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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

It’s been a while!

Hello everyone!  It certainly has been a while.  It wasn’t my intention to disappear for so long but you know how it goes, a day turns into a week, a week turns into a fortnight, a fortnight turns into a month and a month turns into two months. 

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year’s break.  I had nearly 5 weeks off from work – lots of stuff to do around the house, a trip to Bali and time to refresh for the year ahead.  And recently I’ve been sorting through my books – oh oh!  It has come to my attention that I have quite a few reviews to produce and also quite a few books already lined up begging to be read and reviewed.  Ah, dilemma – life is also busy at the moment!

So, here’s my intentions – I will not start reading a new review book until I have completed at least two reviews and at this stage I will not be accepting any books for review until I have this thing under control.  I usually like to read and review books as quickly as possible so I can get back to the author ASAP and so, even though other bloggers might hold on to books and reviews for a long time, this does not sit well with me.  So, my friends, bear with me, and hopefully we’ll have this thing back on track in no time 🙂

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Two Wonderful Days at a Book Sale!

It has been over a month and I still think of the lovely two outings I had back in August.  Here is what I had prepared from last month but unfortunately did not post earlier.  I think it’s still as exciting and reading through the below lists reminds me of all of the wonderful new babies I adopted.

 

TUESDAY, 21 AUGUST 2012

I must share, had the best lunch break today!! Me and a couple of other gals from the office went over to the University of WA as they have their annual Save the Children Book Sale. Today was half price day and tomorrow is the last day; fill a box for $15 – we might have to revisit!  If we don’t make it back I’m still super happy with all of the books I got today – 13 books for $23.50, rounded up to $24!

The new additions to the family:

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

Babyville – Jane Green
Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris

Girl with a Pearl Earring – Travy Chevalier
Jack Maggs – Peter Carey
Kid-wrangling – Kaz Cooke

Small Island – Andrea Levy
Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
Tears of the Giraffe – Alexander McCall Smith

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
The Witch of Portobello – Paulo Coelho
Truth & Beauty – Ann Patchett

It’s been soooooooooooooooooo long since I had a splurge and my goodness, IT FEELS SO GOOD!!!

WEDNESDAY, 22 AUGUST 2012

So, of course I couldn’t keep away, we went back today!! I got all of the below, 22 books, for $15!! The first two were for work colleagues and the rest are all for me, yippee!!!!

Gang of Four – Liz Byrski
Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks

All the Names – Jose Saramago
David Golder – Irene Nemirovsky
Dexter in the Dark – Jeff Lindsay

Everything Must Go – Elizabeth Flock

Flora’s Lot – Katie Fforde
Imaginary Homelands – Salman Rushdie
Lucky – Alice Sebold

Mapping the Edge – Sarah Dunant

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
The Attorney – Steve Martini

The Honourable Schoolboy – John le Carre
The Lost Dog – Michelle de Kretser

The Perfect Man – Sheila O’Flanagan

The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
The Submerged Cathedral – Charlotte Wood
The Sunday Philosophy Club – Alexander McCall Smith

The True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
Tuscan Rose – Belinda Alexandra
Wanting – Richard Flanagan

When Will There Be Good News? – Kate Atkinson

Once again, yippee!!!!

As you can see, sometimes it’s just hard to keep me away from buying books when I’m on a role.  Seriously, I have come a long way; I don’t always walk out of a shopping centre having bought a book.  A few years back it was like I was addicted to buying books and nearly every time I was around them I would buy one, two, maybe ten!  The thing is, there are so many great books to be read and a lot of them are sitting on my bookshelves at home screaming at me for some attention.  I made a conscious decision to curb my book buying shenanigans – hence why I was so excited about being let out for a couple of expeditions last month!

And now, oh dear, the South of the River Branch is having its annual book sale commencing this Monday, which just so happens to be a public holiday.  I have plenty of things planned for the weekend so I highly doubt I’ll get along to it but Thursday is half-price day or fill a box for $10 and it is open until 6pm and if I left work on time I could probably spend an hour or so there before they kicked me out. 

Hm, should I or shouldn’t I?  Of course I should but I won’t.  I make this promise now and I make it because I mustn’t get carried away, even though it is for a good cause.  I will look forward to next year’s sale instead! 

For those of you in the area here are the details:

South of the River Branch 2012 Book Sale

At the Cannington Exhibition Centre, Cnr Albany Highway & Station St, Cannington
Monday 1st October……….9.00 am to 9.00 pm
Tuesday 2nd October……..9.00 am to 6.00 pm
Wednesday 3rd October….9.00 am to 6.00 pm
Thursday 4th October……. 9.00 am to 6.00 pm (books half-price or fill a box for $10)
Friday 5th October…………9.00 am to 2.00pm (books half-price or fill a box for $10)

There will be a huge variety of fiction & non-fiction books, as well as CDs, DVDs & sheet music, all at bargain prices

 

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Andrea Kane is on a blog tour to celebrate her book THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE and as part of that tour has taken part in the following Q&A provided by Erin McNichols of Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.  Please enjoy!

Q: What is your daily routine as a writer?

A: My day doesn’t begin until I’ve had my morning cup of coffee. I love my new Keurig.  It lets me brew one cup at a time so I can keep the fresh caffeine stream coming.  Then I check emails and look at social media (Facebook, Twitter) before I start writing. I take frequent breaks to play with my Pomeranian or Google something for research.

Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

A: My favorite part is getting fan mail from my readers, letting me know my characters are as real to them as they are to me.  I especially enjoy receiving feedback on my animal characters, since I’m such an animal lover.  With the FI team, I’m thrilled that so many readers are attached to Hero.  I have a feeling he will be center stage in future Forensic Instincts novels.

Q: Is there a specific element in your writing that you find most challenging?

A: Descriptions.  I’m much more audial than visual, so I tend towards writing “she got dressed” rather than detailing her clothing.  Whereas dialog comes naturally to me, so I concentrate hard on being more descriptive.

Q: Which author inspires you most?

A: It depends on when you catch me. There are so many talented authors, each mastering an element. I go back as far as Carolyn Keane, when I first started reading mystery novels as a kid.  I was a big mystery reader, so later it was Agatha Christie and on to Robert Ludlum.  Now I read all genres, and my most memorable ones are the ones that are character based.

Q: What, do you feel, is your biggest success?

A: From a professional standpoint, hitting the NY Times Bestseller list and hearing from my readers about how I’ve impacted their lives. But on a personal note, being a mother is the most rewarding role I fill.

 

Please visit

http://booktrib.com/blog-tour-between-here-and-gone/

to follow the scavenger hunt blog tour where you will find additional links leading to reviews, author Q&As and giveaways!!

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Joy Castro’s book HELL OR HIGH WATER (Thomas Dunne Books; Hardcover) is set for release on 17 July 2012 and to celebrate the book hitting the shelves Joy is currently on a blog tour.  As part of the tour Joy has stopped by on Mandythebookworm’s Blog to share the following guest post.

Thank you, Mandy, for having me on your blog!  I thought I’d share with your readers my all-time favorite dessert:  flan.

When I was a little girl, my Cuban grandmother used to make the most incredible flan:  creamy, sweet, and delicious, with a caramel so dark it tasted burnt.  My aunts all learned the recipe, but I didn’t want anything to do with cooking when I was younger.

