Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 8. 31. 10

Teaser Tuesdays is a interesting, fun, book-related meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list. I do every week!

My Teaser:

"But Teresa had strange stories and mad ideas and seemed to wander about on her own as much as Kate did. Kate didn't show her the office or tell her about the agency... but she thought she might do this one day. Teresa was brilliant at surveillance."

from What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn (p.54)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Movie Monday!

Feature Presentation...

Today's theme from The Bumbles is movies featuring children actors! Remember when Anna Paquin won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in 1993 at age 11? She's just one example of the many talented kids who act in good movies for our enjoyment. Share on your blog the roles you've enjoyed from child actors and link them back to The Bumbles Blog.
If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Taxi Driver (1976) - Jodie Foster

Paper Moon (1973) - Tatum O'Neal

Bad New Bears (1976) - Tatum O'Neal

The Professional ( 1994) - Natalie Portman

I Am Sam (1992) - Dakota Fanning

My Girl (1991) - Anna Chlumsky; Macaulay Culkin

Home Alone (1990) - Macaulay Culkin

Beautiful Girls (1996) - Natalie Portman

Jerry Maguire (1996) - Jonathan Lipnicki. Molly and Andy listed this movie and actor but I just loved the little boy in this movie!

Bastard out of Carolina (1996) - Jena Malone

Step-mom (1998) - Jena Malone; Liam Aiken

Shirley Temple - born in 1928, she performed in more than 30 movies by the age of 12. I used to love watching her movies on Saturday mornings when I was a kid!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Great Book Giveaway!

Fantastic Giveaway on Facebook: 32 Authors & 64 Books!

In case you haven't read about this Amazing Giveaway on another blog, on Twitter or Facebook -
Sponsored by the group "I Bet We Can Make These Books Bestsellers" started by Catherine McKenzie, bestselling author of Spin

Contributing authors include:
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Shawn Klomparens
Leah Stewart
Allison Winn Scotch
Sarah Pekkanen
Louise Penny
Therese Walsh
Trish Cohen
Benjamin Percy
Marie de los Santos
Katrina Kittle
Alice Eve Cohen
Anne Fortier....

You have until August 31st to Enter!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Author Interview: Sandra Dallas

I recently interviewed Sandra Dallas, author of Whiter Than Snow, published in April, 2010. It's a captivating, touching story I highly recommend (my review). This is my first author interview and it's taken me a little time to get it posted. Re-write after re-write, several edits as well as some health problems delayed its posting. I want to apologize to Sandra for the delay.
I had a wonderful time talking with Sandra and found her to be friendly, very interesting, easy to talk to, witty and funny.

Sandra, I really enjoyed Whiter Than Snow and I was wondering how you came up with the title?
The working title was "The Snowslide", I desperately needed something better. My agent and I went through books of quotations and the Bible. One of the main themes in the story is redemption. My agent found Psalm 51: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Whiter Than Snow seemed appropriate, since there is a feeling of redemption to the quote. But I think it sounds a little like a jingle for a laundry detergent!

Have you ever experienced an avalanche or do you know anyone who has?
I have no first-hand experience with avalanches. My son-in-law works for an organization that deals with avalanches so he read over the scenes and helped me get them right. He told me something interesting: that people caught in an avalanche don't usually die from being suffocated but more often they die from trauma experienced in the course of being buried.

How did you come up with the idea of the avalanche?
I was at a Western Writers of America Convention and one of the speakers talked about plot as a group of people thrown together to face a common danger. I thought about what would be a perilous situation in Colorado and an avalanche came to mind.

Sandra, did you know which children were going to die right away or did that develop as you wrote?
I almost always know the ending to my story when I'm writing although when I finally get there I often change the ending. .I knew from the beginning which children were going to die. I didn't want Jane to die. The death of Jane affected me the most.

In Whiter Than Snow you told stories about the lives and experiences of several of your characters. How did their different stories come about?
I wrote about what interests me, what intrigues me: gold mining; family relationships, the Civil War; the black experience following the war, life in NYC tenement, all of these subjects I find interesting. Shortly before writing this book my daughter and I visited the Tenement Museum in NYC so I decided to make one of the characters a Jewish girl from NYC. I also included the explosion and sinking of the Mississippi River steamboat Sultana. The story of the Sultana has interested me for a long time. I was going to write a book about it but there were very few women on board and I write women characters. So I wrote about the Sultana here. More people died in the sinking of the Sultana than the Titanic: 2100 were on board and 1800 died.

