Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winners - The Survivor's Club - Ben Sherwood

And the five lucky winners of a copy of the Survivor's Club, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Jayfr
2. Jamie
3. Horton111
4. Ellie
5. Greenlancer

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winners - Denise's Daily Dozen - Denise Austin

And the five lucky winners of a copy of Denise's Daily Dozen, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Linda Henderson
2. Dree
3. Sean
4. Shelley K
5. Proud Wife of a U.S.Soldier

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Giveaway - I Am Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne

Still alive and still rockin'.

"People ask me how come I'm still alive, and I don't know what to say. When I was growing up, if you'd have put me up against a wall with the other kids from my street and asked me which one of us was gonna make it to the age of sixty, which one of us would end up with five kids and four grandkids and houses in Buckinghamshire and Beverly Hills, I wouldn't have put money on me, no f**king way. But here I am: ready to tell my story, in my own words, for the first time."

"The final word in sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, I AM OZZY is the heavy metal pioneer's unbelievable story in his own words, for the very first time."

Want a chance to hear what Ozzy has to say? Courtesy of The Hachette Book Group I have 3 audio book copies of I Am Ozzy to giveaway.

Give yourself a sneak preview - listen to an excerpt of I Am Ozzy or read an excerpt of I Am Ozzy.

Open to both the US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Sat. Feb. 27 at 6 pm EST. Your entry? Leave a comment about Ozzy, Sharon, the kids, the show, Black Sabbath or anything related. ....Get on the Crazy Train....

Watch for my review next month.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Last Ember - Daniel Levin

If you're a fan of Dan Brown or Steve Berry, then Daniel Levin's debut novel The Last Ember is one to put on your list.

Jonathan Marcus, a disgraced classics scholar, has instead taken up law and is in great demand among antiques dealers for his knowledge and ability to ferret out forgeries.

When he is called to Rome to examine an ancient stone artifact, he finds a hidden message inside the stone. On the other side of the table is a former lover, colleague and archaeological preservationist Emili Travia. Jonathan and Emili join forces when it becomes apparent that an ancient cabal is intent on destroying any trace of the priceless artifact that the map points to.

What sets this book apart is the absolutely stunning historical detail. Levin himself has a bachelor's degree in Roman and Greek civilization and is also a lawyer. And his knowledge is used to great advantage. This isn't a plot based on a whim - it's based on historical fact. (You can see some of the research video here.) I found myself often stopping a looking something up on the web. I enjoyed the detail but some readers may find it a bit much. At times the story seemed to get a bit bogged down while history was detailed.

Levin has done a great job of blending fact and fiction into a non stop action suspense novel. Jonathan and Emili are believable characters - in fact I can see them embarking on another adventure together. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of Daniel Levin.

Read an excerpt of The Last Ember.

You can follow Daniel on Twitter. Or find him on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Guest Post and Giveaway - Catherine McKenzie - Spin

Yesterday's post featured my review of a debut novel - Spin by Catherine McKenzie. A five star read I thoroughly enjoyed. The book (in a very quick nutshell) is about a journalist who goes to rehab to spy on a celebrity. Given that Catherine is a lawyer by profession, I was curious as to how she came to write Spin. Here's what she had to say...

"What Does a Lawyer Know About Rehab?

I’m a lawyer. And when I tell most people I know that I’ve written a book, they often assume I’m talking about a law text. I can see them imagining some dry, dense book with a black hardcover. No, I say, it’s not about the law. It’s a novel. The head of the person I’m telling cocks to the side. Oh, really? What’s it about? Again, I can read their mind. She thinks she’s the next John Grisham. I tell them the five-second version of the plot. It’s about a journalist who follows a celebrity into rehab. (For some reason I often reverse the words “journalist” and “celebrity”, which makes no sense, of course.) Oh, they say. Really? It’s a comedy, I say. You know, fun. Now their eyes shift nervously. They lean a little closer, lower their voice. Have you … been to rehab?

I know why people react this way. Write what you know, right? That’s what everyone always says. And maybe that’s what I should’ve done. But … I had this idea. I mean, why hasn’t a journalist ever followed a celebrity into rehab? Imagine what they could learn! OK, OK, I know that spying on someone on rehab is morally reprehensible, but that wouldn’t stop most of us from reading all about it on, right?

So, I had a concept that I thought would make a good book. But all I knew about rehab was what I’d read in A Million Little Pieces. And while I’m not one of those people who thinks any less of the book (or James Frey) for taking some liberties with the truth (in fact, it’s one of my favourite books of all time), I knew I needed something more. That’s where Wikipedia came in. Just kidding! I did some real research, I swear. But once I’d done that, I let my imagination work. What kind of woman would take such an assignment? Would she be changed by the experience? And how was I going to get a relatively normal guy in there with her, anyway? A million little choices, that’s what writing’s all about.

