Monday, May 31, 2010

Winners of On Folly Beach by Karen White!

I am so excited to announce the winners of On Folly Beach by Karen White!  So here they are....................

Jenna Wood
Sarah E

Congratulations ladies!  I will be emailing you shortly for your mailing information.  Stay tuned for more great giveaways coming up!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Current Giveaways!!!

Life seems to be getting pretty busy for me but I still found a few giveaways that I wanted to share with you all!  If I missed posting about your giveaway please feel free to leave the link in the comment section below.

Spunk on a Stick is having a 200 Followers contest--Contest ends 5/31.

Historically Obsessed is giving away The Pearls of Stone Man by Edward Mooney, Jr.--Contest ends 6/3.

The Tome Traveller's Weblog is giving away My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira--Contest ends 6/4.

The Tome Traveller's Weblog is giving away Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman--Contest ends 6/12.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman--Contest ends 6/19.

Don't forget to check out the giveaways that I am offering on my sidebar.  There will even be a couple more in the next couple of weeks!

Good luck everyone and have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: Black Hills by Dan Simmons

Here is a summary of Black Hills by Dan Simmons from the Hachette website:

When Paha Sapa, a young Sioux warrior, "counts coup" on General George Armstrong Custer as Custer lies dying on the battlefield at the Little Bighorn, the legendary general's ghost enters him - and his voice will speak to him for the rest of his event-filled life.

 Seamlessly weaving together the stories of Paha Sapa, Custer, and the American West, Dan Simmons depicts a tumultuous time in the history of both Native and white Americans. Haunted by Custer's ghost, and also by his ability to see into the memories and futures of legendary men like Sioux war-chief Crazy Horse, Paha Sapa's long life is driven by a dramatic vision he experienced as a boy in his people's sacred Black Hills. In August of 1936, a dynamite worker on the massive Mount Rushmore project, Paha Sapa plans to silence his ghost forever and reclaim his people's legacy-on the very day FDR comes to Mount Rushmore to dedicate the Jefferson face.

My Review:
This book is full of history from early America from both a native american and a white man's point of view.  Simmons sets this book during the time period of 1936, using various chapters to go back in time as Paha Sapa reflects on different parts of his life. As this book went back in time through different years we were always brought back to 1936, where Paha Sapa was working as a powderman on the Black Hills.  I find that sometimes I follow the story easily with this type of format, but for some reason this book was a bit difficult as the different time periods just didn't seem to flow well.

The book opens with Paha Sapa as a very young boy who happens to stumble upon a battlefield one day.  It so happens that Custer was leading the battle and Paha Sapa comes across his body as Custer was taking his last breath.  At the time Paha Sapa is not aware that the spirit of Custer will enter the young boy's mind and be with him for the rest of his life.  So not only is Paha Sapa given the gift of seeing the future and past of those he touches, but now he has the spirit of Custer within him giving him his opinion about everything.

It is not long after this battle that Paha Sapa is sent away to the Black Hills to complete a traditional ceremony on his own.  After his fasting and smoking of the sacred tribal pipe he is given a vision by the Six Grandfathers of what the Black Hills will one day become.  He is horrified when this vision shows him four heads coming out of the mountain, that soon turn into full-sized giants.  He does not know what to think of his vision at the time, but thinks he realizes the purpose after becoming a powderman for the Mt. Rushmore sculpture when he is older.

We are shown many stages throughout Paha Sapa's life, including when he meets his future wife Rain at the Chicago World's Fair.  I loved this part of the book as it was full of details about the fair, including a very vivid description of Mr. Ferris's Big Wheel!  That must have been an amazing site in it's day.  Later in life, Paha Sapa takes a trip to New York City to visit Custer's wife and takes a trip to the Brooklyn Bridge.  I understand that this is a huge landmark and although it was interesting to read about, it may have been a bit too descriptive to me.  I suppose a builder or engineer would appreciate all of the dimensions and measurements but that just isn't for me.

I do not think it's a secret that books that give me a glimpse into another culture are fascinating to me, and in that aspect this book did not disappoint me.  Since Paha Sapa was a Lakota native american we were able to learn about some of those traditions, superstitions, and even a bit of the language.  The name Paha Sapa is actually the Lakota term for what we call Black Hills. 

