Thursday, April 25, 2013

Redbook Magazine

I signed up with a site to host product parties and was recently selected to host one that included Redbook Magazine and L'Oreal Paris cosmetics. I got my party pack yesterday and I have 6 free subscriptions to giveaway. I apologize but this giveaway is only open to US residents. Please leave a comment below if you would like to win one of them and don't forget to leave a way for me to contact you.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

World Book Night 2013

I participated in World Book Night for the first time last year and was so excited to get to do it again. Today is the day and so ready to give out some books. I am giving out Fahrenheit 451 to 20 random people. However, I decided to use one copy to giveaway to someone here on my blog. Please leave a comment below to enter and I will pick a winner over the weekend.

By the way, today is also the birthday of Shakespeare and Cervantes, so get out and celebrate by purchasing a book.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Giveaway-The Erlking

I just reviewed two books by Rebecca Yount and I am giving away an ebook copy of The Erlking. Please check out my reviews on both books and start reading this series. Please post a comment below to enter and I will pick a winner on March 26. The ebook copy can come from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo.

Good Luck and Happy Reading!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Admission-Book Review and Movie Tie In

Title: Admission
Author: Jean Hanff Korelitz
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing-A division of Hachette
Pub Date: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-54071-1
Pages: 449
Genre: Fiction
I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.

For years, thirty-eight-year-old Portia Nathan has hidden behind her busy-and sometimes punishing-career as a Princeton University admissions officer and her less than passionate relationship. Then suddenly, the piece of her past that she has tried so hard to bury resurfaces, catapulting her on an extraordinary journey of the heart that challenges everything she ever thought seh believed. Soon, just as Portia must decide on the fates of thousands of bright students regarding their admission to Princeton, so too must she confront the life-altering decision she made long ago.

About the Author:
Jean Hanff Korelitz is the author of The White Rose, The Sabbathday River, and A Jury of Her Peers, as well as a children's novel and a poetry collection. She was a part-time reader for Princeton's Office of Admission during the 2006 and 2007 admissions season.

My review:
When I first saw information about this book, I knew I had to read it. Some time passed and I still hadn't gotten a copy yet and then it became available for review through Hachette. I am disappointed at myself for waiting so long to have gotten my hands on this book. The writing is fantastic and I couldn't put it down. It would be late and I would need to get to bed for work the next morning and I would think, after this chapter I am done reading for the night. I would get to the end of that chapter and think, well, just one more. Korelitz entwines a story of work, love, and difficult decisions to reveal her current life and a past life that she had tried to forget. I recommend this book to everyone and I can't wait to get my hands on the other books she has written. I work in academia and I love to read books that include details of that career field. I would love to hear comments on what others thought about this book and please give me suggestions of other books like this to read.
I reviewed this book quite a while ago and so excited to see it come out as a movie. You can see the trailer below and please leave a comment below to win a copy of the book. I will announce the winner on March 22.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guest Post-Rebecca Yount


Several years ago my husband and I spent New Years in London. Avoiding the boisterous neighborhoods of Covent Garden and Piccadilly, we took a late evening stroll in the quiet Bloomsbury enclave where we were staying. We thought we were the only people out and about in Russell Square that night; that is, until we spotted a couple coming toward us. When they met up with us, the young man paused and whispered into my ear, "Happy New Year, luv." Only in London.

I'm quite serious. I cannot imagine a native of New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Paris, or even Edinburgh doing that. The image of the English as being uptight and impersonal is nonsense. Scratch a Brit and you'll find a warm, witty friend.

Not that they are instantly chummy, mind you. It is best to allow the English to come to you, rather than vice versa. They freely admit to being wary of our premature Yank congeniality, so my husband and I have learned to hold back and wait. Wit is key to establishing friendships, and the English love it when Americans give as good as they get. Once, after a Londoner excoriated our KFCs and McDonalds, I said, "What does that say about a race of people who eat eels?" He almost dropped to the floor laughing.

Since 1990 we have visited London yearly, travelling there during the cheaper off-season (typically late winter or early spring) to enjoy some great plays in the West End. We have seen the likes of Vanessa Redgrave (twice), Diana Rigg (three times), Patrick Stewart (twice), David Suchet (twice), Derek Jacoby (twice), and Peter O'Toole in his final appearance on the stage. For us it's pure Nirvana to jump on the underground, get off at Piccadilly, and weave our way to Shaftesbury Avenue to see these great actors for ticket prices that are, at least by New York standards, steals.

