Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Virgin and the Crab by Robert Parry

Virgin and the Crab by Robert Parry
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 480
Date Published: 2009
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: The author provided me with a copy for review.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back of the book blurb:
The brilliant young mathematician and astronomer John Dee has one overwhelming obsession: liberty. Abandoned and humiliated, Elizabeth Tudor has one simple aim: survival. This is their story. Against the background of the English Reformation, and threatened by a vengeful and unforgiving Queen, the mysterious brotherhood of the Rose Lodge attempt to guide the nation towards enlightenment and stability. Here, the special alchemy of the Virgin and the Crab works its magic: growing from childhood friendship, through adolescent flirtation, to mutual respect and admiration as together they prepare to sacrifice everything for the world they wish to inherit.
❦❦❦❦❦❦❦

I admit, I'm not one of those people who devours every novel about English royalty that they come across. Most of the time I am more likely to pick up a historical fiction book about the common people than about the aristocracy. Despite this predilection, I admit that one of my favorite English monarchs is Elizabeth Tudor, and after watching two motion pictures about her life (Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age) I've been wanting to pick up a book about her. I've seen Virgin and the Crab reviewed on a couple of other blogs, but I think the review that stood out to me the most was at A Reader's Respite. So when Mr. Parry asked if I'd like to read and review his book, I remembered that review and was pretty quick to say yes. It was a very good choice on my part.

Virgin and the Crab focuses on Elizabeth's life during the years after her father's death and before her accession to the throne, years of much turmoil and danger for England and for Elizabeth herself. A good portion of the story also focuses on John Dee and the Rose Lodge, who seek to encourage and protect the heirs to the throne that would do the best to keep the nation stable and enlightened. Although they don't entirely succeed in that goal when Mary comes to power, they do manage to help keep Elizabeth alive until Mary's death, even though several of the original members of the Lodge aren't quite as lucky. Since I haven't read a lot of nonfiction on these events, I can't really comment on the ways in which the historical record are fictionalized in this book, but as a work of historical fiction it does make me interested in learning more about this time period and the people in it.

I found the beginning a little bit difficult to get into at first because of the narrator--he is writing from afar and seems to have little to do with the story except to interject his personal opinions in just a few places. Other than those few places, the book is mainly written in third person. Once I got used to the narrative style, it wasn't hard for me to become entirely captivated by the story and the characters. John Dee was a fascinating person to learn about--he was a learned scholar, a seemingly pious Protestant Christian, and a man interested in numerology and astrology. He believed the stars and the planets were the messengers of God, and he sought ways to converse with angels. I'm not entirely sure what to think of Dee (his apparent Christian beliefs alongside his interest in science and magic are a bit hard to grasp in this day and age) but Parry does a nice job of portraying him as a loyal and valuable friend to Princess Elizabeth. I think he also comes across as a bit mysterious in the book, which makes me even more curious to learn more about him. Dee was definitely an interesting character.

I also enjoyed Parry's depiction of Queen Mary, who was so paranoid and distrustful of the people around her, and yet appeared sufficiently unsure of herself that she allowed outsiders (especially from Spain and the Roman Catholic Church) to influence her actions. Her religious convictions had such sad repercussions for dissenters. She was not an especially sympathetic character, though her relationship with her husband, Philip II of Spain, was kind of sad. She seemed naive about marriage relationships and it was heartbreaking to watch her celebrate and then despair over her phantom pregnancies. And although we know the eventual outcome, it was actually suspenseful to watch Elizabeth being imprisoned and questioned, with the fear that she may be executed for treason by her half-sister.

This ended up being one of those books that I couldn't put down for very long (if it had been shorter I may have been tempted to read it through in one sitting). I'm not an expert on all things Elizabeth, but I think this book would be well-received by fans of the Tudors and Elizabeth (because of the unusual point of view through John Dee) and by the casual fan (like myself) who isn't as well-read on her life and the people in it. I can definitely recommend Virgin and the Crab to fans of historical fiction. It says a lot when a book based on historical events can keep you anxiously turning the pages, even though you know what will happen!

Related Linkage:
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, Typically British Challenge


CymLowell

Monday, June 28, 2010

Quick Update

Hi everyone--

I was in a little incident this weekend that involved me falling and hurting my back, so I'm a little behind this week. But my back seems to be improving every day (and my chiropractor is a magician or something), so I should still be able to post two reviews this week. Please stay tuned for my reviews of Robert Parry's Virgin and the Crab and Kate Chopin's The Awakening.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Win a Kindle... Catch a Ghost Contest!

To celebrate the release of her new e-book In the Manor of the GhostTina Pinson is giving away 2 Kindle eBook Readers and 10 free e-book downloads of In the Manor of the Ghost!

Click here for entry details. The giveaway ends on June 30, 2010, so make sure you get over there soon if you want to enter! 

Here is the publisher's book's synopsis:
It's the 1870's. The Civil War has long since been fought and laid to rest, settlers are still joining the wagon trains and heading west to the New Eden. The land is changing. But those who dwell in Clayborne Manor seem trapped in time. 
Trapped amid the whispers of failure and sorrow, whispers of longing and defeat. Kaitlin hears them clearly at night. But who haunts Clayborne Manor? The ghost that restlessly walks the halls in the night? Or the ones that plague the minds and spirits of those residing there? Though not inclined to believe the dead can walk the night laden corridors, Kaitlin can see them clearly in the eyes of her husband Devlin, and hear them in the deafening silence of her son, Derrick. 
Does she have the courage to search the past and face the ghosts? Does she have the faith to stay and direct all those who dwell In the Manor of the Ghost to the one who sets the captive free?  
And here is the book trailer:


Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Beginnings on Friday: Virgin and the Crab by Robert Parry


Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

I'm aboout 2/3 of the way through Robert Parry's Virgin and the Crab (ISBN: 978-1449515713). Here are the first few lines from the Prologue:

Extract from the private Diary of Dr. John Dee:

April 5th. The Lady Russell robbed a little after midnight of perles, diamonds &c. One John Smyth is suspected, a young man of thirty years old, very ingenious in many handyworkes, melancholek.

