Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book or Movie?

Is the book better than the movie? Im my opinion and experience of reading a book that had a movie available, I have always liked the book better. I came across this site today that gives details about books being turned into movies and who the actors/actresses are that play the parts. You can see it here.

I would love to hear what you think. Did you like the book or the movie better? Please leave the title as well.

This Day in Literary History

The first monthly installment of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, by 24-year-old writer Charles Dickens, is published under the pseudonym Boz. The short sketches were originally commissioned as captions for humorous drawings by caricaturist Robert Seymour, but Dickens' whimsical stories about the kindly Samuel Pickwick and his fellow club members soon became popular in their own right. Only 400 copies were printed of the first installment, but by the 15th episode, 40,000 copies were printed. When the stories were published in book form in 1837, Dickens quickly became the most popular author of the day.

Dickens was born in 1812 and attended school in Portsmouth. His father, a clerk in the navy pay office, was thrown in debtors' prison in 1824, and 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a factory. The miserable treatment of children and the institution of the debtors' jail became the subject matter of several Dickens novels.

In his late teens, Dickens became a reporter and started publishing humorous short stories when he was 21. In 1836, a collection of his stories, Sketches by Boz, was published. The same year, he married Catherine Hogarth, with whom he would have nine children.

The success of the Pickwick Papers was soon reproduced with Oliver Twist (1838) and Nicholas Nickleby (1839). In 1841, Dickens published two more novels, then spent five months in the U.S., where he was welcomed as a literary hero. Dickens never lost momentum as a writer, churning out major novels every year or two, often in serial form. Among his most important works are David Copperfield (1850), Great Expectations (1861), and A Tale of Two Cities (1859).

Beginning in 1850, he published his own weekly circular of fiction, poetry, and essays called Household Words. In 1858, Dickens separated from his wife. In later years, he was often seen with a young actress named Ellen Ternan. He gave frequent readings, which became immensely popular. He died in 1870 at the age of 58, with his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, still unfinished.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog Tour: Lazarus Awakening

Getting God’s Love from Our Heads to Our Hearts

You believe that God loves the world…but sometimes you wonder if He truly loves you.

For many of us, moving the truth of God’s love from our heads to our hearts is a lifelong process. As we consider our inadequacies or grieve our shattered dreams, we find it difficult to believe that God cares for us personally.

In this life-giving book, Joanna Weaver shows you how to embrace the truth that Jesus loves you apart from anything you accomplish, apart from anything you bring. Just as He called Lazarus forth to new life, Jesus wants to free you to live fully in the light of His love, unbound from the graveclothes of fear, regret, and self-condemnation.

Love is calling your name.

Combining unforgettable real-life illustrations with unexpected biblical insights, Joanna Weaver invites you to experience a spiritual resurrection that will forever change your understanding of what it means to be the one Jesus loves. Bible study and Leader’s Guide available here.

About the Author:
Joanna Weaver is known the world over for her transparent and life-changing books, Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World and Having a Mary Spirit. These two books have sold over a million copies and have been translated into several languages including Spanish, French, Dutch, Chinese, German, Korean and more. Joanna has appeared on a wide variety of nationally syndicated radio and television broadcasts. Past appearances include: The Harvest Show, At Home Live With Chuck & Jenni, Midday Connection, HomeWord, and Janet Parschall’s America. She is also a highly sought after speaker and shares her message at intimate gatherings and several high profile events each year. But Joanna's greatest joy is found in being a wife and mother and her role as a pastor’s wife. For more information about Joanna, please visit her website.

My review:
I had never read anything by Joanna Weaver before but I am now hooked. The writing is great and she brings about a connection with the reader that brings them to fully grasp what she has to say and her words really make you think about your relationship with God. Weaver gives a sense of God and that He is always there, even when we think He might not be or are sure that He isn't. She reminds us all that He is always there and this is a book that is a great companion to keep us reminded of that.

Joanna is celebrating the release of Lazarus Awakening with the Heart of God KINDLE Giveaway!

In Lazarus Awakening Joanna writes about getting God’s love from our heads to our hearts. We all know Jesus loved Mary – look how she worshiped. And we can understand why He loved Martha – after all, look how she served. But what about those of us who don’t know where we fit in the heart of God? Lazarus Awakening explores the tale of the third follower – Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus. We never hear him speak, we never see him serve. The only thing of any significance that Lazarus did was to die. And yet, the Bible is clear. Jesus loved Lazarus. And He loves you and me as well. Lazarus Awakening looks at different aspects of the story we find in John 11. We learn what it means to be a friend of God and begin recognizing the tombs we spend far too much time in. Find out more here.

 One grand prize winner will receive:

    * A Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi

    * Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World

    * Having A Mary Spirit

    * Lazarus Awakening

Joanna will also select two additional contest entrants to receive copies of her trilogy. Enter soon by clicking the icons below and then tell your friends. Hurry the contest ends April 16th. The winner will be announced on Joanna's blog on April 18th.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

This Day in Literary History

Anna Sewell is born in Norfolk, England. The daughter of a successful children's book writer, she helped edit her mother's manuscripts from an early age but was not published herself until she was 57. Black Beauty, the first significant children's story in the English language to focus on animal characters, established the precedent for countless other works.

Appalled by the cruel treatment of horses by some masters during her day, Sewell wrote the book "to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses." The story, narrated by the horse, showed Black Beauty's progression through a series of increasingly cruel owners until the exhausted, ill-treated animal collapses. In the end, the horse is saved by a kind owner.

Sewell wrote the book during the last seven years of her life, when she became an invalid confined to her home. The book was published shortly before her death in 1878 and became one of the best-loved children's classics of all time. The book was made into a movie three times, in 1946, 1971, and 1994.

Originally published on

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Poetry for Wednesday

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This Day in Literary History

Social critic Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the earliest and most eloquent proponents of women's rights, marries William Godwin, the most famous radical reformer of his time. Wollstonecraft, who had been raised by a tyrannical, abusive, and alcoholic father, was philosophically opposed to marriage, as was Godwin. However, the two decided to marry after Wollstonecraft became pregnant with his child.

Wollstonecraft supported herself from age 19 as a companion, governess, and teacher. When her sister fled an unhappy marriage, Wollstonecraft took her in and hid her for months from her abusive husband, who had the legal right to force his spouse to return to him. The two, along with another sister, started a school. Initially a success, the school eventually went bankrupt and left Wollstonecraft burdened with debt.

At age 27, Wollstonecraft published a semi-autobiographical novel and a children's book, the latter of which became a smashing success. She began publishing book reviews in a journal of political reform and writing social criticism. In 1790, she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Man, about the French Revolution. Two years later, she produced A Vindication of the Rights of Women, a coolly reasoned, well-balanced argument for women's rights, published at a time when women had no rights or property of their own.

A supporter of the ideals behind the revolution, she moved to France in 1793, where she fell in love with an American man. After she gave birth to his child, he abandoned her. Depressed, she tried unsuccessfully to kill herself. She returned to London and became part of an influential group of radical intellectuals. In 1796, she fell in love with William Godwin, a well-known writer who associated with the same circles. The couple married when they discovered she was pregnant and lived happily for six months-until Wollstonecraft died after giving birth to a daughter. The baby girl become Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein and wife of poet Pierce Bysshe Shelley.