As the book is nearing it's end we have a clear vision of what Paha Sapa thinks his purpose on this planet is for.  So the reader can't help but wonder if Paha Sapa will carry out his plan and meet his demise or could he possibly serve another purpose?  With themes of superstition, love,  preservation, and American history this was definitely a fascinating novel.  I must admit that I didn't look forward to opening this book at night but I'm certainly glad that I did.

My Rating: 4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by Valerie from Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

You can check out more book reviews at Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Special Giveaway of The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne

In celebration of the paperback release of The Last Bridge, Teri Coyne is offering to give one of her books away to one of my readers!  This was an amazing and powerful book and if you missed my review you can still read it here.  There is also a guest post that Teri submitted last Fall that gave us a little glimpse into her personal life that you may also find interesting.

Here is a summary of The Last Bridge from the Random House website:

For ten years, Alexandra “Cat” Rucker has been on the run from her past. But a sudden call from an old neighbor forces Cat to return to her Ohio hometown—and to the family she never intended to see again. Cat’s mother is dead, and she’s left a disturbing and confusing suicide note that reads:
Cat, He isn’t who you think he is. Mom xxxooo

Seeking to unravel the mystery of her mother’s death, Cat must confront her past to discover who “he” might be: Her tyrannical father, now in a coma after suffering a stroke? Her brother, Jared, named after her mother’s true love (who is also her father’s best friend)? Or Addison Watkins, Cat’s first and only love? Taut, gripping, and edgy, The Last Bridge is an intense tale of family secrets, darkest impulses, and deep-seated love.

Now for the giveaway!

Since this giveaway is to help celebrate the paperback release of this novel I want to make this a bit more fun for everyone involved.  The giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.

Since Teri Coyne has been a stand up comedian, for one entry I would like you to share a joke of some kind in the comment section.  I don't care if it's a corny joke, kid's joke, or even a knock knock joke, but I do ask that you keep it clean and tasteful.  This will be your main entry, so if you do not include a joke you will not qualify!  Don't forget to include your email address.

For another two entries tell something interesting that you have learned from Teri Coyne's website.

For two additional entries, blog about this contest or add the link to your sidebar.

So you can earn a maximum of five entries for this contest and don't forget to leave your email address.  You will have until June 8th to enter and I will draw for a winner from on June 9th.

Good luck everyone!

Winner of The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith!

I am pleased to announce that the winner of The Secret Speech is.......

Congratulations Alyce!  I will be emailing you shortly to get your mailing information so the publisher can send the book out right away. Thanks again to Valerie  from Hachette for offering this giveaway on my blog!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Teaser Tuesday-May 25

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading.  TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

This week my teaser is from The Age of Orphans by Laleh Khadivi:
She raises her face to look at him and it is clenched, like the stone, every moment of time that she has spent sitting at this meager fire like her mother before her and all the Kurd mothers before them stuck in the doomed visage.  With her dirty hair and dirty feet and dirty hands, she is seen by Reza as the shah must see her:  a being just above the line of animal.

pg. 130

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mailbox Monday-May 24

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. You can go to her blog to see what everyone else got last week or to play along.

Here is what showed up in my mailbox last week:

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker (audiobook)

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

These should help ease the pain I am feeling from not being able to go to the BEA this week.  Totally bummed about that but looking forward to attending next year!  So what was in your mailbox last week?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Java With Jo

I realize that it has been quite awhile since I have shared any personal information about the going on's in my life recently so that's what I wanted to do today.  My Grandma has been home from the nursing home for a few weeks now and things seem to be going well.  I have noticed that her eyesight seems worse than it did before her heart attack so we have an appointment scheduled next month for an exam.  I'm just hoping that eyeglasses will take care of that.

I can't believe the school year is over!  It seems like just yesterday that I dropped my daughter off at college for her freshman year, and now today we will be leaving to pick her up.  My son also completed his first year of law school and survived!  So congratulations to both Ryan and Vicki for their accomplishments this year!

A couple of summers ago I read the book Wicked by Gregory Maguire and enjoyed it so much I thought I would like to see the musical.  Earlier this week I received an email about early bird tickets for this musical so I snatched a couple up for my daughter and myself.  We are both excited to go to this show in August!

