Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Christmas Meme

In Valerie Comer's Little World, she suggested this Christmas meme, which I thought was pretty cool. Want to play too? Link your answers in the comments section.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags, all the way! I can never find the scotch tape when I need to wrap something, or the room to spread it out, so the paper always ends up looking wrinkly and torn.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Love real but this year put up a very small artificial tree in my tiny little apartment.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually just before Christmas, like Christmas Eve. This year I put it up early, like yesterday.

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes. With nutmeg on top. And a tot of brandy or rum in it is also quite pleasant.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Tiny Tears Doll one year and a 26-inch bike a few years later.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Everybody, because I always try to find unique gifts that I am sure the person will love (or at least use).

8. Easiest person to buy for? My daughter when she was little.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, but I can't remember where I put it. It's not in any of the Christmas boxes I've gotten down off the closet shelves yet.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I like to send both, if I ever manage to get around to it.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A pair of gray knit gloves and a matching hat. From a BOYFRIEND! I felt so depressed. I mean, if I lived in Alaska or Chicago, maybe I could see why he'd give me something that looked like it was meant to keep an old granny warm, but I lived in Los Angeles, CA for heaven's sake!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I really don't have one. Not a movie person. But if I were pressed, I'd probably say "Home Alone."

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Christmas week, sometimes Christmas Eve. (I am not in denial.)

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No. I may do it this year though. Haven't shopped yet.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Oh, my. Mincemeat pie. :) When we were little, my mom always made oyster stew for Christmas Eve, and we'd eat it with those little bitty crackers. Christmas was usually turkey, if I remember correctly, or ham. Or both. We had a big family.

16. Lights on the tree? No, but multi-colored lights on the potted palm and the potted ficus tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song? I love all the old carols: We Three Kings, Silent Night, Adeste Fideles, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Drummer Boy.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I've done both, but the older I get the more I like staying home.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Hmmm, I was just wondering that myself. Uh, let's see: Dasher, Dancer, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blixen, Vixen, and...um, Rudolph?

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? I grew up with Christmas Eve gift-opening at home with my dad's family, and then we'd go to my maternal grandmother's for Christmas Day and open gifts there too. When my daughter was little, I'd let her open one present from me on Christmas Eve, but Santa came that night after she was asleep so she opened those gifts and the rest of mine on Christmas Day.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Sell, sell, sell. Buy, buy, buy. Lord, but the desperate commerciality of it makes me sick.

23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? Whatever I feel like. I do like angels, though, and have a lot of them. Actually, I leave most of them up all year.

24. Favorite for Christmas Dinner? If I had my choice, I'd make roast beef with mashed potatoes & gravy. Oh, vegetables? Sure, whatever. And mincemeat pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert. And maybe plum pudding with hard sauce. And a nice moist fruit cake. And those powered-sugar-covered almond crescent cookies. (Yes, I like sweets.)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Not so much. World peace. To win the lottery so I could retire. Health care reform with Medical for All to pass. The end of homelessness and domestic abuse. The return of my passion & creativity. That my daughter and family are all safe and happy.

Merry Christmas, Everyone! And may the New Year be filled with happiness, health, prosperity, and all good things!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Truly, Madly ~ a review

Lucy Valentine comes from a long line of matchmakers who have been aided in the endeavor by being able to read peoples' auras. Unfortunately, while the Valentine's are uncannily accurate when it comes to pairing others, they seem unable to find true and lasting love themselves. 

Heather Webber's Truly, Madly was a fun, easy-to-read romantic mystery with delightful flashes of humor. I thought it was very well-written in a style that was breezy but not annoyingly so. It was written in the first person, which often puts me off, but Heather Webber managed to pull it off. Lucy is a likeable heroine with a couple of major issues: one is that she feels as if she's not really good for anything & doesn't quite belong, and the second is a giant fear of commitment. Lucy's paranormal talent was zapped when she was 14 years old, and now all she seems able to do is find lost objects, not much help when she's forced by circumstances to take over the family business.

She shares the story with a cast of supporting characters that include Sean ~ a hunky but not particularly well-developed P.I./love-interest, Dovie ~ Lucy's ditzy but hip grandmother who, in her desperation to become a great-grandmother, is both adorable and terrifying by turns, a couple of loyal best friends, a pushy reporter, a really creepily psychotic yet tormented villain, and, my personal favorites, two rescue animals ~ one a three-legged, neurotically needy cat named Grendel and a one-eyed hamster named Odysseus. Along with Sean's puppy Thoreau, the furry threesome promises to provide lots of comic relief as the series continues.

I thought the solutions to the various mysteries were pretty cool, but I wasn't thrilled with what I thought was a rather abrupt ending. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

Truly, Madly is due in stores in February 2010. I won an ARC through LibraryThing.com's Early Review program.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's NOVEMBER 1 and You Know What That Means, Right?

November is National Novel Writing Month, and, as I have for the past three years, I'm taking part in the NaNoWriMo challenge. What's that, you ask?

The challenge, for those brave (or crazy) enough to accept it, is to write a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November. Not really any other rules, except it should be a fresh fictional project, begun at the stroke of 12:01 a.m. on November 1 and ended at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Not one word of the novel itself should be written before November 1, but you can outline, plot, research, do character studies, etc. before then. Or not. (I'm one of the "or-nots," which makes for some pretty hair-raising moments when I run out of ideas halfway through the NaNovel I'm writing.)

At some point (one hopes before 11:59 p.m. on 11/30), you upload your novel (straight or scrambled, it doesn't matter, since no one except you and those with whom you choose to share) for verification of word count, and, if it is at or over 50k, YOU WIN!

And the prize? Ah, the prize! A beautiful, sparkly purple bar under your NaNo name and the rights to brag about it for the next 12 months. Cool, huh?

So, all these words (practicing for NaNo?) just to say one thing: I won't be around much during November to blog or read everyone else's blogs (or to Twitter, or on Facebook, or on LibraryThing, or to read novels, or to get much sleep), so please forgive me for disappearing for a month and please come back on December 1 when I pick up where I left off on my OTHER life that is not NaNoWriMo.

I will be tweeting during November as @Novelst, so, if you are on Twitter, please feel free to follow me (tho I probably won't follow you back because @Novelst is strictly for NaNoWriMo and writing in general), and plan to blog about my NaNo experience on LiveJournal (where I am Storeetllr), in case you are interested in how I'm doing with my NaNovel.

Okay, then, this is it till December. I'm leaving. Now. *poof*

Saturday, October 31, 2009

We've Got a Winner!

Congratulations to etrainer! He's FINALLY the winner of one of my giveaways after faithfully entering a number of previous ones. I am so pleased for you, Ed, and will be mailing out your autographed copy of 9 DRAGONS, the matchbook, and scented candle and bookmarks as soon as I hear back from you with your snailmail addy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

9 DRAGONS Book Signing at Vroman's & SPECIAL GIVEAWAY

It was a dark and stormy night, and traffic out of downtown L.A. was snarled in every direction.  It is a truism that Los Angelenos forget from season to season how to drive in the rain, so everywhere were fender benders, stalled cars, Sig alerts, and generally weirded-out drivers who drove either too slow or too fast for conditions and swerved unexpectedly to avoid puddles.  However, I, your intrepid blog reviewer, ventured bravely into the melee and the rain for what should have been a 20-minute drive to Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena.

