Friday, April 30, 2010

BLOGMANIA-This is Blog 93 of 123!

WOW! Aren’t you the lucky one! You’ve arrived at exactly the right time to explore lots of new blogs, all of which, ARE GIVING AWAY A VERY SPECIAL BLOGMANIA GIVEAWAY (For One Day Only) .

You literally have the chance to win hundreds of prizes. We’ve done all the work for you. No hunting or surfing for just the right blogs. Every blog you visit will have more links for you to follow, all of them with a special BLOGMANIA giveaway and just waiting for you to drop by.

Each blog will have a number similar to this (Blog 93) and each new blog link will have a number. These numbers will allow you to keep track of which blogs you’ve visited and how many are left to visit. Now really, isn’t this the easiest thing ever! AND SO MUCH FUN…

I know you’ll want to visit as many blogs today as you can. So, if you see something that interests you on any of our participating blogs, why not bookmark that site or become a blog follower. Later, when you have more time, you can discover all its fabulous treasures. Why not number a sheet of paper from 1 to 123 so you can mark off as you visit each particpating blog to make sure you don't miss out on any of the goodies.

Remember! The special Blogmania prizes are only available for one day, April 30th. The number of prizes you can win is only limited by the number of blogs you visit.


My Giveaway:
A copy of Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
A copy of Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs
6 votive candles from the Mia Bella Candle Company
8 ounce bottle of Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Spray

MY GIVEAWAY RULES: Please leave a comment below with your email address. If I don't have a way to contact you, a new winner will be chosen. You will get an additional entry for becomng a follower.

Be sure to follow these links for more goodies.
(Blog- 1 – HOST OF BLOGMANIA) Between The Pages -
(Blog -2 – CO-HOST OF BLOGMANIA) The Black Sheep Dances -
(Blog-43 - CO-HOST OF BLOGMANIA) Books, Books Everywhere -
(Blog-106) Bitten By Paranormal Romance -
(Blog-82) Carpe Libris -
(Blog-59) Curling Up By The Fire -
(Blog-46) Tribute Books Reviews -
(Blog-12) Off the Keyboard -
(Blog-94) Romance Book Scene -
(Blog-56) My Favorite Things -
(Blog-63) D.B. Reynolds, Writer -

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Feature: Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris with Elisa Stanford

Start Here

You want to do hard things.
But you don't know where to start.
You are changing the world around you.
But you are tired and burned out.
You feel called to do the extraordinary for God.
But you feel stuck in the ordinary.

Do Hard Things inspired thousands of young people around the world to make the most of the teen years. Now, Alex and Brett Harris are back and ready to tackle the questions that Do Hard Things inspired. Filled with stories and insights from Alex, Brett, and other real life rebulutionaries, Start Here is a powerful and practical guide to doing hard things, right where you are.

About the Authors:
Alex and Brett Harris are the coauthors of the best selling book Do Hard Things, which they wrote when they were eighteen. Today, the twins speak regularly to audiences of thousands on The Rebelution Tour; maintain a large online community through their blog,; and have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times. Raised in Portland, Oregon, the brothers currently attend Patrick Henry College in Virginia. To contact them, add them on Facebook at, on Twitter at, on MySpace at, or email them at

Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Feature-Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

Here Burns My Candle

Lady Elizabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory's many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

About the Author:
Lis Curtis Higgs is the author of twenty-seven books with three million copies in print, including her best-selling Scottish historical novels, Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Christy Award winner Whence Came a Prince, and Grace in Thine Eyes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guest Blog-Chloe Rhodes

Chloe Rhodes, the author of A Certain "Je Ne Said Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English, has written a guest post about this book and I would like to share with everyone.

A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi" By Chloe Rhodes,
Author of A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English

Picture this scenario: You're having a tête-à-tête with an old friend from your alma mater, who is a wine aficionado. So you pick an al fresco table at a chic little café, and order from the a la carte menu. However, your companion won't stop exchanging double entendres with the woman in the sarong at the next table. So you're stuck listening to the klutz of a waiter droning on ad nauseam about the soup du jour. At that point, you're ready to say hasta la vista -- but you don't want to seem like a diva.
Try to say all that in "English." You probably wouldn't change a single word. How else would you describe such a scene if it weren't for the thousands of foreign words and phrases we've snuck into our conversations over the years? We all use them without a second thought. But how much do you really know about the origins of the borrowed words and phrases you use every day?

Did you know, for example, that when you place an order for apple pie a la mode, that you are using a phrase that dates back to the days of King Louis XIV? His court became such a standard of good taste that the British aristocracy wanted to do more than dress in French fashion; they wanted to use their phrase for it, too. In the seventeenth century the term was anglicized to become alamode -- a light silk used to make scarves. And at some point in small-town America, the combined flavors of cooked apple, sweet pastry, and cool, creamy vanilla represented the very latest in fashionable, cutting-edge gastronomy, giving the term its modern meaning of "with ice cream."

And there's hundreds of other examples from France: laissez faire, joie de vivre, fait accompli, faux pas, I could go on but you'd only become blasé. And with good reason; English speakers have been word collectors since the fifth century, when the dialects of Anglo-Saxon settlers, Celts, and Norse invaders were cobbled together to create Old English. When the Norman conquerors arrived in 1066 it must have seemed natural to steal some of their vocabulary, too. By the end of the thirteenth century, more than 10,000 French words were absorbed into English -- and we still use 75 percent of them today.

But we've done more than add a French lilt to our lingo. Those Normans also introduced us to Latin. In medicine, we have words like post-mortem and placebo, while in legal language, Latin phrases such as in camera and quid pro quo are still bounced around the courtroom. And others have crossed over into broader use; an agreement or contract signed in good faith is said to be bona fide. However, in everyday use, the phrase has become interchangeable with the word genuine and usually describes someone or something whose authenticity can be trusted.

More foreign phrases joined the fray during the marauding, seafaring days of our English-speaking ancestors, who filled their boats with strange Asian spices, exotic fabrics, and loads of new words for all the animals, garments and foods they had discovered.
Even ketchup, that favorite sidekick of French fries, is an import, starting life as a spicy pickled fish sauce in seventeenth-century China. The word is a Westernized version of the Malay word kichap, which came from koechiap, meaning fish brine. The sweet red version we love with began to take shape when American sailors added tomatoes, which are excellent for preventing scurvy. In 1876 John Heinz launched his infamous tomato ketchup and the rest, as they say, is history.
And there are stowaway words in your wardrobe as well as your pantry; your pajamas, dungarees, and even your bandanna have their origins on foreign shores. Bandanna comes from the Sanskrit word bandhana, meaning to tie, from the tie-dying technique used to decorate scarves and handkerchiefs in India. The anglicized "bandanna" was incorporated into the English language during the days of the British Raj, though they're now more popular with wrestlers and cowboys who want to give their look a certain panache.

