Friday, May 22, 2009

A Book Blogger's New Discovery Award

I received this award for new blogs from J. Kaye's Book Blog last Friday.  

Here is how J.Kaye describes the award on her blog:

Highlighting new book blogs has always been important to me. It’s the reason I pass along blog awards to new bloggers or at the very least, new to me book blogs. Without an audience, especially at the beginning, the life of a blogger can be sort of dreary. It feels good when another book blogger promotes your blog. Besides, I like blabbing about other book blogs. If you’d like to join in, please feel free. This event will take place every Friday and I’ll be listing the new book blogs or websites I’ve discovered during the week. Some might even be a rediscovery.

Thank you so much - I really appreciate the generosity, kindness and recognition!   Please do drop by her site and say hello, check out her many contests and ongoing challenges.   Nominate other blogs that you'd noticed during the week.  Just click here or go to:

I'd like to pass this New Discovery Award to several other new bloggers that I love to visit and thank them for making the experience so fun:

(1)  All Things Royal - click here or visit:

(2) Drey's Library - click here or visit:

(3)  Hello Ello 2 - click here or visit:

(4)  Historical Fiction - click here or visit:

(5)  Historical Tapestry - click here or visit:

(6)  Luxury Reading - click here or visit:

(7)  Missy's Book Nook - click here or visit:

(8) One Literature Nut - click here or visit:

(9) SciFi Guy - click here or visit:

(10) Storytime With Tonya and Friends - click here or visit:

(11)  The Literate Housewife - click here or visit

(12) Victorian Challenge - click here or visit:

Do check them out - and J.Kaye's Book Blog as well!  Though some of them might not be new blogs, they're new to me, so I've listed them.  Thanks, folks!

Friday 56

Friday 56: Week 2

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions 
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Storytime with Tonya and Friends here or at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's my Friday 56 entry:

Lose the negative self-talk.  I'm referring to that little voice in your head that passes judgment on your every move.  Whenever you catch yourself thinking, "I'll never get this report done" or "My house is a filthy wreck," stop yourself and redirect your thinking.  Instead, replay the thought with a positive spin: "I will do my absolute best to meet this deadline" and "I love this house for all its wonderful memories."  Forcing these thoughts might feel silly, but I promise you: It will help you feel more in control of your life, and it will build your self-respect and self-confidence.  And, as we now know, that is integral to achieving your health and weight-loss goals! 

-Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello

Thanks, Tonya for this!

Book Review: The Dragon Scroll by I.J. Parker

Review of The Dragon Scroll by I.J. Parker

The Dragon Scroll


The third in the series by I.J. Parker, The Dragon Scroll features  young Sugawara Akitada, an impoverished samurai of noble birth serving as a government clerk at the Ministry of Justice.  Sugawara is assigned to

rance of tax convoys in the distant province of Kazusa, a seemingly impossible mission.   

Sugawara must exercise his full powers of diplomacy as he examines the accounts of the outgoing governor Fujiwara Motosuke, soon-to-be father-in-law of the Emperor  and confronts Master Joto, the Abbot of the local temple, about disruptive and unruly monks.   It is while hunting down the lost tax convoys, that Sugawara comes across evidence of several seemingly unrelated murders - that of a lady-in-waiting of the imperial household in the capital, of a retired former governor of Kazusa province, of local prostitutes in Fujisawa and Kazusa provinces.

Fortunately, Sugawara's good nature and honesty win him friends and allies.  He is accompanied by his loyal family retainer and trusted companion, Seimei.   Along the way,  Sugawara  befriends Tora, an army deserter who becomes his servant, and a familiar character in the Sugawara Akitada series.  Sugawara is also aided by Higekuro, a crippled instructor in martial arts and Higekuro's two lovely and unconventional daughters.


I like escapist fiction very much and I'm partial to detective novels that are set in an unusual time or place. The Sugawara Akitada series, set in Ancient Japan, piqued my interest immediately. The style and language fully communicate a different time and place. The dialogue, interaction between the characters, the description of landscape, customs, and culture work so that you are always aware that the action is going on in a very different time and place. However, at the same time, Sugawara and his colleagues are very accessible and I found myself sympathizing with their problems, heartaches, and difficulties and hoping for their triumphs.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for an unusual detective series and with a fondness for Japanese history and culture.

Format and cover:
I was drawn to the striking cover that is reminiscent of the Japanese woodblock prints or Ukiyo-e and felt that it captured the style and essence of the book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Release date: 2005
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 338

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library

Passing on a Blogger Award from One Literature Nut

Just want to share the good fortune that Starting Fresh received last week and to pass on awards to other blogs that I particularly enjoy visiting.   I apologize for the late circulation of the award - there were so many good ones that it took me a while.