An hour later, after having had to go a long distance out of my way on surface streets to avoid a Sig alert on the 110N, I finally arrived at Vroman's.  Nerves frazzled, hair limp from the rain, and annoyed that a number of vehicles parked in the lot behind the bookstore were taking up two spaces, but armed with cameras and excitement, I climbed the stairs to hear Michael Connelly talk about his newest novel, 9 DRAGONS. 

I came in on the last few minutes of his talk and missed even more because the crowd was so great that I had to go around to the other side of the room in order to even see the podium.  After hiding my umbrella and raincoat under the Christmas tree (!), I pulled out my little digital point-and-shoot and scurried up to the front of the room in time to snap off a couple of shots of the crowd as it dispersed ~ some folks leaving but most waiting patiently to get in line for their moment in the sun when they would get their books signed. 

I wandered around, shamelessly eavesdropping on conversations and occasionally breaking in to ask questions.  Everyone agreed Connelly gave a heck of a talk and that 9 DRAGONS sounded really good, some adding that they couldn't wait to get home so they could start reading it.  It seems that most had read all of Connelly's prior Bosch novels.  One woman said she'd just finished THE LINCOLN LAWYER and loved it, though it didn't have Harry in it.  I was able to assure her that THE BRASS VERDICT was even better, and she got out of line to go the stack of Connelly's books and pick up THE BRASS VERDICT then and there.  Another woman showed me a copy of THE CONCRETE BLONDE and remarked that it had been her first Connelly (coincidentally, that was also the first Connelly I'd ever read) and she wanted a signed copy of it in her library.  One man in line had a half dozen copies of 9 DRAGONS, and I couldn't help wince to think of how Connelly's hand would feel in the morning after signing so many books.  Then I met a woman with a bag full of books ~ "One of each of his novels, and a copy of each anthology in which he has a story."  Ouch!  That's a lot of autographs!

As I waited in line, I watched Connelly interact with his fans.  It seemed to me that he had changed and was different from how I remembered him a decade ago.  Though the charm was still there, he seldom cracked a smile, yet the quality that shone through was the way he listened to each fan with complete concentration, ignoring everyone and everything else in the room.  He seemed to be truly interested in what each one had to say and responded easily to their questions and praise. 

When I got to the front of the line, after having bought a copy of 9 DRAGONS for him to sign, I told Mr. Connelly that I was participating in his blog tour and that I would be posting some pictures of the book signing on my blog, along with my review of 9 DRAGONS, which I told him I thought was awesome.  He was completely focused on me and what I had to say, and even asked me for the name of my blog!  In that moment, I felt truly special.

I also lost my sense of purpose.  I'd come as a "reporter" of sorts, but I failed to follow up on a number of comments he'd made, one directly to me!  I'd asked him if he ever planned to get on Twitter, and he said, "I'm trying to finish a book and can't afford the distraction of Twitter right now."  I should have asked him WHAT BOOK?  What's it about?  What's the ETA for release?  Instead, I blathered on a bit longer and then, feeling I'd taken up enough of his time, said thanks and made way for the next fan.  So, reporters everywhere: there is no need to worry about your jobs.  I am a total failure as a reporter.  But I did get a couple of really nice pix.  And an autographed copy of 9 DRAGONS.

Which brings me to the next point:  As a way of thinking all my blog readers for their loyal following, I am going to give away an autographed copy of 9 DRAGONS to one lucky follower who comments and tells me what their favorite Michael Connelly novel is.  I'm also going to include a matchbook (you'll understand when you read the novel), a package of Gold Candle (TM) scented bookmarks and a scented candle.

You must be a follower of Just One More Page...Or Two, have a street address (no p.o. boxes, please), and leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win.  No email address, no entry.  I'm going to pick a name using http://www.random.org/ on October 31 (the day before NaNoWriMo starts).  This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE.  Good luck!

Friday, October 16, 2009


I'm helping to raise funds to
#beatcancer, by blogging, tweeting
and posting Facebook status

Click here to join me!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Winners of 9 Dragons

Between my job and a nasty migraine that was brought on by the change in the weather, I am late posting the winners of the 9 Dragons giveaway, but that is soon to be remedied ~ in fact, right now!  Without further ado, the winners' names as drawn using http://www.random.org/ are:

Carol M.
Beth (BBRB)
Congratulations!  I know you're going to just love 9 Dragons!

I will be sending each of you emails.  Please respond in 48 hours of receipt so the books can be mailed out as soon as possible.

Thanks so much to everyone for participating!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

BlogTour Review of 9 Dragons, a Harry Bosch Mystery/Thriller

I first met Michael Connelly back in around '95, at the L.A. Book Faire, after I'd read (and loved) his first two or three Harry Bosch novels. His manner was a little shy but quite charming, and I was properly charmed.  Over the years, I've seen Michael a few times at different book events, and, though he is no longer quite as shy, he is still as charming as ever, except now (at least last time I saw him) his hair's a little grayer and he has a beard.  And I'm still in love with his novels. Tonight, I'm getting ready to leave for Vroman's in Pasadena to attend Michael Connelly's book signing and to listen to him talk about 9 Dragons, and needless to say I'm pretty stoked about it.

Because I just finished reading 9 Dragons a couple of days ago and loved it. With 9 Dragons, Michael's done it again, in a big way. This might be the best Harry Bosch novel since Echo Park. No more cold case unit, Harry's back in Homicide where he belongs, doing what he does best ~ pissing people off, going off the grid, and solving crimes.

The story starts out slow, with Harry and his gun-shy partner catching a case that at first seems like nothing more challenging than the pedestrian shooting of a liquor store owner in South Central. But as Harry starts digging, he discovers that the victim was being extorted by one branch of a mysterious and violent Hong Kong gang known as the Triad. When the Triad bagman is arrested as a suspect, things start popping, but this is Harry ~ he's not going to let a little thing like threats to his life, or even his job, stop him from bringing the murderer down. Then his 13-year old daughter Madeleine goes missing from a mall in Hong Kong where she's been living with her mother, Harry's ex-wife, and the stakes are suddenly raised to almost unbearable heights as the danger turns more deadly than anything he's ever faced before. By the middle of the novel, I literally could not put it down. I could only hold on tight and thank heaven I was on vacation so I didn't have to get up early the next morning for work.

As I said earlier, I've been reading Harry Bosch mysteries since the mid-90s when, on a fluke (because I liked the title), I picked up Concrete Blonde. Through the years, I've watched Harry get into (and out of) some really bad scrapes, but this might be the most exciting and emotionally devastating of all. In 9 Dragons, Harry is as tough and uncompromising as ever, a maverick with an unwavering sense of duty who does what it takes to get the job done, even when he's scared shitless inside.

When you read it, I believe you'll agree with me that 9 Dragons is awesome ~ a thrilling mystery from a wonderful writer at the top of his form.

Oh, yeah, when I get back from the book signing tonight, I'll be drawing names of lucky winners of 9 Dragons as well as posting pix of the event, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What I Did On My (Late-)Summer Vacation? (Why, I read, of course!)

I'm on vacation, visiting my youngest sister in a small town in Eastern North Carolina, not far from The Outer Banks, where she is temporarily (so far a little over a year) residing. Other than my first day here, which was sunny & warm, it's been rainy and cool ~ perfect weather to stay indoors, relaxing, catching up on each other's lives and, of course, both of us being avid readers, catching up on our reading.

