Monday, November 30, 2009

Audiobook Giveaway for Memoir Monday! Cleaving by Julie Powell

A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession

CONGRATULATIONS TO ASHLEY, REBECCA & MELISSA! THEY EACH WON A COPY OF THE AUDIOBOOK CLEAVING! Thank you to EVERYONE who joined in on the fun, tweeted and blogged about the giveaway!!


Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing she'd ever do--until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING. Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischer's, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs--tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts. The camaraderie at Fleischer's leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world--from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly heart.

Another great audiobook giveaway! If you enjoyed Julie's memoir Julie & Julia, find out what happens after getting through that infamous french cookbook! What's even nicer is that this audiobook is unabridged and read by the author herself! Would you like to listen to an excerpt? Here's the LINK. AND CD #9 of the audiobook has a PDF with recipes! Courtesy of Anna of Hachette Book Group I have 3 copies of the unabridged audiobook for a giveaway! Thanks Anna!

To Enter this giveaway...

*For one entry leave me a comment with your email address!

*Get an extra entry for following my blog! Just leave a comment letting me know you're a follower! ( Not a follower yet? No problem, sign up by clicking on the 'followers" button! Just let me know you became a new follower!)

*Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.(No PO boxes). The books will be shipped to the winners directly from the publisher. Contest ends 11:59pm EST on Dec. 19th. I will randomly pick the winners the next day and email them! (please check your email.. winner must reply to me within 3 days! Thanks!) Good Luck!

*P.S. There is a Kindle Ready Book available!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Sunday Salon... Reading with a Holiday Theme! A wonderful new Children's book & a little something for us girls too!

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...

It's official- it's the Holiday Season! I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful day with family & friends. I have finally recovered from cooking and eating... And now I've got to share with you some great seasonal reads- books with a holiday or winter theme. There are wonderful classics, mysteries and romances written especially for this time of year, but today we'll just touch on something for the kids & family to read together and something just for us girls!

Secrets of a Christmas Box by Steven Hornby... Enter the magical festive world of the Christmas 'Tree-Dwellers', as Larry, a Christmas snowman, wakes up after the long sleep in the Christmas box, to find his brother is missing. Desperate to find him before Christmas, Larry, along with his girlfriend Debbie, a newcomer Splint, and Larry's companion Tinsel, break the laws of the ‘Tree-Elders’ and escape down the tree and away into the house, to look for clues. Away from the safety of the tree and in an unfamiliar world, the Dwellers stumble upon a dark and sinister secret that threatens their entire world. Can Larry and the group make it back to the tree in time to warn the others, and finally uncover the truth behind the ‘Secrets of a Christmas Box’? I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of this charming book! I'll be posting my 'official' review later in the week, but just had to mention Secrets of a Christmas Box today because it is such a sweet book. It's written in 24 chapters so that you can read one chapter a night beginning December 1st and ending Christmas Eve. Like a Advent calendar, but in book form! The characters are delightful and so is the story. Written for ages 8 and up, this could be the start a holiday reading tradition. This is what holiday reading is all about! Would you like to read a little of the story? Here's an excerpt.

Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs... A loving, moving, laugh-out-loud celebration of special times with friends and family. The story begins a year after the end of Knit Two, with Dakota Walker's trip to spend the Christmas holidays with her Gran in Scotland-accompanied by her father, her grandparents, and her mother's best friend, Catherine. Together, they share a trove of happy memories about Christmases past with Dakota's mom, Georgia Walker-from Georgia's childhood to her blissful time as a doting new mom. From Thanksgiving through Hanukkah and Christmas to New Year's, Knit the Season is a novel about the richness of family bonds and the joys of friendship. For fans of The Friday Night Knitting Club, and anyone who enjoys a good story, Knit the Season should warm the heart on a cold wintry night! And This Book is Kindle Ready!

A Highlander Christmas by Dawn Halliday, Cindy Miles and Sophie Renwick... A festive anthology featuring three all-new stories, three sexy Scotsmen, and a magical holiday setting. An enchanting trio of paranormal Christmas stories: Dawn Halliday's Winter Heat...Lost in a blizzard, a young woman casts a spell over the brooding Highland warrior who rescues her. Cindy Miles's A Christmas Spirit...A museum curator's tour of a Scottish castle leads to an unexpected encounter with a dead-sexy spirit. Sophie Renwick's Yuletide Enchantment...Passion blooms between an anxious bride-to-be and a dark, sensual stranger from another world. What could warm us girls up better on a cold winters night than a little romance!? A Highlander Christmas has gotten great reviews and offers a little escapism and fun during what can be a hectic time of year! And how can you resist a hunk in a kilt?! This Book is Kindle Ready!