I had no idea about the Sultana, Sandra, that's fascinating and very sad. I've also never been to the Tenement Museum her in NYC. I'll try to rectify that soon!
Do you have a favorite character in Whiter Than Snow?
When I'm writing every character is my favorite as I'm writing their story. I get into the specific character's head and see things from their point of view. Minder Evans character affected me the most. He had so much grief and he carried it with him for such a long time. He also let me write about the Sultana which I have wanted to do for years!

How long have you been writing, Sandra?
I've only been writing fiction since 1990, but I've been writing for most of my life.

In my research I read you were a journalist for many years?
I studied Journalism at the University of Denver and I worked for Business Week in the Denver Bureau for 25 years. I covered The Rocky Mountain Region , a large variety of subjects and topics. I was the first female Bureau Chief in the Denver Office. When that office closed I free-lanced with Business Week for 10 years.

That's fantastic, Sandra. Congratulations!
I also read you wrote several non-fiction books during this time?
Thank you. Yes, I wrote 9 books about different aspects of Colorado, mining, ghost towns, things like that. I currently write a column for The Denver Post.

Did you always want to write fiction?
No, not at all! A few years after college I wrote a book but I couldn't get it published and I put it away. Years later I was at lunch with 2 friends and we came up with the idea to write a potboiler. We had a plot and characters and wrote some of the book. But it was really too difficult to coordinate with day jobs and schedules so we stopped.
But I loved writing the book. I pulled out the novel I wrote a few years after college and reworked it and sent it out. That didn't work out right away but I kept writing and trying things. I finally wrote what became my first novel, Buster Midnight's Cafe. The book I wrote after college eventually became The Chili Queen.

How do you come up with the ideas for your books?
Very often ideas come to me in a complete thought. The idea for my first book just came to me one day. I had just walked into the house, I was in the front hall and the idea with the plot, characters and even the first line popped into my head!

Do you write for your readers, Sandra?
No, I don't, I think that's very limiting. I just write and write. Over the years I've discovered what my readers like and don't like. Many of them don't like sex and profanity, no bad language. They send me letters when they don't like something I've written in a book. A large number of my readers are quilters. I taught myself to quilt when my children were small. I collect old quilts. Quilts are women's art, they represent women and their lives.

Are there specific themes that occur in all of your fiction?
I don't purposely write specific themes into my books or pay much attention to the themes but most of my stories tend to revolve around the themes of loyalty, friendship and human dignity.

Sandra, can you tell us what you are working on now?
I don't like to do that because things change so easily or I might talk about something and then if that book doesn't come out readers will wonder what happened. But I have a book I just sold coming out next year. It's called The Bride's House. It's about 3 sisters and a restored home. The idea came from the house my husband and I are restoring now in Northern Colorado. It's taking forever!

Is there any possibility you will write a sequel to Whiter Than Snow?
I've never written a sequel yet. But occasionally, if there's a character I can't stop thinking about or I want to be sure she's okay, I may write a line or two about her in another novel to let readers know how she's doing. I've only done this once so far and I haven't heard that anyone noticed!

What would you like readers to take away from Whiter Than Snow when they finish reading it?
I hope they're happy they read the book, found it worthwhile. I want them to have laughed a little while reading it. The point of the book I guess is that there is redemption, you can always grow and change and find forgiveness from God and yourself. There is randomness in tragedy and death, it doesn't depend on or determine if you are a good or bad person. I also want readers to understand that there is a randomness in tragedy. God does not single you out for good or bad things; those tragic acts are not God punishing you or rewarding you. You can learn from them and become a better person.

Sandra, you've been great about answering my questions! I have one final question What do you like to read?
I read a lot. I recently finished (at the time of the interview) Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. I'm re-reading The Alienist by Caleb Carr. I love Truman Capote's writing and Anne Lamott, especially her non-fiction, Bird by Bird. I also enjoy supporting other Colorado writers.

Thank you so much for your time, Sandra, it's been wonderful talking with you!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Movies: Prison Theme!

Feature Presentation...