I couple of days ago I FINALLY finished reading Black Hills by Dan Simmons and boy, did that book kick my butt!  I'm hoping it doesn't take as long for me to write my review as it did to read it.  Although it was a very good and informative book, I just found that I wasn't looking forward to opening it every night.

I'm hoping to have more time for reading in the evenings since a couple of my shows have wrapped up for the season.  I really enjoyed Survivor this year and I don't think I'm the only one that is grateful that Russell did not win...what a creep!  Desperate Housewives left us with a little mystery as to the children that were switched at birth, and then Mary Alice's husband Paul live in Susan's house of all places!  And then Brothers and Sisters.  Sigh.  That season finale was just so sad and I am going to really miss Rob Lowe in the next season.  I must say that I am really getting tired of the whole Justin and Rebecca scenario, so we will see what happens with those two.  But now that those shows are over I can finally start getting caught up on Army Wives!  I've been recording the whole season on my DVR and have only watched the first episode so far. 

Well I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  Don't forget to enter my contest for The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith that ends tomorrow.  I will be hoping to draw winners for that one Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Current Giveaways!!!

There are always so many great giveaways going on and I know that I only include a few in this post every week.  If I missed yours, please feel free to leave the link in the comment section below.  Here are a few that I wanted to share with you all:

Readaholic is giving away My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira--Contest ends 5/23.

Bookin' With Bingo is giving away Apologize, Apologize! by Elizabeth Kelly--Contest ends 5/31.

Savvy Verse and Wit is giving away Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman--Contest ends 6/2.

Passages to the Past is giving away By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan--Contest ends 6/2.

Diary of an Eccentric is giving away Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman--Contest ends 6/6.

And then don't forget about the giveaways that I am offering right now!  You can check them all out on my sidebar.  Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Audiobook Giveaway: The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker

Thanks again to Anna from Hachette I am able to give away up to three copies of this unabridged audiobook on Jo-Jo Loves to Read!!!

Here is a summary of The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker from the Hachette website:

FBI Special agent Brad Raines is facing his toughest case yet. A Denver serial killer has killed four beautiful young women, leaving a bridal veil at each crime scene, and he's picking up his pace. Unable to crack the case, Raines appeals for help from a most unusual source: residents of the Center for Wellbeing and Intelligence, a private psychiatric institution for mentally ill individuals whose are extraordinarily gifted.

It's there that he meets Paradise, a young woman who witnessed her father murder her family and barely escaped his hand. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Paradise may also have an extrasensory gift: the ability to experience the final moments of a person's life when she touches the dead body.

In a desperate attempt to find the killer, Raines enlists Paradise's help. In an effort to win her trust, he befriends this strange young woman and begins to see in her qualities that most 'sane people' sorely lack. Gradually, he starts to question whether sanity resides outside the hospital walls...or inside.

As the Bride Collector picks up the pace-and volume-of his gruesome crucifixions, the case becomes even more personal to Raines when his friend and colleague, a beautiful young forensic psychologist, becomes the Bride Collector's next target.

The FBI believes that the killer plans to murder seven women. Can Paradise help before it's too late?

Now on with the giveaway!

I will be giving away one book for every 10 entries with a maximum of three books to give away.

To enter this contest you must be at least 18 and live in the U.S. or Canada. No PO Boxes please.

For one entry leave me a comment including your email address below.

For two additional entries, blog about this contest or add the link to your sidebar.

Please include your email so I will have a way to contact you if you win.

You will have until June 5th to enter and I will draw for winners on June 6th.

Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini

Here is a summary of The Quilter's Apprentice from Jennifer Chiaverini's website:

From debut novelist Jennifer Chiaverini comes THE QUILTER'S APPRENTICE, a delightful, timeless story of loyalty and friendship.

After moving with her husband, Matt, to the small college town of Waterford, Pennsylvania, Sarah McClure struggles to find a fulfilling job. In the meantime, she agrees to help seventy-five-year-old Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate, Elm Creek Manor, for sale. As part of her compensation, Sarah is taught how to quilt by this cantankerous elderly woman, who is a master of the craft.