This month will also bring reviews for some wonderful holiday theme books- one of which is A Christmas Carol Special Edition by Charles Dickens and with special insights by Stephen Skelton. It's a wonderful book with annotations, and insights into the story's biblical allusions. What are you reading these days? Do you like to read holiday themed books this time of year? I especially enjoy reading the childrens stories that bring me back to the days long ago when Santa was still a mystery to me...

Happy reading... Suzanne

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Giveaway: Dear John by Nicholas Sparks Audiobook!

A Modern Day Romance

Congratulations to Jennifer, Melissa and Janet! They each won a copy of the audiobook for Dear John! Thank you to everyone who joined in, Tweeted and Blogged about the giveaway!

An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life--until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else....

Nicholas Sparks' novel Dear John, will soon be released in movie theaters this coming Valentines day! Well known for his touching stories that bring to light the drama,hope and tragedy in our every day lives, Dear John will touch your heart. Read the book before watching the movie! Or better yet, Relax to the soothing voice of actor and voiceover artist Holter Graham as he reads the audiobook version of Dear John... How?! I have a giveaway for the CD audiobook edition of Dear John! Courtesy of Anna of Hachette Book Group, I have 3 copies of the audiobook to give away! BTW, here's an excerpt of the audiobook, Dear John. AND, here's my review of the audiobook now too!

To Enter this giveaway...

*For one entry leave me a comment with your email address!

*Get an extra entry for following my blog! Just leave a comment letting me know you're a follower! ( Not a follower yet? No problem, sign up by clicking on the 'followers" button! Just let me know you became a new follower!)

*Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.(No PO boxes). The books will be shipped to the winners directly from the publisher. Contest ends 11:59pm EST on Dec. 19th. I will randomly pick the winners the next day and email them! (please check your email.. winner must reply to me within 3 days! Thanks!) Good Luck!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


T'was the Night of Thanksgiving

T’was the night of Thanksgiving,
But I just couldn’t sleep.
I tried counting backwards,
I tried counting sheep.
The leftovers beckoned,
The dark meat and white.
But I fought the temptation,
With all of my might.
Tossing and turning,
with anticipation.
The thought of a snack
became infatuation.
So I raced to the kitchen,
Flung open the door,
And gazed at the fridge,
Full of goodies galore.
I gobbled up turkey,
And buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots,
Beans and tomatoes.
I felt myself swelling,
So plump and so round.
‘til all of a sudden,
I rose off the ground.
I crashed through the ceiling,
Floating into the sky,
With a mouthful of pudding,
And a handful of pie.
But I managed to yell
As I soared past the trees
Happy eating to all,
Pass the cranberries, please!!
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious,
May your pies take the prize
And May your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off of your thighs!
...written by Lauren

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giveaway: Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms by Jane Doiron!

Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms...
Easy & Yummy Recipes you can Prepare Ahead of Time !

CONGRATULATIONS TO WANDA from Winnepeg! She's the lucky winner of Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms! Jane says she'll mail your copy out ASAP! Thank you to EVERYone who joined in on the fun! And Thank You to EVERYone who tweeted, blogged and spread the word! It was fun to see what recipes everyone chose! It also made me very hungry! Enjoy the Holidays!

Are you working in the kitchen preparing for your Thanksgiving Dinner? Well, while we're all thinking about food I have a special treat for you! A Cookbook Giveaway! And not just any cookbook- a cookbook designed to make your life easier! Jane Doiron is a busy mom of two boys who discovered the beauty of preparing meals in advance. Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms is her wonderful collection of delicious, easy to prepare recipes that will make your mouth water and your time your own again!