Today's theme from The Bumbles is prison movies! Prison movies are movies that involve jail time for the main characters or the escape from jail! The Bumbles are very adamant about one thing in particular: NO SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION ALLOWED! So what's that all about...Sandy?!!
If you want to join in, list your choices of prison movies on your blog and then be sure to link your blog to
The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

The Longest Yard (1974) - Starring Burt Reynolds

The Great Escape (1963)

The Green Mile (1999)

The Rock (1996) Starring Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage and Ed Harris

The Fugitive (1993)

Capote (2005)

Kelly's Heroes (1970)

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

In Cold Blood (

Life is Beautiful (1997) Although the characters aren't technically in a prison, internment a Nazi concentration camp is certainly a prison in my opinion.

Escape from Devil's Island (1935)

Book Review: Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas

Title: Whiter Than Snow
Author: Sandra Dallas
ISBN: 978-0-316-15649-3
Pages: 310
Release Date: March 30, 2010
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary: Whiter Than Snow opens in 1920, on a spring afternoon in Swandyke, a small town near Colorado’s Tenmile Range. Just moments after four o’clock, a large split of snow separates from Jubilee Mountain high above the tiny hamlet and hurtles down the rocky slope, enveloping everything in its path including nine young children who are walking home from school. But only four children survive. Whiter Than Snow takes you into the lives of each of these families: There’s Lucy and Dolly Patch—two sisters, long estranged by a shocking betrayal. Joe Cobb, Swandyke’s only black resident, whose love for his daughter Jane forces him to flee Alabama. There’s Grace Foote, who hides secrets and scandal that belies her genteel façade. And Minder Evans, a civil war veteran who considers his cowardice his greatest sin. Finally, there’s Essie Snowball, born Esther Schnable to conservative Jewish parents, but who now works as a prostitute and hides her child’s parentage from all the world.

Ultimately, each story serves as an allegory to the greater theme of the novel by echoing that fate, chance, and perhaps even divine providence, are all woven into the fabric of everyday life. And it’s through each character’s defining moment in his or her past that the reader understands how each child has become its parent’s purpose for living. In the end, it’s a novel of forgiveness, redemption, survival, faith and family.

My Thoughts: In Whiter Than Snow, tragedy heals, unites and uplifts people. As news of the avalanche spreads, most of the townspeople of Swandyke, Colorado stop whatever they are doing to assist their neighbors with digging out the trapped children. Apathy, anger, prejudice, and social hierarchies fall by the wayside as people work together for a common cause. The townsfolk realize that who you are, what you do, what you did in the past or how much money you have doesn't matter when the life of an innocent child is at stake. The attitude of the townspeople is: when there's trouble, everyone works together. It doesn't matter who you are.

Whiter Than Snow opens with the avalanche. The author, Sandra Dallas, steps back and tells the history and family story of each child caught in the avalanche. She explores the experiences of the parent or caretaker growing up, their joys and sorrows and the sacrifices they made as they got older as well as their less admirable actions and traits. We learn of their strengths and flaws in what are, essentially short stories within the novel, as well as what they've done to have a family, children and provide a good home. The themes of betrayal, deception, cowardice, survival, love, loyalty and selfishness resonate throughout the stories, often painting a bleak picture of the hard-working, troubled people of Swandyke.

The characters who are the focus of the book separate themselves from certain neighbors, friends and each other for years for a variety of reasons. They are quickly united, however, in accepting help from each other in order to save their children. They also find themselves reaching for any available shoulder to cry on as they await news of their child. Forgiveness, understanding, support and love dominate the later chapters of Whiter Than Snow as the townspeople drop whatever they're doing and come together to rescue the innocent victims. Old bonds are re-kindled as new bonds are formed and grudges melt away.

Dallas has a talent for writing wonderfully life-like characters. We can feel their joys and sorrows, relate to their flaws, stubbornness, pride and their behavior. I felt so invested in these characters that I was anxious to learn what things were like for them as the avalanche rendered the past moot. The characters felt the power of forgiveness and redemption that can come only from a tragedy like this, something that brings out the best in everyone. Faith, their love and support for each other and the power of forgiveness lifted the burdens each character carried for years. New relationships formed and old ones were repaired paving the way for an enlightening future.