Later, after I’d had my own child and my grandmother had passed away, I longed to make her delicious dessert.  I tried different recipes out of cookbooks.  But the flan never came out right:  the texture was too heavy, or the caramel tasted wrong.  I gave up.  I shifted my allegiance to bread pudding.

Finally last year, when I visited my Aunt Lou (for Lourdes) in Key West, she gave me the secret family recipe for flan at last.

I’ve made it repeatedly since then, and it’s heavenly every time.  It includes about a billion eggs and way too much of the national fruit of Cuba:  sugar.  To me, it tastes like home, love, and sweet refuge.  I wish I could share the recipe, but since it’s such a great family secret, my aunt said if I ever made it public, she’d hunt me down.

In Hell or High Water, the protagonist Nola Céspedes, who’s also Cuban American, makes flan for her roommate Uri and for her girlfriends when she hosts Girls’ Night.  I loved giving Nola a little bit of my own cultural heritage, and I’m making flan for the book launch party on July 17th at Indigo Bridge Books, so if you’re in the Lincoln, Nebraska area, come have some!

 

Thank you, Joy, for stopping by!  That flan sounds delicious and I have no doubt it will be consumed at a fast rate on 17 July.  All the best for the party!!

 

“A terrific mystery, but HELL OR HIGH WATER is more than just a mystery; it’s a heartfelt examination of a second America—poor but undaunted—that was swept under the rug but refuses to stay there . . . I can’t wait to see what Joy Castro does next.”

—Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Mystic River

Nola Céspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, catches a break: an assignment to write her first full-length investigative feature. It’s a far cry from the club openings and plantation tours she usually covers and could become a story that will send ripples through New Orleans in the two years since Hurricane Katrina. The piece is about sex offenders who have fallen off the grid since the city was evacuated.

While Nola speaks with survivors, offenders (some still on the registry, others not), and experts, she also becomes fixated on the search for a missing tourist in New Orleans. As Nola’s work leads her into darker corners of the city, she has to hide her work from her friends and ultimately must re-visit her painful past of living in the housing projects as a Latina where there are few people of her ethnicity.

Vividly rendered in razor sharp prose, HELL OR HIGH WATER brings New Orleans to life in a riveting journey of trust betrayed and the courageous struggle toward recovery.

Links: 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hell-High-Water-A-Novel/dp/1250004578

Joy’s website: http://www.joycastro.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com@_joycastro

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com

More about Joy Castro: 

JOY CASTRO teaches literature at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Her 2005 memoir, The Truth Book was elected an ABA Book Sense Notable Book.

Please visit Joy’s website to find out more about her and her books and be sure to continue following the tour at:

http://www.joycastro.com/Blogtour.htm

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Dan O’Brien is currently on a tour of the blogosphere and has decided to stop by at Mandythebookworm’s Blog.  Here is a little about Dan to get us started –

Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, Deviance of Time, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, The Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He also works as an editor at Empirical, a national magazine with a strong West Coast vibe. Find out more about the magazine at www.empiricalmagazine.com.

And now for the main event – a guest post by Dan O’Brien – please enjoy 🙂

A Writing Perspective from the Other Side of the Fence

Life as a writer can be hard sometimes.

Success is elusive; fans shift as often as a summer wind.

Yet, we persevere, writing into the late hours of the night and waking in the early hours of the morning to log the hours and enter, for a time, the worlds we create. When I first started writing, more than a decade ago, it was because I loved the idea of immersing myself in a place where I could construct the narrative; walk through dense forests and to the tops of mountains. Over time the process became more about writing as a tool to move through emotions and languishing memories that required catharsis.

Writing takes on many forms, for many different writers, over the course of our lives.

For me, the process is the reward.

I love to write.

When I ask myself that silly question of what I would do if I had all the money in the world, the answer is always quite simple: write. Now more than a decade later, I have a renewed sense of purpose and have become quite adept at balancing the spinning plates of responsibility.

Recently, between being a full-time graduate student and writer, I joined Empirical magazine as an editor – among other responsibilities. A national magazine similar in spirit to Harper’s or The Atlantic, the magazine is firmly rooted in a West Coast sensibility. There is a little something for everyone, and honestly, the hope is that everyone will take a look. Contributors to the magazine come from around the globe and cover everything from politics to fiction.

Working at a magazine, especially at this point in its maturation, is a wonderful experience. There are so many moving parts that enliven your day. Sometimes I spend the day sorting through fiction and poetry submissions, searching for that piece of prose, or perhaps a stanza, that ensnares my imagination. Other days I am editing, constantly referring to the Chicago Manual of Style to ascertain the correct usage of an archaic sentence structure. As a writer, the prospect of editing and rummaging through the work of others might not sound exciting, but there are some wonderful consequences: 

  1. You learn to become a better editor of your own work
  2. You begin to recognize redundant sentence structures and overused phrases
  3. Your grasp of language grows exponentially

However, the most important component for me is: 

  1. You get to help others bring their work into a public forum

For many writers, and certainly for me early in my writing career, the notion of being picked up by a magazine or a small press was foremost in my mind. It was that distant promise of publication and everything that goes with it that pushed me forward. When I got rejection letters, most of which lacked a personal touch, I would get down on my writing, denigrate my ability.

The years passed, during which thousands of rejection letters amassed, and I realized that the pursuit of writing for a purely extrinsic reward was dooming myself to Vegas-style odds. I became clear to me that I needed to write because I loved it, and then find a way to share it with others – even if it was not through traditional routes. I found that I was more comfortable with my writing when I did it for the pure joy of it.

Now that I am on the other side of the fence, so to speak, I have noticed a few myths about submitting to paying publications that otherwise mystified and frustrated me prior to becoming an editor and being responsible for interacting with first-time and established authors.

I have decided to provide a humorous, but serious, collection of things you should do and things you shouldn’t do when submitting and entering into a discourse with a publication – sprinkled, of course, with some anecdotes. And without further ado (or perhaps slight ado if you count this sentence here): 

Things You Should Do 

  1. Read the publication you are submitting to before sending an email. This one sounds obvious, I know. However, it happens so often that it warrants mentioning. If you have written a brilliant piece of prose that is about zombies, it is quite likely that Popular Mechanics will not be that interested in it. Pick up an issue of the magazine you are interested in submitting to and familiarize yourself with the kinds of stories they publish. The next part is the hardest part: be honest. Does your piece fit with what they publish?
  2. Read and follow the submission instructions. Again, a no-brainer. If you are thinking that you don’t know where to find the submission instructions and you just have an email address, be prepared for disappointment. Your email might go to submission purgatory with a one-liner response about having received your correspondence – if you’re lucky.
  3. Address your submission to the appropriate person. If you are thinking that I am giving you the obvious pointers, then you are quite right. With that in mind, imagine that I still receive hundreds of emails a month that manage to ignore these simple suggestions. If you are writing a stunning expose on corporate greed, the poetry editor is probably not the best destination for your work.
  4. Edit your work. I tell this to students a lot, so I will mention it here as well: spell check in Microsoft Word is not sufficient. I am not saying that you need to be a copyeditor to submit to a magazine, but do yourself a favor and read it out loud. If it something sounds funny when you read it, you can only imagine how it will sound to an editor who is choosing among thousands of articles and stories to determine what goes to print.
  5. Be cognizant of turnarounds. By this I mean, the amount of time between when you sent in the work until you hear back from an editor about the status of your submission. Nothing will send your work to the bottom of a slush pile than to send a follow-up email the day after you submitted, wondering whether or not you are going to be in the magazine. Most publications will post how long it takes to hear back from them about the status of a submission, and an amount of time after which you should contact them if you haven’t heard from them. 