This one came from Becky at  One Literature Nut which was such a wonderful generous gesture.   When I received it on two Tuesdays past,  it got me energized and giddy to go to the gym for the first time in months and to keep going several days thereafter.   But enough about me, do drop by her site at to say hello!



I'm still very new to book blogs.  In the last two weeks, I've come across many interesting and delightful blogs over such a wide range of genres and have been drawn to those that are particularly instructive to a newbie.   I'd like to express my delight and my deep appreciation, to these blogs which I've found to be particularly useful those of us newbies by passing on the #1Blogger Award.   Please do check out their sites, as well as Becky's at  One Literature Nut.

(1)  Books by Their Cover - click here or visit Yan at:

(2) Graeme's Fantasy Book Review - click here or visit:

(3) Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? - click here or visit:

(4) J. Kaye's Book Blog - click here or visit:

(5) Mrs Magoo Reads - click here or visit:

 (6) Passages To The Past - click here or visit:

 (7) Peeking Between Pages - click here or visit:

(8) Presenting Leonore - click here or visit:

(9) So Many Precious Books, So Little Time - click here or visit:

(10) The Story Siren - click here or visit:

(11)  Writing It Out - click here or visit:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reviewer X's giveaway of all of Elizabeth Scott's books

Reviewer X is holding a contest for all of Elizabeth Scott's until June 3, 2009.  To go straight to the contest, click here:

If like me, you're not familiar with her work, here is a brief summary of the items, courtesy of Reviewer X:

Lauren has a good life: decent grades, great friends, and a boyfriend every girl lusts after. So why is she so unhappy?

It takes the arrival of Evan Kirkland for Lauren to figure out the answer: She's been holding back. She's been denying herself a bunch of things (like sex) because staying with her loyal and gorgeous boyfriend, Dave, is the "right" thing to do. After all, who would give up the perfect boyfriend?

But as Dave starts talking more and more about their life together, planning a future Lauren simply can't see herself in -- and as Lauren's craving for Evan, and moreover, who she is with Evan becomes all the more fierce -- Lauren realizes she needs to make a choice...before one is made for her.

Stealing Heaven
Dani has been trained as a thief by the best - her mother. Together, they move from town to town, targeting wealthy homes and making a living by stealing antique silver. They never stay in one place long enough to make real connections, real friends - a real life.

In the beach town of Heaven, though, everything changes. For the first time, Dani starts to feel at home. She's making friends and has even met a guy. But these people can never know the 
real Dani - because of who she is. When it turns out that her new friend lives in the house they've targeted for their next job and the cute guy is a cop, Dani must question where her loyalties lie: with the life she's always known - or the one she's always wanted.

Perfect You 
Kate Brown's life has gone downhill fast.
 Her father has quit his job to sell vitamins at the mall, and Kate is forced to work with him. Her best friend has become popular, and now she acts like Kate's invisible.

And then there's Will. Gorgeous, unattainable Will, whom Kate acts like she can't stand even though she can't stop thinking about him. When Will starts acting interested, Kate hates herself for wanting him when she's sure she's just his latest conquest.

Kate figures that the only way things will ever stop hurting so much is if she keeps to herself and stops caring about anyone or anything. What she doesn't realize is that while life may not always be perfect, good things can happen - but only if she lets them....

Living Dead Girl
Once upon a time I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time my name was not Alice.

Once upon a time I didn't know how lucky I was.

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.

Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.

This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

Something, Maybe
Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showing pretty girls--and his "party" lifestyle--all over the Internet, and her mom, who was once one of her dad's girlfriends, is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for far too long, Hannah has learned how to stay out of sight...and that's how she likes it.

Of course, being unknown isn't helping her get noticed by gorgeous, confident Josh, who Hannah knows is her soul mate. Between trying to figure out a way to get him to notice her, dealing with her parents, and wondering why she can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn, Hannah feels like she's going crazy. She's determined to make things work out the way she wants....only what she wants may not be what she needs.

Love You Hate You Miss You 
It's been seventy-five days. Amy's sick of her parents suddenly taking an interest in her. And she's really sick of people asking her about Julia. Julia's gone, and Amy doesn't want to talk about it. No one knew Julia like she did. No one gets what life is without her.

No one understands what it's like to know that it's all your fault.

Amy's shrink thinks she should keep a journal but instead, Amy starts writing letters to Julia. And as she writes letter after letter, she begins to realize that the past holds its own secrets--and that the present deserves a chance.