I wondered, however, where all this would lead. I wanted to know how the characters whose children died coped over the ensuing years. Who helped them? What did they talk about with their family and friends after missing so many years together? A specific example: did the women remain friendly? Dallas touched on some of these issues, but I was disappointed when she provided only tidbits about the characters' lives following the avalanche. Without revisiting the town, for example, on the one year anniversary of the avalanche to see how the characters are faring leaves me feeling a lack of closure. I wished for at least a chapter or two, maybe even a two or three page epilogue to address these issues.

I was sad when the book ended and sorry to have to say goodbye to the characters because I'd enjoyed this story so much. But I can always hope for a sequel or a cameo by, maybe, Essie or Lucy in a future book, can't I!?!

Please keep an eye out for a post on my Interview with Sandra Dallas which will be posted here very soon!

I received Whiter Than Snow book from the Publisher for review.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls

One Day
by David Nicholls
Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
Published Date: June 15, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-47471-1
448 Pages - Paperback
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Summary: It's 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. They both know that the next day, after college graduation, they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. As the years go by, Dex and Em begin to lead separate lives, lives very different from the people they once dreamed they'd become. And yet, unable to let go of that special something that grabbed onto them that first night, an extraordinary relationship develops between the two.
Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day July 15th of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

My Thoughts: One Day opens with Emma and Dexter spending the night (and the next day) together after meeting, for the first time, at a party earlier that evening celebrating their college graduations. Emma is attracted to Dexter's good looks, having seen him around campus several times. Dexter, who is very drunk, likes pretty girls like Emma.

Dexter is a party boy who admittedly wants to avoid reality and responsibility for as long as possible. He has very vague plans for his life which include traveling for a couple of years and then, somehow, becoming rich and famous.. Emma, on the other hand, is interested in politics and causes. She wants to make a difference, change the "bit of world around her". She doesn't care about being rich, popular or cool. She wants to live passionately and experience new things. But she isn't sure how. Emma and Dexter sound very much like new college graduates, a little lost, a little unsure about the future as they go their separate ways.

The author, David Nicholls, employs an interesting technique to move the story along, checking in on Emma and Dexter every year on the same day, July 15th. It's initially fun to anticipate the following year and wonder what they've been up to. Will this be the year they get together? Have they found good jobs? Things to do they're passionate about? Has one of them met their true love? Emma struggles for a few years trying to figure out what she wants to do and how to live up to her lofty ideals. She becomes depressed and doubts herself. She still likes Dexter but forces herself to be just friends with him because he only wants fun, pretty girls. Emma spends a lot of time moping, wondering why nothing good happens for her. She often doesn't bother to work hard or try to make things happen. Emma lets life plod along and pass her by for a few years.

Dexter's life, on the other hand, takes off exactly as he wants. He returned from traveling with a job in the television industry. He's making money and having a great time. He doesn't have to work hard or struggle. And, in Dexter's estimate, the television industry is filled with good looking and important people, which is very important to him.

Emma and Dexter settled into a close friendship. They speak and get together frequently. Emma decided to suppress her romantic feelings for Dexter since he isn't look for a serious relationship. He wants everything in his life to be fun, easy-going and light. He drinks a lot and uses drugs occasionally, spending most nights out at parties and bars or clubs. He wants nothing to do with sadness, hardship, anything complicated or messy. He is extremely immature and superficial.

I know I'm in the minority here but I didn't care much for One Day. The first few chapters were amusing, funny and entertaining but it wasn't long before I was tired of Emma's moping, her insecurities and lack of initiative. Rather than work hard to get out of her rut, she languishes in a Tex-Mex restaurant as a waitress. Her taste in men is terrible, too. I'd hoped when she didn't tell Dexter how she felt about him in one of the letters she sent him while he was traveling, she'd stand up to him when they were out together. I wanted her to tell him she didn't want him regaling her with stories of his female conquests. She wanted him to notice her. Instead, Emma responds whenever he calls her and "needs" to see her to complain about something or brag about his life. It drives her mad that Dexter never asks her about her life and what's up with her but she tolerates his selfish behavior and is available at his beck and call.

