Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis (with giveaway)

Moon at Nine
by Deborah Ellis

Visit Deborah:
Twitter: @DebEllisAuthor

Just released: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Pajama Press
Genre: LGBTQ, Middle East, YA
Hardback: 240 pages
Rating: 4.5

Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail or worse.

The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be a homosexual in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?

Based on real-life events, multi-award-winning author Deborah Ellis’s new book is a tense and riveting story about a world where homosexuality is considered so abhorrent that it is punishable by death.

My two-bits:

I found this story to be an interesting peek into the middle east, specifically Iran during the 80's.

Despite the oppression and unrest in this world, a lovely sweet friendship forms between Farrin and Sadira.

But, whoa! The attitudes portrayed against homosexuals in this story were a bit eye-opening. Being a YA book the descriptions were not as shocking or horrifying as they most likely were.

Learning about how gays and lesbians were and are still being treated in the middle east in current times is just so sad. Makes one raise the arms in the air and scream for the pain inflicted. And too, makes one wonder what can be done to turn things around so that there is more acceptance and peace.


About the author:

Deborah Ellis is the internationally acclaimed author of nearly thirty books for children and young people, most of which explore themes of social justice and courage.

A peace activist, feminist, and humanitarian, Deborah has won many national and international awards for her books, including the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, the American Library Association’s Notable List and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. In 2010, she received the Ontario Library Association President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement. Deborah lives in Ontario, Canada.


Welcome to Day 3 of the SECRETS OF MOON AT NINE BLOG TOUR, featuring Moon at Nine – a timely new YA novel from humanitarian and award-winning author Deborah Ellis. Each stop on the 2-week tour will feature revealing posts, a chance to win a copy of the novel, and a chance to enter the grand prize giveaway!

Guest post: Secrets of a Cover Designer

Rebecca Buchanan is the art director and cover designer at Pajama Press. She describes how the Moon at Nine cover progressed from a focus on the skyline of Tehran to the arresting image of a girl gazing out from behind barbed wire.

In our first discussion about cover concepts, we all agreed to try something with a moon, possibly a skyline and avoid a face. I think this is because we didn’t want a pitiful character that might turn some people away and send out the wrong message about the book.

In my image search I came upon the photograph of the girl that we ultimately used on the cover—we were all so taken with her stoic gaze and the fact that she’s looking up works so well with the storyline involving the moon; the two girls make a pact to look at the moon each night to remember each other. In the end this image was much more compelling than the skyline of Tehran.

--~ Giveaway courtesy of tour ~--

a Rafflecopter giveaway


At each stop along the tour, readers will have a chance to enter the grand prize giveaway.

One winner will receive a set of Deborah Ellis' books, and Pajama Press will make a $100 donation in their name to one of five charities:
Canadian Women 4 Women in Afghanistan, UNICEF Canada, Street Kids International, Leprosy Mission - Canada, or IBBY - Children in Crisis Fund.

Below is a list of the books included in the giveaway:

• Moon at Nine
• True Blue
• Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
• No Safe Place
• My name is Parvana
• Lunch With Lenin and Other Short Stories
• A Company of Fools
• Our Stories Our Songs: African Children Talk about AIDS
• Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children speak
• Annaleise Carr: How I Conquered Lake Ontario to Help Kids Battling Cancer (By Annaleise Carr with Deborah Ellis)

US/Canada only please. Enter using the rafflecopter below! Ends May 12th at 11:59 pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


* review copy and giveaway courtesy of book tour - check out the other stops below for more details on this book and goodies sponsored by Pajama Press.

* feel free to comment (with email) if you would be interested receiving my review copy -expires May 11

Secrets of Moon at Nine Blog Tour Schedule:

April 28th: Buried in Books
April 29th: Candace's Book Blog
April 30th: VVB32 Reads
May 1st: Read Now Sleep Later
May 2nd: LiveToRead
May 5th: Loving the Language of Literacy
May 6th:
May 7th: From A to Z
May 8th: Manga Maniac Café
May 9th: Bookish

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Winners for April pt3

Here are the winners for giveaways that
ended April 6, 2014
April 27, 2014

Thanks to all contestants!