Originally published on

Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Texas Blue

Title: Texas Blue
Author: Jodi Thomas
Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group-a division of Penguin
Published Date: April 5, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-425-24047-2
Pages: 325

I received a free copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

About the Book:
Gambling man Lewton Paterson wants to marry into a respectable family, even if it costs him his friendship with Duncan McMurray. After fleecing a train ticket from one of the three gentlemn picked to call on Duncan's cousings, Lewt maikes his way to Whispering Mountain. But seducing a well-bred woman is harder than Lewt thought, and he realizes that to entice a McMurray sister, he'll need to learn a thing or two about ranching-and love.

Emily McMurray has no intention of ever getting married, so she cxonvinces a friend to take her place when the suitors arrive, leaving her free to run the ranch as usual. But when Lewt insists that Em teach him about ranching, she finds herself struggling to keep up both her disguise and the walls around her heart. Because the more time Em spends with Lewt, the more she desires the man she's determined to escape.

About the Author:
Jodi Thomas is a certified marriage and family counselor, a fifth generation Texan, a Texas Tech graduate, and writer in residenct at West Texas A&M University. She lives in Amarillo Texas. Don't forget to visit her site.

My review:
I became hooked on the writing of Jodi Thomas with her Harmony series of novels. However, this new Whispering Mountain series of historical romances is keeping my love going strong. Thomas is as usual, heartwarming, romantic, humorous, and entertaining in this new series. I started Texas Blue and within a few hours I was turning the last page and wishing for more. Thomas has a way of engaging the reader to become completely lost in the story and to become emotionally involved to where you are sad that the last page has appeared. She is a story teller that seems to prize her ability to engage the reader and each book I read by her, I am amazed at her talent and ability to continually do this in a new way with each book.

I have one copy of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below to enter. The winner will be selected on March 31.

This Day in Literary History

Peruvian novelist and unsuccessful presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa is born. Llosa, who built his fame as a writer on works ranging from novels to plays to critical essays, was educated in Bolivia, where he grandfather was Peruvian consul. He attended military school in Lima and began to publish short stories in the early 1950s. At San Marco University in Lima, he became an avid Communist, but his later politics became increasingly conservative.

From 1959 to 1966, he lived in Paris and published his first novel, The Time of the Heroes (1963). In 1966, he published The Green House and the following year produced The Cubs and Other Stories. After 1966, he lived in England, the U.S., and Spain and returned to Peru in 1974, where he wrote several bestsellers. In 1990, he ran unsuccessfully for president of Peru. In 1994, he received the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious international award for Spanish-language literature.

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Book Review: Scribbling Women

Title: Scribbling Women
Author: Marthe Jocelyn
Publisher: Tundra Books
Published Date: March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-88776-952-8
Pages: 195

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

About the Book:
Whatever else you may discover within these pages, you will not meet up with a single "shrinking violet" among the eleven featured women. Long dead or still living, each one defied something that would have held others back: societal convention, adverity, ignorance, oppression, poverty, the law, the elements, the odds. All of them disregarded the expectation of hte day and led exceptional, if not long and happy lives. Perhaps more remarkable than their experiences is the fact that-whether adrift on Arctic ice,m in the company of cannibals, behind prison bars, stoelen from home, or caught in deadly cross fire-they recorded what they did, how they felt, and who they were. In doing so, they left vivid snapshots of themselves and their times.
Marthe Jocelyn has painstakingly researched and pieced together the life stories of these amazing women, creating a mosaic that spans a thousand years and all corners of the globe. Although they shared very little in common, one recurring thread links each person to the next; the desire to leave something behind-proff that "I was here, and I made my mark."

About the Author:
Toronto born Marthe Jocelyn is the award winning author and illustrator of over twenty books. Her novel Mable Riley won the inaugural TD Canadian Children's Literature Award. Other novels from Tundra Books include Would You, How It Happened in Peach Hill, and Folly. Her nonfiction book, A Home for Foundlings, won wide critical acclaim. In 2009, Marthe Jocelyn received the prestigious Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work. She lives in Stratford, Ontario. For more information, visit her site.

My review:
In 1855, Nathaniel Hawthorne criticized what he called "scribbling women." Hawthorne thought it was a fad and was irritated by women that were attempting to become writers. Marthe Jocelyn began this book with those . The book chronicles the life and accomplishments of 11 amazing women. Included in the book are Sei Shonagon, Margaret Catchpole, Mary Hayden Russell, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Isabella Beeton, Mary Kingsley, Nellie Bly, Daisy Ashford, Ada Blackjack, Dang Thuy Tram, and Doris Pilkington Garmara. The book describes each of these women and their lives. They were all just ordinary women that did not take what was dicatated to them to do with their lives or follow tradition. Each of them kept records or diaries of their lives and these "scribbles" are what gives us insight today on a world very different that what we are used to. However, it also gives the hope and ambition to other women to let them know, "You can do it," no matter that that It may be.
Marthe Jocelyn writes with an enjoying voice that tells the stories and makes it lively so that you are immersed in the lives of each of these women. Yet, she also makes you think after each story by encouraging the reader to think about what if this hadn't happened or to think about the possibilities that other women can ensue. If it weren't for these scribbling women and others since their times, the world would not have been the place it is today without their insight.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This Day in Literary History

On this day in 1923, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Louis Simpson is born in Jamaica, West Indies.

Simpson, of Scottish and Russian descent, was the son of a lawyer. He emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17 and began studying at Columbia University in New York City. However, World War II interrupted his studies. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1945, in France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. After the war, he studied and lived in Paris.

Simpson published his first collection of poetry, The Arrivistes: Poems, 1940-1949, in 1949, while living in France. His early work followed conventional poetic forms, relying on traditional rhyme and meter. However, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, while working as a book editor in New York and pursuing a Ph.D. at Columbia, Simpson began experimenting with free verse. Influenced by the works of Walt Whitman, Simpson embraced the belief that poetry should reflect the poet's inner life and should be expressed in a natural and spontaneous format instead of adhering to conventional structure. His 1963 collection, At The End of the Open Road, Poems, reflected his new aesthetic, and won him the Pulitzer Prize for poetry that year.

Simpson also published several acclaimed critical studies of poets, including Three on the Tower (1975), a study of Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams, and A Revolution in Taste: Studies of Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell (1978). Simpson, who lives in Setauket, New York, has published 17 poetry collections and won numerous prestigious awards including the Prix de Rome and the Columbia Medal for Excellence.

Originally published on

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This Day in Literary History

This Side of Paradise is published, immediately launching 23-year-old F. Scott Fitzgerald to fame and fortune.

Fitzgerald, named for his ancestor Francis Scott Key, author of "The Star Spangled Banner," was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, to a once well-to-do family that had descended in wealth and influence. With the funding of a well-off aunt, Fitzgerald was sent to boarding school in New Jersey in 1911 and attended Princeton University two years later. Although Fitzgerald engaged actively in theater, arts, and other campus activity, his financial background was considerably poorer than those of his classmates, and his outsider status, whether real or imaginary, left a sting. He left Princeton after three years and joined the army during World War I.

While in the military, he was stationed in Montgomery, Alabama, where he developed a romance with the privileged, pampered Zelda Sayre, daughter of a State Supreme Court justice. Like the heroine of The Great Gatsby, she rejected the young man, fearing he would not be able to support her, and like Gatsby, Fitzgerald vowed to win her back. He moved to New York, rewrote a novel about Princeton he had started in college, and promptly became the youngest author ever published by Scribner's. His fame and fortune secure for the moment, he convinced Zelda to marry him, and the two began a whirlwind life of glamorous parties and extravagant living in New York.