And while the Brits went abroad to gather additions for their dictionary, in seventeenth-century North America, words were coming to the English language by the boatload. Soon words from Italy, Poland, German, and Eastern Europe were leaping off immigrant ships and landing in the American English lexicon. To uncover the backstory on some of these, from alter ego to zeitgeist, explore the pages of A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi -- The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English by Chloe Rhodes, published by Reader's Digest, and voilá! Soon you'll easily be able to schmooze with everyone at the next cocktail party without making a single faux pas.

© 2010 Chloe Rhodes, author of A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English

Book Review-A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English by Chloe Rhodes

I was given a free copy of A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English by FSB Publishing to review and post on my blog.

I wanted to share what is written on the back cover of the book as it explains in detail about what is inside the covers.

English is filled with a smorgasbord of foreign words and phrases that have entered our language from many sources-some from as far back as the Celts. A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi," which tells the story of how many of these expressions came to be commonly used in English, will both amaze and amuse language lovers everywhere. You'll be fascinated to learn, for instance, that...

*ketchup began life as a spicy pickled fish sauce called koeshiap in seventeenth-century China
*honcho came from the Japanese word hancho, which means squad chief. The word was braought to hte United STates sometime during the 1940's by soldiers who had served in Japan.
*dungarees comes from the Hindi word dungri, the thick cotton cloth used for sails and tents in India.

Organized alphabetically for easy reference, it tells the little-known origin of some of these thousands of foreign words and phrases-from aficionado to zeitgeist. Inside, you'll find translations, definitions, origins, and lively descriptions of each item's evolution into our everyday discourse. With this whimsical litle book, you'll be ready to throw out a foreign word or phrase at your next party, lending your conversation with, well, a certain je ne sais quoi.

I love this book! If you are a lover of words and their origins, this is the book for you. It gives a word with what its original meaning is and how it came to be used in America. Not only is this a fun read but a great way to improve your vocabulary and impress someone with what you know and who knows, you may be on a game show someday and this information could be very useful.

About the Author:
Chloe Rhodes is a freelance journalist who has worked for The Telegraph, Guardian, and The Tines as well as numerous other respected publications. She lives in North London with her husband.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Feature-Necessary Heartbreak by Michael J. Sullivan

Necessary Heartbreak by Michael J. Sullivan

An extraordinary journey back in time shows a struggling single dad that the faith he's lost is stil alive-and stronger than ever...

Michael Stewart has weathered his share of hardships: a troubled childhood, the loss of his mother, even the degradation of living on the city streets. Now he's raising his teenaged daughter, Elizabeth, on his own and doing the best he can at work and at home. But he's turned his back on his faith-that is, until the morning Michael and Elizabeth volunteer for a food pantry at their local church. While storing boxes in the basement, they step through a mysterious door...and find themselves in first-century Jerusalem during the tumultuous last week of Jesus Christ's life. It is a dangerous and violent place, where doing what your heart tells you is right can get you imprisoned-or worse-and they are thankful to take refuge with a kind widow. But when they come face-to-face with Judas Iscariot and the condemned Christ himself, Michael realizes that before they can escape Jerusalem, he must experience history's most necessary and shattering heartbreak-and that pain an dloss must happen if Michael is to be set free: to live, love, and reclaim hte blessings he has in the present day.

About the Author:
Michael J. Sullivan is a sports journalist and author whose previous titles include seven sports-themed books for children. In the New York City area, where he lives, he has hosted several sports radio shows and has worked with ESPN and Sporting News. Check out his site at

Monday, April 19, 2010

Guest Blog-Barry Pollack

Barry Pollack, the author of Forty Eight X-The Lemuria Project, has written a guest blog on how he came up with the idea for his book.

In writing FORTY-EIGHT X, I wanted not only entertain readers with a contemporary science fiction thriller but also hoped to foster debate again about the theory of eugenics. Eugenics is a scientific theory formulated by Francis Galton (Charles Darwin's cousin) in the late 19th century. It is the theory that our preeminent traits are almost entirely due to heredity. Eugenics also proposes that the human gene pool can not only be altered by lengthy process of evolution but by man’s self involvement as well. Galton's theory emphasized that it was predominantly good breeding that allowed one to succeed in life, that nature was more important than nuture. The wealthy titled classes of that era certainly accepted that premise but it was an intolerable theory for most other people to accept since it relegated the masses of the world’s poor to a lifetime of lower class life with little chance of rising up.
Eugenics as a scientific theory therefore fell by the wayside and got a further bad rap in the 1920’s-40’s with forced sterilization of the “mentally deficient” in the United States and then Hitler’s horrific extermination of what he described as inferior races.
Eugenics took another turn in the 1970’s when Robert Graham, a eugenicist and entrepreneur, aimed to improve the species by creating a genius sperm bank, what he called his Repository of Germinal Choice, a sperm bank for Nobel Prize winners. That project also became controversial because one prominent donor to Graham’s sperm bank was William Shockley, a Nobel winner, who was derided for his views that there were inferior races, such as blacks. But unlike in decades passed, Graham perceived eugenics not as a plan to rid the world of inferior people but rather to breed better ones.
The belief that “nature is more important than nuture…. Doesn’t mean people have to be blessed or cursed by their genes – just that adjustments needed to be made.” (Forty-Eight X, page 48)
Does eugenics deserve a comeback? In today’s contest between nature and nurture, has nurture won? Why is it okay to use our limited resources to preserve and reward the least productive among us and less popular to use those resources to promote our very best? For example, American schools spend more than $8 billion a year educating the mentally deficient. Spending on the gifted isn't even tabulated in some states, but by the most generous calculation, we spend no more than $800 million on gifted programs. Does it make sense to spend 10 times as much to “nurture” those with the least potential among us than those with the greatest? Certainly no one today would fall into the trap of labeling inferior genes as malignant and worthy of destroying, like Hitler. But is it wrong to seek genetic enhancement? While we might fault the frivolous use of genetic engineering – to alter our children’s eye color, height, or color – might it not be worthwhile to engineer smarter and healthier people?
Today, we are able to manipulate genes. We’re busy doing it for disease prevention. But we could manipulate genes for other purposes, breeding preferences such as male or female, intelligence, body shape. With that capability come ethical quandaries. Are we playing god? Will manipulation of the human genome mean we can reach our higher potentials or will it pose darker risks allowing us to fall prey to our baser instincts?