Things You Shouldn’t Do 

  1. Send an email telling an editor that they would be stupid not to publish your work. It always surprises me when I get an email telling me that I need to publish a story, poem, or piece of nonfiction because it is the next best thing. Top this off with letting me know that I would be a fool not to accept it, almost guarantees a trip to the trash can.
  2. Send a photocopy of your story by registered mail.  If you want to have your story in a magazine, start by giving it to editors in a format that they can actually use. By sending a faded and blurry photocopy of your forty-word poem and declaring that it is a soul-searching masterpiece does not inspire as much confidence as you would think.
  3. Contact an editor on a frequent basis about the status of your submission. I have to sort through hundreds of emails a day, edit for the current issue, and work on editing an anthology; not to mention a thousand other intangibles. We posted a time table about getting back to you for a reason: read it.
  4. Be discouraged by a form rejection letter. This is a bitter pill to swallow for many writers. They think the form rejection letter means that the editor didn’t read their work, or simply had things already planned and was stringing writers along. The reality is on any given month I send out hundreds upon hundreds of rejection letters. There is simply not enough time in the day to offer feedback to every single person. This not to say that I do not offer feedback, or that editors do not offer feedback in general, but instead the process is streamlined so writers can be responded to in a reasonable amount of time.
  5. Call the magazine to find out about your submission. This is subsumed by not contacting an editor about the status of your submission before enough time has passed, but I thought it warranted a special mention considering it is really going the extra mile in terms of being an irritation. If we haven’t gotten back to you yet, calling us is not going to suddenly make us more accessible.
  6. Send another email with corrections. Read twice, send once. If you don’t think what you sent is ready for publication, then please don’t send it. You get one chance at a first impression, and nothing speaks to being underprepared and unprofessional than sending a draft and immediately following up with another draft. If your piece needs work, note that in your submission, but don’t send a series of emails chronicling the different stages of the edits for that story. The exception, of course, is if you have already been accepted and you have been asked to make edits.
  7. Contact the magazine to air your frustrations about not being selected. I say this with all seriousness. It is very likely that you got rejected because the piece was not a good fit and not that the magazine has decided to order a hit on your writing career. Please don’t treat it that way. Lashing out at a publication for sending a form rejection letter, or passing on a piece you have written, reeks of a lack of professionalism and could impact your ability to publish elsewhere. Many editors are friends, especially in the digital age, and word spreads fast.
  8. Contact the magazine to ask if you think a story you are working on would be a good fit elsewhere. I can appreciate the sentiment. A lot of editors are writers themselves, and they love talking about the process and the product. I find myself building friendships with writers, those we publish and those we do not, and often I will give them suggestions about their work. However, if you don’t know me personally and have never been published or solicited in any way to use me as a sounding board, then do not contact me and ask if a poem or story would be a good fit at another magazine. If you think it is ready for publication, then submit it here. An obvious exception would be if the writer knew the story would not be a good fit and asked because they were uncertain in venturing into new territory.

I could probably keep listing things you shouldn’t do, but I will wrap it up there. I encourage you to keep trying and keep writing. Things only get better with time, and time is all we really have. I love to hear from other writers and potential readers, so please stop by and say hello.

Thank you for your guest post, Dan, and good luck with the rest of the tour!!!

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After intense, top-secret training with the FBI, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Andrea Kane is back with the next exhilarating installment in the Forensic Instincts series! BookTrib is hosting their next Scavenger Hunt Blog Tour for THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE with such an inspiring woman with a devoted following of ardent fans in 16 countries. Posts will begin on the release date of July 1st, running for the entire month! You can follow along HERE http://booktrib.com/blog-tour-between-here-and-gone/

 

Be sure to stop back here on 17 July when I will be posting a Q&A with Andrea Kane – until then please enjoy the below and follow the tour on the link above 🙂

 

 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Andrea Kane Knows That Disappearances Can Be Deceiving

THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE

The man she loved is gone forever.

The child she lives for could be next.

A special investigations team battles local corruption and government interference in the lastest nerve-racking thriller by New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Andrea Kane, the LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE (Harlequin MIRA; July 1, 2012; $24.95 U.S./$27.95 CAN.). It’s a race against the clock to locate a man everyone presumed dead — all before the infant son he doesn’t know he has dies.

Amanda Gleason was distraught when authorities declared her boyfriend, Southampton real estate developer Paul Everett, a no-body homicide. They discovered signs of a struggle around his abandoned, blood-spattered car but were unable to find a body after days of searching and dredging. Amanda was even more crushed when she realized that she was pregnant with a child that Paul didn’t live to see. When she discovers that their newborn son, Justin, has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency and desperately requires a stem cell transplant, Amanda laments the fact that the best chance for Justin’s survival would’ve been Paul, if only he’d been alive.

So when a friend emails her a photo of a man who looks identical to Paul, Amanda is stunned. Angry and confused, she realizes that if Paul is somehow alive, he is Justin’s best hope. That’s when she turns to Forensic Instincts—a specialized team with a reputation for solving cases no one else can.

Comprised of a behaviorist, a techno-wizard, an intuitive, a former navy SEAL, a retired FBI agent and a human-scent-evidence dog, the FI team tackles the case on two fronts—the murder/disappearance of Paul Everett and his apparent resurfacing in Washington, D.C.

However, powerful foes are aligned to make certain Paul Everett stays buried, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the FI members come up empty-handed. When the FI team members find themselves up against civic, underworld, political and government forces, they realize that not only must they be on the right track but that there is a whole lot more to Paul Everett than anyone could have suspected.

FI always gets its man, but will they find him in time to save his infant son?

THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE

By Andrea Kane

MIRA; July 1, 2012

400 pages; $24.95 U.S./$27.95 CAN.

ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-1337-3

ANDREA KANE

Andrea Kane’s psychological thriller The Girl Who Disappeared Twice became an instant New York Times bestseller, the latest in a long string of smash hits. It introduced Forensic Instincts, an eclectic team of maverick investigators, each with different personalities and talents, all with one common bond: a blatant disregard for authority.

The Line Between Here and Gone is the next exhilarating installment in the Forensic Instincts series. Armed with skills and talents honed by years in the FBI and Special Forces, and training in behavioral and forensic psychology, the team solves seemingly impossible cases while walking a fine line between assisting and enraging law enforcement.

With a worldwide following and novels published in more than twenty languages, Kane is also the author of eight romantic thrillers and fourteen historical romances. She lives in New Jersey with her family, where she is plotting new ways for Forensic Instincts to challenge the status quo. For more information, please check out Andrea’s website at AndreaKane.com.

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Ooh la la, there’s a new series out to rival The Hunger Games and it goes by the name of The Windstorm Series.  Katie Robison’s debut Downburst is definitely a hard book to put down once you get started so make sure you don’t have any appointments, housework, obligations, etc, for the day you start book one in this series.  By the end of the book you’ll be wanting to contact Katie and ask when is the next book coming out?! 

I am very happy to introduce you to Katie Robison by way of showcasing Downburst Season

July is Downburst Season, so right now the ebook is on sale for only 2.99 USD (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes)! There are also lots of giveaways and other goodies–including a sneak peek of book two–scheduled throughout the month. Visit Katie Robison’s website for a calendar of events and information on where/ how to enter. Additional information is available on her Facebook and Goodreads page.