My sister just started Duma Key, which she is enjoying, and I finished 9 Dragons* yesterday morning. Though I'm not planning to post my review of it until Tuesday when I also draw the names of the winners of five (5) copies of 9 Dragons, I just couldn't wait to tell you that it's one of the best Harry Bosch mysteries I've read in a long time!

It started out pretty low-key and stayed that way for the first half of the book, which was good because I began it on the first day of visiting my sister so I didn't feel compelled to hide in the bathroom to read it instead of spending time with her. But then, when I was reading it before bed the other night, WHAM! What a ride! It took off like a jet and did loop-de-loops for the rest of the book, and I literally could not put it down to sleep until I finished it (at 4 a.m.)!

So now I'm reading The Shack, which my sister said is wonderful. I've heard mixed reviews, but the first part (though about an emotionally difficult subject) was good, if slightly simplistic in the writing style. I've also started Black Ships by Jo Graham, after having read and loved her second novel, Hand of Isis. So far (about 30 pages in), I'm loving Black Ships too.

All together, I brought five books with me to read: The above two, as well as The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson, an historical novel by Georgette Heyer, and a collection of short paranormal stories, including one by Jim Butcher. And if that isn't enough to take me through the week and the flight home, my sister has a bookcase full of novels (many by Stephen King) that she says I'm welcome to take home with me.

Ah, life is sure good!

*In compliance with the latest Big-Brother government intrusion into the private sector(strange how it's acceptable to legislate bloggers who get books for free from the publisher but it's so not okay to have a public option in the health care reform bill because it's seen (by some) as government intrusion ~ GAH! DON'T GET ME STARTED!), "9 Dragons" is a review copy that I got for free from the publisher Little, Brown, a Division of Hatchette Book Group. The publisher is also allowing me to give away five (5) free copies to five (5) of my readers whose names I draw on October 13. In exchange for all that, I am going to post my honest review on my blog on Tuesday, October 13. I'm also going to attend the book signing with Michael Connelly at Vroman's in Pasadena that evening and take pictures. I will probably also buy a copy of the book so I can get Mr. Connelly to sign it for me. But the copy of the book I already read and just mentioned above was really good was sent to me gratis. Just want to make that crystal clear. I'd also like to make it clear that I get no other remuneration than the free copy of the book for my review, either from the author, the publisher, or any bookseller. In other words, if my review convinces you to go buy the book, I get nothing out of it except the knowledge that you are going to have one hell of a time with it, and the satisfaction of a book lover who has been instrumental in turning on another book lover to a great book.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

And the Winning Numbers Are...

This is sooo cool! Here are the winning numbers: 5 - 9 - 13. Write them down, and don't forget them! 5 - 9 - 13. Got it? 5 - 9 - 13.

But what's it all about? I hear you saying.

Let me explain.

Okay, so you know that NINE DRAGONS, Michael Connelly's latest Harry Bosch thriller, is due out soon, right? Well, thanks to the wonderful people over at Hatchette Books, I'm getting an early review copy! I'm so excited that words fail ~ or they would, if I wasn't blogging about it. Anyway, it just gets better and better! They are also giving me five (count 'em, 5) copies to give away to five lucky readers.

That's where the 5 and the 9 come in, but what about the 13? Get ready for it: October 13 is when NINE DRAGONS will be released in the U.S., and, even better, it's the date I'm going to draw the winners' names.

There you have it: 5 - 9 - 13. Way cool, huh?

For those benighted few who don't already know about the Harry Bosch mysteries, I've got to tell you that they are among my all-time favorites. From the first one I read ~ CONCRETE BLONDE (Note: THE BLACK ECHO was the first of the series) ~ back in the 1990s (soooo long ago, hah!) I was hooked, and from then to the latest ~ THE OVERLOOK (2007)~ it's been one exciting thrill ride after another with LAPD homicide cop Harry Bosch.

Here's a description of NINE DRAGONS from the Hatchette site:

LAPD Detective Harry Bosch is off the chain in the fastest, fiercest, and highest-stakes case of his life.

Fortune Liquors is a small shop in a tough South L.A. neighborhood, a store Bosch has known for years. The murder of John Li, the store's owner, hits Bosch hard, and he promises Li's family that he'll find the killer.

The world Bosch steps into next is unknown territory. He brings in a detective from the Asian Gang Unit for help with translation--not just of languages but also of the cultural norms and expectations that guided Li's life. He uncovers a link to a Hong Kong triad, a lethal and far-reaching crime ring that follows many immigrants to their new lives in the U.S.

And instantly his world explodes. The one good thing in Bosch's life, the person he holds most dear, is taken from him and Bosch travels to Hong Kong in an all-or-nothing bid to regain what he's lost. In a place known as Nine Dragons, as the city's Hungry Ghosts festival burns around him, Bosch puts aside everything he knows and risks everything he has in a desperate bid to outmatch the triad's ferocity.

So there you have it. I don't know about you, but I'm practically hyperventilating from excitement. Cannot wait to read this one.

I think that should make pretty much everyone sit up in interest. (Lord, I love a good cliche!) Now, down to the brass tacks. (See what I mean?)

To enter, please leave a comment letting everyone know your favorite mystery/thriller writer or novel. Also be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win; no email addy, no entry. For an extra entry, post a note about the giveaway on your blog. You can also get an extra entry for tweeting it. As always, the giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only, and you must have a street address (no post office boxes please).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Day Late Is Better Than Not At All!

So, I in keeping with the tradition of procrastinating that I have perfected after lo, these many years of practice, I'm posting this "a day late." And, oh, yes, if you must know, I am also very much "a dollar short."

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

Sure. I like apples and nuts for snacking. And chocolate. I also read at regular meals. It can be rough on books, though, especially if I'm eating something messy like spaghetti bolognese. Gotta put the book behind a plastic shield. lol

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

The thought of writing in books makes my skin crawl. I just can't do it. Not even textbooks. It's akin to desecration for me.

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

I'm guilty of dog-earing paperbacks sometimes but not usually hardbacks or trades. I try to use pretty bookmarks but tend to lose them so end up using post-it notes or grocery receipts, stuff like that. Last night I found a lovely tarot card in a library book ~ the last borrower must've been using it as a bookmark. It's a picture of an angel and it's title is "Prayer Answered." Very cool!

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Yes, definitely both, though I tend to read more fiction.

Hard copy or audiobooks?

Both. I usually have one audiobook going at all times, along with one or five books.

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 usually read until I can't keep my eyes open one more second and have even fallen asleep sitting up with the light on and the book propped on my knees, so wherever I happen to be in the book when I pass out is where I stop. If I have a choice, though, it's at the end of a chapter.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

Nah, not unless I can't make sense of the sentence, then I might go back and look up the meaning.

What are you currently reading?

I started The Last Dickens on audio and The Sun Is My Undoing, an old (written in the '50s) historical novel set in the late 18th century, by Marguerite Steen. I'm also taking my time reading Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman and Elizabeth I by Alison Wier.

What is the last book you bought?

Hmm, it was awhile ago, I know that. I usually borrow from the library. Oh, I know! Last Christmas, while in New York visiting my daughter, I bought The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar, The Gettysburg Bible, and Procopius: The Secret History. Will you be shocked if I say that I have not read any of them yet?