During their lessons, Mrs. Compson reveals how her family was torn apart by tragedy, jealousy, and betrayal, and her stories force Sarah to face uncomfortable truths about her own alienation from her widowed mother. As their friendship deepens, Mrs. Compson confides in Sarah the truth about why she wants to sell Elm Creek Manor. In turn, Sarah seeks a way to bring life and joy back to the estate so Mrs. Compson can keep her home-and Sarah can keep her cherished friend. The Quilter's Apprentice teaches deep lessons about family, friendship, and sisterhood, and about creating a life as you would a quilt: with time, love, and patience, piecing the miscellaneous and mismatched scraps into a beautiful whole. 

My Review: 
Through the world of quilting, Chiaverini introduces us to some characters that have seemed to lost their way in life.  This is the first segment in quite a large series and before opening the novel I was skeptical as to how one could go on with so many books about quilting.  After reading the first book it was quite understandable.

Early in the book we are given a glimpse into Sarah's unsatisfying life.  She has been a very good accountant but is not getting enough fulfillment from her job.  Her husband has been unemployed for quite some time, so when he finds a job in another city, they decide that Sarah should give up the only security they have known with her accounting position so her husband can become the breadwinner once again.

After moving to the new town, Sarah joins her husband when he goes to evaluate a landscaping job he has to do at Elm Creek Manor, and when she meets the owner, Mrs. Compson, they seem to get off on the wrong foot.  I really did not anticipate a friendship between these two women would blossom the way it did.

Sarah has been lonely since the move to Waterford, but once she decides to take up the hobby of quilting, she is introduced to ladies from all different walks of life.  Through her quilting circles she learns why Mrs. Compson is so lonely and bitter, but decides to reach out to her in a different way.  As Sarah and Mrs. Compson spend time together they find that they really have a lot in common and not only learn about each other but also discover their own hopes and dreams.  This allows them to make changes in their lives that help them to be happier and more productive in their daily walk. 

With themes of quilting, friendship, forgiveness, and starting over, this story really has a lot to offer.  Not being a quilter myself, I thought the book included a bit too much quilting information for my taste and was also a bit predictable.  Although this book wasn't one of my favorites, I know the ladies in my book group really enjoyed it.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This was my own book that I read as a book club selection.

Check out more book reviews over at Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mailbox Monday-May 17

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. You can go to her blog to see what everyone else got last week or to play along.

So here is what was in my mailbox last week:
A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve

Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch (audiobook)

Deliver Us From Evil by David Baldacci (audiobook)

So were there any surprises in your mailbox?

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Glimpse of What CSN Has to Offer!

I can't tell you how excited I was to receive an email from Jason at CSN about possibly doing a review of one of their products!  CSN has such a huge variety of products to offer through their on-line stores including recessed lighting, cookware, rugs, office furniture, bookcases, and much, much more!

I remember being envious of the bloggers that were reviewing products for CSN about 6 months ago, as I read raving reviews from so many of them!  I plan on reviewing the Sauder Camden County Three-Shelf bookcase, item 101783.  My dining room and formal living room are in one open area and I think this bookcase will be a perfect fit.

So please be sure to check back because I will be posting a review of this product and maybe even a picture to share once it arrives!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Current Giveaways!!!

Since these contests caught my eye, you may also be interested:

Luxury Reading is having a Mother's Day Giveaway--Contest ends 5/20.

Bookin' With Bingo is giving away The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano--Contest ends 5/27.

Passages to the Past is giving away Secrets of the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan--Contest ends 5/27.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow--Contest ends 5/30.

A Bookworm's World is giving away Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt--Contest ends 6/5.

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday-May 12

Bermudaonion asks you to share new words that you have learned during your reading adventures in the last week. Feel free to join in the fun!

Since I am still reading Black Hills by Dan Simmons I have a few more new words that I have learned:

Cuspidor: a large bowl, often of metal, serving as a receptacle for spit, esp. from chewing tobacco: in wide use during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Here is how cuspidor was used on page 219:
There is a floral-pattern carpet and, in a corner, a huge brass cuspidor that is emptied regularly.

Trunnion: either of the two cylindrical projections on a cannon, one on each side for supporting the cannon on its carriage.
Any of various similar supports for machinery.

Here is how trunnion was used on page 220:
These here steel posts we're hangin' from-trunnions, they're called-could hold ten times the weight of this fine car, even if we were fully loaded.

Harbinger: anything that foreshadows a future event; omen; sign: Frost is a harbinger of winter.

