Best of the Bunch: September 2011

The Best of the Bunch: September 2011!

I literally stumbled on this great book blog with an awesome idea. The book blog is Lyrical Reviews  and every month they host a meme showcasing the 
"best of the bunch" out of all the books you review each month. So I decided to add my  02 cents worth and add my choice for September of 2011. And that is...

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

I just love this book!  It captured my imagination like no other book has done in a long time. The characters haunted me and still do. It's well written with an amazing and mysterious story to read.  You can see my review here. And I hope it makes you want to read the book too! 

The Wounded Heart by Adina Senft

THE WOUNDED  HEART: An Amish Quilt Novel
By Adina Senft
Faithwords,  $12.99

When a business offer turns into something more personal, Amelia is torn between what logic tells her is right, and the desire of her heart. 
A widow with two small children, Amelia Beiler is struggling to make ends meet. She is running her late husband's business, but it's not what she was raised to do, which is run a home. When she gets an offer for the business from Eli Fischer, she's only too relieved to consider it-especially when it looks like Eli's interest might include more than just the shop. But when she begins to experience strange physical symptoms and is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it's difficult not to question God's will. If she pursues the treatment she believes in, she risks going under the bann. But how can she allow Eli to court her when she can't promise him a future?

Before I get to my thoughts about The Wounded Heart, I have to be upfront and begin with a disclaimer. I know Adina Senft.  And to be honest, I'd never read an Amish themed book before, but I knew about the popular genre and I knew Senft's ability to tell a solid story. So I thought, why not give her book a try? Why not? Well, to be honest, I was afraid that I wouldn't be captured by a story taking place in the strict Amish world. I wondered what kind of plot there would be in these "plain" people and their community?  But I gave it a try and I am glad that I did. Senft has created a world that is easily identified with by any of us. Amish or not, we all have friends, we all experienced sorrow and loss, we have all battled illness or had someone close to us who has, and who hasn't found themselves between the proverbial "rock and hard place" as has the lead character Amelia, a widow with two young boys.

 Amelia's two best friends Carrie and Emma serve as a sounding board for Amelia and that's how we hear of Amelia's struggle with the choices in her life. When diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Amelia wonders if she should seek a new medical treatment in Mexico. But she has no money. She has many offers to buy the business that she and her late husband started, should she take the highest from an "Englisher" or a lower amount from someone within the Amish community?   Her parents and the Church elders pull her in one direction, Amelia's heart pulls her in another and mind pulls her in yet another. These characters are fully drawn and interesting people!  Senft's plot line is solid and engaging. I often struggled with the restrictions of an Amish woman, raising her children alone, but so did Amelia!  I was able to connect with her on various levels and to me, that's the sign of a well written story. I cared.

I think that every author's goal is to tell a story that the reader will care about. I recommend The Wounded Heart, it's about people who care, people who trust, people who hurt and people who triumph!  And that's about the best recommendation I can give.

The Wounded Heart is the first in a trilogy and I look forward to the next book in the series.

4 out of 5 stars,  it's engaging, well told and kept my interest. Start the

This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher and in no way affected my review.

Kindle Fire is born - another way to read

They've been talking about it and talking about it...the anticipated "tablet reader and browser" KINDLE FIRE is here!  Jeff Bezos  introduced it today in NY!  This one is, I think, worth watching.

 Will I get one? Good question.  I have an older Kindle and it's still working great, but there are also 3 other NEW Kindle options out there for those who want an e-reader.  I still prefer physical books, but these sure come in handy.

Here's where to read more about the new Kindles and Kindle Fire:    Amazon

Pirate King by Laurie R. King

By Laurie R. King
Bantam, $25.00

Publisher's synopsis: In this latest adventure featuring the intrepid Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, New York Timesbestselling author Laurie R. King takes readers into the frenetic world of silent films—where the pirates are real and the shooting isn’t all done with cameras.