I'm not a mom, but I work full time and need to come home every night and make something for dinner! Jane Doiron's book is not just for busy Moms, but for busy people who want to have a delicious meal on the table every night! Make those meals ahead of time! Jane's cookbook offers menus perfect for freezing, pre-assembling or quick reheating! My book club usually has dinner at one of our members houses when we meet and there are some great recipes to share with a crowd in Jane's book too! I'm already thinking about what I'm going to cook for them the next meeting at my house from Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms!

The cookbook opens first with some helpful tips, such as using powdered buttermilk instead of the liquid kind because you can store that in the refrigerator up to one year after it's opened! Then we have Appetizers, Breakfast and Brunch, Dessert, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Soup, and a handy chart in the back for measurement equivalents!

You'll find Mini Bacon Quiches, Teriyaki Chicken Wings, and Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. Sweet and Spicy Meatballs (perfect for a party!), Italian Restaurant Chicken and Broiled Honey Mustard Salmon! And there is a Mini Cheesecake recipe with only 8 ingredients that you probably have most of in your kitchen already! All the recipes have clear, easy instructions with all the ingredients readily available! There are instructions on what to do "The Day Ahead" and then the "Cooking Directions". There are also Freeze directions if applicable.

When Jane sent me her cookbook to try out there were so many recipes that looked so tempting! I decided to make Chicken Cannelloni! This is probably the longest recipe in the book, but it sounded so Delish I just had to make it! And boy was it! My husband was a happy man that night! And we were able to freeze enough for a few more meals! The house smelled incredible too! But it was also EASY! The directions were thorough and easy to follow. And Jane is going to let me share this recipe with you!

Chicken Cannelloni

1 & 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded

10 oz. bag spinach, cooked, drained and chopped

15 oz. ricotta cheese, part skim

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black ground pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 eggs

8 oz box of manicotti shells

Sauce:

3 cups heavy cream

1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder

1 large garlic clove minced

1 cup 4 cheese pizza cheese, shredded

salt & pepper to taste

additional parmesan cheese, for the topping

- A Day Ahead -

Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, salt, pepper, garlic, parmesan cheese, and eggs. Boil the manicotti 1 minute less than directed on the box. Do Not Overcook. You will need 12 manicotti, but it is good to cook extra in case they fall apart. (there are 14 in a box) (and yes I needed to cook the whole box because some of mine fell apart). Carefully remove the manicotti from the hot water and place them on a long sheet of wax paper to cool and dry. Fill a pastry bag with the chicken mixture and stuff the manicotti. Place the stuffed manicotti (side by side and touching) in the baking dish. Or you can divide them up into 2 freezable baking pans. To make the sauce: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cream. When the cream is hot, stir in the bouillon, garlic, shredded cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until well blended. Pour the sauce over the cannelloni. Cover and refrigerate.

- Cooking Directions -

Take the cannelloni out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle the top of the cannelloni with parmesan cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake 20 - 25 minutes until bubbly and the cheese on top is golden brown. Serves 6 ( 2 manicotti each)

- Freezing Directions -

This dish will taste just fine after it has been frozen, but be aware that the cream will separate. If you want to freeze the cannelloni, be sure that it is completely cooled first. Then wrap it well in plastic wrap and place in a labeled extra-large freezer bag of 2 layers of foil. On the outside of the bag, write "Sprinkle with grated cheese before cooking." This will freeze up to 2 months.

- Thawing Directions -

Transfer the frozen cannelloni dish to the refrigerator at least 24 hours before you want to cook it. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Cook as directed. You may have to add a little cooking time if it's not completely thawed.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! Don't let all those ingredients fool you- it was easy to prepare. Would you like to get more recipes!? Well, Jane is going to let me give away a copy of Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms to one of my lucky readers! AND she's going to sign it and tuck inside a recipe not found in the book as a special surprise!

Here's How to Enter...

For your First Entry, head on over to Jane's Website Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms , take a look at all the recipes listed there and tell me in a comment what recipe you'd make first if you won Jane's cookbook! Please make sure you leave your email address in the comment too so I can contact you if you win!

For Extra Entries... just let me know in your comment all the things you did for your extra entries!

*sign up for Jane's newsletter! You won't be sorry! She shares great cooking tips and more great recipes! HERE's where you can sign-up!

*Follow Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms Blog! More great recipes!

*Grab Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms’ Button and leave the link where we can see it.

*Of course if you follow me you get an extra entry! Not a follower yet? No problem, just sign up now and let me know you did!