And be sure to check out her book trailer!

Kit’s only goal is to stay alive. Right now, that means dodging brutal gangs while peddling fake I.D.s on the back streets of Winnipeg. But things get complicated when Kit sells a license to a girl named Aura—a girl who could almost be her twin. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Kit is plunged into an underground society with heart-stopping surprises at every turn. To protect herself, she’s forced to assume Aura’s identity. But storm clouds are gathering on the horizon, and when Kit learns the truth about Aura, she knows she has to get out before the storm breaks. There’s only one problem: escape isn’t an option. 

Suddenly, staying alive just got a lot harder.

“[Robison’s] debut takes flight, leaving readers eager for the next installment. A thrilling head-rush of an adventure.” -Kirkus Reviews

I hope this post has made you want to read Downburst and I hope you love it just as much as I did!  My review should be up shortly so stay tuned to hear me praise Katie some more 🙂

Now, what are you waiting for, go and purchase the book!!!

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I am very happy to be part of this year’s ThrillerFest Blog Tour and even happier to be posting about one of their spotlight authors, and one of my most favourite authors, Lee Child!

I have been reading Lee Child’s work for many years now, thanks to a lady at work introducing me to Mr Child’s wonderful writing, and right from the start I was hooked!  I buy his books as soon as they come out, devour them as fast as I can and then eagerly await for the next installment.  If you haven’t read one of his books then I suggest you get a hold of one as soon as you can – you won’t be disappointed!

 

The following information is from the ThrillerFest website:

Lee Child was born in 1954 in Coventry, England, but spent his formative years in the nearby city of Birmingham. By coincidence he won a scholarship to the same high school that JRR Tolkien had attended. He went to law school in Sheffield, England, and after part-time work in the theater he joined Granada Television in Manchester for what turned out to be an eighteen-year career as a presentation director during British TV’s “golden age.” During his tenure his company made Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. But he was fired in 1995 at the age of 40 as a result of corporate restructuring. Always a voracious reader, he decided to see an opportunity where others might have seen a crisis and bought six dollars’ worth of paper and pencils and sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, the first in the Jack Reacher series. Killing Floorwas an immediate success and launched the series which has grown in sales and impact with every new installment.

To learn more about Lee Child, please visit his website.

And now, please enjoy the following:

Below is an excerpt from Lee Child’s latest book The Affair, who will lend his literary expertise to aspiring writers and industry professionals while at ThrillerFest VII. www.ThrillerFest.com.

 CHAPTER ONE

The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building, six and a half million square feet, thirty thousand people, more than seventeen miles of corridors, but it was built with just three street doors, each of them opening into a guarded pedestrian lobby. I chose the southeast option, the main concourse entrance, the one nearest the Metro and the bus station, because it was the busiest and the most popular with civilian workers, and I wanted plenty of civilian workers around, preferably a whole big unending stream of them, for insurance purposes, mostly against getting shot on sight. Arrests go bad all the time, sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose. So I wanted witnesses. I wanted independent eyeballs on me, at least at the beginning. I remember the date, of course. It was Tuesday, the eleventh of March, 1997, and it was the last day I walked into that place as a legal employee of the people who built it.

A long time ago.

The eleventh of March 1997 was also by chance exactly four and a half years before the world changed, on that other future Tuesday, and so like a lot of things in the old days the security at the main concourse entrance was serious without being hysterical. I was unarmed, wearing my Class A uniform, all of it clean, pressed, polished and spit-shined, all of it covered with thirteen years’ worth of medal ribbons, badges, insignia and citations. I was thirty-six years old, standing tall and walking ramrod straight, a totally squared away U.S. Army Military Police Major in every respect, except that my hair was too long and I hadn’t shaved for eight days.

Back then Pentagon security was run by the Defense Protective Service, and from forty yards I saw ten of their guys in the lobby, which I thought was far too many, which made me wonder whether they were all theirs or whether some of them were actually ours, working undercover, waiting for me. Most of our skilled work is done by Warrant Officers, and they do a lot of it by pretending to be someone else. They impersonate colonels and generals and enlisted ranks and anyone else they need to. All in a day’s work for them to throw on DPS uniforms and wait for their target. From thirty yards I didn’t recognize any of them, but then, the army is a very big institution, and they would have chosen men I had never met before.

I walked on, part of a broad wash of people heading across the concourse to the doors, some men and women in uniform, either Class As like my own or the old woodland-pattern BDUs we had back then, and some men and women obviously military but out of uniform, in suits or work clothes, and some obvious civilians, some of each category carrying bags or briefcases or packages, all of each category slowing and sidestepping and shuffling as the broad wash of people narrowed to a tight arrowhead and then narrowed further still to lonely single file or collegial two-by-two, as folks got ready to stream inside. I lined up with them, on my own, single file, behind a woman with pale unworn hands and ahead of a guy in a suit that had gone shiny at the elbows. Civilians, both of them, desk workers, probably analysts of some kind, which was exactly what I wanted. Independent eyeballs. It was close to noon. There was sun in the sky and the March air had a little warmth in it. Spring, in Virginia. Across the river the cherry trees were about to wake up. The famous blossom was about to break out. All over the innocent nation airline tickets and SLR cameras lay on dressers, ready for sightseeing trips to the capital.

I waited in line. Way ahead of me the DPS guys were doing exactly what security guys do. Four of them were occupied with specific tasks, two manning an inquiry counter and two checking official badge holders and then waving them through an open turnstile. Two were standing directly behind the glass inside the doors, looking out, heads high, eyes front, scanning the approaching crowd. Four were hanging back in the shadows behind the turnstiles, just clumped together, shooting the shit. All ten were armed.

It was the four behind the turnstiles that worried me. No question that back in 1997 the Department of Defense was seriously puffed up and overmanned in relation to the threats we faced then, but even so it was unusual to see four on-duty guys with absolutely nothing to do. Most commands at least made their surplus personnel look busy. But these four had no obvious role. I stretched up tall and peered ahead and tried to get a look at their shoes. You can learn a lot from shoes. Undercover disguises often don’t get that far, especially in a uniformed environment. The DPS was basically a beat cop role, so to the extent that a choice was available, DPS guys would go for cop shoes, big comfortable things appropriate for walking and standing all day. Undercover MP Warrant Officers might use their own shoes, which would be subtly different.

But I couldn’t see their shoes. It was too dark inside, and too far away.

The line shuffled along, at a decent pre-9/11 clip. No sullen impatience, no frustration. Just old-style routine. The woman in front of me was wearing perfume. I could smell it coming off the nape of her neck. I liked it. The two guys behind the glass noticed me about ten yards out. Their gaze moved off the woman and onto me. It rested on me a beat longer than it really needed to, and then it moved on to the guy behind.

Then it came back. Both men looked me over quite openly, up and down, side to side, four or five seconds, and then I shuffled forward and their attention moved behind me again. They didn’t say anything to each other. Didn’t say anything to anyone else, either. No warnings, no alerts. Two possible interpretations. One, best case, I was just a guy they hadn’t seen before. Or maybe I stood out because I was bigger and taller than anyone within a hundred yards. Or because I was wearing a Major’s gold oak leaves and ribbons for some heavy-duty medals including a Silver Star, like a real poster boy, but because of the hair and the beard I also looked like a real caveman, which visual dissonance might have been enough reason for a long second glance, just purely out of interest. Sentry duty can be boring, and unusual sights are always welcome.