Unfortunately, the Fitzgeralds lived far beyond their means and soon found themselves deeply in debt. They moved to Europe, hoping to cut back on expenses, where they befriended other expatriate writers, including Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. While in Europe, Fitzgerald finished his masterpiece The Great Gatsby (1925).

Unfortunately, the Fitzgeralds failed to cut back on their extravagant ways. Although Fitzgerald published dozens of short stories-178 in his lifetime, for which he was amply paid-the couple's debts mounted. Fitzgerald plunged into alcoholism, and his wife became increasingly unstable. In 1930, she suffered the first of several breakdowns and was institutionalized. She spent the rest of her life in a sanitarium. Fitzgerald's next novel, Tender Is the Night, failed to resonate with the American public, and Fitzgerald's fortune's plummeted. In 1937, he moved to Hollywood to try screenwriting. He fell in love with a Hollywood gossip columnist, stopped drinking, and began renewed literary efforts but died of a heart attack in 1940, at the age of 44.

Originally published on

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Friday, March 25, 2011

This Day in Literary History

The U.S. Customs Department confiscates 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg's book Howl, which had been printed in England. Officials alleged that the book was obscene.

City Lights, a publishing company and bookstore in San Francisco owned by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, proceeded to publish the book in the fall of 1956. The publication led to Ferlinghetti's arrest on obscenity charges. Ferlinghetti was bailed out by the American Civil Liberties Union, which led the legal defense. Nine literary experts testified at the trial that the poem was not obscene, and Ferlinghetti was found not guilty.

Howl, which created a literary earthquake among the literary community when Ginsberg first read the poem in 1955, still stands as an important monument to the countercultural fervor of the late 1950s and '60s. Ginsberg stayed at the forefront of numerous liberal movements throughout his life and became a well-loved lecturer at universities around the country. He continued to write and read poetry until his death from liver cancer in 1997.

Originally published on

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: Life, In Spite of Me

Title: Life, In Spite of Me
Author: Kristen Jane Anderson with Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Published Date: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60142-252-1
Pages: 209

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

About the Book:
Life, In Spite of Me recounts in riveting detail the trauma of a suicide attempt, the miracle of survival, and the life transforming power of hope in Christ.

About the Authors:
Kristen Jane Anderson has been featured on Oprah and is a popular speaker at colleges, women's and youth events, churches, and suicide prevention outreaches. A graduate of Moody Bible Institute and the founder of Reaching You Ministries. Kristen seeks to heolp those who are hurting, hopeless, lost, suicidal, and depressed.

Tricia Goyer is the author of hundreds of articles for national periodicals, as well as more than a dozen novels and several nonfiction books, including Blue Like Play Dough.

My review:
Kristen was 17 years old, depressed, upset, and angry at her parents, at having just been raped, and life in general. As she laid down on the railroad tracks as the train was coming, she was searching for peace. However, she managed to survive the ordeal of being run over by a train. The book is Kristen's journey of becoming well again, physically and mentally. She chronicles the really bad and then triumphs with the really good that came out of an event that could have been tragedy.

Kristen's emotions are laid out for all to know about and she writes with an honesty that is refreshing. Her struggle to get well and how Christ helped her become the person she wanted to be is an amazing journey throughout the pages. The book reminds us all of who is in charge and what we plan isn't always the plan for our lives.

Check out Kristen's site.

This Day in Literary History

Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opens in New York, two days before his 44th birthday. The play would win Williams his second Pulitzer Prize.

Williams had been an award-winning playwright since 1945, when his first hit play, The Glass Menagerie, opened, winning the Drama Critics Circle Award. Two years later, he won his first Pulitzer Prize, for A Streetcar Named Desire.

Williams led a colorful and tragic life. Born in 1911 in Columbia, Mississippi, he was a sickly child terrorized by his violent traveling-salesman father. When he was seven, the family moved to St. Louis, where his father became manager of a shoe company. Persecuted and taunted by his father, he took refuge in reading and writing and in a close relationship with his beloved sister Rose. At 14, he won a prize in a national writing competition and three years later sold a short story to Weird Tales magazine.

Williams studied at the University of Missouri at Columbia but left to work in his father's shoe warehouse for three years. He later attended Washington University in St. Louis and finally graduated from the University of Iowa at age 27. Sadly, his sister Rose, who suffered severe mental disturbances that Williams blamed on his father's violence, was lobotomized during this time.

Williams started writing plays during college and continued when he moved to New Orleans in the 1930s, where he changed his name from Thomas to Tennessee. In 1939, he won an award for a small production of his one-act collection American Blues. He worked briefly in Hollywood as a screenwriter and later turned a failed screenplay into The Glass Menagerie. The play launched Williams to critical success, which he maintained until the 1960s, when the critics turned on him. However, he continued writing until his death in 1983, when he choked on a medicine-bottle cap.

Originally published on

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: SEAsoned

Title: SEAsoned: A Chef's Journey with Her Captain
Author: Victoria Allman
Publisher: NorLights Press
Published Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-935254-37-9
Pages: 184

I received a copy of this book for free for my honest review.

About the Book:
Take two adventurous newlyweds and place them on a floundering yacht where the wife is the chef, and her boss, the captain, is also her husband. Add tw inexperienced crewmembers, an anorexic diva and her bully of a husband, a CEO who thinks he's in charge, a drunken first mate, and a randy wife looking for diversion. Stir with a violent storm and a rapidly flooding engine room. Apply pressure and watch the situation simmer to a boil.

Sprinkled with over 30 mouth watering recipes and spiced with tales of adventure, SEAsoned is the hilarious look at a yacht chef's first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece, and Spain, trying to stay afloat.

About the Author:
Victoria Allman has been following her stomach around the globe for twelve years as a yacht chef. She writes about her floating culinary odyssey through Europe, the Caribbean, Nepal, Vietnam, Africa, and the South Pacific in her first book, Sea Fare: A Chef's Journey Across the Ocean.
Victoria is a columnist for Dockwalk, an International magazine for crew members aboard yachts. In 2010, Victoria received a Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association. You can read more of her food driven escapades through her site.

My review:
Victoria Allman's book had it all for me-stories of food, recipes, and adventure. Allman is funny, sarcastic, and entertaining as she writes about the adventures she shares with her husband as they crew a yacht.
Allman's husband is the captain and she is the chef and together they tote passengers around the world. Their first year of marriage was also their first year of being in charge of their own yacht and it was filled with mishaps and great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it all.

The writing is delightful in the way she captures the mannerisms and attitudes of the passengers and leaves you wondering if it might be a celebrity you have heard of. Allman includes recipes in the book as she writes about the specific people and the meals she prepared for them. In my younger days I seriously considered getting a job on a cruise ship and this book helped to fulfill my wanderlust, even if on a smaller scale. Stay tuned for further posts when I have tried the recipes.

This Day in Literary History

Bestselling author Thomas Harris delivers his 600-page manuscript for his new novel, Hannibal, to Delacorte press. He had promised the book more than 10 years earlier as part of a two-book contract that paid him a $5.2 million advance. The book was the third novel featuring serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter, who first appeared in Harris' 1981 book Red Dragon as a minor character. He played a larger role in The Silence of the Lambs (1988), which sold some 10 million copies and was made into an Academy Award-winning movie in 1991.

