31 May 2012

Imprint Extra: Review: Canada by Richard Ford

In the late summer of 1960, America was still hanging on to its innocence. For 15-year-old Dell Parsons, however, all such illusions would be shattered before winter set in.

Because Dell and his twin sister, Berner, never thought of any town as home, the result of a nomad existence guided by their father's military career, their only constants were each other and their parents. They had learned to keep to themselves, to not make connections, and to be ready to pack up and go when required. But after four years in Great Falls, Montana, the twins started to let down their guard and began to blend in; Berner had a boyfriend, and Dell was hoping to join the chess club.

Unfortunately, their father, Captain Bev Parsons—encouraged to leave the Air Force—couldn't make a go of it in civilian life, quickly getting himself into trouble. Despite the fact that Dell's "parents were the least likely two people in the world to rob a bank," (p. 1) that's exactly what they did. Although their mother made sketchy provisions for her children, when she and Bev were hauled off to prison just days after the robbery, the twins were left on their own.

Berner, already rebellious, simply walked out of the house, never looking back. Dell, not willing to ignore his mother's last instructions, waited until a neighbor picked him up to drive him north to his destiny.

In Richard Ford's Canada, Dell Parson tells us "about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later. The robbery is the more important part, since it served to set my and my sister's lives on the courses they eventually followed." (p. 1). From the opening pages we know Dell's defining moments, and we know he's remembering from the perspective of an adult. What we don't know are the particulars and the role Dell may have played in these events.

The fog of a life into which Dell is driven whirls around him. In Canada, he is passed along to a pair of men with murky pasts and unreadable intentions. He's given a shack to live in, food to eat, and job to do. The boy is accepting of his situation, working without complaint. Although he's utterly alone, Dell recalls and heeds the bits of good advice he's received and tries to create a pocket of normality. After the murders, however, the boy is left wondering about what happens to people who do only what they want to and who have no limits but their own.

One may think of Berner as being the brave one, not so much running away as running to. But it's Dell, who, despite everything, has the courage to find a last sliver of trust and thereby find a future.

When I think of those times—beginning with anticipating school in Great Falls, to our parents' robbery, to my sister's departure, to crossing into Canada, and the Americans' death, stretching on to Winnipeg and to where I am today—it's all of a piece, like a musical score with movements, or a puzzle, wherein I am seeking to restore and maintain my life in a whole and acceptable state, regardless of the frontiers I've crossed. I know it's only me who makes these connections. But not to try to make them is to commit yourself to the waves that toss you and dash you against the rocks of despair. (p. 386)
I don't know how to describe Canada, expect to say it's a novel that envelops you. Richard Ford's writing has been compared to Cormac McCarthy's, and I can see the similarities, especially in the Border Trilogy. But I often find such comparisons to be misleading, to plant the seeds of expectations that are waiting to be crushed. Canada is best read on it's own terms. Dell and the people who inhabit his young world are like no other characters you've met. Canada is one of the best books I've read this year . . . hell, perhaps this decade.

My review of the unabridged audio edition (Harper Audio, 15 hr, 32 min), read by Holter Graham, will be published by AudioFile magazine.

Beth Fish Reads is proud to showcase Ecco books as a featured imprint on this blog. For more information about Ecco, please read the introductory note from Vice President / Associate Publisher Rachel Bressler, posted here on July 15, 2011. Find your next great read by clicking on Ecco in the scroll-down topics/labels list in my sidebar and by visiting Ecco books on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

Canada at Powell's
Canada at Book Depository
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Published by HarperCollins / Ecco, May 2012
ISBN-13: 9780061692048

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29 May 2012

Wordless Wednesday 183

Raindrop Reflections, May 2012

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Today's Read: The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen

If you were a freed slave, would you return to the South? What if you were asked to become a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War? In a debut novel based on the story of a real woman, Lois Leveen explores those questions, giving us a fresh perspective on the War Between the States.

Mama was always so busy. Busy tending to Old Master Van Lew and Mistress Van Lew, Young Master John, Miss Bet. But she was never too busy to riddle me. She said it was the first kind of learning she could give me, and the most important, too. Be alert, Mama meant. See the world around you. Find what you seek, because it's already there. . . .

Mama, your little girl is all grown up, and still playing our best game. I am a spy. (pp. 1-2)
The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen (HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2012; quote is from an advanced reader's copy)

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28 May 2012

Author Guest Post: The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

I've just started reading Zoraida Córdova's debut novel The Vicious Deep. So far I'm finding the concept to be fun and different. First, unlike a lot of young adult fantasy/paranormal books, this one is told from a boy's point of view. Second, it isn't about a vampire or zombie.

Tristan Hart has a reputation for being a strong swimmer and for being one of the hottest lifeguards on Coney Island. He's just a typical teen . . . or is he? When he's swept out to sea by a freak wave, he discovers he's anything but a normal human boy. He is, in fact, a merman (a male mermaid), complete with a scaly tail.

For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.

He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.

His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.

Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea . . . and now it wants him back.
One of the questions I had when I started to read The Vicious Deep was whether Tristan can still eat seafood. If he did, would he become a semi-cannibal? Would he still like soda and fries? I asked author Zoraida Córdova to tell us the inside scoop.
What's a Teen Merman Supposed to Eat?

Tristan's favorite meal of the day is breakfast. As a guy who can seriously put away a tall stack of pancakes and more bacon that should be allowed in a single serving, his first visit to the mermaid island of Toliss comes with a bit of culture shock. Suddenly there are trays and trays of "delicacies" passed around, and if his mother taught him anything, is that refusing food from company (especially supernatural company) is rude. From Jell-O cubes made of jelly fish brains to sea weed spring rolls, Tristan's taste buds aren't exactly on fire.