The Collector of Dying Breaths by MJ Rose -signup
Winner: Elise-Maria Barton -name sent to the author for final drawing

Always Emily by Michaela MacColl -signup
Winner: iLuvReadingTooMuch
Winner: Denise Duvall

Jet Black and the Ninja Wind by Leza Lowitz and Shogo Oketani -signup
Winner: Denise226

Little Miss Bronte: Wuthering Heights by Jennifer Adams -signup
Winner: Juju

Little Miss Bronte: Jane Eyre by Jennifer Adams -signup
Winner: Chrystal

Going Over by Beth Kephart -signup
Winner: Rachel Spring -declined as she already has it
Winner (runner-up): traveler

* to see the original giveaway offer, click on the signup link

* I will email winners for mailing addresses within two weeks.
Winners, feel free to contact me with your info if you don't get my email
or if you are just too darn excited and want to let me know -- like NOW ;-D

* contest policy

* keep in touch with my giveaways and learn about other book giveaways by subscribing via email on my sidebar (you may want to go digest mode)

* if not this time, maybe next time

--> check out the current giveaways and upcoming events on my sidebar

Unplug & Play! 50 Games That Don't Need Charging by Brad Berger

Unplug & Play! 50 Games That Don't Need Charging
by Brad Berger

Visit Brad:

Just released: January 2014
Publisher: Keller International Publishing Corp
Genre: Games
ebook: 100 pages
Rating: 5

When technology invaded the 21st century the world quickly went silent. People who once spoke to each other turned to electronic devices as their loving companions, and engagement and meaningful communication between each other ceased. The interruption of technology has become an epidemic among youth and adults alike. America’s obsession with connectivity is out of control, until now.

With 50 games that only require a pen and paper, people of all ages can enjoy one another’s company again without the interruption of technology. Armed with only creativity, humor, an ability to communicate, pen and paper and this book, for five minutes or five hours, you will be unplugged.

My two-bits:

The actual book felt more like a booklet rather than usual paperback. Meaning the cover was paper rather than the thicker paperback cover. However, the innards are great.

As the title suggests, no electronics are used for this brand of fun. It really forces the group of people to devote time to actually "be" together and away from phones and internet.

At most, paper and pen are used for some of the games and to keep track of points earned.

What makes this set of games interesting is the dialogue and conversation that can be generated from topics presented by individuals.


* review copy courtesy publisher

Monday, April 28, 2014

Happy release: Orenda by Ruth Silver (with giveaway)

Join forces with a parallel universe.

ORENDA by Ruth Silver

a Young Adult Fantasy Adventure series

published by Patchwork Press

Dark forces, magical creatures, and the world Lil thought she knew collide when a dream transports her to the strange world of Orenda. Stunned and terrified, Lil comes face to face with her doppelganger, Willow, who possesses the ability to travel between the two worlds. Everything Lil knows logically says that Orenda can't exist, but a small clue may be proof that it was more than an ordinary dream. With the threat of her younger sister in danger, Lil crosses dimensions but it may cost her even more than she bargained for.

A sword wielding girl, the eternal suit, and a parallel universe come together in this action-packed Young Adult fantasy adventure that will keep readers of all ages turning the pages. Orenda is the first novel in the Orenda series.

Add to Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & NobleSigned Copy



Lil stood firm, sword-in-hand, staring at the beast as it flew directly at her. “How do I kill it?” She raised the sword above her head with two hands.

Hudson glanced at her. “With what we taught you. The dragon is no different than a man.”

“It has wings and is flying at me. I’d say it’s different!”