And you know what? It’s kind of freeing not writing about what you do. If (when) I write about lawyers, I feel like I have to get all the details right. And who cares, really, what lawyers do all day? So that’s right, friends. There are no lawyers in my book. OK, there might be one. Or two. And a judge. Crap. But they’re mostly minor characters. Turns out it’s hard to write a whole book without any lawyers in it. Who knew?

But, in case you were still wondering, no, I haven’t been to rehab. Not in the real world, anyway. Hope that doesn’t affect your enjoyment of Spin. It certainly didn’t hurt mine."

Thanks Catherine! It certainly didn't detract from mine either!

If you'd like to own a copy of Spin - here's your chance - simply comment to be entered. Sorry folks - this one is limited to Canadian addresses only. An extra entry for reposting/retweeting. Ends Saturday Feb 20th 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spin - Catherine McKenzie

Kate has an interview and a shot at her dream job - writing for a music magazine. The night before the interview she heads out for one celebratory drink, which somehow turns into more than one...... She makes it to the interview the next day, but five minutes in, has to run to the bathroom to throw up. Needless to say she doesn't get the job. Their sister magazine - a gossip rag- calls later with an offer. Her writing samples were good - would she consider going undercover at a rehab to get the dirt on the latest 'it' girl , Amber? If all goes well, they'll give her the job at the music magazine. She jumps at the chance.

McKenzie has created a flawed but lovable character in Kate. She has goals, but keeps sabotaging herself. But at rehab, she is forced to confront some of those flaws and decide where she wants to go in life. Can she betray the burgeoning friendship she has with Amber and spill her secrets for public consumption? The supporting characters were well drawn as well. Amber is particularly well portrayed and is a poignant commentary of celebrity in our society. Although substance abuse is a focal part of the story, McKenzie strikes a fine balance between serious and humourous. Much of the dialogue and situations were laugh out loud funny, but the foundation of recovery is handled with respect as well.

Spin was one of those books that read like potato chips. Yep, it was an addicting read for me - just one more chapter until I turned the last page and realized I'd finished it already.

This is a debut novel for Canadian Catherine McKenzie. Definitely recommended. I'll be waiting for the second book by this fresh, witty new voice! (Spin has just jumped on the Globe and Mail's Canadian bestseller list!

My friend Cindy over at Cindy's Love of Books enjoyed Spin as well!

Read an excerpt of Spin and see for yourself! Make sure you stop back tomorrow for a guest post and giveaway with Catherine McKenzie!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Denise's Daily Dozen - Denise Austin

Okay well let's just start off this post by saying...Denise Austin is 52 years old! Doesn't she look fantastic? Okay so how does she do it? Well she follows her own advice! It's a well kept secret but here right and exercise. A lifestyle plan - not a diet.

In Denise's Daily Dozen, she's made it easy for those of us who moan that they don't have the time. Here's the deal - she's come up with 12 minutes of exercise to do every day of the week. Each day targets something different - cardio, abs, upper and lower body, yoga and more.

12 minutes! I can do that!

Now to go along with the 12 minutes a day in exercise, Denise has created meal plans for three weeks as well. No crazy grocery list - just everyday wholesome foods from Denise's 'Power of Twelve' eating plan - 3 fruits, 3 veggies, 3 proteins, 2 grains, 1 fat. The nutritional info for each day is listed too.

There are lots of extras tucked into the pages, text boxes full of great tips on shopping, time savers, going green, inspiration - including pics and stories from successful 'losers'! One of my favourites were the tension tamers - really quick stretches you can do at your desk to relieve stressed muscles. Another great idea are the fidget-cizers. Exercise while waiting for the kettle to boil, the toast to pop or firm your butt while talking on the phone!

I really liked this book. I've chosen to go at my own rate - and I thinks that's the beauty of it. There is so much great information included you can't help succeeding - whatever pace you set. I'm looking to get moving more and 12 minutes is soooo doable!

The book itself is well laid out and easy to read. The pictures of the different exercises are clear and easy to follow. It's in a weekly order, with everything you need for each day - meals and exercises. What's nice? The work is all done for you - all you need to do is follow along.

Keep up with Denise on Twitter. Or you can find Denise on Facebook.

Check out her website too! There's a menu every day, message boards, exercises and lots more.

Sounds great eh? Make sure you enter my giveaway for five! copies ending Jan 30th.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has been following The Daily Dozen and post your thoughts.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Giveaway - The Swan Thieves - Elizabeth Kostova

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have 3! audio book copies of The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova to giveaway. This is one I can't wait to listen to! There's a full cast of readers for this one including Treat Williams and Anne Heche.

What's it about? From the publisher:

"Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe has a perfectly ordered life--solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient. In response, Marlowe finds himself going beyond his own legal and ethical boundaries to understand the secret that torments this genius, a journey that will lead him into the lives of the women closest to Robert Oliver and toward a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

Ranging from American museums to the coast of Normandy, from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth, from young love to last love, THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, the losses of history, and the power of art to preserve human hope."