If you'd like to learn more, here are a few more sources:

Read how  Elizabeth Scott got her first novel to market and got her start  at this site:

Read a review of Elizabeth Scott's novel Bloom on  Reviewer X's site here:

Award update: I apologize for the delay posting about my recent blog awards and the new awardees. This post will come out shortly!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More books won!

This has been an amazing week - aside from the books I received yesterday, here are more books coming my way:

From The Bookworm:
What Would Jane Austin Do? by Laurie Brown

Here's the blurb from Amazon:
Surely Jane Austen would know how to handle such a rake...

From the author of Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake, a new time travel romance featuring a modern day career woman swept back in time to Regency England, where she thwarts a Napoleonic spy, chats with Jane Austen, and falls in love with a notorious rake.

Eleanor is a costume designer in England for the Jane Austen festival, where her room at the inn is haunted. In the middle of the night she encounters two ghost sisters whose brother was killed in a duel over 200 years ago. They persuade her to travel back in time with them to prevent the duel. Eleanor is swept into a country house party, presided over by the charming Lord Shermont, where she encounters and befriends Jane Austen. But there's much more to Lord Shermont than the ghosts knew, and as Eleanor dances and flirts with him, she begins to lose her heart.

Thank you, Naida and The Bookworm!

From A Blog of Books
Audio copy of No Matter What by Lisa Nichols

No Matter What!: 9 Steps to Living the Life You Love

Here's the blurb from Amazon:

From bestselling author and motivational speaker Lisa Nichols comes a unique and powerful inspirational program that will both move you and empower you to realize your dreams. Millions are trying to live by The Secret's Law of Attraction, but the truth is it won't work unless you flex your all-important "bounce-back" muscles, which give you the ability to successfully navigate life's speed bumps. 

By developing and toning her own bounce-back muscles at critical points in her life, Lisa found the power to become her authentic self and achieve everything she dared to hope for. Now, in NO MATTER WHAT, she offers a groundbreaking program that outlines these 9 Steps or "muscles", which include among others your Confidence, Faith-in-Myself, Honesty Out Loud and Forgiveness muscles, and explains how anyone can use them to achieve happiness and off-the-charts success. In this powerful guide Lisa Nichols introduces her dynamic plan, shares her own remarkable story, and prescribes specific exercises and action steps to inspire readers to learn from their past and move toward a courageous future.

Amazon also offers a sample of the audiobook through this link:

Thank you again, A Blog of Books!

Book Review: Dangerously Innocent by Nesrine Joseph

Review of Dangerously Innocent: When Looks Really Deceive by Nesrine Joseph

Dangerously Innocent by Nesrine Joseph


Set in contemporary Sydney, two Senior Sergeant Detectives, Luther James and Rochelle Trevelyan, are tasked with solving a series of seemingly unrelated murders and capturing a violent serial killer. Under great pressure to solve the "Slasher case", the two partners seek the connection between the death of a Chinese immigrant dockworker, an out-of-work photographer, and a nondescript married pharmacist before more grisly deaths occur.  

There are no leads until the detectives come across Marissa Martin, a beautiful, self destructive witness with a shadowy past who has become another target.  

As more victims are discovered, the violence begins to seep into the Luther and Rochelle's lives.   The detectives set out to wade through the clues and prove themselves before it is too late.


I generally love detective novels, especially those in interesting locations. I was looking forward these two Australian detectives and getting a sense of the Sydney landmarks, locations and atmosphere. It may be that I'm not familiar with Australian slang, but it seemed that this aspect of the book didn't come across very well. I had hoped for some Australian slang and descriptions, but the dialogue seemed very Americanized and slightly forced. However, other aspects of the book do much to make up for the weaknesses in the detectives' banter.

The story is well paced, and I found myself reading the book on the subway. Each chapter is chockfull of action and details. Sergeant Detectives Luther James and Rochelle Trevelyan have so little to start with but through hard work, inspiration and some luck, they run down their few leads successfully. Faced with a few red herrings, considerable danger to themselves and their loved ones, the detectives prove themselves.  

The plot is intricate and carefully executed. The characters come across well and are likable - I found myself rooting for them. I had first thought that the book seemed short with only 147 pages, but I found each chapter quite satisfying and overall, the book carefully written.  

Overall, it was a good first book by Australian author Nesrine Joseph. I look forward to reading her next book.

Format and cover:

The typeset is large and very easy to read. The layout can be improved. There was little spacing to reflect a change of narrative or location.  

The cover has a large tiger's eye but the story has no link to tigers or animals. Nor is a tiger deceptively innocent.