Not that London comes cheap. It doesn't, unless you've done your homework and know where to find the best bargains. Over the years my husband and I have gathered such a wealth of information about this, we could practically teach a seminar on the topic. Hello, London School of Economics? As for popular tourist sites, forget Madame Tussaud's waxworks. The lines to get in are much too long. Do see the Tower of London and Big Ben -- once. Attend the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace -- once -- and hear the Guard's band playing hokey music, like the theme from the film The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (I kid you not). It's the unexpected places, many not even on the guide maps, that make London magical. Take the Old Curiosity Shop on Portsmouth Street, which we just happened to run into. As advertised by Dickens, it was built around 1567, is down-on-its-heels charming, and possibly the oldest still-operating shop in London. One can easily imagine Little Nell inside dusting off the bric-a-brac.

Then there is the old Victorian horse hospital just behind the Russell Square underground station. It is abandoned now, but still standing proud. One can only imagine how busy it must have been in the days when horses were the main source of power and transportation. A vivid reminder of the past, it is worth stopping on your way out of the station to investigate this forgotten place.

One of our favorite sites is the Roman wall at the Elephant and Castle underground station. Believed to be a corruption of "Eleanor of Castile," most beloved queen of King Edward I (who reigned from 1272-1307), this station teems with commuters during rush hour. If you don't keep moving, even polite Brits are likely to run you down. However, it's worth taking that risk. Can you imagine coming out of your local commuter station and facing an original Roman wall? When my husband and I saw it for the first time we stood transfixed, damn the hordes of commuters. Reaching out, I touched the cold stone and shivers actually raced up and down my spine. The English have little notion of what something like that means to an American -- we who live in a country where 1776 is considered ancient history.

Another little known marvel is the Foundling Hospital, now a museum located in Bloomsbury. Founded in 1742 by Thomas Coram, a wealthy entrepreneur, and funded by the likes of composer Geo. Frederick Handel (he of "The Messiah"), the old hospital is a testament to the desperate plight of unwed mothers. Shocked by the site of abandoned children in the streets of London, Coram vowed to dedicate his life to caring for those who were unwanted. The museum is a virtual history of the lives of these orphans -- their care, education and, later, careers.

These are just a few examples of the wonders that await a guest of London. Turn a corner, and you are likely to find something intriguing.

But don't get too caught up in myths about London. For example, Fog: Since the city has converted to clean-burning fuels over the years, the foggy day in London town has long since dissipated. A taxi driver once told me that the most common question he is asked by American tourists is, "Where's the fog?" Rain: Yes, it rains in London, but not constantly as you may be led to believe. London has more than its share of sunny days.
Cockney: Rarely spoken these days. Londoners increasingly seem to be adapting a more "American" accent, perhaps because of the popularity of TV show re-runs, like "Friends" and "Frasier." If you listen closely, Princes William and Harry often infuse their speech with American phrases, and even Her Majesty has toned down her plumy accent.
Pubs: Alive and thriving. However, there is an increase in "gastropubs" that serve healthier cuisine. Still, you can enjoy mouth-watering fish and chips at the more traditional locals.

Flower Girls at Covent Garden: Where's Eliza Doolittle when you need her?

So the bottom line is this: don't assume you know London from public television, tourist guides, or bodice-ripping novels. Expect the unexpected.

And, by the way, the British Museum has not lost its charm.

A Death in C Minor and The Erlking, the first two books in Rebecca Yount's Mick Chandra crime series, are now available in e-book format from all major vendors. You can find her at:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: The Erlking by Rebecca Yount

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

Synopsis from publicist
When Phoebe Dunbar, the much-younger third wife of New Labour Member of Parliament Lawton Dunbar, is found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs in their Gloucestershire manor house, the local coroner hastily dismisses her death as accidental. But after being contacted by a Quaker elder in Dunbar’s constituency, New Scotland Yard Inspector Mick Chandra decides to investigate Phoebe’s “accident,” now suspecting there may be a link between her death and that of an eight-year-old sexually abused girl whose body was discovered in London’s Islington canal. Recently seconded to the Yard’s Pedophile Unit, Chandra and his partner Detective Sargent Elizabeth Chang are pursuing a notorious pedophile ring based in north London and masterminded by someone who calls himself The Erlking. Learning that Dunbar was accused of sexually molesting the 10-year-old daughter of a local constituent, Mick’s suspicions increase when he discovers the girl’s father unexpectedly received a lucrative promotion with a corporation based in Brussels … after dropping all charges against the MP. Meanwhile, rumors on the streets of north London have it that a prominent Member of Parliament is part of the Erlking’s ring. After Mick launches an investigation into the molestation allegation against Dunbar and his possible connection to the Erlking ring, Mick and his lover, Jessica Beaumont, an American concert pianist based in London, begin experiencing threatening incidents. An unseen stalker follows Jess and during a concert at the Royal Academy, a woman takes a shot at Jess from the balcony. Then, as Mick struggles to expose the identity of the Erlking, help arrives from a most unexpected source.