Here is how harbinger was used on page 250:
Are the Fat Takers so ignorant of the universe that they don't see blackness itself-sapa-as a harbinger of holiness, as in the paha sapa to their south as they huddle here in the night rain?

Tautological: needless repetition of an idea, esp. in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness, as in “widow woman.”

Here is how tautoligical was used on page 314:
"That name is a bit tautological, isn't it, Mr. William Slow Horse?"

Although this book is taking me quite a while to get through, it is so full of American history that I am really trying to savor every aspect of it.  From the battles on the soil of the Black Hills, the creation of Mount Rushmore to the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge there is much to learn within the pages of Black Hills.

So did you learn any new words this week?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Audiobook Review: The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

Here is a summary of the book from the Hachette website:

Tim Farnsworth is a handsome, healthy man, aging with the grace of a matinee idol. His wife Jane still loves him, and for all its quiet trials, their marriage is still stronger than most. Despite long hours at the office, he remains passionate about his work, and his partnership at a prestigious Manhattan law firm means that the work he does is important. And, even as his daughter Becka retreats behind her guitar, her dreadlocks and her puppy fat, he offers her every one of a father's honest lies about her being the most beautiful girl in the world.

He loves his wife, his family, his work, his home. He loves his kitchen. And then one day he stands up and walks out. And keeps walking.

THE UNNAMED is a dazzling novel about a marriage and a family and the unseen forces of nature and desire that seem to threaten them both. It is the heartbreaking story of a life taken for granted and what happens when that life is abruptly and irrevocably taken away.

My Review:
I think that this is the first audiobook that I have listened to that was read by the author, and I believe that it gave me a higher level of enjoyment because of that.  This story is about what can happen to a family when they are plagued by a disease that cannot be medically proven by anyone, from psychiatrists to medical specialists.

Tim lives with his wife and daughter in a beautiful suburb of Manhattan.  He has a wonderful marriage with his beautiful wife Jane and a very satisfying career as a lawyer for a firm in the city.  From the outside one would think that Tim has everything he needs, but little does anyone know how the unnamed disease hinders his ability to live a normal life.

Tim finds himself living a normal life sometimes for weeks or months at a time until the disease surfaces and takes control of his body both mentally and physically.  Eventually this takes a toll on his marriage and family life and Jane finds herself turning to other coping mechanisms to help her deal with the situation.  Before you know it the disease has not only taken over Tim's life but has also wreaked havoc over Jane's emotional stability also.

We follow Tim through his encounters of the illness and watch as the disease seems to develop its own personality within Tim's mind.  Tim struggles to get back to his life with Jane, but when he is finally able to break through will it be too late?  How can a family live a normal life while one of you has a disease that could attack your well-being at any moment.  The Farnsworth's try to live in a way that keeps the disease a secret, but as you know secrets have a way of becoming revealed.  I really enjoyed listening to this story, hearing Tim's raw emotions when the disease was full force, but just as important was Jane's story of survival.

My Rating: 4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook is part of my personal collection and I listened to it for my own entertainment.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Giveaway: A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve

Thanks to Valerie from Hachette I am able to offer up to three copies of this book on my blog!  My book club has read a few of Anita Shreve's books and they always spark an interesting discussion.  There is even a Reading Group Guide available to help get your book club discussion underway. 

I reviewed A Change in Altitude in the fall, but if you missed my review you can see it here.  Here is a summary of the book:

Margaret and Patrick have been married just a few months when they set off on what they hope will be a great adventure-a year living in Kenya. Margaret quickly realizes there is a great deal she doesn't know about the complex mores of her new home, and about her own husband.

A British couple invites the newlyweds to join on a climbing expedition to Mount Kenya, and they eagerly agree. But during their harrowing ascent, a horrific accident occurs. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Margaret struggles to understand what happened on the mountain and how these events have transformed her and her marriage, perhaps forever.

A Change in Altitude illuminates the inner landscape of a couple, the irrevocable impact of tragedy, and the elusive nature of forgiveness. With stunning language and striking emotional intensity, Anita Shreve transports us to the exotic panoramas of Africa and into the core of our most intimate relationships.

Now on with the giveaway!

I will be giving away one book for every 10 entries with a maximum of three books to give away.

To enter this contest you must be at least 18 and live in the U.S. or Canada. No PO Boxes please.

For one entry leave me a comment including your email address below.