About the Author: Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of ABERRANT, a young adult dystopian adventure series published by Patchwork Press and Lazy Day Publishing, in 2013. Silver attended Northern Illinois University and graduated with a Bachelor's in Communication in the spring of 2005. While in college, she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004. Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required, because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories. Her love of writing led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading, photography, traveling and most of all writing. She loves dystopian and fantasy young adult stories. Ruth has been actively writing since she was a teenager. Upcoming works include Royal Reaper, a young adult series about grim reapers, due for release  June 3rd, 2014. She currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland

The Shadow Queen
by Sandra Gulland

Visit Sandra:
Discussion Guide
Sandra's newsletter
Who is the Shadow Queen?

Just released: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Doubleday (US) and HarperCollins (Canada)
Genre: France, Historical
Hardback: 336 pages
Rating: 4.5

Mistress of the Sun
The Shadow Queen

From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy, comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rises from poverty to become confidante to the most powerful, provocative and dangerous woman in the 17th century French court: the mistress of the charismatic Sun King.

1660, Paris
Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set. From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother’s astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she’s socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning “Shadow Queen.” Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king’s bed.

Indeed, Claudette’s “reputable” new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King’s favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the blood-stained fields of the Franco-Dutch war, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France.


My two-bits:

Enjoyable historical fictional account from the perspective of a young female non-royal who lived in a french royal court setting.

I really liked how this book got into the some of the nitty gritty and behind-the-scenes action in the world of theatre as well as with the royal court life. Both worlds are shown to be similarly loaded with high drama, intrigue and mystery.

Although learning about King Louis XIV and his court life was interesting, I was taken with how people in the theatre world lived and were treated off stage - pretty different than how we currently treat our beloved celebrities.

Thoughts and doings regarding hygiene, medical treatment and magic were other aspects of life that revealed fascinating trivia pertaining to the time period and culture.

Having visited Versailles a couple years ago, I could visualize the settings and scenes depicted pretty well which made this story that much more special to me.

About the Author:
Sandra Gulland is the author of the Josephine B. Trilogy, internationally best-selling novels about Josephine Bonaparte which have been published in over seventeen countries. Her forth novel, Mistress of the Sun, set in the 17th-century court of the Sun King, was also a bestseller and published internationally.

Her most recent novel is The Shadow Queen, also set in the era of the Sun King, published in April of 2014 by HarperCollins in Canada and Doubleday in the U.S.

--~ Book Giveaway courtesy of tour ~--

WIN a copy of this book!

Open to US and Canada only.

Offer ends: May 11, 2014

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. ADD this book to your Goodreads Want To Read list.


Tweet about this giveaway.


Recommend this on Google using the mini-button at end of this post (g+1).


Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or Tumblr the Book Cover image.

2. TELL me what you did in comments.

AND, leave your email.

***optional: leave a comment or question for the author.


Contest has ended - winner is here



* part of Bookish Bingo challenge

* review copy and giveaway courtesy of book tour - check out the other stops here for more details on this book and goodies sponsored by France Book Tours.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - 4.26.14

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!



The Serpent of Venice
by Christopher Moore
-historical, humor, Italy
just released: April 22, 2014

For Review:

The Metaxy Project
by Layton Green
to be released: May 9, 2014
-paranormal, thriller
courtesy of author
Thanks Layton!

The Only Boy
by Jordan Locke
-dystopia, YA
courtesy of tour
Thanks Kathy!


The Zookeeper's Wife
A War Story
by Diane Ackerman
-nonfiction, WWII
Got this for the Literary Wives Book Club selection of the month. FYI: the movie version comes out next year.


* some of these may be offered as giveaways within the next two months

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

* per usual, check out the sidebar for my current giveaways offers

Friday, April 25, 2014

Time to Speak (with giveaway)

If you didn't already know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Find out more details here on how you can participate in spreading the word or with a contribution.


by Laurie Halse Anderson
my review
Amazon | Goodreads | Website

The first ten lies they tell you in high school.

"Speak up for yourself--we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

Speak was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.


IF you have not already read this...