Rating: 2.95 out of 5
Release date: September 2007
Publisher:  Bookpal
Pages: 147

The book was received courtesy of Bostick Communications.   Thank you to Bostick Communications and author Nesrine Joseph for the opportunity to review the book.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brief Update: Books won and received!

I won quite a few book contests these last few days, so I'd like to express appreciation and just a short write up about the books.

Bookin' With Bingo:
Bunco Babes Tell All by Maria Geraci
Bunco Babes Tell All

Here's the blurb from Amazon:
A hot, sassy, Southern romance about girlfriends, gossip, the game of love— and the game of Bunco.

Woman cannot live by Bunco alone . Meet the Bunco Babes of Whispering Bay. Every Thursday night they roll dice, drink frozen margaritas, and catch up on all the gossip in their small north Florida town. Kitty Burke is the only Bunco Babe who is still single—which is okay—but she’s thirty-five and may need to face the fact that her image of Mr. Right is all wrong.

Take Steve. Very sexy—but on paper, with three failed marriages and a shady career, maybe not great husband material. And yes, his ring tone is “Freebird.” Fellow Babes Shea and Pilar definitely vote thumbs down. But maybe there’s more to Steve than meets the eye. Is it time for Kitty to roll the dice and hope that she can be as lucky in love as she is in Bunco? 

If you'd like to read more about this book, here's the link to Bingo's review  or visit her site Bookin' With Bingo at

Thank you so much, Bingo! 

So Many Precious Books, So Little Time:
Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World 
by Vicki Myron


Here's the blurb from Amazon:

DEWEY is the heartwarming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa, as told by his owner and companion of nineteen years, Vicki Myron, the librarian who found him on a frigid January morning when he was abandoned as a kitten in the book drop slot. It is also the story of a remarkable small town, which burned down at the beginning of the Depression, only to rebuild itself, and which was almost shuttered during the farm crisis of the 1980s, before regrouping and rededicating itself to small town American values. Dewey's local charm and worldwide fame became a symbol of hope for this recovering town. Through Dewey's antics, we come to know and love many of the colorful and inspiring people of Spencer. But perhaps the most inspiring person in Spencer is Vicki Myron herself, a single mother who survived the bankruptcy of her family farm and working in a box factory to put two of her brothers through college to become one of the leaders of the Iowa library system. Dewey is one lovable, roguish cat who managed to transform an entire town and inspire people across the globe.

Thank you, Teddy and Anna at Hatchette Book Group!

Dar's Peeking Between the Pages
Jantsen's Gift by Pamela Cope and Aimee Malloy

Here's a short description from the Hatchette Book Group:

Nine years ago, Pam Cope owned a cozy hair salon in the tiny town of Neosho, Missouri, and her life revolved around her son's baseball games, her daughter's dance lessons, and family trips to places like Disney World. She had never been out of the country, nor had she any desire to travel far from home. Then, on June 16th, 1999, her life changed forever with the death of her 15-year-old son from an undiagnosed heart ailment.  Needing to get as far away as possible from everything that reminded her of her loss, she accepted a friend's invitation to travel to Vietnam, and, from the moment she stepped off the plane, everything she had been feeling since her son's death began to shift. By the time she returned home, she had a new mission: to use her pain to change the world, one small step at a time, one child at a time. Today, she is the mother of two children adopted from Vietnam. More than that, she and her husband have created a foundation called "Touch A Life," dedicated to helping desperate children in countries as far-flung as Vietnam, Cambodia and Ghana. Pam Cope's story is on one level a moving, personal account of loss and recovery, but on a deeper level, it offers inspiration to anyone who has ever suffered great personal tragedy or those of us who dream about making a difference in the world.
Thank you, Dar!

Books Books &  More Books:
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
  I won the anniversary contest for Gods Behaving Badly at Books Books & More Books.

Ruth shared the blurb on the back of the book:

The twelve Greek gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London town house - and none too happy about it. For Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator), and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic), there's no way out - until a meek housecleaner, Alice, and her would-be boyfriend, Neil, turn their world upside down. When what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills, Alice and Neil must fear not only for their own lives but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed - but can these two ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heros and save the world?'  

If you'd like to read Ruth's review, please click here or go directly to

Thank you, Ruth!