Hannibal appeared in bookstores less than three months after Harris delivered the manuscript and quickly topped the bestseller charts, despite-or perhaps because of-an intensely gruesome plot. It too was made into a film, directed by Ridley Scott, which was released in 2001.

Harris was born in 1940 in Richmond, Mississippi, the son of a biology teacher and an electrical engineer. In 1968, he took a job with the Associated Press in New York. While working for the news agency, Harris and two friends had an idea for a novel about hijackers seizing the Goodyear blimp during the Super Bowl. Harris turned the idea into the bestselling Black Sunday (1975).

Like his antihero, Hannibal Lecter, Harris is a gourmet chef with a taste for fine wines. He divides his time among Sag Harbour, Miami, and Paris.

Originally published on

Book Review: Money and Marriage

Title: Money and Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples
Author: Matt Bell
Publisher: NavPress
Published Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61521-561-4
Pages: 219

I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.

About the Book:
Newlywed couples quickly discover that money is a big deal in their new lives together. Conversations about money can all too easily turn into arguments about spending habits, credit card debt, and when to make major purchases. Getting on the same financial page is essential because research has shown that the more frequently a couple fights about finances, the more likely they are to divorce. So how do you as an engaged or newly married couple work as a team when dealing with money?

Financial expert Matt Bell shows you the way. This book will help you make the most of each other's financial strengths, teaching you how to work together to build a solid financial future. Through a ten-step action plan, you'll learn how to prioritize goals, get out of debt, build savings, invest wisely, buy a house, and much more-all in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes unity. With this essential guide, you'll avoid the pitfalls and place yourselves on the path to financial success.

About the Author:
Matt Bell is a personal finance expert whose previous books include Money, Purpose, Joy and Money Strategies for Tough Times. He leads workshops through out the country; has been featured in major media such as USA Today, US News & World Report, and WGN-TV; and writes the blog.

My review:
This book is a great must have for all married couples. It is written to help the engaged or newly married to get on the same page, however, I think this is great for any married couple no matter how few or how many years they have been together. I am recently newly married and we are putting this book to good use. The book gives quizzes to assess what your financial life is all about and then it teaches you how to fix things that need help. Bell discusses everything a couple could ever want to know from the credit score, to buying a house, saving for retirement, or a college fund for your children. The book is easy to read and understand and the reader is able to really get the meaning of the tips and put them into practice easily. I enjoyed the book as it does not make the reader feel like a financial failure if they are not where they should be where finances are concerned. It is helpful and encouraging and a must have for anyone wanting to get their finances in order.

Poetry for Wednesday

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Win Books from Tyndale Publishers

In honor of Tyndale launching its new book club enewsletter we’re running a 30 day giveaway on our website. The Book Club Hub Newsletter will be an email newsletter geared towards people who are in or are running book clubs. It will feature suggestions, discussion guides and great ideas for your book clubs. To enter the giveaway you just need to visit the contest page and click on the book you’d like to sign up to win. You can even go back and sign up for both books. Each day is a new giveaway so you can return to the site each day and try to win. Every few days the books change, so check back!

This Day in Literary History

Thirty-seven-year-old writer Jack London writes letters to H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and Winston Churchill, asking how much they are paid for their writing. London, who grew up in extreme poverty in Oakland, California, claimed all his life that his motives for writing were largely financial, but the quality of his literary work made him famous by the time he was 28.

London was born in San Francisco in 1876, the illegitimate son of an astrologer father and a mother who was a spiritualist and music teacher. His father abandoned the family, and Jack, whose last name at birth was Chaney, later assumed his stepfather's surname, London. From an early age, London struggled to make a living, working in a cannery and as a sailor, oyster pirate, and fish patroller. He also spent time as a hobo, riding trains. During the national economic crisis of 1893, he joined a march of unemployed workers and was jailed for vagrancy for a month.

After his prison term, the 17-year-old London resolved to further his education. He completed an entire high school equivalency course in one year and enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, where he read voraciously for a year. However, he dropped out to join the 1897 gold rush in Alaska's Klondike.

While in Alaska, London began writing stories about the region and submitting them to magazines with some success. In 1900, his first collection of stories, The Son of the Wolf, was published. Three years later, his story The Call of the Wild made him famous around the country. London continued to write stories of adventure amid the harsh natural elements. During his 17-year career, he wrote 50 fiction and nonfiction books. He settled in Northern California about 1911, having already written most of his best work. London, a heavy drinker, died in 1916; many scholars believe he committed suicide.

Originally published on

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Monday, March 21, 2011

The British Babe Book Brigade

Sourcebooks has started a new page on facebook to help promote some of their female, British authors. You can go HERE to check it out. In promoting these authors and the new page, they are offering select ebooks at 99 cents from Tuesday, March 22 through Monday, March 28.

This Day in Literary History

The London Gazette offers a reward to anyone revealing the author of a pamphlet called An Account of the Growth of Popery. The pamphlet, it was later revealed, had been published anonymously by Andrew Marvell in 1677.

Although today Marvell is best remembered as the gifted metaphysical poet who composed witty works like To His Coy Mistress (1681), during his own time he was known as a political figure and pamphleteer. Educated at Cambridge, Marvell supported himself as a tutor both abroad and at home in England for many years. After tutoring the ward of Sir Oliver Cromwell, head of the English government after the overthrow and execution of King Charles I, Marvell went to work as assistant to John Milton, a secretary to the government. Milton, who had recently gone blind, would not write his masterpiece Paradise Lost until 1667.

While Marvell had been skeptical of Cromwell, his admiration for the man grew until Cromwell's death in 1659. After his death, however, Marvell became a supporter of the Restoration movement that brought Charles II to the throne. In 1659, Marvell ran for Parliament from his hometown of Hull and won the position, which he held for the rest of his life. Marvell wrote several political pamphlets in the 1670s, including the anonymous Account of the Growth of Popery. Three years after his death in 1678, Marvell's housekeeper, claiming to be his widow, published Miscellaneous Poems, the only collection of Marvell's poetic works.

Originally published on

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book Feature and Giveaway: Welcome To Last Chance

Dear Reader,

Yes, our town is way off the beaten path, but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here.

I've owned the Cut 'n' Curl beauty shop for years, and I've seen folks come for a visit, then stay for a lifetime. Take Jane-that pretty firecracker of a girl who just arrived in town. I would swear she's running from something. She came with only five dollars in her pocket but she's worked real hard to make a fresh start. She's turned my son Clay's life upside down without even realizing it.

And thank goodness for that! Ever since Clay left his country western band, he's played everything too safe. He needs to take a chance on Jane. Besides, the more he tries to keep his distance, the more he'll realize that he and Jane are singing the same tune.

But I should quit ramblin' and go check on Millie's permanent wave. Next time you're in Last Chance, be sure to swing by. We've got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,

Ruby Rhodes

About the Author:
Hope Ramsay was born in New York and grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, but every summer Momma would pack her off under the care of Aunt Annie to go visiting with relatives in the midlands of South Carolina. Her extended family includes its share of colorful aunts and uncles, as well as cousins by the dozens, who provide the fodder for the characters you’ll find in Last Chance, South Carolina. Hope earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Buffalo, and has had various jobs working as a Congressional aide, a lobbyist, a public relations consultant, and a meeting planner. She’s a two-time finalist in the Golden Heart, and is married to a good ol’ Georgia boy who resembles every single one of her heroes. She has two grown children and a couple of demanding lap cats. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia where you can often find her on the back deck, picking on her thirty-five-year-old Martin guitar.