Summary of the book:
On the tropical island of Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the United States has gathered together its most talented geneticists to work on the top-secret Lemuria Project. These secret experiments create a revolutionary new warrior so strong and so valiant that the age of casualties of war would become only a sad and distant memory. Haunted by a dark and dangerous past, Colonel Link McGraw is the officer chosen to train these new soldiers. He understands the rules of engagement and agrees to serve his country, reestablish his professional reputation, and secure his freedom in the process. As a trained and commissioned officer in the United States Armed Forces, McGraw knows what constitutes the perfect soldier: following orders without question. When Egyptian beauty Fala al Shodaha and Israeli Joshua Krantz, scientists in their own right, stumble across the top-secret project, they are determined to uncover its true nature and pursue their quest to Diego Garcia. Tensions mount as Krantz and McGraw clash over the project—and vie for the affection of the lovely Fala. When they discover they aren’t the only ones on the island competing for her attention, shocking truths are revealed that beg the question, Is it too late to save themselves—and the entire human race—from almost certain annihilation?

About the Author:
My life has been a merry-go-round. There have been plenty of ups and downs. I've changed horses a lot. But, I'm enjoying the ride, still trying to catch that brass ring that defines me as a person - and as a writer.

Let me begin in college, at the end days of one of the many schools I attended. In 1967, I was a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. I had dreams of becoming a "jet pilot," an adolescent fantasy perhaps, but nonetheless moving toward fruition. I could arch back my shoulders, suck it in, and spit shine with the best of them - but still I was not very "military." It was the height of the Vietnam War. Like many young people at the time, I became disenchanted with that war; decidedly not a good mind set for someone setting out on a military career. So, I resigned from the USAFA and went off to Penn State where I quickly got my bachelor's degree. Shortly after graduation, I decided on another career. I would become a filmmaker. I left my childhood home in Philadelphia, and after a brief tear-gassing experience at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, I arrived in California where I eventually received my master's degree in film from Stanford. There, I made several documentary shorts. One was called Some of My Best Friends are Bottomless Dancers. That sexy title and a few film festival prizes led to my being accepted as a writing-directing fellow at the new American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

My opportunity to become a "professional," read paid, writer came after I spent a summer traveling with east coast carnivals, researching another documentary on "carnie folk" - which never got made. But during that summer, I came to know nearly every "freak" in the United States - the two-headed man, the fat lady, the pin cushion man, midgets and giants. As a result, when a friend was hired by Roger Corman to write the remake of a movie called Freaks, I was hired as the casting director. That picture was never made either but after showing the Corman brothers some of my writing, I was given the opportunity to write the remake of John Huston's Asphalt Jungle and turn it into a "black" film. That was the era of black exploitation films like Shaft and Cleopatra Jones. And that's how, in 1972, I became the white "black exploitation" writer-director of the MGM film Cool Breeze. That picture wasn't a blockbuster nor critically acclaimed, but it was a respectable first effort, and made a profit. I thought I was on my way in Hollywood and during the making of that first film, I met my wife, Margaret. Even though I'm no longer the "famous" Hollywood writer-director she thought she was marrying, she's stuck with me ever since. My next venture was a film called This is a Hijack which I ignobly claim as being one of the "top ten" worst pictures in the history of cinema. As the clichй goes, I couldn't get arrested after that as a Hollywood director - or as a writer. After mulling over my options in the film business, I made another drastic career change. I became a doctor.

In 1980, I graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School and after a brief residency at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, I began working as an emergency physician. I am still, to this very day, an "ER doc." But I have continued to write - several prime time television dramas like Trapper John, M.D. and Hotel, some magazine short stories, several unproduced screenplays, and almost ten years of columns for the Ventura County California STAR newspapers (Biography stories, Travel Stories, and Medical stories).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blog Event-Blogmania on April 30

Everyone needs to put April 30 down on their calendars for a new, first time event for bloggers and their readers.

Coming - April 30, 2010

WOW! Aren’t you the lucky one! You’ve arrived at exactly the right time to explore lots of new blogs, all of which, ARE GIVING AWAY A VERY SPECIAL BLOGMANIA GIVEAWAY (For One Day Only) .

You literally have the chance to win hundreds of prizes. We’ve done all the work for you. No hunting or surfing for just the right blogs. Every blog you visit will have more links for you to follow, all of them with a special BLOGMANIA giveaway and just waiting for you to drop by.

Each blog will have a number similar to this (25 of 99) and each new blog link will have a number. These numbers will allow you to keep track of which blogs you’ve visited and how many are left to visit. Now really, isn’t this the easiest thing ever! AND SO MUCH FUN…

I know you’ll want to visit as many blogs today as you can. So, if you see something that interests you on any of our participating blogs, why not bookmark that site or become a blog follower. Later, when you have more time, you can discover all its fabulous treasures.

Remember! The special Blogmania prizes are only available for one day, April 30th. The number of prizes you could win is only limited by the NUMBER of blogs you visit.

Be sure to check out the Blogmania Badge that will link you to information about the event.

My blog will be Blog 93 to visit on that day. Be sure to stop by and register to win a prize package that will include:

A copy of the book Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs
6 Votive candles from the Mia Bella Candle Company
8 oz bottle of Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Spray
Plus other items that will be added before April 30.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Guest Blog-Connie May Fowler

Connie May Fowler, author of How Clarissa Burden Learned To Fly, has written a guest blog here for my readers. Be sure and check out the feature for this book that I posted a few days ago.

Laura, thank you so much for asking me to write about my reading/writing journey and for inviting me to be a guest on your very beautiful blog.

My reading/writing journey began a very long time ago, reaching back to my earliest memories. My childhood was defined by poverty and violence. And books? They were my refuge. Before I could read, my sister read to me as a means to block out the sound of my parents fighting. Indeed, following her finger down the page and listening intently so that I would no longer hear what was happening in the other room is how I learned to read.

I escaped into books and discovered role models and hope. In the world of literature, I learned that some children actually knew they were loved and that gentle kindness could be a way of life. Writing was a natural outgrowth of all that reading I did and it provided a way to make sense of the chaos that surrounded me.

I was, I admit, a scribbler savant. I wrote broadly: plays, short stories, poems, songs. But it wasn’t until I went to graduate school that I penned my first novel. I wrote Sugar Cage as my graduate school thesis and Putnam published it in 1992.

How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly is my seventh book. I’m grateful and surprised that my passion for the written word has actually turned into a career. And believe me, I take none of it for granted. I’m perpetually surprised that my books find their way into print and, also, perpetually delighted that they land in hands of readers. It’s a profound joy and privilege to know that my novels might help others find their way out of whatever darkness they might be experiencing.

For me, my journey was one word, one paragraph, one page, one book at a time. And now, I’m a middle-aged woman contemplating what my next book will be, and I am struck anew that this is, despite some rough patches, a beautiful life.