In England’s young silent-film industry, the megalomaniacal Randolph Fflytte is king. Nevertheless, at the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities that swirl around Fflytte’s popular movie studio. So Russell is traveling undercover to Portugal, along with the film crew that is gearing up to shoot a cinematic extravaganza, Pirate King. Based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, the project will either set the standard for moviemaking for a generation . . . or sink a boatload of careers.

Nothing seems amiss until the enormous company starts rehearsals in Lisbon, where the thirteen blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses whom Mary is bemusedly chaperoning meet the swarm of real buccaneers Fflytte has recruited to provide authenticity. But when the crew embarks for Morocco and the actual filming, Russell feels a building storm of trouble: a derelict boat, a film crew with secrets, ominous currents between the pirates, decks awash with budding romance—and now the pirates are ignoring Fflytte and answering only to their dangerous outlaw leader. Plus, there’s a spy on board. Where can Sherlock Holmes be? As movie make-believe becomes true terror, Russell and Holmes themselves may experience a final fadeout.

My thoughts on Laurie R. King's newest novel and the eleventh in her Mary Russell series, Pirate King.  Golly where to start? This is the tough part as I was so disappointed in this one. I have been a fan of King's for years now and have always enjoyed the smart chatter and fun means-to-an-end that King made excellent use of with her wild plots uniting equally absurd and brilliant Sherlock Holmes with her Mary Russell. I looked at Mary and Holmes as an earlier version of Nick and Nora Charles. Watching the two of them conjecture and work together as a real pair was just always just plain fun. They had ridiculous disguises and almost "steam punk" like contraptions and inventions to help them out.

I missed that team. Mary and Holmes. Where did they go? Is King taking the series in a new direction? I hope not.  I love old silent films and grew up listening to "The Pirates of Penzance" so I really looked forward to Pirate King. 

I hate seeing Mary sleuthing around on her own, it seemed so empty.

I hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

I'm giving Pirate King 2 stars and I'm hoping this isn't a trend.

The e-galley was provided to my by the publisher at my request in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

A comprehensive backlist coming to a brick and mortar soon.

'Comprehensive Backlist': New HarperCollins DPR Program

Look interesting?? Yeah, I thought so too!!  I love this idea and hope we get these in my area soon!

To read the entire article click this sentence.


"This fall HarperCollins will launch a "Comprehensive Backlist" program, which allows bricks-and-mortar bookshops with the Espresso Book Machine to promote and sell the publisher's backlist titles. The bookstores will be able to offer trade paperbacks from the HarperCollins catalogue through a mix of traditionally printed books and print on demand, with the latter sold on an agency model."

"Wanderlust" suggestions for book clubs from Simon & Schuster

Looking for your next book club read?  Need some ideas to run by the other club members? Or just looking for something new to read for yourself?

Meet WANDERLUST!  This is a great new idea from the bookies over at Simon & Schuster. It's the launch of the second free, downloadable book club sampler—WANDERLUST: A Book Club Sampler from Simon & Schuster

Simon and Schuster says that Wanderlust pays homage to a book's unique ability to transport your imagination around the world. Wanderlust features excerpts from the following titles: Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo, Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman,Amaryllis in Blueberry by Cristina Meldrum, The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais, The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park, and last but not least, An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy. 

Each excerpt is accompanied by a note from the author, the reading group guide, and the author's response to the question What is your favorite travel memory? Their answers are great.Anuradha Roy, author of An Atlas of Impossible Longing, says it best: "All readers of fiction carry within themselves sediments of the places they have traveled to in books, the people they've met on the way. Therefore the strange deja vu is when you land in a foreign country and wonder if you've been there before."

How cool is that?

Wanderlust: A Book Club Sampler from Simon & Schuster

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers
By Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Ballantine, $25.00

SYNOPSIS: A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

MY REVIEW:  Lately I seem to be drawn to books that flip from one time to another. I don't know if that's a product of what's out there now, or just a factor of the stories I seem to love. Yes, I loved Vanessa Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers!  There, I said it early on.  I pasted in a sneak peek at the bottom of this review post if you want to see what glorious things I am talking about with this story!

