Secret Santa arrived again!

I received another Secret Santa package (this one hosted by The Neverendingshelf) in the mail this week (I'm involved in four Secret Santas - three via the internet, one at work) and it was another wonderful surprise! I opened the box to find several beautifully wrapped gifts. (Sorry in my excitement I didn't take pics!). There was body lotion which is very appropriate for the cold Montreal winter; some delicious Ghiradelli chocolates (my favourite kind, how did my Santa know that?!); not one, but two pairs of very pretty earrings (made by my Santa and her daughter); and two books: Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I haven't read either of these and I'm very much looking forward to reading them when my holidays officially begin.

So a very special thank you to my Secret Santa for a wonderful holiday package! It was just perfect!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

Something to think about at this time of year.

I picked this up from a friend's post on facebook. It really puts perspective on the holidays.


Booklover's Secret Santa gift!

This year I'm taking part in three online Secret Santas and one in RL. What isn't such a secret is that I have a lot of fun with them. Therefore I was very excited to find a parcel when I came home from work yesterday. I opened the package and The Conqueror by Georgette Heyer slid out of the envelope and into my lap. I couldn't have been more surprised and pleased! Georgette Heyer's books have been on my wish list for quite a while but I have yet to read one. And for some reason I just didn't expect to receive one.

I am very curious to know who my Secret Santa was and I hope she (I'm supposing she's a she) checks my blog and sees that I have received my gift and it was the perfect choice for me! So, whoever you are, a huge thank you!

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

I love to read books about the holidays around holiday time and was really pleased that my friend Tina passed Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley on to me when she had finished it. From page 87:

'No, I don't think it would be very easy to get to Antarctica,' I agreed. 'By the time you got there it would probably be time to turn around and come back, too.'

To read Tina's review of Twelve Days, click here.

Review: City in Shadow by Evan Marshall

I love New York! I know that sounds like the oft-run ad from awhile ago, but I can’t help it - it’s the truth. And books that are set in and around that city naturally catch my attention. So it was with City in Shadow by Evan Marshall, a novel that is part of the Hidden Mysteries series. This is the first book that I’ve read by this author and I don’t believe it's necessary to read the other books in the series first to be able to enjoy this one.

The story begins with Anna Winthrop, a sanitation department worker, witnessing what she thinks may be a woman being held against her will. Anna follows the trail of this woman to a mysterious building on 42nd Street. Meanwhile, Anna’s upstairs neighbour, Nettie, also sees the young woman and starts her own investigation. Both women encounter plenty of obstacles, sinister characters and danger in their quest to find out the truth.

This novel had several elements to it that stood out. First, it was written a bit like a noir thriller/hard-boiled detective novel. That genre pairs well with the New York setting (as does the plot) but the book also had a cozy mystery feel to it. The characters’ backgrounds were divulged, neighbours got to know neighbours (even if they were bad neighbours) and the way the characters zipped around the city and bumped into people just gave me a ‘small town’ sort of feeling. It was an interesting mix and I liked it.

I found the writing somewhat choppy at times and it could’ve used a bit more editing. I didn't always need to know how beautiful or handsome someone was and I felt those descriptions were somewhat clichéd.

Despite those flaws, I think this would be a great series for those who haven’t read a mystery before. It would also be very appealing for young adults new to the genre. And of course anyone who loves books set in New York!

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly. From page 106:

I would have overlooked the sliver of newsprint if I hadn't been so diligently trying to replace everything exactly as I had found it, to remember which photographs had been where. The slim, yellowing column had been folded three times, the creases as sharp as razors through years of being pressed in Rex's box.

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. Mailbox Monday is on tour and in December it is being hosted by Let Them Read Books.

Last week I received Endgame by Frank Brady. Subtitled 'Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness', that just about says it all! From Random House's website the description is fleshed out:

Endgame is acclaimed biographer Frank Brady’s decades-in-the-making tracing of the meteoric ascent—and confounding descent—of enigmatic genius Bobby Fischer. Only Brady, who met Fischer when the prodigy was only 10 and shared with him some of his most dramatic triumphs, could have written this book, which has much to say about the nature of American celebrity and the distorting effects of fame. Drawing from Fischer family archives, recently released FBI files, and Bobby’s own emails, this account is unique in that it limns Fischer’s entire life—an odyssey that took the Brooklyn-raised chess champion from an impoverished childhood to the covers of Time, Life and Newsweek to recognition as “the most famous man in the world” to notorious recluse.