--~ eBook Giveaway ~--

WIN a Kindle version of this book!

Open to all.

Offer ends: May 3, 2014

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. ADD this book to your GoodreadsWant To Read list.


Tweet about this giveaway.


Recommend this on Google using the mini-button at end of this post (g+1).


Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or Tumblr the Book Cover image.

2. TELL me what you did in comments.

AND, leave your email.


Contest has ended - winner is here


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Summer Reading Challenge 2014

Summer Reading Challenge 2014
sponsored by BookSparksPR
details here


I am excited to try my hand at a second year of this challenge as I like the line up...

****** MAY ******

The One and Only
by Emily Giffin
my review
In her eagerly awaited new novel, beloved New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin returns with an extraordinary story of love and loyalty—and an unconventional heroine struggling to reconcile both. Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One and Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living.

****** JUNE ******

Love and Other Foreign Words
by Erin McCahan
my review
Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue—the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Funny, smart, and big-hearted, Love and Other Foreign Words is equal parts comedy and coming of age. But more than that, it’s a love story about sisters, about friends, and about what it means to love at all.

Cure for the Common Breakup
by Beth Kendrick
my review
Flight attendant Summer Benson lives by two rules: Don’t stay with the same man for too long and never stay in one place. She’s about to break rule number one by considering accepting her boyfriend’s proposal—then disaster strikes and her world is shattered in an instant. After a lifetime of globe-trotting, Summer has finally found a home. But Hattie has old scores to settle and a hidden agenda for her newest employee. Summer finds herself faced with an impossible choice: Leave Black Dog Bay behind forever, or stay with the ones she loves and cost them everything….

The Witch of Belladonna Bay
by Suzanne Palmieri
my review
Are love and magic enough to bring a broken family back together? Bronwyn is forced to return home to Magnolia Creek, Alabama—a place she hasn’t been since her mother, Naomi, died fourteen years earlier—and the troubled family she left behind. As Bronwyn unravels the secrets behind the murder, long forgotten memories surface, and the magic living quietly inside of her grows stronger, creating an unbreakable bond between her and Byrd—a bond that will define both of their fates forever.

The Revealed
by Jessica Hickam
my review
Fans of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series will be engrossed in Jessica Hickam’s debut novel, The Revealed. With its mix of mystery, supernatural elements and romantic drama, The Revealed weaves an addictive tale about a teenage girl targeted by a mysterious force who finds out nothing is as it seems. Lily Atwood is the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the world and lives in what used to be Washington D.C. When a war kills over five billion people, Lily’s father plays an important role in rebuilding and reconstructing what’s left of humanity. When The Revealed–the underground organization that is responsible for all the kidnappings–choose Lily as their next target, she fights to evade their grasp, only to find out that everything she thought she knew was a lie.

The Walk-in Closet
by Abdi Nazemian
my review
Abdi Nazemian exposes the secret life of a gay Iranian man in Los Angeles and the best friend pretending to be his girlfriend in his debut novel, The Walk-In Closet. As his wealthy parents pressure her to marry their son, Kara must decide if she’s ready to give up the life she dreams of for the money and comfort of “Tehrangeles.”

My Last Kiss
by Bethany Neal
my review
My Last Kiss is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart. Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. But her last kiss—the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died—is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes.

****** JULY ******

After I Do
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
my review
A compelling story about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both. When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage finally reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes. This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a young couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.

by Emily Kiebel
my review
Eighteen-year-old Lorelei Clark was a gifted singer at a music conservatory until the day her father was struck by an oncoming car. His death leaves her emotionally shattered, so when she receives an invitation from her great-aunt Helen to visit her home in Cape Cod, Lorelei accepts. She quickly discovers that Helen and her two nieces are harboring a frightening secret – they are sirens, terrifying mythical creatures responsible for singing doomed sailors to their deaths. When she rescues a handsome sailor who was supposed to die at sea, the sirens vow that she must finish the job or face grave consequences.