I have two copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below to enter. The contest is open to the US and Canada. The winners will be chosen on March 30.

Book Feature and Giveaway: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The exhilarating conclusion to the best-selling
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trilogy:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After

By Steve Hockensmith

Published by Quirk Books
Paperback, $12.95, 288 pages, 5¼ x 8
ISBN: 978-1-59474-502-7

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the surprise publishing
phenomenon of 2009. It spent more than 50 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List and pioneered a bizarre microgenre of monster mash-up literature.

PPZ’s prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, was also a New York Times best seller and praised by everyone from Publishers Weekly (“This happy sacrilege is sure to please”) to comedian Janeane Garafalo (“I am
enjoying the hell out of it!”).

Now the PPZ trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After.

Hair-raising and heart-pounding, the story opens with our newly married protagonists, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, defending their village from an army of flesh-eating “unmentionables.” Of course,the ever-meddling Mrs. Bennet is anxious for them to settle down and produce an heir—but everything changes when poor Fitzwilliam is nipped by a dreadful. An apothecary is summoned, and his prognosis is unfortunate: Within days, Mr. Darcy is destined to transform into a zombie.

Elizabeth is distraught. She knows the appropriate course of action is to promptly behead her husband(and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she hears rumors of a miracle antidote being developed in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save the life of her true love—and for everyone to live happily ever after.

Complete with 15 dazzling illustrations, this final chapter in the bestselling series is sure to delight fans of Austen, horror, and literary mash-ups!

Praise for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

“A delectable literary mash-up . . . might we hope for a sequel? Grade A-.”
—Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly

“Jane Austen isn’t for everyone. Neither are zombies. But combine the two and the only question is, why
didn’t anyone think of this before? The judicious addition of flesh-eating undead to this otherwise faithful
reworking is just what Austen’s gem needed.”—Wired

“Has there ever been a work of literature that couldn’t be improved by adding zombies?”—Time

“Such is the accomplishment of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that after reveling in its timeless intrigue, it’s difficult to remember how Austen’s novel got along without the undead. What begins as a gimmick ends with renewed appreciation of the indomitable appeal of Austen’s language, characters, and situations. Grade A.”
—The Onion A.V. Club

Praise for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
The Prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
“This is a must-read for the growing legion of alternate-Austen fans (including, naturally, everyone who has read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).”—Booklist

“Mixing taut horror-movie action with neo-Austen meditation on identity, society, and romance, this happy sacrilege is sure to please fans of Grahame-Smith’s original mash-up.”—Publishers Weekly

“Whether you loved the original or if its literary aspects turned you off, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give Dawn of the Dreadfuls a try.”—Topless Robot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Hockensmith is an award-winning short-story
writer, novelist, and reporter. His short fiction appears regularly in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, as well as anthologies such as Sherlock Holmes in America and Death Do Us Part. His story “Erie's Last Day” appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2001. His first novel—the kick-off to his Holmes on the Range mystery series—was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, and Dilys awards. Before turning to fiction, Hockensmith was an entertainment journalist, contributing to such publications as The Hollywood
Reporter, Newsday, and the Chicago Tribune and editing the movie magazine
Cinescape as well as The X-Files Official Magazine. He lives in Alameda, California, and blogs sporadically at

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Jason Rekulak is the creator of the Quirk Classics series. Inspired by the creative copyright infringement that flourishes on the Internet, hedecided to spice up public domain works of classic literature by adding monster mayhem. Surprisingly, he created a subgenre of books—the literary monster mash-up—that has taken the world by storm. Mr. Rekulak has conceived all the titles in the series and has worked with the authors to develop the manuscripts.

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: Quirk Books is an independent book publisher based in Philadelphia. Founded in 2002, Quirk publishes books in the genre of what they like to call “irreference”(irreverence + reference) as well as pop culture, parenting, food and drink, history, humor, and lifestyle. They are best known for The Baby Owner’s Manual and the New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. For more information, visit

ABOUT THE SERIES: Created by Quirk Books, the Quirk Classics series blends the work of literary masters with new scenes of horrific creatures and fast-paced action. Originators of the literary monster mash-up and the New York Times best sellers Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn
of the Dreadfuls, the titles in the series are entertaining masterpieces that bring new fans to both classic literature and original works of genre-based fiction. For more information, visit

I have three copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below to enter. Winners will be chosen on March 22.

This Day in Literary History

Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, is published. The novel sold 300,000 copies within three months and was so widely read that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe in 1862, he reportedly said, "So this is the little lady who made this big war."

Stowe was born in 1811, the seventh child of the famous Congregationalist minister Lyman Beecher. She studied at private schools in Connecticut, then taught in Hartford from 1827 until her father moved to Cincinnati in 1832. She accompanied him and continued to teach while writing stories and essays. In 1836, she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, with whom she had seven children. She published her first book, Mayflower, in 1843.

While living in Cincinnati, Stowe encountered fugitive slaves and the Underground Railroad. Later, she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in reaction to recently tightened fugitive slave laws. The book had a major influence on the way the American public viewed slavery. The book established Stowe's reputation as a woman of letters. She traveled to England in 1853, where she was welcomed as a literary hero. Along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, she became one of the original contributors to The Atlantic, which launched in November 1857. In 1863, when Lincoln announced the end of slavery, she danced in the streets. Stowe continued to write throughout her life and died in 1896.

Originally published on

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

This Day in Literary History

French writer Honore de Balzac's play Les Ressources de Quinola opens to an empty house thanks to a failed publicity stunt on this day in 1842. Hoping to create a buzz for the play, the writer circulated a rumor that tickets were sold out. Unfortunately, most of his fans stayed home.

By this time, Balzac was already a well-known literary figure. Born in Tours, France, Balzac was educated in Paris, where he started writing plays at the age of 20 while working as a lawyer's apprentice. His plays bombed, and he took to writing thrillers under an assumed name. Needing money, he launched disastrous ventures in printing and silver mining and went bankrupt. While struggling under his debts, he resumed writing, and by 1929 he was publishing under his own name, convinced he was a genius. By 1830, he had become a celebrated writer who frequented literary salons. Balzac drove himself ruthlessly, working 14 to 16 hours at a stretch, aided by some 50 cups of coffee a day. He completed 90 novels, all part of a single series, "La Comedie Humaine," and died in Paris in 1850.

Originally published on

Friday, March 18, 2011

This Day in Literary History

On this day in 1932, Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike is born in the small town of Shillington, Pennsylvania. The only child of a math teacher father and aspiring writer mother, Updike developed an early love for reading and drawing and won a scholarship to Harvard. He became editor of the famous Harvard Lampoon and married as an undergraduate.

After graduating in 1953, Updike went to England for a year to study art. In England, he met New Yorker writers and editors E.B. and Katherine White, who offered him a job.