At first all one noticed was how gifted Fischer was. Possessing a 181 I.Q. and remarkable powers of concentration, Bobby memorized hundreds of chess books in several languages, and he was only 13 when he became the youngest chess master in U.S. history. But his strange behavior started early. In 1972, at the historic Cold War showdown in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he faced Soviet champion Boris Spassky, Fischer made headlines with hundreds of petty demands that nearly ended the competition.

It was merely a prelude to what was to come.

Arriving back in the United States to a hero’s welcome, Bobby was mobbed wherever he went—a figure as exotic and improbable as any American pop culture had yet produced. No player of a mere “board game” had ever ascended to such heights. Commercial sponsorship offers poured in, ultimately topping $10 million—but Bobby demurred. Instead, he began tithing his limited money to an apocalyptic religion and devouring anti-Semitic literature.

After years of poverty and a stint living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, Bobby remerged in 1992 to play Spassky in a multi-million dollar rematch—but the experience only deepened a paranoia that had formed years earlier when he came to believe that the Soviets wanted him dead for taking away “their” title. When the dust settled, Bobby was a wanted man—transformed into an international fugitive because of his decision to play in Montenegro despite U.S. sanctions. Fearing for his life, traveling with bodyguards, and wearing a long leather coat to ward off knife attacks, Bobby lived the life of a celebrity fugitive – one drawn increasingly to the bizarre. Mafiosi, Nazis, odd attempts to breed an heir who could perpetuate his chess-genius DNA—all are woven into his late-life tapestry.

And yet, as Brady shows, the most notable irony of Bobby Fischer’s strange descent – which had reached full plummet by 2005 when he turned down yet another multi-million dollar payday—is that despite his incomprehensible behavior, there were many who remained fiercely loyal to him. Why that was so is at least partly the subject of this book—one that at last answers the question: “Who was Bobby Fischer?”

Winner of Suck On This Year Giveaway!

The winner of Denis Leary's new book is entry number 5:

True Random Number Generator Min: Max: Result: 5 Powered by RANDOM.ORG (I wish I knew how to copy and paste that little box - this line is all that I got when I tried!)

And entry number 5 is Cindy! I've emailed you, Cindy - congratulations!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I'm anticipating the release of Kim Edwards new book, The Lake of Dreams, on January 4th. By the author of the bestseller, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, this new book is described on Kim Edward's website:

At a crossroads in her life, Lucy Jarrett returns home to upstate New York from Japan, only to find herself haunted by her father’s unresolved death a decade ago. Old longings stirred up by Keegan Fall, a local glass artist who was once her passionate first love, lead her into the unexpected. Late one night, as she paces the hallways of her family’s rambling lakeside house, she discovers, locked in a window seat, a collection of objects that first appear to be idle curiosities, but soon reveal glimpses of a hidden family history. As Lucy explores these traces of her lineage—from an heirloom blanket and dusty political tracts to a web of allusions depicted in stained-glass windows, both in her hometown and beyond—a new family history emerges, one that will link her to a unique slice of the suffragette movement, and yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her life to its fullest and deepest.

Review: Suck On This Year by Denis Leary + Giveaway Reminder

Denis Leary is a very funny man and his new book, Suck On This Year, shows just how funny. It is full of tweets - short bon mots at 140 characters or less - that take a headline and continue it with very funny lines. Example:

Doctors: attention deficit disorder can destroy a marriage.

(Denis Leary): I think I speak for all husbands when I say: 'You seen my keys?'

This little book is chock full of classic Denis Leary humour - sarcastic wit amid true observations that only he could think of. To see more examples of his twitter humour, you can follow him on his twitter page. One of his latest tweets:

TSA conducting groin checks. Sen. Larry Craig's been thru 19 times already.