For two additional entries, blog about this contest or add the link to your sidebar.

Please include your email so I will have a way to contact you if you win.

You will have until May 30th to enter and I will draw for winners on May 31st.

Good luck everyone!

**This giveaway is closed.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Giveaway of On Folly Beach and Guest Post by Karen White

I am thrilled to welcome Karen White to Jo-Jo Loves to Read today!  I often reflect on disappointments in my own life and ponder how these instances help to shape you into a different person.  So I feel honored that Karen is sharing with us how some of her own disappointments have changed her own life:


Today is May 1st. Most of you are probably thinking it’s just another day or maybe that since its May, summer is right around the corner. But for those of you, like me, who have a high school senior, you’ll know that the date is much more ominous: it’s the D-Day of all deadlines. It’s College Decision Day.

My daughter, bless her heart, applied to six schools. She was declined once (by her “reach” school so she didn’t really expect to get in). She was accepted at three (one for a full tuition ride, another into the honors program, and the third with a Presidential scholarship). Sounds great, doesn’t it? Not to her. Do you know why? Because for her two top choices, she’s been waitlisted. It doesn’t matter to her that those schools only accept about 10% of their applicants and that being waitlisted is still an honor since so many more were declined. She sees only one thing: failure. Her disappointment is a palpable thing.

If you Google the quotes for the word “disappointment,” you’ll come up with dozens of quotes like “If you fall seven times, get up eight,” and “If you get to the end of your rope, keep hanging on.” In hindsight, that makes a lot of sense. But when you’re standing there in the middle of muck and your backside is smarting from the fall, it’s hard to see the bigger picture. But there is one—promise.

There’s a country song with lyrics something like “If you’re going through hell, just keep going; keep on moving before the devil even knows you’re there.” How right that is! The only failure I can see when facing disappointment is staying still. About five years ago, my then-publisher dropped me like a burning bag of dog poop. Yeah, it hurt that badly. My disappointment was so great that I almost quit writing. The funny thing about it was that I hated writing for that publisher. They gave me tiny print runs, no publicity, and horrid covers. But I still felt like I was going to the prom. My date might be the dorky, pimply boy, but at least I was going! And then suddenly even the dorky, pimply boy didn’t want me. My ego took a blow that was equaled only by the time at the high school dance where the boy of my dreams paid his best friend to dance with me so he wouldn’t have to. (Yeah, that really happened).

Luckily, I’ve got great friends and a supportive husband. They didn’t make me feel like a loser (thankfully, I didn’t have teenagers back then!). They encouraged me to keep writing. So I did, and I wrote The Color of Light. And just when I thought I was at the end of my rope, my agent sold it to my dream publisher, Penguin Publishing. I’ve since gone on to write six more books for them, have won numerous awards and my last book, The Girl on Legare Street, made it to number 31 on the New York Times bestseller list. Not bad for a loser, huh?

The irony is that what I thought at the time was the worst that could happen (being dropped by my publisher) turned out to be the best thing. Helen Keller once wrote, “A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.” Smart lady.

My new book On Folly Beach will be released on May 4th. It’s a book about overcoming hardships, and finding acceptance and love in unexpected places. It’s set in 1942 and 2009 in Folly Beach, South Carolina, and I absolutely love this book. Early bookstore orders and reviews have been strong so I have good expectations that it will be well received by readers. If for some reason it’s not, I’ll be disappointed. But I’d like to think that I’ve learned that disappointment doesn’t mean “the end.” It just means that I need to jump back in the saddle and write the next book.

My husband just left for the airport for a flight to San Francisco on a business trip, leaving me home with our daughter to do the final hash over her college choices. Part of me wishes that I was in Siberia or Mars, but the rest of me is glad I’m here to help show my child that she has marvelous choices in front of her, and that a disappointment could just mean heading down an unexpected path and finding it was where she was meant to be all along.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us Karen!  I know how frustrating the college waiting game can be for these young adults.  Although both of my children were fortunate enough to get into the undergraduate colleges of their choice, my son was quite nervous last spring awaiting confirmation of his admission to law school.  He did not get admitted to his top choice of law school but I think he is very happy with where he decided to go.  All disappointments can be a humbling experience but are sometimes necessary for us to grow intellectually.