You reproach me unjustly, Sir. Melancholic indeed! And anyway, what if I am guilty of a little knavery, a little sleight of hand. What of you, Dee - you who deceived the whole world and got away?

When I started reading, I wasn't sure how to feel about the first few lines. It seems like the story is going to be told in this John Smyth's point of view, but as I read further into the book he seems to be, for the most part, an outside narrator telling the story in the third person, injecting personal views very sparingly and only in specific places. We'll see how well it works when I get to the end. I'm hoping to finish this almost 500-page book this week.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Genre: Classic Adventure Fiction
Pages: 256
Date Published: Originally published in 1873 (I read a 2007 reprint edition)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Purchased new.
Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Book description (from the publisher):
After making an audacious wager, the wealthy and eccentric Phileas Fogg attempts a seemingly impossible feat -- to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days.
THIS ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:
  • A concise introduction that gives the reader important background information
  • A chronology of the author's life and work
  • A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context
  • An outline of key themes and plot points to guide the reader's own interpretations
  • Detailed explanatory notes
  • Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work
  • Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction
  • A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience
This is the first time I've actually read an unabridged version of Around the World in Eighty Days, though I've seen film adaptations before and I am pretty sure I browsed through an abridged version at some point during my childhood (which I remember very little of). Interestingly, although the film versions (and even some of the cover art for various reprint editions) often include a hot-air balloon, there is no point in Verne's original story that included a hot-air balloon. I kept waiting to come across it while I was reading, but it just wasn't there! *chuckle*

Phileas Fogg is a serious, precise, and kind-of-boring Englishman who does the same things every day like clockwork, until the day he makes a wager with his whist partners at the Reform Club that he can travel around the world in 80 days. His sidekick is Frenchman Passepartout, his newly-hired servant (in fact, he had been hired that same day, and had been looking forward to the routine and unexciting life that Fogg was accustomed to). During his travels, Fogg is mistaken for a bank robber, which results in his being followed almost the entire way by a detective, though he isn't aware of it. When problems emerge, Fogg uses his wealth to travel around them (good thing he's rich!). Methods of transport include various types of ships, railroad, elephant, and wind-driven sledge, and they meet people of many different ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds.

The storyline is exciting enough with the race to get around the world in time to win the bet, along with the suspense of his being tailed by a detective who wants to place him under arrest. Unfortunately, the story depends a lot on stereotypes to fill out the character list. Fogg is the logical and cold Englishman and Passepartout is the passionate and curious Frenchman. There is a Eurocentric flavor to the rest of the characterizations. In India, a procession of Brahmans includes a group of "stupid fanatics." While sailing past Papua, it is observed that "Papuans. . . are in the lowest scale of humanity. . ." Then, when they depart from Asia, "now they were beyond the fantastic countries of Japan and China, and were fairly on their way to civilized places again." Finally, Americans are portrayed as somewhat stupid and rash, and a negative characterization of Sioux Indians comes in a scene where they attack the train and kidnap Passepartout. The Sioux are not portrayed as anything but savage, dangerous enemies, attacking with no explanation. On the historical side of things, although there was fighting between white settlers (and soldiers) and Sioux Indians in the West in the 1860s-1870s, it seems especially unrealistic for the Sioux to be attacking a moving train--it seems like something from a dime novel rather than from reality.

Beyond the stereotypical characterizations, I also never really came to like Mr. Fogg. He was never interested in seeing the sights and spent most of his time in his room or playing whist. He didn't go out to explore while on the trip at all, unless forced to when transportation problems made them seek unusual means of transport. He was always calm under pressure, but he also never showed any feelings! And even when he did admirable things, like rescuing Aouda in India and rescuing Passepartout from the Sioux, it didn't really make up for the fact that the man had no personality. Passepartout was a lot more lively and interested in the world around him, and I think I liked him more for that. Aouda (a Parsi woman Fogg and company rescued in India) was never really characterized beyond being a quiet and demure lady who was devoted to Fogg. I take that back, there was one moment when she handled a gun like a "true heroine" and defended herself when the Sioux were attacking the train. But for the most part the reader doesn't really get to know her personality.

Although the book was rather exciting in places, it didn't knock my socks off. I think it's problematic to give kids this book without discussing the prejudices and stereotypes portrayed. It's not necessarily racist, but a subtle superiority of Europeans does shine through. Yes, it is indicative of the time period in which it was written, but again I think it is worth mentioning or discussing the attitudes and beliefs of the time rather than just assuming that readers would be aware of it. That's one of the reasons why I like editions like this one--they provide background information, critical analysis, and often a discussion of the time period in which it was written.

In the end, I'm glad I read this book because it has made its way into our popular culture and it is an interesting look at the time period, but my enjoyment was hampered by the novel's one-sided view of the world and the shallow character development. I do hope to give Jules Verne another try at some point in the future, however. I've always wanted to try From the Earth to the Moon.

**I noticed that this review gets a lot of search engine hits and I can only assume that students are looking for more information on a book they have to read or write about for a class. If this is you, don't copy and paste my information into your paper. It is plagiarism and it is super easy to find this review just by plugging a sentence of it into Google, so don't think you won't get caught. Sure, use my review to help you brainstorm things to write about, but if you use my ideas please cite them properly and include this review in your bibliography. And if you think I've said something so absolutely beautifully that you must quote me, use quotation marks and give me credit. Thank you!