Diffenbaugh places us, her readers, in a seldom written about world. Foster care. And what happens to those in "the system" who aren't adopted. Victoria has a gift, she loves to nurture flowers and plants. I liked the way Diffenbaugh shows the caring and vulnerable side of Victoria through her garden.  

This first time author has written a book as beautiful as the flowers that unfold within the book's pages. She's a wordsmith and a born storyteller. Just when you think you know what trail you're on, Diffenbaugh throws a curve into your garden path.And they aren't all pretty. There's grit and substance.  

I have to admit that I was glued to the meanings of the different flowers and wish we still gave meaning to the flowers we use as gifts.

Well told, well paced and well plotted. I highly recommend this one!  I loved learning the language of flowers and hope you will too. But more importantly, I thought the journey of Diffenbaugh's Victoria is a lesson learning experience. She'll open your eyes and make you think...and feel.

4 out of 5 stars!

This galley was sent to me by the publisher and in no way affected my review.

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - Sneak Peek!

Books to Movies Monday - DRIVE

Avast ye's also Talk Like a Pirate that explains that. Now on to today's Book to Movie Monday choice.

The movie Drive is getting a lot of good buzz, it was adapted from James Sallis novel by screenwriter  Hossein Amini.

Drive book cover copyright Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Hollywood Madonna: Loretta Young by Bernard F. Dick

by Bernard F. Dick
University Press of Mississippi, $35.00

When I saw that this e-galley was offered by the publisher I jumped at the chance to read Hollywood Madonna. Loretta Young was an actress that my Mom loved, so whenever one of her films was on TV, we watched it. And there's never a Christmas that doesn't bring at least one viewing of The Bishop's Wife at my house. I had read about her daughter by Clark Gable and the secret adoption. But she did what she had to do back in those times and I think Mr. Dick showed why she did what she did concerning her daughter Judy.

That being said, I was a bit disappointed in Bernard F. Dick's book. I didn't expect easy to verify dates in the book to go to press uncorrected. Author's error or editor's error? Doesn't really matter, they should have been corrected. And I didn't much like the film critique, be either a biographer or a critic. Ms. Young lived a long life and worked in the film business for most of it. I realize it's often difficult to give the reader the needed exposition and not become too bogged down with facts, and I think Dick did a good job of filling us in on "Gretchen" Young's early days. For once, I enjoyed reading about someone's childhood and finding out that she was a really aggressive young woman. This part of the book was very enjoyable. 

I think the author also painted what seems to be a fairly good picture of Ms. Young struggles in the industry, and also in sharing with the reader how devout a Catholic Ms. Young was. But I didn't need or want to read his thoughts about all of her films. I wanted to read about her.

Over all, my whines about Hollywood Madonna are small, so it's still a fairly enjoyable read. I just got a bit cranky over his constant critical statements about her and especially about his opinions on her portrayal of Julia, The Bishop's Wife.  The Bishop's Wife is named for her character and she's angelic in it, she played it with restraint and simplicity. Simple perfection.  I wish I could say that about  Mr. Dick's book.  

3 out of 5 stars, wait for the paperback or download it.

This e-galley was provided to be by the publisher and in no way affected my review.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

by Erin Morgenstern
$26.95, Doubleday

Publisher's synopsis:  
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

My thoughts - I keep coming up with one word descriptions -


I read the hype and wondered if the advance on Erin Morgenstern's  The Night Circus could stand up to all the praise? Well, yes indeedie it can, and does.

I was hooked when I took the galley out of the publisher's mailer.

Don't get me wrong, the book has some flaws, but I can ignore them, and so should you. Morgenstern writes tight, but important sentences. With just a few words she is able to create mystical scenes in your mind. You can SEE the circus, you are there at the planning dinners, you can smell the spiced cider. You can see the burn marks on their fingers. You can feel the twists and contortions of Tsukiko's limber body, when Bailey sneaks into the circus as part of a "truth or dare," you are able to experience through his eyes, what splendor there is in the night circu.  When I  first started reading The Night Circus, I thought of the Edward Norton film, The Illusionist, as it has the beauty and allure the comes from two young people in love and bound by a strange history. But the book is so much more.