Suck On This Year would make a great holiday gift for a Denis Leary fan. A portion of the proceeds from sales go to the Leary Firefighters Foundation. For a chance to win a copy of this very funny book, enter here and leave me a comment. To double your chances of winning, twitter about this contest. Ends Wednesday December 1st. Open to US and Canadian residents, no P.O. boxes.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences and the title of the book from somewhere on that page. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from A Tiny Bit Marvelous by Dawn French. From page 92:

'I have an angry rash on my face from my allergy to the expensive anti-ageing cream, AND ... The bloody dog is bloody pregnant. It's sod's law, isn't it?'

Mailbox Monday

This meme was started by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. In November, MM is being hosted by Knitting and Sundries.

Last week I received Suck On This Year by Denis Leary. From the author's website, I found this description:

Jokes, snarky asides, and wise-ass banter. (In 140 characters or less.) Hey---you want great literature? Go buy a book by Walt Whitman.

That pretty much sums up the humour of this very funny book. This slim volume would make a great holdiay gift for fans Rescue Me. And you can feel pretty good about buying it since some of the proceeds will be going to the Leary Firefighters Foundation.

I have a contest running right now for this book. For a chance to win a copy of Suck On This Year, click here.

Review: City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

Though I’m not a very religious person I don’t shy away from books that have a religious theme as long as the author discloses it openly from the start. What I don’t like is when the topic broadsides you; the author slipping in the religion like one of those proselytizers that catch you unawares by starting a conversation and you slowly realize that they’re making more and more references to a higher being. Ah, I think, I’m being witnessed to and I just thought I was having a pleasant chat with someone. I end up feeling duped. The City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell is a book with religion as a central theme but the reader knows it right away. And it in no way takes anything away from a very beautiful story.

Elderly Will Kiehn looks back on his life and recounts his time as a missionary in China along with his wife, Katherine. As missionaries, preaching is not the only work they do; practicing medicine, feeding, housing and teaching are all tasks that they set for themselves. They share much joy, but also anguish and sometimes great fear. Based on the lives of the author’s grandparents, this book is a wonderful tribute to an otherwise forgotten group. We don’t have missionaries like these anymore: with little funding or support from home they managed to thrive.

This was the right time for me to read this book. I’ve been reading some YA fiction, science fiction and other general ‘light’ fiction since those genres were what I’ve been in the mood for lately. Only when I started reading The City of Tranquil Light did I realize how much I’ve missed more serious fiction. The story, alternating between Will’s narrative and Katherine’s journals, is smoothly written. The characters leap off the pages and I was so swept up in the action I found it hard to put down. There were a number of times I found myself relating to Katherine as in this passage from page 146:

At times my fear overwhelms me. Last night I woke in the dark and the panic seemed unbearable. All sorts of horrible possibilities presented themselves in my mind, fantasies that I would not entertain in the daytime but that took hold of me in the dark of our bedroom and seemed completely real.

The author treats the Chinese culture with honesty and respect and I could easily picture the images that were conveyed. The only issue I had with this book was that there were no maps. I think it may have been helpful had there been two, one showing the travel route that took them from America to China and perhaps an inset of the regions in China that the characters traveled, and a second map of the city, (Kuang P’ing Ch’eng) they lived in for so many years. I highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoyed Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie or The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from The Case Against Owen Williams by Allan Donaldson, a book I won through the LibraryThing early reviewer programme. From page 100:

The building was every bit as ugly as he remembered it, and he mounted the front steps under the squat, crennellated tower, a quotation began floating around somewhere just out of reach of consciousness. It came to him as he was pushing open the door, a snippet from Browning that had struck him as fine stuff when he had come across it in a second-year English course:

In a sheet of flame,
I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set.
And blew.
"Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came."

Mailbox Monday

This meme was started by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. In November, Knitting and Sundries is hosting MM.