~~Connie May Fowler

About Connie May Fowler:
"There is no denying the depth of Connie May Fowler's talent and the breadth of her imagination."
~ The New York Times Book Review

Connie May Fowler is an award-winning novelist, memoirist, and screenwriter. Grand Central Publishing will publish her most recent novel, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, April 2, 2010. She is the author of six other books: five critically acclaimed novels and one memoir. Her novels include Sugar Cage, River of Hidden Dreams, The Problem with Murmur Lee, Remembering Blue—recipient of the Chautauqua South Literary Award—and Before Women had Wings—recipient of the 1996 Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Buck Award from the League of American Pen Women. Three of her novels have been Dublin International Literary Award nominees. Ms. Fowler adapted Before Women had Wings for Oprah Winfrey. The result was an Emmy-winning film starring Ms. Winfrey and Ellen Barkin. In 2002 she published When Katie Wakes, a memoir that explores her descent and escape from an abusive relationship. Her work has been translated into 18 languages and is published worldwide. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, London Times, International Herald Tribune, Japan Times, Oxford American, Best Life, and elsewhere. For two years she wrote "Savoring Florida," a culinary and culture column for FORUM, a publication of the Florida Humanities Council. In 2007, Ms. Fowler performed in New York City at The Player’s Club with actresses Kathleen Chalfont, Penny Fuller, and others in an adaptation based on The Other Woman, an anthology that contains her essay “The Uterine Blues.” In 2003, Ms. Fowler performed in The Vagina Monologues alongside Jane Fonda and Rosie Perez in a production that raised over $100,000 for charity. Domestic violence shelters and family violence organizations have honored her with numerous awards. In 2009, she received the first annual Peace, Love, and Understanding Award from WMNF Community Radio. She is currently working on her next project, a novel titled Euphrates in Paradise. In addition to writing, Ms. Fowler has held numerous jobs including bartender, food caterer, nurse, television producer, TV show host, antique peddler, and construction worker. From 1997-2003 she directed the Connie May Fowler Women Wings Foundation, an organization dedicated to aiding women and children in need. From 2003-2007 she served as the Irving Bacheller Professor of Creative Writing at Rollins College and directed their award-winning visiting author series Winter With the Writers. Ms. Fowler travels the country, speaking on topics such as writing, self-employment in the arts, literacy, domestic violence, child abuse, environmental issues, and popular culture. She teaches writing workshops and seminars globally and is the founder of Below Sea Level: Full Immersion Workshops for Serious Writers and serves on the faculty of The Afghan Women's Writing Project. She is a Florida native.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Feature-In the Shadow of the Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck

In the Shadow of the Cypress

In 1906, the Chinese in California lived in the shadows. Their alien customs, traditions, and language his what they valued from their neighbors...and left them open to scorn and prejudice. Their communities were ruled-and divided-by the necessity of survival among the many would-be masters surrounding them, by struggles between powerful tongs, and by duty to their ancestors.

Then, in the wake of natural disaster, fate brought to light artifacts of incredible value along the Monterey coast; an ancient Chinese jade seal and a plaque inscribed in a trio of languages lost to all but scholars of antiquity. At first, chance placed control of those treasures in the hands of outsiders-the wayward Irishman who'd discovered them and a marine scholar who was determined to explore their secrets. The path to the truth, however, would prove to be as tangled as the roots of the ancient cypress that had guarded these treasures for so long, for there are some secrets the Chinese were nto ready to share. Whether by fate, by sublte design, or by some intricate combination of the two, the artifacts disappeared again...before it could be proved that they must have come there ages before Europeans ever touched the wild and beautiful California coast.

Nearly a century would pass before an unconventional young American scientist unearths evidence of this great discovery and its mysterious disappearance. Taking up the challenge, he begins to assemble a new generation of explorers to resume the perious search into the ocean's depth...and the shadows of history. Armed with cutting-edge, modern technology, and drawing on connections to powerful families at home and abroad, this time Americans and Chinese follow together the path of secrets that have long proved as elusive as the ancient treasures that held them.

This striking debut novel by a masterful writer weaves together two fascinating eras into one remarkable tale. It is an evocative, dramatic story that depicts California in all its multicultural variety, with a suspense that draws the reader inexorably on until the very last page.

About the Author:
Thomas Steinbeck, the son of John Steinbeck, began his career in the 1960's as a conbat photographer in Vietnam. Along with his writing and producing obligations, he is in demand as a public speaker, lexturing on American literature, creative writing, and the communication arts.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Book Feature: Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartlin

Alexandra, Gone

Once, Jane Moore and Alexandra Walsh were inseparable, sharing secrets and stolen candy, plotting their futures together. But when Jane became pregnant at seventeen, they drifted slowly apart. Jane has spent the years since raising her son, now seventeen himself, on her own, running a gallery, managing her sister's art career, and looking after their volatile mother-all the while trying not to resent the limited choices life has given her.

Then a quirk of fate and a faulty elevator bring Jane into contact with Tom, Alexandra's husband, who has some shocking news. Alexandra disappeared from a south Dublin suburb months ago, and Tom has been searching fruitlessly for her. Jane offers to help, as do the elevator's other passengers-Jane's brilliant but self-absorbed sister; Elle, and Leslie Sheehan, a reclusive web designer whos ready to step back into the world again. And as Jane quickly realizes, Tom isn't the only one among them who's looking for something...or traveling toward unexpected revelations about love, life, and what it means to let go, in every sense.

About the Author:
Anna’s debut novel Pack Up The Moon was published in January 2006, it went on to be a best seller both here and abroad.

Since then Anna’s written three more novels, So What If I’m Broken being her latest work. She’s also written School Run, a TV comedy-drama for TV3 which was nominated for both an IFTA and a TV award. Anna’s books are published in Ireland, Germany, America, Russia, The UK and Australia. She’s currently working on her first film.

In the early nineties, Anna ran an alternative cabaret called Tales of the City in a run down bar on Capel Street. The show comprised of a Dutch torch singer, a folk rock band, an ancient alcoholic queen of monologues, and a waitress in drag … not to mention comedy. Anna was a stand up comedienne for four years and it is her experience writing sketches that ignited her passion for storytelling.

Friends and family are Anna’s inspiration. Given the amount of upheaval and tragedy Anna has experienced in her life from a very young age, it is no wonder friends and family are what she cherishes most and evidence of this is in all of her work. It tickles your funny bone, tugs at your heartstrings, and reminds you to never give up on love.

