you would like to win. Include an email address with your comment so that I can contact you if you do win. Use a spam-thwarting format such as geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com or geebee.reads [at] gmail [dot] com

• You must leave an email address in order to qualify. If I can't contact you, you can't win!

• You can earn an extra entry by being or becoming a Follower or Subscriber of this blog and telling me about it in a separate comment.

• Blog about this contest and provide me with the link to the post in a separate comment, and I'll give you yet another entry.

• Tweeting about this contest and providing me the link in a separate comment will get you one more entry. I've added a Retweet button at the bottom of every post.

• Stumble this blog, Digg it, or Technorati Fave it, whatever, and leave a separate comment for another entry.

Winners must provide a U.S. or Canadian street address. Hachette is unable to deliver to P.O. Boxes.

Deadline for entry is 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, October 9, 2009.

• Winners will have 48 hours to respond to my email announcing that they have won; if I don't hear from a winner, I will draw another name.


Thank you to Valerie at
Hachette Book Group
for making this giveaway possible.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

BBAW 09 Day 3: Reading Meme

Day 3: Today’s it’s all about the creativity. We have this fabulous reading meme for you below and all you have to do? Pick ONE or answer them all in as few words as possible! Be creative, have fun, stand out! That’s all!

Do you snack while you read?
Peanut M&M's - but they never last as long as the book!

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
EGADS! I mean No -- but on both counts.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

M&M bags -- the empties!

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Both.

Hard copy or audiobooks?

98% hard copy.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
I only stop when I fall asleep.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Oxford English Dictionary. Compact edition (4x4x3).


What are you currently reading?

NO WIND TO BLAME by Georgette Heyer; DECONSTRUCTING SAMMY by Matt Birkbeck; VELVA JEAN LEARNS TO DRIVE by Jennifer Niven.

What is the last book you bought?

NOTHING BUT GHOSTS by Beth Kephart and CAPOTE by Gerald Clarke.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can
you read more than one at a time?

See above.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?

In bed -- before I sleep, in the middle of the night, and in the morning when I first wake up. (Get your mind out of the gutter!)

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

I like both, but I like a series to end eventually.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?

TALLGRASS by Sandra Dallas; WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen; Sharon Kay Penman, Lisa See, Peter Robinson, Ann Hood,

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

As long as I can find them when I want them, I'm good.

Guest Post: Gwen Cooper, author of HOMER'S ODYSSEY





Today I am pleased to welcome Gwen Cooper, author of HOMER'S ODYSSEY, to A Sea of Books.










One of my favorite stories about my husband, who’s an editor at a film industry trade magazine, concerns the time he assigned a writer to review the third or fourth reissuing of the Titanic DVD. Since, by that time, everybody on the planet—or at least in the Western Hemisphere—had a working knowledge of what the film was about, Laurence (my husband) wanted the focus of the review to be on the DVD features and extras, with very little space devoted to a rehash of the film’s plot summary. He and the writer went back and forth about five times. The first time, the plot summary comprised 250 words of the review, the second time it was 225 words, and so on. Finally my husband, who was growing increasingly frustrated, told the writer, “Look—you can summarize any film in four lines. In fact, you can summarize any film in four words. Titanic: Ship hits iceberg. Semicolon. Sinks.”

It’s a fun game to play (“Wizard of Oz: Farmgirl leaves Kansas; adventures”), and as a writer I often feel that I should be equally able to summarize my own work in four words or less, so that when somebody asks me—in an interview, or over dinner at a friend’s birthday party—what my book is about, I should be able to say with confidence, “Homer’s Odyssey: Woman adopts cat. Semicolon. Learns.”

Fortunately, I’m armed with what is arguably the world’s longest subtitle (The full title of my book is Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life With a Blind Wonder Cat), which is probably a better way of nutshelling the book than any I’d come up with on my own. Homer’s Odyssey is the story of how, when I was twenty-five years old, I adopted a blind kitten—whose eyes had to be surgically removed at three weeks of age in order to save his life—named him Homer for the blind Greek poet, and how over the next twelve years we became each other’s best friends, true believers, and companions in adventure. It’s a book with laughter, romance, suspense, drama, great feats of daring, and more than a few klutzy moments (more mine than the cat’s). It’s a book that begins with a break-up and ends with a wedding. It’s a book for people who love cats and the humans who love them.

The next question I’m usually asked is why I decided to write the book—and there the “four words and a semicolon” formula fails me entirely. Although I had always wanted to be a writer, and had published a novel about two years before Homer’s Odyssey came out, I had never considered writing his tale.
It amazes me now that, for years, I never thought about Homer as being the hero of his own story. I knew that he was extraordinary, I knew that everybody who ever met him was full of questions—wanting to know why and how. But he was also just my cat, the goofy little guy who jumped around in circles when I came home at night, who loved to chase around stuffed toys, insisted on getting his fair share of tuna if I was making a tuna sandwich, and curled up in a tight ball on my left knee whenever I sat at the computer to email friends or finish up work projects.