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

I generally have a few books going at a time, but I can only actually read one of them at any given time. :) Though I'd give a lot to be able to read two or more at once.

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

Oh, yes! Before going to sleep at night, while eating, between housekeeping chores, while waiting in lines at the store or waiting at the doctors, etc.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

Yes. Haha, sorry, I enjoy both.

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

Sharon Kay Penman's The Sunne in Splendour, Carol O'Connell's Mallory mysteries (a series) and The Judas Child (a stand-alone), Susanne Alleyn's Aristide Ravel mysteries, Edith Pargeter's The Heaven Tree, Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow.

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

Organize? What's that? Um, books I've read are in back or on lower shelves; books I want to read or want to reread are out front or on the top shelves. Reference books are piled around my desk. I don't know, I don't really organize books. Sort of like my life ~ in total disarray ~ but it seems to work for me. Most of the time.

Happy BBAW!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBAW Day 2 - Interview with Britt

Okay, as usual, I'm late getting this interview up and apologize profusely to Britt from Confessions of a Book Habitue, though I believe she will understand. We had a few really good convos over the past couple of weeks about how insanely busy (I think we called it "time-challenged") we both are! Of course, she managed to get her interview with me posted to her blog on time, but let's not dwell on that little factoid. It's just too embarrassing for me, and anyway this blog interview isn't about me, it's about Britt.

Before I start with the Q&A, I just want to say that I really like the look of Britt's blog. It's simple and elegant and easy to read (which, for a woman like me who is closer to the end side of Life than the start side and with failing eyesight, is a wonderful thing!) But I really really really love her blog's graphics. You just have to check it out!

So, without further ado, welcome Britt of Confessions of a Book Habitue.

Me: Love the name of your blog! How did it come about?

Britt: Let's see--honestly I used a thesaurus to pick a name because I wanted something along the lines of an addict, but Confessions of a Book Addict was taken. (Well, bookaddict.blogspot.com was taken anyway.) So I wandered around an online thesaurus forever until I found something I liked. The result is apparently unpronounceable, but I'm kind of attached to it.

Me: Well, I like it, sounds very 1950's Parisian chic! What got you started blogging anyway?

Britt: I started blogging after my friend Cari started Bookscoops with her sister. Cari and I are in a book club together and I thought it sounded like a good idea, so I started a book blog too!

Me: And what keeps you going? I mean, blogging may sound like it's easy ~ at least until you do it. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep up with a book blog, especially if you want it to be creative, well-written, and full of interesting reviews.

Britt: I keep going because now it's part of my routine. I finish a book, I have to write the review and record it in my notebook before I'm really "done" with it! Totally OCD (or rather CDO, which is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, only alphabetically, as it should be.)

Me: Hah! Guess you weren't kidding about the OCD/CDO thing. :) I know you're busy with your young children and you also keep up three other blogs (two for stamping ~ Pickled Penguin Ink and Stampin Up and one fabulous blog ~ Arri and Keish ~ a YA adventure told epistolary style). Where in the world do you find the time to read, much less keep up your book blog?

Britt: Where do I find the time? I ignore housework and neglect my kids. ;) Honestly, I read during meals, while my kids play, while I watch tv, in the bath tub, in the car...though not while driving. Well, okay, just at stoplights. :D And I read really fast--generally at least 50 pages every hour, so it's easier to go through a lot of books. Reading is also a coping mechanism for my depression, so if I'm really struggling I tend to bury myself in books, coming up for air only if my kids are screaming at me. But hey, I'm generally reading right there where they're playing and so they bring me toys they need help with or books they want me to read to them...and I'm right there to change the channel or start a new On Demand cartoon.

Me: Whew!

Britt: I review everything I read, except when I'm rereading a book I've already talked about. (For example, I haven't done standard reviews for Deanna Raybourn's books or Tasha Alexander's books, but I've talked about them enough that I didn't want to be redundant and review them when I reread them recently.) I did initially skip Confessions of a Wallflower (I think that's what it's called... feeling too lazy to look it up) because I felt so torn about it, but I did eventually review it.

Me: I know this is Book Bloggers Appreciation Week, but I want to commend you especially on your other blog, Arri & Keish, and tell you how much I enjoyed it. Ever think of publishing the story in book form?

Britt: I'm glad you like the Arri and Keish letters! We have fun writing them. The secret to keeping up with that one is we're way ahead of it in real life! We've joked about publishing...we'd have to edit them to within an inch of their little paper lives! We just keep writing and writing, so if it were to ever be a book it would need serious tightening.

Me: Well, let me know when so I can run out and buy it! Last question: what are your top 3 books are so far for 2009?

Britt: Top three books this year? Ooooh, hard one. I'll have to go grab my list of books I read this year! Holy criminy, I've read 112 books this year! Okay, not counting rereads--sigh. I'm having a terrible time narrowing it down. Okay, I'm going to go with Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, The Planets by Dava Sobel, and... okay, I'm going to discount series books too... probably Savvy by Ingrid Law or The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry for my third.

So there you have it. A huge thanks to Britt for letting me interview her and, most of all, for blogging and sharing her love of books and her reviews with the rest of us! Now, hop on over to Britt's blog to see just what a great place it is! And do let her know you heard about it here!

Happy BBAW and happy reading to everyone

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another Award! *gloats*

Wowsers, I was given another award!

I am so honored and thrilled that Tina at Tutu's Two Cents liked my blog enough to give my the Bookworm's Award for Bookfriends. Between what she said about my blog ~ that "[my] variety of reading, contests, and musings is truly awesome" ~ and the first two awards I was given last month, I am so overwhelmed I scarcely know what to say.

Hahah, that was a joke. Of course I know what to say. Or, at least, even if I don't know what to say, that won't stop me from saying it anyway. :)

Back to the subject of my first three awards ~ they were particularly timely, because I was beginning to feel a bit discouraged that no one was reading my blog, and I'd begun seriously considering dropping out of the blogosphere for awhile ~ at least until I could figure out how to do it better. Now, though I will continue to try and do it better, I guess I'll stick around while I'm learning.

Thanks so much TuTu! I'll try to live up to your award.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tangling with Tyrants - A Review

Okay, before I get to the review, I just want to say that I am currently working for a "difficult" boss, and not for the first time. In the past 40 years, I have at various times felt powerless, isolated, unappreciated, fearful, withdrawn, and enraged as a result of the bullying that I had accepted I was obliged to put up with. Presently, the individuals I support (as a secretary) aren't the worst problems (although a couple of them occasionally exhibit some of the behaviors of a Tyrant); it is the supervisor of the office staff I find most difficult to deal with. So when I was offered Tangling with Tyrants by Tony Deblauwe to review, I jumped at the chance. Anything that might help me get off the emotionally painful rollercoaster ride of my daily work life is worth taking a chance on!

At first, I was a bit put off that more wasn't said in condemnation of the bully boss and that the onus was placed on the employee instead. Indeed, Tangling with Tyrants would have the employee turn inward and consider personal accountability in respect to what has contributed to the problems in the relationship. At that I grumbled, "if my boss is a bully and incompetent, why is it up to me to acknowledge what I could and should have done better earlier in addressing those concerns?"

As I read on, though, I began to see what Tony is getting at: Ultimately, it's up to me to handle my boss more effectively in order to bring about a real, practical change, because my boss surely isn't going to! I doubt she's even aware of her shortcomings.