Anna’s lived many kinds of lives in this short lifetime her parents separated when she was five and her mother was diagnosed with MS when she was six. She lived with and cared for her Mum and her Gran until the age of twelve and was then fostered by her Aunt and Uncle who lived in Kenmare, Co. Kerry. At the age of 14, Anna was introduced to her half sister who had been living thirty five miles away from her. At 17, she lost her mother, and a few years later she lost a close friend to suicide, as well as her father to cancer, though she never really knew him. She nearly lost her own life when she was hit by a car aged 21. Surviving loss and being faced with death inspired Anna to write about the darker side of life but because she has been lucky enough to be surrounded by joyful people her work and life is brimming with hope and laughter.

Anna’s husband Donal is a drummer who has worked with Jack Lukeman and Junkster. He’s currently in an up and coming band called Torchlight. Anna’s been supporting and following her husband around the world for sixteen years and she looks forward to continuing doing so for the next 16 years.

Her most recent novel So What If I’m Broken is the story of four strangers who vow to find a missing person but first they must find themselves.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Giveaway-Get Rid of the Performance Review by Samuel Culbert and Lawrence Rout

I have three copies of this to giveaway. The contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Please leave a comment below with your email. Winners will be chosen on May 7.

The performance review. It is one of the most insidious, most damaging, and yet most ubiquitous of corporate activities. We all hate it. And yet nobody does anything about it. Until now... Straight-talking Sam Culbert, management guru and UCLA professor, minces no words as he puts managers on notice that -- with the performance review as their weapon of choice -- they have built a corporate culture based on intimidation and fear. Teaming up with Wall Street Journal Senior Editor Lawrence Rout, he shows us why performance reviews are bogus and how they undermine both creativity and productivity.

Book Feature-How Clarissa Burden Learned To Fly by Connie May Fowler

How Clarissa Burden Learned To Fly

Clarissa is a writer that has suspicions about her photographer husband and the nude models he employs and daydreams about his demise, but can't seem to be creative when it comes to actually writing her own stories. The book is a story of a young woman who journeys through startling moments of self-discovery that lead her to life altering decisions, while all in a 24 hour period.

About the Author:
Connie May Fowler is an essayist, screenwriter, and novelist. She is the author of five novels, most recently The Problem with Murmur Lee, and a memoir, When Katie Wakes. In 1996, she published Before Women Had Wings, which became a paperback bestseller and was made into a successful Oprah Winfrey Presents movie. She founded the Connie May Fowler Women With Wings Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding women and children in need.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Giveaway-The Highest Stakes by Emory Lee

I have two copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email address. This contest is open to US only.
Winners will be chosen on April 17.


The Highest Stakes transports the reader to eighteenth century
England, an era infamous for its gin craze, political corruption,
arranged marriages, and high stakes gambling; when racing and
breeding became the obsession of the uppermost elite, and a match race might replace a duel in settling a point of honor.

Through the fictional love story of Robert Devington and Charlottte Wallace, the history of the English Thoroughbred is told from its creation by mares imported as part of a queen’s dowry, to the breed's perfection through the progeny of the Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian, and the Godolphin Barb.

From Doncaster's Cantley Common to Newmarket's Rowley Mile, and across the Atlantic to the American Colonies, the English blood horse emerges from the stables of the powerful elite to dominate the turf.

When the blood of the "desert kings" ruled the English turf, and fortunes might be wagered and lost at the cast of the dice or a defeat on the race course, a hero returns from war.

Captain Robert Devington's singular purpose is to claim the girl he has loved since he first spied her riding hell-for-leather over the Doncaster heath.

Determined to have her at any cost, he risks everything.

Guest Blog-Emory Lee

Emory Lee has written a guest post here for all to read.

I never felt a passion for writing until finding the story I was impassioned to write!

At forty- three years old, and with absolutely nothing literary to my credit, I was suddenly struck with a bizarre and unfathomable compulsion to write a love story about horseracing.

It would be set in Georgian England with all of its glory and vice, and through an ill-fated romance, tell about the genesis of modern horseracing and the three Arabian stallions that were progenitors of the Thoroughbred breed. It would be a tale of love, war, intrigue, betrayal, and horseracing!

This idea incessantly churned around in my head during the day, and suddenly fictional characters began invading my dreams at night. It wouldn’t let me be. The impulse was unbidden and confounding, but I didn’t even know how to write, or where to begin.

Then I began writing what would be The Highest Stakes.

I started with my setting – England in 1741, during the reign of George II, a period well known for its arranged marriages, high stakes gaming, immorality and vice, all hidden behind a gilded façade of politesse. The era was one of political turmoil, and the beginning of a war that would eventually wage across the Continent of Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean, and into the next century.

My main character was Robert Devington, a lowly stable groom and would be lover, desperate to prove himself worthy to the guardian of the girl he loves.

I wondered what it would have been like to join the British cavalry. What might Robert have experienced?

Suddenly I saw Devington astride his misfit horse, and mocked by his commanding officer, a man not much older than himself set to prove himself to the world, the man destined to become Robert’s best friend and most hated enemy.

How would these two men of such different backgrounds forge their fates? A test, a trial of courage and skill? Valor in battle? Brother-in-arms?

I had read the histories and personal accounts of battle. I closed my eyes, and conjured the battlefield of Dettingen, where both men would make their mark. The stage was set and the scenes began flashing into my head faster than I could write them.

The story moved on to the horses and the racing. Returning from war, Devington is determined to win Charlotte the only way he can – by means of a racing wager.

In my mind’s eye, I travelled to the race tracks of Doncaster and Newmarket. I watched the trainers. I raced the horses. Part of me lived every experience and shared every triumph and defeat. I became part of every character in the story.

This is how I describe my passion in writing The Highest Stakes.


All thoroughbred horses in the world to this very day can trace their blood back to three specific Arabian stallions imported to England in the early part of the 18th century. Against this backdrop comes a painstakingly researched novel with breathtaking scenes of real races, real horses, glimpses of the men who cared for them, and the tensions of those who owned and controlled them.

In 18th century England and Colonial Virginia, when high-spirited stallions filled the stables of the lords of the land and fortunes were won and lost on the outcome of a race, a love story unfolds between a young woman for whom her uncle's horses are her only friends and the young man who teaches her everything about their care and racing. When she's forced into marriage, his only hope of winning her back is to race his horse to reclaim all that was stolen from him—his land, his dignity, and his love.

About the Author

Emery Lee is a life-long equestrienne, a history buff, and a born romantic. Combine the three and you have the essence of her debut novel: a tale of love, war, politics, and horseracing. A member of Romance Writers of America, she lives with her husband, sons, and two horses in upstate South Carolina. For more information, please visit

Monday, April 12, 2010

Stay A Little Longer by Dorothy Garlock: Book Feature and Giveaway

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below telling me what you have a hard time pulling yourself away from. Be sure to leave your email so I can contact you if you are a winner. This contest is open to US and Canada only and no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on April 29.