Updike worked on staff for the illustrious magazine until 1957, when he quit and moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts, to concentrate on fiction and poetry. He supported his wife and children with contributions to the New Yorker and in 1958 published his first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, to favorable reviews. Two years later, he published Rabbit, Run, considered one of his best novels, about a former high school basketball star named Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom. He wrote a sequel, Rabbit Redux, in 1971 and won Pulitzer Prizes for Rabbit Is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990). Updike's 1968 novel, Couples, detailing the sexual high-jinx of married couples in a small town, topped the bestseller chart for several weeks.

The prolific Updike published some 60 books during his lengthy career, including novels, children's books, poetry, short story collections and non-fiction. He also wrote frequently for magazines. He died of lung cancer on January 29, 2009, at age 76.

Originally published on

10 Reasons to Be Excited About Fiction in April

This list was originally published on Amazon's Omnivoracious blog and I thought it was interesting.

10. The illicit romance at the circus Water for Elephants hits the big screen starring Reese Witherspoon and Edward Cullen--I mean--Robert Pattinson.

9. Marshall is neurotic, divorced, and has issues, yet he's willing to give dating another shot in Daniel Clowes's pitch-perfect and humble graphic novel, Mr. Wonderful (available April 12). You can read it over lunch at your desk and snort over the contrast between Marshall's thoughts and what comes out of his mouth. And his date, Natalie, almost makes him seem well-adjusted. Totally charming, this book.

8. David Foster Wallace left behind one unfinished novel about agents working at the IRS. The Pale King comes out April 15.

7. L.A. lawyer Mickey Haller crafts an unusual defense for a murder in the midst of the foreclosure crisis in The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (available April 5). This Friday, another Mickey Haller thriller, The Lincoln Lawyer, arrives in theaters starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, and Ryan Phillippe.

6. Set after World War I, the first novel from Paul Elwork, The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead, is about a set of twins who concoct a scheme to convince the neighborhood kids that they can speak to ghosts. When the grown-ups coping with devastating war losses hear about their "ability," the twins become trapped in a calamitous deception (available March 31).

5. The anxiously-awaited sequel to Gayle Forman's If I Stay, Where She Went isn't just for young adults. The book begins 3 years after Mia's devastating accident and follows a day in her new life as a Juilliard student. When Mia runs into her first love, Adam, who has gone on to a successful music career, old emotions return and their heart-wrenching history turns into a hopeful and warm new connection (available April 5).

4. A stand-alone family drama from Lisa Scottoline, Save Me tackles the unintended consequences when parents try to intervene in school bullying. Tightly plotted and relevant to current events, it's a thriller and a heart-wrencher all in one (available April 12).

3. Kathryn Stockett's smash bestseller The Help is out in paperback. Set in Mississippi during the civil rights movement, Kathryn Stockett's story about black maids working for white women and more than lives up to the hype (available April 5).

2. Great fodder for book clubs: Readers who loved Suite Francaise will love Amanda Hodgkinson's debut, 22 Britannia Road, about a family torn about by World War II trying to piece itself back together. The irreversible events that passed during Janusz and Silvana's years of separation still linger, including Janusz's love affair with another woman. That isn't the only secret threatening to destroy their new life, and the surprising and hopeful ending will make this story difficult to forget (available April 28).

1. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell manages to strike the perfect balance between hilarious and tender. Lincoln's job is to monitor his company's email, and while he starts off flagging Beth's internet correspondence with her friend Jennifer for "inappropriate content," he finds himself drawn into their stories and falling in love with a woman he's never met face-to-face. When he realizes that he's the guy around the office who Beth is crushing on, Lincoln finds the motivation to start working out, move out of his mother's house, and eventually quit and move on to a better job. But will these obviously meant-for-each-other nerds come together in person at last? I loved it loved it loved it--you couldn't want a better ending.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hunger Games-The Movie

By Joshua L. Weinstein-Originally published on The Wrap.

Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence has landed the coveted lead role in Lionsgate's new franchise "The Hunger Games," TheWrap has learned.

The role caps a meteoric rise for the 20-year-old actress, who was barely known to the public a year ago when she came to prominence in a tiny film at Sundance 2010, "Winter's Bone."

The film, which won the festival's top award, went on to become a sleeper hit in the heartland states, and nabbed Lawrence an Oscar nomination for best actress for her performance as gritty young girl defending her family in a hardscrabble country landscape.

The lead in "The Hunger Games," based on the best-selling novels, was one of the hottest roles in town.

Lawrence was tipped as the "clear frontrunner" four days ago. She got the offer on Tuesday, and the details were hammered out for two days until the deal closed on Wednesday, according to an individual with knowledge of the deal.

Details of the deal were unavailable Wednesday night, but the actress presumably has signed on to stick with the franchise.

The studio plans the franchise as a trilogy which will include "The Hunger Games," "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay," based on the best-selling young adult books by Suzanne Collins.

Lawrence will play the role of Katniss, a girl who joins a survival contest in order to save her community. The story takes place in the future, where teenagers are chosen by lottery to compete to the death in gladiator-like spectacles, the Hunger Games.

Lawrence, who was nominated for best actress for the 2010 "Winter's Bone," was one of about 10 actresses seeking the role. They reportedly included two other Oscar nominees: "True Grit's" Hailee Steinfeld and "Little Miss Sunshine's" Abigail Breslin.

Chloe Moretz, Lyndsy Fonseca, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Roberts, Kaya Scodelario, Emily Browning and Shailene Woodley also were reported to be under consideration.

Lawrence recently completed another franchise, "X-Men: First Class," in which she plays Raven Darkholme/Mystique.

She also has a role in "The Beaver," which debuted at the SXSW festival on Wednesday night, and in this year's Sundance winner, "Like Crazy."

Alex Pettyfer, who plays John in "I Am Number Four," is rumored to be under consideration for the role of Peeta Mellark, as are Josh Hutcherson ("The Kids Are All Right," "Bridge to Terabithia") and Hunter Parrish ("Weeds").

Gary Ross ("Seabiscuit") is directing the movie, which will debut on March 23, 2012.

Billy Ray ("Shattered Glass," "State of Play") wrote the screenplay. Nina Jacobson, Jim Miller and Alli Shearmur are producing.

Spring Easter Hop with Bea's Gift Baskets

I am in love with Bea's Gift Baskets. You can purchase baskets for any and all occassions for yourself or as a gift. I can never decide which basket I like the best. Just when I think I have found the one for me, I find another one and another one and well, you get the idea. I may have to get another job just to support my love of these baskets! Bea's is celebrating the start of spring and Easter and giving away one of their Easter baskets to a lucky winner. ONE winner from ALL blogs entries collectively will be randomly selected to win an Easter Gift Basket (valued at $50) from Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts.

Easter Gift Baskets are located here. go and look and pick out one for you and one for your entire family. Leave a comment below to enter for your chance to win. The winner will be chosen on April 16. You can also get extra entries with the following:

"Like" Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts on Facebook

"Follow" Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts Blog

"Follow" @basketsender on Twitter

This Day in Literary History

Paul Green, future winner of the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for his play In Abraham's Bosom, is born. Although Green was white, his work examined the problems of blacks in the South, based on his observations of his native state, North Carolina.

Born in 1894, Green studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began writing plays for the theater group Carolina Playmakers in 1919, drawing on Southern folklore for his themes. During the Depression, his work took on a tone of social protest and included plays like Hymn to the Rising Sun (1936), about a chain gang. In 1941, he worked with novelist Richard Wright to dramatize Wright's book Native Son. Interested in the interplay of words and music, he wrote a series of symphonic dramas, including The Stephen Foster Story (1959) and The Lone Star (1977). He died in Chapel Hill in 1981.

