Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday!!!!

Hey everybody!!!  Not only is today my birthday, but tomorrow is my blog's birthday.  I have actually made the one-year milestone on my blog!  I am very proud of this accomplishment, but I am also very grateful for every single one of you.  Without you, I could not have lasted this long.  So, to show my appreciation to all my fine followers, I am throwing a:

For this Bonanza, I am giving away a copy of some of my favorite books that I've read over the past year.  Below is a list of titles/authors, with a brief summary of each book.  Clicking on the book's title will take you to my review of chosen book.  Entry form is at the end and will be open for one week.  Good luck!!!  =)

The Advent of Lena by Neil M. Campbell

For Park, spiritual bankrupt with the perfect looks, only beautiful women count until he insults Chloe, a stranger, and the ugliest female he has ever seen.  At once he is struck down by Eddie, her friend and protector.

Park, on his knees, perceives in an epiphany that solely with the help of the woman he has outraged can he find deliverance from the bonds of nihilism and self-regard.

Johnny One-Eye by Jerome Charyn

Set in New York during the eight years of the Revolution, Charyn's Manhattan is a place where "British officers dined on blancmange while the rest of the population scrounged for scraps of food," where "dogs howled in a language that must have been terrible even for them."  A city abandoned by its patriots, given over to soldiers, thieves, and a courageous scatter of African stevedores and slaves, Manhattan has become a swamp where generals and whores rule, often in tandem, and spies lurk in every alley, not the least of them John Stocking, a one-eyed double agent "wandering across the landscape, a picaro" who is caught trying to poison General Washington's soup as the story opens in April 1776.

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn

The story begins in the snow. It’s 1848, and Emily is a student at Mount Holyoke, with its mournful headmistress and strict, strict rules. She sees the seminary’s blond handyman rescue a baby deer from a mountain of snow, in a lyrical act of liberation that will remain with her for the rest of her life. The novel revivifies such historical figures as Emily’s brother, Austin, with his crown of red hair; her sister-in-law, Sue; a rival and very best friend, Emily’s little sister, Lavinia, with her vicious army of cats; and especially her father, Edward Dickinson, a controlling congressman.

Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

For longtime residents Joanna Beauchamp and her daughters Freya and Ingrid, this spells trouble.  Not only have they lived in North Hampton for years - they've lived there for centuries.  As immortal witches, forbidden to practice magic by the High Council, the three have been able to remain under the radar, recently living quiet lives as Joanna, a matron with a sweet tooth, and her daughters Ingrid, the bookish town librarian, and Freya, a newly-betrothed bartender trapped in a dangerous game of desire between two brothers.  After a few slip ups, however - a magic love potion here, a much-desired fertility treatment there - the women begin to remember how fun it can be to use their powers.  But when the town's maladies begin to bring them unwanted attention, reminiscent of the witch-hunts of centuries past, the Beauchamps must set out to uncover the darker forces at work in their hometown.

Stan's Leap by Tom Duerig

Newlyweds Jenny and Stan are eager to travel before they begin building their family.  After seeing an intriguing ad in a travel magazine, Jenny arranges a vacation to a remote Pacific island.  The advertisement promises a completely authentic Polynesian experience. 

Led by the zealous Kimo and his beautiful partner Nani, Henderson Island first appears as idyllic as hoped.

Several days after arriving, however, an unusual storm disrupts their routine.  And when the weekly flight back to civilization fails to arrive, tempers flare and deep rifts among the guests are formed.

As days extend into weeks and months, Jenny, Stan and the other vacationers are left searching for explanations, rescue, and finally a new reality.

Semper Cool by Barry Fixler

With its vivid imagery, Semper Cool thrusts readers into a "grunt's-eye view" of the blood, guts, tears and laughter of war, as told by a Marine who returned home a proud, patriotic man.  Be prepared to laugh and cry and ultimately thank God for the men and women willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedoms that so many Americans enjoy.

Exposure by Therese Fowler

High school seniors Amelia Wilkes and Anthony Winter are deeply in love, though until she turns eighteen, Amelia is keeping their relationship a secret from her overbearing father.  But their passion is exposed much sooner than expected when Harlan Wilkes finds naked "sexting" photos of Anthony on his daughter's computer.  Furious, Harlan calls the police and presses criminal charges against Anthony for disseminating harmful materials to a minor.  Anthony is arrested, expelled from school, and labeled by the salacious media as a sexual predator.  He becomes a walking pariah.

As events spiral wildly out of control, with love seemingly the only consolation in an unjust world, Anthony has no choice but to enact a bold plan to stop the madness once and for all.

A Place to Die by Dorothy James

Eleanor and Franz Fabian arrive from New York to spend Christmas with Franz's mother in her sedate retirement home in the Vienna Woods.  Their expectations are low: at best, boredom, at worst, run-of-the-mill family friction.  But when the wealthy, charming Herr Graf is found dead in his apartment with an ugly head wound, the Fabians are thrust into a homicide investigation.  Some residents and staff have surprising connections to the dead man, but who would have wanted to kill him?  Inspector Buchner tracks down the murderer against a backdrop of Viennese history from the Nazi years to the present day.  Witty, suspenseful, lyrical, this is a literary whodunit that will keep you guessing till the last page.

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

After the unexpected death of her parents, shy and sheltered Ginny Selvaggio, a young woman with Asperger's syndrome, seeks comfort in the kitchen, away from her well-meaning but interfering relatives and her domineering sister, Amanda.  The methodical chopping, slicing, and stirring soothe her anxiety, and the rich aroma of ribollita, painstakingly recreated from her Italian grandmother's handwritten recipe, calms her senses.  But it also draws an unexpected visitor: the ghost of Nonna herself, bearing a cryptic warning in rough English, "Do no let her," before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish.

Faced with grief and uncertainty, Ginny turns to her recipe collection, and in doing so, discovers that she has the power to call forth the ghost of any dead person whose dish she prepares.  It's a gift she is certain she cannot share with her pragmatic sister but that ultimately leads her to an unexpected friendship and the possibility of a new life.

The mystery deepens when Ginny finds a letter hidden behind a loose fireplace brick and a series of strange black and white photographs - evidence of a family secret she can't untangle alone.  As Amanda pushes her to sell the only home she's ever known, Ginny decides that the key to her future lies within this provocative riddle from her parents' past.  But can she cook up a dish that will bring them back long enough to help her solve it?

No Greater Sacrifice by John C. Stipa

When feisty archaeologist Renée d'Arcadia is summoned to France to take part in the reading of a will, she is plunged into a maelstrom of deceit and destruction to solve a 100-year-old mystery originating from a sinister church where nothing is as it seems. Renée joins forces with David Arturo, an ex-helicopter pilot with a troubled past, to interpret clues cleverly hidden in tombstones and classic works of literature to find artifacts scattered across Europe. Racing against time, Renée and David must overcome their inner demons to outmaneuver a network of evil bent on destroying them. What they find in each other just might provide answers to some of mankind's oldest myths.


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