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Tag: "literature"

"Lone Star Legend" by Gwendolyn Zepeda

[ 3 ] May 15, 2010

Reviewed by Amelie L.

Meet Miss TragiComic Texas, author of a personal blog titled My Modern TragiComedy. No, wait, allow me to introduce you to Sandy Saavedra, aspiring writer turned creator of ‘short, sharp and edgy’ posts for Nacho Papi, LatinoNow’s website. Wait, before you get too comfortable, please shake hands with Dominga Saavedra, the real woman behind the story. All three are one and the same and her novel, Lone Star Legend is Gwendolyn Zapeda’s attempt to find her main character’s true identity while learning what’s really of value. The challenge is maintaining her integrity in the world of blogs, posts and life at the speed of light on a computer screen.

It’s a wild ride: fast, sexy but somewhat disappointing. The book lulled me into feeling like an insider but left me wishing it hadn’t been so predictable. I wanted more substance from Sandy, more angst over the trade offs she’s repeatedly forced to make to stay in a heartless, breathless career. Time after time she gives in and sells out, saving her redemption for an unconvincing finish. I also didn’t want to be so constantly reminded of how today’s web-trolling youth are coerced into looking at appearances and scandals to try and find their role models, seduced by bright, shiny and all the wrong reasons.

[amazonify]0446539600[/amazonify]Lone Star Legend has flashes of brilliance almost despite itself. Zapeda manages to convey a strong sense of place (Austin, Texas) mainly through honky tonks, chick coffee bars and random dirves out into the country where from time to time I had hopes for some real depth and discovery. However, reduced to sound bites, her characters suffer. Her mother, father, short-lived academic boyfriend, and co-workers including poor Angelic, come off as stereotypes and feel one-dimensional. Even Tio Jamie, The Chupacabra and quiet hero here, falls short. Thankfully Sandy rides off into the sunset hard at work on a book about her great-aunt, Linda. That’s the book I am waiting for, my appetite whetted by the rare glimpses into an old soul through cameo appearances via journal entries.

Still, at heart, Lone Star Legend tells an important story. It works as a modern day cautionary tale. What are we really asking for when we go in search of fame? How much privacy can anyone who puts herself on the Internet honestly expect to maintain in her life? What happens to ethics when there’s money to be made?

Lone Star Legend is often funny, smart and hip. I only wished it had gone deeper which might be an oxymoron given the world it describes.

Please visit Gwendolyn Zepeda’s website for more information.

Amelie lives and works on a pond in Cape Cod. She shares her home with her husband and two sons and both reads and writes whenever possible. Her ‘day job’ is in social services.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Hachette Book Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Giveaway: "The Map of True Places" by Brunonia Barry

[ 204 ] May 11, 2010

Publisher’s Description

Brunonia Barry, the author of the beloved New York Times and international bestseller, The Lace Reader, delivers her second novel, The Map of True Places, a complex and emotionally compelling novel about finding your true place in the world when you have no map.

After Boston psychotherapist, Zee Finch’s impending marriage falls apart and she loses a bi-polar patient to suicide, she returns to the town of her troubled youth––Salem––to care for her ailing father.  While there, Zee encounters danger as she falls into the puzzle of unraveling the mystery surrounding her own mother’s suicide when Zee was a child and realizes shocking parallels between the death of her mother and that of her patient, Lilly Braedon.  She also finds new love with a man who has a mysterious past, which may or may not be related to Lilly’s death.

The Map of True Places asks fundamental questions about the nature of reality versus storytelling, development of self versus loyalty to family, and how to find your true north.  Barry delivers an atmospheric Salem, Massachusetts setting, remarkable narrative tension, and an unforgettable ending that candy-coats nothing.  Expertly weaving a story of secrets, identity, and love in which a psychotherapist begins to find the strands of her own life in the suicide of a troubled patient, The Map of True Places cements Barry’s place in the ranks of today’s best novelists.

Please visit Brunonia Barry’s website and look out for our review next month!

Giveaway:
I have 2 hardcover copies of The Map of True Places to give away!

Mandatory entry: Please comment on this post with your e-mail address.

Extra entries (please post each entry separately, i.e. 2 posts for subscribing):
- Subscribe via email. You must verify the subscription. (2 entries)
- Enter another current giveaway and tell me which one you entered (1 entry each)
- Share this giveaway on a social network of your choice. Click the “share” button below (1 entry each)
- Become a fan on Facebook (2 entries)

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Deadline to enter is midnight on May 26th.

Giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Wiredset. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: "My Sister’s Voice" by Mary Carter

[ 141 ] May 9, 2010

Join Mary Carter, author of the novel My Sister’s Voice as she virtually tours the blogosphere in April and May on her virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!

Reviewed by Jenny R.

My Sister’s Voice tells the story of twin sisters, Lacey and Monica, separated early in childhood and raised as though the other doesn’t exist. Lacey grows up in a children’s home with a strict house mother while Monica grows up with wealthy parents. Lacey is also deaf and Monica is hearing. The book starts when they are 28-years-old and Lacey receives an anonymous letter in the mail telling her she has a sister. What follows is Lacey deciding whether or not to track her sister down and find out why they were separated.

The writing style in My Sister’s Voice was different and difficult to get used to. Lacey’s behavior was often strange and erratic. In particular, her reaction to finding out that she may have a twin seemed contrived and unrealistic. For instance, after seeing a picture for an upcoming book signing by her long lost twin, Lacey rants for pages about how she has a “face thief” and decides to get back at this person with a vengeance. On another note, there were parts where the same issue was discussed/explored for too long.

[amazonify]0758229208[/amazonify]Writing aside, what I mainly disliked was the characters. Lacey’s character was somewhat mean-spirited and immature, and hard to sympathize with. Monica’s character was alright at first, but then her behavior became strange as well. The ending of the book only left me with more questions.

While I unfortunately did not care for this book, I do want to point out the positives. My Sister’s Voice did do a good job of revealing the internal world of the Deaf culture to the reader. I found it very interesting that most deaf people consider themselves part of a different culture, a culture that shares a language and a history. I had never thought of it that way. Another interesting piece of information is that deaf people do NOT like to be referred to as hearing impaired… because there’s nothing to fix! They do not feel as though they are missing anything – they are just different. So in this sense, I did learn a lot from reading this book.

Please visit Mary Carter’s website and follow along on her blog tour.

Jenny is a social worker in her late twenties who lives with her husband and Jack Russell Terrier in the central Florida area.  In her “free” time, she loves reading books of all genres.  She also reviews books on her book blog TakeMeAway.

Giveaway:

One lucky reader will receive a copy of My Sister’s Voice!

Mandatory entry: Please comment on this post with your e-mail address.

Extra entries (please post each entry separately, i.e. 2 posts for subscribing):
- Subscribe via email. You must verify the subscription. (2 entries)
Enter another current giveaway and tell me which one you entered (1 entry each)
- Share this giveaway on a social network of your choice. Click the “share” button below (1 entry each)
- Become a fan on Facebook (2 entries)

This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Deadline to enter is midnight on May 24th.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Kensington. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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SheKnows Book Club Pick: “House Rules” by Jodi Picoult

[ 9 ] May 8, 2010

House Rules by Jodi Picoult is the April/May pick for the SheKnows Book Club!

Reviewed by Vera (Luxury Reading)

For Emma Hunt, days revolves around color coded meals, clothes arranged in rainbow order and strict adherence to routines. Her teenage son, Jacob, has Asperger’s, and while he is brilliant, he also has immense difficulties with social interactions and the slightest deviation from his routine can cause a break down. While others pity her  situation, she cannot imagine her life any other way.

At the expense of her marriage – her husband left soon after Jacob’s diagnosis and the birth of their youngest son Theo – and paying attention to Theo’s comings and goings, Emma tirelessly works to make sure that Jacob has every advantage in life. Whether it’s insisting on an IEP (individualized education plan) for Jacob at school, hiring a social skills coach or researching dietary plans and supplements that can quell Asperger’s symptoms, there’s nothing that Emma won’t try. Individuals with Asperger’s also tend to fixate on certain topics, hobbies, etc. and as Jacob’s fascination with crime scenes grows stronger, Emma is even happy to play along in figuring out the fake crime scenes he carefully constructs.

[amazonify]0743296435[/amazonify]Jacob’s (and Emma’s) carefully constructed world comes crashing down when Jacob is accused of murder. Suddenly, the quirks that are signature signs of Asperger’s are seen as evidence of guilt and Jacob’s obsession with crime scenes certainly does not help his case. How does a person who avoids eye contact and is prone to outbursts at certain triggers get a fair trial in a court system that’s not always fair even to fully-functioning individuals? More importantly, how does Emma convince herself that Jacob is innocent?