A couple of the issues I had was the need to constantly track the time frame, as Morgenstern flips back and forth in the time frame of the story. Some passages are without a time reference at all. And I often felt as if the story moved too slowly. I wanted things to move be a more cohesive flow through, rather than what I saw as a series of scenes, as if in a play.

But, those are minor things in such a beautifully written story. I loved Celia and  Marco and was enraptured when their paths crossed and then aligned together.

To me, this is an almost darn near perfect book from a first time author! Go figure!  I rarely give a 5 Star rating, but this one deserves all 5 big fat stars!

It's pure escapism, fantasy and wonder, with a charming love story thrown in!

I loved it!

This galley was provided to me by the publisher, at my request, and in no way affected my review.

Cover images: Doubleday

I loved it so much I embedded this widget, you can read an except here:

The Night Circus Excerpt

Welcome to Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011!  This is my first year to participate and each day the organizers give us a topic to chat about.  Today's topic is "Community" and I think that's a great way to begin the week.  Being a life long lover of books and a relatively new face in the book blogging world, I'd like to share a couple of blogs that I visit.  These blogs usually cover book genres that I don't write about here on Novel Chatter and I love to see what's "out there" in genre's not covered here.

The first is Parajunkee's View, where all things paranormal are discussed, it's a fun place to visit and then for Historical Fiction I never miss Historical Tapestry. If you've not seen them, give them a try. Different blogs out there, blogging about things we might not read about if we didn't poke around the net.

Books to Movies Monday - Anna Karenina

Keira Knightley to play Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

Keira Knightley's been signed  in the lead role of the latest film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.  This time around, the film adaptation has been penned by Tom Stoppard and will be directed by Joe Wright.  Jude Law has signed on as Anna's husband, Alexsei Karenina.   

Joe Wright first directed Knightley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice and then in 2007 with Atonement.  Anna Karenina will be their third film together.  Look for filming to begin sometime this month.

Anna Karenina cover: Random House. 

Hillenbrand's UNBROKEN sells over 1 Million hardcovers

According to a report from USA TODAY Laura Hillenbrand's UNBROKEN has passed the one-million-copy mark in hardcover sales alone!  And e-book sales are not too far behind that number with approximately 650,000 e-copies sold!

"In this time of explosive growth in e-book sales, the mega-success ofUnbroken in hardcover clearly underscores that the demand for print editions of great reads is still enormous," Gina Centrello, President and Publisher of the Random House Publishing Group.

This is one of the best books I've read.  Ever. If you've not read it yet? What are you waiting for?

Read the complete story from USA TODAY here.

Cover art: Random House Publishing

The Foreigners by Maxine Swann

By Maxine Swann
Riverhead, $25.95

Publishers synopsis:
A glittering, energetic novel about three women-each experiencing an awakening in the gloriously conflicted and sexy city of Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires is a city of Parisian affections and national anxiety, of amorous young lovers, seedy ports, flooded slums, and a dazzling social elite. Into this heady maze of contradiction and possibility enter two women: Daisy, an American divorcée; and Isolde, a beautiful, lonely Austrian. In Buenos Aires, Isolde finds that her blond European looks afford her entrée to the kind of elite, alluring social world she never would have had access to in her home country, but her ascension also sets her up for a long, surprising fall. Meanwhile, Daisy joins forces with Leonarda, a chameleonic Argentine with radical dreams of rebellion, who transfixes Daisy with her wild effervescence. Soon, Daisy is throwing off her American earnestness and engaging in a degree of passion, manipulation, and risk-taking in a way she never has before. Buenos Aires has allowed her to become someone else.
Against the throbbing backdrop of this shimmering and decadent city- almost a character in itself-Maxine Swann has created a stunning narrative of reawakened sensuality and compulsive desire that simultaneously explores with remarkable acuity themes of foreignness, displacement, and the trembling metamorphoses that arise from such states. From the award-winning, critically celebrated author of Flower Children, The Foreigners is a startlingly bold and original, unforgettable next novel.