The good thing is, his diet doesn't have to change! He can go ahead eating burgers and corn dogs and fries. While at first he had some concerns about eating seafood—after all, being half fish would make that cannibalism, right? Only it doesn't. Their bottom half is so muscular, they would never even think about eating each other. Though, sharks might not feel the same way. The big fish still eat the fish. So every now and then, Tristan can have a crab cake and eat it too!
Thanks so much for answering my question, Zoraida. From what I know about teenage boys, I'm guessing Tristan was much relieved to know that junk food wasn't off his diet.

To learn more about Zoraida Córdova and The Vicious Deep, see the fun interview conducted by Lenore of Presenting Lenore.

Buy The Vicious Deep at Powell's, at an Indie, at Book Depository, or at a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by Sourcebooks / Sourcebooks Fire, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781402265105
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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27 May 2012

Giveaway: The Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri

Have you read any of Andrea Camilleri's Salvo Montalbano mysteries? His protagonist is a police inspector in Sicily, Italy, and the latest book in the series is finally coming out in English on May 29.

I haven't read any of Camilleri's books yet, but I have them on my wish list. The Age of Doubt is the thirteenth book in the series, and here is the summary:

With their dark sophistication and dry humor, Andrea Camilleri's hugely popular Sicilian crime novels continue to win more and more fans in America. The day after a storm, Inspector Montalbano encounters a strange woman who expresses interest in a certain yacht scheduled to dock that afternoon. Not long after she's gone, the yacht's crew reports finding a disfigured corpse. Also at anchor is a luxury vessel with a somewhat shady crew. Both boats will have to stay in Vigàta until the investigation is over and, based on information from the woman, Montalbano begins to think the occupants of the yacht might know more about the man's death than they're letting on.
Sounds like a good summer mystery, and I'm curious about the Italian setting.

Celebration Gift Basket: To celebrate the release of The Age of Doubt, Penguin has put together a fabulous gift basket that contains "all 14 Inspector Montalbano novels as well as a selection of Italian foods, including pasta, sauce, olives, Italian desserts, roasted red peppers, olive oil, and cheese from Mario Batali’s Eataly, the gift basket is valued at $500!" To enter for a chance to win that awesome basket, follow this link to the Penguin Giveaway Facebook page.

Book Giveaway: Thanks to the nice people at Penguin/Viking, I have an extra copy of The Age of Doubt to share with one of my readers. Because I'm the one sending out the book, I can make this giveaway international. To enter, just fill out the form and I'll pick a winner via random number generator on June 10. Good luck!

Buy The Age of Doubt at Powell's, at an Indie, at Book Depository, or at a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by PenguinUSA, 2012 (English translation)
ISBN-13: 9780385519724
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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26 May 2012

Weekend Cooking: Review/Interview: The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


Welcome to a special edition of Weekend Cooking. Today I'm going to introduce you to my new favorite cookbook. I've owned Katie Workman's The Mom 100 Cookbook for only a few weeks, but I've cooked out it so often, I'm not sure it's left the kitchen.

Instead of a conventional review, I'm thrilled to tell you about the book through a short interview I did with Katie. I know she's terribly busy with her book tour, so I'm especially grateful that she took the time to talk to us about The Mom 100 Cookbook.

Before I get to the interview, I want to say a couple of things about the fresh, fun design of the cookbook. I know I've said this a million times, but I think the Workman Publishing cookbook designers are the best, and they did a fabulous job with Katie's book. The photographs are stunning, the colors are appetizing, and the sidebars and fonts catch your eye, inviting you to stop a moment to read and learn. Because I wanted to share the design with you, I scanned one of the recipes we liked instead of typing it out.

Now let's get to the heart of the post. Say hello to cookbook author Katie Workman and listen in while we chat about The Mom 100 Cookbook.

Beth Fish Reads (BFR): The Mom 100 Cookbook is full of useful information that is just perfect for the new cook or anyone who appreciates a little help in the kitchen. Almost every recipe comes with cooking tips, explanations of techniques, serving suggestions, and storage information. Timid cooks will be forever grateful for your longer boxes that talk about equipment, ethnic ingredients, terminology, and food safety. How did you know what kinds of information to provide to your readers? Did you pay attention to questions you asked yourself or were asked by your recipe testers?

Katie Workman (KW): We have so many friends over for meals, and I get asked all kinds of questions, and people always share their kitchen and cooking frustrations with me. And then if a less-confident cook is with me in the kitchen, he or she is often asking, "Why did you do that?" "What are you adding from that can?" So over the years I've gotten a feeling for what kind of information is helpful, and I try to present it in a conversational way, because that's actually how I am usually sharing it.

BFR: Your cookbook has three features that will make it a favorite with real-life families. These are the variations, vegetarian options, and "Fork in the Road." I know busy cooks will turn to your advice time and again when they want to cook a single meal that will appeal to everyone in the group. Can you explain the "Fork in the Road" idea and just how helpful this idea is to the family cook?

KW: The "Fork in the Road" concept is the idea that you can prepare a meal up to a certain point, then separate some of it out, leaving it plainer and simpler for the pickier eaters at the table. Then you continue on with the recipe, adding more flavors, spices, maybe some heat, so that the rest of the dish is more fully seasoned for the more adventurous eaters. Of course you want to encourage the kids to try some of the more flavorful version, and hopefully they'll be ready to give it a go the next time round, but this allows everyone to essentially share the same meal (which feels more like a family dinner), doesn't turn you into a short order cook, and keeps you out of the chicken nugget trap.

BFR: Another aspect of your cookbook that makes it a winner is that you use real ingredients, real food, and a variety of flavors. You don't shy away from canned beans and tomatoes or no-boil lasagna noodles, but you stress fresh veggies whenever practical. What types of dishes, cooking techniques, or flavors help kids eat their vegetables?