Emma, finally at her wit's end with Dexter, gets involved with Ian, who fancies himself a stand-up comic. The problem is, he's very rarely funny. Ian treats Emma well but, although she cares for him, she doesn't love him and finds his behavior endlessly irritating. Emma chooses not to tell Ian how she feels but puts up with him rather than be alone. She doesn't value herself or believe she deserves the best. After several "years" of Emma behaving this way, it became tiring and grated on my nerves. And how she lived with Ian as long as she did, who practiced his "comedy" every waking moment yet failed to even slightly improve, is beyond me.

I could put up with Emma and actually grew to like her a little more as she matured and took control of her life. And she is a breath of fresh air compared to Dexter. Dexter's character becomes much less likable and increasingly more aggravating until the mere sight of his name on the page made me groan. Dexter's obsession with having fun, looking good and being surrounded by good-looking, important people become his only purpose. Well, that and consuming alcohol. His drinking escapades as he gets older are no longer funny but pathetic and annoying. There are at least two episodes in the book (I don't want to give the details in case some of you haven't read the book) in which Dexter's drinking and subsequent behavior shocked and disgusted me. In fact, I thought he should have been arrested for one of them. I have little to no patience for Dexter behaving in such a selfish, uncaring manner, especially when he hurts and harms people he supposedly loves, although that, too, is questionable with Dexter.

I read several reviews of this book and words like cute, funny, memorable, wonderful and sad were used about this story. I agree that One Day is sad. There are several situations, moments and characters that can only be described as such. Characters that are also pathetic, whiney and generally unhappy. Nicholls technique of dropping in on Emma and Dexter every July 15th is interesting and exciting initially, but soon the years start to drag and this vehicle makes the book too long. Dexter's drinking and childish behavior is unchanged year after year. He fails to mature and become an adult, to be responsible and respect his friends and family. Emma, even when she finally discovers something she's passionate about and starts enjoying her life, still behaves in a manner inconsistent with a woman who values herself and believes she deserves to be treated well. Although I enjoyed parts of the book, overall it left me with the idea that life is challenging and difficult without much to look forward to. In other words: life's a bitch and then you die.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Shelf Awareness Newsletter for review.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday 8.18.10

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun (please do!) Be sure to leave a link to your post over at Bermudaonion's Weblog.

These words are from Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

"I am debating whether to risk scratching the right side of my jaw, where there is a
wen." (p.4)

1. Wen - noun
:a benign encysted tumor of the skin containing sebaceous (fatty) matter

I included the second definition below because it is a British term and I thought the difference in the definition of wen between the two was very interesting....:

: a large crowded city or crowded urban district. London is the great wen of England.

"Uncle Charles, a truly unparalleled slinger of shit, is laying down an enfilade of same, trying to mollify men who seem way more in need of a good brow-mopping than I." (p.13)

2. Enfilade - noun.
1.gunfire directed from a flanking position along the line of an enemy battle line.
2. a target vulnerable to sweeping gunfire.

"And who could not love that special and leonine roar of a public toilet?" (p.15)

3. Leonine -adj.
:of, relating to, suggestive of or resembling a lion; characteristic of a lion

These words come from the book, The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way by Bill Bryson. There are no seperate sentence using the word because, in the book, Bryson introduces the word and defines it in the same sentence.

1. If you have a morbid fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth there is a word for it:

2. There is a word to describe the state of being a woman:

3. Velleity describes a mild desire, a wish or urge too slight to lead to action.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays 8.17.10

Teaser Tuesdays is a very interesting, fun, book-related meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

"His initial fear was that Jude had indeed followed Gwen back to the house and had picked a spot to wait, then snatched her when he saw her, the drug kingpin motivated by revenge for the ratting out. But the snatch theory was unlikely: Gwen said that at one point Jude had stopped following her and turned off, and Brian hadn't lost sight of the house for more than a few minutes when they were out on Walt Garrison's boat."

from Stash by David Klein (p.167-68)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Monday Musings!

I meant to post this yesterday, Sunday, but it just didn't happen! Saturday was a beautiful day here in NYC! A perfect summer day, warm with a breeze and NO humidity. Loved it! I had to spend some time outside. I went to a local outdoor flea market. There were several booths with interesting and cool jewelrys, a booth selling beautiful Sri Lankan handmade dark brown rattan bags with intricate beading design around the opening and lotsof t-shirts and many different booths with delicious food, such as Red Hook Lobster Rolls, BBQ, Grilled Cheese and yummy milk shakes. It was great fun and really interesting people watching! Of course there was a book booth (yay!)! Mostly fiction, a little non-fiction and all paperbacks. Since I have a large pile of to books to read, I managed to restrict myself to purchasing 3 books, but Oh Boy! was it tough to decide which 3! I went home with: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde and Water Music by T.C. Boyle. I hope I get to them sooner rather than later!