About the Author: Rebecca Yount trained from childhood as a concert pianist, is a published poet, and worked in education reform, but she always nurtured a passion for storytelling which she has indulged only late in life. Coming from a family of writers, it wasn’t hard for her to put pen to paper, but it took an actual unsolved murder to give her the idea for her first novel. On a home exchange in England—something she and her husband regularly do—a villager told her about a local murder that remained unsolved, even by New Scotland Yard. Sitting under a tree in a fallow field one day, Rebecca began to imagine what might have happened. The result is A DEATH IN C MINOR. In 2010, Rebecca underwent open heart surgery, which left her unable to write for two years. After this hiatus, she returned to writing, deciding to put the entire Mick Chandra series out herself as e-books. She is retired and lives in Virginia with her husband, writer David Yount.

My review: As I came to the last page of Death in C Minor, the first book in this series, I was thrilled as I had a copy of the second book and could start right away. Mick Chandra is at it again with his hard work and dedication to solve the crime. Not only is Mick trying to solve a murder investigation, but he is trying to break into a pedophile ring and find out who is snatching young children in London. Many of the characters from the first book appear in this one to help further the story of Mick and his connection with each of them. Yet, new characters are introduced and you easily become acquainted with them and feel like they have been part of the Chandra group since the first page of the first book. I am in love with Rebecca Yount's writing. She is able to pull in the reader with her incredible use of language and the style of prose that she incorporates in the story. It is detailed and sophisticated in a way as not to intimidate any reader. What I mean by this is that she occassionaly uses words and references that even the seasoned reader might not understand, but for me, it engaged me more in the story and urged me to find out what the words and references referred to, instead of feeling that the author was showing a superiority in her knowledge. For me, I had to get online and search out the pieces that Jessica plays in both books so I could hear what I was imagining in my head.

I wanted to include a quote that shows Yount's writing and her attention to leave nothing out, yet to spur the imagination of the reader to picture a scene in their mind using their own points of reference. "Mick didn't answer right away. He was mesmerized by a hawk swooping and diving over the Commons, presumably hunting a vulnerable rodent. A woman riding as Essex pony through the thick snow appeared on the Commons' horizon. She threw up her arms with uninhibited joy, tilting back her head, and guiding the sturdy pony with her thighs. Against this pristine white canvas, a liturgical drama of life and death was being played out. The hawk swooped down again, and rose back up to the pewter-grey sky carrying something in his talons. The woman on the pony disappeared over the rim of the wold, leaving the blank commons to fuse once more with the sky." I can't wait to read the third installment in this series and I urge you all to get the first two books as soon as possible. I envision a series of movies on these books and can't wait to say I knew Mike Chandra from the beginning.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review-Death in C Minor

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review and I can't tell you how excited I am to have been contacted about reviewing this book.

Synopsis from Publicist:
In A DEATH IN C MINOR, Jessica Beaumont, a critically acclaimed American concert pianist, travels to the English village of Kenwick (Essex) to piece her life back together. In quick succession, her husband left her for another woman, and her only child was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Feeling completely unmoored, Jess fled from her last piano recital in America and then, despairing, attempted suicide. Now Jess hopes the quiet village life and change of scenery will allow her the space and time to heal. But she soon learns that the village isn’t the idyll she imagined. A year earlier, Peter Chandler, a relative newcomer to Kenwick, was found hacked with a cleaver in his own home, not far from Jess’s rented 17th century cottage. Equally disturbing, the case remains unsolved.

Like Jess, New Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Mick Chandra has a few ghosts. He was raised in industrial Liverpool, where his father was murdered. It was the loss of his father that led Mick to pursue police work. With the uncanny intuition he credits his Kerala Indian grandmother for passing along, and the memory of his father to inspire him, Mick succeeds in New Scotland Yard’s Criminal Investigation Department, even though racial tensions still divide the officers. When he gets the Chandler cold case file, he quickly re-opens the investigation and heads off to Kenwick, hoping to stay with the same villagers who put him up on another occasion. But they’ve left to work for a year in the United States and Jess occupies their cottage. Though taken aback by Mick’s request and unprepared for a guest, Jess agrees to let Mick stay. Their mutual attraction is instantaneous. But another man in Kenwick already has his eye on Jess, a man who doesn’t like rivals. And, unaccountably, the village residents do not want the Chandler case re-opened.