Last week I received A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French. It was a win from the LibraryThing October batch of reviewer books. Just from the tiny blurb on the back I'm happily anticipating reading this. The blurb says: 'Everyone hates the perfect family. So you'll love the Battles...' It will be released November 23rd. Published by Penguin, their description reads:

A TINY BIT MARVELLOUS by Dawn French is the story of a modern family all living in their own separate bubbles lurching towards meltdown. It is for anyone who has ever shared a home with that weird group of strangers we call relations.

Mo is about to hit the big 50, and some uncomfortable truths are becoming quite apparent: She doesn't understand either of her teenage kids, which as a child psychologist, is fairly embarrassing. She has become entirely grey. Inside, and out. Her face has surrendered and is frightening children.

Dora is about to hit the big 18 . . . and about to hit anyone who annoys her, especially her precocious younger brother Peter who has a chronic Oscar Wilde fixation.

Then there's Dad . . . who's just, well, dad.

Oh and there's a dog. Called Poo.

Waiting on Wednesday Special Edition + Giveaway!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Denis Leary is coming out with a new book called SUCK ON THIS YEAR: LYFAO @ 140 Characters or Less. Play the trailer below to see him talking about his new book. It's very funny! Please read the contest rules at the end of this post for a chance to win a copy of this book.

Suck On This Year will be published by Penguin on December 2nd. The description of the book reads:

Leary’s first reaction to the Twitter universe was to run the other direction. But then he realized that all of the jokes he was making casually to friends were going to waste unless he had a stand-up comedy tour coming up. The jokes just came and then disappeared. So he decided to give Twitter a try, and once he started, he couldn’t stop. Thus—this book. Or mini-book. Or celebrity coaster.

Here’s a sampling for your reading pleasure:

● This just in: Vatican acquires Neverland Ranch.

● Arizona residents: “We’re sick of being called racists.” That’s the thing about Arizona: it’s a dry hate.

● Lindsay Lohan to play Linda Lovelace in pornstar biopic. Exactly whose reputation is at stake here?

● Lettuce recalled in 23 states: Experts fear it could affect up to 5 Americans.

● New Jersey worried about oil residue on beaches. Not from Gulf spill. From cast of Jersey Shore.

A portion of the proceeds from this book will go towards Leary’s charity—The Leary Firefighters Foundation—so not only are readers improving their own lives by reading this and laughing out loud, they’re also helping a firefighter somewhere in America gain some invaluable training. Plus, SUCK ON THIS YEAR will make the perfect gift book this holiday season, and let’s be honest, it’s a lot more fun than those winter socks or hand-knit sweater or most of your relatives.

Penguin is sponsoring a giveaway for one of my lucky readers! For a chance to win a copy of Suck on This Year, leave a comment on this post and include a way for me to contact you should you win. For two chances, tweet about this giveaway and come back and leave a second comment letting me know. The contest deadline is Wednesday, December 1st and is open to US and Canadian residents. No P.O. boxes please!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

While browsing my local bookstore's website I came across Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. It will be published by Simon and Schuster in January 2011. The description of this book (by the same author who wrote Still Alice) sounds very interesting. From the publisher's website:

Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus.

Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son's teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it's a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.

A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.

A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future.

Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.

Review: Regression by Kathy Bell

In this first book of the Infinion series by Kathy Bell, Adya Jordan, a forty year old woman and the mother of six children, wakes from a coma to find herself in her former fourteen year old body, her husband and children a far-off memory. She discovers to her dismay that she is in a different ‘timeline’ and woke from an accident that she has no memory of. No one around her is aware of her regression except for the elite from the mysterious Three Eleven Corporation.

I was immediately taken with this novel when I read the blurb for it. This is the sort of science fiction that appeals to me. Part of that appeal stems from the ‘what if’ factor. There are all sorts of questions that can’t be answered, but are fun to ask anyway: What if I’d been born earlier than the year I was born in? Later? What if my parents hadn’t met the day they had? Would they have gotten to know each other if they’d met another day? What if I hadn’t gone to the same school as my husband? I might have met him regardless since I already knew him slightly through a mutual friend. Regression asks all of those questions plus many others I’ve never thought of before. The plot of this novel starts almost at the first page and the action doesn’t stop. I enjoyed how the Three Eleven Company is portrayed almost as a living, breathing character and has a sinister, foreboding feeling to it. The author did a great job drawing the reader into the atmosphere of Three Eleven.

