Mailbox Monday September 26, 2011

In September Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Amused by Books.

Although I didn't receive any books in the mail last week, I was the lucky recipient of four books from my friend Tina of Bookshipper. She gave me:

The Price of Silence by Kate Wilhelm, L. A. Mental by Neil McMahon, We All Fall Down by Michael Harvey and Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs.

Thanks, Tina!

Rules of Civility GIVEAWAY!

Not too long ago I enjoyed and reviewed Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. This book is on my top ten favorites list. Referenced throughout the novel are George Washington's rules and the entire list is printed in the back of book. The rules are bits of insightful wisdom that I know I could benefit from revisiting. Here are some examples:

Taken from George Washington’s Rules of Civility:

● (1st) Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

● (12th) Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.

● (50th) Be not hasty to beleive flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.

Even though the language is a bit dated, they still resonate with me. However, another list has been provided to me from the good folks at Penguin that are more contemporary and very apropos:

New RULES to Live By Today:

● Let electronic communication not be used when discussing serious matters. Though you were to use a surfeit of emoticons, they would not aid your success. Such electronic methods include (but are not exhausted by) G-chat, IM, Twitter, e-mail, and Facebook.

● Do not neglect to send thank you notes when someone has done you a kindness.

● Upon public transportation, do not make a pretense that you are unaware of the elderly patron, the person with a cane/crutches, or the profoundly pregnant woman standing nearby. If you be of able body, it is right for you to relinquish your seat.

● In all shared partnerships each party should strive to accomplish 75% of the toil and maintenance thereof. Thus does one ensure a happy life.

● No sidewalks are to be found wide enough that three persons are able to perambulate side-by-side-by-side. Be conscious of your surroundings.

I'm very pleased to announce a giveaway of a signed copy of this book to my readers. All you need to do is leave a comment with your own 'rule of civility' as well as your email address. The winner will be chosen using Deadline is October 30th. I guarantee you won't regret spending time with this awesome book! Good luck!

Review: Fiendish Deeds by P. J. Bracegirdle

I don’t review a lot of middle grade books but if something looks particularly good and is in a genre that I would normally enjoy in adult literature then I am drawn to it. Fiendish Deeds by P. J. Bracegirdle, the first book in the The Joy of Spooking trilogy, (the others are Unearthly Asylum and Sinister Scenes) could easily pass as a younger version of the type of novel I really like.

First there’s a strong female character. She’s plucky, resilient and smart. Check, check and check. She’s not perfect. Check. She’s a bit quirky. Excellent! This means she’s not the same as every other pre-teen protagonist populating the books coveted by young readers. In fact, I was surprised to find out that the author is male since he has written the female character, Joy Wells, with great perception into the mind set of a twelve-year-old girl that is completely convincing.

Another plus for Fiendish Deeds is the story. It’s full of adventure and great action. It’s got the page-turning factor in spades. And even though this is middle grade, it’s still got over 200 pages – so the story has a chance to play out well. It’s got depth.

So, this novel for young readers has everything going for it. But for adults, there’s more. What kept me thoroughly entertained is the humour. Fiendish Deeds is imaginatively funny! It’s got whimsy (a confused bullfrog who thinks it’s a bulldog and so runs around in circles and barks), plenty of allusions to Edgar Allen Poe and the sort of quirkiness that I love to come across unexpectedly when reading.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the author of this great new series lives in my home town. Fans new and old are invited to a launch party for the final book in the Spooking trilogy, Sinister Scenes, on Saturday, September 17th from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. at Shaika Café, 5526 Sherbrooke Street West in Montreal, QC. Copies of all three books in the series will be available at the party. To find out more about the Joy of Spooking trilogy head on over to P. J. Bracegirdle’s website or facebook page.

Tuesday Teaser:

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 is from Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. From page 42:

He'd known that Pendergast and Esterhazy had hunted at Kilchurn before, of course-Esterhazy had mentioned as much in one of the interrogation sessions-but the fact that Grant had taken them out and could vouch for Esterhazy's being an excellent shot was news to him. Esterhazy had always played down his skill.

Mailbox Monday September 5, 2011

In August Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Leah at Amused by Books. Head on over to Leah's blog to add your link!

Last week I received Kitchen Counter Cooking School" by Kathleen Flinn. The description of this book reads:

THE KITCHEN COUNTER COOKING SCHOOL is essentially “What Not to Wear” meets Michael Pollan. Inspired by a supermarket encounter with a woman loading up on processed foods, Le Cordon Blue graduate, and author of The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry, Kathleen Flinn decided to use her recent culinary training to help a group of nine culinary novitiates find their inner cook. These students invited Kathleen into their kitchens where she took inventory of each person’s refrigerator, cabinets and eating habits. After kitchen “makeovers” and a series of basic lessons where they learned to wield knives, trust their taste and improve their food choices, the women found a common missing ingredient—confidence. In this new book, Flinn follows these women’s journeys and includes practical, healthy tips to boost readers’ culinary confidence, strategies to get the most from their grocery dollar and simple recipes to get readers cooking.

Review: Flashback by Dan Simmons

Every now and again I get the urge to pick up a science fiction novel – especially if it’s been recommended by my husband or it’s written by an author I like. I can’t say enough good things about Simmon’s previous books, Drood and The Black Hills, both of which are very different books from Flashback. Happily I was not disappointed with this new novel.

Ingesting the substance called flashback allows the user to relive personal events in their past as many times as they have enough drug for. The protagonist, Nick Bottom, is an ex-detective with a nasty flashback habit and uses the drug to revisit times spent with his now dead wife, Dara. When he’s called upon to solve the murder of a government official’s son, Nick’s main concern is how much flashback the case’s fee will buy him. It turns out that the case has much more going on than Nick is lead to believe.

When I first started reading about flashback and its affects I thought it was too unbelievable. How could a drug exist that could take someone into their past to relive their best memories? But the more I read, the more I came around to thinking it could happen. The way the author presents the drug and how it’s used started to make perfect sense. The world in the not-too-distant future as described by Dan Simmons is a changed one and I could easily see how so many people would want to escape from the present into their much happier pasts.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s one thrilling ride after another. But it’s also a chilling example of what could happen to our world if economies, politics and cultures take a huge downswing in their evolutions. There were a couple of spots that I couldn’t understand very well – an explanation of how the economy ended up as it did and parts of the political situation were a bit difficult for me to envision but overall this did not detract from my enjoyment of the story.

This is another Dan Simmons book that I highly recommend. I’d even go so far as to say that Flashback would make an excellent choice, though maybe a bit of a departure, for book clubs. Though it is set 30 or 40 years into the future, there are many issues touched on that would be relevant to today’s world.

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