Louise Watkins has her hands full. Her mother had been the town midwife, but when her daughter Alice died under her care, she refused to assist in a childbirth ever again. Since then Louise has assumed the work. She also takes care of Alice's six-year old, Charlotte, because the child's father was lost in World War I. But Louise's principal job is running the boardinghouse that is the family's main source of income. One day, Charlotte befriends a stranger ill with influenza, a man who has taken refuge in an old cabin in the woods nearby. Although badly scarred by wounds suffered in the War, he is strong and slowly recovers. When he gradually takes on odd jobs around the house, Louise accepts his help. She is drawn to him despite his disfigurement, and his voice is comforting, vaguely familiar...

Guest Blog-Dianne Sweeney

Dianne Sweeney, author of Kissing Frogs in Cyberspace, has written a guest post for all the blog readers. Be sure and check out her book listed below.

Excuse me, Does this Cake Make My Ass Look Big?

I have a question. How many times have you walked by a mirrored window and glanced at your reflection and cringed? The other day, I was walking around Campbell, and I happened to turn and look at my reflection in the mirror. Suddenly, I was annoyed. Why was a huge person following me so closely. Back up, buddy. Give me some room. However, he was right on my heels. Finally, I stopped and whipped around, but there was nobody there. I looked back in the mirror and did a double take. There was never anybody following me. It was me. Holy Cow! How long has my backside been trailing behind me like a 320-pound linebacker?

I grimace as I write this …which actually gets me thinking of Grimace the big purple looking creature in the McDonald’s commercials. What was he? Wasn’t he Ronald McDonald’s best friend? Was he Barney for the 80’s brat pack? Didn’t he represent milkshakes? Yum. Milkshakes. ARGH. Food. Food. Food. That is all I ever think about. Do you know how many times I have been to Weight Watchers? Probably more times than I have been on dates. It stops, today. I am going to begin my diet for the 1,345th time. I am going to join an online Weight Watchers group, and I am taking a few of my friends along for the ride. Wanna join in on the fun? We can lose weight together.

Now, where did I put those articles I just got from my US Weekly? Ah, yes, here they are—I just clipped 2 articles from a current magazine. One is a diet guaranteed to drop 10 pounds off my body in a weekend. The other is a recipe for a 6 minute pecan fudge cake. Who says we can’t have our cake and eat it, too?

About the Author:
I'm the average, thirty-something, working woman of today--sometimes sarcastic, sometimes too honest for my own good--but I do tell it like it is. Professionally, I'm set. Friends--I have plenty. But love...well, isn't that what we're all looking for?

In today's age of virtual “hook-ups” and online encounters, it is no surprise that there are thousands of websites devoted to Internet dating.

Told in a series of vignettes, Kissing Frogs in Cyberspace, Dianne Sweeney's revealing account of dating in the 21st century takes you on a hilarious, often poignant journey of online dates, dumps, and disasters. As she discovers the world of Internet dating is blessed by those seeking true love and plagued by those just “seeking.” Kissing Frogs in Cyberspace uncovers the reality of online dating–its pleasures, its horrors, and all the quirky stuff in between.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Forbidden Passion by Rita Herron: Book Feature and Giveaway

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below telling me about your favorite passion. Be sure to leave your email so I can contact you if you are a winner. Contest is open to US and Canada and no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on April 28.

Fueled by her family's murder years ago, Dr. Marlena Bender has devoted her life to understanding violent criminals. But when a serial killer in this small Southern town starts taking the lives of women in diabolical ways--leaving trophies of his kills on Marlena's doorstep--it all hits too close to home. Terrified, Marlena turns to the only man she can trust...the man who saved her life, Sherriff Dante Valtrez.

“I was drawn in from the first page to the very last, can’t wait to read what Rita Herron writes next.” –

Touch of Scandal by Jennifer Haymore: Book Feature and Giveaway

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below about your favorite celeb scandal. Be sure to leave your email so I can contact you if you are a winner. This contest is open to US and Canada only and no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on April 27.

The last thing Garrett, Duke of Calton, expects to find while tracking his sworn enemy is the delectable, mysterious Kate. This beautiful servant girl rouses a longing the battle-scarred ex-soldier had never hoped to feel again. But when she turns out to be the sister of the man he seeks, he's convinced he's been betrayed.

“Top Pick! Haymore delivers a second fascinating, powerful and sensual novel that places her high on must-read lists.” – RT Magazine

Reading Group Guide:
(1) In the beginning of the book, Becky is certain that Fisk loves her but to the reader it is clear that she is ignored, while she makes excuses for him. Oftentimes spouses find themselves apologizing for their significant other’s behavior well before addressing it themselves.
-What prevents a person from seeing mistreatment in a relationship?
-Have you ever let a relationship go on far too long that wasn’t a healthy one? Why? How did you finally come to understand that the relationship wouldn’t work?
(2) Kate’s first glimpse of a naked man is an innocent enough one, and she can’t help but both chastise herself and yet look forward to the next encounter.
-What’s more alluring to you, having an attraction or having a secret?
-Have you ever experienced a “guilty pleasure” like Kate did at the beginning of the book?
(3) Some people might call what Kate and Garrett have at the beginning a “rebound relationship.”
-Have you ever been involved in a rebound relationship? If so, how did it work out? If it failed, why do you think that was the case?
-Have you ever thought that you’d never be able to fall in love again but then found your true soul mate soon after?
(4) The story starts with both Garrett and Kate at major crossroads in their lives.
-Which character changed the most in this story?
-How did those changes affect the ending and the resolution of the plot?
(5) Kate never saw herself as anything more than a caretaker to Reginald, and being with Garrett helped her to find dimensions in herself she never knew.
-What helps to remind you that you wear many more hats than just wife/mother/daughter?
-How do you use those hats to define who you are?
(6) A lot is said about loyalty to family throughout the book, even at the risk of criminal behavior.
-Is there ever an instance when you could see choosing family over the law?
-Have you ever had to choose between loyalty to your family and someone you loved?
(7) Revenge is such a strong catalyst for everything Fisk does—he never sees himself as the antagonist, only as a man avenging the wrongful death of his brother.
-Have you ever been so angry at someone that it cost you rational behavior?
-At what point did anger turn to action?
-Do you think it was based on the specific situation or do you think people can be wired that way?
(8) Kate always perceived herself and her youngest brother as the black sheep of the family, but by the end, she understands her mother better and her perceptions change.
-Have you ever been involved in a family dynamic in which one sibling was clearly preferred over the others?
-How can being the favorite or least favorite sibling affect sibling relationships? Is it possible to forgive a parent who has “chosen favorites” in this way?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Southern Kentucky Book Festival-April 17

I always love book events and wanted to post this for anyone that is in the area that might be interested. You can check out more specifics for it at

Saturday, April 17, 2010
9:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Join us at our new location
Carroll Knicely Conference Center
Bowling Green, KY

Author presentations include:
The Cake Mix Doctor
Richard Paul Evans
Fireproof author, Eric Wilson
Legal thriller writer, Lisa Scottoline
and for children
Tea with Cookie Mouse
($5 tickets available at Barnes & Noble and WCPL main branch)
Curious George @ 10, 12 and 2
Craft activities all day

Dark Deceptions by Dee Davis: Book Feature and Giveaway

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on April 26.