Adya is a very likeable main character. I think part of her attraction is that she does not make poor choices or (for the most part and in my opinion!) does not exercise unusually bad judgment. Nothing ruins a book for me more than a character who continually frustrates! So, despite looking like a fourteen-year-old, Adya displays the life experience and maturity of an older woman. I kept that image in my head while reading and found it an interesting perspective. She deals with all sorts of new situations and people – but what stuck out the most was the patriarchal and condescending nature of the big corporation.

The plot, action and characters of this novel do not disappoint. However, I think that the book could have used more editing. For a finished book there were a few typos that should have been corrected. Other than that, I really enjoyed this novel and plan on reading the next book in the series, Evolussion. Anyone who enjoyed reading Replay by Ken Grimwood or The Children of Men by P. D. James would also enjoy Regression.

Mailbox Monday

This meme was started by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. In November Knitting and Sundries is hosting MM.

I received a LibraryThing early reviewer book in the mail last week. It's called The Poison Tree and is written by Erin Kelly. I really like the deep red colour and the naked tree branches on the cover. Just seems to suit the genre of this novel. The description of the book from Erin Kelly's website reads:

It is the sweltering summer of 1997, and Karen is a strait-laced, straight-A university student. When she meets the impossibly glamorous Biba, a bohemian orphan who lives in a crumbling mansion in Highgate with her enigmatic brother Rex, she is soon drawn into their world. As the summer progresses, Karen becomes tangled up in their tragic family history and the idyll turns into a nightmare, culminating in murder.

A decade later, Karen collects Rex from prison. Together with their nine-year-old daughter Alice, they try to settle into family life. While Rex has served his time, Karen keeps dark secrets that mean she has her own life sentence to serve. What happened that summer casts a terrifying shadow over her future. Will the past catch up with her?

Mailbox Monday

This meme was started by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. In November, Julie at Knitting and Sundries is hosting MM.

I received two books last week. The first is The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. I really wanted this book and was thrilled to find it on my doorstep! Published by Atria Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) The Distant Hours is described on their website:

A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WW II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling.

I've started reading the second book I received because I'm so interested in the topic. I don't read much non-fiction, but I am a foodie and this one really holds my interest. It's An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage. I think the title makes it sound as if it's about cannibalism but this book's description on the author's website reads:

There are many ways to look at the past: as a list of important dates, a conveyor belt of kings and queens, a series of rising and falling empires, or a narrative of political, philosophical or technological progress. This book looks at history in another way entirely: as a series of transformations caused, enabled or influenced by food. Throughout history, food has done more than simply provide sustenance. It has acted as a catalyst of social transformation, societal organisation, geopolitical competition, industrial development, military conflict and economic expansion. From prehistory to the present, the stories of these transformations form a narrative that encompasses the whole of human history.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I've got I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg on my wishlist. I'm a big fan and I'm happily anticipating its publication in November and being able to move it from my wishlist to the top of my TBR pile. From the Random House website, the description of this book reads:

The beloved Fannie Flagg is back and at her irresistible and hilarious best in I Still Dream About You, a comic mystery romp through the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, past, present, and future.

Meet Maggie Fortenberry, a still beautiful former Miss Alabama. To others, Maggie’s life seems practically perfect—she’s lovely, charming, and a successful real estate agent at Red Mountain Realty. Still, Maggie can’t help but wonder how she wound up in her present condition. She had been on her hopeful way to becoming Miss America and realizing her childhood dream of someday living in one of the elegant old homes on top of Red Mountain, with the adoring husband and the 2.5 children, but then something unexpected happened and changed everything.

Maggie graduated at the top of her class at charm school, can fold a napkin in more than forty-eight different ways, and can enter and exit a car gracefully, but all the finesse in the world cannot help her now. Since the legendary real estate dynamo Hazel Whisenknott, beloved founder of Red Mountain Realty, died five years ago, business has gone from bad to worse—and the future isn’t looking much better. But just when things seem completely hopeless, Maggie suddenly comes up with the perfect plan to solve it all.

