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.

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