Saturday, October 24, 2009

Celebrate Halloween with chocolate! Chocolate: A Love Story by Max Brenner

"On the one hand, it is the most romantic gift; on the other hand, a commodity that is traded in the bourse. It is sold like precious jewelry that is picked carefully from a crystal glass, but also is an addictive snack in every corner kiosk. It is tasted like a fine wine and licked straight from the bowl...These diverse aspects of chocolate and of life are the inspiration for our book."
- Chocolate A Love Story: 65 Chocolate Dessert Recipes from Max Brenner's Private Collection by Max Brenner

Chocolate: A Love Story: 65 Chocolate Dessert Recipes from Max Brenner's Private Collection
This upcoming holiday season and just in time for Halloween celebrations, Max Brenner (the Bald Man) and artist Yontan Factor have come up with Chocolate A Love Story: 65 Chocolate Dessert Recipes from Max Brenner's Private Collection. Large and eye-catching, the book looks like pop art. I was dying to know what recipes Max Brenner selected for this homage to chocolate and I know you must equally curious.

Here are just some of the creations described in the book:
Dependable banana cupcakes, Bohemian French toast chocolate sandwiches, Intimate Hungarian crepes (they have figs), Control freak chocolate spread, Plain Jane sweet chocolate rolls, Intimate scones, Nostalgic dark chocolate cheese crumb cake, Handsome tiramisu, My very own honey pie manifest, Mon cheri cherry pie, A therapeutic chocolate pot pie, A philosophical highly concentrated fudge brownie (if you're going to make brownies - why not a Max Brenner brownie?!), Enticing sugar churros, Max and Mortiz profiteroles, Forever young white chocolate custard, A mannered white chocolate creme brulee, Banana split, Tacky double chocolate fondue, Once-upon-a-time small almond cookies, Contentious chocolate chip cookies, Wannabe French hot chocolate, Shanti white chocolate chai image, Innocent meringue kisses, and Such a beautiful chocolate souffle.

I hope that I didn't ruin the surprise by naming the dishes. I figure that if you're interested in Chocolate A Love Story, you will check out the book for yourself.

Almost just as seductive as the food is the accompanying artwork. Each recipe is paired with an eye-catching 8 by 11 mini poster. The posters are gorgeous enough to frame.

If you'd like to learn more, visit Max Brenner's website at Better yet - visit any one of the Max Brenner locations and sample the finished product!

A huge thank you to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for the review copy and for the opportunity to review Chocolate A Love Story!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Win a signed copy of Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry

I just wanted to share the details of this new giveaway sponsored by Regal Literary, Audrey Niffenegger's literary agency. Regal Literary will giveaway 25 signed first editions of Audrey Niffengger's latest work, Her Fearful Symmetry AND 10 very rare Advanced Reader's Copies (or "galleys") of the same.

Here's how you sign up:
Head over to Facebook and check out Audrey Niffengger's Her Fearful Symmetry page at

Then send an email to with the subject “Facebook Special Offer – I’m a fan!” by November 13. It'd be great if you mentioned that you'd heard about the contest from Starting Fresh blog.

Her Fearful Symmetry Facebook page features video interviews with Audrey, links to reviews, a list of Audrey’s appearances and quite a lot more about Audrey’s new book. While you're there, listen to Audrey read the beginning of The Time Traveller's Wife.

Council for New York Cooperatives & Condominiums: Seminars

We just held the second annual meeting of our New York condominium. During my first year on the board, we discovered that the Sponsor's estimates for the annual budget, though attractively low, had to be adjusted to cover the actual expenses of running the building and starting our building reserve. Our condominium's initial budget did not set aside money for a management company and because the board wanted to keep the common charges as low as possible, we decided to self-manage the building for the first few months. We were able to "self-manage" the building for the first year and decided to continue to do so.

To be honest, the first year had difficult moments and certain things truly helped us. Aside from having a good lawyer, another and less expensive source of reliable information the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums.

Council of New York Cooperatives & Condos
website: email: phone: (212) 496-7400
250 W. 57th St., Suite 730, New York, NY 10107-0700

CNYC organizes an Annual Housing Conference, the Comparative Study of Building Operating Costs, and the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes. This year's Annual Conference will be held on Sunday, November 15, 2009 and you can sign up on the CNYC website. This year will be my first attending the CNYC Annual Housing Conference and I'm excited about the seminars. I'm choosing between Current Significant Legal Decisions for Co-ops & Condos or Insurance Guidelines for Buildings and Residents or Cashing in on Hidden Assets for my morning seminar. Here are my top choices for the midday seminar: Property Tax Q & A or Communicating with Shareholders/Unit Owners or Renovation Disasters and How To Avoid Them or Shareholder/Unit Owner Surveys That Succeed or Controlling Legal Costs or All About House Rules or The Role of the Corporate Secretary. My top afternoon seminar choices are: Condo Issues for New Attorneys, Internal Controls for Small Buildings, New Codes in New York City and Apartment Renovations & Combinations.

CNYC also offers regular seminars. Our condo has availed of a variety of seminars sponsored by CNYC. I just attended a session on "Self Management 101: A 3-Session Program for Small Buildings." The sessions have been helpful because of the lecture, materials, and the discussions. Like all buildings, in our first year, we've had to address conflict between unit owners and occasional threats of law suits, so speaking to Rebecca Poole, who has broad expertise in condo and coop management and to Mary Ann Rothman, who runs CNYC, helped give us an understanding of how other condos and coops have handled these types of situations.