As Maggie prepares to put her plan into action, we meet the cast of high-spirited characters around her. To Brenda Peoples, Maggie’s best friend and real estate partner, Maggie’s life seems easy as pie. Slender Maggie doesn’t have to worry about her figure, or about her Weight Watchers sponsor catching her at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. And Ethel Clipp, Red Mountain’s ancient and grumpy office manager with the bright purple hair, thinks the world of Maggie but has absolutely nothing nice to say about their rival Babs “The Beast of Birmingham” Bingington, the unscrupulous estate agent who hates Maggie and is determined to put her out of business.

Maggie has heartbreaking secrets in her past, but through a strange turn of events, she soon discovers, quite by accident, that everybody, it seems—dead or alive—has at least one little secret.

I Still Dream About You is a wonderful novel that is equal parts Southern charm, murder mystery, and that perfect combination of comedy and old-fashioned wisdom that can be served up only by America’s own remarkable Fannie Flagg.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from a very interesting novel called Regression by Kathy Bell. From page 94:

He turned to greet the first of the men to join them in the conference room. She took a deep breath to steel herself, about to meet the most powerful group of men on Earth.

Mailbox Monday

This meme was created by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. In October, Avis at She Reads and Reads is hosting MM for Marcia.

I received one book in the mail last week. It's a tech noir thriller called Rivers of Gold by Adam Dunn. From Bloomsbury's website, the description reads:

Bright Lights, Big City meets The Wire in a compulsive, sexy, gritty urban thriller set in the day-after-tomorrow's financially devastated New York, by a phenomenally talented first-time novelist.

New York City has never been an easy place to make it, but in the year 2013, it's a little tougher than usual. Race riots. Massive unemployment. Rampant crime. Vacant buildings now housing a thriving black market. A worthless currency and a broken government. Welcome to the Second Great Depression. Some have adapted to life in tomorrow's Big Apple. Like Renny, a part-time fashion photographer and full-time drug dealer who oversees a network of taxicabs running contraband through the underground party circuit. He works for Reza, an enterprising immigrant who has turned the city's nightlife down a deadly road.

Others in the city are just trying to hang on. Like Detective Sixto Santiago, part of an experimental new NYPD unit known as the Citywide Anticrime Bureau (CAB), squads of undercover cops in taxicabs who are meant to hold down the chaos just enough to keep tourists coming. Santiago's new assignment will send him after the man both Renny and Reza must ultimately answer to, a criminal visionary known only as the Slav. But Santiago's most dangerous foe just might be his new partner. From the grime of the city's taxi garages to the sterilized peaks where high finance and organized crime converge, Rivers of Gold is a kaleidoscopic vision of the near future gone hideously wrong.

Review: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

I was so pleased to be asked to review Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick. I’ve been hearing how good the first book in the series is and have been wanting to read it for awhile so the offer of Crescendo was all the incentive I needed to read Hush, Hush. I wasn’t disappointed by either book.

Crescendo picks up where Hush, Hush leaves off. Nora Grey, a plucky but mature teenager (I would have said she is older than sixteen!) finds herself in the midst of danger once again. Nora has the kind of personality that any mother would be proud to have. Occasionally she makes wrong choices (what teenager doesn’t?) but overall she’s a good kid. Other characters we met in Hush Hush reappear in Crescendo and didn’t fail to raise some sort of feeling in me. One high school girl, Marcie Millar, is the perfect antagonist; full of venom, she reminds me of several students I knew when I was in school.

Another big plus with Crescendo (as well as Hush, Hush) are the settings. Dark roads, deserted towns, foggy fields and empty houses all take on a life of their own and give Crescendo depth and atmosphere. I particularly loved that aspect of this book.

The author has a definite knack for creating tension between characters and within plots. The chemistry between the main characters sizzles. I wanted them to be together! I won’t say what happens but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to all fans of fantasy. And even if you aren’t a fan – give this book a try – you may just become one.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

This week's teaser is from City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell. From page 54:

The woman said the girl was lazy and would not do as she was asked, and that her laziness had caused a stomachache. Katherine looked at the girl and gently placed her hand on the girl's greatly distended belly while the mother explained that as she had been unable to find any cockroach feces, the usual cure for such ailments, she had fed the girl rat feces, to no avail.