As is reiterated in Tangling with Tyrants, in today's workplace, everyone is under the gun. Managers are being pressured by their higher-ups, and employees have to work faster to do more with less. In addition, many companies are in survival mode, with mass layoffs, outsourcing, and fewer jobs being the result. Accordingly, it's important for employees to at least try to understand the situation from the manager's point of view, which is impossible if the employee continues to make assumptions about their managers based on past interactions. Having an effective communication process with the boss is crucial, and Tangling With Tyrants provides concise, concrete, and well-thought out techniques for dealing with a difficult boss in a solid framework. This includes defining the characteristics of a Tyrant, Recipient (employee victim) and Participant (employee who collaborates with the boss), case studies (you are not alone!), and helpful examples, as well as step-by-step guidelines and exercises to get you going on the right track.

In deconstructing the relationship between employee and boss, Tangling With Tyrants shines a light on how the employee's behaviors and the boss's behaviors combine to bring about the tyrant/victim condition. Through a series of steps and techniques, the employee's thinking and perspective becomes more clear and focused, allowing her to lead from a position of power that she may never have experienced before in a working relationship. This approach ~ looking at two-way communication and profiles ~ contributes to understanding how power works in the relationship and shows the employee what she needs to do, and practice, in order to build a long-term plan for sustained success.

Tangling with Tyrants is deceptively short, simple, and easy to read, but it's packed with the tools you need to make a change. A companion workbook is also available:
Tangling with Tyrants®: Taming the Tyrant uses personal development exercises and ratings of management behaviors to provide you with the tools you need to build a results-oriented communication plan with your boss. You will explore various aspects of your communication style, as well as analyze your boss across eight critical management behaviors. The workbook is hands-on and engaging, and allows you to outline a solid strategy and long-term solution for dealing with any difficult boss.

I'm going to order the workbook and use it in conjunction with the book in the hope that I can finally and at least once before I retire get to enjoy my job at which I am so good but which I loathe.

Needless to say, I recommend this book to everyone whose job sucks due to a bad boss and who wants to better their life.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Name Is Will - A Review

Alternating between 1980s California and Elizabethan England, My Name is Will introduces us to a young man named William Shakespeare from each era.

Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is a graduate student in UC Santa Cruz whose thesis is on his famous namesake. Instead of concentrating on doing research and writing his paper, however, he occupies his time doing drugs and making it with women. Cut off by his father for his lack of scholastic impetus and, consequently, finding himself broke, he risks being busted by the DEA by agreeing to deliver a large psychedelic mushroom to a buyer at the local Renaissance Fair at the height of Reagan's War on Drugs.

Back in 1582, Will Shakespeare is an eighteen-year-old schoolmaster who is also busy with women and drink. He has just begun to flirt with the idea of writing for a living, and in Winfield's novel are tantalizing glimpses of the genesis of some of his famous speeches, plays, and sonnets. At the same time, the persecution of Catholics is on the rise. Family, friends, fellow students and Shakespeare himself are at risk as the local sheriffs hunt for practicing Catholics. In spite of the danger (or perhaps because of it), Shakespeare agrees to deliver a sacred Catholic relic to the family of an executed priest.

It took me awhile to get used to jumping back and forth in time as each chapter alternated between the two Williams, but the transitions worked well and I forgot about the time jumps as the stories of the two Williams began to mesh. I think this may be one of the key narrative challenges of the piece ~ making these parallel stories complement each other ~ but I found that it is handled adroitly. In the end, which I absolutely loved, both the historical and contemporary Shakespeares eventually find themselves and their purpose in life and begin to move toward it.

Oh, and the Epilogue? When you read it, if you can figure out which of the two Will's it is about, please get back to me with the answer. I can't for the life of me decide.

My Name Is Will is subtitled "A Novel of Sex, Drugs and Shakepeare" for a good reason, and those who are easily offended should probably steer clear. It is not very scholarly ~ indeed, it is light and highly irreverent ~ but, unless you are a pedant, I think you'll find it an enjoyable read.

Jess Winfield, the author, was a founding member of The Reduced Shakespeare Company, "an American acting troupe that wrote and performed unsubtle, fast-paced, seemingly improvisational condensations of huge topics." (Wikipedia.) The first performance was a 25-minute, 4-actor version of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Winfield was with the troupe from 1981 through 1992, writing and performing various of the Bard's plays, and it's clear that he knows whereof he writes. Winfield is also the author of What Would Shakespeare Do (Ulysses Press, 2000), a self-help book that employs Shakespearean drama as a basis for advice.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book Bloggers Appreciation Week

Greetings from the City of Heat Stroke...I mean, City of Angels. Besides having had a frenzied couple of weeks at work, I've also been feeling tired in general, a feeling no doubt exacerbated by the heat wave we've been having here. Yes, I know it's summer and summer is known for hot sunny weather, but we've had over a week of 90° plus in Downtown L.A., where it usually reaches only into the mid- to upper-80s at worst. So, though I've had the A/C on pretty much every day, at least while I'm home (and I don't even want to think about next month's electric bill), I haven't even felt much like reading, much less blogging.

But this year's Book Bloggers Appreciate Week (September 14-18, 2009) is something I feel the need to blog about, notwithstanding my lethargy. What a great idea ~ a week to celebrate "the art of book blogging," to acknowledge the "contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and to recognize the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards." (Got that from the BBAW website.) Why such a celebration? As the BBAW site says: "Because books matter. In a world full of options, the people talking about books pour hard work, time, energy, and money into creating a community around the written word."

I did not participate in last year's BBAW. I don't even think I knew about it, although, if I had known, I doubt if I'd have gotten involved. I'd only just started blogging, and it was all so new to me that I didn't even follow any blogs then. Also, I am basically pretty shy under all the brash confidence I may seem to exhibit.

This year is another story, though. I've read fascinating book reviews on the blogs I now follow and have learned a whole lot over the past year that I would have missed had I not been following those blogs. Plus I've been fortunate to meet (online) some wonderful bloggers. Last but not least, I'm all hyped on the goodness & importance of blogs in general, since it appears to me that the mainstream media and many of the sales websites *cough amazon dot com cough* have caved to the government, the corporate world, & big money and, imo, stopped reporting important (not to mention truthful) articles and reviews in favor of fluff, lies and innuendo.

Okay, hopping down off my soapbox now.

So, I urge you to check it out. BBAW is a great opportunity to get involved in the book blogging community whether you are a blogger, a reader, a writer, or just concerned about honesty in reporting today.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


This award was given to me by Missy at Missy's Book Nook. Thank you so much for thinking of me...it means a lot to me!

The rules state that in order to accept this award, I must list seven of my very favorite things, and only then may I pass the award on to seven other bloggers. So, here goes. *deep breath*

My Seven Favorite Things are:
1. Hanging around with my daughter Meg
2. Hanging around with Nickel Silverwing, my African Grey parrot
3. Reading
4. Talking on the phone with my sisters
5. Blogging & posting on Twitter, LibraryThing
6. Dark chocolate
7. Photography and photographs, particularly black & white

Notice I did not list coffee, notwithstanding the fact that I cannot live without it. It's like air and water, so it's not really a "favorite" thing as much as a necessity for life itself! ;D

Okay, now to pass on this award to those of you whose blogs I find, for a myriad of reasons, to be highly creative and pretty much addictive. It hasn't been easy to choose, because there are so many excellent blogs out there. I did not include any of the blogs to which I already gave an award (see sidebar), though they are also creative and cool. Okay, my choices of blogs to get the Kreativ Blogger Award. Drumroll please!