Related linkage:
Reading Challenges: Awesome Author Challenge, Flashback Reading Challenge.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wishlist Wednesday - Streets of Fire by Troy Soos


Here's another book that's on my giant, growing-every-day, wishlist. I can't remember how I came across it, but the synopsis sounds great.

Streets of Fire by Troy Soos
ISBN: 0-7582-0625-9

Publisher's book description:
Anarchy brings a snow-clad city to its knees—and hides a ruthless killer. 
It is 1895, and the worst winter in years grips the streets of Brooklyn. As the city prepares to be united with New York City across the river, a strike by trolley workers ignites one of the most contentious labor conflicts in the nation’s history. 
In the face of overwhelming opposition, the mayor—a shareholder in one of the largest transportation companies—vows to keep the trolleys running, and calls in the National Guard. It’s a disaster waiting to happen—and the waiting ends pretty quickly when a cop drops dead in a crowd of protesters with two bullet holes in his back. 
Marshall Webb, reporting on the strike for Harper’s Weekly, suspects that the incident somehow stands at the center of the tremors that are tearing Brooklyn apart on the eve of losing its independence. To bring peace to an erupting city, he joins forces with Buck Morehouse, a detective with his own methods of establishing law and order, and Vivian O’Connell, a social reformer with contacts in both extremes of New York society. As the heat continues to rise in the frozen streets, only the truth they seek will expose a tangle of corruption thick enough to strangle a city—and murder again....
To find out what other bookworms are wishing for this Wednesday, visit Wishful Wednesday, hosted by The Bluestocking Guide. Also check out the On My Wishlist meme at Book Chick City.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Genre: Classic Dystopian Fiction
Pages: 190
Date Published: 1953 (I read the 50th Anniversary edition)
Publisher: Del Ray Books
Source: I bought this used from a local charity thrift store.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back of the book blurb:
The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden.
Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires. And he enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames. . . never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid. Then Guy met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think. And Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do.
I somehow missed out on reading this classic in high school and am just now getting around to it at the age of 31. I can see why it's on all of those summer reading lists. It is classic dystopian literature about a future in which books are burned and people are glued to their televisions (which happen to be as big as your wall and make you feel like you're inside the scene). The powers-that-be keep people happy and peaceful by feeding them shallow, insignificant entertainment and "information" through their TV walls, and burn books because they cause deep thinking (and thus the possibility of unrest and revolution).

Montag is kind of a strange guy. He seems to like his job, but he also is aware that everything isn't perfect in his world. His wife has tried to kill herself with an overdose of sleeping pills more than once and spends every waking moment parked in the TV room. So when he meets young Clarisse, he's kind of open to her happy-go-lucky, inquisitive ways. It seems refreshing to him. It helps lead him to an epiphany after a seemingly routine book+house burning at work rocks his world. He doesn't think he can go on in the same way as usual, and tries to decide what to do about that.

I can't really say that I loved this book, but I did find it extremely interesting. The narration is kind of disjointed and a bit confusing at times. Montag isn't exactly what he seems and sometimes his actions make no sense at first. It's not especially descriptive of the dystopian world, but exists more within the turmoil going on in Montag's head. It is definitely thought-provoking and keeps you guessing at every turn. I was especially drawn to reading it when I found out the main character is a fireman, whose job is to start fires and not to stop them. Hubby is a fireman and I was curious how that aspect had developed in this dystopian future.

If you like dystopian fiction and you haven't read Fahrenheit 451, you really should give it a read. It's fairly short, and it's considered a classic. Although I think TV is going to be replaced by the internet in our future, the future that Bradbury portrays is not that improbable, and probably seemed even more likely in the years following the release of this book. It provides a good reminder to not let ourselves get so wrapped up in the media around us and to really think. I can definitely recommended this book. Hopefully I'll get to watch the 1966 film adaptation at some point. And hey, I just found out there is a possible remake in development tentatively slated for 2012!

Related linkage:
Reading Challenges: Twenty Ten Challenge, Speculative Fiction Challenge

CymLowell

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Young Victoria on DVD



I just had a chance to watch this movie on Friday, and I loved it. It was so romantic! I don't know very much about Victoria and Albert (admittedly, when I thought of her before I saw the movie, the picture that came to mind was of an old woman in mourning), but now I would love to learn more about them. Rebecca mentioned at her blog Rebecca Reads that she is reading a biography of the couple called We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, and Rivals by Gillian Gill. It sounds like a good one to start with. I may try to look up some of Victoria's journals as well. She apparently kept a very detailed diary during her lifetime.

Have you seen The Young Victoria? What did you think? Do you have any related book suggestions for me?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another great sale at Book Closeouts!


Ouch. This could really hurt my pocketbook. The last time they ran this sale, I ended up buying some books. Will I be able to resist this time?

Here are just a few of the books I'm drooling over that are on sale right now:
**Disclosure: I am an affiliate of BookCloseOuts.com.  I earn a small referral fee from purchases made through the above links. No purchase necessary.**

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader Trailer

I've been loving the recent film adaptations of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series. The newest one is coming out at Christmas, and I'm really looking forward to it!