Here is a brief summary of On Folly Beach:
Karen White brings her readers back to the Lowcountry--to Folly Beach, South Carolina, and into the lives of two war widows whose lives intersect only by the bookstore they own sixty years apart.

When a box of old books hiding cryptic love notes in the margins is discovered, the lives of the two women collide, spilling secrets of an old love affair and an unsolved disappearance from 1942, and offering a young widow hope for a second chance.

Karen has been gracious enough to offer two of her books to giveaway to my readers!  So here is how you can enter to win one for yourself:

To enter this contest you must be at least 18 and live in the U.S. or Canada.

For one entry leave me a comment including your email address below.

For two additional entries, blog about this contest or add the link to your sidebar.

Please include your email so I will have a way to contact you if you win.

You will have until May 26th to enter and I will draw for a winner on May 27th.

Good luck everyone!

This giveaway is closed.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Winners of The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

I am pleased to announce that I have two winners of The Cradle and they

Carol M.

Congratulations ladies!  I will be emailing you shortly to get your mailing information to forward to the publisher.  Thanks again to Valerie  from Hachette for offering this giveaway on my blog!  And stay tuned, because there are more giveaways to come.

Current Giveaways!!!

There are always so many great contests available to enter every week and I am so grateful to the blogs that host these giveaways.  We all appreciate the work that you put into these!  Here are just a few that caught my eye this last week:

Hist-Fic Chick is giving away Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn--Contest ends 5/7.

Readaholic is giving away the audiobook of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith--Contest ends 5/11.

A Sea of Books is giving away The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry--Contest ends 5/12.

Savvy Verse and Wit is giving away The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry--Contest ends 5/12.

So Many Precious Books, So Little Time is giving away Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz--Contest ends 5/14.

Chocolate and Croissants is giving away the audiobook ofAbraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith--Contest ends 5/18.

Bookin' With Bingo is having a Mother's Day Giveaway--Contest ends 5/25.

A Sea of Books is giving away Stay a Little Longer by Dorothy Garlock--Contest ends 5/26.

At Home With Books is having a May Bookshelf Cleaning Giveaway--Contest ends 5/30.

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday-May 5

Bermudaonion asks you to share new words that you have learned during your reading adventures in the last week. Feel free to join in the fun!

Here are some new words that I learned while reading Black Hills by Dan Simmons:

Subaltern: lower in rank; subordinate

Here is how subaltern was used on page 80:
Along with Crazy Horse's subalterns are groups of his akicita tribal-police bodyguards, each more fiercely painted and countenanced than the last, and these include the Oglalas Looking Horse, Short Bull, and Low Dog, as well as the odd Minneconjou Flying By, who is so eager to share in Crazy Horse's growing glory that it is said that Flying By would ride east to try to capture the waischus' White Father if Crazy Horse ordered him to.

Phrenology:  a psychological theory or analytical method based on the belief that certain mental faculties and character traits are indicated by the configurations of the skull.

Here is how phrenology was used on page 154:
The Power Plant was indeed tucked back close to the fence, beyond the Convent of LaRabida (which actually had something to do with Christopher Columbus)and beyond the totem poles and south of the Anthropology Building (in which Paha Sapa could have studied an exhibit of phrenology showing why American Indians were a less-developed race in Darwinian terms).

Interlocutor:  a person who takes part in a conversation or dialogue.

Here is how interlocutor was used on page 157:
I babble on as if you were an audience rather than an interlocutor.

Flense:  to strip off (blubber or skin).

Here is how flense was used on page 164:
Not having a buffalo skull for the entrance, Paha Sapa spends a day hunting in the pine forest, kills a large deer, leaves the carcass for the birds and other scavengers-he is deep enough into his fast that his belly is rumbling all the time now and he often has to sit and lower his head until his vision clears-and he flenses and cleans the skull, resisting the urge to nibble on the eyes, and mounts it near the entrance with six pouches holding offerings of the finest tobacco sent by Limps-a-Lot.