Or two, worst case, they were merely confirming to themselves that some expected event had indeed happened, and that all was going according to plan. Like they had prepared and studied photographs and were saying to themselves: OK, he’s here, right on time, so now we just wait two more minutes until he steps inside, and then we take him down.

Because I was expected, and I was right on time. I had a twelve o’clock appointment and matters to discuss with a particular colonel in a third-floor office in the C ring, and I was certain I would never get there. To walk head-on into a hard arrest was a pretty blunt tactic, but sometimes if you want to know for sure whether the stove is hot, the only way to find out is to touch it.

#

The guy ahead of the woman ahead of me stepped inside the doors and held up a badge that was attached to his neck by a lanyard. He was waved onward. The woman in front of me moved and then stopped short, because right at that moment the two DPS watchers chose to come out from behind the glass. The woman paused in place and let them squeeze out in front of her, against the pressing flow. Then the woman resumed her progress and stepped inside, and the two guys stepped outside and stopped and stood exactly where she had been, three feet in front of me, but facing in the opposite direction, toward me, not away from me.

They were blocking the door. They were looking right at me. I was pretty sure they were genuine DPS personnel. They were wearing cop shoes, and their uniforms had eased and stretched and molded themselves to their individual physiques over a long period of time. These were not disguises, snatched from a locker and put on for the first time that morning. I looked beyond the two guys, inside, at their four partners who were doing nothing, and I tried to judge the fit of their clothes, by way of comparison. It was hard to tell.

In front of me the guy on my right said, “Sir, may we help you?”

I asked, “With what?”

“Where are you headed today?”

“Do I need to tell you that?”

“No sir, absolutely not,” the guy said. “But we could speed you along a little, if you like.”

Probably via an inconspicuous door into a small locked room, I thought. I figured they had civilian witnesses on their mind too, the same way I did. I said, “I’m happy to wait my turn. I’m almost there, anyway.”

The two guys said nothing in reply to that. Stalemate. Amateur hour. To try to start the arrest outside was dumb. I could push and shove and turn and run and be lost in the crowd in the blink of an eye. And they wouldn’t shoot. Not outside. There were too many people on the concourse. Too much collateral damage. This was 1997, remember. March eleventh. Four and a half years before the new rules. Much better to wait until I was inside the lobby. The two stooges could close the doors behind me and form up shoulder to shoulder in front of them while I was getting the bad news at the desk. At that point theoretically I could turn back and fight my way past them again, but it would take me a second or two, and in that second or two the four guys with nothing to do could shoot me in the back about a thousand times.

And if I charged forward they could shoot me in the front. And where would I go anyway? To escape into the Pentagon was no kind of a good idea. The world’s largest office building. Thirty thousand people. Five floors. Two basements. Seventeen miles of corridors. There are ten radial hallways between the rings, and they say a person can make it between any two random points inside a maximum seven minutes, which was presumably calculated with reference to the army’s official quick-march pace of four miles an hour, which meant if I was running hard I could be anywhere within about three minutes. But where? I could find a broom closet and steal bag lunches and hold out a day or two, but that would be all. Or I could take hostages and try to argue my case, but I had never seen that kind of thing succeed.

So I waited.

The DPS guy in front of me on my right said, “Sir, you be sure and have a nice day now,” and then he moved on past me, and his partner moved on past me on my other side, both of them just strolling slow, two guys happy to be out in the air, patrolling, varying their viewpoint. Maybe not so dumb after all. They were doing their jobs and following their plan. They had tried to decoy me into a small locked room, but they had failed, no harm, no foul, so now they were turning the page straight to plan B. They would wait until I was inside and the doors were closed, and then they would jump into crowd control mode, dispersing the incoming people, keeping them safe in case shots had to be fired inside. I assumed the lobby glass was supposed to be bulletproof, but the smart money never bets on the DoD having gotten exactly what it paid for.

The door was right in front of me. It was open. I took a breath and stepped into the lobby. Sometimes if you want to know for sure whether the stove is hot, the only way to find out is to touch it.

© Lee Child

Don’t forget to visit the ThrillerFest website at www.ThrillerFest.com

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Hi all!

I am pleased to announce that Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah’s Wake, is hosting a ‘Book Club Week’ on her blog 23-29 April 2012.  This is an event which shouldn’t be missed if you’re a solo reader, a member of a book club or reading group, if you’ve read In Leah’s Wake, if you plan to read it or even if you haven’t read it and are looking for a book which has attracted some generous reviews.

Visit the following link, a dedicated page on Terri’s blog for this exciting week, where updates will be posted.

And while you’re there why not have a look around at the entire blog, learn more about the book and Terri.

IN LEAH’S WAKE BOOK CLUB WEEK – click here

Let’s get behind this budding new author and show our support for her debut novel.

 IN LEAH’S WAKE BOOK CLUB WEEK 23-29TH APRIL

EVENT LIST

MONDAY 23RD APRIL: WELCOME TO IN LEAHS WAKE

Terri shares a candid introduction to the book and her success so far and talks about the role of book bloggers and reviewers in boosting In Leah’s Wake up the charts

TUESDAY 24TH APRIL: THE CHARACTERS OF IN LEAHS WAKE

Terri invites readers and bloggers to share their thoughts on their favorite characters within In Leah’s Wake and talk about the moments they loved most

In the evening enjoy a live Q&A session with two pivotal characters from the novel: Zoe and her daughter, Leah.

WEDNESDAY 25TH APRIL: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

An interview with Terri looks into the story behind the story: how Terri came to write In Leah’s Wake and how it came to be the “little indie book that could” selling over 100,000 copies so far!

THURSDAY 26TH APRIL: YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Answering questions by submitted book clubs, readers’ groups, readers and bloggers, Terri will share her thoughts on the novel, the writing process and what lies ahead

In the evening enjoy a Q&A session with Terri Giuliano Long and the chance to put forward your questions live

FRIDAY 27TH APRIL – SUNDAY 28TH APRIL: IN LEAHS WAKE: IN DISCUSSION

Share your views on some of the discussion topics raised in the In Leah’s Wake reading guide. We’ll be publishing your thoughts along with any new discussion topics you suggest.

SUNDAY 29TH APRIL: LOOKING AHEAD: NOWHERE TO RUN

Terri shares her thoughts on her upcoming novel, Nowhere to Run, and talks about what it’s like to work on a very different kind of story.

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Okay, so I know I said I would be back last month but I did not envisage how busy I would be!  Well, I’m back now and although things have slowed down just a little I am still incredibly busy.  Why am I busy you might ask? I GOT MARRIED!!!  In February we had a holiday in Bali, we had a wedding in Bali and a honeymoon in Bali!!  So since we have returned and told our family (oops, I forgot to mention we eloped!!) we have been quite busy catching up with people.  There is still so much to do, write up a report of our time in Bali, work out what we will do with our photos and boy, oh, boy, fill out the copious forms for the very many different places I need to change my name – this is taking me some time indeed!!

I wanted to pop in and say hi – “Hi!” 🙂

I will be trying to catch up with reviews as well as post about our holiday/wedding – add to that the normal everyday life things like work and housework, well, yeah, it’s still a busy time so bear with me, I will get there……..eventually 🙂

I hope everyone is travelling well and taking care and that you all had a lovely Easter break.