KW: Sautéing vegetables in a little bit of butter or olive oil, then steaming them in water to turn the bit of butter into a light glaze is a great technique. Topping tacos with veggies, letting your kids help you put together a vegetable bin soup from whatever you have on hand or picked up at the market, working some veggies into dishes like quesadillas or wraps, all of this works. Roasting is also a great method for cooking vegetables, since the high heat plus a bit of olive oil caramelizes the natural sugars in vegetables, giving them a richness and slight sweetness.

BFR: I'm a strong believer in the idea that if kids help make the food, they'll be more inclined to eat it, so I love your tips called "What the Kids Can Do." Your sense of humor and obvious experience with being in the kitchen with children really shine through. Are either of your sons turning out to be a natural chef?

KW: Both my kids have an interest in the kitchen, and both have been mostly intrigued when I shove my control-mom impulses to one side and let them be inventive. Jack once made pear muffins that were truly delicious, and Charlie has created a house dish called Charlie's Olive Percenter, which are eggs scrambled with sliced pimento-stuffed olives, topped with slices of cucumber. Delicious. The baking soda muffins were less successful.

BFR: Despite your tricks and tips, what types of foods or flavors are still a hard sell for your children?

KW: Fish is the albatross of most parents. Charlie used to really like fish, and Jack was not interested . . . then Jack started to like it and I thought we were almost in the clear, and Charlie started to be pickier about it. Now it's better, but still very much hit or miss, completely mercurial. And Charlie hates scallops--I was making them recently and he asked me if from now on I would only make them when he was out at a sleepover so he wouldn't have to smell them.

BFR: Although the title of your book is The Mom 100 Cookbook, it could just as easily be called the "Working Person's Cookbook." I don't cook for children, but I find myself turning to your recipes time and again. Most of my readers struggle with putting a meal on the table after a very busy day. Which two recipes from the book are your go-to meals when you're too tired to fuss?

KW: First, of all, thanks. And yes, absolutely, some nights it's about speed more than anything else. The Fresh Mozzarella Pasta casserole is the simplest and fastest recipe in the book, I think. And I almost always have the ingredients for the Mexican Tortilla Casserole in the pantry, and it comes together in a snap.

BFR: Finally, I have to ask: What's on the menu for tonight's dinner?

KW: Last night was pork ribs and chicken noodle matzoh ball soup. Possibly one of the few times these two foods have appeared at the same meal. Tonight we are going to DC to visit my sister's family, and we are taking our kids on a long ago-promised trip to Dave and Buster's so I'm quite sure there will be nachos and fries involved.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, Katie. I was so pleased to see that the Mexican Tortilla Casserole was one of your go-to recipes for a couple of reasons. First, that's one I've made a couple of times already, and it's a big hit. Second, that's the recipe I planned to share with my readers.

Before I get to the scans, I wanted to let all of you know that Katie Workman is the founding editor-in-chief of the site Cookstr.com, where you can find wonderful cookbook recipes. And don't miss visiting Katie's The Mom 100 Cookbook site. There you'll find videos, tips, and other great information about the book.

Now onto the recipe. To read the recipe, click the images to enlarge (you may have to click a second time to read them clearly), and you'll see just how quickly you'll fall in love with this cookbook. Here's an additional tip for the Mexican Tortilla Casserole. I used 10-inch tortillas because they fit my springform pan better than the 8-inch tortillas. I made the recipe exactly as directed. The only difference was that my stack was a little shorter. Enjoy!

Vegetarian/Vegan alert: Vegetarians will find many recipes to try, including the one I scanned. Vegans should look through the cookbook before buying.

Buy The Mom 100 Cookbook at an Indie, at Powell's, at Book Depository, or at bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs
Published by Workman Publishing, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780761166030
Rating: A
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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25 May 2012

Imprint Friday: The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Algonquin Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Have you ever thought about what goes on deep in the ground under your grassy yard? Amy Stewart did, and what she discovered was the world of worms. In The Earth Moved, Stewart focuses on one of the hardest-working organisms on the planet.

Here's part of the publisher's summary:

The Earth Moved has moved reviewers across the country. In witty, offbeat style, Amy Stewart takes us on a subterranean adventure and introduces us to our planet’s most important gatekeeper: the humble earthworm. It’s true that the earthworm is small, spineless, and blind, but its effect on the ecosystem is profound, moving Charles Darwin to devote his last years to studying its remarkable attributes and achievements.

With the august scientist as her inspiration, Stewart investigates the earthworm’s astonishing realm, talks to oligochaetologists who have devoted their lives to unearthing the complex web of life beneath our feet, and observes the thousands of worms in her own garden.
Most of us don't spend a lot of time thinking about worms. We might notice them on the sidewalk after a heavy rain or watch them burrow down when we've turned over a flower bed, but that's about it. Amy Stewart, a gardener, became curious about the bait worms she put into her composting bin. In The Earth Moved, she shares what she learned from personal observations, research, and conversations with earthworm scientists and how she gained a fresh perspective on our wiggly friends.

To give you an idea of the scope of The Earth Moved, here are just a few things I learned about worms:
  • Geologists use earthworm taxonomy to help their studies of plate tectonics.
  • Anglers who use earthworms may have a negative effect on the environment.
  • Earthworms are vegans.
  • Darwin believed earthworms were analytical.
  • Ecologists use earthworms to monitor pollution.
Stewart elaborates on these topics and discusses many other ways that worms affect our daily lives. You might be aware that farmers and gardeners depend on worms to do their job of transforming decayed vegetable matter into fertile soil, but you might not realize that without worms our planet would be a very different place.

Because Stewart's fascination with worms originated from her gardening avocation, the book ends with information on how to make your own mini worm farm, resources for obtaining supplies, and a bibliography for further reading.