The cats were thrilled with the weather this weekend. They were running inside, outside and back again, rolling on their backs in the grass, especially Betsy, Sadie, Bob and Huxley and playing with cat toys, bottle caps, pieces of grass and balls, lots of balls (Dopey and Hennessey prefer sitting on the windowsill and watch all the goings-on!). When finally exhausted, the cats collapsed in any bit of sun they could find. They are all so adorable and fun...funny too!

I wasn't getting much reading done for several weeks and definitely not as much posting or blog visiting as I'd like. I was in the hospital for a few days with pneumonia. When I got home, I slept a lot which shortened my day and my reading time, especially when 30 minutes into a book I was snoring away! I'm slowly getting back into the swing of blogging again! I feel like I've had a blog for a while but just when I felt really comfortable with it all, I had to step away from blogging for a few months. I'll catch up! I want to post, I want to visit other blogs, participate in read-a-longs, interview authors, offer giveaways ...there are so many great things to do around here! I'm way behind on reviews. I have a handful of almost completed reviews waiting for me to finish them. I'll probably just take a day and work on reviews and only reviews!

Infinite Jest, which I've beeen reading for little more than a week now, is great! It's a little odd but interesting and funny! The more I read, the better it gets! I think it's going to take me a long time to read it! I'm also reading
On Folly Beach by Karen White and hopefully Cleo by Helen Brown, I can't wait to read this book! I also hope to post reviews for Whiter Than Snow and my interview with Sandra Dallas too! I hope to post my reviews for Beth Kephart's The Heart is Not a Size and One Day by David Nicholls.

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Book Giveaways around the Book Blog Community!!

Here is a list of Book Giveaways I've compiled for you! Enter some contests, have some fun and Good Luck! If you have a book contest on your blog that isn't listed here and you'd like me to list, please let me know in the comments or in emails! I will also try to update this list periodically.
Several of these blogs have other great Book Giveaways that I haven't listed so be sure to check each blog for all the great giveaways!

Passages to the Past
The Jewel of St. Petersburg by Kate Furnivall 8/16
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory 8/17
His Last Letter by Jeanne Westin 8/19
The Secret Woman by Cecelia Holland 8/20

The 3Rs Blog// Reading, 'Riting & Randomness
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner (Signed copy!) 8/20

Books R Us
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger 8/15
Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond 8/16

Just Jennifer Reading
The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peter Clark 8/25
Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond 8/18

Jo-Jo Loves to Read
Happy Birthday Giveaway - Choose 1 book out of 4 8/18
Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn 8/20

Chocolate & Croissants
Hot House Flower by Margot Berwin 8/25
The Recessionistas by Andrea Lebenthal 8/25

The Eclectic Reader
August Competition: Choice of 3 Books 8/31

A Sea of Books
Ravens by George Dawes Green 8/27
Follow Me by Joanna Scott 8/20
New Tricks by David Rosenfelt 8/20
Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn 8/27

At Home with Books
August Bookshelf Cleaning - Choose from 4 Books 8/30
Under the Dome by Stephen King 8/29

In Which A Girl Reads
A Very Humongous Blogoversary Contest - 3 Winners,
25 Books from which to choose! 9/19

Booking Mama
Fragile by Lisa Unger 8/18
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory 8/22

Luxury Reading
The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose 8/30
Hannah by Hannah Westberg 8/30
Alexis by Alexis Singer 8/30
Once in a Blue Moon by Eileen Goudge 8/30
Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond 8/30

Peeking Between the Pages
Never Wave Goodbye by Doug Magee 8/21
New Tricks by David Rosenfelt 8/22
Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons 8/22
Audiobook, The Island by Elin Hildebrand 8/22
Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn 8/22
Follow Me by Joanna Scott 8/22
The King's Mistress by Emma Campion 8/29

Bookin' with Bingo
The Stieg Larsson Trilogy 8/15
Seven Year Switch and The Wildwater
Walking Club set by Claire Cook 8.15
The Writing Circle by Corinne Demas 8/23
Family Ties by Danielle Steele 8/16
Fortunate Harbor by Emilie Richards 8/22

