Sunday, November 30, 2008

Winners - Giveaway - Gods Behaving Badly- Marie Phillips

And without further ado, the five winners of copies of Gods Behaving Badly, courtesy of Hachette Books and chosen by are:

Anita Yancey

Annette - no response after 2 emails/48 hrs
Karen - you were originally drawn but left no contact information -sorry...
Cricket - your email bounced back 3X - sorry...

( really I hope I don't have to edit again....) ***Dec 2nd - yes I had to edit again!! - glad I kept the printout!!***

I'll be contacting you for your mailing information. Thanks for entering and enjoy your books! Check the sidebar for other great giveaways from Hachette!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sweetsmoke - David Fuller

~A Novel of the Civil War~

I've been anticipating reading David Fuller's first novel Sweetsmoke since it was released by Hyperion Books at the end of August.

I was captured by the cover image - work worn, lined, loosely clasped hands and I wondered the story behind them.

Fuller spent eight years researching this amazing novel. It tells the tale of Cassius, a slave and carpenter who lives on a tobacco plantation in Virginia. It is 1862 and the Civil War is in full swing. Interestingly Fuller found family connections to both sides of the War during his research.

After suffering a brutal punishment at the hands of his master Hoke Howard, Cassius is allowed to heal at the home of Emoline, a free black woman. Emoline secretly teaches Cassius to read and write. It is these secret lessons that ignite a need for knowledge, a want to know the world beyond the plantation.

"Cassius drove himself toward his journey in a step-by-step fashion, willing to risk everything, to know. To know."

When Emoline is murdered and it appears that no one cares to find the killer, Cassius vows he will find the killer and seek justice for Emoline.

This is a story with many threads, all of then engrossing. Life on the plantation, attitudes and the War are all portrayed with accuracy and detail, bringing to life this period in history. Fuller has also brought to life the lot of a slave, humanizing historical fact, in all it's shame. Although all the characters evoke strong emotions, it is the character of Cassius that kept me reading non stop. His journey towards knowledge and justice, combined with the mystery of Emoline's death is a gripping tale.

Sweetsmoke will be joining another similar book - "Rush Home Road" by Canadian Lori Lansens on my favourites list.

Many thanks to Mini Book Expo for the opportunity to read and review this fantastic book!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giveaway - Katie Brown Celebrates

Here's your chance to win a one of three copies of Katie Brown Celebrates courtesy of Hachette Books!

Did I enjoy it? I sure did and you can read my review here.

This giveaway is open to both Canada and the US, no PO boxes please. Please make sure I have a way to contact you, either through your blog or by email. Leave me a comment to be entered and an extra entry for blogging about this giveaway. Closes December 9th at 6 pm EST.

Make sure you stop by next Wednesday for yet another fantastic cooking/entertaining giveaway!

Katie Brown Celebrates - Katie Brown

~Simple and Spectacular Parties All Year Round~

This is Katie Brown's fifth book, newly released from Hachette Books. This latest book is all about celebration.

" After all, the art of celebration is what makes life fun - it is what creates tradition and memories."

Brown provides us with the tools and ideas to make our own celebrations and memories. There are monthly ideas including graduations, birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and many more. Each month is introduced by an anecdote from Brown's life. There are decorations, favours, table settings and of course recipes for every occasion.

There are some great quick ideas - try using different colours and widths of duct tape to give a picnic table a new tablecloth. There are more involved ideas to create elegant tableaus as well.

What I enjoyed most were the recipes. There are some basics that are sure to become family traditions - Peanut Butter and Jelly French Toast Roll Ups has been tried and enjoyed in my kitchen. And some new twists on old standbys - Whole Grain Potato Salad, Apple Brownies. As well, there are some recipes that are completely new that I cannot wait to try - Parmesan Soup with Swiss Chard Dumplings is on my list. But my sweet tooth rules - there are some totally decadent desserts featured that had my mouth watering.