Last summer I told you about Amy Stewart's Wicked Bugs, and perhaps next summer I'll introduce you to her Wicked Plants. In the meantime, as you plant your gardens this year remember to say thank you to the worms you dig up.

The Earth Moved was re-released this year with updated resources. It won the 2005 California Horticultural Society's Writer's Award and was a Discovery Channel Book Club Selection. To learn more about worms and Amy Stewart, visit her website. There, you'll also find a sample chapter, resources, and some cool video and radio clips.

Algonquin Books
is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Executive Editor Chuck Adams's introductory letter, posted here on January 7, 2011.

The Earth Moved at Powell's
The Earth Moved at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Workman / Algonquin Books, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781565124684

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24 May 2012

Review: Island of Vice by Richard Zacks

Before he was a Rough Rider and before he was president, Theodore Roosevelt was a New York City police commissioner whose principal agenda was to force his brand of morality on the city. In 1895, Tammany Hall may have been defeated, but police were still on the take, 30,000 prostitutes plied their trade, and tavern owners never locked up. Despite TR's stubbornness, city bookies would have been right to have given the commissioner pretty low odds for success.

In Island of Vice, Richard Zacks introduces us to the gritty side of turn-of-the-century Manhattan. In the 1890s, drinking, gambling, and sex were available 24/7 and most New Yorkers either indulged or turned a blind eye. Policemen were more often seen drinking on the beat then they were patrolling the streets, and their main concern was collecting payoffs to share with their superior officers.

Theodore Roosevelt stepped into this chaos with a morality agenda. To get a feel for what he was up against, TR and photojournalist Jacob Riis took midnight strolls through the city, visiting bars, spying on policemen, and taking note of brothels. Roosevelt believed his late-night research would help him crack down on bars trying to get around the Sunday closure laws and allow him to set up stings to catch prostitutes and corrupt cops.

Roosevelt, however, never fully understood the everyday New Yorker or the power of the payoff. Thanks to tavern owners who found ways around the excise laws, courtroom antics, yellow journalism, and police disciplinary boards that could be bribed, TR's plans for ending vice barely got off the starting line.

Island of Vice is a readable and accessible examination of Roosevelt's tenure with the NYPD. Relying on letters, newspaper stories, and court reports, among other sources, Zack takes a multi-pronged approach. He describes the sociocultural climate of the city, discusses the factors that may have led TR to take a morality stance, and fleshes out the personalities and events that finally drove Roosevelt out of New York and back to Washington.

Bonus comment: Richard Zacks's Island of Vice is particularly interesting to read after Lyndsay Faye's The Gods of Gotham, a novel set fifty years earlier when the NYPD was just being formed. Although one must be careful when comparing a fictional description with a historical account, the two books together provide a fascinating look at the city's police force in the nineteenth century.

I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Random House Audio, 15 hr,28 min) read by Joe Ochman. My positive review of the audiobook was written for AudioFile magazine. The print edition contains a center insert with period photographs, a decent index, end notes, and a bibliography.

Buy Island of Vice at Powell's, at an Indie, at Book Depository, or at a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by Random House / Doubleday, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780385519724
Source: Review (print & audio) (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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22 May 2012

Wordless Wednesday 182

Peony, May 2012

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Review: The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters

Elizabeth Peters has outdone herself in The Falcon at the Portal, the 11th Amelia Peabody book.

For those who don't know the premise of the series, here's a very brief synopsis. The books focus on the adventures of the Emerson family, world-famous Egyptologists at the turn of the 20th century. Although most of the time the group is in Egypt conducting archaeological research, sometimes they're in England during the off-season. Amelia, irrepressible with a strong ego, narrates the stories about her dashing husband, Emerson; her brilliant and troublesome son, who goes by the name Ramses; their ward, the beautiful Nefret; and other friends and family.

The Emersons have a well-earned reputation for being in the center of trouble, and the plots of murder, theft, and/or kidnapping are always offset by stories about the personal lives of the family members. Elizabeth Peters tempers the mysteries (always solved by the Emersons) with a fantastic sense of down-played humor, and keeps the books fresh by allowing her characters to mature and change.

A Falcon at the Portal, which takes place in 1911, is a significant book in the series; in fact, it's a game changer. The novel is tightly constructed, and the solution to the mystery doesn't become clear until quite late in the book. The best part, though, is in the family story, but I'm not going to discuss it because I hate to spoil the novels. Let me simply say that there's a lot happening here besides the usual murder and mayhem, and Peters is giving more air time to the younger generation of her characters. She's also cleverly left one huge story line on a mini cliff-hanger that will have me reading book 12 before too many weeks pass.

If you're on book 8 or so and wondering about sticking with the series, let me reassure you. Elizabeth Peters will continue to hold your interest. I wholeheartedly recommend this series to both men and women; you don't have to be a full-fledged mystery fan to get attached to Amelia Peabody and her beloved Emerson.

As always, I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Recorded Books; 15 hr, 13 min) read by Barbara Rosenblat. Is there anyone who could narrate this series more skillfully? I truly think not. She handles the variety of accents, different ages, and both sexes with ease. In addition, she has the perfect touch for the lighthearted scenes as well as for the heartbreaking moments. Rosenblat is a pleasure to listen to.

Buy The Falcon at the Portal at Powell's, at an Indie, at Book Depository, or at a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by HarperCollins / Harper, 2010 (mass market paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780061951640
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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21 May 2012

Review: Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

In the summer of 1964, living was anything but easy in Mississippi. It was the Freedom Summer and trouble and change were brewing. For Gloriana June Hemphill, turning twelve on the Fourth of July turned out to be least significant day of the year.

Augusta Scattergood's Glory Be is a historical novel based on the author's memories of the difficult years of the civil rights movement in the Deep South. In the story, geared to middle grade readers, Glory's awakening takes place over the course of a few weeks, after she meets her first Yankee, Laura, who is in town for the summer while her mother, a nurse, is opening a free clinic.