*Tweet or blog about this giveaway and leave the link!

This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only! (No PO Boxes) Contest ends 11:59pm EST on Dec. 19th. I will randomly pick the winner the next day and email him or her! (please check your email... winner must reply to me within 3 days! Thanks!) Good Luck!

And a special thanks to Jane Doiron of Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms for sharing a copy of her new cookbook with me! (My husband thanks you too!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Memoir Mondays... Lift by Rebecca O'Connor, a Review AND Giveaway!

A Special Love Story ...Between a Girl and a Bird

CONGRATULATIONS TO RUBYNREBA! She won the copy of Lift by Rebecca O'Connor! THANK YOU to everyone who joined in on the fun! And thank you for all the tweets and blogging to get out the word! Have a wonderful Holiday!

The girl is Rebecca O'Connor, a falconer, and the bird is Anakin, a peregrine falcon. Their relationship is a special one and so is the book that chronicles Rebecca & Anakin's first year together: Lift.

Lift by Rebeccan O'Connor is a wonderfully written moving memoir that follows the journey of a little girl who gazed upon the beauty of a peregrine falcon that made a chance stop high above her one day and was captivated. I can relate to the beauty of the flight of these majestic birds, as I watch the magnificence of the red-tailed hawk that lives in the woods behind my house. As he glides thru the sky and I follow him with my binoculars, I imagine how amazing it would be to have a relationship with him. But having this special relationship, being a falconer, takes dedication. The relationship is one of trust. They are hunting partners- human and falcon. Rebecca's job is to flush out the game and to protect her partner from other predators. Anakin learns to trust that Rebecca will do her job well. And Rebecca trusts Anakin will return to her after the hunt. The story of Rebecca and Anakin learning to work together is fascinating. Even though we are experiencing the hunt , the killing, we are gently reminded that this is a predatory bird, a wild bird at heart, and that in order to survive must eat. This is what a peregrine falcon would do in the wild... and at times Rebecca must remind herself as she plays her part in the hunt.

"Falconry is a religion, a way of thinking, a means of experiencing life. True falconers are compassionate, clear-eyed straight shooters. We've touched nature's senseless violence, clung to her stray miracles, and this alters our beliefs."

Sprinked in between the story of Rebecca and Anakin, we learn about Rebecca's life growing up, her abusive stepfather, her complex relationship with her mother, a beloved grandfather, and a boyfriend. All of whom make contributions to the person that Rebecca becomes. We watch as Rebecca blooms into a confident falconer, and woman, in a world dominated by men. It's a wonderfully written, heartfelt story that is just so special. Would you like to find out more about Rebecca and falconry? She has a blog called Operation Delta Duck where there is a Falconry FAQ. There are also some wonderful posts, one of which is called Animal Teachers Past where Rebecca writes,

One of the things that falconers learn to accept is that the animals we love the most are not ours to keep. Some we choose to have in our lives for a short period, lending them a helping hand and sending them on their way. Whether they are foster dogs on their way to a new beginning or injured raptors being prepped for release back into the wild, they still touch our lives in deep ways.

This expresses some of the beauty of Falconry that I learned from reading Lift. Enter the world of falconry... read Lift! Would you like to win a copy of LIFT? Rebecca has decided to generously give one of my lucky readers a SIGNED copy of Lift!

To Enter This Giveaway...

*For one entry leave me a comment with your email address!

*Get an extra entry for following my blog! Just leave a comment letting me know you're a follower! ( Not a follower yet? No problem, sign up by clicking on the 'followers" button! Just let me know you became a new follower!)

*Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.

This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only! (No PO Boxes) Contest ends 11:59pm EST on Dec. 19th. I will randomly pick the winner the next day and email him or her! (please check your email.. winner must reply to me within 3 days! Thanks!) Winner will receive a signed copy of Lift directly from Rebecca! Good Luck!

**And Thank You Rebecca for sending me a review copy of Lift! It was a pleasure to read!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Sunday Salon... "Thanksgiving" History Books with Buzz

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...

Thanksgiving is the day we traditionally give thanks for the bounty before us, and share the love of our family and friends. Food and laughter may fill our homes as we carefully watch the turkey cook, make that infamous green bean casserole and mash the potatoes, but do we think about that first thanksgiving? About the brave men & women who sailed over here from England and the Indians that they met when they arrived? The Pilgrims were a big part of The New World, but there were also other well known settlements. Today's Sunday Salon highlights some great books that delve into some of that rich history of the first settlers of The New World... And fact can be as entertaining as fiction!