Looking forward to posting more regularly in the, hopefully, not too distant future.

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Going Offline – Back in March

Quick note to let you all know that I will be offline for a while.

I am hoping to be back online in the middle of March.

Until then you all take care and I’ll see you back here in about a month.

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That’s right, you can have David Simpson’s Post-Human for free today! 

Click here to go to Amazon’s website where you can order your free Kindle copy of Post-Human.

Want to know more about Post-Humanclick here to read my review.

Available for a limited time, get in before you miss out!!!!

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HELLO, READERS – IT’S TOUR TIME!!!

I do hope you have been keeping up with Larry’s blog tour hosted by the wonderful Lori over at The Next Best Book Blog.  Just in case you aren’t up-to-date and you are checking in for the first time here’s a preview of what you’ve missed so far (never fear, you can catch up by clicking the following links):

It all starts over at Lori’s very successful website The Next Best Book Blog.  Larry talks about ‘being indie’.  A fantastic opening if I may say so!  Click here to see where the tour started.

Next up the tour visited Emmet’s website at …I Can Stay.  Click here to read Emmet’s great review of Beatitude.

And now the tour rests here.  Please enjoy the below post by Larry Closs.

Two Roads Diverged

How the Beats did and didn’t inspire Beatitude

Larry Closs

Every aspiring writer who happens upon Jack Kerouac’s On the Road—which is nearly every aspiring writer—inevitably tries to write like Kerouac. I did, in the first half-dozen drafts of my first novel, Beatitude. For a book inspired, in part, by the Beat Generation writers, a book in which Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg actually feature, it made sense, right?

My poet friend Sparrow, who appears as a character in the book and provides a counterpoint to the protagonists’ Beat enthusiasm, read one of those early drafts and, in the margin next to a single, paragraph-long sentence, he wrote: “Too Beat!” That sentiment actually applied to the entire manuscript—too Beat, too much. I realized that no one can write like Jack Kerouac. No one.

I started over, searching for my own voice. Several versions later, I finally found it. But I kept that single too-Beat sentence in the 274-page published version of Beatitude because, in context, it works. And it serves as a reminder of my naïve effort to be Beat, a time-bending nod to who I was from who I became.

Kerouac himself attempted to emulate his own literary hero, Thomas Wolfe, in his first novel, The Town and the City, with admirable but unremarkable results. Frustrated, he struggled for years to hone his style before finally perfecting what he dubbed spontaneous prose, a comma-flaunting, syntax-taunting approach distinguished by a breathtaking amalgam of jazz rhythms, earnest spirituality, shameless romanticism and tender idealism.

Kerouac makes it seem easy but it isn’t. Joyce Johnson, whose extraordinary memoirs Minor Characters and Door Wide Open chronicle her experiences as a peripheral Beat and Kerouac’s one-time paramour, also read an early draft of Beatitude and told me that there are many writers whom “Beat principles (or, yes, propaganda) have led astray.”

The propaganda includes the story of how On the Road was written, a story that Kerouac alternately fueled and refuted. Legend holds that, in April 1951, Kerouac wrote On the Road on a portable Royal typewriter in a three-week burst of inspiration propelled by a potent blend of caffeine, nicotine and possibly Benzedrine, avoiding the pauses caused by having to change paper by taping together pieces of Teletype to create a 120-foot scroll. The scroll part is true. But Kerouac didn’t write On the Road off the top of his head. For years, he had kept notebooks about his cross-country trips with best friend Neal Cassady with the goal of writing a “road novel,” and he surrounded himself with those notebooks when he sat down to compose the first draft of what would become his spontaneous prose masterpiece.

And it was a first draft. In 2001, the iconic scroll was auctioned at Christie’s in New York and won by Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, for a bid of $2.43 million, the highest price ever paid for a literary manuscript. As was evident while the scroll was on display prior to the auction and during a tour Irsay organized afterward, the scroll is one long single-spaced block of text. A close look, however, reveals Kerouac’s own revisions and the paragraph breaks he inserted when he immediately began retyping the manuscript in a more traditional format, an endeavor he would undertake three times. The publication of the scroll version of On the Road in 2007 finally revealed just how much editing Kerouac (and others) had done. Efforts to make the book more “literary” made it somewhat less spontaneous, though more than enough of the original survived, raw and intact, to push buttons as well as the envelope.

The legend persists because it makes a great story—better with every retelling—and because it provides evidence that it’s possible to write a polished and publishable novel in less than a month. Every writer would like to believe that. I would, because I can labor for hours to perfect the cadence of a single sentence. For those who still want to embrace “first thought, best thought,” however, despite evidence to the contrary, Kerouac provided two sets of maxims detailing the madness to his method: “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose” and “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose: List of Essentials.” Usually interpreted as how-to manuals, both lists are really more notes by Kerouac for Kerouac, descriptions of his own approach, inimitable and often impenetrable, as anyone who’s ever tried to practice them discovers.

Some are straight-forward, devoted to the mechanics of writing. Kerouac cautions against craft (“Craft is craft”), pausing “to think of proper word” and periods “separating sentence-structures already arbitrarily riddled by false colons and timid usually needless commas” (unlike that one!). But the “Essentials” that get to the essence of Kerouac’s approach are more ephemeral: “Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind,” “Blow as deep as you want to blow,” “Be in love with yr life.” One of the most popular is “You’re a Genius all the time,” which is, unfortunately, just not true. Not for Kerouac or anyone else. Most are lucky to be a genius a fraction of the time.

I’ve read and absorbed nearly all of the literary output by the holy Beat triumvirate of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, in addition to works by fellow Beats Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Gary Snyder, Amiri Baraka and Diane di Prima. I’ve read even more books about them. The Beats did influence me, but not in the way you might expect. Most significantly, my best friend and I bonded over the Beats, or that part in us the Beats stirred. I’ve dreamed of being an author since I was a kid, and the Beats as well as a hundred other authors inspired me—not to write like them but to write. Rather than follow Kerouac’s road, I ultimately followed my own, one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.

Larry Closs is the author of Beatitude, a novel, and a New Yorker who often wanders far from home. Follow him on his website, FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

How wonderful was that?!  Mr Closs certainly knows how to put his sentences together!  I am glad Larry followed his own road.  Life would be boring if we all went down the same road.  Also, following someone down the road can’t be fun all of the time, there will be a time when one wants to take over and be the leader of their journey.  Full kudos to Larry for sussing out the lay of Kerouac’s road, perhaps picking up a few flowers here and there, a few pavers here and there, and taking them to add to his own special road, the road with his name on it. 

Okay, too much road talk – let’s move on. 

Next stop on the tour bus, Patrick’s website, The Literate Man  Feast your eyes on an interview with Mr Larry Closs where he looks at the Beat Generation Boys Club and the sometimes obscure line between friendship and love.

Can’t wait until tomorrow to get your Larry fix – check out his website, FacebookTwitter and YouTube links and be sure to get yourself a copy of Beatitude!!!

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My good friend Lori over at The Next Best Book Blog is hosting a blog tour for Larry Closs, author of Beatitude.  I will be taking part in the tour so watch this space.  On Tuesday, 24 January 2012, I will post ‘Two Roads Diverged: How the Beats did and didn’t inspire Beatitude‘ by Larry Closs.

Check out the full schedule by clicking here to be taken across to Lori’s fab website:

The Next Best Book Blog!!