Although Laura is quiet and "didn't talk a bit like [Glory] was used to," the girls discover they have a lot in common, such as a love for Nancy Drew and listening to the Beatles. When Glory's best friend, Frankie, reveals his prejudices (of blacks and northerners) and the town council closes the community pool rather than integrate it, Glory begins to take a hard look at the world around her.

It's clear that Scattergood is writing about the era from firsthand experience. She has the details just right, not just the Archie comic books and record players but also the carefree days when kids played outside largely unsupervised by adults. Although most readers will relate to Glory and her sister and will hope that Frankie comes to his senses, it's Emma, the Hemphill's housekeeper, who is particularly sensitively portrayed. Scattergood skillfully shows how Emma must walk a fine line between wanting her full rights and being well aware that "A fish that never opens his mouth won't get caught" (p. 75).

Part coming of age and part historical snapshot, Glory Be will have a wide appeal to both young readers and adults. It's no wonder that it was chosen as a Scholastic Mother Daughter Book Club pick. The ten insightful discussion questions available from the publisher touch on the major themes, including friendship, sisters, prejudice, and standing up for what you believe. In addition, the "Author Note" at the end of the book is a good springboard for talking about the American civil rights movement of the mid-1960s.

Check out the Scholastic Mother Daughter Book Club page to learn more about author Augusta Scattergood and to find an easy recipe for lemon cookies, a treat featured in Glory Be. While you're there, be sure to look over the other book club selections. I'll be reviewing most of the titles in the weeks to come and will be hosting a great giveaway in early June. Scattergood talked with NPR's Scott Simon about her childhood experiences and how they informed Glory Be. This review will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.

Buy Glory Be at Powell's, at an Indie, at Book Depository, or at a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by Scholastic, Inc. / Scholastic Press, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780545331807
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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19 May 2012

Weekend Cooking: Review: Farmers' Markets of the Heartland by Janine MacLachlan

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


It's that wonderful time of the year . . . and I don't mean Christmas. For me, the best season is when the farmers' markets are open. I am blessed to live in an area in which I can shop at a different local farmers' market at least four times a week. From May to early November, I buy everything but orange juice from a local producer.

I'm not alone in my love of the family farm. Janine MacLachlan is "a self-described farm groupie," and her new book, Farmers' Markets of the Heartland, is a celebration of locally produced American bounty. The book can be enjoyed on several levels, but for me, the primary features are the stories of the farmers and their land and the informative sidebars, which cover a variety of issues about our food and food supply.

MacLachlan focuses on eight Midwestern states (and gives Chicago its own chapter). For each state, she provides descriptions of specific markets, including the type of information you would expect: number of vendors, location, and operation times. What makes the book unique, though, are the profiles of the vendors. Through their stories, MacLachlan paints a vivid and fascinating portrait of the modern family farm that moves beyond the barnyard to history, government, science, and philosophy. In Ohio, for example, we meed Deanna and David McMaken of Rose Ridge Farm, who are fifth-generation farmers, living on land that has been in their family since the early 1820s. As they talk about their farm, we learn about the Homestead Act, early land surveying, small-farm cattle breeding, and the woes of living in a house built by their great-great-grandfather.

Tucked between the market data, you'll find a treasure trove of facts such as the Greenfield Agrarian Book Club reading list and "A Day in the Life of a Market Manager." But being a farmer today is not always easy, and Farmers' Markets of the Heartland takes time to examine more serious issues, such as conservation, the rapid loss of farmland to development, preserving biodiversity, CSAs, and the future of the small farm.

There is much to love about this book, even if you don't live in the Midwest or even in America. Farmers' Markets of the Heartland will appeal to anyone who has interest in fresh, locally produced food. It's a book that you won't necessarily read from cover to cover in one sitting. Instead, you'll dip into it, reading a profile or two or perhaps turning to the feature on artisan cheeses.

Of course, if you live in the American Midwest or are planning a trip, you can use the book as your guide to finding great eats. In addition, you'll want to spend an hour or two just looking at the beautiful photographs. Finally, even though this is not a cookbook, MacLachlan includes a handful of yummy recipes; there's a rosemary salt bread that's calling my name.

For those of you who are looking for recipes based on farmers' market produce, visit Janine MacLachlan's website The Rustic Kitchen.

Buy Farmers' Markets of the Heartland at an Indie, at Powell's, at Book Depository, or at bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs
Published by University of Illinois Press, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780252078637
Rating: B
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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18 May 2012

Imprint Friday: The Blind Spy by Alex Dryden

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Ecco books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

After the break up of the Soviet Union, a entire genre of fiction faced the possibility of extinction. Thanks to Alex Dryden and his Anna Resnikov novels, spy thriller fans can breath easy again. The Blind Spy, which came out in March, is Dryden's third in a series but can easily be read as a standalone novel.

Here's the publisher's summary:

Russia has never accepted Ukraine's independence and now the Patrioti—Putin, his elder statesmen, and seasoned generals dedicated to rebuilding their fallen empire—are using the KGB's controversial elite and clandestine forces of Department S to destabilize the young democratic nation and bring it back under Russian control.

But Cougar, the powerful private intelligence company that overshadows even the CIA in its reach, learns of Russia's plans and strikes at the heart of its plot with its own lethal weapon—the gorgeous ex–KGB colonel Anna Resnikov. More than a gifted spy and expert killer, Anna lost the love of her life and the father of her child at the hands of her former countrymen. Her defection to Cougar has made her the most wanted woman in Russia, but she'll risk any danger to herself for the chance to destroy the evil that rules her homeland. And on the ground in Ukraine, she meets a formidable foe, a mysterious KGB spy whose aims are suspiciously unclear but whose power is unmistakably deadly.
The Blind Spy starts in Damascus in the 1970s, when cold-war Soviet spy Lieutenant Valentin Viktorov discovers he has a son, the result of a one-night stand with a Syrian woman. After leaving the infant on the doorstep of an orphanage, Valentin returns to the USSR.

