Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Review: Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom by Maria Laurino

Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom

Maria Laurino's book is part memoirs and part analysis of feminism in practice.

The book begins with stories of her Italian American grandparents and the lives that they built for themselves in New Jersey. Sharing anecdotes from her mother's childhood of how her maternal grandfather who came to the US at the turn of the century and created his own construction company. Growing their own vegetables and flowers, making their own wine in the basement of their home, maintaining many of their traditions and habits of the lives that they'd had in Italy. In the stories of her family, Maria Laurino shares the roles that women have held and how each generation of women would balance the expectations and needs of their families with their own needs.

She writes about feminism in the context of her own life and her identity as Italian American. "I explained how my father wanted me to attend any college that I chose and always supported my living away from home to pursue a career...[the journalist] had no idea how radical the concept of establishing an independent life was for a daughter in a traditional Italian-American family."

Laurino discusses how motherhood affected her understanding of everyday feminism. She also analyzes how feminism is regarded by college women and recent college graduates insofar as anecdotal research shows that less women seem to describe themselves as feminists while they have a deep commitment to gender equality in practice.

Overall, I found Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom to be an interesting read.

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (April 13, 2009), 224 pages.
Courtesy of Bostick Communications and the author.

About the Author, courtesy of Amazon:

Maria Laurino was born and raised in northern New Jersey. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she received a B.A. in English and government, and of New York University, where she received an M.A. in English and American literature. She began her career as a journalist for the Village Voice and later became the chief speechwriter to former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins. Laurino examined ethnic identity in her first book, Were You Always an Italian?, which was published in 2000 and became a national bestseller. Her second book, Old World Daughter, New World Mother (2009), a meditation on contemporary feminism, describes the pull and tug of growing up in an Old World family that prized dependence even as she later embraced a New World feminism that championed personal autonomy. Laurino's journalism has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times,, and The Nation, and her essays have been widely anthologized, including in The Norton Reader. She teaches creative nonfiction at New York University.

Thank you so much to Bostick Communications and Maria Laurino for this opportunity!

The Light of Burning Shadows Blog Tour

Review of The Light of Burning Shadows: Book Two of the Iron Elves by Chris Evans

The blurb:

"They might be doomed, damned and buggered for all eternity, but that didn't mean they couldn't sparkle like a diamond in the sun and grin like a skull in the moonlight on their way to oblivion."

Musket and cannon, bow and arrow, and magic and diplomacy vie for supremacy once again in the second epic fantasy adventure from acclaimed author Chris Evans. As the human-dominated Calahrian Empire struggles to maintain its hold on power in the face of armed rebellion from within, the Iron Elves' perilous quest to defeat the power-hungry elf witch, the Shadow Monarch, takes on greater urgency.

The Iron Elves, shunned by their own people for bearing the mark of the Shadow Monarch, and desperately wanting to forever erase this shame, became legendary for their prowess on the battlefield as the Calahrian Imperial Army's elite shock troops. But when their commanding officer, Konowa Swift Dragon, murdered the Viceroy of Elfkyna, he was exiled, and these brave elves were banished to a remote desert outpost, doomed and leaderless, their honor in tatters.

Recalled to duty to reform his regiment from the dregs of the Imperial Army, Konowa thwarted the plans of the Shadow Monarch at the Battle of Luuguth Jor - ensuring that the fabled Red Star, a source of great natural energy, did not fall into Her hands. Now Konowa must cross storm-tossed seas to seek out the lost elves and the prophesied return of another Star somewhere in the desert wasteland roiling with mysterious power, infernos of swirling magic, and legends brought back to life in new and terrible ways. And the fate of every living creature will come to depend on a small band of ragged and desperate soldiers, whose very loyalty to the Empire they have sworn to serve is no longer certain. When death is but a temporary condition, a terrifying question arises: who is the true ally-and fearsome enemy-in a growing conflict that threatens all?