The entire book is filled with glossy, colour photographs detailing everything. There is also a section with the recipes broken down into categories - soups, main, desserts etc. Brown has also combined the recipes into new occasions - garden lunch, candlelight dinner and more.

This is a great book to follow or use as inspiration as you create your own celebrations. Want a copy of your own? Enter the giveaway for three copies here!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Where Am I Wearing - Kelsey Timmerman

Well, it seems kind of appropriate that Where Am I Wearing is being released today from John Wiley & Sons. After all it's Black Friday this week in the U.S. and Christmas shopping is well under way in Canada.
(... trust me - the mall is packed ...)

Many of us will be buying clothes for gifts or ourselves. But do you ever really wonder where the item is made? Do you look at the tag as part of your decision or are you just happy to get a good deal?

Kelsey Timmerman did a little bit more that wonder. He decided to find the factory in Bangladesh that produced his favourite 'Jingle These' boxers. And his jeans, tee-shirt and flip flops.

And so off he treks to the other side of the world to discover the origins of his clothes.

In Bangladesh, he poses as an underwear buyer to gain entrance to view the factories. While most of us will speak out against sweatshop labour, Kelsey finds that nothing is as cut and dried when faced with actual people and their lives.

"My own conclusion, after visiting Bangladesh, is that we should not be ashamed that our clothes are made by children so much as ashamed that we live in a world where child labor is often necessary for survival."

He has great fun with some street kids, taking twenty of them to an amusement park for the same price it would take to get one American kid into Disney World.

It is this aspect that I enjoyed the most in Timmerman's book - the personal level of interaction - meeting with and talking to the actual workers of the garment industries he visited in their own environments.

Timmerman's writing style is entertaining and candid, but still explores the history of the garment industry and what is being done to reform it.

In Cambodia, home to his treasured pair of blue jeans, he discovers that 75% of the country's exports are garments. Again, it is the personal stories of the eight female workers sharing a 96 sq. ft. room that grabbed me.

It is in China that he has the most difficulty accessing a factory. But he connects with a married couple working in the flip flop factory. They provide for family back in their rural village and have not seen their son in three years. Kelsey decides to go to the village to visit.

Back in the US he visits a garment factory that made his oldest and still wearable shorts.

Timmerman provides no black and white answers but instead gives us much food for thought. Where am I Wearing is a fascinating, eye-opening, thought provoking read that will have you reading tags just to see where your favourite piece of clothing was made. Perhaps it will make you think a little bit longer before you get out the wallet and help you become an informed consumer.

"When I walk into my closet, I think about the hundreds - if not thousands- of people around the world who had a hand in making my clothes. Jeans are no longer just jeans, shirts no longer just shirts, shoes no longer just shoes, clothes are no longer just clothes. Each is an untold story."

(So far - Canada, US, Bangladesh, Taiwan and China - what about yours?)

I hope Timmerman continues to explore and write about his journeys. What's next? Well - you can follow along on his website.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Mercy - Toni Morrison

Newly released, A Mercy takes place in the 1680's - the early days of the slave trade in the Americas.

Jacob is a trader who takes a small slave girl- Florens - in partial payment for a debt. The mother of the child begs him to take the girl, not herself. It is this act that has consequences for all the lives that are intertwined with that of Florens'. Florens joins Jacob's wife Rebekka, Lina, a servant and Sorrow, an indentured young woman, at their hardscrabble farm. Scully and Willard are also hoping to buy their freedom. Florens yearns for the blacksmith, an African who has never been enslaved.

Life at this time in history is defined and described from the viewpoint of each of these characters. Each character is enslaved to something in this new world - an owner, religion, wealth, desire and memory. The most poignant voice is that of Floren's mother. The last chapter of the book belongs to her and it ends on a powerful note.

Toni Morrison has a gift with words. Although it is tempting to read straight through to the end, I always take the time to savour and enjoy the language she uses.

..."especially here where tobacco and slaves were married, each currency clutching it's partner's elbow".