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Good Bird Blog
Life in Southern California
Murder, Mystery & Mayhem
Maw Books Blog
Blood of the Muse
Outpost Mavarin

Thanks for blogging, and keep up the good work! :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shakespeare Drawing: And the Winners Are...

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy My Name Is Will. I got my copy from Hatchette yesterday and am looking forward to reading it. I'll post my review as soon as I do.

A big thank-you to everyone who entered, and I'm sorry I couldn't give copies to all of you. An especially ginormous thanks to everyone who posted their favorite work by or about Shakespeare. There were some interesting choices, and one clear winner. I tallied the "votes," and here are the results:
Romeo & Juliet - 8
A Midsummer Night's Dream - 5
Hamlet - 4 (3 plus mine)

One each for The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, and Coriolanus.
One vote was for Nothing Like the Sun, a novel about The Bard by Burgess.

Note: I used Random.Org for the first time to choose the winners. It was so much easier than writing name on little pieces of paper, putting them in a big plastic bowl, and having my bird pick out the winners. Especially since she always tries to shred the paper before I can see who's name is on it. :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Murder & Mayhem in Pre-Revolutionary Paris

I got an Advance Uncorrected Proof of The Cavalier of the Apocalypse from the author in exchange for my review. It's the third in the Aristide Ravel series of historical mysteries set in Paris around the time of the French Revolution. The author Susanne Alleyn is a skilled writer, does impeccable research, and fashions clever mysteries. Since I'd already read and enjoyed her first two ~ Game of Patience and Treasury of Regrets ~ I was sure I would similarly enjoy this one.

I was wrong. I didn't just enjoy this novel ~ I LOVED it! In fact, I gobbled it down in two evenings, both nights reading way past my bedtime, and then, as soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it all over again. That doesn't happen to me very often, so you know this is one special book.

Okay, the story (no spoilers). In this atmospheric murder mystery, we meet Aristide Ravel, a young, somewhat dour and disillusioned writer who's down on his luck. To supplement his meager income, he begins taking commissions to write revolutionary pamphlets and dissertations against the excesses of the government and the unfairness of the laws, which is an activity that could land him in jail or worse ~ dangling from the end of a rope.

One evening, while helping put out a suspicious fire in a church near his lodging, Ravel runs into a man he knows slightly who turns out to be a police inspector. Not long after, he has occasion to meet up with Inspector Brasseur again when he loses his purse to a pickpocket, and a few days later, he is rousted out of bed and, at the request of the inspector, brought to an old cemetery where a horrific murder has been committed, ostensibly to aid in the solution of the mystery.

Without being preachy or textbook-y in the least, Ms. Alleyn brilliantly portrays life in Paris during the months leading up to the storming of the Bastille: the arrogance, injustice, and excesses of the royals and aristos and the corresponding grinding poverty of the masses which brought about an answering rage, rebellion, and thirst for justice that turned into the bloody revolution. She does this while, at the same time, delivering one ripping good story.

The novel is set to be released this month, so don't delay. Go to your favorite online store to pre-order (click the link above which leads you to a list of online stores), or go to the nearest brick-and-mortar bookstore on July 21 to pick up your copy. I'm going to ~ as gifts for some of my mystery loving friends. It's so worth it!

Thrillers Drawings Winners

I've been remiss in posting the winners of the three drawings I held on June 22, so, without further ado, here they are!

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly - unabridged audiobook:

Linda Ellen

Cemetery Dance by Preston and Child - unabridged audiobook:

Averitasm-Amanda M.

The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos

A Reader (liane66)

Congratulations to the winners and thanks so much to everyone for visiting my blog and participating in the drawings.

Ah, I see a few puzzled looks out there. Some of you may have noticed there are only four winners of The Night Gardener named, though I promised to give away five copies. Well, as it turned out, I actually drew seven names, but only four people responded that they still wanted the book. The other three had already won it from another blog contest and asked me to draw another name.

So, rather than keep drawing names of those who've already gotten it elsewhere, I had this brilliant idea (well, I thought it was brilliant, anyway) to ask everyone who entered the contest the first time but who has not yet gotten hold of The Night Gardener from someplace else to post a comment here letting me know you are still interested in winning this book. On Friday, July 10, I'll draw the last winner from those names.

Oh, yeah, one important last thing: PLEASE leave your email addy so I can reach you if your name is drawn. If you don't, and I can't find it easily by checking your blog, then I'm going to draw another name. Thanks!

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Tale of two Shakespeares...ANOTHER CONTEST!!!

Struggling UC Santa Cruz grad student Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is trying to write his thesis about the Bard. Kind of...

Cut off by his father for laziness, and desperate for dough, Willie agrees to deliver a single giant, psychedelic mushroom to a mysterious collector, making himself an unwitting target in Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs.

Meanwhile, would-be playwright (and oppressed Catholic) William Shakespeare is eighteen years old and stuck teaching Latin in the boondocks of Stratford-upon-Avon. The future Bard's life is turned upside down when a stranger entrusts him with a sacred relic from Rome... This, at a time when adherents of the "Old Faith" are being hanged, drawn, and quartered as traitors.

Seemingly separated in time and place, the lives of Willie and William begin to intersect in curious ways, from harrowing encounters with the law (and a few ex-girlfriends) to dubious experiments with mind-altering substances. Their misadventures could be dismissed as youthful folly. But wise or foolish, the bold choices they make will shape not only the 'Shakespeare' each is destined to become... but the very course of history itself.

Sex, drugs, and Shakespeare? Sounds like my kinda book!

I'm giving away five (5) copies of My Name Is Will, courtesy of Hatchette Book Group. To enter, just leave a comment with your email address or another way of reaching you. For an extra entry, mention your favorite Shakespeare play or novel about the Bard. You can also mention a movie about Shakespeare if you must, but that will only count for half an extra entry. *ha ha just kidding* As usual, no p.o. boxes, and your address has to be in the U.S. or Canada. Drawing will be on July 6.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death-a Review

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston. If you enjoy pulp crime fiction, you simply must read this one!

When I finished it last night I knew it was really special, almost genius. It might be pulpy noir, filled with characters like the protagonist, a loser who gets a job cleaning up after violent death for a living and gets involved in tawdry affairs with low-lifes, but it is brilliant. I actually enjoyed this one more than the ones about Joe Pitt, Vampire detective (no vamps were in THIS novel, except maybe the human kind who prey on emo).

Anyway, after I got used to the style (no quotation marks for dialogue, instead a hyphen just before the dialogue; broken sentences, like real life conversations), I could hardly bear put it down.

And the characters! Chev, L.L., Theodora, Dingbang (-BANG! IT'S BANG!), Po Sin, Gabe, Jaime, not to mention the almost unbearably antagonistic protagonist Web! Memorable, funny, tragic, all too human and real, like a fist to the gut or a brush of fingertips against the nape of the neck. Huston's writing is sharp, hard, but lyrical, almost poetic.

I wish I could write like him.

Highly recommended.