Listen to an excerpt of The Swan Thieves. or Read an excerpt of The Swan Thieves.

Watch a video of the author discussing The Swan Thieves.

And to say thank you to my followers, now numbering over 400! - this giveaway is for you! So you must be follower of A Bookworm's World to enter this giveaway. Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Saturday February 20th at 6 pm EST.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dear John - Nicholas Sparks

It's been a while since I've read a book by Nicholas Sparks. My last one was Message in a Bottle. Sparks has found a winning formula as he has eight New York Times bestsellers to his credit.

My experience has been that they all tug at your heartstrings and Dear John is no exception.

John Tyree is home on leave from the army when he meets Savannah Curtis. Their time together is short lived, but they quickly fall in love. John must return to his squad, but Savannah vows she will will wait for him. His time is almost up when 9/11 strikes and John re enlists. Can their love survive further time apart?

I listened to this in audio format. Holter Graham was the reader. I'm not sure if he naturally speaks with a Southern accent, but once in awhile I would find it slipping. He played John with a slow southern drawl that at times made him seem simple. Savannah's voice was easily identifiable, with a slightly different southern accent and a quicker manner of speaking.

I think the story is an excellent one, especially in today's times, when this scenario is being played out in many lives. Sparks finishes his tale with a different twist, again designed to make you reach for a tissue.

Now this is purely personal and I'm sure there will lots of dissenting opinions, but... I just didn't like Savannah. I found her overbearing, manipulative, selfish and too much of a know it all. I often wonder if in listening to an audio book, you form a different picture of a character than you might have in reading the book. I then watched the movie trailer and with the characters played by Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried , think I may change my mind again.

So, yes if you're looking for a heart string tugging read, this is definitely one for you. I'm more of an action girl myself, so found some of it a bit repetitive and slow going but I did enjoy the story.

Listen to an excerpt of Dear John. Or read an excerpt of Dear John.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yellowknife - Steve Zipp

Usually I recap the plot of a book before telling you my thoughts. In the case of Yellowknife by Steve Zipp, I don't think I could do it justice. So I am reprinting the back cover blurb from the publisher Res Telluris.

"Welcome to the Mysterious North

The time is 1998. The millennium looms. Yellowknife, capital of one-third of Canada and home to beasts and bureaucrats, is about to become a player in the world diamond market.

People come here for the damndest reasons. Something to do with the North Pole, maybe. It attracts them, I think. Like, there's metal filings in their heads or something.

A penniless drifter, a business man obsessed by bones, an artist with a baseball bat, a fallen academic who lives at the dump, a biologist with a son named after a fungus, a native man older than Canada, a Mounty with a jaw of steel."

And those are just a few of the unorthodox characters found in this book. There are many players and just when you've totally invested in their story, the plot quickly veers to another inhabitant and their life. There are mysterious and unseen connections between all the stories though, providing many ah ha! moments as someone pops back in unexpectedly. The story is a rambling discourse on the diamond trade, the inhabitants, the traditional way of life, the modern way of life and the time leading up to the creation of Nunavut. It is a sardonic look at the government and it's machinations as well.

Many times I felt like Alice down the Rabbit Hole (indeed there are tunnels leading to the oddest places in Yellowknife.) Other times I felt like the Trickster had written the entire book for his personal enjoyment. Tricksters appear in many cultures - in the North, one of those is the raven. Ravens are scattered throughout the novel and indeed one character believes he was raised by ravens. Who says he wasn't?

Although I am Canadian, Zipp is describing a part of Canada I've never visited and don't know too much about. Has he taken great literary license? I honestly don't know, but I was so caught up in this tale, it really didn't matter. I prefer to think of the Trickster at work.

Yellowknife has been long listed on the National Post's Canada Also Reads.

Steve Zipp's blog.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Giveaway - Try Darkness - James Scott Bell

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group I have 3 copies of Try Darkness by James Scott Bell to giveaway. Looking for a good suspense thriller?

From the publisher:

"Ty Buchanan is living on the peaceful grounds of St. Monica's, far away from the glamorous life he led as a rising trial lawyer for a big L.A. firm. Recovering from the death of his fiancée and a false accusation of murder, Buchanan has found his previous ambitions unrewarding.

Now he prefers offering legal services to the poor and the under-represented, from his "office" at local coffee bar The Freudian Sip. A mysterious woman with a six year old daughter comes to him for help. She's being illegally evicted from a downtown transient hotel, an interest represented by his old law firm and former best friend, Al Bradshaw. Buchanan won't back down. He's going to fight for the woman's rights.

But then she ends up dead, and the case moves from the courtroom to the streets. Determined to find the killer and protect the little girl, who has no last name and no other family, Buchanan finds he must depend on skills he never needed in the employ of a civil law firm."

Read an excerpt of Try Darkness or watch an audio trailer for Try Darkness.