Toni Morrison is an amazingly gifted writer, having won both a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize. If you haven't experienced her yet, I encourage you to pick up any of her books.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Giveaway - Confetti Cakes for Kids - Elisa Strauss

*** This giveaway is now closed - check the sidebar for other giveaways!***

Here's your chance to win a one of three copies of Confetti Cakes for Kids courtesy of Hachette Books!

Did I enjoy it? I sure did and you can read my review here.

This giveaway is open to both Canada and the US, no PO boxes please. Please make sure I have a way to contact you, either through your blog or by email. Leave me a comment to be entered and an extra entry for blogging about this giveaway. Closes December 2nd at 6 pm EST.

Make sure you stop by next Wednesday for yet another fantasitc cooking/entertaining giveaway!

Confetti Cakes for Kids - Elisa Strauss

Okay that's a cake! Can you believe it?? I was immediately grabbed by this bright, bold cover - and the fact that that's a cake!

My children were subjected to many of my efforts that consisted of more desire than skill when they were younger. This book actually makes it quite simple. It's broken down in chapters covering the Basics - the equipment and tools needed. Techniques - icing techniques, how to use a pastry bag and more. And the best for me - Recipes - foolproof, tried and true, guaranteed to taste good recipes for cookies and cakes. I'm definitely using some of them this Christmas -the gingerbread cake and cookies and a great basic vanilla sugar cookie. All of them are straight forward, using ingredients you already have on hand.

And icing recipes! Okay put your hand up if you've ever added too much milk, then a little more icing sugar, oops a little more milk...... Again foolproof recipes for different buttercream icings and fondants. Decorated cupcakes and mini cakes are featured as well.

Have you ever bought a cookie bouquet before? I have, but don't think I will ever again - Strauss's directions make it easy to do yourself.

The cakes pictured are amazing and fantastical, but doable. This book will spark your creative juices and imagination!

Elisa Strauss owns the Confetti Cakes Bakery in New York City. Check out this video of Strauss discussing her baking.

Confetti Cakes for Kids was just released last week from Hachette Books and they are kindly sponsoring a giveaway for three copies!! You can enter here!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Divine Justice - David Baldacci

I have read many of David Baldacci's earlier novels, but haven't read him in awhile. Big mistake - I forgot how good he is!

Divine Justice is newly released from Hachette Books. It picks up the story of Oliver Stone, aka John Carr - one of the most deadly assasins the U.S. government ever produced. But when Carr wanted out and they killed his family, they made a terrible mistake. Stone retaliates and Macklin Hayes, a high ranking spy, is determined to find him and make him disappear for good. Stone ends up in the small mining town of Divine, Virgina hoping to lie low for awhile. But trouble seems to go hand in hand with Oliver Stone. All is not fine in Divine. Stone's sense of justice will not let him walk away. At the same time his friends from the Camel Club are trying to find him to help him.

As I had not read the Camel Club, The Collectors or Stone Cold, the other novels featuring these characters, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn't understand the plot in Divine Justice. But it wasn't a problem. A few pages in I was up to speed. Most of the action takes place in the Divine setting.

If you're looking for a fast paced, thrilling novel - this is it! The characters are larger than life and the action never stops. Good and evil are clearly defined and you'll find yourself rooting for John Carr.

Having just discovered the Camel Club, I'm curious if there will be another? I'd put it on my list. If you have enjoyed the Jack Reacher character by Lee Child, then this is a series you would enjoy. You can read the first chapter here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bookworm Award - Meme

Avisannschild at She Reads and Reads has given me the Bookworm Award! Thank you!

Here are the rules:Open the closest book to you—not your favourite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment—to page 56.Write out the fifth sentence as well as the next two to five sentences.Pass this on to five blogging friends.

I'm currently reading A Mercy by Toni Morrison, so it's the closest to me right now.

"Your son, John Jacob. He died after Sorrow came"
"Stay, Lina. Don't feed old misery. My baby died of fever."
"But Patrician sickened too and did not--"
"I said stay. That he died in my arms is enough without adding savage nonsense."