Edited to add a caveat: There are a LOT of four-letter words in this novel. Also gore and bodily fluids of one kind or another. Also some sex. If you are easily offended, you might want to pass this one up.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Graveyard Book - a Review

Okay, so I started listening to The Graveyard Book on audio, read by the author, yesterday afternoon. I was planning to listen to it for a couple of hours, then stop while I did a few hours of weekend chores, then read one of the three paper books I have on hand before going to bed at a reasonable hour.

It never happened.

Instead, I was enthralled by The Graveyard Book and found I simply could not turn it off. So I did a couple of chores with iPod in hand and earphones on, then stayed up until way past midnight to finish it. When it ended, my first thought was, "I can see why it won that award!" My second thought, that it was over too soon, brought a moment of regret until I remembered it was on my iPod so I could listen to it again (and again and again).

The story opens as a man called Jack, having broken into a house and murdered the man, woman, and little girl who live there, climbs the stairs to the top floor nursery to finish off the job by killing the baby. The baby, whose given name we never learn, is a very precocious 18-month old boy who, having been awakened by a strange sound in the night, has already climbed out of his crib, bumped his way down the stairs, and gone outside to explore the night through the door Jack left open. The baby crawls up the hill to an ancient graveyard, followed closely by the knife-wielding murderer. There, he is taken in by the ghosts of Mister and Mistress Owen, as well as the ghosts of those buried there, along with a mysterious man named Silas who vows to become the child's guardian and protect him.

I loved the story, the characters, the fascinating worlds of the graveyard and beyond, and the voice of Gaiman as he told about Nobody Owens (called Bod) and his strange "family" of ghosts and goblins and other strange creatures. Providing as footnotes the dates of birth and death and epitaph of the ghosts as they were introduced was, strangely enough, a charming touch. It was funny, poignant, scary, and exciting in turn, delivered up by the clever pen of one of the most deservedly popular authors around today.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, May 31, 2009


This was my first Joshilyn Jackson novel, so I went into it with no preconceived notions of what to expect. Just as well, because, although I enjoyed it, and I liked the writing style, there was something just a tad flat about it. Perhaps it was that the story was too scattered. Perhaps the characters weren't as well-developed as they could have been, and I did not warm to any of them. Perhaps because the ghosts didn't have as large a part as I'd have liked (although the bit about the foot was really something). One thing, the first half dragged for me. Not sure exactly when it changed, but about halfway through it became unputdownable (my own word).

At any rate, the descriptions of the Southern way of life was wonderful, especially of the Stepford-like neighborhood where Laurel lived. I have to say, in that, I agree with Thalia that it was a creepy place. I also found the relationships intriguing. All three of the marriages ~ the mother's and her two daughters' ~ seemed to work well for each of them, yet each was trying to change the others' to conform with her own idea of what a "proper" marriage should be. (Timely, that, with the gay-marriage controversy raging hot in the U.S.) I also found the juxtaposition of material wealth with poverty, not so much in terms of economics as of the spirit, quite compelling. Though what the girl did was horrible, I felt for her, understood the terrible needs that drove her to it. I thought the mother and the girl were very much alike ~ in escaping from their origins, they were willing to do unspeakable things, and, in the end, neither really escaped.

All in all, I'm glad I read it and am looking forward to reading her other novels.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Audiobook of the Year

Just wanted to say congratulations to Neil Gaiman whose audiobook, The Graveyard Book, won the award for Audiobook of the Year at the BEA (Book Expo America) convention last night. Check out the full story on his web journal.

Sidenote: I was in the process of downloading The Graveyard Book on audio to my iPod last night as he was winning the award. Coincidence? I wonder.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MORE Thrills, Chills, & Giveaways!

Life doesn't get much better than this! I've got three (count 'em, 3) copies each of two (yep, 2) unabridged audiobooks to give away, again courtesy of those wonderful folks at Hatchette Books. These are mystery/thrillers by some of the best-known, best-selling authors around today, and I am so excited to be able to offer them to my friends in the blogosphere.

First: THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly, read by Peter Giles

If you aren't familiar with Michael Connelly, then you are in for a rare treat ~ an introduction into the world of Jack McEvoy (The Poet and this, The Scarecrow, his latest) by one of the best and most prolific mystery writers around today. Other mystery series by Connelly feature Harry Bosch (starting with Black Echo) and Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer & The Brass Verdict). I've read every one of his novels, as well as his non-fiction look at his experiences as a crime reporter, and cannot speak highly enough of him and his books.


Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career. He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow's so-called confession is bogus. Jack is soon running with his biggest story since The Poet made his career years ago. He is tracking a killer who operates completely below police radar--and with perfect knowledge of any move against him. Including Jack's.

To learn more, visit Michael Connelly’s website or become a fan on Facebook.

Second: CEMETERY DANCE by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, read by Rene Auberjonois

I may be the last reader of mystery/thrillers on the planet who has not yet had the pleasure of reading Preston & Child. That will soon be remedied when I listen to the audiobook of Cemetery Dance.


Pendergast-the world's most enigmatic FBI Special Agent-returns to New York City to investigate a murderous cult.

William Smithback, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. As Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta undertake their own private-and decidedly unorthodox-quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them to an enclave of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive, reclusive cult of Obeah and vodou which no outsiders have ever survived
For more info, visit Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s website.

Both giveaways are open to residents of the U.S. and Canada with a street address to provide. Leave a comment letting me know which audiobook giveaway you are interested in entering. An extra entry (for the same or the alternate audiobook) will be yours if you also indicate what your all-time absolute favorite mystery/thriller is. Be sure to provide a way for me to contact you if your name is drawn. Contest ends at midnight on June 21, and a random drawing will be held on June 22.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Night Gardener - Thrills, Chills & a Great Giveaway

Oh, boy! Am I ever excited about my latest giveaway ~ The Night Gardener! It's a thriller by George Pelecanos. I read the first couple of pages and could tell from the first sentence that it was going to be good. (To read a little of the book yourself, check out the link on the right side of the page.)

Here's what Publishers Weekly has to say about it:

"Starred Review. Pelecanos (Drama City) delivers a dignified, character-driven epic that succeeds as both literary novel and page-turner. In 1985, the body of a 14-year-old girl turns up in a Washington, D.C., park, the latest in a series of murders by a killer the media dub "The Night Gardener." T.C. Cook, the aging detective on the case, works with a quiet, almost monomaniacal, focus. Also involved are two young uniformed cops, Gus Ramone, who's diligent, conscientious and unimpressed by heroics, and Dan "Doc" Holiday, an adrenaline junkie who's decidedly less straight.

"Fast forward 20 years. Detective Ramone, now married with kids of his own, investigates the murder of one of his teenage son's friends. The homicide closely resembles the earlier unsolved Night Gardener murders. Holiday, now an alcoholic chauffeur and bodyguard, follows the case on his own and tracks down Cook, long retired but still obsessed with the original murders. While the three work together toward a suspenseful ending, Pelecanos emphasizes the fallacy of "solving" a murder and explores the ripple effects of violent crime on society."

If you'd like to read The Night Gardener, I've got 5 copies to give away courtesy of those nice folks at Hatchette Books. Please comment here for a chance to win one of them. If you mention this giveaway on your blog and/or Twitter and/or Facebook & include a link to this post, I'll add another entry for each website link you send me. If you ask to follow my blog, you get another entry. (If you already follow me, that'll count for an additional entry too.) Just do me a favor and mention each of those things in a separate comment or email so I can keep things organized ~ well, as organized as I ever get. Thanks!