Follow James Scott Bell on Twitter.

Giveaway is open to both Canada and the US, no PO boxes please. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Friday, February 12th at 6 pm EST. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winners - Cleaving - Julie Powell

And the three lucky winners (chosen by of an audio book copy of Cleaving by Julie Powell, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Margot at Joyfully Retired
2. Aloi
3. Dispatcher_Kristy

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Giveaway - The 8th Confession - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group I have 3 copies of The 8th Confession by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro to giveaway.

What's up in the latest installment of The Women's Murder Club?

From the publisher:

"As San Francisco's most glamorous millionaires mingle at the party of the year, someone is watching--waiting for a chance to take vengeance on Isa and Ethan Bailey, the city's most celebrated couple. Finally, the killer pinpoints the ideal moment, and it's the perfect murder. Not a trace of evidence is left behind in their glamorous home.

As Detective Lindsay Boxer investigates the high-profile murder, someone else is found brutally executed--a preacher with a message of hope for the homeless. His death nearly falls through the cracks, but when reporter Cindy Thomas hears about it, she knows the story could be huge. Probing deeper into the victim's history, she discovers he may not have been quite as saintly as everyone thought.

As the hunt for two criminals tests the limits of the Women's Murder Club, Lindsay sees sparks fly between Cindy and her partner, Detective Rich Conklin. The Women's Murder Club now faces its toughest challenge: will love destroy all that four friends have built? The exhilarating new chapter in the Women's Murder Club series, The 8th Confession serves up a double dose of speed-charged twists and shocking revelations as only James Patterson can. And remember, this is the only Murder Club episode of the year."

Read an excerpt of The 8th Confession.

Watch a video of James Patterson discussing the 8th Confession.

Listen to a podcast.

Open to both the US and Canada, no po boxes please. Simply comment to be entered. Giveaway ends Saturday February 13th at 6 pm EST.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pistonhead - Thomas A. Hauck

Pistonhead by Thomas A. Hauck is a week in the life of Charlie - the guitar player of the band Pistonhead.

Life is going so good for Charlie this week. The lead singer has some drug issues, he lives with (a lot) of mice, his girlfriend has left him, the audience is throwing beer bottles at him. And oh yeah - he has a day job on an assembly line.

Charlie is a likeable guy, just trying to live his dream and do the right thing. But is his dream attainable? Charlie faces some truths during this chaotic week, with an ending I didn't expect.

Hauck himself was the guitar player of Boston based bands Ball and Pivot and The Atlantics in the late seventies and eighties. Pistonhead definitely has a ring of authenticity - the late nights, behind the scenes, bad bars, groupies and hanging on. I wonder how much of this novella is autobiographical? Hauck left the entertainment industry, earned his MBA and is now a freelance writer.

A short but entertaining read, with a stay true to yourself message.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I, Alex Cross - James Patterson

I think that out of all the series James Patterson has going, my favourite is still Alex Cross.

The sixteenth book in the Cross series is closer to the earlier novels than the last couple have been. No travel, no stories from the past, just dead bodies on home turf - Washington. A member of the Cross family is killed. It looks like this person is part of a sex scandal involving the White House. A secondary plot line involves trouble at home for Alex.

If you're a faithful reader, then there won't be any surprises. The crime is gruesome, the details somewhat graphic, the killer devious. Our heartstrings are pulled by incidents in Alex's personal life. I was somewhat disappointed by the ending though.

I listened to this in audio format. There were two readers - Tim Cain and Michael Cerveris. One for Alex and one for the villain Zeus. Both are new readers for Patterson books, but did a good job. The voice of Alex was rich, deep and sonorous. The voice of Zeus was malevolent.

I listened to an unabridged version of I, Alex Cross. (Not sure why this title was picked?) it was only 6 discs, about 6 hours long. So I'm guessing the book was a fairly short read as well. I may give Patterson a bit of a rest - the stories seem to becoming quite formulaic for me.

Listen to an except of I, Alex Cross.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Snow Angels - James Thompson

I started Snow Angels on a lazy Sunday morning. I finished Snow Angels the same night. Yes, it was that good. And a genre I love - mystery thrillers. It's newly released today from Penguin Canada.

It is Kaamos in Finland - the darkest time of the year, just before Christmas. Inspector Kari Vaara is looking forward to Christmas with his newly pregnant, American wife. Instead, he is called out to a murder scene in the bitter cold. The victim is a beautiful Somali refugee who had become a minor movie star in Finland. The crime is horrific and seems both racially and sexually motivated. Vaara resists having another squad from Helsinki coming in to run the case. But has he bitten off more than he can handle?