Gravel On The Side Of The Road
by Kris Radish
my review
Novelist Kris Radish returns with a collection of autobiographical essays. As a woman who carries a gun in her purse, nearly drowned, dances with the FBI, spends time with murders, and more, Kris has a lot of intriguing stories to share. These stories give readers a witty, inside, and realistic look into worlds that most people would never dream to enter.

****** AUGUST ******

The Curse of Van Gogh
by Paul Hoppe
my review
Tyler slides into a simple life of bartending in New York City, living his life day to day. And then at the hottest art opening of the season he meets Kommate Imasu, a Japanese billionaire and famed art collector, who seems to know more about Tyler than his own mother does. With serious threats against his family and friends, Tyler has to decide how much risk he’ll take to protect them. He quickly learns that gambling against a billionaire is never a good idea. Tyler plunges headfirst into a world of art forgers, hit-men, Yakuza, a femme fatal named Chanel No. 5, and the legendary curse of Van Gogh, in order to pull off the greatest art heist in history.

Elly in Love
by Colleen Oakes
my review
Elly Jordan, the pretty, plus-size owner of Posies florist, has had quite the year. Helped by her loyal and hilarious group of friends, Elly’s on the verge of opening a chic flower boutique uptown when BlissBride, a mega-successful wedding reality show, asks her to design the wedding of a famous—make that infamous–celebrity. Elly is about to get everything she’s ever wanted, when a stranger shows up at her store with a request that will change every aspect of her life–including her relationship with Keith. As she struggles to maintain her focus in the midst of growing chaos, Elly will learn the true meaning of love and sacrifice.

In Bloom
by Katie Delahanty
my review
Olivia Bloom has always wanted to become a Hollywood costume designer, so she drives from Pittsburgh to LA in the hopes of achieving her dream. It is there that she is taken under the wing of Hollywood-insiders Blair and Parker—and finds out that the uber-hot lead singer of her favorite band may have just fallen in love with her. The pair helps her achieve star-studded status in the midst of the paparazzi, tabloids and rumors, but how long can a small town girl stay on top, especially in The City of Angels?

Wild Within
by Melissa Hart
my review
A romance, an adoption, and a baby Barred Owl is author Melissa Hart’s story of how she learned to rehabilitate and train birds of prey at a local nature center while waiting to adopt a child from Oregon’s foster care system. Through immersion in the natural world, Hart found herself transformed from newly-divorced Los Angeles urbanite to Pacific Northwest environmental educator enamored of a handsome photographer with a passion for owls, eagles, hawks, and falcons. Together, they worked to care for injured and orphaned birds of prey, eventually embarking on a two-and-a-half year adventure to adopt their daughter.

****** ADD-ONs ******

The Fever
by Megan Abbott
my review
The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community. As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

by Rainbow Rowell
my review -DNF
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply—but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.

The Vacationers: A Novel
by Emma Straub
my review
An irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s two-week stay in Mallorca.

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.


It is not too late, you can join too - details here.

BONUS: The next 50 bloggers to sign up will receive a free book to supplement your summer reading (while supplies last).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Shakespeare Day

I'm celebrating Shakespeare's 450th Birthday with Shakespeare themed books this week.


Have to get a move on with this one, as book 2 is available and book 3 comes out in July!

William Shakespeare's Star Wars
by Ian Doescher
Published: 2013
Amazon | Goodreads

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.


Last night I caught Christopher Moore on tour with his latest Shakespeare themed book, The Serpent of Venice. He was dressed in our good ol' SF Giants wear. Along with a bit of intro to Venice of the past and present, he treated us with a couple hilarious stories. Check out his site to see if he will be in a bookstore near you.

Serpent of Venice
by Christopher Moore
just released: April 22, 2014
Amazon | Goodreads

Venice, a long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy from the Queen of Britain: the rascal-Fool Pocket.

This trio of cunning plotters—the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Montressor Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago—have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising an evening of sprits and debauchery with a rare Amontillado sherry and Brabantio's beautiful daughter, Portia.

