Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gotta Love Give Aways Winnings - from The Zen Leaf

I have won my first book give away. It's Tithe  by Holly Black. Thank you to Amanda an incredibly prolific reader and book reviewer. Check her blog out, just click on the title of this posting.

Preview - A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

Some exciting news for me, I have recieved my first book in the mail on Saturday for review on my blog. It is called A Circle of Souls  by Preethem Grandhi. Even better it is signed by the author. Fun stuff! Thank you Preethem.

I have read the prologue as well as the first two chapters of the book and have found the writing style very pleasant and easy to follow. Several of the book's reviews have also made the novel sound very promising.

Here is the synopsis from the webpage:
The sleepy town of Newbury, Connecticut, is shocked when a little girl is found brutally murdered. The town’s top detective, perplexed by a complete lack of leads, calls in FBI agent Leia Bines, an expert in cases involving children.
Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Gram, a psychiatrist at Newbury’s hospital, searches desperately for the cause of seven-year-old Naya Hastings’s devastating nightmares. Afraid that she might hurt herself in the midst of a torturous episode, Naya’s parents have turned to the bright young doctor as their only hope.
The situations confronting Leia and Peter converge when Naya begins drawing chilling images of murder after being bombarded by the disturbing images in her dreams. Amazingly, her sketches are the only clues to the crime that has panicked Newbury residents. Against her better judgment, Leia explores the clues in Naya’s crude drawings, only to set off an alarming chain of events.
In this stunning psychological thriller, innocence gives way to evil, and trust lies forgotten in a web of deceit, fear, and murder.

The author also has a very interesting bio:
Preetham Grandhi, an India-born immigrant, explores his life parallels in a new kind of psychological thriller and debut novel, A Circle of Souls. Born and raised in the city of Bangalore, India, Preetham mirrored the struggles of upper-middle class lives, acculturation, and psychological trauma through the characters of this well-sculpted thriller. Preetham's childhood determination for success and change leads to a new life in the USA. His hope is that the land of opportunity would close old doors and open new beginnings. In a twist of fate, he found himself working with children and their families in the inner city Bronx, families who had even more complex issues than his own. Through their eyes and life experiences, he was motivated to become someone he never thought he would become, an author. After investing five years in writing, he then encountered the struggle of becoming a traditionally published author. Now in June 2009, in the midst of economic crises and nationwide corporation mismanagement, comes A Circle of Souls, a tale of hope, justice, and accountability. This spirit-lifting and thought-provoking story has received rave reviews.

For a sample of the writing style the first few chapters of the book can be previewed here.
The title of this blog is also a direct link to the authors website.

My personal review will be coming soon.

Book Stats:
Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Cedar Fort; 1 edition (June 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599552353
ISBN-13: 978-1599552354

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gotta Love Give Aways - Contests I've entered June 22, 2009

I am a book nut and very new to the "blogosphere" which makes me even more excited about the give aways that so many book bloggers are offering. Here are a few sites that are offering books that I am currently hoping to get copies of. We all love free books. Here is my list and thanks to these busy bloggers. My next efforts will be to try and post the give aways in my side bar.

Hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog
Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson; Wings by Aprilyne Pike; Ghost Huntress (Book One) The Awakening by Marley Gibson
Hosted by True Crime Book Reviews
A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal, Eli Wiesel
Hosted by The Zen Leaf
Tithe by Holly Black
Hosted by Rhapsody in Books
The Last Child by John Hart

Friday, June 19, 2009

Celebrating the Summer Solstice in the desert

Heat, ma'am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones. ~Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir

Here in the Arizona desert it's difficult to enjoy a true Summer. It is like an low heat oven. In fact you can fry an egg in several minutes on almost any surface during the daylight. When traveling to Scottsdale before my husband and I moved here, as we were landing in the Phoenix airport, the head steward said to the passangers as we were about to land, ladies and gentlemen welcome to hades, in a dry and humorous fashion with a lisp. We laughed, many others did not. They were probably the locals and the joke was to close to the truth.

It is in fact akin to an oven with the air being so dry, that a swim suit dries in the shade in a matter of minutes. It's a very curious thing to watch the thermometer reach triple digits often to a baking 116 degrees. Unlike the mild tempurature of my home in California or my husband's wet, wet country of origin - England, we both have felt like we are in an alien environment.
The weather, the landscape, and incredibly the huge and amazing cacti. For the first several years here we had several close calls while driving because we were so inthralled by these monstrous and beautiful plants.
When we moved in to our home in July of 2005 we did not even realize that we had neighbors untill they imerged from indoors around October. During the heat everyone stays inside, gets into their cars - blasts the air, then walks quickly to an airconditioned store, mall, or office building.