Do you plan to see it?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Review: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Speculative Fiction
Pages: 270
Date published: February 2010 (self-published in 2008)
Publisher: AmazonEncore
Source: I won a copy in a giveaway at Color Online. Thank you!
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back-of-the-book blurb:
Genna is a fifteen-year-old girl who wants out of her tough Brooklyn neighborhood. But she gets more than she bargained for when a wish gone awry transports her back in time. Facing the perilous realities of Civil War–era Brooklyn, Genna must use all her wits to survive. In the tradition of Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, A Wish After Midnight is the affecting and inspiring tale of a fearless young woman’s fight to hold on to her individuality and her humanity in two different worlds.
 ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Genna is a teenage girl living with her mother and three siblings in a rough Brooklyn neighborhood. They live in a tiny apartment where not everyone has a bed to sleep in and people deal drugs outside of the front door of their building. It's a sad place to be, but a real place that many urban kids would be familiar with. One of her favorite places to go and escape her life's realities is a neighborhood garden. Whenever she visits, she always makes a wish in the fountain. Among the myriad of wishes that she makes for her mother, her siblings, and herself is this one: "I wish I could go somewhere different, another country, someplace far away. A place where I don't have to feel ashamed of my home, and my clothes, and my short nappy hair that just won't grow. I toss a penny into the fountain and wish I could live inside someone else's body, even for just one day" (2).

After a particularly difficult fight with her mother over her blossoming relationship with a boy named Judah, Genna finds herself at the fountain after midnight, and her wish is granted. Only it's granted in a way she really didn't expect. She finds herself in Civil War-era Brooklyn, a very different place from the Brooklyn she knows. Because she is black and seemingly homeless, everyone assumes she is a runaway slave. She runs the risk of being sold to slave catchers and struggles to understand the very different society that exists in her new reality. Although the Emancipation Proclamation has declared slaves free in Confederate-controlled areas, and even though she is living in the "free" north, African Americans are still treated by whites as people of inferior intelligence and given little respect. The historical detail and attitudes portrayed are remarkable and I think pretty accurate. The climax of the book takes place during the New York Draft Riots of 1863, during which at least 120 people were killed and thousands were wounded--a fascinating time period and place for a book to be set in.

I admit I have a soft spot for time-travel tales. I found the beginning to be a bit slow; there was a lot of background and build-up to get through before Genna made her jump into the past. Her present was kind of depressing, but it was a nice change to read a story with a different setting than I am used to--I don't think I've ever read a book set in the inner-city. It was eye-opening for me to experience Genna's life and feelings through this book--her experiences as an African American teen are definitely far from my own experiences. I really feel like it opened a door to a world (in both time periods) that I know very little about but am glad to have a glimpse into. The conclusion of the story felt a bit open-ended, and there is some great sequel potential there (especially since we don't know what happened to Judah!). Ms. Elliott is working on the sequel, Judah's Tale right now, and I think it would be interesting to get back into the worlds of these characters.

Ms. Elliott self-published this book in 2008 and Amazon chose it to reprint under their AmazonEncore label earlier this year, which identifies "exceptional, overlooked books and authors with more potential than their sales may indicate" and partners with the authors to "re-introduce their books to readers through marketing support and distribution into multiple channels and formats" (link). I think they made a very good choice with A Wish After Midnight. I am so glad I read it.

Related linkage:
Reading Challenges: POC Reading Challenge, Historical Fiction Challenge, Speculative Fiction Challenge, Twenty Ten Challenge




CymLowell

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'm Joining the Everything Austen II Challenge!

Last year I missed out on the first Everything Austen Challenge. But there's no way I'm missing it this year! Hosted at Stephanie's Written Word, the challenge runs for six months (July 1, 2010 to January 1, 2011). The requirements: pick out six Austen-themed things to finish for the challenge. It can be anything from reading some of Austen's books, reading Austen-inspired novels, watching film adaptations of her books or Austen-inspired films, or even complete some kind of Austen-inspired craft. You have until Thursday, July 15th, 2010 to officially sign up, so if you're interested, you'd better get over there and sign up.

What am I going to do for this challenge? Here are my plans:

Read the following books:
  1. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Patillo
  2. Just Jane by Nancy Moser
  3. The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview
  4. Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Watch the following films:
  1. 1971 BBC adaptation of Persuasion
  2. 1986 BBC adaptation of Mansfield Park
I'm looking forward to this! I am surprised at how many Austen-inspired books I have on my TBR pile--I have several others waiting to be read too.

Here's what I have completed:
  1. Anne Elliot, A New Beginning  by Mary Lydon Simonsen
  2. Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
  3. 1971 BBC adaptation of Persuasion
  4. The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore
  5. Letters from Pemberley by Jane Dawkins
  6. More Letters From Pemberley by Jane Dawkins 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Winner of Forget Me Not!


And the winner of a copy of Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze is....

Hillary F. at The Life of an Average Girl!

I'm emailing you now and hope to hear back from you within 48 hours. :) Congratulations to the winner, and thank you to everyone who entered!

**Since I didn't hear back from Hillary by Saturday, I picked a new winner: Alexandra! And we've exchanged emails already so I will have the book in the mail to her on Monday.**

Wish List Wednesday - House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo


This is the first book in a series that I've read several rave reviews of. Sounds interesting (and creepy), so it's on my wish list.

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 1) by Robert Liparulo
ISBN-13: 9781595547279
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publisher's book description:
Dream house . . . or bad dream?
When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land.
But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into--as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house.
They soon discover there's something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school.
Then the really weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places--in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen's dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare.
 To find out what other bookworms are wishing for this Wednesday, visit Wishful Wednesday, hosted by The Bluestocking Guide. Also check out the On My Wishlist meme at Book Chick City.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the classic book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I think most people have read this book at some point in their lives--many of us were lucky enough to read it in school.

There are a bunch of anniversary events going on this year around the country to mark the anniversary (click here for a list). I'm not aware of any events happening locally, but I plan to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird this summer and probably will watch the film adaptation as a way to personally celebrate this wonderful book. Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books is hosting a fabulous month of reading, discussion, and trivia related to the book, and Heather from Capricious Reader is hosting a July read-along/challenge, which I am signing up for.