The idea of writing about Homer didn’t occur to me until Laurence met him for the first time and wanted to know (as most people do) how it was that Homer ended up blind. When I told him how Homer had been abandoned shortly after birth, how he’d been near death until he was brought in to my veterinarian, how the price of saving his life had been the loss of his vision, and how he’d still nearly met an inglorious end in an animal shelter because nobody wanted to adopt him until finally my vet called me—when he heard all that, Laurence’s response was, "He’s like Daredevil, like a comic book superhero. He has an origin story and everything."

Laurence was quite pleased with this analogy, and loved to expound upon it. When he observed that Homer was braver, faster, and more agile than my two sighted cats, or when he saw Homer leap five feet straight into the air to catch a buzzing fly in mid-flight, he would talk about Homer’s "superpowers." When I told him how Homer had once single-handedly chased off a burglar who broke into my apartment in the middle of the night, Laurence said, “You’re a storyteller—why don’t you tell some of these stories?”
So I guess the short answer to why I ended up writing this book would be something like, “Novelist with superhero cat marries writer with comic book fetish; writing about cats, love, and adventure ensues.”

I know it’s more than four words, but it’s the best I’ve got.




Thank you to Cheryl at
Pump of Your Book Promotion
for organizing this tour.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blog Tour and Spotlight on HOMER'S ODYSSEY by Gwen Cooper


HOMER'S ODYSSEY
By Gwen Cooper

Publisher: Dell Publishing
Pub. Date: August 2009
ISBN-13:
9780385343855
Sales Rank: 367
304pp

Synopsis (from the publisher):

Once in nine lives,something extraordinary happens...
The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.

Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever,” never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease and leapt five feet into the air to catch flies in mid-buzz. He survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night.

But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that inspired Gwen daily and transformed her life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized Homer had taught her the most important lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion. It celebrates the refusal to accept limits—on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds. By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet.

Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to visit the author's website.



Biography

Gwen Cooper is the author of the novel Diary of a South Beach Party Girl. A Miami native, she spent five years working in nonprofit administration, marketing, and fundraising. She coordinated volunteer activities on behalf of organizations including Pet Rescue, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, the Miami Rescue Mission, and His House Children’s Home, and initiated Reading Pen Pals, an elementary school-based literacy program in Miami’s Little Haiti.


Monday, September 14, 2009

BBAW 09 Day 1: Favorite Blogs That Didn't Make the Shortlist


BBAW 09—Celebrate Books (Daily Blogging Topics)

Each day this week, bloggers will be talking about
different topics on their blogs:

Monday, September 14th - Favorite blogs not nominated

Tuesday, September 15th - Blogger interviews

Wednesday, September 16th - Reading Meme

Thursday, September 17th - Blog about a book you found on another blog

Friday, September 18th - Blog about your goals for you book blog


Day 1: Thank and spotlight your favorite blogs that didn’t make the shortlists

Here is a list of some of the blogs I visit most frequently. I hated even starting to make a list such as this because, as we all know, the list would go on and on, and I would still likely leave out some blogs I love (and that's why we have things like Google Reader!) But the point of today's BBAW assignment is to spotlight blogs and bloggers, so I must name names. Here are people and places I visit just about daily for fun, inspiration, support, conversation, information, and (I almost forgot) book recommendations, among other things. If you are unfamiliar with any, drop on by and check them out.


At Home with Books (Alyce)

Bermudaonion's Weblog (Kathy)

A Circle of Books (Toni)

Brimful Curiosities (Janelle)

Diary of an Eccentric (Anna)

Enroute to Life (Kelly)

Write for a Reader (Shelly)

Cafe of Dreams (April)

The Burton Review (Marie)

Marjolein Reviews (Marjolein)

Passages to the Past (Amy)

Bibliophile By the Sea (Diane)

A Girl Walks into a Bookstore (Katherine)

Reading in Appalachia (Icedream)

Book Chatter and Other Stuff (Ti)

Peaking Between the Pages (Dar)

Wrighty's Reads (Debbie)

The Tome Traveller's Weblog (Carey)

Lost in Books (Rebecca)

So Many Precious Books (Teddy Rose)

Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff (Daphne)

Thank you, ladies!
(I didn't realize my list was so femininely slanted until I plugged in each blogger's name. Ooops!)

WINNER!: Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

WE HAVE A WINNER!

CONGRATULATIONS!


hauntingordchid

is the winner of a copy of
CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER
by
Michelle Moran




Thank you to all who entered the contest.

Click here to visit Michelle Moran's website
for more information about Michelle's books and other ongoing contests.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Touching Base September 13, 2009

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

I'm touching base because I've been a bit incommunicado the last few weeks. I've had some exceptional family obligations which have consumed most of my time and also been battling a case of serious head and chest congestion. Basically, I'm pretty run down right now. I've tried to keep up with moderating comments, but haven't been able to visit other blogs and leave comments. I'm hoping to catch up with all of you this week.