I put this book down, I abandoned it, or maybe it abandoned me. I thought it sounded like a great read, and that  it would be an interesting story of three women on a road to discovery.  I couldn't read it long enough to engage with the characters.  The story, if there is one, rambled along, jumped around and just didn't keep my interest.

So I'm not reviewing it.  I know some people have enjoyed The Foreigners, I just wasn't one of them. 

This review copy of the book was provided to me by the publisher and in no way affected my review or opinion of the book. 

2011 Man Booker Prize shortlist announced

2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction
Shortlist announced

The Man Booker Prize has been described variously as ‘Posh bingo' and ‘the indispensable literary thermometer'. Whatever your view, each year the prize promotes the finest in new fiction and rewards the year's best novel, securing international renown for its shortlisted and longlisted authors and giving book lovers worldwide a choice reading list.
With such differing titles on this year's shortlist, there is sure to be great debate over who will win the coveted prize on 18 October. The judges' selection includes two first time novelists - Stephen Kelman and A.D. Miller - while four of the books are from independent publishers. Of the six writers, two have enjoyed success with the prize in the past. Julian Barnes has been shortlisted three times for Arthur and George (2005), England, England (1998) and Flaubert's Parrot (1984), while Carol Birch was longlisted in 2003 for Turn Again Home. Two Canadian writers feature on the shortlist - Patrick deWitt and Esi Edugyan - along with four British novelists.
The shortlist was announced by Chair of Judges, author and former Director-General of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington, at a press conference held at Man's London headquarters.
The six books, selected from the longlist of 13, are:

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape - Random House)
Carol Birch,  Jamrach's Menagerie (Canongate Books)
Patrick deWitt,  The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
Esi Edugyan,  Half Blood Blues (Serpent's Tail)
Stephen Kelman,  Pigeon English (Bloomsbury)
A.D. Miller,  Snowdrops (Atlantic)
Chair of judges, Dame Stella Rimington, comments: "Inevitably it was hard to whittle down the longlist to six titles. We were sorry to lose some great books. But, when push came to shove, we quickly agreed that these six very different titles were the best."
The winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced on Tuesday 18 October at a dinner at London's Guildhall and will be broadcast on the BBC. The winner will receive £50,000 and each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, will receive £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their book. Last year's winner, The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson, has sold over 250,000 copies in the UK alone.
Source press release

Saint's Gate by Carla Neggers

By Carla Neggers
$23.95, Mira

Author's synopsis:
When Emma Sharpe is summoned to a convent on the Maine coast, it’s partly for her art crimes work with the FBI, partly because of her past with the religious order. At issue is a mysterious painting depicting scenes of Irish lore and Viking legends, and her family’s connection to the work. But when the nun who contacted her is murdered, it seems legend is becoming deadly reality.
Colin Donovan is one of the FBI’s most valuable assets—a deep-cover agent who prefers to go it alone. He’s back home in Maine after wrapping up his latest mission, but his friend Father Bracken presents him with an intrigue of murder, international art heists and a convent’s long-held secrets that is too tempting to resist. So is Emma Sharpe. As the danger spirals ever closer, Colin’s certain of only one thing—Emma is at the center of it all.
A ruthless killer has Emma and Colin in the crosshairs, plunging them into a race against time and drawing them deeper into a twisted legacy of betrayal and deceit.

Fair warning, I'm a huge fan of Carla Neggers!  Okay, that said, she didn't disappoint me! That says a  lot from me, as I tend to hold "favorite authors" up to a higher standard, I scream at the book cover "DON'T DISAPPOINT ME!"  That's tough. And in her newest thriller, Saint's Gate, there wasn't a disappointing moment!

What more interesting place for a murder is there than a remote convent? Great setting Ms. Neggers! Sister Joan has asked Emma (a former novice of the order turned FBI agent) to come up to see about a painting, and before she can explain to Emma what her thoughts are about the painting, Sister Joan is offed... and that's where things start to get interesting.  Throw into the mix a couple of  FBI agents, a possible romance and an Irish Priest and you have one fine mystery.