If you've been tagged before, sorry, and just ignore me if you’re not into this kind of thing. I hereby tag:

Cindy at Cindy's Love of Books
Wrighty at WrightysReads

Winner- Giveaway - Lost and Found

And without further ado, the five winners of a copy of Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst, chosen by, are:

Pam, Yan, T.J. Baff, Sara and E.Mitchell.

Congratulations and many thanks to Hachette Books for the opportunity to host this giveaway!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Giveaway - Gods Behaving Badly

** This giveaway is now closed. Check at the top of the sidebar for current giveaways!***
Here's your chance to win one of five (!) copies of Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips courtesy of Hachette Books.

What's it about?

"Being a Greek god is not all it once was. Yes, the twelve gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse-and none too happy about it. And they've had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ. Even more disturbingly, their powers are waning, and even turning mortals into trees-a favorite pastime of Apollo's-is sapping their vital reserves of strength.Soon, what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills. Two perplexed humans, Alice and Neil, who are caught in the crossfire, must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed-but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world?

You can join Miriam from Hachette Books for a Blog Talk Radio interview with Marie on December 1st at 1PM ET. If you have a question for Marie, please email it to Then call into (646) 378-0040 on December 1st at 1PM. If you’d like to listen online or sign up for a reminder, visit here.

Simply comment to be entered. Giveaway closes on November 29 at midnight EST. Open to both Canada and the US, no po boxes please. Make sure I have a way to contact you and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Book of Nonsense - David Michael Slater

~~Sacred Books - Volume One~~

Hmm, you're saying to yourself - that looks like a kid's book. And you'd be right - the first one I've reviewed.

The Book of Nonsense is newly released from CBAY Books /Blooming Tree Press and is the first in what is planned to be a five book series. David Michael Slater has written many children's books and has plans for quite a few more.

Daphna and her twin brother Dexter are about to turn thirteen. They live with their older father Milton, who is a book scout - hunting down old and valuable books. Daphna is very excited when a huge bookstore - the Antiquarian Book Centre (ABC) opens up. The funny thing is that it only stocks magic books.

When their father sells a very old book that seems to be filled with nonsense words to the ancient, blind man who runs the ABC, their lives take a decided turn for the strange. The red eyed giant boy who is the store assistant is after Dexter and their Dad is acting funny - he has promised that Daphna will help the old man. Daphna is frightened of the old man and rightly so. It all seems to centre around this mysterious book. Instead of fighting with each other Daphna and Dex will have to join forces to find out what is going on.

This tale has all the necessary elements to capture and hold a child's attention. A battle between good and evil, danger, mysteries and lots of questions to keep them guessing until the end.

The only thing I took exception to was the reference to God in regards to a mysterious book detailing a language called the First Tongue. This language "moves people's minds." One character tells how there is a myth "that God himself read from a book containing this language when he created the world." This is a fantasy book and I think it would have been just as effective to delete the God reference. I think this may offend some readers and their parents.

This book is listed as for ages 10+. I wondered about some of the words - unprecedented, formidable and incensed to name a few and wondered if they were age appropriate. As Slater is a middle school teacher I will assume he knows the level he's writing for.

The Book of Nonsense was a finalist for the Association of Booksellers for Children's Best Books 2008 and was a Cybil Award nominee.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Who Lied and Said We Left the Garden of Eden

~Memoirs of a Homeless Man~

I initially chose to read this book based on the subtitle. I am in awe of anyone who can turn their life around so radically and wanted to read about his journey.

I found the first chapter, Dreams and Visions, a little off-putting. One of them involves a dying young boy in a glass tank, but no one can see him to rescue him. Martin has described his childhood as "raised in a broken, abusive and religiously fanatic home." It is my opinion that earlier intervention may have spared Martin some of the hard life he has lived. But Daniel embraces his life as a learning and growing experience that has made him the man he is today. It was the promise of the introduction that kept me reading. "This book is mainly about how I changed my life."