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War By Nathaniel Philbrick... From the perilous ocean crossing to the shared bounty of the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrim settlement of New England has become enshrined as our most sacred national myth. Yet, as bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick reveals in his spellbinding new book, the true story of the Pilgrims is much more than the well-known tale of piety and sacrifice; it is a fifty-five-year epic that is at once tragic, heroic, exhilarating, and profound. This book has been on my TBR list for a long time, it's gotten great reviews all of which tell us that it's NOT one of those dry history books! It's available in paperback now! And... This Book is Kindle Ready!




The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James by Bob Deans... The River Where America Began takes readers on a journey along the James River from the earliest days of civilization nearly 15,000 years ago through the troubled English settlement at Jamestown and finishing with Lincoln's tour of the defeated capital of Richmond in 1865. Deans traces the historical course of a river whose contributions to American life are both immeasurable and unique. This innovative history invites us all to look into these restless waters in a way that connects us to our past and reminds us of who we are as Americans. Bob Dean explores the rich history of the James River. 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, 104 men and boys came over from England and made a settlement on the banks of Virginia's James River. They were sponsored by The Virginia Company of London whose stockholders thought they could profit somehow from the resources of The New World. The Jamestown Settlement encountered the same hardships as the Pilgrims in Massachusetts, and of course Indians! And it is in this settlement in Virginia where the early settlers meet the Powhatans and Pocahontas! This book isn't just about the Jamestown Settlement, but I think it's interesting to learn about the river before and after Jamestown. Hey, Where's the Kindle Version?!



The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History by Dr. Linwood "Little Bear" Custalow and Angela L. Daniel "Silver Star" ... This book incorporates the sacred oral history of the Mattaponi that has been passed down to Lin “Little Bear” since his childhood, by his father, the late Mattaponi Chief Webster “Little Eagle” Custalow; his uncle, the late Mattaponi Chief O. T. Custalow; and grandfather, the late Mattaponi Chief George F. Custalow; and those that came before. The Mattaponi Indian Tribe, along with the Pamunkey Tribe, was one of the original core tribes of the Powhatan Chiefdom, which the English colonists encountered in the 17th century while establishing Jamestown. For nearly 400 years people have heard the Euro-American rendition and interpretation of events that transpired between the English colonists and the Powhatan Indians. The True Story of Pocahontas is the first public publication of the Powhatan perspective that has been maintained and passed down from generation to generation within the Mattaponi Tribe, and the first written history of Pocahontas by her own people. This Book is Kindle Ready!

Hope these books peaked your interest! Any history buffs out there?! Share what other books we might enjoy about our early settlers! In the meantime, I'll be on the James River... in a bookish way!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Friday, November 20, 2009

And The Winners Are... National Book Awards are announced

National Book Awards 2009

What is The National Book Award? "Judges consider only books written by American citizens and published in the United States between December 1 of the previous year and November 30 of the current year. Only publishers can nominate books for the National Book Award, although panel chairs can request books publishers have not nominated." The categories are: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature.

In 2009, 193 publishers submitted 1,129 books for the 2009 National Book Awards.

The total number of books by genre:

Fiction - 236, Nonfiction -481, Poetry - 161, Young People's Lit. - 251

And The Winners Are...

Fiction: Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin

Nonfiction: T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

Poetry: Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy

YA Literature: Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Have you read any of these books? Let the Great World Spin in on my Kindle right now. Any books you felt should have won instead? Share your thoughts here! And let me know what is a winner on your bookshelf! In the meantime if you'd like to see all finalists for the award, here's the LINK.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Best Books of 2009... The Lists are out!