For me, writing reviews for mysteries and thrillers is very hard. I like to share parts from the books and I find that I am always going back and removing bits because I am very concerned about spoilers. Saint's Gate is a fast paced who-dun-it.  I always think I have it figured out, and this time I was wrong!  Great plotting Ms. Neggers.

I liked Emma Stone and the other characters enough that I hope Saint's Gate is the beginning of a series!

What else can I say? Well written, good plots and subplots, great settings and interesting characters.

I want more please!

4 out of 5 stars.

Will Work For Shoes by Susan J. Ashbrook

WILL WORK FOR SHOES: The Business Behind Red Carpet Product Placement
By Susan J. Ashbrook
Greenleaf Book Group Press, $22.95

Publisher's synopsis: Through a combination of star-studded stories and practical tips, Susan Ashbrook shows you how placing product with celebrities—on the red carpet, on screens, or on the web—is a glamorous fast-track to brand recognition and sales

Will Work for Shoes offers a wealth of helpful strategies that companies can use to capitalize on the consumer influence of celebrities. Though focused on fashion, her advice is applicable to almost any type of product, and she makes a brilliant case for why placing product with celebrities can increase sales more successfully and economically than traditional advertising.
 Through her own anecdotes and interviews with the top names in celebrity marketing, Ashbrook explains how to build key relationships, get product to stars and stylists, and—importantly—prepare for the publicity they’ll bring. A-list celebrities, designers, and stylists (from Angelina Jolie to Kenneth Cole to Phillip Bloch) appear on almost every page, accompanied by illustrative photos, including a full-color photo insert.
And as a pioneer in the field of celebrity marketing, Ashbrook is the perfect person to deliver this message. Her extensive experience and deep knowledge of product placement enable her to give insightful and field-tested advice to readers as she explains the exciting, competitive world of red carpet marketing.

My thoughts: Need to get some publicity for your company, group or client? OR are you just plain curious about how products, A-list celebrities, and events or films come together?  Wonder how those pesky papparazzi photographers just happen to be on the spot, everywhere to catch famous people wearing or buying some new product or designer? Or maybe you just have always wondered about the behind-the-scenes action at premieres, awards and fashion shows? Then this is the book for you!

Will Work for Shoes will also give you tips and ideas about how to gain press for your local event or fundraiser. Author Susan J. Ashbrook easily guides you through the ideas and processes that have worked on every level of promotion. Getting your client or event "out there" is basically the same, no matter what, where or who it's about.

Ashbrook has written a great book, full of ideas, tips and juicy bits about life in her world of promotion and press. Being a book and movie junkie myself, I was devouring every word that Ashbrook wrote. Reading Will Work for Shoes is like sitting down with a good friend and hearing all of the good stuff that she does at her glamorous job. Names get dropped, brands get plugged and places get mentioned.  Ashbrook's spent twenty years in the business and her smarts and savvy clearly show.

The author's writing style in Will Work for Shoes is chatty, and fun, but clear and straight forward. She easily moves from informational and instructional to the entertaining and chatty and in a way that is easy to read and very enjoyable!  It's a fast read, and while this is a bit memoir - instructional - infotainment book, it's just a lot fun!  I really enjoyed it!

Buy it, download it, read it for the insider info, the suggestions for marketing and PR and just for the heck of it. Ashbrook has a lot to say and it's all entertainment on every page.

4 out of 5 stars 

This e-galley was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review and in no way affected my review.

Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

Domestic Violets
By Matthew Norman
Harper Perennial, $14.99

        Publisher's Synopsis:
 Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.
The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.
Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.)Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

My thoughts:  

WOW!  Thank you Matthew Norman! I'd give this book the "Jack Lemmon Everyman Award" if one existed.  If this book had been written back in the 60's, someone would be calling Jack Lemmon's agent to play Tom 
Violet in the movie!  I want the office next to Tom's!!  