Obviously there are plenty of new words to learn in this book, including some from native american languages.  This is a wonderful book so far and I'm thinking it will be worthy to include in the Awesome Authors Challenge.  So did you learn any new words this week?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review: The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

Here is a summary of The Blood of Flowers from Anita Amirrezvani's website:

In seventeenth century Iran, a spirited village girl of fourteen approaches the age of marriage, only to find her destiny shattered by the ominous prophecies that follow a fiery comet blazing across the desert sky. Confronted with the unexpected death of her beloved father and without prospects for gathering a dowry, the young woman and her distraught mother are forced into a difficult new life in the fabled city of Isfahan. Taken in as house servants by her distant uncle Gostaham, a well-to-do carpet designer, and his demanding wife, the two women confront an unforgiving world where their very survival requires strength and resilience beyond their most dire expectations. 

When the heroine blossoms as a brilliant maker of carpets under her uncle's tutelage, the future brightens with the possibility of affluence and independence, but soon disaster strikes again. An impetuous act of artistic integrity results in the heroine’s disgrace, forcing her into a loveless, secret marriage. Toiling as a carpet designer by day and a reluctant wife by night, she makes an audacious decision that shocks her host family and puts their reputation at stake. With nowhere else to turn, the young woman must marshall all of her artistic genius and her extraordinary will in an attempt to save herself and her mother from a grim and unfulfilling future.

Set in the legendary time of Shah Abbas the Great, the novel captures the bustle of bazaars overflowing with pomegranates, rosewater and saffron; the breathtakingly beautiful silk and gold rugs of the Shah’s carpet workshop; and Isfahan’s incomparable bridges, gardens, teahouses, and hammams. With spellbinding medieval Persian tales and prose that flows like the Zayandeh River through the city of Isfahan, The Blood of Flowers is the story of one woman's struggle to create a life of her choosing, relying—against all odds—on the strength of her own hands, mind and will.

My Review:
This was such a wonderful story that was left a bit mysterious to me since the author decided to leave the main character unnamed.  It is funny, but I have to admit that I did not even realize that her name was not given throughout the novel until it was brought up in one of the discussion questions.  We are taken on a journey of this innocent girl's life as she crosses over from a naive young lady to a strong and independent business woman.

This book begins with the girl's life in a small village in Persia, living with her parents she is able to rely on them for her every need.  As the only child of the family she has a very close relationship with her parents but seemed to bond closer with her father as he has taught her everything that she knows about making carpets that are beautiful to the eye.  She could never foresee how her life would change forever after her father passes away.

The mother and daughter try to stay on in the village that they have always known as their home.  Life becomes quite difficult as they have no way to earn money so when food starts to run dangerously low they decide to reach out to distant family members hoping that they will take them in.  Since they don't have a dowry to offer for the young girl they do not think that they have any other option.

They are grateful beyond words when her father's brother in Isfahan decides to take them both in.  Although they graciously accept his hospitality, they are quite disappointed when they arrive to learn that they will be living and treated like servants rather than family members.  Knowing they do not have a choice in the living arrangements they accept the circumstances as they are.

Since the mother and daughter are living at the mercy of the aunt and uncle they are very unsure of their future in the household.  They become worried that they could possibly make one wrong move and be cast out into the streets with just the clothes on their backs.  One of their only hopes was that the young girl would marry a successful man, but without a dowry that option was more than likely lost.  The young girl found herself growing close to her uncle and gaining a respect for him as he worked for the Royal Rug Company and has offered to teach her everything that he could about carpet making.   The poor girl had every reason for her feelings of frustration and deception when her uncle arranged for a less than reasonable marriage arrangement.

I must admit that I never really considered the hard work that has gone into producing one of these beautiful rugs.  Although most today are probably factory made, to think that something similar was handmade with two hands (or more, depending on how many people were working on the rug) and a loom amazes me.  It has been said that these rugs tell their own stories, and I could see the stories coming too life through the rugs that this young girl created.  She struggled with her rug creations as she did with her life choices and I enjoyed how the rugs were more beautiful as she gained wisdom.

This was a beautiful story that brings to life another culture along with it's vivid colors.  Not only can you see the beauty and vibrance of the carpets, but you also get a good sense of the tastes and smells of the ethnic foods.  With themes of love, loss, beauty, perseverance and struggles, this book was enjoyed by my entire book group. 

My Rating: 4/5

Disclosure:  This book was from my personal collection and although it was a book club selection, I did read it for my own entertainment.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mailbox Monday-May 3

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. You can go to her blog to see what everyone else got last week or to play along.

So here is what was in my mailbox last week:
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

I think these will keep me busy for what was in your mailbox?