Covert operations expert Nash Brennon has spent the last eight years trying to forget Annie Gallagher, his former field partner and the only woman he ever loved. Annie betrayed him when he needed her most, then vanished without a trace. Now suddenly she's back in the game - this time as a suspected traitor and threat to national security.

“Dee Davis has given her new series a hot one-two punch with mind-blowing action and enough intrigue to keep you from putting this book down.” –

Giveaway-Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz

I have three copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email to enter. This is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on May 3.

"Admissions. Admission. Aren't there two sides to the word? And two opposing sides...It's what we let in, but it's also what we let out."

For years, 38-year-old Portia Nathan has avoided the past, hiding behind her busy (and sometimes punishing) career as a Princeton University admissions officer and her dependable domestic life. Her reluctance to confront the truth is suddenly overwhelmed by the resurfacing of a life-altering decision, and Portia is faced with an extraordinary test. Just as thousands of the nation's brightest students await her decision regarding their academic admission, so too must Portia decide whether to make her own ultimate admission.

Admission is at once a fascinating look at the complex college admissions process and an emotional examination of what happens when the secrets of the past return and shake a woman's life to its core.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Giveaway-Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson and Richard Dilallo

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email address to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada only but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on May 9.

Separated by time

From his grandmother, Alex Cross has heard the story of his great uncle Abraham and his struggles for survival in the era of the Ku Klux Klan. Now, Alex passes the family tale along to his own children in a novel he's written--a novel called Trial.

Connected by blood

As a lawyer in turn-of-the-century Washington D.C., Ben Corbett represents the toughest cases. Fighting against oppression and racism, he risks his family and his life in the process. When President Roosevelt asks Ben to return to his home town to investigate rumors of the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan there, he cannot refuse.

United by bravery

When he arrives in Eudora, Mississippi, Ben meets the wise Abraham Cross and his beautiful granddaughter, Moody. Ben enlists their help, and the two Crosses introduce him to the hidden side of the idyllic Southern town. Lynchings have become commonplace and residents of the town's black quarter live in constant fear. Ben aims to break the reign of terror--but the truth of who is really behind it could break his heart. Written in the fearless voice of Detective Alex Cross, Alex Cross's Trial is a gripping story of murder, love, and, above all, bravery.

James Patterson is one of the bestselling writers of all time, with more than 170 million copies of his books sold worldwide. He is the author of the two most popular detective series of the past decade, featuring Alex Cross and the Women's Murder Club. He has won an Edgar Award--the mystery world's highest honor--and his novels Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider were made into feature films.

His lifelong work to promote books and reading is reflected in his new Web site,, which helps parents, grandparents, teachers, and librarians find the very best children's books for their kids. He lives in Florida.

Richard DiLallo is a former advertising creative director. He has had numerous articles published in major magazines. He lives in Manhattan with his wife.

Giveaway-Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email address to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on May 2.

Giveaway-What To Wear For The Rest Of Your Life by Kim Johnson-Gross

I have three copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email address to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on May 22.

Every woman's closet-no matter the size-is a room of her own. In that space hang side by side the special occasions and the everyday, the triumphs and the disasters, the memories we want to keep and those we should jettison. Gross helps us to reconsider our closet identity and discover who we want to be. She shares her personal journey and the intimate, poignant and often humorous stories of the dozens of women she interviewed across the country. Along with calming fashion advice about how to choose flattering clothes that will fit any woman's shape and style, Gross's engaging stories will help every woman evolve gracefully from wife to mother, from empty-nester to globe-trotting adventurer--whatever role she chooses--while letting her style express her inner beauty.

Giveaway-Put On Your Crown by Queen Latifah

I have three copies to giveaway of this book. Please leave a comment below with your email to enter. This is open to US and Canada and no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on May 8.

Modeled after Maria Shriver's Just Who Will You Be, Queen Latifah's goal with Put On Your Crown is to help young women build a strong sense of self-esteem. A US Dept. of Justice survey found that females ages 16-24 are more vulnerable to partner violence than any other group, almost triple the national average. Cases like Chris Brown's assault on pop star Rihanna showed an ugly side of adolescent life. However, Queen Latifah has always been a shining example of a woman happy with herself and unwilling to compromise to fit into the "hollywood ideal" of what a confident beautiful woman should look like. The result: She's one of the biggest A-list celebrities in Hollywood.

Giveaway-101 Things I Learned in Fashion School by Matthew Frederick and Alfredo Cabrera

I have three copies of this book to giveaway. Leave a comment below with your email to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on May 29.

The world of the fashionista is brought to vivid life with 101 introductory lessons on such topics as how a designer anticipates cultural trends and "sees" the fashion consumer, the workings of the fashion calendar, the ways a designer collection is conceived, the manufacture of fabric, fashion illustration, and more.

Illustrated in the distinctly unique packaged style of the bestselling101 THINGS I LEARNED IN ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL, this new book on fashion design will be a perfect book for any fashion school wannabe, a recent graduate, or even a seasoned professional.

Book Giveaway-101 Things I Learned in Culinary School by Matthew Frederick and Louis Eguaras

I have three copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment about your favorite dish and be sure to leave your email address. This contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on May 1.

Louis Eguaras, a renowned chef at the Le Cordon Bleu Program at the California School of Culinary Arts, provides readers with a terrific overview of what is truly involved in the preparation, cooking, and presentation of meals. He also provides invaluable insights into just what is involved in making this one's chosen profession.

The book will feature a wide range of illustrated lessons, from how to properly hold a knife... to the history of food... from food preparation and presentation... to restaurant hospitality and management, and much more.

The book will be presented in the distinctive and highly-attractive packaged style of 101 THINGS I LEARNED IN ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL, and will be the perfect gift for anyone who is thinking about entering culinary school, is already enrolled, or even just the casual chef.

Book Giveaway-The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

I have three copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on April 30.

Early one summer morning, Matthew Bishop kisses his still-sleeping wife Marissa, gets dressed and eases his truck through Milwaukee, bound for the highway. His wife, pregnant with their first child, has asked him to find the antique cradle taken years before by her mother Caroline when she abandoned Marissa, never to contact her daughter again. Soon to be a mother herself, Marissa now dreams of nothing else but bringing her baby home to the cradle she herself slept in. His wife does not know-does not want to know-where her mother lives, but Matt has an address for Caroline's sister near by and with any luck, he will be home in time for dinner.