The story then jumps to Moscow in Putin's Russia, where Valentin's son, Dmitry, is now in his late 30s and is himself an elite spy for his father's homeland. Dmitry, however, is no ordinary man; although he has been blind since birth, he is blessed with an almost psychic talent to disguise his disability. The current mission for Putin's Department S agents? To find a way to bring Ukraine back under Russian control.

Enter Anna Resnikov, ex-KGB officer now working for the West, whose task is to undermine Putin's plans. Once she's on the trail of the blind spy--or is it really that Dmitry's on her trail?--the action really takes off. Thanks to believable characterizations, twisty plots, and vivid descriptions, Dryden has successfully revived the spy vs. spy genre for twenty-first-century readers.

Now for some other opinions (click on the links for the full reviews):
  • From Publishers Weekly: "Dryden’s personal knowledge and experience of both the British security services and Russia’s intelligence apparatus informs his fine third entry . . . in a series grounded less in physical action than in the twisting intellectual gamesmanship that makes the shadow world of espionage so compelling."
  • From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: "His thrillers are thus an extended clarion call to arms, despite their spy-thriller guise. And as guises go, Dryden's books are doozies. They're exceptionally intelligent examples of the genre."
  • From BookLoons Reviews: "A former spy and international security expert turned novelist, [Dryden] knows what he's writing about and is able to wring every ounce of suspense and riveting action from his authentic thrillers."
For more on Alex Dryden, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

Beth Fish Reads is proud to showcase Ecco books as a featured imprint on this blog. For more information about Ecco, please read the introductory note from Vice President / Associate Publisher Rachel Bressler, posted here on July 15, 2011. Find your next great read by clicking on Ecco in the scroll-down topics/labels list in my sidebar and by visiting Ecco books on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

The Blind Spy at Powell's
The Blind Spy at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Ecco, March 2012
ISBN-13: 9780062088086

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17 May 2012

Review & Giveaway: This Means War (Movie)

A few days ago I told you I was fortunate enough to be able to offer one of my readers a DVD of the fun, action-packed, and romantic movie This Means War, starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy.

Two best friends, FDR and Tuck, work for the CIA and don't have much time for committed relationship . . . until they meet Lauren. Lauren hasn't dated in a while but when she meets two hot guys on the same day, her best friend encourages her to date them both until she decides which one, if either, she likes better.

When FDR and Tuck realize they're dating the same woman they decide to keep both their friendship and their occupation secret from Lauren. How long can they keep up the pretense and what will happen when Lauren finds out she's dating the two best buds? Pop some popcorn and get ready to try to decide which guy you would pick. To help you choose here's a list of their characteristics (thanks to Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment):

In This Means War, Lauren had one big question looming on her mind--which is the right guy for her--FDR or Tuck? Below we create a comparison of the two, just like Lauren did with her bestie, Trish.
What They Share
  • Can wear a suit really well
  • Live in really nice apartments
  • Rich
  • Can protect you
  • Have a dangerous job
All About Tuck
  • Sweet
  • Has a child and an ex-wife
  • British
  • Likes to plan
  • Takes relationship slowly and more carefully--he’s safe
All About FDR
  • Has commitment issues
  • Plenty of ex-girlfriends
  • Tall
  • Blunt
  • Spontaneous

There are several possible outcomes to This Means War, and Mr. BFR and I made our predictions early on in the film. I guessed wrong, but it didn't take away from enjoying the movie.

Giveaway Thanks to Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment I can offer one of my readers a DVD of the movie This Means War. Because the studio publicity people will be mailing out the DVD, this giveaway is open to only those with a U.S. or Canada mailing address (no PO boxes). To enter for a chance to win, just fill out the form. I'll pick a winner on May 24 using a random number generator. Good luck!

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15 May 2012

Wordless Wednesday 181

Dame's Rocket, May 2012

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Today's Read & Giveaway: The Icon Thief by Alac Nevala-Lee

Enter the world of cutthroat art collecting, dance, and the Russia Mafia in The Icon Thief, a mystery/thriller by debut author Alec Nevala-Lee.

Andrey waited for what he knew was coming, barely aware of the music still pouring from his cassette deck. As he watched, the door of one car opened, disclosing a figure in a fur cap and greatcoat. It was a boy of twelve or so. His rifle, with its wooden buttstock, seemed at least twice as old as he was. (p. 2)
The Icon Thief, by Alec Nevala-Lee (Penguin USA / Signet, 2012)

For more information about the book, take a look at the summary from GoodReads:
Maddy Blume, an ambitious young art buyer for a Manhattan hedge fund, is desperate to track down a priceless painting by Marcel Duchamp, the most influential artist of the twentieth century. The discovery of a woman’s decapitated body thrusts criminal investigator Alan Powell into a search for the same painting, with its enigmatic image of a headless nude. And a Russian thief and assassin known as the Scythian must steal the painting first to save his reputation—and his life.

The murderous race is on. And in the lead is an insidious secret society intent on reclaiming the painting for reasons of its own—and by any means necessary.
The Giveaway: Thanks to the kind folks at PenguinUSA, I have two copies of The Icon Thief to give away. Because the publishing company will be mailing out the books, this giveaway is open only to those of you with a U.S. or Canada mailing address. To enter, simply fill out the form. I'll pick two winners on May 21 via a random number generator.