And that's just the beginning. The plot twists and turns. What seemed to be an obvious solve took a sharp left turn more than once, keeping me guessing. Vaara himself is an interesting character. He is highly intelligent, but sometimes makes a call based on emotion, with repercussions. The subplot involving his wife's unhappiness with Finland lets us discover Vaara as a human, not just a cop. And his wife's unhappiness brings another character to the book - the dark, the bleakness, the isolation that is Finland in the dead of winter. Thompson writes what he knows. The descriptions of the cold and the lives of those enduring that cold made me shiver. (-40 degrees)

Read an excerpt of Snow Angels.

Caught up with Steig Larsson? Definitely read Snow Angels. Fans of Michael Connelly take note - he has provided a cover blurb for Snow Angels - "Masterful".

James Thompson's story is interesting as well. He was born and raised in Kentucky, but has lived in Finland for 10 years now. He is fluent in both Swedish and Finnish. Snow Angels is his first English book. An author who is now firmly on my must read list. Cannot wait for #2 in the Vaara series!

Monday, January 11, 2010

24 Hours London - Marsha Moore

Sometimes I sit and dream of places I'd like to visit. I'm not sure when it will every happen, but I enjoy reading travel books and learning about wishful destinations. England is one of those places for me.
Marsha Moore has written a great travel guide for London, England. But with a twist - it's a 24 hour guide. Yep - 24 Hours London. Arrived with jet lag, body clock off? Flip the book open to the appropriate hour and check out what's going on at 5 am. (Food markets open up and the double decker starts to run)
Each entry - and there are numerous entries for each hour - lists the hours, if its a food establishment and/or family friendly and the fee, if any. There's a descriptor of each attraction as well. Also listed is what 'tube' line to take to any stop. Many of the attractions listed are free. And they cover the gamut. Food, history, sight seeing, shopping, the arts, clubs and lots more. Being an armchair traveller at this point, I found myself looking up the websites that Marsha has also listed with each entry.
So many unique stops caught my eye. Portobello Road Market, Books for Cooks - a combination book store/demonstration kitchen/cafe, a breakfast cafe in the crypt beneath an old church, a library celebrating the lives of women in Britain, a sewing machine museum with 600+ on exhibit, a naked disco!, shopping, fishing, balloon rides, Jack the Ripper walks, a Monopoly pub crawl (visit a pub on every street of the game board) and a whole lot more. One item I found particularly interesting was the public urinals that are raised to the sidewalk surface at 7 pm and lowered at 6 am!
Marsha Moore is a Canadian and I just had to ask her how she ended up writing a British travel guide!

I came to London, UK, five years ago as a teacher. At the time, London was desperate for teachers and I was desperate to travel, so it seemed a good match! I fell in love with the city. There is just so much to do here, with people from all over the world. My husband is also an expat (from Egypt) so together we explored the city by going on guided walks and reading history books. When it came time to write a book – something I always wanted to do – it just made sense to write about London. I wanted to let other people know what I’d discovered, tell them about my favourites, and break it down in a easy way so they wouldn’t have to face my dilemma of how on earth to even start getting to know London!
There are some truly amazing places, clubs, attractions listed. How did you find them all? And tell the truth - have you visited each and every one? Any favourites or stand outs?

Thanks, Luanne! I’m an avid reader of Londoners’ blogs, which give you a great insight into the city and always suggest quirky places to try out. If you’re tapped into resources like Twitter, you also get a lot of city news about clubs, pubs and museums. Over the course of my time here, I’ve done pretty much all of the listings in the book with a few notable exceptions – for example, I haven’t been to the Naked Disco (I’m not brave enough!) nor have I taken a helicopter ride over London (as much as I’d like to). For the most part, London is an affordable, accessible city with lots of great places off the beaten tourist track.
I love Ye Olde Mitre Pub just off the diamond stretch of Hatton Garden. It’s so tiny and hidden away even some locals don’t know it’s there! One of my favourite city walks is along the South Bank, where you can stroll by the Thames past the Royal Festival Hall, the British Film Institute and the National Theatre, then hit the Tate Modern (free admission) for some art. Cross the river over the Millennium Bridge, take in St Paul’s and have a drink by the river. And for some great Indian food away from the tourist traps on Brick Lane, head to Tayyab’s in Whitechapel, recently voted Indian Restaurant of the Year in the London Restaurant Awards.

I'm a bit jealous - your research for the book sounds like my kind of job! What's next or should I say where's next? Will this become a series?

I can’t think of a better way to spend my time – my life, even – than exploring different cities, trying out all there is to do there, and meeting loads of interesting people as a result! Thankfully, we’ve had a great response to 24 Hours London which has spurred us on to 24 Hours Paris (Spring 2010) and more cities in the future. We’re also developing an iPhone application for 24 Hours London, to be launched in the next month or so.Where else in the world have you travelled? Is London home base?