So, on the theme of summer I thought that I would give myself another "new blogger challenge" and there have been quite a few, a link to a song video. Lets see how well I do and how many times it takes me to get it right.

Yeah! Unlike other things, like posting book links which I had to redo several times this embedded easily. Lets see if it posts.

Father's Day

Its almost Father's Day. Time to get our heads around our personal concept of the guy who helped to create what we are today whether it be good, bad, or indifferent. Or if you are a father yourself, a time to celebrate your contributions to our world, your children. Here is a quote that is relevant for the day:

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. ~ Umberto Eco

Since I am a book lover, I'm going to link several books here that I thought to be interesting and relevant. I have yet to read it either of them but you have to admit the father in the first book is being truly creative with his child. The second is a rewrite of a classic tragedy involving a father and a son.

The first is: Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Mathew Amster-Burton;Published May 19th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin;256 pages; http://hungrymonkeybook.com/

Publisher's Blurb:  Matthew Amster-Burton was a restaurant critic and food writer long before he and his wife, Laurie, had Iris. Now he's a full-time, stay-at-home Dad and his experience with food has changed …a little.Hungry Monkey is the story of Amster-Burton's life as a food-lover--with a child. It's the story of how he came to realize that kids don't need puree in a jar or special menus at restaurants and that raising an adventurous eater is about exposure, invention, and patience. He writes of the highs and lows of teaching your child about food--the high of rediscovering how something tastes for the first time through a child's unflinching reaction, the low of thinking you have a precocious vegetable fiend on your hands only to discover that a child's preferences change from day to day (and may take years to include vegetables again). Sharing in his culinary capers is little Iris, a budding gourmand and a zippy critic herself--who makes hug sandwiches, gobbles up hot chilis, and even helps around the kitchen sometimes.A memoir on the wild joys of food and parenting and the marvelous mélange of the two--Hungry Monkey takes food enthusiasts on a new adventure in eating (with dozens of delicious recipes!). In the end, our guide reminds us: "Food is fun, and you get to enjoy it three times a day, plus snacks!"

And a remake of the tragic yet classic father and son relationship, Shakespeare's Hamlet. I have yet to read this as well but its on my tbr list which is ever growing.

The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig; Published February 1st 2007 (first published 2006) by Viking Adult 336 pages Author's website

Publishers Blurb:  The story of Hamlet is not usually thought of as one meant for laughter. But Matt Haig's able retelling of the tale in The Dead Fathers Club will make you laugh, though it might also evoke a tear. Eleven-year-old Philip Noble is at his father's funeral when who should appear but his father's ghost, who wastes no time in telling Philip that his Uncle Alan, an auto mechanic, tampered with his car, causing the accident that killed him. He warns Philip that Uncle Alan will shortly be tampering with his mother too, because Unctuous Uncle Alan wants the pub that Philip's father owned.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

My first review on layers of thought.
Speak in the audio format feels realistic, as the reader sounds like a teenage girl whom narrates to us in the first person. She sarcastically and moodily goes through her disrupted life with the experiences of a typical teenager, and one whom has experienced a traumatic event. Its easy to sympathize with her as she fumbles her way through her cynicism, pain, and angst which are otherwise present in most untouched young people's lives. The audio book plays identically to the movie which was good, and had unfortunately watched before I listened to the audio book. Generally, I like to read the book before I watch the movie. I'd prefer not to read a book when I know its conclusion. It's more of a commitment to spend the time reading a book rather than watching an hour long movie, but I would say that this book was worth it.

Publisher: Peter Smith Pub Inc (June 30, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0844672920ISBN-13: 978-0844672922

Author's website http://www.writerlady.com/

I would give it 3.5 stars.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Which fantasy author are you? - Quiz

Here is an interesting quiz that I took linked from a blog that I follow. Only The Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy. onlythebestscifi.blogspot.com A gorgeous new blog with some impressive links. And from nethspace.blogspot.com which I have only just found today. The test takes a few minutes but hey.... it was fun. The first book she has written is on my to be read list on goodreads.com.

Your result for Which fantasy writer are you?...

Lian Hearn (b. 1942)

-11 High-Brow, 5 Violent, 13 Experimental and 19 Cynical!

Congratulations! You are Low-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical! These concepts are defined below.