The Light of Burning Shadows continues the story of the Iron Elves a few months after the end of the Battle of Luuguth Jor depicted in A Darkness Forged in Fire. The Iron Elves have won a reputation as fearsome fighters with unwavering loyalty to the Calharian Empire. Their reward for success and beating suicidal odds? More impossible assignments.

Traveling to remote islands and the deserts of the Calharian Empire, the Iron Elves encounter a new supernatural enemy. As they make sense of their new enemy's powers, the Elves discover powers of their own that derive from their oath.

This time around, some things have changed. The Iron Elves see the advantages in the Crown Prince's leadership and the Crown Prince has become protective of his troops. The interaction between the Crown Prince and the commanding officer Konowa reflects their growing respect for one another. I thoroughly enjoyed the increased emphasis on Sergeant Yimt Arkhorn in The Light of Burning Shadows. One of the most interesting characters that I've encountered lately, Yimt has the street smarts and the familiarity that comes with spending much of his life as an enlist man. He guides the younger troops through sticky situations, keeps up their spirits, and acts as the glue that keeps the troops together. The sole dwarf in the Iron Elves, more than anyone else he understands what it means to be an outsider.

A complex, carefully crafted fantasy and military adventure, The Light of Burning Shadows is a wonderful escape.

Publisher: Pocket (July 28, 2009), 384 pages.
Courtesy of Pocket Books.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:

Chris Evans was born in Canada and now lives in New York City. As a military historian he has conducted battlefield tours of Europe, and was the historical consultant on a television documentary on the First World War. He's earned degrees in English, Political Science, and a Masters in History. This is his second novel.

Listen to an interview of the author at

Visit Chris Evan's website and blog to read more about him, the Iron Elves series, and his other books at

Participating sites in the blog tour:

The Epic Rat:
Drey’s Library:
Must Read Faster:
Carol’s Notebook:
The Crotchety Old Fan:
A Journey of Books:
Book Soulmates:
A Book Bloggers Diary:
Horror and Fantasy Book Review:
Booksie’s Blog:
Temple Library Reviews:
Fantasy Freak:
Starting Fresh:
The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Review:
Pick of the Literate:
Books Joseph Reads:
Morbid Romantic:
Poisoned Rationality:

Thank you so much, Sarah and Pocket Books for this opportunity!
Photos courtesy of the author's website.

Quick contest closed

Thanks for all the responses! I'll email the winners who sent their mailing addresses directly. The contest is closed.

Quick book giveaway

Some of the winners were kind enough to let me know that they'd won the books on other sites. If you would like a copy of either So Into You by Sandra Hill or The Ravens by George Dawes Green (audio) or Daniel X by David Patterson (audio) or The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand (audio), please send me an email at gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com with your mailing address. I'll give preference to those that reply first and those that haven't won lately. I'll email the winners but if you don't hear from me, please assume that someone else has won.

Friday 56: Week 15

* 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 at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's mine:

Like he was one of the owner's family. Imagine a company boss making $1.75 an hour!

That first day we sneezed and coughed up plaster dust all night. From then on we started wearing paper masks, slightly decorated. Shel painted his with a handlebar moustache and giant gnashing teeth. On mine I drew a pig's snout and dripping vampire fangs.

The most fun was sitting with the three old Moustache Petes during lunch breaks. They drank, they dipped crooked Parodi cigars in grappa and smoked them, they told filthy old country jokes, switching into Italian when they came to the dirty parts.

- Silverstein: A Memoir by Marv Gold

Book Review of Sassy by Gloria Mallette



The brutal murder of two women in New York City has Detective Keifer looking for a vicious killer.

Sassy Davenport, a successful African American romance novelist is intrigued when gorgeous architect Norris Yoshito comes to her book signing. When Norris asks Sassy on a date, she agrees to meet him. The sudden romance surprises them both with its intensity.