Both my parents are teachers so they always had the same vacation time as me, and travelling was an important part of my life from a very young age. They took me across Canada, the States and even to Europe – they definitely injected me with the travel bug! In my mid-twenties I moved to Poland, where I lived and worked for two years and continued my European travel. I went back to Canada hoping to settle down, but I couldn’t stay in one place so I moved to London! In my time here I’ve continued travelling and I’ve recently returned from a week in Cairo. I’m off to Paris again at the end of the month.
And anything else you'd like to share!
If anyone would like to see some bits of London featured in the book, they can check out the book trailer. (posted below)
Thanks Marsha! You can follow Marsha's blog and catch her on Twitter.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winners - Giveaway - Dear John - Nicholas Sparks

And the three lucky winners (chosen by of an audio book copy of Dear John, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Steph
2. Keshe
3. theyyyguy

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Surviving Paradise - Peter Rudiak-Gould

One Year on a Disappearing Island

Peter Rudiak-Gould is twenty one years old, fresh from teacher's college, when he decides to be a volunteer English teacher for a year on Ujae. Ujae is part of the Marshall Islands - a very tiny part - 1/3 of a square mile to be exact. And the school - officially one of the worst in the Pacific.

" idea that there was a place so far from everything, so tiny and little known, where men still fished with spears and women still healed with jungle medicine. It was a place unknown and therefore, maybe, perfect...I wanted Ujae to be my far-off paradise."

When Peter steps foot on the atoll, his dream collides with reality. He is not greeted with a welcoming committee as he had imagined. As he settles in for his first night with his host family - "I considered my situation. I was already lonely to the point of physical pain. I had been ignored and welcomed, avoided and stared at, indulged and deprived. All I had learned was that I knew nothing."

I think I really enjoyed this book because of Rudiak-Gould's complete honesty in writing it. Having exposed his naivete in the first two chapters he goes on to candidly document both his observations, feelings and emotions for the remainder of his year. (Yes he lasts the entire year!)

Marshallese society is much different than the North American version Peter grew up with. Children are pretty much on their own from age 4 on. Schooling is not given great importance - this is quite frustrating to Peter. Interaction between child and parent is limited. Indeed, Peter is the only adult who plays with the children. Elders are revered. Peter is being treated well by the Ujae people, but because it differs from his North American expectations, it takes him a bit to figure out the social nuances of social interaction.

"Living in another country had finally made me realize how much I was a product of my own country."

He perseveres and participates in fishing expeditions, festivals, makes friends and learns to speak and write the Marshallese language. (He has since written a Marshallese language textbook)

As for the subtitle? Ujae atoll is in danger of being swamped by the raising ocean levels. Indeed global warming is a threat to much of the Marshall Islands. Rudiak-Gould is currently working on his doctoral thesis, studying indigenous reactions to the threat of climate change.

Surviving Paradise is by turns hilarious, heartbreaking, educational, but above all eye opening. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Giveaway - The Survivors Club - Ben Sherwood

Okay fear of flying girl here. When I read the blurb for this book, it was that first line that caught me.....

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have five copies of The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood to giveaway, so that you too can find out which seat to book!

From the publisher:

"Which is the safest seat on an airplane? Where is the best place to have a heart attack? Why does religious observance add years to your life? How can birthdays be hazardous to your health?


Each second of the day, someone in America faces a crisis, whether it's a car accident, violent crime, serious illness, or financial trouble. Given the inevitability of adversity, we all wonder: Who beats the odds and who surrenders? Why do some people bound back and others give up? How can I become the kind of person who survives and thrives?

The fascinating, hopeful answers to these questions are found in THE SURVIVORS CLUB. In the tradition of Freakonomics and The Tipping Point, this book reveals the hidden side of survival by combining astonishing true stories, gripping scientific research, and the author's adventures inside the U.S. military's elite survival schools and the government's airplane crash evacuation course.

With THE SURVIVORS CLUB, you can also discover your own Survivor IQ through a powerful Internet-based test called the Survivor Profiler. Developed exclusively for this book, the test analyzes your personality and generates a customized report on your top survivor strengths.

There is no escaping life's inevitable struggles. But THE SURVIVORS CLUB can give you an edge when adversity strikes."

Read an excerpt of The Survivors Club.

Open to both Canada and the US, no po boxes please. Ends Saturday, Jan 30th at 6 pm EST. Simply comment to be entered.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cleaving - Julie Powell

Subtitled: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession

At the time I'm writing this, I haven't yet watched the movie Julie & Julia. It's downstairs waiting for me. I never did pick up the book as the cooking thing didn't really appeal to me. However, having supported myself by working in butcher shops during my younger years, I was interested in listening to Cleaving.

Julie's first novel Julie & Julia is a huge success, as is the movie version. She decides that her next challenge will be butchery. But Powell's personal life is not as rosy. She is torn between her husband...and her lover. She is, quite frankly obsessed, with D. - the lover. The two stories are told, with the meat often providing a metaphor for her personal life.