Here are some links you might find useful or interesting for the celebration:




So, are you planning to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird? If yes, what are your plans?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Review: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Pages: 311
Date Published: 1985 (I read a 1998 reprint edition)
Publisher: Anchor Books
Source: Paperback Swap
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back of the cover blurb:
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...
This book was a trip to read. It is set in a future where birth rates have dropped because of the chemicals our bodies have been exposed to over time. In this future, a religious sect has taken control of the government and society, establishing the Republic of Gilead, a place where men are in charge and women are not allowed to read or make their own decisions. Women are basically valued only for their ability to have babies and take care of the chores at home. Men who are higher up in the government's hierarchy are provided with a Handmaid if their wife has been unable to have children. These Handmaids are strictly monitored and given few choices in their existence. Suicide is such an attractive way out for them that they are not allowed access to glass, knives, matches, ropes, or any other tools they could use to kill themselves.

The Handmaid's Tale is written in a style that some readers might find confusing. It's not a standard narrative, but feels sort of like someone reminiscing or recalling events that happened to them. But that's essentially what it is--the memories of a Handmaid's life. It also incorporates flashbacks to her life before Gilead, which can sometimes be hard to follow. But once you reach the end and read the fabulous "historical notes" at the end, everything comes together and makes so much more sense. I was blown away by the story. It was terrifying and depressing, and yet there is still this small ray of hope that Offred (the main character) might find a way to escape Gilead.

One of the things that really struck me about the book is how religion had run amok in the dystopian society depicted on the pages. The powers that be claim that all of these changes have been made for the women's own good--that it makes them more secure and protected--but really all it does is oppress and objectify them. The power and influence of the religious leaders in this society underline all of the reasons why I'm supportive of religion staying out of the government in our country. It is too scary to watch one sect gain power and force everyone else to follow their teachings and their beliefs. And it is the opposite of liberty and free will.

I am so glad I read this great book. What an interesting way to approach topics that have been important in our past and present, and are sure to be important issues for the future. I just hope that we never go down that road toward Gilead. If you like dystopian literature, you should give this one a try. I think it has the makings of being a classic. It won the 1985 Governor General's Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987, and it was nominated for the Nebula Award (1986), the Booker Prize (1986), and the Prometheus Award (1987).

I read this book in May as part of a read-along hosted by Pam at Bookalicio.us and although I was unfortunately only able to participate in one of the weekly discussions, it was fun. All that I have left to do is watch the 1990 film adaptation, which is more difficult than I expected because Netflix isn't carrying it right now.

Related linkage:
Reading Challenges: Women Unbound, Awesome Author Challenge, Speculative Fiction Challenge

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Book Beginnings on Friday: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


    Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

    This is my first time reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (ISBN 0-345-34296-8). I'm a little embarrassed that I haven't read it before (it's short and classic), but it won't take me long to remedy that. Here's the first line:

    "It was a pleasure to burn."

    If you haven't read Fahrenheit 451 before and aren't sure what this means, I don't want to spoil it too much for you beyond saying that the main character is a fireman, during a time in the distant future when firemen don't put out fires but start them instead. This really caught my interest because my husband is a firefighter. Kind of a funny connection to a book set in a dystopian future, right?

    Review: Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

    Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor
    Genre: Christian Historical Romance
    Pages: 299
    Date Published: May 2010
    Publisher: Abingdon Press
    Source: I won a signed copy in a giveaway at A Pen for Your Thoughts. Thank you Shirley and Jennifer!
    Rating: 4 of 5 stars 


    Book Description (from author):
    Highland warrior Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. When he forces Akira to wed him, hoping to end a half-century feud between their clans, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment. . .Yet her strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce. But there is a traitor in their midst . . . and murder is the ultimate weapon.
    ❦❦❦❦❦❦❦

    The storyline of Highland Blessings is more complicated than the description suggests. Akira had been betrothed to Bryce's older brother Evan, who indicated he would not honor the betrothal (which was agreed upon between their fathers on the day Bryce's father died). Bryce wanted to honor his father's dying wish so even though Evan wasn't interested in marrying Akira, a woman in a rival clan, Bryce went onto MacKenzie lands to claim her for Evan. He shows up on a day that Akira was planning to be married, but had been left at the altar by her husband-to-be. So even though she is kidnapped on her wedding day, it isn't quite as dire as I first thought it would be when I read the description. The action is not random, and it wasn't altogether surprising to the people involved.

    The proposed marriage between the MacKenzie and MacPhearson clans is a controversial one for members of both clans. Longstanding animosity between the clans had resulted in fighting and murder on both sides for generations. Akira and Bryce's fathers had hoped to forge peace through the marriage, and that is what ultimately motivates Bryce and eventually Akira in the weeks and months to come. When Bryce's older brother Evan dies, Bryce takes his place and marries Akira.

    Their relationship takes time to develop, since they not only have to forge some kind of trust in each other, they also have to deal with their clansmen and their attitudes toward members of the other clan, who still see them as enemies. Akira's journey is aided greatly by her faith in God, and she leans on that faith to find a way to forgive and love the man who kidnapped her. She also finds hope that her situation could finally bring peace between the clans. Unfortunately, there seems to be a mysterious saboteur in their midst, who leaves behind a trail of murdered victims in his wake. It becomes imperative that they uncover the murderer before Akira is killed, or before he sparks war between the two clans.