Mailbox Monday

This meme was started by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. In October Avis at she reads and reads will be hosting for Marcia.

I've been a bit overwhelmed the last couple of weeks so I haven't posted and now I have some catching up to do. I've received five books in the mail since my last MM post:

As part of a Pump up Your Book tour, I will be reviewing Regression by Kathy Bell. From the Pump up Your Book website, the description of Regression reads:

Fourteen-year-old Adya Jordan swears that before her head injury she was a forty-year-old mother of six. Is she going crazy, or did she really live through an entirely different life? 1985 is nothing like she remembers, although her first day of high school certainly is! A typical girl with atypical genes, Adya tries to recapture her old life, hiding her growing conviction that she has done this before. Memories of the man she loved and a family she adored haunt her, even though her future husband doesn’t even know she exists. Accidentally discovering the secretive Three Eleven Corporation might know more about her situation than she does, she is convinced the twenty-eight men heading up the company are responsible for the changes in her world. Adya finds her way into their ranks, journeying to the tropical island headquarters to begin an orientation into their prestigious internship program. The Three Eleven Company controls the development and distribution of Twenty-first Century technology brought with them from the future. Charged with the task of preparing the world for an impending disaster, each member of the team uses his scientific background to create a solution for a problem the planet does not know it is facing. They don’t have time to deal with a feisty young girl poking around. Banished to the frozen Canadian Shield for asking too many questions of CEO Abraham Fairfield, Adya finds the men in the underground city of Sanctum are interested in more than just her genes as they search for the answer to her presence in the timeline. In the end, Adya encounters a choice no mother should ever face: save her children…or everyone else.

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell. The description from Macmillan's website says:

Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P'ing Ch'eng— City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love—and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?

Must You Go? by Antonia Fraser is described on the author's website:

The sub-title of the book declares its contents: this is 'my life with Harold Pinter', not my complete life, and certainly not his. In essence, it is a love story and as with many love stories, the beginning and the end, the first light and the twilight, are dealt with more fully than the high noon in between, described more impressionistically.

I have based it partly on my own diaries: these have been kept since October 1968 when I suffered from withdrawal symptoms after finishing my first historical biography Mary Queen of Scots which had been the centre of my existence for so long. I have also used my own recollections, being careful to distinguish between the two, immediate reactions (I always write my Diary the next morning unless otherwise noted) and memories. I have also quoted Harold where he told me things about his past, once again noting the source and have occasionally quoted his friends talking to me on the same subject. Looking back at the Diaries, I see that I always paid special attention to any green shoots where Harold's writing was concerned. Although it was not a conscious process, I suppose this was a consequence of a biographer living with a creative artist and observing the process first hand.

Harold and I lived together from August 1975 until his death thirty three and a half years later on Christmas Eve 2008. 'O! call back yesterday, bid time return,' cries one of his courtiers to Richard II. This is my way of doing so.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance (phew!) by Elna Baker From the author's website:

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance (Penguin 2009) is a coming of age story about Elna Baker’s experience as a practicing Mormon in New York City. Elna’s life changes when she loses eighty pounds and gets the sexual attention she’s always wanted…. only to discover that as a Mormon she can’t follow through. The book takes on identity, faith, sex and love as Elna questions traditional values in modern times.

City in Shadow by Evan Marshall This book is part of the Hidden Manhattan Mystery series. The Amazon description of this book reads:

A frightened woman leaves a note reading HELP ME outside Sanitation supervisor Anna Winthrop’s apartment . . . A career-making story leads a journalist to a human-trafficking ring . . . A woman acts as bait in an effort to track down her missing sister . . . and Anna’s visiting cousin Patti prowls New York’s dark streets, but won’t say why. All roads lead to the Kirkmore, a sinister apartment tower harboring a secret more horrifying than anyone could ever have imagined.

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