I found the actual descriptions of butchering techniques and the shop itself interesting, as it is something I have done before and I could picture what she was describing. Some listeners may find these descriptions a bit overdone though. (meat pun intended) I found the inhabitants of Fleisher's Meats interesting and it looks like the book has been a boon for them as well. Powell eventually finishes her apprenticeship. Still not feeling settled she decides to go on a personal, international meat odyssey, travelling to Africa, Europe and Japan. I enjoyed listening to these trip descriptions as well, but found Powell's behaviour in Africa disturbing.

Now the other story...I really found the relationship Powell and her husband share difficult to fathom. Eric is fully aware she is cheating and eventually begins a tryst of his own. Yet Powell insists that Eric is her soul mate, while obsessing over the mysterious D. who by her own description treats her badly. Powell is brutally honest is describing her penchant for rough sex, over consumption of alcohol and self destructive behaviours. Although by the end of the memoir she professes to have begun a healing and acceptance process, I didn't buy it. To me she comes across as selfish, thoughtless and needy. But sad,unhappy and desperate as well.

Cleaving is read by the author herself. I must admit that by the end, I found her voice grating and annoying. But take note - I did listen to all of it - I really did want to see how it ended. Listen to an excerpt. Follow along with Julie's life on her blog.

Okay, so I am off to watch the movie. I don't know how true it will be to the book, but will tack on my thoughts to this review.....

(Postscript: Enjoyed the movie, Meryl Streep was great as Julia Child and I really found her life fascinating. Amy Adams did a great job as well. But I just couldn't shake the opinion I had formed listening to Cleaving and never really 'felt' for Julie.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Red Snow - Michael Slade

Here's a timely new release from Penguin Canada.

Red Snow is set in Vancouver, Canada - now. The 2010 Winter Olympics are set to begin February 12, 2010. Slade's novel opens in December 2009. A celebrated snowboarder goes off the beaten trail, on a route he's known to take. Part of him finishes the run. His head doesn't. Additional crimes draw in the Special X investigation unit of the RCMP. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) The 'X' unit are the 'psycho hunters." It seems an old nemesis is not done with the unit.

This was the first Michael Slade book I had read. (There are 14 others) Past crimes and criminals are explained, but in the beginning I felt like I was playing catch up as there are constant references to the past. I was able to get up to speed fairly quickly and got caught up in the tale. Slade incorporates lots of elements into his novels. The crimes are quite brutal, yet ingenious. Locked room mysteries and forensic techniques are effectively utilized. The weapons used are quite diabolical. Historical details are woven into the tale.

Lots and lots of action - quite frankly, I wondered if anyone would be left standing at the end. Without giving it away, the madman's plot is very, very plausible and quite frightening.

If you've read James Rollins' Sigma Force novels, you would enjoy Michael Slade.

Slade is the nom de plume of Vancouver lawyer Jay Clarke. Clarke specializes in cases involving the criminally insane. His novels draw upon that knowledge, Clarke's contacts within the RCMP and his own family history to give his novels a ring of authenticity.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 - 100+ Reading Challenge