The Lists are out... The MANY Lists of The Best Books of 2009

It's that time of year again... The end of the year lists. One of those lists I love to take a look at is the best books of the year list! Of course there is more than 1 list! Publishers Weekly published their Best Books of 2009 list at the beginning of november, and was immediately met with an uproar as the top 10 list had NO female authors. PW said it chose the books based on the merits of the books regardless of who wrote them, "We wanted the list to reflect what we thought were the top 10 books of the year with no other consideration. We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz... It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male." Lizzie Skurnick of Politics Daily wrote, "It is the conventional wisdom that women's writing gets overlooked in the prize department because it doesn't get enough attention at the outset, or because women writers aren't respected." You can read her article and best of 2009 list HERE. Even our friends across the pond at The Guardian picked up the on controversial list. (You can read their take on it all by following the highlighted link). WILLA, Women in Letters and Literary Arts, has countered by launching their own Wiki list of great books published by women writers 2009, which includes Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel that won the prestigious Man Booker prize for fiction this year! Here's their growing LIST of books, and while you're there you can also add any books that you think should be included.

Isn't a "best of" list a reflection of the likes and dislikes of the person who is deciding? Do the editors at Publisher's Weekly and other list publishers have a greater responsibility because of the breathe of their influence? I look at these lists see if any of the books I enjoyed are on them... to discover authors & books I may have overlooked...

I haven't made my best books of 2009 list yet, but I did discover a great list from Bunch of Grapes, an independent bookstore that's been on Martha’s Vineyard for almost 40 years! We must have similar tastes because I own 7 out of the 10 books and look forward to reading those books I haven't gotten to yet! Here's their list of 10 Great Books by Female Authors:

1. Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips

2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

3. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

4. The Children’s Book by A S Byatt

5. The Legend of Colton H Bryant by Alexandra Fuller

6. Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

7. The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones

8. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

9. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

10. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

What's the best book you've read this year? Best of Books 2009 lists are usually for books published in 2009, but let's not limit ourselves to that! Share what you've enjoyed reading! And let me know what you think of all the controversy!

Memoir Mondays

Memoir Monday!

You know how much I love memoirs! And I've been busy reading some great memoirs lately! But I haven't quite finished writing my reviews (and organizing a great giveaway!) , so I thought I would highlight a few of the memoirs that I'll be reviewing soon...

Lift by Rebecca K. O'Connor... "The culmination of a ten-year career in falconry, Lift is a memoir that illustrates the journey and life lessons of a woman navigating a man’s ancient sport. Captivated by a chance meeting with a falconer’s peregrine as a child, the indelible memory eventually brings the author’s life full circle to flying a peregrine of her own. Exploring themes of predator and prey, finding tribe, forgiveness and femininity, the memoir asks universal questions through a unique backdrop. Lift illustrates the beauty and meaning the sport of falconry can add to a falconer’s life, echoing the challenges and triumphs of being human." Rebecca is a wonderful writer and her story is equally wonderful! This book is fascinating from the start and touching.


The English American by Alison Larkin... "In many ways, Pippa Dunn is very English: she eats Marmite and toast, knows how to make a proper cup of tea, went to a posh English boarding school, finds it entirely familiar to discuss the crossword rather than exchange any cross words over dinner with her proper English family. But Pippa--creative, disheveled, and impulsive to the core--has always felt different from her perfectly poised, smartly coiffed sister and steady, practical parents, whose pastimes include Scottish dancing, gardening, and watching cricket. When Pippa learns at age twenty-eight that her birth parents are from the American South, she feels that lifelong questions have been answered and she finds that “culture clash” has layers of meaning she’d never imagined." Alison Larkin is funny! This book is great! She's even made her "story" into a one woman show too! This tuesday The English American will be released in paperback too!

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel... "This autobiography deals with her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and proprietor of the local funeral parlor. Fun Home refers both to the funeral parlor and the family's meticulously restored gothic revival house, filled with gilt and lace, where he liked to imagine himself a 19th-century aristocrat. Bechdel's talent for intimacy and banter gains gravitas when used to describe a family in which a man's secrets make his wife a tired husk and overshadow his daughter's burgeoning womanhood and homosexuality." This memoir is a graphic novel. (I've been reading a lot of those lately too) The drawings are wonderful! (Alison is a cartoonist after all!) The story may be a bit out of the box for some, but it is a coming of age story that is funny and bittersweet.

Hope I whetted your appetite for some great reading! Stay tuned for the reviews (and the giveaway!)... In the meantime, share what you're reading! Any good memoirs I should be putting on my shelf? What do you think of graphic memoirs? Have you read any yet?

Happy Monday! And happy reading...
Suzanne

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Sunday Salon... "Books with Buzz"

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...