    This was a lovely book, full of suspense, mystery, and romance. I enjoyed the characters--Bryce could be stubborn and single-minded, but Akira could be stubborn too at times. Her ability to adapt to her circumstances and see the long-run benefits of what she first sees as a frightening and frustrating ordeal makes her a strong and intelligent woman. Rather than wallow in self-pity and fear, she looks at things realistically, and for that time period she exercises surprising control over her heart and her decisions, even when it looks like she doesn't have a lot of choices. Although she could have encouraged her clansmen to steal her back and prolonged the tension between the clans, she freely chooses to pledge her loyalty to Bryce in the interests of peace. She was willing to sacrifice her personal happiness for the safety of her family and her clan, but found that she could have happiness in that as well. Ultimately, she learns that what started as a kidnapping led her to the exact place where God wanted her to be.

    I really enjoyed reading this book. Once I started it, I had a hard time putting it down and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it. If you like historical romance set in Scotland, you'll probably enjoy this one. Great setting, great characters, great mystery. I'm also excited to know that there will be a sequel to Highland Blessings, titled Highland Sanctuary, which is scheduled to release in October of 2011!

    Related links:

    Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, Christian Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, Medieval Reading Challenge

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Wishlist Wednesday - Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

    I've had this one on my wishlist for a while now, and there's just something about summertime that makes me want to read stuff like this. Maybe it's nostalgia--I remember spending a couple of summers in high school reading stacks of books that took place in the Star Wars world. Ah, nothing says summer like science fiction and fantasy.

    Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
    ISBN: 978-0-7653-1841-1

    Book description (from the publisher):
    In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. 
    But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead. 
    Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history. 
    His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.
    To find out what other bookworms are wishing for this Wednesday, visit Wishful Wednesday, hosted by The Bluestocking Guide. Also check out the On My Wishlist meme at Book Chick City.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Review: Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze

    Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze
    Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense
    Pages: 336
    Date Published: March 2010
    Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
    Source: I won a copy from Kathleen at CelticLady's Reviews. Thank you Kathleen!
    Rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Book description (from the publisher's website):
    Crossroads Crisis Center owner Benjamin Brandt was a content man—in his faith, his work, and his family.  Then in a flash, everything he loved was snatched away.  His wife and son were murdered, and grief-stricken Ben lost faith.  Determination to find their killers keeps him going, but after three years of dead ends and torment, his hope is dying too.  Why had he survived?  He’d failed to protect his family. 
    Now, a mysterious woman appears at Crossroads seeking answers and help—a victim who eerily resembles Ben’s deceased wife, Susan.  A woman robbed of her identity, her life, of everything except her faith—and Susan’s necklace.
    The connections between the two women mount, exceeding coincidence, and to keep the truth hidden, someone is willing to kill.  Finding out who and why turns Ben and the mystery woman’s situation from dangerous to deadly.  Their only hope for survival is to work together, trust each other, and face whatever they discover head on, no matter how painful. But will that be enough to save their lives and heal their tattered hearts?
    ❦❦❦❦❦❦❦

    This book opens up with a woman on the run from shadowy figures that want her dead. Then she is attacked in New Orleans and left in a field in Florida--with amnesia. She doesn't know why she is still alive or why they took her to Florida, but she does know that she really doesn't want to be there. From there, the story takes us to Crossroads Crisis Center, which the woman only knows about because she has a card for the center in her pocket. When she arrives, everyone is stunned to see how similar she looks to the wife of the center's owner, who was murdered three years earlier. Then, the race is on to try and discover exactly who she is and who wants her dead, because even though she's alive, it becomes pretty clear that someone doesn't want her to stay that way for long.

    This was a really suspenseful story with a pretty gripping beginning. The mystery of who this woman is and what she witnessed that has her running for her life pulls the reader through every twist and turn in the story. And there are twists and turns aplenty. It was exciting to see how different details and characters that seemed to have little to do with each other eventually connected at the end. Although it's revealed fairly early on who most of the bad guys are, there are a couple of surprise baddies at the end too. It was kind of interesting trying to understand the motives as well, which were complicated for the guys who carjacked the woman.

    Faith had an important place in this mystery. Even though the woman couldn't remember her name or where she lived, she did remember her faith in God and leaned on Him a lot during the book. Her faith helped her to stay calm in the midst of frightening circumstances and reminded her to be patient with Ben, the crisis center's owner, who was skeptical of her story at first. He had walked away from God after his wife and son were murdered, but her unwavering faith really helped him to reassess that part of his life and regain his spiritual walk.

    The romance aspect was the one part that didn't work that well for me--I thought it was a little weird that these two would develop feelings for each other in the midst of the crisis center being bombed and assassins breaking into the compound where they were staying. All of that on top of the woman not knowing who she was and Ben struggling with his own feelings about her looking so much like his wife, his loss of faith, and his feeling of betrayal of his family. It just seemed so complicated and fast-paced to inject romance into the situation. But this deficit didn't make me lose interest in what was an exciting mystery, and was probably just a personal feeling on my part--other readers may not feel the same way.

    Forget Me Not was picked by the ACFW Book Club as their July 2010 read (click here to learn more about the book club) and it should be a fun discussion. There is just something I love about reading mysteries during the summer, so I think this would be a fabulous summertime read.



    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    Catching up on awards...

    Yeeps, I'm way behind on posting the awards that have been so kindly bestowed upon me. I hope I don't miss any!

    Margaret at Creative Madness Mama gave me this awesome Bodacious Blogging Book Reviewers Award a couple of weeks ago. The rules:
    If you are given this award you must first accept it by leaving a comment on the post you were nominated on. Then copy and paste the post and add it to your own blog. Make a list of the last 5 books you read and pass the award on to 5 other bloggers (no backsies!). Please also identify the blog from which you got the award and don’t forget to tell them they have a blog award!
     My last 5 books read:
    1. Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor
    2. Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze
    3. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    4. Rooms by James L. Rubart
    5. Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr
    I'm passing along this award to the following 5 blogs:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
       Becca at Complete and Utter Poppycock gave me The Versatile Blogger award at the end of May and from Annette at A Well-Watered Garden a few days ago.