I participated in J. Kaye's 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, finishing much more than I thought I would - 145 to be exact!
I've decided to participate in J. Kaye's 2010 100+ Reading Challenge again this year.
1. Red Snow - Michael Slade
2. Cleaving - Julie Powell
3. Surviving Paradise - Peter Rudiak- Gould
4. 24 Hours London - Marsha Moore
5. Snow Angels - James Thompson
6. I, Alex Cross - James Patterson
7. Pistonhead - Thomas A. Hauck
8. The Scarpetta Factor - Patricia Cornwell - audio version, no review written.
9. Yellowknife - Steve Zipp
10. Dear John - Nicholas Sparks
11.Denise's Daily Dozen - Denise Austin
12. U is for Undertow - Sue Grafton - audio version, no review written.
13. The Last Ember - Daniel Levin
14. Searching for Tina Turner - Jacqueline E. Luckett
15. The First Rule - Robert Crais
16. When Will There Be Good News - Kate Atkinson
17. I Am Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne
18. Deloume Road - Matthew Hooten
19. Spin - Catherine McKenzie
20. Warman's Button Field Guide
21. Button it Up
22. A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents
23. The Sea Captain's Wife - Beth Powning
24. Thirsty - Kristin Bair O'Keeffe
25.Penguin Luck - Kay Mupetson
26. The Swan Thieves - Elizabeth Kostova
27. Motorcycles & Sweetgrass - Drew Hayden Taylor
28. The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley
29. The Last River Child - Lori Ann Bloomfield
30 Hell Gate - Linda Fairstein
31. Never Look Away - Linwood Barclay
32.Stolen - Lesley Pearse
33. Last Snow - Eric Van Lustbader
34. Absolute Power - David Baldacci
35. Shattered - Karen Robards
36. Worst Case - James Patterson and Michael Ledwige
37. Impact - Douglas Preston - audio book - no review written
38. The Love Nest - Julia Llewellyn
39. Slip of the Knife - Denise Mina
40. The One-Week Job Project - Sean Aiken
41. Bitten - Kelley Armstrong
42. Read, Remember, Recommend - Rachelle Rogers Knight
43. Deeper Than the Dead - Tami Hoag - audio book, no review written
44. Deception - Jonathan Kellerman
45. The Clouds Roll Away - Sibella Giorello
46. Cool Water - Dianne Warren
47. The Bone Thief - Jefferson Bass
48. Skin - Mo Hayder
49. Daughters of the Witching Hill - Mary Sharratt
50 The Pocket Therapist - Therese Borchard
51. Wicked Prey - John Sandford
52. The Swimming Pool - Holly LeCraw
53. Black Hills Audiobook - Dan Simmons
54. Doing Dangerously Well - Carole Enahoro
55. Rumor Has It - Jill Mansell
56. The Penguin Book of Crime Stories - Peter Robinson
57. The Icing on the Cupcake - Jennifer Ross
58. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith
59. Leaving Unknown - Kerry Reichs
60. The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom
61. The 9th Judgment - James Patterson
62. Street Boners - Gavin McInnes
63. This Body of Death - Elizabeth George
64. The Left Hand of God - Paul Hoffman
65. A Bad Day for Pretty - Sophie Littlefield
66. Men and Dogs - Katie Crouch
67. 61 Hours - Lee Child - audio book, no review written
68.Island Beneath the Sea - Isabel Allende
69. The Book of Spies - Gayle Lynds
70. Think of a Number - John Verdon
71. Deliver Us From Evil - David Baldacci
72. Farm Fatale - Wendy Holden
73. How to Be an American Housewife
74. Fever Dream - Preston & Childs
75. Promises to Keep - Jane Green
76. A Curtain Falls - Stefanie Pintoff
77. Babushka's Beauty Secrets
78. The Rembrandt Affair - Daniel Silva
79. The Truth About Delilah Blue - Tish Cohen
80. Never Wave Goodbye - Doug Magee
81. The Madonnas of Echo Park - Brando Skyhorse
82. Two Years, No Rain - Shawn Klomparens
83. 31 Bond Street - Ellen Horan
84. Switch - Grant McKenzie
85. The Bishop - Steven James
86. The Prince of Mist - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
87. The Search - Nora Roberts
88. Innocent - Scott Turow
89. Fragile - Lisa Unger
90. Holly's Inbox: Sacndal in the City - Holly Denham
91. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender
92. Still Missing - Chevy Stevens
93. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins - audio book, no review written
94. Backseat Saints - Joshilyn Jackson
95. The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno - Ellen Bryson
96. The I Hate to Cook Book - Peg Bracken
97. Ripley's Believe It or Not - Enter if You Dare!
98. Death's Excellent Vacation - Harris/Kelner
99. I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lippman
100. The Reapers Are The Angels - Alden Bell
101. The Nobodies Album - Carolyn Parkhurst
102. A Room Swept White - Sophie Hannah
103. What Alice Knew - Paula Marantz Cohen
104. Spider Bones - Kathy Reichs
105. The News Where You Are - Catherine O'Flynn
106. Room - Emma Donoghue
107. Dracula in Love - Karen Essex
108. Red Hook Road - Ayelet Waldman
109. This Must be the Place - Kate Racculia
110. The Postcard Killers - James Patterson
111. Coppermine - Keith Ross Leckie
112. Juliet - Anne Fortier
113. They're Watching - Greg Hurwitz - audio book no review written
114. Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
115. Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny
116. Oogy - Larry Levin
117. Rules of Betrayal - Christopher Reich
118. Perfection - Julie Metz
119. Too Close to the Falls - Catherine Gildiner
120. After the Falls - Catherine Gildiner
121. 5 Ingredient Fix - Claire Robinson
122. The Distant Hours - Kate Morton
123. Katie Up and Down the Hall - Glenn Plaskin
124. Broken - Karen Slaughter - audio book, no review written
125. Keeping Chickens - Ashley English
126. Knit the Season - Kate Jacobs
127. Don't Blink - James Patterson & Howard Roughan
128. Safe Haven - Nicholas Sparks
129. Dead Head - Rosemary Harris
130. The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook
131.The Reversal - Michael Connelly
132. Secrets to The Grave - Tami Hoag
133. What I Thought I Knew - Alice Eve Cohen
134. The Confession - John Grisham - audio book, no review written
135. At Home - Bill Bryson
136. My 60's Trivia Notebook - Scribbler Mania
137. Storm Prey - John Sandford - audio book, no review written
138. The Peanuts Collection - Nat Gertler
139. In the National Parks - Ansel Adams
140. A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French
141. Simple Times - Amy Sedaris
142. Beautiful Buttons - Cathrine Ann
143. Port Mortuary - Patricia Cornwell - audio book, no review written
144. Left Neglected - Lisa Genova
145. Clinton St. Baking Company - DeDe Lahman & Neil Kleinberg