But when Norris's suddenly a suspect in Detective Keifer's murder investigations, Sassy is thrown into doubt.

Norris appears to have two personalities. The kind and generous man who Sassy is falling in love with. And the violent man that suddenly appears on her doorstep - jealous and angry. Sassy has to figure out which is his true face at great risk to herself.


Smart, caring, and successful African American romance novelist, it's easy to root for Sassy Davenport. The mystery of Norris Yoshito is carefully crafted successfully heightens the tension in the book. One of book's strengths is that Gloria Mallette's characters come from different cultural backgrounds and are authentically painted. It's not often that the romantic leads are people of color. But the best part is the writing! As a fast paced thriller full of twists and turns, Sassy is an enjoyable escape.

Publisher: Gemini Press; 1st edition (May 22, 2009), 320 pages.
Courtesy of Bostick Communications and the author.

Thank you very much, Bostick and Glorial Mallette for this opportunity!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blog Tour of Susan Kearney's Lucan, Part Two


Set at some future time when the Earth's survival is uncertain, Lucan is forced to travel to a distant planet of Pendragon in his search for King Arthur's Holy Grail. The Grail is the possible solution to the infertility problem that is facing mankind. If Lucan fails, his whole race faces extinction.

Lady Cael is the high priestess of Pendragon. Trained in her duties from a young age, Cael has been isolated since her family was forbidden to touch her at age five. She is equally revered and feared by her people because of her properties as a dragonshaper. It is forbidden to touch a dragonshaper. When she first meets Lucan, she is surprised that he is unafraid and treats her like a woman.

Lady Cael and Lucan narrowly escape the fire at the excavation site. Unsure of who sabotaged the search for the Holy Grail, Lady Cael and Lucan are forced into hiding. As they work together each with their own secrets, they fall deeply in love. When their secrets are revealed, Lady Cael and Lucan must work together to save those that they love and their threatened peoples.


This is the first Susan Kearney novel that I've read and the first in her new series The Pendragon Legacy. I loved Lucan. First, the characters draw you in. You find yourself sympathizing with Lady Cael from the start of the novel. She feels her isolation deeply but is committed to serving her family and her peopled as the High Priestess. You wish that she could have something beyond the Pendragon equivalent of the life of a vestal virgin. I admit to hoping that Lady Cael would indulge in a show of strength or black humor when faced with her jealous and mean spirited sisters. Lucan is a wonderful romantic lead: strong, a scholar of ancient languages, funny, fiercely protective of Lady Cael. I don't want to reveal too much of the plot, but Lucan reminded me of a mix of Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones with special powers.

Whether you're looking for a romantic read or a fun fantasy novel, I highly recommend Lucan. I'm very much looking forward to reading the next in the Pendragon Legacy. In the meantime, I'll look for Susan Kearney's older novels!

Publisher: Forever (September 5, 2009), 368 pages.
Courtesy of the publisher.

To read an excerpt, visit Susan Kearney's website.

Sign up to win a copy of Lucan on Starting Fresh or from one of the many participating blogs listed below!

Participating Sites: - Sept. 9 giveaway - Sept. 9 review, giveaway, and Q&A. - Sept. 9 review and guest post - Sept. 10 review, giveaway, guest post - Sept. 10 review and giveaway - Q&A - Sept. 11review, giveaway, and Q&A - Sept. 12 review - Sept. 14 review, giveaway, and Q&A - Sept. 14 review and giveaway - Sept. 15 giveaway - Sept. 16 Guest blog and giveaway. - Sept. 17 review, giveaway, and Q&A - Sept. 17 review, giveaway, and Q&A - Sept. 17 review and giveaway - Sept. 18 review, giveaway, guest post - Sept. 18 review and giveaway - Sept. 19 giveaway and guest post - Sept. 20 review and giveaway - Sept. 20 review and giveaway - Sept. 21 giveaway - Sept. 21 giveaway - Sept. 22 giveaway and guest post - review, giveaway, Q&A

Thank you so much to Susan Kearney and Anna and Hatchette Books Group for this opportunity!