Only as Matt tries to track down his wife's mother, he discovers that Caroline, upon leaving Marissa, has led a life increasingly plagued by impulse and irrationality, a mysterious life that grows more inexplicable with each new lead Matt gains, and door he enters. As hours turn into days and Caroline's trail takes Matt from Wisconsin to Minnesota, Illinois, and beyond in search of the cradle, Matt makes a discovery that will forever change Marissa's life, and faces a decision that will challenge everything he has ever known.

Elegant and astonishing, Patrick Somerville tells the story of one man's journey into the heart of marriage, parenthood, and what it means to be a family. Confirming the arrival of an exuberantly talented new writer, THE CRADLE is an uniquely imaginative debut novel that radiates with wisdom and wonder.

Reading Group Guide:
The Cradle
A Novel

Patrick Somerville on the
origins of The Cradle
In the summer of 2007, I drove east from Chicago to Virginia on
my way to a monthlong residency at the Virginia Center for the
Creative Arts, where I planned to work on . . . something.
I’d made a few false starts with novels in the preceding years,
and I’d yet to really hit upon a kind of story, or way of storytelling,
that felt right. I had some stored- up ideas with some promise, but
no real plan about which one I’d work on. My simple hope was that
I’d fi gure out something and leave Virginia with chapters I could
work with through the fall. The only question was whether I could
deal with the looming, perhaps impossible, question of plot.
One hazy idea was simple, linear, and to be set in the contemporary
Midwest. Months before, I had written “person looking for
something” on a piece of paper, folded it, and put it in my pocket.
The paper was now gone, but it wasn’t forgotten. At the very least,
writing about this “person looking for something” seemed like it
could train me out of a bad tendency I could no longer deny was
a part of my fl edgling novel- writing skill set: I seemed to believe
“plot,” in terms of our contemporary literary novel, referred to a
labyrinthine sequence of events with little or no connection to
the shared reality of human beings. This was my own fault, really,
born more of my own anxiety than any opinions I had about other
writers or other books. So far, arbitrary craziness was my answer
to dealing with several hundred pages of text I simply didn’t
know how to write. Unfortunately, the problem with arbitrary
craziness — sorry, one of many problems — is that it guarantees
no reader will care about what comes next.
Looking back at the few scribbled outlines I made of novel
ideas from that time and earlier is like looking at outlines of the
small, detailed, and (sadly) postmodern mental breakdowns of
a frustrated apprentice. However, for whatever reason, going to
Virginia knocked some sense into me. “Person looking for something,”
it turns out, is more than enough for a whole novel’s plot,
even in our fractured 2009, and that’s basically the backbone of
The Cradle. The simple premise wasn’t an experiment in scaling
back at all, nor an exercise, but instead the heart of a straightforward
story, stripped down to make room for the characters to
roam with a bit more freedom, motivated by reasons that were
relatable, and important, not just audacious or absurd. The book’s
protagonist, Matt, keeps having to insist to people that things matter,
despite how unkempt and arbitrary the world usually appears.
I’m not sure how I felt about the subject when I began writing, but
by the time Matt was home again, and I was done with the book, I
got the feeling he’d been onto something from the start.
This essay was originally published in M. J. Rose’s blog Backstory on February 25, 2009.

Questions and topics
for discussion
1. What does Matt mean when he tells Joe, “You’re free,” as they
eat breakfast in the diner?
2. In your opinion, what is the signifi cance of the cradle?
3. Renee’s story occurs more than a decade after Matt’s, and in
many ways the two characters exist in different worlds. How
are their respective quests similar? How are their journeys
4. Why does Marissa cry on her wedding day?
5. Why do you think Matt rips the showerhead out of the wall?
6. In the novel’s fi rst chapter, Marissa claims, “There are two
kinds of people in the world. There are people who understand
that everything matters and people who don’t understand that
everything matters” (page 6). What does she mean by this? Is
she serious? Use her statement as a way to think about the various
characters in the book.
7. How is writing poetry different for Renee than her work writing
children’s books? Why do you think she struggles so much with
the former, and how does that struggle change in the course
of the novel? How does Renee’s understanding of Walt Whitman’s
work play a role?
8. Matt comes to the realization that “the world never just happened
but rather was made by people, each and every aspect
of it” (page 157). How does this realization affect his sense of
personal responsibility?
9. Who was the character you most identifi ed with at the beginning
of the novel? Did that change by the conclusion of the
10. Why do you think that, following Matt’s return, Marissa never
again asked about the cradle?

Patrick Somerville’s
“Most Influential”
The following is a list of books, in no particular order, that infl uenced
my work as a writer.
1. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
2. Stick Out Your Tongue by Ma Jian
3. The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant
4. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
5. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
6. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
7. The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
8. Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis
9. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
10. A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan
11. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
12. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
13. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
14. The Hamlet by William Faulkner
15. Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
16. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
17. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
18. Descent into Hell by Charles Williams
19. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
20. Slow Learner by Thomas Pynchon
21. V. by Thomas Pynchon
22. The World According to Garp by John Irving
23. Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
24. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
25. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
26. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
27. Catch- 22 by Joseph Heller
28. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
29. The Keep by Jennifer Egan
30. Music for Torching by A. M. Homes
31. Carpenter’s Gothic by William Gaddis
32. Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf
33. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
34. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
35. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
36. The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
37. The Wapshot Scandal by John Cheever
38. The Stories of John Cheever
39. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
40. A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
41. Plainsong by Kent Haruf
42. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
43. The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
44. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
45. The Stranger by Albert Camus
46. White Noise by Don DeLillo
47. Dubliners by James Joyce
48. The Book of Daniel by E. L. Doctorow
49. The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald
50. Rock Springs by Richard Ford
51. You Remind Me of Me by Dan Chaon
52. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Book Giveaway-The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I have three copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email below to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on April 25.

Now available in the trade paperback edition: New Bonus Chapter and Reading Group Guide, including Stephenie Meyer's Annotated Playlist for the book

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

THE HOST debuted at #1 on The New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list and remained there for more than a year. Meyer’s first adult novel was not only a huge commercial success with more than 2 million copies sold, it also brought a whole new audience of readers to Stephenie Meyer. Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST, appeals to rabid Twilight Saga fans and readers of classic literary suspense alike.

Movie rights to THE HOST have been optioned by Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, the team that produced the film of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Andrew Niccol of Gattaca and The Truman Show will write the script and direct.

Book Giveaway-The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

I have three copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email to enter. This contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. The winners will be chosen on April 18.