There was so much I enjoyed in the reading. For instance, I can’t think of another mystery in which one of the main characters is a concert pianist. It’s a compelling and fresh twist. And I loved that Jess refuses to give up—on life, on love, or on her own dreams. She has real spirit. Plus, who doesn’t love an English mystery and being immersed in the life of a quaint village, especially when you get to meet characters like 82 year old WWII veteran Sir Brian Foley, who is also a wise but kind critic of his community? But most of all for a mystery buff, Ms. Yount has a written compelling “whodunit.” I couldn’t figure out who the killer was and savored the surprise.

About the author:
Rebecca Yount trained from childhood as a concert pianist, is a published poet, and worked in education reform, but she always nurtured a passion for storytelling which she has indulged only late in life. Coming from a family of writers, it wasn’t hard for her to put pen to paper, but it took an actual unsolved murder to give her the idea for her first novel. On a home exchange in England—something she and her husband regularly do—a villager told her about a local murder that remained unsolved, even by New Scotland Yard. Sitting under a tree in a fallow field one day, Rebecca began to imagine what might have happened. The result is A DEATH IN C MINOR. In 2010, Rebecca underwent open heart surgery, which left her unable to write for two years. After this hiatus, she returned to writing, deciding to put the entire Mick Chandra series out herself as e-books. She is retired and lives in Virginia with her husband, writer David Yount.

My review:

Mick Chandra is the new detective in the literary scene and a name that will soon grace the minds and lips of readers across the world. He epitomizes what all readers want. For the men, he is macho and tough, smart, and will stop at nothing to catch the bad guy. For the women, he is hot, tender, smart, and will stop at nothing to catch the bad guy. And for the reader, he is all of this and more as the words that Yount weaves throughout the pages to tell the stories that unfold around Mick and his job. Death in C Minor is the first book in a series about this character, who works for Scotland Yard in London. While, Mick is the main character, the other characters are so fully developed and in the fore front of all the action, it is at times hard to say that Mick steals the show throughout the entire book.

In this first book of the series, Mick is trying to figure out a murder mystery in a small village outside of London. The village is made up of a mish mash of characters that will become central to Mick's life and investigation. The book is full of action and is fast paced to where it was hard for me to stop reading, even for a few minutes, as I couldn't wait to read what happened next. The author teases and taunts the reader as just when you think you know who done it-a new clue pops up to make you realize that you are back at square one in trying to figure out the mystery. I know that anything I write here will not begin to do justice to that author or book, so you must read this as soon as possible so you can fall in love with this series like I did.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Signing-The Wheel of Time series

I have had a love affair with The Wheel of Time series for years-and that is more than 10 years. A good friend of mine introduced me to book one as book five was coming out. I balked at first as I didn't think this series was for me. Her response was just read the first one and if you don't like it, you don't have to read anymore. I was captured by the first pages and swept away to continue the series. Book 13-the final book in the series-came out last week and while I am excited to find out the ending I am also sad that this series has ended. Brandon Sanderson overtook the last two books as the original author, Robert Jordan, passed away before the series was finished. I was able to meet him and Harriet McDougal-Jordan's widow-at a book signing this past Friday. I knew there would be hundreds of people there as there have been each time I went to a signing with Robert Jordan. I was not disappointed at this signing as there were people as far as the eye could see and the bookstore was mostly standing room only for a large portion of it. Brandon and Harriet were so gracious and friendly and interacted with the fans in a way that made us all feel welcome to meet them and have our books signed and appreciated for purchasing their books. I also made a purchase of Brandon's book called The Way of Kings and can't wait to read it. If you haven't read this series-you should. It has great writing and offers a fantastical world like no other that captures you and transforms you into the story to where you are part of it. I am going to be doing a re-read and go through the entire series and I would love for you to join me. I had planned this last year to be all ready when the last book came out, but life happened and I didn't get it done. So, I am starting this year and going through the entire series. I will start this next weekend and will post on the blog about my journey through the pages. I would love to have you join me and read your comments. So run to grab your copy of The Eye of the World and start reading with me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone! I know it is the time for resolutions and I usually don't make any or I have one or two that I never complete. However, this year I am going to complete my list. 1. Lose weight 2. Get out of debt 3. Finish all these crafty projects 4. Take a quilting class and learn how to quilt 5. Perfect Attendance for the year at work 6. Eliminating a few people in my life that aren't good for me. That is my list so far and I may add to it as things come to mind. What are your resolutions?