Blog Tour of Susan Kearney's Lucan + giveaway

I'm excited to be part of Lucan Blog Tour! Please welcome Susan Kearney. A veteran romance writer, Susan Kearney has worked with the industry giants to publish over fifty novels within the romance genre. Her works spans historical romance, contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal and science fiction. Lucan is the first in the Pendragon Series. Without further ado, let us welcome Susan Kearney!


Susan Kearney Guest Post on September 2009

I've always been a little strange, always had a vivid imagination. Getting into the future is easy for me. I just think about all the things I want. A starship would top my list. I've always wanted to travel in space - but not the way our astronauts do it. You see I want my creature comforts and I want to get there fast.

That’s why I invented a hyperspaceship for LUCAN. Once Lucan found a star map on Earth that would direct him across the galaxy to the Holy Grail, I didn’t want him to waste years in traveling. I wanted him to get there quickly so I could delve into the new world of Pendragon.

Creating a new planet is so much fun—especially one based on Arthurian legend. I got to think about religion, architecture, politics, economics, dragons, and love. The world-building in LUCAN was a first for me because this planet had to be both familiar and yet not too familiar. So I drew some parallels to Earth, but only a few. Mostly I let my imagination roam free.

The name Pendragon means master of dragons. So I knew I needed at least one very powerful, shapeshifting dragon. I decided that honor should go to a female, Cael-- who is a special lady—The High Priestess of Avalon. I wanted her to yearn for love—but although her people revere her, she’s denied having a mate. According to tradition, she’s not allowed to touch or be touched.

But of course our sexy, hero doesn’t know the rules of her world.

To make things interesting, they’re both after the same treasure. And oh, what a treasure. The Holy Grail.

The really fun part is pushing my characters’ buttons in ways I could never do in the present. Because in the near future, Lucan comes from an Earth where humanity is dying. And in the end he has to choose between saving Earth or the woman he loves.

And yes, this is a romance so we have a happy ending even in space.

Sometimes I write far-out stories, but the people still have to cope just the way we do. They may have a spaceship, but the engines break. They may have dragon shapers, but being so strong creates powerful appetites. And falling in love when you are far from home holds its own consequences.

So I hope you’re in the mood to be swept away by romance, adventure, and danger and that you’ll give LUCAN a try. You can see a cool video and read excerpts at


About the Author, courtesy of her website:

Susan Kearney is known for her Rystani warrior books, The Challenge, The Dare, The Ultimatum, and The Quest, a series of paranormal romances set in the future. In September 2009 Kearney begins the Pendragon Series with Lucan, a futuristic romance. She follows up with Rion in December and Jordan in March 2010.

Kearney a native of New Jersey, writes full time and has sold books to the industry's top publishing houses. As an award winning author, Kearney earned a business degree at University of Michicgan. Kearney's knowledge and experiences spans throughout the romance genre, her fifty plus books include contemporary, romantic suspense, historical, futuristic, science fiction and paranormal novels. She resides in a suburb of Tampa with her husband, kids, and a Boston terrier. She is currently plotting through her 54th work of fiction. You can reach her through her website at

Participating Sites: - Sept. 9 giveaway - Sept. 9 review, giveaway, and Q&A. - Sept. 9 review and guest post - Sept. 10 review, giveaway, guest post - Sept. 10 review and giveaway - Q&A - Sept. 11review, giveaway, and Q&A - Sept. 12 review - Sept. 14 review, giveaway, and Q&A - Sept. 14 review and giveaway - Sept. 15 giveaway - Sept. 16 Guest blog and giveaway. - Sept. 17 review, giveaway, and Q&A - Sept. 17 review, giveaway, and Q&A - Sept. 17 review and giveaway - Sept. 18 review, giveaway, guest post - Sept. 18 review and giveaway - Sept. 19 giveaway and guest post - Sept. 20 review and giveaway - Sept. 20 review and giveaway - Sept. 21 giveaway - Sept. 21 giveaway - Sept. 22 giveaway and guest post - review, giveaway, Q&A


To enter, please comment on Susan's guest post below.

Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry. The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at 6 pm on September 30, 2009.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Winners - Friends Like These by Danny Wallace

Friends Like These by Danny Wallance
I apologize for the delay in announcing the winners and thank you so much for sharing anecdotes of friendship. I wish that I could award each of the participants a copy of the book. I tried to balance out the winners, selecting based in part by the stories and trying to select people that haven't won lately.
Amanda said, "My best friend from high school and I lost touch when he went to Iraq. I couldn't find his email address forever, but one day I logged into an old email account, started to type in another email address--and his popped up. It was saved somehow. I found out that he was okay, heading off to afghanistan, and married."
nfmgirl said:
"I met my best friend Sami in the second grade at the bus stop. Sami was the new girl at the bus stop with her little sister Amy, and at one point Sami *kicked* Amy! I was infuriated and yelled at her for it, and she told me she could do it if she wanted! Well, we had a rocky start, but that was the beginning of a 30-year on again/off again relationship. In my twenties, I found myself living in WA state. Sami and I hadn't communicated in probably about 8-10 years, since soon after the birth of her daughter. I was about 27 and had recently gotten my first computer. I was learning all about websites like 411 that would allow you to look up and locate people. I started searching for some people that I'd lost contact with over the years, and lo and behold I found Sami again, living in some unexpected place like Alabama or South Dakota. We got back in touch and caught up. Both of us had moved several times since we had last spoken, and she'd had a second child, and her husband had joined the Army. Throughout the years, life has periodically separated us, but when we find one another again we fall right back into our friendship. Last that I saw or spoke with her was about 6 years ago, and she was preparing to move to Germany. I found on the web that they either have moved back to the US or are preparing to move back. So I've had plans of trying to locate her once again. She is the one friend that I hope to keep in my life to some degree until the end."
Cabadov said:
"Yes, there's something about getting older and trying to recapture your routes. There are a lot of old friends I've reconnected with, thanks to the Internet. When expecting my third child I wrote an online blog/journal covering the journey for my distant family to read. An old high school friend did a search and found. She then got my number and left me a message. When listening to it and rewinding it to hear her phone number, my son deleted the message. It took some online research but I finally found a few numbers and just called them until I found her. Now we keep in touch through e-mail and it's like no time at all has passed. Funny."
Andie.v107 said, "Last summer, my best friend unexpectedly moved out of the country without even telling me; I found out she had left while on the phone with another friend of ours. I didn't hear from her for months which was so odd since we used to talk almost everyday before she left. Then on my birthday, out of the blue she calls me while I was in class to wish me well; that phone call made my day it was so great to have her back in my life. Since then, we have been able to be much better about keeping in touch, we email regularly and skype at least once a week. "
Pam said:
"My roommate from university and I lost contact after graduation - she'd moved out west and I moved around a bit. I often wondered where she was and what she was up to and tried looking her up on facebook a couple of times but never had any luck. Then last fall, my mom (a retired teacher) went to some luncheon for retired teachers and ended up sitting beside Heather's mom. Heather's mom recognized my mom's name and asked her if she was in fact my mother. They started talking about us and it turned out that Heather and her family had recently moved back to the area. My mom gave her mom my e-mail address and shortly thereafter Heather sent me an e-mail. Since then, we've gotten together a few times for lunch, coffee, etc. and it's been great reconnecting. Our sons are fairly close in age so we want to get together as families this summer too."
Congratulations! Please send me your mailing address by 6 pm on Thursday. Thanks so much for participating!
Thanks so much to Anna and Hatchette Books Group for sponsoring this giveaway!