I must apologize profusely to Ru Freeman and TLC Book Tours -- I missed not one, but TWO scheduled dates for the blog tour of A DISOBEDIENT GIRL. The first date I simply overlooked because my time was so overbooked. The second date I missed because I unexpectedly continued to be overwhelmed and then sick on top of it all. However, let it be known that A DISOBEDIENT GIRL is an incredibly good read, one of the best books I've read this year, and I will post my review this week.

I've done some reading this week but not too much. I'm continuing to read and enjoy VELVA JEAN LEARNS TO DRIVE by Jennifer Niven. I picked up a copy of OLD YELLER by Fred Gipson from the library. This was a favorite movie of mine as a child, and it was fun to revisit the story. And I sped through PIPER REED, NAVY BRAT by Kimberly Willis Holt for the Middle Grade Reading Challenge. It was cute and fun, and my sister and I will be reading it in the evenings to my 6-year-old niece over the next little while.














I don't know yet what I'll settle into reading this week. I continue to have far more choices than time. If I can just get the doctor to prescribe bed rest . . .

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: ALL MY ENEMIES by Barry Maitland

"WAITING ON WEDNESDAY"
is hosted by Jill from
Breaking the Spine.
Join in and tell us . . .

What are you waiting for?


It may look like I only have a few days to wait for this one, but I've actually been waiting for close to three years! I stumbled across the Brock and Kolla mystery series a few years ago and decided I would begin reading at, you guessed it, the beginning. I was able to find used copies of the first 2 books, and was loving the series, but the third volume was nowhere to be found. Even the one library in Colorado that listed it no longer had a copy on its shelves. I did find a few copies on EBay starting at about $100. Because of it's unavailability, and the fact that it's supposed to be one of the best of the series, ALL MY ENEMIES became a collector's item. I decided I couldn't continue the series without it and sat back to wait and hope for a re-issue. So now I say, whooo hooo! Bring on those enemies! I'm more than ready!

ALL MY ENEMIES
by Barry Maitland

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pub. Date: September 15, 2009
ISBN-13: 9780312384005
Sales Rank: 103,297
304pp
Series: Brock and Kolla Mysteries Series


Synopsis (from the publisher):
In one of the finest and most pivotal books in this critically acclaimed series, never before published in the U.S., D.S. Kathy Kolla reports to New Scotland Yard and to D.C.I. David Brock's Serious Crime Division.

Just before Kolla is to start her new job, a young woman is found viscously murdered in a leafy, well-heeled suburb, and the grotesque details of the slaughter appear to be well-rehearsed, even theatrical. Assigned to the case, Kolla's only improbable lead draws her to a local amateur drama group. Once in their orbit, she is lured into a piece of theatre over which, increasingly, she has little control.
In All My Enemies, Brock and Kolla find themselves in a tangled web of deceptions in a case wherein a corpus of plays becomes a template for murder.


About the Author:
Barry Maitland is the author of several previous novels featuring D.C.I David Brock and Det. Sgt. Kathy Kolla, most recently Spider Trap. Born in Scotland and raised in London, Maitland lives in Australia. He's been a finalist for the Barry Award, the John Creasey Award, and is a winner of the Ned Kelley Award.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to visit the author's website.

Giveaway: CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER by Michelle Moran

I am thrilled to be hosting a giveaway for one (1) hardcover copy of Michelle Moran's CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER as well as an ancient Roman coin complete with certificate of authenticity.

Rules for entering this giveaway are at the end of this post.


CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER
by Michelle Moran

Release date: September 15, 2009

Random House, Crown Publishers
ISBN-10: 0307409120
ISBN-13: 978-0307409126
Hardcover
430 pages

Synopsis (from the publisher):
The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals.

Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pullof friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

Biography
MICHELLE MORAN is the author of the bestselling Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen. Her experiences at archaeological sites around the world motivated her to write historical fiction and continue to provide inspiration for her novels. For more information, visit the author's blog at
michellemoran.blogspot.com

Visit CleopatrasDaughter.com for more historical background, maps, and lots of other information.

Michelle is running several more contests directly from her website. Visit her
contest page to enter.


RULES FOR ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY:

• Leave a comment on this post telling me you would like to win. Include an email address with your comment so that I can contact you if you do win. Use a spam-thwarting format such as geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com or geebee.reads [at] gmail [dot] com

You must leave an email address in order to qualify. If I can't contact you, you can't win!

• You can earn an extra entry by being or becoming a Follower or Subscriber of this blog and telling me about it in a separate comment.

• Blog about this contest and provide me with the link to the post in a separate comment, and I'll give you yet another entry.

• Tweeting about this contest and providing me the link

in a separate comment will get you one more entry. I've added a Retweet button at the bottom of every post.


• Stumble this blog, Digg it, or Technorati Fave it, whatever, and leave a separate comment for another entry.

• This contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Deadline for entry is 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, September 13, 2009.

• The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email announcing that they have won; if I don't hear from the winner, I will draw another name.

Thank you to Michelle Moran
for making this giveaway possible.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!