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I own hundreds of books and of course I want to read them all and probably about half of them I would love to read right now but this is not possible and so, as I did last year, I have made a list of just 10 of them I would like to read this year.  This doesn’t limit me to just reading 10 of my own books, I can read however many I can get to, but it does remind me that following my admittedly quick search I came up with the following 10 books I definitely want to read this year.  And so, in alphabetical order here they are:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom points Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find wordly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transformation power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Huxley’s vision of the future in his astonishing 1931 novel Brave New World — a world of tomorrow in which capitalist civilization has been reconstituted through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, where the people are genetically designed to be passive, consistently useful to the ruling class.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

At the end of her bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert fell in love with Felipe, a Brazilian-born man of Australian citizenship who’d been living in Indonesia when they met.  Resettling in America, the couple swore eternal fidelity to each other, but also swore to never, ever, under any circumstances get legally married. (Both were survivors of previous bad divorces. Enough said.) But providence intervened one day in the form of the United States government, which-after unexpectedly detaining Felipe at an American border crossing-gave the couple a choice: they could either get married, or Felipe would never be allowed to enter the country again. Having been effectively sentenced to wed, Gilbert tackled her fears of marriage by delving into this topic completely, trying with all her might to discover through historical research, interviews, and much personal reflection what this stubbornly enduring old institution actually is. Told with Gilbert’s trademark wit, intelligence and compassion, Committed attempts to “turn on all the lights” when it comes to matrimony, frankly examining questions of compatibility, infatuation, fidelity, family tradition, social expectations, divorce risks and humbling responsibilities. Gilbert’s memoir is ultimately a clear-eyed celebration of love with all the complexity and consequence that real love, in the real world, actually entails.

Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago

Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago’s brilliant new novel poses the question — what happens when the grim reaper decides there will be no more death? On the first day of the new year, no one dies. This of course causes consternation among politicians, religious leaders, morticians, and doctors. Among the general public, on the other hand, there is initially celebration—flags are hung out on balconies, people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Then reality hits home—families are left to care for the permanently dying, life-insurance policies become meaningless, and funeral parlors are reduced to arranging burials for pet dogs, cats, hamsters, and parrots.
Death sits in her chilly apartment, where she lives alone with scythe and filing cabinets, and contemplates her experiment: What if no one ever died again? What if she, death with a small “d” became human and were to fall in love?

Endal: How One Extraordinary Dog Brought a Family Back from the Brink by Allen & Sandra Parton

Allen Parton suffered a serious head injury while serving in the Gulf War and returned home unable to walk, talk or remember most of his life. He couldn’t even remember his wife, Sandra, and their two children. After five years of rehabilitation, he was still severely disabled.

Sandra was a nurse so thought she would be able to help her husband, but the Allen who had returned didn’t remember her, and couldn’t cope with what life had dealt him. Determined to be strong, Sandra would have to fight to keep her family together.

Endal was a Labrador puppy with problems of his own until he ‘adopted’ Allen and Sandra. He was to change their world, and give them back their family.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

As Madeleine tries to understand why “it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France,” real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead—charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy—suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old “friend” Mitchell Grammaticus—who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange—resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can’t escape the secret responsible for Leonard’s seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy has created a huge, brash thunderstorm of a novel, stinging with honesty and resounding with drama. Spanning forty years, this is the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister Savannah, and their struggle to triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which they were born.

Filled with the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina low country as well as the dusty glitter of New York City, The Prince of Tides is Pat Conroy at his very best.

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

Eric Sanderson wakes up in a house one day with no idea who or where he is. A note instructs him to see a Dr. Randle  immediately, who informs him that he is undergoing yet another episode of acute memory loss that is a symptom of his severe dissociative disorder. Eric’s been in Dr. Randle’s care for two years — since the tragic death of his great love, Clio, while the two vacationed in the Greek islands.

But there may be more to the story, or it may be a different story altogether. As Eric begins to examine letters and papers left in the house by “the first Eric Sanderson,” a staggeringly different explanation for what is happening to Eric emerges, and he and the reader embark on a quest to recover the truth and escape the remorseless predatory forces that threatens to devour him.

The Raw Shark Texts is a kaleidoscopic novel about the magnitude of love and the devastating effect of losing that love. It will dazzle you, it will move you, and will leave an indelible imprint like nothing you have read in a long time.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

In Bryson’s biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand — and, if possible, answer — the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event. In this remarkable novel, Christos Tsiolkas turns his unflinching and all-seeing eye onto that which connects us all: the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century. The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires.

What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity – all the passions and conflicting beliefs – that family can arouse. In its clear-eyed and forensic dissection of the ever-growing middle class and its aspirations and fears, The Slap is also a poignant, provocative novel about the nature of loyalty and happiness, compromise and truth.

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Books Read in 2011

I feel like I had a good reading year last year.  In total I read 72 books, however, that 72nd book I am still reading at the moment and so I can’t say I actually finished 72 books 🙂

I managed to fit in a bit more personal reading last year instead of just reading books for review and I have to say it did refresh me.  I love reading books for review, I find some of my favourites in amongst them and I am grateful to the authors for providing those as I may not have picked them up to begin with.  It was nice to get back to reading some of my old comfort authors though and also some new ones I had been meaning to try out for some time.  In total I read 46 books for personal reading (including the one I am currently completing) and 26 books for review. 

I have included my list below of what I read last year.  You will see I also had a 10 books I want to read list – I managed to knock those out and am quite chuffed about that.  These were books which I had been wanting to read and had been sitting on my shelf to be read but didn’t find themselves in my hands actually being read until last year.  I have made a similar list this year and will post those soon.  I find it keeps me focussed, reminds me hey, at the start of the year I said I wanted to read this – it’s on the list – I have to read it!  I work well with lists and if something is on a list I must mark it off.  Due to the success of this I didn’t hesitate in creating a list for this year.

Apart from the 10 books I want to read this year I don’t have any other goals as to how many books I want to read, specific genres I want to read, et cetera.  This year, I hope, will be similar to the last, a mix between personal reading and review reading.  Here’s to another good year of reading!!!

Books Read in 2011

1.  Worth Dying For – Lee Child (personal reading)

2.  The Distant Hours – Kate Morton (review reading)

3.  Gourmet Rhapsody – Muriel Barbery (personal reading) (10 books I want to read list)

4.  The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (personal reading) (10 books I want to read list)

5.  War Dances – Alexie Sherman (review reading)

6.  The Richest Man in Babylon – George S. Clason (personal reading)(10 books I want to read list)

7.  Drama Queens with Love Scences – Kevin Klehr (review reading)

8.  Jumble Tales – Steve Morris (review reading)

9.  Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn (personal reading)(10 books I want to read list)

10. An Italian Affair – Laura Fraser (personal reading)(10 books I want to read list)

11. The Other End of the Leash – Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs – Patricia B. McConnell (personal reading)

12. A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali – Gil Courtemanche (personal reading)

13. Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe – Bill Bryson (personal reading)

14. The Undomestic Goddess – Sophie Kinsella (personal reading)

15. The Broken Shore – Peter Temple (personal reading)

16. Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think – Brian Wansink (personal reading)