Lian Hearn is the pen name used by Australian author Gillian Rubinstein when writing theTale of the Otori series, beginning with Across the Nightingale Floor (2002). The trilogy (which has spawned a sequel and a prequel) was a great success, becoming bestsellers world-wide and being published in more than thirty countries. Part of the reason for the series' success is probably that it is traditional fantasy but with a twist: The books are set in a country resembling feudal Japan, rather than some vaguely European environment. This setting gives Hearn a great opportunity to explore themes such as war, revenge, power hunger and clashes between cultures, all of which makes for an occasionally very violent tale, where nothing is ever coated in sugar. The books also feature at least one strong and very believable female character. While there have been japanese-style fantasy written by Westerners earlier (such as the Book of Years series by Peter Morwood), Hearn uses the brilliant technique of describing her world from inside, calling typical japanese phenomena by generic names rather than exoticising Japanese terms. Thus, swords are called swords, not katanas, we hear of wrestlers and realize that they are sumo wrestlers, characters eat bean curd rather than tofu, etc. All in all, Hearn has succesfully expanded the borders of what can be done within the genre, while still writing for a mass audience!

You are also a lot like C S Lewis.

If you want something more gentle, try Orson Scott Card.

If you'd like a challenge, try your exact opposite, Susan Cooper.

Your score

This is how to interpret your score: Your attitudes have been measured on four different scales, called 1) High-Brow vs. Low-Brow, 2) Violent vs. Peaceful, 3) Experimental vs. Traditional and 4) Cynical vs. Romantic. Imagine that when you were born, you were in a state of innocence, a tabula rasa who would have scored zero on each scale. Since then, a number of circumstances (including genetical, cultural and environmental factors) have pushed you towards either end of these scales. If you're at 45 or -45 you would be almost entirely cynical, low-brow or whatever. The closer to zero you are, the less extreme your attitude. However, you should always be more of either (eg more romantic than cynical). Please note that even though High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical have positive numbers (1 through 45) and their opposites negative numbers (-1 through -45), this doesn't mean that either quality is better. All attitudes have their positive and negative sides, as explained below.

High-Brow vs. Low-Brow

You received -11 points, making you more Low-Brow than High-Brow. Being high-browed in this context refers to being more fascinated with the sort of art that critics and scholars tend to favour, while a typical low-brow would favour the best-selling kind. At their best, low-brows are honest enough to read what they like, regardless of what "experts" and academics say is good for them. At their worst, they are more likely to read what their neighbours like than what they would choose themselves.

Violent vs. Peaceful

You received 5 points, making you more Violent than Peaceful. Please note that violent in this context does not mean that you, personally, are prone to violence. This scale is a measurement of a) if you are tolerant to violence in fiction and b) whether you see violence as a means that can be used to achieve a good end. If you are, and you do, then you are violent as defined here. At their best, violent people are the heroes who don't hesitate to stop the villain threatening innocents by means of a good kick. At their worst, they are the villains themselves.

Experimental vs. Traditional

You received 13 points, making you more Experimental than Traditional. Your position on this scale indicates if you're more likely to seek out the new and unexpected or if you are more comfortable with the familiar, especially in regards to culture. Note that traditional as defined here does not equal conservative, in the political sense. At their best, experimental people are the ones who show humanity the way forward. At their worst, they provoke for the sake of provocation only.

Cynical vs. Romantic

You received 19 points, making you more Cynical than Romantic. Your position on this scale indicates if you are more likely to be wary, suspicious and skeptical to people around you and the world at large, or if you are more likely to believe in grand schemes, happy endings and the basic goodness of humankind. It is by far the most vaguely defined scale, which is why you'll find the sentence "you are also a lot like x" above. If you feel that your position on this scale is wrong, then you are probably more like author x. At their best, cynical people are able to see through lies and spot crucial flaws in plans and schemes. At their worst, they are overly negative, bringing everybody else down.

Author picture from www.lianhearn.com , used by kind permission.

Take Which fantasy writer are you?

I have not read any of her work yet but here is the first in book in her series Tales of the Otori.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Theme Poem - The Layers

As I was reading the book Ten Poems to Set you Free from the author/poem collector Roger Housden I found this poem which has the name of my blog in its title. This particular poem is by Stanley Kunitz an American poet who died in 2006. It's a wonderful poem and speaks to the reader of ways in which he/she can change his/her life. Here it is:

The Layers
I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written,
I am not done with my changes.

Ten Poems to Set You Free
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