Martin's spiral towards homelessness included dropping out of school, using any and all drugs including intravenous use, burglary, robberies and prostituting himself. Many stints in rehab did the job for a little while but none really 'took'.

Martin seems to be trying to reconcile his early religious teachings with his emerging vision of what shape his faith will take.

"I didn't know how to tell him that I was tired of trying to swallow so many doubts simply because others told me that it was the truth. It wasn't my truth and I couldn't take it any longer."

"I was tired of being so afraid where I felt we were heading, thanks to all of the crazy fanatic religions and greedy governments."

Stints of sobriety usually end with a fall back into old ways. But he perseveres in his search for peace within himself.

"I asked the Sacred Creator to show me truth here in heaven. What I learned is that we're all sacred, programmable and connected on a higher level of truth, love and tolerance." Daniel believes that heaven is here on earth and that "this is the will of our Greatest Mystery and Sacred Creator, that we should love this world and each other, as though we were all one."

I found the word programmable an odd choice, although I understand Daniel is using the word to indicate that we can all change our thinking.

Later chapters involving Martin's history of religion and fanatics fell a bit short for this reader. I was much more interested in his goal of promoting harmony and tolerance towards all, but was disturbed by the following qoute that I found personally a bit fanatical.

"Without a doubt, those of us who don't share that way of thinking will have to be mightier, wittier, better educated and more secretive if we are to win this war being raged over the minds of humanity and ultimately the safety of our mother planet."

I applaud Daniel Martin for finding his way out of drugs and homelessness. I admire his goal of a better life and a better world. He is married with two sons now and the owner of a plumbing contracting company.

This book was written "to do something in a creative way that might change, comfort and correct the hearts and minds of people." I would like to have perhaps heard how else he was giving back or helping those living the same life he crawled out of. He does credit many people for the help he received. Has he ever gone back and tried to help some of the people from his past?

I hope that he is still clean and happy and commend his efforts to make the world a better place to live.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Winner - Life After Genius Giveaway

Wow, what a fun week this was with the Book Giveway Carnival ! It was so great to discover and visit so many new (to me) blogs. Thanks to everyone for all their giveaways. And with no further ado, picked using, the winner of my giveaway for a copy of Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby, courtesy of Hachette Books is......................
Janelle! from Brimful Curiosities! Yay!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Your Roots are Showing - Elise Chidley

It's always a thrill to discover a new author that you want to tell others about. Elise Chidley's debut fiction novel, Your Roots are Showing, is newly released from Hachette Books.

By mistake Lizzie sends an email to her husband James that was meant for her sister Janie. Unfortunately it details how fed up and frustrated she is with her marriage. It was just venting to her sister, but James takes it to heart and before she knows it, Lizzie is separated. She rents a rundown cottage in a small village with her three year old twins and then...Well what is next? She still loves James, but it seems he's ready to move on. Maybe it's time to love herself.

Lizzie Indigo is a wonderful, warm, lovable character. The journey to reclaim her life and herself is by turns funny, sad and inspiring. Chidley has perfectly captured the trials and tribulations of life after children. Lizzie's world is filled out by an eclectic group of supporting characters (I'm quite taken with the meddling neighbour Ingrid)

Chidley is very funny. I actually found myself laughing out loud as she recounts a tale involving the idea that wrapping one's self in saran wrap will drive your husband mad. Or the self tanning fiasco....

If you've read the Shopaholic/Bridget Jones books, you'll love this great feel good chick lit read. I'll be watching and waiting for Elise Chidley's next novel! You can read an excerpt below!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bones - Johnathan Kellerman

One of the best pairings in detective/suspense novels returns in the 23nd (!) novel in this series from Jonathan Kellerman.

Psychologist and police consultant Alex Delaware and LA police Lieutenant Milo Sturgis are back together to solve one of their darkest cases yet.