17. Amandine – Marlena de Blasi (review reading)

18. God, Seed: Poetry & Art About the Natural World – Rebecca Foust and Lorna Stevens (review reading)

19. All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song – Rebecca Foust (review reading)

20. Dragon’s Heart – Nicki J Markus (review reading)

21. Indefensible – Pamela Callow (review reading)

22. The Enchanted April – Elizabeth Von Arnim (personal reading)

23. Searching for Grace – Carol Henderson & Heather Tovey (review reading)

24. Room – Emma Donoghue (personal reading)

25. Spoilt – Joanne Ellis (review reading)

26. Swimsuit – James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (personal reading)

27. Seaview Terrace – Kate Rigby (review reading)

28. A Century of November – W.D. Wetherell (personal reading)

29. Beatrice Munson – Lorena Bathey (review reading)

30. I Am a Cat – Volume One – Soseki Natsume (personal reading)

31. Sucka! – Kate Rigby (review reading)

32. Six Clicks Away – Bonnie Rozanski (review reading)

33. Letters to Juniper – Peggy Tibbetts (review reading)

34. Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life – Marina Sbrochi (review reading)

35. Legacies – F. Paul Wilson (personal reading) (10 books I want to read list)

36. Hidden – Shalini Boland (review reading)

37. The Memory of Running – Ron McLarty (personal reading)

38. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach (personal reading)

39. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins (personal reading)

40. Hunting and Gathering – Anna Gavalda (personal reading) (10 books I want to read list)

41. Where’s Unimportant – Daniel Shortell (review reading)

42. One For My Baby – Tony Parsons (personal reading) (10 books I want to read list)

43. The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell (personal reading) (10 books I want to read list)

44. Voice – Joseph Garraty (review reading)

45. The Gamble of the Godless – David Maine (review reading)

46. Across Eternity – Aris Whittier (review reading)

47. The Buried Covenant – Shawn P Keenan (review reading)

48. The Chicken Thief – Fiona Leonard (review reading)

49. Clutter – Donna Butler (review reading)

50. Forever – Judy Blume (personal reading)

51. A Mighty Heart – Mariane Pearl with Sarah Crichton (personal reading) (10 books I want to read list)

52. Sworn to Silence – Linda Castillo (personal reading)

53. Can You Keep a Secret? – Sophie Kinsella (personal reading)

54. Shopaholic & Sister – Sophie Kinsella (personal reading)

55. To Love, Honour and Betray (Til Divorce Us Do Part) – Kathy Lette (personal reading)

56.  Shopaholic & Baby – Sophie Kinsella (personal reading)

57. Sammy’s Hill – Kristin Gore (personal reading)

58. Twenties Girl – Sophie Kinsella (personal reading)

59. The Candlestickmaker – Dennis McDougal (review reading)

60. The Toss of a Lemon – Padma Viswanathan (personal reading)

61. The Affair – Lee Child (personal reading)

62. A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby (personal reading)

63. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins (personal reading)

64. Guantanamo Boy – Anna Perera (personal reading)

65. Death of an Ordinary Man – Glen Duncan (personal reading)

66. The Stupidest Angel – Christopher Moore (personal reading)

67. The Christmas Wedding – James Patterson and Richard Dilallo (personal reading)

68. Why We Read What We Read – Lisa Adams and John Heath (personal reading)

69. The Thomas Berryman Number – James Patterson (personal reading)

70. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus – L. Frank Baum (personal reading)

71. Witch Stories for Bedtime – Various (personal reading)

72. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins (personal reading) 383 pages read in 2011

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A belated Happy New Year to all of my wonderful readers!!  I hope you all had a great holiday season and that you managed to fit in a bit of relaxation, and of course reading!!

I cannot believe how quickly 2011 went……it just zoomed on by!  I look at the date of my last post and realise I haven’t posted for a while.  That big old L word, Life, just got right in the way – work’s busy, home’s busy, there was a spraining of an ankle, Christmas shopping, Christmas itself, holiday season and voila – it’s now the 4th of January, just like that!!

I am happy to report that I got in a decent amount of reading last year…..I am unhappy to report that it has been a slow start to this year.  However, the year is only very young at the moment and I have no doubt it will turn around once everything  gets back to normal.

At the moment I have a handful of reviews which need to be done and thank you very much to those authors who are waiting patiently for them.  I also have a few books sitting on my shelf at home begging to be read and reviewed and so thank you to those authors who have already provided me with their work for a future review.  Now, I also have a handful of ebooks which need reading and reviewing and so this year I am thinking an ereader may be a handy investment because I do not have time to read from my computer.  To the ebook authors – thank you for accepting it may be a while before I get to your work.

This year I am going to try something a little bit different.  To begin I will get up-to-date with the reviews which need to be done and following that I will only pick up another review book when I have completed my review of the previous review book.  Rather than read and read and read I had better do my reviews first.  I think this will help me keep on top of things instead of having a handful of reviews to do at the same time. 

So that’s my plan and I’m hoping I stick with it 🙂

Best wishes for 2012!!!

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…. oh boy, where do I start?!  Firstly, thank you to everyone visiting this website and reading through my posts – even though I have been quiet of late I still see people have been popping in and it makes me very happy.

So, in short, we’ve been doing a mini renovation and all of my books were packed away.  Thankfully, I have now put them back where they are supposed to be and it seems like quite a load off my shoulders.  You really shouldn’t have to box up your babies!

I haven’t had very much spare time  – if any!  I hope to get back into the swing of things sooner rather than later but must give my thanks to my very patient authors.  I have reviews to produce, interviews to organise, new arrivals to announce and author profiles to create.  I only wish there was an extra 24 hours a week I could dedicate to my passion – reading and spreading the love of reading.

Thank you once again to everyone and I will set about getting on top of things as soon as I can 🙂

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One Year Has Passed …..

 

One year

12 months

52 weeks

365 days

 

Lots of firsts

Many tears

Heart strings pulled

Missing your ways

 

Unannounced emotions

What if ponderings

Fanciful imaginings

Wishes to above

 

Replayed memories

Heart warmed

Blessed for time

Grateful for love

 

xx

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AUSSI CONNECTION TO THE WORLD OF DOWNTON ABBEY

 

The BBC’s TV series Downton Abbey written by Oscar Award (Gosford Park) writer Julian Fellowes, is coming soon to Channel 7. Attracting around 9 million viewers per session, this popular series involves the life, times and scandals of an Edwardian family, their friends and servants.

What is not generally known is that the recently published NZ biography Searching For Grace, written by Carol Henderson and her mother Heather Tovey, published by Steele Roberts, describes how Heather eventually finds her birthmother – multi millionairess Lady Grace Weigall the wife of Sir Archibald Weigall Governor of South Australia in the early 1920s. As well as revealing hitherto unknown details of their time in Australia, the story lifts the lid on Edwardian society, uncovering family secrets and skeletons that prove to be every bit as intriguing as the fictional goings on depicted by the illustrious Mr Fellows.

English writer and historian Edward Mayor reviewing Searching For Grace comments, “We read of an attempted kidnapping, physicians with much to hide, a glamorous social whirl involving he future King Edward V111, and finally death and burials worthy of a Wagnerian music drama. Gliding between England, South Australia and New Zealand, this book is simply sensational.”

Note: Searching For Grace is presently not available in Australian bookshops but can be purchased on www.thenile.co.au, www.thenile.co.nz, and amazon.co.uk or via Carol’s publishers info@SteeleRoberts.co.nz

                More details are available on Carol’s website carolhenderson.co.nz

 

 

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