Originally published on

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Day in Literary History

Nathaniel Hawthorne's story of adultery and betrayal in colonial America, The Scarlet Letter, is published.

Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1804. Although the infamous Salem witch trials had taken place more than 100 years earlier, the events still hung over the town and made a lasting impression on the young Hawthorne. Witchcraft figured in several of his works, including "Young Goodman Brown" (1835) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851), in which a house is cursed by a wizard condemned by the witch trials.

After attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, Hawthorne returned to Salem, where he began his career as a writer. He self-published his first book, Fanshawe (1828), but tried to destroy all copies shortly after publication. He later wrote several books of short stories, including Twice Told Tales (1837). In 1841, he tried his hand at communal living at the agricultural cooperative Brook Farm but came away highly disillusioned by the experience, which he fictionalized in his novel The Blithedale Romance (1852).

Hawthorne married Sophia Peabody in 1842, having at last earned enough money from his writing to start a family. The two lived in a house called the Old Manse, in Concord, Massachusetts, and socialized with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Branson Alcott, father of writer Louisa May Alcott.

Plagued by financial difficulties as his family grew, he took a job in 1845 at Salem's custom house, where he worked for three years. After leaving the job, he spent several months writing The Scarlet Letter, which made him famous.

In 1853, Hawthorne's old college friend, President Franklin Pierce, appointed him American consul to England, and the family moved to England, where they lived for three years. Hawthorne died in Plymouth, New Hampshire, in 1864.

Originally published on

Book Feature and Guest Blog: James Hutchings

In the technological age of facebook and twitter, the books we read are changing. Check out this new book by author James Hutchings, in which he uses the idea of Twitter technology in writing his new book.

Two-Fisted Tweets is a collection of thirty short stories. Each is less than 140 characters (the length of a Twitter tweet).

I've always been more interested in short stories than in novels, both writing and reading. However, if I hadn't discovered the Nanoism and PicFic websites, who publish tweet-length writing, I don't think I ever would've written anything that short.

I've been surprised how much you can get into a tiny number of words. This is especially true in science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where there are common plots that you can suggest by mentioning one or two elements.

I think I'm partly reacting against the tendency towards huge 'doorstop' novels, where every story has to be 1000 pages long and part of a series. It seems to be especially severe in fantasy.

I don't want to write a blurb that's longer than the book, so I'll stop there. If you're interested, the homepage for the book is Here, and my blog is Here.

Poetry for Wednesday

Still I Rise
By Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This Day in Literary History

Beware the Ides of March," the soothsayer urges Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's Tragedy of Julius Caesar (act I, scene ii). Despite the forewarning, Caesar is stabbed in the back by his friend Marcus Brutus. Caesar falls and utters his famous last words, "Et tu, Brute?" (And you, Brutus?)

Shakespeare's source for the play was Thomas North's Lives of the Nobel Grecians and Romans, which detailed the murder of Caesar in 44 B.C. Caesar's friends and associates feared his growing power and his recent self-comparison to Alexander the Great and felt he must die for the good of Rome. North's work translated a French version of Plutarch, which itself had been translated from Latin. Shakespeare's version was written about 1599 and performed at the newly built Globe Theater.
Originallly published on


Book Feature, Author Interview, and Giveaway: Geraldine Brooks

Check out the latest book from Pulitzer Prize Winning author-Geraldine Brooks. You can see more information at her site.

I have two copies of this book to giveaway. Please post a comment on what you find interesting about this book. The winners will be chosen on March 22.

CALEB’S CROSSING is inspired by the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College in 1665. Brooks first learned about him during her time as a Radcliffe fellow at Harvard in 2006. Caleb was from the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans who lived on Martha’s Vineyard and this year Tiffany Smalley will become the second Vineyard Wampanoag to graduate from Harvard. There is little official information on Caleb’s life and Brooks’s novel is an informed imagining of what he might have gone through.

What makes this novel truly special is its narrator, Bethia Mayfield. Bethia is the strong-willed daughter of a preacher who lives in the settlement of Great Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard. She struggles with the restrictions placed on her—namely, that she is denied the education freely given to her brother. Bethia finds respite in the wild landscape of her home and it is while clamming one day that she meets Caleb, the son of a local chieftain. They form a secret friendship that, in time, leads to Caleb coming to live with the Mayfields. Bethia’s father eagerly takes Caleb under his wing, determined not only to convert him to Christianity, but also to groom him for matriculation to Cambridge and eventually, Harvard.

The harsh realities of life for both women and Native Americans are fully confronted in CALEB’S CROSSING. It is a story of difficult friendships, cultural transitions, and facing injustices.

About the Author:
Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, and attended Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issues.

In 1982 she won the Greg Shackleton Australian News Correspondents scholarship to the journalism master’s program at Columbia University in New York City. Later she worked for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans.

She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel March. Her first novel, Year of Wonders, is an international bestseller, and People of the Book is a New York Times bestseller translated into 20 languages. She is also the author of the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence.

Brooks married author Tony Horwitz in Tourette-sur-Loup, France, in 1984. They have two sons– Nathaniel and Bizuayehu–and two dogs. They divide their time between homes in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and Sydney, Australia.

Geraldine Brooks was fantastic in that I have a Q&A to post about the new book.

Caleb Cheeshahteamauk is an extraordinary figure in Native American history. How did you first discover him? What was involved in learning more about his life?

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head/Aquinnah are proud custodians of their history, and it was in materials prepared by the Tribe that I first learned of its illustrious young scholar. To find out more about him I talked with tribal members, read translations of early documents in the Wopanaak language, then delved into the archives of Harvard and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, especially the correspondence between colonial leaders and benefactors in England who donated substantial funds for the education and conversion to Christianity of Indians in the 17th century. There are also writings by members of the Mayhew family, who were prominent missionaries and magistrates on the island, and John Cotton, Jr., who came here as a missionary and kept a detailed journal.

There is little documentation on Caleb’s actual life. What parts of his life did you imagine? Do you feel you know him better after writing this book, or is he still a mystery?

The facts about Caleb are sadly scant. We know he was the son of a minor sachem from the part of the Vineyard now known as West Chop, and that he left the island to attend prep school, successfully completed the rigorous course of study at Harvard and was living with Thomas Danforth, a noted jurist and colonial leader, when disease claimed his life. Everything else about him in my novel is imagined. The real young man—what he thought and felt—remains an enigma.

Bethia Mayfield is truly a woman ahead of her time. If she were alive today, what would she be doing? What would her life be like with no restrictions?

There were more than a few 17th century women like Bethia, who thirsted for education and for a voice in a society that demanded their silence. You can find some of them being dragged to the meeting house to confess their “sins” or defending their unconventional views in court. If Bethia was alive today she would probably be president of Harvard or Brown, Princeton or UPenn.

The novel is told through Bethia’s point of view. What is the advantage to telling this story through her eyes? How would the book be different if Caleb were the narrator?

I wanted the novel to be about crossings between cultures. So as Caleb is drawn into the English world, I wanted to create an English character who would be equally drawn to and compelled by his world. I prefer to write with a female narrator when I can, and I wanted to explore issues of marginalization in gender as well as race.