Tom Violet is stuck in a rut, having a midlife moment when he can't "perform" on command anymore, thinks his life is over as he knows it. And things only gets worse when his random father shows up in the middle of the night causing the family to think they are being robbed. And to make matter worse for Tom the wanna-be author, his Dad has just won the Pulitzer.

Author Matthew Norman has created a fabulous character in Tom Violet. Every character in Domestic Violets is believable and serves a purpose in the story. No wasted characters, no filler characters added to pad the pages and the 
word count. 

Can you tell I really like this book?  I hated for it to end. Norman's writing style is solid and enjoyable!  His characters are easy to like, or at least be drawn and attracted to. Even if you don't like what they are doing, they are engaging! The story flows evenly and smoothly. 

You want to know what happens next. You want to be there to watch the story unfold. 

Buy this one, it's worth the whole $14.99. Heck, it's worth twice that.   

I give this one 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

This e-galley was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review and in no way affected my review.

The Bible Repairman by Tim Powers

Tim Powers' new book,
 The Bible Repairman is finally here!  

I'l be reviewing it next week, but I'm so excited to finally have a new book by Tim!  In the mean time, here's a bit about the book:

In his first new collection since 2005, the master of the secret history delves into the mysteries of souls, whether they are sacrificed on the pinnacle of Mount Parnassus or lodged in a television cable box. 
Containing two new stories and Powers's short fiction that was only previously available in limited editions, the cornerstone of the collection is a postscript to his harrowing novel of the haunting of the Romantic poets, The Stress of Her Regard. After Byron and Shelley break free of the succubus that claimed them, their associate, Trelawny, forges an alliance with Greek rebels to reestablish the deadly connection between man and the nephilim. 
Meanwhile, in a Kabbalistic story of transformation, the executor of an old friend's will is duped into housing his soul, but for the grace of the family cat. A rare book collector replaces pennies stolen from Jean Harlow's square in the Hollywood Walk of Fame - and discovers a literary mystery with supernatural consequences. In a tale of time travel between 2015 1975, a tragedy sparked by an angel falling onto a pizza shop is reenacted—and the event is barely, but fatally, altered.

Slow Love, by Dominique Browning

Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, 
and Found Happiness
By Dominique Browning
$23.00, Plume (Viking)

Publisher's synopsis:  In late 2007, Dominique Browning, the editor-in-chief of Conde Nast's House & Garden, was informed that the magazine had folded-and she was out of a job. Suddenly divested of the income and sense of purpose that had driven her for most of her adult life, Browning panicked. But freed of the incessant pressure to multi-task and perform, she unexpectedly discovered a more meaningful way to live.
Browning's witty and thoughtful memoir has already touched a chord with reviewers and readers alike. While untold millions are feeling the stress of modern life, Slow Love eloquently reminds us to appreciate what we have-a timely message that we all need to hear.

Being made redundant is being made redundant at any level.  Unemployed is unemployed. In her memoir Slow Love,  former editor Dominique Browning shares her day to day new world of being jobless. While she does have things better than a lot of people whose job has been eliminated, it's still a hard place to find comfort.

Like the rest of us, Ms. Browning  is insecure and worried. Her children are grown and she's on her own. Literally.  I kept having to remind myself that this is really a memoir. I didn't see it as so much of a self help book, as it was an insight into how one woman evolved and survived in a real mid-life crisis.  How she saw her world and what she did to get through her days.

While I did appreciate Ms. Browning's writing and being so open in sharing her life, I wondered where her editor had gone? Were they made redundant too?  Parts in the last half of the book were painfully slow for me, and really could have been edited down or out all together. Because of this,  I struggled to finish Slow Love, but I am glad that I did finish it. I thought I'd really love this book, I didn't...quite.  However, I did appreciate it and am glad that I read it. 

Ms. Browning, as the old saying goes, was handed a bag of lemons and she did manage to whip up a very nice lemon souffle.  

I give this 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Buy the paperback or download the e-book.

This e-galley was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review and in no way affected my review.

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