      The Rules for the award are:
      1. Thank the person who gave you this award -Done!
      2. Share 7 things about yourself. -See below!
      3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (in no particular order…) -I'm picking fewer than 15.
      4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award. -Will do.
      Here are 7 things about myself that you may or may not know:
      1. My favorite fruit is apple. I especially like it with a caramel coating or with a little bit of peanut butter.
      2. My birthday is on July 3. As a child, I always wanted to claim the fireworks for my birthday rather than for Independence day.
      3. I really enjoy going out to the movie theater, but I didn't realize that until I had kids and lost the ability to just go anytime I wanted to.
      4. I was extremely creeped out by my son's ant farm at first, but it's begun to grow on me. It's kind of relaxing to watch them climb around and build tunnels in there.
      5. Things that scare me: black widow spiders, snakes of all kinds, and people who drive like maniacs.
      6. I enjoy taking pictures. I think I could easily pick up photography as a hobby if I had the right equipment (i.e. not my cheap point-and-shoot camera).
      7. I once took a community painting class and enjoyed it, but I don't think I have the patience to spend the time needed on it to become better at it.
      I'm sending this award to the following blogs:
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        Jillian at Random Ramblings picked me for the Your Blog is soooooo Kewl! award in (gasp!) March. Sorry it took so long for me to do this one Jillian!

        Here are the rules:
        1. Make an entirely new post like I'm doing or put it up on your sidebar, linking the one who sent this to you.
        2. Pass it on to 15 bloggers that you really want to give it to.
        Again, I'm choosing to give it to fewer than 15 blogs because, well, it feels more special that way:
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          Many thanks to Cathy at WordVessel, Lee at Butterfly Blessings, and Renee at Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot for the Sunshine Award, which is awarded to bloggers that inspire others and show positivity and creativity.
          The Rules:
          1) Put the logo within my blog or on my post
          2) Pass the award onto 12 fellow bloggers
          3) Link the nominees within my post
          4) Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
          5) Share the love and link to the person whom you received this award from.
          My winners:
          Thank you so much to everyone who picked me for these awards and thank you to everyone I'm awarding for keeping up such wonderful blogs. :)

            Saturday, June 5, 2010

            Review: Rooms by James L. Rubart


            Rooms by James L. Rubart
            Genre: Christian Fiction, Thriller
            Pages: 385
            Date Published: April 2010
            Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
            Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
            Rating: 4 of 5 stars

            Back of the book blurb:
            It was just a letter. Cryptic, yes. Absurd? Absolutely. But Seattle software tycoon Micah Taylor can't get it out of his mind--this claim that a home was built for him, by a great uncle he never knew, on the Oregon coast. In Cannon Beach. The one place he loves. The one place he never wants to see again.
            Micah goes to Cannon Beach intending to sell the house and keep his past buried, but the nine thousand square-foot home instantly feels like it's part of him. Then he meets Sarah Sabin at the local ice cream shop... Maybe Cannon Beach can be a perfect weekend getaway.
            But strange things happen in the house. Things Micah can't explain. Things he can barely believe. All the locals will say that the house is "spiritual." Unsettling, since Micah's faith slipped away like the tide years ago. And then he discovers the shocking truth: the home isn't just spiritual, it's a physical manifestation. Of his soul.
            Will Micah run--or will he risk everything to see what waits for him deep within the house's ROOMS?
            When I first received this book it wasn't screaming at me from the TBR pile to be read. But when I did pick it up, I was surprised to see so many endorsements from successful Christian authors--Robert Liparulo has a cover quote, and inside are quotes from Deborah Raney, Tricia Goyer, Camy Tang and several others that I am familiar with. Some of them compare Rooms with The Screwtape Letters, The Shack, Dinner With a Perfect Stranger, and call it a modern-day Pilgrim's Progress. Let's just say that after browsing through these endorsements my interest was definitely peaked.

            How can I explain my feelings about this book? The first thing that comes to mind is thought-provoking. The ideas presented in this book were uncomfortable (in a good way) and unexpected. While Micah debates what he should do with his house, his life, his faith, and his soul, the reader is also pulled into wondering whether the choices they have made have been the right ones and whether God is calling them through this book to put aside their worldly lives to follow Him. He doesn't just want us to check in on weekends--he wants us every day of the year, every moment of our lives.

            I read The Shack a couple of years ago and I think this book is a lot less "out there." Rooms doesn't present God in unconventional ways but it does have aspects of the supernatural in it: rooms magically appear in the house that weren't there before, a painting mysteriously becomes more complete as time passes, Micah's life changes without his knowledge, etc. In all honesty, it got a bit confusing for me at times--the creation of an alternative universe and the blending of his original universe with it as he came to the point of having to make a choice (because he can't have both) left me scratching my head more than once. I didn't always understand the changes and why he "remembered" some of them and didn't "remember" others. I had a hard time grasping the whole memory aspect both for Micah and Sarah, but eventually had to reconcile it with the knowledge that with God all things are possible.

            If you didn't care for The Shack, you shouldn't let that chase you away from this book. Beyond the supernatural feel, it's not that similar--there is no violent crime here, God isn't portrayed as a woman, there are no deep conversations with God Himself about His nature. Micah does have some deep conversations with a local in Cannon Beach who becomes his close friend and supports him in re-igniting his walk with God. God communicates more through Micah's dreams and through the rooms in his house.