A young volunteer at a marsh sanctuary receives an anonymous call telling him to look for something dead in the marsh. The call is dismissed as a prank. That changes when a young woman's body is found - in plain view. A search dog discovers three more bodies, submerged in the marsh. These women are all prostitutes, but the first body found is that of a piano teacher. Are they connected? Is the marsh the dumping ground of a serial killer? Will he kill again? Can they find him before he does? Milo and Alex's investigation leads to unexpected places.

Lots of plot twists and turns will keep you turning pages. The banter between Milo and Alex is always witty and entertaining. A new character is introduced, Moses, a young rookie Homicide detective. I found him to be an engaging addition and hope he returns in future books. In the past Alex's girlfriend Robin played a more significant role. She seems to have been relegated to deciding dinner selections. Milo's boyfriend Rick is another character I'd like to see more of. Kellerman is a clinical psychologist and his character's insight and dialogue have the ring of authenticity.

Jonathan Kellerman is on my list of favourite authors and I was not disappointed with Bones. My only disappointment was finishing it too quickly! I'll be waiting for #24!

The Brass Verdict - Michael Connelly

Mickey Haller first appeared in Connelly's 2005 novel The Lincoln Lawyer. I had followed the Harry Bosch detective series ( 13 up to now ) since 1993 and wasn't too sure about a 'new' character, but was happily proven wrong. Haller is back in The Brass Verdict. The best part? Harry Bosch is featured as well!

Defense lawyer Mickey Haller inherits a dead colleague's law practice and with it what could be his biggest case ever. His client, Walter Elliot, wants the case to proceed quickly, so Haller is playing catchup. But is his client holding something back? The dead colleague, Jerry Vincent, was murdered and Detective Harry Bosch is on the case. Can Vincent's murder and Elliot's case be tied together? Haller and Bosch may have to put their heads together for this one. The ending was fantastic setting up what I hope will be many more books where both characters are featured.

Connelly's writing skillfully captures both courtroom and police investigation scenes and dialogue. The legal aspect is never dry and the investigation side always keeps you guessing. His characters are believable and human. The personal lives and relationships of the main and supporting characters greatly enhance the whole storyline. It was interesting to see Harry Bosch through Haller's eyes. It was a bit of a different Bosch than I have become accustomed to. But that too is part of Connelly's skill - keeping us on our toes and never, never letting us become bored of his writing!

I always anticipate starting a new book by one of my favourite authors and try to stretch it out and 'make it last'. But yet again it didn't work - I burned through this new release in just over a day. Sigh.....another year till the next one.

Michael Connelly has a great website though - games, lists, trailers and much more. Hachette Books did a great Blog Talk Radio interview with Connelly - you can listen to it here. (My question is around the seventeen minute mark)

Highly recommended!

Book Giveaway Carnival!!

***** This giveaway is now closed****
Winner announced here.
Visit over 70 bloggers participating in
The Book Giveaway Carnival!

Here at A Bookworm's World I am giving away a copy of Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby courtesy of Hachette Books. It was a wonderful read - you can see my review here.

Giveaway open to both US and Canada - no P.O. Boxes please. Please make sure I have a way to contact you. Closes November 8th at midnight. Just comment on this post to enter! Thanks for stopping by!

( By the way - there's another giveaway here for 5 copies of Lost and found by Carolyn Parkhust!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Giveaway - Lost and Found - Carolyn Parkhurst

***This giveaway now closed, but there's another one here!***

Here's your chance to win a copy of Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst courtesy of Hachette Books!

There are 5 copies to be won! Open to both US and Canada. No post office boxes please. Contest ends November 15th at midnight. Please make sure I have a way to contact you. Simply comment to be entered. An extra entry for mentioning it on your blog.

About the book:

A suburban mom, her troubled daughter, divorced brothers, former child stars, born-again Christians, and some young millionaires have all been selected to compete on LOST AND FOUND, a daring new reality show. In pairs of two, they will race across the world to compete for a million-dollar prize.The only question is not only who will capture the big jackpot, but at what price."
Good luck!