A Bookworm's World
Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman 8/15
Audiobook, Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson 9/4
Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddond 9/5
Fragile by Lisa Unger 9/5
One Year Blogoversary Giveaway: 6 Books,
3 Winners! 8/31

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays 8.10.10

Teaser Tuesdays is a very interesting, fun, book-related meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

"Here's Hal Incandenza, age seventeen, with his little brass one-hitter, getting covertly high in the Enfield Tennis Academy's underground Pump Room and exhaling palely into an industrial exhaust fan. It's the sad little interval after afternoon matches and conditioning but before the Academy's communal supper. Hal is by himself down here and nobody knows where he is or what he's doing.."
from Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (p.49)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Movies - Screen Legends!

Feature Presentation...

Today's theme from The Bumbles is all about Movie Screen Legends! The theme was suggested by The Gal Herself from One Gal's Musing who is a fan of the classics, as am I, and was interested in AFI's list of screen legends. Who do you think will be the screen legends of the future? The Bumbles point out, quite astutely, that Meryl and Denzel are obvious choices for future screen legends but what about those actors and actresses under 50? Great question! Who among the under 50 crowd might reach legend status in the next 25 years or so? I admit I thought about this for a long time. There are many, many great actors under 50 but screen legends are on a different level. My choices are listed below.
If you want to join in, list your choices for future screen legends on your blog and then be sure to link to your blog to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

I apologize for my lazy list! We've all heard of these actors, right?!

Johnny Depp (47 years old)

Kate Winslet (35 years old )

Tom Cruise (48 years old)

Nicole Kidman ( 43 years old )

George Clooney (49years old)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Book Review: "The Space Between Us" by Thrity Umrigar

Title: The Space Between Us
Author: Thrity Umrigar
Pages: 352
Publisher: Harper Perennial, February 6, 2007
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary: Poignant and compelling, evocative and unforgettable, The Space Between Us is an intimate portrait of a distant yet familiar world. Set in modern-day India and witnessed through two compelling and achingly real women: Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years. A powerful and perceptive literary masterwork, author Thrity Umrigar's extraordinary novel the novel demonstrates how the lives of the rich and the poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and how the strong bonds of womanhood are eternally opposed by the divisions of class and culture.

My Thoughts:
I read this book as part of a read-a-long hosted by Lisa at Lit and Life. I joined the group two weeks late and missed the last week because I was hospitalized a few days. It's because of Lisa's read-a-long that I read The Space Between Us and I'm thrilled I read this book! I thought I would review the book because I missed so much of the read-a-long and it's a wonderful book to tell you about and one everyone should read!

The Space Between Us is a beautiful book and one of the best I've read in a long time. It's a sad but inspiring story about friendship, love, family and coping with life's pain and disappointments. The main characters, Bhima and Serabai (Sera) have known each other more than twenty years and are better friends than most mistresses and their servants but their is also a distance between them, especially on Sera's side. Both women experienced many troubling times throughout their lives, relayed to us through their reminisces and memories. Despite the hardships they've experienced, Bhima and Sera are strong, determined women, particularly
Bhima, who I found myself rooting for from the beginning.

Thrity Umrigar writes such realistic, three-dimensional characters, that we understand and relate to them as well as 'see' them in their environment. Bhima and Sera are sympathetic, and strong but also flawed, so their behavior makes sense. For example, after the many disappointments Bhima has experienced in life we can understand that she's often tired and worn out, ready to throw in the towel. But then she sees the innocent, loving face of her granddaughter, Maya, and the energy to continue and give Maya a good life surges through her body. As for Sera, she is relatable because of the many conflicting emotions she must deal with, though I'm reluctant to go into detail for fear of giving away too much of the story.

Bhima and Sera know intimate details about each other, but there is a distance between them, which causes awkwardness in their interaction. Bhima will never be invited to a party at Sera's house. They will never go to a restaurant together and they will never share a meal at the same table in either's home. Bhima is Sera's servant. As such, she will never be treated as a member of Sera's family or the closest, most intimate of friends because she is considered beneath them. Bhima lives in a slum while Sera lives in a big, beautiful house. Bhima is illiterate and the differences go on. But where Bhima understands and accepts the distance between them, Sera is uncomfortable and confused. Though they feel for each other, these feelings do not transcend their places in society.