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14 May 2012

Review: Fables 11: War and Pieces by Bill Willingham

In the eleventh entry of Bill Willingham's Fables series, War and Pieces, our Fables heroes go to battle against the Adversary and Emperor. The principal characters in this book are Sleeping Beauty, Boy Blue, and Cinderella on the side of good and the Snow Queen, Hansel, and Geppetto on the side of evil. Of course many other familiar characters also make an appearance in the great war fought on three fronts.

War and Pieces marks the end of one major story arc, although there are still plenty of loose ends, many characters left to learn about, and at least one cliff hanger. This may be the most action-packed book yet, and the strategies, surprise attacks, and unexpected episodes are just part of the reason I'm hooked on this series.

The team of artists for Fables 11 is made of Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Niko Henrichon, Andrew Pepoy, Lee Loughridge, and Todd Klein. I've mentioned before that I like the work of some Fables artists better than others, so I was relieved that the style of the illustrations in this volume suits my tastes. The interpretations are not the same as the early books but are consistent with how I think the characters should look.

I picked the page at the right to scan because it's not very spoilery and because it features nonhuman Fables (click to enlarge and to read). The creatures are discussing whether they would rather stay in the Mundy (our) world, confined to a secret farm in upstate New York so humans don't see them, or would consider moving to a new kingdom in the homelands, where they wouldn't have to worry about remaining hidden. I love the art and the humor.

Don't let the fairy tale aspects of this series fool you. The books are not for your middle grade children.

Buy Fables 11: War and Pieces at an Indie, Powell's, Book Depository, or a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by DC Comics / Vertigo 2008
ISBN-13: 9781401219130
Source: bought (see review policy)
t © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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12 May 2012

Weekend Cooking: Dinner with Friends (Movie)

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


One of my favorite foodie films was produced for HBO in 2001 and stars Dennis Quaid, Andie McDowell, Toni Collette, and Greg Kinnear. Dinner with Friends is a character-driven movie that focuses on shared meals.

The movie starts soon after Gabe (Quaid) and Karen (McDowell) are married when they've each invited their best friend to the beach house for the weekend. Tom (Kinnear) and Beth (Collette) barely remember each other from the wedding but soon hit it off and eventually marry. The couples remain friends, vacationing together, eating together, and raising their children together, until the day Tom tells Beth he wants a divorce. As their friends' marriage begins to crumble, Gabe and Karen question their own relationship, the meaning of friendship, and the nature of marriage.

What makes this a foodie movie (though you wouldn't know it from the trailer) is that Gabe and Karen work for Gourmet magazine and every meal is a feast for the eyes and imagination. From a flourless Italian cake to lobsters on the Vineyard and fancy lunches in New York, almost every scene centers around a meal.

Watch Dinner with Friends for the good script, great acting, and awesome food.

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11 May 2012

Imprint Friday: The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Harper Perennial. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Despite the flood of dystopian novels in the last few years, I never tire of genre. The books that particularly catch my attention are those that take place in the not-so-distant future and paint a fairly believable world. Jane Rogers's The Testament of Jessie Lamb is a literary and feminist look at one possible scenario.

Here's the publisher's summary:

A rogue virus that kills pregnant women has been let loose in the world, and nothing less than the survival of the human race is at stake.

Some blame the scientists, others see the hand of God, and still others claim that human arrogance and destructiveness are reaping the punishment they deserve. Jessie Lamb is an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl living in extraordinary times. As her world collapses, her idealism and courage drive her toward the ultimate act of heroism. She wants her life to make a difference. But is Jessie heroic? Or is she, as her scientist father fears, impressionable, innocent, and incapable of understanding where her actions will lead?

Set in a world irreparably altered by an act of biological terrorism, The Testament of Jessie Lamb explores a young woman's struggle to become independent of her parents. As the certainties of her childhood are ripped apart, Jessie begins to question her parents' attitudes, their behavior, and the very world they have bequeathed her.
Like many a teenager, Jessie pays little attention to politics and the big issues that adults discuss around the dinner table. She and her friends never think to question the nature of their culture or the human-built world around them. Only when the effects of maternal death syndrome (MDS) begin to hit close to home does Jessie start to pay attention and eventually take a moral stand.

The Testament of Jessie Lamb asks some big questions about what happens when human rights are stripped away and about individual obligations for saving humanity. What if the only way for humans to reproduce was for women to volunteer to bear immunized test-tube babies? The catch is that the babies would live, but the mothers would not. What would make you chose to be both hero and victim at the same time? As Jessie evaluates her life so far and looks to the future, she must make some hard decisions before her freedom of choice is taken away from her.

Because Jane Rogers brings up so many issues relevant to today's political climate, The Testament of Jessie Lamb would make a great book club pick. Topics for discussion include bioterrorism, women's rights, reproductive rights, moral issues surrounding medical practices, and parents' power over their children. Readers seem to be divided about the target audience of this dystopian novel, but despite the teenage protagonist, the themes seem to be geared toward adults. Read it, discuss it, and you be the judge.

Here are some other views (click on the links for the full review):
  • Liviu writing at Fantasy Book Critic: "foremost it is a voice novel which kept me hooked me from the first to the last page with its poignant and emotional style."
  • Christa writing at Hooked on Books: "There is so much I loved about this book . . . . But the best thing is the range of emotions it provokes while you're reading it."
  • Katy Guest writing for The Independent: "The novel does not set up an elaborate apocalypse, but astringently strips away the smears hiding the apocalypses we really face. Like Jessie's, it is a small, calm voice of reason in a nonsensical world."
  • For a variety of opinions both positive and negative, see the Book Club discussion in the comments at Linus's Blanket. (Warning: comments contain spoilers.)
The Testament of Jessie Lamb was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and short-listed for an Arthur C. Clarke award. For more on Jane Rogers, visit her website or like her Facebook page.

Harper Perennial is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.