This Sunday Salon I'm back with Books with Buzz! Since tuesday I've been Under The Dome with Stephen King, and am happy to say that I'm really enjoying it! I haven't read King for a very long time, but Under The Dome sounded like a great story- a whole town suddenly isolated by an invisible dome... how this effects the people (and animals) around the town and how chaos has a funny way of building up like a smoldering fire is all part of the plot. It's a brick of a book-almost 1100 pages, so even though I can't seem to put it down I think you'll have to waita couple of weeks for a review. But keep your eyes out for that review... In the meantime, let's take a look at a few books that haven't gotten mega press releases and that we should take a look at...

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington... In the plague-wracked and devil-haunted darkness of Medieval Europe, an elite few enjoy opulent lives while the majority eke out a miserable existence in abject poverty. Hungry creatures stalk the deep woods and desolate mountains, and both sea and sky teem with unspeakable horrors. For those ill-fated masses not born into wealth, life is but a vicious trial to be endured before the end of days. Hegel and Manfried Grossbart couldn't
give a toss. Being of low birth means little, after all, when the riches of the mighty wait just inside the next crypt. The grave-robbing twins know enough about crusading to realise that if one is to make a living from the dead, what better destination than the fabled tomb-cities of Egypt? But the Brothers Grossbart are about to discover that all legends have their truths, and worse fates than death await those who would take the red road of villainy ... This book will be available in stores this coming tuesday, Nov.16th. I've read a lot of positive chatter about this book from those lucky people who got a copy before its official release. Although I also have read that there is some graphic violence (hey it's the middle ages...) and some strong language, especially felt at the beginning while you're getting use to the story. The writing is suppose to be wonderful & clever- capturing the essence of those plague filled times- and the violence begins to takes a back seat to the story. I love the middle ages and I'm going to definitely take a serious look at this book for the TBR pile. This Book is Kindle Ready!

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan... one of the first young adult novels centered around the terror attacks of 9/11. On that fateful day, three teens lives are changed forever. As each gets to know the other, their moments become intertwined with each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by, both emotionally and physically. Gripping, moving, and utterly realistic, Love is the Higher Law manages to bring the events surrounding this catastrophic date to a heartbreakingly human level. And yet Levithan leaves readers with a feeling of hope and redemption, as his characters slowly learn to move forward with their lives, despite being changed forever. Katherine from Bunch of Grapes, tells us why this book is different from other 9/11 books, "we’re watching teenagers and because they are teens, they are crazy, pendulum-swinging, emotional roller coasters. They are in turn angry, idealistic, scared, tragic, uncomfortable, joyous, you name it… Every emotion is confused, raw and to the nth degree. They place drastic importance on their first date after 9/11, their first concert after 9/11. In most adult novels, they would get toned down, but because they are teens, it is allowed here. And this is the secret… we were all like that in those weeks, no matter our ages." This book has gotten lots of positive buzz and it's going in my TBR pile... This book is Kindle Ready!

Louisa May Alcott, The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen... Harriet Reisen writes in her book, "the real Louisa was just as intelligent, hot-tempered, rebellious and ambitious as her fictional counterpart. But the true story of Alcott’s life is both more tragic and more triumphant than anything she cooked up for her favorite little woman." Marion Elisabeth Rodgers of The Washington Times calls Harriet Reisen "a master storyteller" and about The Woman Behind LW she says, "Chapters are never formulaic. With compassion and insight, she propels readers on to the next adventure, sacrifice, tragedy and triumph.” Biographies can be dry sometimes, facts & dates with little life, but Harriet Reisen's book sounds like a refreshing read, and there's a lot of great talk about it! As a little girl who loved Little Women, I am looking forward to reading about the woman who created a story so rich in character that it's still a wonderful read 140 years after being first published! Have you read Little Women? You can get a Kindle version of Little Women for $1.59 HERE, or an ePub, mobipocket/Kindle or PDF version of the Gutenberg project book Free from Feedbooks HERE. (Wish this was Kindle Ready, but it's not!)

That about does it for this weeks Sunday Salon and Books with Buzz. Hope you found something interesting to crack the spine! What are YOU reading this week? What books did you find interesting as you were wondering the bookstore or library? Share your finds here!

Happy reading... Suzanne