But their invitation is, of course, bogus. The wine is drugged. The girl isn't even in the city limits. Desperate to rid themselves once and for all of the man who has consistently foiled their grand quest for power and wealth, they have lured him to his death. (How can such a small man, be such a huge obstacle?). But this Fool is no fool . . . and he's got more than a few tricks (and hand gestures) up his sleeve.

Greed, revenge, deception, lust, and a giant (but lovable) sea monster combine to create another hilarious and bawdy tale from modern comic genius, Christopher Moore.

Note: The book, too, is a veritable work of art. Rich creamy stock is enhanced by two-color printing, featuring part/chapter titles, running heads, and folios printed in red ink. The text block has blue-stained edges. The book opens to reveal two-page spread endpapers decorated with a sepia-toned antique map of Venice; an antique map of Italy graces the book’s front matter, printed in red. The jacket sports a matte finish with embossed author and title type; gold foil embellishes the title and illustration detail.


AND, I will be checking out the The Twisted Lit Series:

Anyone But You:
A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
Publised: January 2014
Amazon | Goodreads -signup to win this (expires May 9)

“Heartbreakingly lovely.” -- USA Today.

After her family’s struggling eatery, Cap’s, falls prey to another of the Monte clan’s vicious and destructive pranks, sixteen-year-old Gigi Caputo finds herself courting danger during a clandestine encounter with Roman Monte, the very boy whose relatives have brought her family such grief. When the daughter and son of these two warring factions fall for each other, their quest to mend this bitter family feud turns out to be a recipe for disaster. Their story is irrevocably linked to the summer of 1933, when two twelve-year-olds, Benny and Nick, hop the turnstile at the Chicago World’s Fair. While enjoying some of the fair’s legendary amusements, Nick has a “love at first sight” encounter with Stella, a young girl who unintentionally causes a lasting rift between the two boyhood pals. Deftly winding its way through past and present day, this modern take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet has much to do with hate — but more with love.

A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's The Tempest
by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
Published: 2012
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“Irresistible debut novel. We can assure you reading the surprising adventures in the Twisted Lit series is nothing short of thrilling.” -- Children’s Book Review

Recently banished, unfairly, by the school’s popular crowd, former “it girl,” Miranda Prospero, finds herself in a brave new world: holding dominion amongst a rag-tag crew of geeks and misfits where she works at the Hot-Dog Kabob in the food court of her local mall. When the worst winter storm of the season causes mall workers and last-minute shoppers to be snowed-in for the night, Miranda seizes the opportunity to get revenge against the catty clique behind her social exile. With help from her delightfully dweeby coworker, Ariel, and a sullen loner named Caleb who works at the mall’s nearby gaming and magic shop, Miranda uses charm and trickery to set things to right during this spirited take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's Macbeth
by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
Published: 2013
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“Death, betrayal, ruthless plots to seize the “crown” — all the seeds of stage tragedy take root and flourish in this clever modern-day homage to Macbeth.” -- Kirkus Reviews.

Double, double, toil and trouble. Sometimes, the quest for high school royalty can be deadly! In this emotionally-charged twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a self-conscious shutterbug named Skye Kingston navigates a treacherous school year in Alaska fraught with unspoken secrets and tragic twists of fate. Along the way she encounters three strangely prophetic BFFs; one social-climbing, sociopathic cheerleader; and a heart-stopping hottie named Craig McKenzie: the man who would be Prom King. Can Skye save the boy she loves — and herself — before they get caught in the crosshairs?

FYI: Currently reading this.


I also plan on watching this on DVD...

Romeo & Juliet (2013)
Director: Carlo Carlei
Writers: Julian Fellowes (screenplay)
William Shakespeare (play)
Douglas Booth as Romeo
Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet


How are you celebrating Shakespeare this week?

Do any of these books capture your fancy?


* image source: Shakespeare

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