Sera struggles with how to treat Bhima. She is good to her but sometimes could be kinder. Sera knows Bhima's life has been painful and disappointing She considers allowing her to sit on a chair or the sofa, or use the families silverware but the very thought of doing so repulses her. It makes her skin crawl. Her friends make fun of her for treating Bhima as well as she does. Though this troubles her, it helps her to justify the things she doesn't do for Bhima. But Sera knows what it feels like to be treated poorly, to be ostracized and told she is unclean. She flinches when she thinks about the time in her life when she was made to feel like less of a person.

Bhima doesn't begrudge Sera her wealth or lifestyle. In fact, she looks up to Sera with admiration and respects. Bhima knows the difficult times in Sera's life, her marriage troubles and the problems posed by her mother-in-law. Bhima has consoled her in the past and wishes happiness for her in her future. Bhima feels fortunate that Sera has been paying for Maya's college education and for the other help Sera has given her in the past. She knows most other mistresses wouldn't help their servants the way Sera has helped her.

Their differences can be loosely summarized by their outlooks. While they both have experienced very difficult and painful events, Bhima blames herself for what's happened to her believing her lack of education and stupidity has caused all of her difficulties in life while Sera wonders why the bad things happened to her. Unlike Sera, who is depressed and weighed down by her troubles, Bhima perseveres and continues to push forward in life, to do what she has to do to try to make things better for herself and Maya.

Thrity Umrigar has written an amazing book about women and life in modern-day Bombay, about their friendships and what they share and the differences that separate them. This is a book that begs to be read again and again and you know, with each additional reading, you will grasp new meaning from Umrigar's themes, images and story. I could write pages about what I learned from The Space Between Us but I don't want to scare off my readers! LOL And I think this is a book we should all experience for ourselves. The Space Between Us is worth taking the time to read and savor.

Thrity Umrigar's story is filled with beautiful prose and descriptive passages. Below are two that stuck with me:

"As they walk, Bhima feels herself dropping her burdens into the welcoming water, so that her body becomes softer, more pliable and she loses some of the angry stiffness that she normally carries in her. She is glad that she and Maya have taken to going to the seaside in the evenings. She listens to the rhythmic sighing of the dark sea and feels that it echoes her own. The water fights against the shore, chafing at its boundaries, leaving behind a foamy hiss of frustration as it recedes. Bhima feels her tired feet dig deep into the wet sand, looking for a place to call their own." (p.197)

"Four years into her marriage, Sera had woken one morning to feel something hot and sticky in the back of her throat. For a minute, she thought it was the start of another sinus infection, but when she swallowed cautiously, her throat did not hurt.

It was hate. Hate that was lodged like a bone in her throat. Hate that made her feel sick, that gave her mouth a bitter, dry taste. Hate that entered her heart like a fever, that made her lips curve downward like a bent spoon." (p.181)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun (please do!) Be sure to leave a link to your post over at Bermudaonion's Weblog!

All of these words come from One Day by David Nicholls.

The C-major scale of the amateur stand-up, this is the routine that had the potential to be infinite, and Emma found herself trying to imagine a notional man, a fantastical figure who didn't make a big deal about it, just looked at the wine list and ordered, unpretentiously but with authority.

1. Notional -adj.
1. not real or actual; ideal or imaginary
2. abstract, theoretical, or speculative, as reflective thought.

When it happens, if it happens, she will adore the child, remark on its tiny hands and even the smell of its scrofulous little head.

2. Scrofulous -adj.
1. of, relating to or affected with scrofula: swelling of the lymph nodes of the neck
2. Having a diseased, rundown appearance
3. morally contaminated

Energised now he quarries deeper through the geological layers of the CDs that represent 10 years of fashion, picking out the occasional disc, stacking them up in a pile on the floor, warming to his plan.

3. Quarry -verb
1. to dig or take from as if from a quarry
2. to make a quarry in; to delve in

Over time she had hoped to get this down to forty percent, forty being a workable allowance, but nearly two years later the figure stood at seventy-five, and domestic life continued against the tinnitus of mirth.

4. Tinnitus -noun
1. a ringing or similar sensation of sound in the ears.