Much of the book is set on Martha’s Vineyard, which is also your home. Did you already know about the island’s early history, or did you do additional research?

I was always intrigued by what brought English settlers to the island so early in the colonial period...they settled here in the 1640s. Living on an island is inconvenient enough even today; what prompted the Mayhews and their followers to put seven miles of treacherous ocean currents between them and the other English—to choose to live in a tiny settlement surrounded by some three thousand Wampanoags? The answer was unexpected and led me into a deeper exploration of island history

You bring Harvard College to life in vivid, often unpleasant detail. What surprised you most about this prestigious university’s beginnings?

For one thing, I hadn't been aware Harvard was founded so early. The English had barely landed before they started building a college. And the Indian College—a substantial building—went up not long after, signifying an attitude of mind that alas did not prevail for very long. It was fun to learn how very different early Harvard was from the well endowed institution of today. Life was hand to mouth, all conversation was in Latin, the boys (only boys) were often quite young when they matriculated. But the course of study was surprisingly broad and rigorous—a true exploration of liberal arts, languages, and literature that went far beyond my stereotype of what Puritans might have considered fit subjects for scholarship.

As with your previous books, you’ve managed to capture the voice of the period. You get the idiom, dialect, and cadence of the language of the day on paper. How did you do your research?

I find the best way to get a feel for language and period is to read first person accounts—journals, letters, court transcripts. Eventually you start to hear voices in your head: patterns of speech, a different manner of thinking. My son once said, Mom talks to ghosts. And in a way I do.

May 2011, Tiffany Smalley will follow in Caleb’s footsteps and become only the second Vineyard Wampanoag to graduate from Harvard. Do you know if this will be celebrated?

In May Tiffany Smalley will become the first Vineyard Wampanoag since Caleb to receive an undergrad degree from Harvard College. (Others have received advanced degrees from the university’s Kennedy school etc.) I’m not sure what Harvard has decided to do at this year's commencement, but I am hoping they will use the occasion to honor Caleb’s fellow Wampanoag classmate, Joel Iacoomis, who completed the work for his degree but was murdered before he could attended the 1665 commencement ceremony.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Books to Movies

Over the weekend, I went to the movies and this was one of the coming attractions. It looks fantastic and will be out this Friday, March 18.

The Lincoln Lawyer, based on the novel by Michael Connelly, opens this Friday, March 18. Matthew McConaughey is a lawyer working on an important case from the back of his Lincoln Town Car. Also starring Marisa Tomei and Ryan Phillippe; directed by Brad Furman. Grand Central has published the tie-in edition ($7.99, 9781455500239).

A couple of others opening on the same day.

Cracks, based on the novel by Sheila Kohler (Other Press, $13.95, 9781590512050), opens March 18. Eva Green stars in this exploration of the lives of girls attending an English boarding school.

Limitless, based on the book by Alan Glynn, opens March 18. Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper star in this story of a copywriter who uses a secret drug to gain supernatural abilities. The director is Neil Burger. Picador has a movie tie-in edition ($15, 9780312428877).

25 Largest Fictional Companies

I am into book lists and have found some interesting ones lately. I thought my readers might enjoy this one.

The 25 Largest Fictional Companies
(rank) Company Fictional Universe 2007 Revenues
1. CHOAM Dune $1.7 trillion
2. Acme Corp. Looney Tunes $348.7 billion
3. Sirius Cybernetics Corp. Hitchhiker’s Guide $327.2 billion
4. MomCorp Futurama $291.8 billion
5. Rich Industries Richie Rich $163.4 billion
6. Soylent Corp. Soylent Green $157.1 billion
7. Very Big Corp. of America Monty Python $146.6 billion
8. Frobozz Magic Co. Zork $112.9 billion
9. Warbucks Industries Lil’ Orphan Annie $61.5 billion
10. Tyrell Corp. Bladerunner $59.4 billion
11. Wayne Enterprises Batman $31.3 billion
12. Virtucon Austin Powers $24.9 billion
13. Globex The Simpsons $23.7 billion
14. Umbrella Corp. Resident Evil $22.6 billion
15. Wonka Industries Charlie…Choc. Factory $21.0 billion
16. Stark Industries Iron Man $20.3 billion
17. Clampett Oil Beverly Hillbillies $18.1 billion
18. Oceanic Airlines Lost $7.8 billion
19. Yoyodyne Propulsion Sys. Crying of Lot 49 $5.8 billion
20. Cyberdyne Systems Corp. Terminator $5.5 billion
21. d’Anconia Copper Atlas Shrugged $5.0 billion
22. Gringotts Harry Potter $4.4 billion
23. Oscorp Spider-Man $3.1 billion
24. Nakatomi Trading Corp. Die-Hard $2.5 billion
25. Spacely Space Sprockets The Jetsons $1.3 billion

Book News

Check out the 10 Best books about New York HERE.

Look HERE for some amazing structures built with books.

Amazing Literary Tattoos-these are fantastic.

Book Trailer: Live Wire by Harlan Coben

This Day in Literary History

Sylvia Beach, owner of the Paris-based bookstore Shakespeare and Co., is born in Baltimore. Beach moved to Paris at the age of 14, when her father, a Presbyterian minister, was sent to France. She fell in love with the city. In 1919, she opened her bookstore, Shakespeare and Co., which became a gathering place for American writers in Paris in the 1920s, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

Beach was a strong supporter of writer James Joyce, who lived in Paris from 1920 to 1940. The Irish writer had achieved fame with his 1915 novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and had started publishing his masterwork Ulysses in serial form in an American magazine called the Little Review. However, the serialization was halted in December 1920, after the U.S. Post Office brought a charge of obscenity against Joyce's work. Beach published the book herself in July 1922. It wasn't until 1933 that a U.S. judge permitted Ulysses to be distributed in the U.S.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This Day in Literary History

Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen had written his play Ghosts in 1881. The play, which dealt with syphilis, was swiftly and universally reviled by conventionally minded critics. However, Ibsen's works had caught on with progressive theater companies across Europe. A decade after it was written, the play opens in London, where it continued to be treated harshly by critics. Today, however, the play is one of Ibsen's most commonly performed works.

Ibsen was born in Norway in 1828 in a small logging town. The eldest of five siblings, the young Ibsen showed an early interest in drama, performing puppet shows and magic tricks for his family and neighbors. His merchant father went bankrupt in 1835. When Ibsen was 15, he went to work as an apothecary's assistant in Oslo while studying to enter the university. However, his childhood interest in the theater overpowered his academic endeavors. He wrote his first play, Cataline, at the age of 22 and at age 23 was hired as stage manager of a theater, where he soon became director and playwright, expected to write one play a year.

Ibsen went to Italy in 1864 and continued to live abroad for 27 years in Rome, Dresden, and Munich. His long dramatic poem Brand (1866) and his play Peer Gynt (1867) both met with great success in Norway.

In 1879, Ibsen wrote A Doll's House, which portrayed a bleak view of a woman's disillusionment with her marriage and upset critics with its unhappy ending. Ghosts (1881) also upset critics, but Ibsen increasingly gained momentum with such plays as An Enemy of the People (1882) and The Wild Duck (1884). The plays he wrote during this period established his reputation as a world-class writer and playwright. In 1891, he returned to Norway, where he suffered a series of strokes and died in 1906.

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