The Testament of Jessie Lamb at an Indie
The Testament of Jessie Lamb at Powell's
The Testament of Jessie Lamb at Book Depository
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Published by Harper Perennial, May 15, 2012 (HP edition)
ISBN-13: 9780062130808

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10 May 2012

Thursday Tea: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Book: I'm not sure why I waited so long to read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, considering I've had a copy of the book for more than a year. I finally took the advice of one of my best friends (not a blogger) and downloaded the audio and started listening. I was immediately hooked.

I really loved the story about Diana Bishop (historian and reluctant witch) and Matthew Clairmont (geneticist and vampire) and the ancient book Diana finds in the Bodleian Library. Although I wanted Diana to be a bit stronger and more self-assured, I didn't let that stop me from being swept along in this tale of mystery, action, and love.

Harkness's take on the nature of vampires, witches, and daemons is refreshing and fun. Diana, for reasons I'll not reveal here, doesn't understand her past or the power of her family and so we learn right along with her. Matthew, on the other hand, has lived for almost two thousand years and knows very well who he is. I especially liked to see the historian in Diana light up when she realizes that Matthew actually met the people she has only read about or was a firsthand witness to events that she is studying.

The audio edition was read by Jennifer Ikeda, who did a wonderful job with the accents and characterizations. She was equally at home with the action scenes and the more tender moments between our two heroes.

For more about A Discovery of Witches, watch this short video of Deborah Harkness on a walking tour of Oxford:

The Tea: Although Diana and her aunts would prefer a pot of tea, I took a tip from Matthew and chose wine instead. One of our favorite wines of late is a red blend by Rex Goliath called Free Range. Here's the producer's tasting notes: "With big and juicy red fruit flavors, this wine is smooth and easy to share with your fellow red wine adventurer." It's all that and still on the dry side and fairly inexpensive. We've been buying it by the big bottle.

The Assessment: I'm going out on limb that Matthew would tolerate this wine. But considering that he has wine from the year of the comet in his cellar, I doubt this is going to become a big favorite of his. Diana might go for it, however. One of her aunts prefers scotch, which is fine by me; I'd be happy to join her in a wee dram. In keeping with the original theme of this feature, I need to say there are plenty of tea lovers in A Discovery of Witches, but I think I'm going to hang out with Matthew.

What About You? What would I find in your mug or glass? And do tell me what you're reading this week.

Buy A Discovery of Witches at an Indie, Powell's, Book Depository, or a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Thursday Tea was the brainchild of Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog.
Published by Penguin USA / Viking 2011
ISBN-13: 9780670022410
Source: audio = bought; hardback = review (see review policy)
t © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)
FTC: I buy all teas (and wine!) myself, I am not a tea reviewer (but would be happy to become a wine reviewer).

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Upcoming Giveaway: This Means War (Film)

Get ready for a fun giveaway (details next week) from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. One of my readers will have a chance to win a DVD of This Means War, starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy.

Here's a quick synopsis taken from the studio's summary:

They are the CIA’s best, trained for any situation . . . except one. [In this] ultimate spy game . . . two best friends fight for the right of one woman’s hand in This Means War. The world's deadliest CIA operatives, FDR Foster (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy), are inseparable partners and best friends until they fall for the same woman (Witherspoon). Having once helped bring down entire enemy nations, they are now employing their incomparable skills and an endless array of high-tech gadgetry against their greatest nemesis-- each other.
Which of two friends will win Lauren's heart or will she decide to go it alone?

To help you decide if FDR or Tuck is the right one, check out the "Top 10 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Perfect Guy" (click the poster to enlarge it, use your browser's zoom tool, or print it).

I'm not sure which point on this check list is most important for me, but I think number 6, all about trust, is certainly a big one.

Look for my review and giveaway next week. I just got my copy of the film and can't wait to watch it. Even Mr. BFR is interested . . well, mostly he wants to see Reese Witherspoon.

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08 May 2012

Wordless Wednesday 180

Cloud Eats Moon, May 2012

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Today's Imprint Read: My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares

If you had the ability to remember all your past lives—millennia of deaths, lives, tragedies, and joys—would you consider it a blessing or a burden? Daniel is one such person, and throughout all his hundreds of lives, there has been one constant: Sophia and the irresistible love he feels for her. Each reincarnation, Daniel can't shake the hope that this time their love will bloom and grow with them into old age.

I've never had a child, and I've never gotten old. I don't know why. I have seen beauty in countless things. I have fallen in love, and she is the one who endures. I killed her once and died for her many times and I still have nothing to show for it. I always search for her; I always remember her. I carry the hope that someday she will remember me. (p. 2)
My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares (Penguin USA / Riverhead Books, 2010; quote is from uncorrected proofs and may differ in the published edition)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Virginia (modern times); all over the world (in the past)
  • Circumstances: Daniel remembers his past lives but Sophia doesn't; mystery of why their relationship is always cut short through death
  • Characters: Daniel and Sophia/Lucy, who meet as high school seniors
  • Main themes: love, reincarnation, living in the moment, what it means to have a fulfilled life, choice/fate, relationships
  • Genres: reincarnation, historical/contemporary fiction mix, romance (not bodice-ripper)
  • Publication date: June 2010 (hardcover); June 2011 (paperback)
  • Why author sounds familiar: she also wrote the young adult Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series
  • Miscellaneous: Indie Next pick for June 2010; first in a planned trilogy
The following video was made by BookList in 2009, but it gives you a feel for Ann Brashares:

Want to Know More? Author Ann Brashshares spoke with a CBS morning show about My Name Is Memory, becoming an author, and the transition from young adult books to adult fiction; another interview was posted on the blog Today's Adventure. For more about Brashares, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page. The publisher's website offers an excerpt, information about the different media and editions, and a reading group guide. For more Riverhead Books and for news about events and great books, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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