Giveaway is open to all U.S. and Canadian residents only with a street address and ends at midnight Pacific time on June 21.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Alisa Libby, Author of "The King's Rose"

Just wanted to mention that Alisa Libby, who wrote The King's Rose and The Blood Countess, is hosting an author chat at Library Thing through 5/29. Stop by and ask a question, or just say hi.


Just a quick note to remind everyone that today is Towel Day! Carry your towel proudly wherever you go today in honor of Douglas Adams, creator of the Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy trilogy in five parts, which includes some of the best slapstick science fiction in existence today.

So, get out your towels, have a great day and remember, no matter what happens, DON'T PANIC!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fault Line by Barry Eisler-A Review

If you are looking for a deep psychological literary masterpiece filled with obscure symbolism and weighty subject matter that you must work hard to interpret, Fault Line is not for you. But, if you would like to immerse yourself for a day or two in a fast-paced, action-packed but intelligent and (unfortunately for society) believable thriller, with characters you can care about and a story that makes you want to keep turning the pages long after you should be asleep, then have I got a great novel for you!

Before going any further, I should admit that I don’t read a lot of thrillers, especially those that feature lawyers. Having worked in the legal field for over 30 years, most of the time with self-absorbed, physically out-of-shape, and uninteresting lawyers who are not the best-looking people on the planet and who do boring legal work for boring clients on boring matters, the thrillers I’ve tried have been unrealistic to the point where I simply could not force myself to suspend belief. When I heard about Fault Line, though, I was in the mood for something different to read, so I decided to give it a try. Am I glad I did!

Alex Treven is a senior associate in a Silicon Valley law firm who wants more than anything to be named a partner, and his influential mentor David Osborne has promised to help him win the partnership prize. When Alex is hired by the inventor of Obsidian, an advanced encryption algorithm that he believes will rock the security software world, he thinks his ship has finally come in. Then his client ends up dead, a bullet in his head, and the police find drugs in his car.

Alex is stunned, but he doesn’t connect the murder with Obsidian until his contact at the patent office also inexplicably dies. Then someone breaks into Alex’s house, and he gets seriously freaked. In fact, he is so freaked that, though he has always blamed his black-sheep of an older brother Ben for some things that happened in their youths, he makes a decision he thought he would never make after his mother’s funeral eight years earlier ~ he calls Ben for help.

Ben and Alex are as different from each as it is possible for two brothers to be. Alex stands for law and order and the comforts of civilized society, while Ben is an emotionally repressed, down-and-dirty assassin for JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), an elite, covert branch of the U.S. government. He has just successfully completed another job and is laying low for awhile when he gets the SOS from his estranged brother. Ben falls back in the old, schoolyard habit of protecting Alex from bullies and hurries back to the Silicon Valley to come to his aid. Once together again, they begin sniping at each other for weaknesses they perceive in the other. Add another bone of contention ~ Sarah, the beautiful first-year Alex has been eying for months but who is drawn inexplicably to Ben ~ and things get pretty heated. As for Ben, he might not trust Sarah as far as he can throw her (I admit it, I love cliches), mostly because she’s Iranian-American and had been working closely with Alex on Obsidian, but, in rare agreement with his little brother, he sure does find her hot.

Okay, enough plot. You want to know more, you can read the book. I assure you, Fault Line is worth it!

One thing that impressed me about Fault Line is the realistic depiction of the Silicon Valley law firm and its politics. Very true to the way a law firm operates. The parts about Ben’s military stint and his work in JSOC ~ and the machinations of the government around that nasty little secret organization ~ also seem (too) true to life. And no wonder! It turns out that the author, Barry Eisler, spent 3 years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations before becoming a lawyer in the Silicon Valley. He also earned a black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center in Japan, so the fight scenes don’t strain credulity either.

I also liked the relationships between the brothers, the way Fault Lines shows the difficulties faced by Iranian-Americans since 9/11, and the sharp dichotomy between the American ideal and the lack of ethics in the way the government actually functions. I also got a real kick out of the way the internet and blogs played a big part. I recommend Fault Line highly and am going to be on the lookout now for his Rain series.

Barry Eisler's blog is at http://www.barryeisler.com/blog.html. He also Tweets at http://twitter.com/barryeisler.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and Other Stories

It arrived today ~ my copy of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming! I'm so excited to have gotten it and can't wait to start reading it this weekend. Tonight, though, I'm going to finish up The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which is, so far, amazing!

Funny story, but true: I tried to read Oscar Wao (as an audiobook) about six, seven months ago. I got less than a full disc in and loathed it! So I turned it off, intending never to listen to it again. If it had been a regular printed books, I'd have surely given it away, but, instead, I just left it, ignored, on my iPod (only because I don't know how to delete stuff manually). Well, anyway, a couple of nights ago, I was bored with what I was reading. To be honest, I didn't feel like reading much of anything. When I get edgy and out-of-sorts like that, I sometimes play a few games of Shanghai, which is a mah jong computer game, while listening to an audiobook. I just happened to click on Oscar Wao and wham! I was struck almost instantly in love with it!

That's how it goes sometimes ~ it's my mood at the time I start a book and not the worth of the book itself. Which is why I never (or seldom) get rid of books I've not been able to read, unless of course the writing is completely execrable, in which case out with the rubbish it goes.

Which reminds me of a couple of well-written, well-reviewed books I've put aside in the past that I should perhaps dig out of whatever box they are in and try again. One in particular I'm thinking about is The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Has anyone read it and liked it? No, I'm serious, really. If you did like it, I'd love to know it and, if you'd care to comment, why you liked it. Because when I tried it a few years ago, I could not bring myself to read past page 100, even though it was for a book club I belonged to at the time.

Well, The Corrections may be something I look into again. Tonight, it's Oscar Wao, and tomorrow, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. Yes, life is good!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Falco novel: Alexandria!

UK Cover vs. US Cover - which one do you like best? I'm tending toward the British version because it's so much more, well, Falco-esque. You know, amusing and just a little risque. So, what do you think?

I am so excited! I just tumbled to the fact that Alexandria, a new Marcus Didius Falco mystery, is either already out or due out momentarily. Soon, I'll be able to revel in the company of my favorite detective of the ancient Roman world. Ah, life is good.

Plot Summary from the Official Website of Lindsey Davis:

My challenge here was to write a book set in ancient Egypt that would have no pharaohs, few pyramids, no respect for sacred cats, hardly any details of mummification rites, no duck hunts on the Nile, no peasants, no shadoufs and no Archimedes' screws.

Mission accomplished: Falco, Helena and their immediate family, including Aulus, go to Roman Egypt to see more of the Seven Wonders of the World. Uncle Fulvius and Cassius, later joined by Pa, are up to some pensioners' scam, getting in the way, while Falco looks into high academic culture at the Great Library. This is home to all the knowledge of the world - though when the corpses start appearing in the customary odd circumstances, it takes more than great minds to understand Who Did It. The academic world festers while management dithers, diplomats dose, undertakers fib and businessmen diddle. The Pharos is shrouded in mist and the Pyramids lost in a sandstorm. A sinister wind blows up out of the desert, adding to the hot air even before the arsonist sets things alight. Fortunately a mad inventor is on hand – and Falco just happens to know how his most useful invention works...

This is the one with the crocodile.