Graeme's Fantasy Book Review:
Give Me Back My Legions by Harry Turtledove

I won Give Me Back My Legions by Harry Turtledove from Graeme's Fantasy Book Review,

Here's the blurb from Amazon:
Publius Quinctilius Varus, a Roman politician, is summoned by the Emperor, Augustus Caesar. Given three legions and sent to the Roman frontier east of the Rhine, his mission is to subdue the barbarous German tribes where others have failed, and bring their land fully under Rome’s control. 
Arminius, a prince of the Cherusci, is playing a deadly game. He serves in the Roman army, gaining Roman citizenship and officer’s rank, and learning the arts of war and policy as practiced by the Romans. What he learns is essential for the survival of Germany, for he must unite his people against Rome before they become enslaved by the Empire and lose their way of life forever. 
An epic battle is brewing, and these two men stand on opposite sides of what will forever be known as The Battle of the Teutoberg Forest—a ferocious, bloody clash that will change the course of history.

Thank you, Graeme!  I'm very glad to have discovered your site.

Aside from these wonderful prizes, I have also received two ARCs  to review:

The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley
Courtesy of Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers 

Here's the blurb from Amazon:
Your Direction, not Your Intention, Determines Your Destination.

There is often a tension between where we want to end up in life and the path we choose to get there. We fail to see that having good intentions is never good enough. Like Charlie Brown, we wrongly believe there's something to be said for trying hard. We need to understand why, in spite of our good intentions, we may have ended up at the wrong destination with our finances, our marriages, our careers, or a host of other dreams. So how do we get from where we are to where we truly want to be? The Principle of the Path is a road map to proper direction and discipline.

Includes Extensive Study Guide.

Thank you, Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers for this copy of The Principle of the Path.

Dangerously Innocent: When Looks Really Deceive by Nesrine Joseph
from Bostick

Dangerously Innocent

Here's the blurb from Amazon:

Two detectives, one case and many dead....Senior Sergeant Detectives Luther James and Rochelle Trevelyan are two people out to find a maniac on a killing rampage who has used gruesome force to attack and take the lives of his victims.

Played out in the suburbs of Sydney, Luther and Rochelle need to keep their cool and try to capture at least one suspect to fit the profile of what s been dubbed as the Slicer Case .

As their fourth victim becomes the target of the killer and so does their very first witness, Marissa Martin a beautiful doctor with a common cause of loneliness in her heart who owns more than one secret and a shadowed past that constantly comes back to haunt her.

Ready to take action and determined to get their culprit, Luther and Rochelle set out to prove that when it comes to capturing their man, detectives are smarter than they look. 

About the Author

Australian born Nesrine Joseph spent her entire life in Sydney, where at a young age was fortunate to discover the city s beauty and create a world of her own.

In her young years, Nesrine enjoyed telling stories to her siblings and friends but it wasn't until her late teens she had started writing her first story. For almost a decade she worked on her first novel and a few other stories but was unaware what to do next as her timings were really tough for her.

She then realized in late 2006, she couldn't hide her passions for being an author and decided to join the Literature world as she opted for a better life for herself and her family. She decided to take a chance to achieve her ambitions and now has her first book Dangerously Innocent released.

This novel won't be her first and only book because she is currently working on her second novel which will be out in 2009.

Thank you,  Bostick Communications for this copy of Nesrine's first novel.

And the Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club Selection arrived this weekend!
Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan 

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan: Book Cover

Here's a short description from Barnes & Noble:

Reminiscent of Keith Donohue's The Stolen Child, Erick Setiawan's richly atmospheric debut is a beautiful, engrossing fable of three generations of women in two families; their destructive jealousies, their loves and losses, their sacrifices and deeply rooted deceptions, and their triumphs. 

Of Bees and Mist is the tale of Meridia -- raised in a sepulchral house where ghosts dwell in mirrors, she spends her childhood feeling neglected and invisible. Every evening her father vanishes inside a blue mist without so much as an explanation, and her mother spends her days venomously beheading cauliflowers in the kitchen. At sixteen, desperate to escape, Meridia marries a tenderhearted young man and moves into his seemingly warm and charming family home. Little does she suspect that his parents are harboring secrets of their own. There is a grave hidden in the garden. There are two sisters groomed from birth to despise each other. And there is Eva, the formidable matriarch whose grievances swarm the air like an army of bees. In this haunting story, Setiawan takes Meridia on a tumultuous ride of hope and heartbreak as she struggles to keep her young family together and discovers long-kept secrets about her own past as well as the shocking truths about her husband's family. 

Readers of magic-realist fiction will instantly be captivated by this richly evocative fairy tale. 
Of Bees and Mist takes place in a nameless town during a timeless era, where spirits and spells, witchcraft and demons, ghosts and clairvoyance -- both real and imagined -- are an everyday reality. Setiawan skillfully blends the real and the fantastical as he follows our heroine over a 30-year time span in which her love, courage, and sanity are tested to the limit.

Thank you so much, Barnes & Noble for the copy of Of Bees and Mist.