In typical Jodi Picoult fashion, House Rules is a gem to be devoured while ignoring meals, sleep and anything else that’s not reading this page-turner. At 544 pages, House Rules is imposing, but to me that just meant that I had more time to spend with one of my favorite author’s writing.

Picoult is not one to shy away from difficult topics (a rare bone disease and a malpractice lawsuit in Handle With Care, child molestation in The Perfect Match, sexual assault in The Tenth Circle and so on) and her research on the topic at hand is always evident. Her descriptions of the various traits and markers of Asperger’s not only provided for a well-executed novel, but allowed me to become more informed on the subject.

SheKnows Book Club’s next pick is Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. Check out a fabulous contest for a chance to win Emily’s favorite things (including a Blackberry, some designer shoes and other goodies) and a copy of her new book!

This book was provided free of any obligation by SheKnows Book Club. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Giveaway: “Backseat Saints” by Joshilyn Jackson

[ 303 ] May 7, 2010

Publisher’s Description

Rose Mae Lolley is a fierce and dirty girl, long-suppressed under flowery skirts and bow-trimmed ballet flats. As “Mrs. Ro Grandee” she’s trapped in a marriage that’s thick with love and sick with abuse. Her true self has been bound in the chains of marital bliss in rural Texas, letting “Ro” make eggs, iron shirts, and take her punches. She seems doomed to spend the rest of her life battered outside by her husband and inside by her former self, until fate throws her in the path of an airport gypsy—one who shares her past and knows her future. The tarot cards foretell that Rose’s beautiful, abusive husband is going to kill her. Unless she kills him first.

Hot-blooded Rose Mae escapes from under Ro’s perky compliance and emerges with a gun and a plan to beat the hand she’s been dealt. Following messages that her long-missing mother has left hidden for her in graffiti and behind paintings, Rose and her dog Gretel set out from Amarillo, TX back to her hometown of Fruiton, AL, and then on to California, unearthing a host of family secrets as she goes. Running for her life, she realizes that she must face her past in order to overcome her fate—death by marriage—and become a girl who is strong enough to save herself from the one who loves her best.

Please visit Joshilyn Jackson’s blog and look out for our review next month!

Giveaway:
I have 5 hardcover copies of Backseat Saints to give away, courtesy of the publisher!

Mandatory entry: Please comment on this post with your e-mail address.

Extra entries (please post each entry separately, i.e. 2 posts for subscribing):
- Subscribe via email. You must verify the subscription. (2 entries)
- Enter another current giveaway and tell me which one you entered (1 entry each)
- Share this giveaway on a social network of your choice. Click the “share” button below (1 entry each)
- Become a fan on Facebook (2 entries)

This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Deadline to enter is midnight on May 21st.

Giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Hachette Book Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann

[ 14 ] May 6, 2010

Please join Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin, as he tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Krista C.

Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin takes place on August 7, 1974, the day that Philippe Petit walked on a high wire between the two freshly built North and South Towers of the World Trade Center.  It won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2009 and it’s easy to see why. Let the Great World Spin is an exquisite book, both touching and stunning simultaneously. This book is near perfect and thoughts sparked by the book still keep surfacing in my mind. To me, that’s a sign of a book to treasure.

The story places us squarely in the middle of the action, as ten observers of a fictionalized Petit watch the tightrope walker traverse the new urban canyon. By letting the different narrators tell their overlapping stories – nearly all of which take place entirely on that overcast August day – McCann interweaves short stories that capture the essence of a city at a precise place and time.

There is an Irish priest, an artist, a judge, a housewife, a prostitute, a nurse, and a few others characters, plus a sprinkling of the tightrope walker’s thoughts and observations between the narrated stories. McCann unfailingly captures the tone and cadence of the thoughts and speech patterns of each of the dramatically different characters. Except for a short portion of the story set in 2006, Let the Great World Spin is a novel about beginnings, not endings. The first part of the book felt dark, but in the last half of this book, there is a growing sense of hope and strength.

[amazonify]0812973992[/amazonify]Let the Great World Spin is a contemplative study without car chases or mysteries to solve. Instead, employ a touch of patience while you sit back and watch a masterful storyteller bring to life the many different people that inhabit a city. When McCann describes the cable used by the tightrope walker for his walk as having specially woven strands which provide better traction for the journey, the novel’s structure is clearly illustrated. The individual stories become the specially woven strands that hold the larger story together with amazing strength.

Check out Calum McCann’s website and follow along on his blog tour.

Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.

A review copy was provided free of any obligation by Random House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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