            Rooms was an interesting read that challenged me and gave me ideas to mull over in my own life. It's a strong piece of Christian fiction that will stick with you long after you finish it. I'm giving this one 4 stars because it left me confused in some places, but it's probably going to end up on our keeper shelf after hubby reads it.

            Here's the trailer:



            Further reading:
            Reading challenge: Thriller & Suspense Challenge

            CymLowell

            Friday, June 4, 2010

            Book Beginnings on Friday: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott

            I just started A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott (ISBN-13: 978-098255505-7) and loved the first paragraph:

            "I turn my back, close my eyes, and toss the penny over my shoulder. I hear it slap against the water, but I turn around just the same and watch it sink to the bottom of the fountain. It lies there with all the other glittering coins. Money unspent. Wishes waiting to come true."

            This was a great way to start the book. It provides a nice visual and some insight into the narrator. She's making a wish--what is she wishing for? The next paragraph explains, but I liked how the first paragraph immediately pulled me in. I'm just a few (short) chapters in so far, and although it's mostly provided a lot of setting and little action, I'm still looking forward to digging further in to this book.

            Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Becky at Page Turners.

            Thursday, June 3, 2010

            Review: Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr

            Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr
            Genre: Christian Historical Romance
            Pages: 352
            Date Published: March 2010
            Publisher: Bethany House
            Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

            Back of the book blurb: 

            Life has left few choices for Elvira Kilmer. Her hopes for marriage and a family of her own have long since passed her by, and her arrival on Dillon's Island, nestled in the Susquehanna River, is not of her choosing, either. She needs work. And Jackson Smith needs a housekeeper. Yet Ellie never imagined the widower would be so young .... so handsome.
            Jackson, on the other hand, has never met anyone quite so ... plain. But he quickly comes to realize that Ellie's presence may solve his own problems -- both the rearing of his young boys and the scandal that surrounds his first marriage. When Jackson offers her something quite out of the ordinary, will Ellie look beyond mere necessity and risk opening her heart?
            When Ellie and Jackson unite in a marriage of convenience, both of them expect it to be a loveless, celibate marriage. Ellie's fervent wish to take care of a family would be fulfilled in her duties of caring for Jackson's sons and keeping house, and Jackson will be able to manage his apple farm more ably. Their relationship is hindered by Jackson's first marriage, in which his wife was unfaithful and self-centered. Ellie is a no-nonsense woman who puts people before herself and is working on building a stronger relationship with God after a series of disappointments in her life left her faith shaken. If not for her patience and dedication to forgiving Jackson's temper and fighting to hold together their unusual relationship, their marriage may have crumbled. Jackson eventually begins to see that Ellie is so much more than the plain woman he first met, and so very different from his first wife.

            This was a wonderful read! Ellie was a beautiful soul with a growing faith in God that had a significant influence on Jackson's own walk with God. She was kind to her stepchildren and determined to help them through their grieving process over their mother. But even in these characteristics where she shines, she also doubted herself a lot--a very realistic emotion for any woman but especially for a woman in her position.

            I loved that this romance focused on the inner beauty of the heroine--in my reading experience it is rare to not have the main female character described as a ravishing beauty who the hero can't take his eyes off of. If not traditionally beautiful, then they're pretty in an unusual way--but almost always physically attractive. Instead, Jackson marries Ellie partly because he doesn't feel any physical attraction to her at all, and that will help him to protect his heart and stick with the business at hand. I thought it was moving that he began to see her as a beautiful person as he got to know her personality and character better..

            My favorite excerpt:
            "But the truth of the matter is that we've all got cracks in our spirits, and we have to remember they're only there because we need them." [Gram said.]
            Ellie furrowed her brow. "We do?"
            "Of course we do. Otherwise, how could God's grace filter in deep enough to give us the joy and peace we're all searching for in this world? It couldn't, plain and simple." (pg. 152)
            I recommend this one! Along with the lovely elements of the romance, the characters and setting are wonderful as well. Give it a try! It may surprise you!

            Further reading:
            **I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, Bethany House, through their Bethany House Book Reviewers program (for more information on my reviews, please view my disclosure policy).**

            Wednesday, June 2, 2010

            Wishlist Wednesday: The Healer by Linda Windsor

            I came across this fabulous book trailer at Lena Nelson Dooley's blog this week and put the book on my wishlist right away.




            The Healer by Linda Windsor
            Book One in the Brides of Alba Series
            Available on June 1!
            Book description (from the author's website):
            In the time of King Arthur, a young female healer rescues a wounded stranger and grows to love him ...but with their love bring pain or peace to their strife-torn Alba? Brenna of Gowrys has grown up in hiding - hunted by the O'Byrne clan, who fear her mother's dying prophecy, and by her own kinsmen, who expect her to lead them against their oppressors. But Brenna is a gifted healer, not a witch or a warrior queen. So she lives alone in the wilderness with only her pet wolf for company. When she rescues a stranger badly wounded from an ambush, she believes he may be the answer to her deep loneliness. Healing him comes as easy as loving him. But can their love overcome years of bitterness and hatred?
            Is that not a beautiful trailer? I'm so looking forward to this one!

            To find out what other bookworms are wishing for this Wednesday, visit Wishful Wednesday, hosted by The Bluestocking Guide. Also check out the On My Wishlist meme at Book Chick City.

            Tuesday, June 1, 2010

            Giveaway Winners: The Last Christian & Historical Fiction ARC giveaways

            A big thank you to everyone who entered the giveaways and visited my blog! I had a blast meeting so many new people and I hope to see you around here in the future! Without any further ado, here are the winners:



            IceDream at Reading In Appalachia

            I'm in the process of contacting them all and will be sending out their books this week. Thank you all!

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