The expertise and resource persons of CNYC also made a huge difference when our building and board faced specific issues, whether between residents or third parties. Our building is new construction and was supposed to have a 421a tax abatement but the tax abatement was not reflected in our first tax bills. The unexpectedly high tax bill surprised the unit owners and our mortgage lenders. Aside from having to pay the higher tax bills, mortgage lenders increased our monthly payments to adjust the escrow for real estate tax. We would have had to consult lawyers and abatement specialists to handle the decipher the problem, but the experience and advice from Mary Ann and others in CNYC helped us handle this tricky time until the abatement took effect.

CNYC membership fees depend on the size of your condominium or cooperative, but we've found it well worth the cost for our 20 unit building.

Audio Book Giveaway: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

A huge thanks to Anna and Hatchette Book Group who are sponsoring this generous giveaway of 3 audio books of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold as read by the author.

About the Book, courtesy of the publisher:

Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. The Lovely Bones is such a book -- a #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its artistry, for its luminous clarity of emotion, and for its astonishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world. Now in an audiobook edition read by the author, with movie tie-in art.

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her -- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, The Lovely Bones succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

The major motion picture version of The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan is scheduled for release on December 11, 2009.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Alice Sebold is the author of three #1 bestselling books, the novels The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon and the memoir Lucky. She lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.


To enter, please share something about yourself.

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
2. For an extra entry, sign up to be a follower. If you're already a follower, let me know and you'll get the extra entry as well.
3. For another extra entry, subscribe via googlereader or blogger or by email and let me know that you do.
4. For another entry, blog about this giveaway and send me the link.
5. Leave a separate comment for each entry or you'll only be entered once.

The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at 6 pm on November 20, 2009. Thank you so much, Anna and Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway!

Friday 56: Week 19

* 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:

"Somehow they almost always found themselves in the region where they were best suited, with the vines that fit their skills, when their years of study were done."

- Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Blog Tour of Charlie and Mama Kyna by Diana Rumjahn, Part 2

Welcome Part 2 of the Book Blog Tour of Charlie and Mama Kyna by Diana Rumjahn.

"Once upon a time, a sweet green frog with a red bow tie with white polka dots named Charlie accidentally broke his mom's favorite vase. Afraid and embarrassed, Charlie ran far away from home."
- Charlie and Mama Kyna by Diana Rumjahn

So begins the this bright and engaging picture book by Diana Rumjahn. We join Charlie as he makes friends with a lion and giraffe and continues on his adventure until its happy resolution. Full of bright images and catchy sounds, Charlie and Mama Kyna is fun to read aloud. It's sure to entertain young kids while it teaches lessons of forgiveness, love, friendship, and even subliminally encourages kids to help out around the house!

Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (January 30, 2009), 38 pages.
Review copy provided by Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tours and the author.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Blog Tour of Sandra Harper's Over The Holidays

Over the Holidays

"It was only December first but Vanessa Channing felt like it had been Christmas forever..." So begins Sandra Harper's latest fun and light holiday read full of family drama.

Vanessa Clayton,her gaffer husband JT, and the young twins, Ethan and Alex, usually spend the holidays in New England with her sister-in-law, but the tough economic times give her the excuse to celebrate at home in Los Angeles. Vanessa is far from a domestic goddess - her own family tradition is "store bought," her young boys are a handful, and her writing job is keeping her crazy busy. Vanessa's sister Thea has a very different life. An artist and single, Thea's life centers around her art. Her latest project involves compiling holiday memories and this starts her reminiscing about Cal, her boyfriend from fifteen years ago. Though Thea's reasonably happy with her gorgeous young lover, once Thea starts thinking about what may have been with Cal, Thea can't resist hunting him down.

Patience Clayton's life appears to be the opposite of that of her sister-in-law Vanessa Clayton. Patience lives for the holidays and devotes herself to maintaining their family's traditions from the cranberry tarts to the carefully orchestrated themed Open House on Christmas Eve. When her sister-in-law declines the annual invitation to a New England Christmas, Patience decides to bring her husband Richard and their teenage daughter Libby to Los Angeles in the hope that this will bring the family closer together. But with Libby acting curt and cold and Vanessa's ill disguised irritation, this is shaping up to be Patience's worst holiday ever.

I found Over the Holidays to be a light and engaging read. I would occasionally find Vanessa to be self centered and irritating and would sympathize with Patience - Vanessa's zingers would make me cringe. On the other hand, I suspect that many readers would be more inclined to regard Patience's insistence on doing things "right" annoying and identify with the younger, more creative Vanessa. Regardless of whether you prefer Vanessa to Patience, I believe that most readers would find both of them sympathetic. If you're looking for a fun book to read for the holidays and have a taste for chicklit or mommylit, you may well enjoy Over the Holidays.

Publisher: Pocket (October 6, 2009), 336 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author,courtesy of the publisher:
Sandra Harper is the author of the play, Magpie's Tea Room, which enjoyed a successful run in Los Angeles at The Ventura Court Theatre. She has written a cooking column, "The California Cook" for the newspaper, Skirt. A script reader for Pathe Studios and Springcreek Productions, she also wrote and produced fashion and rock videos for Elvis Costello, Chaka Khan and Vidal Sassoon, amonf others. Ms. Harper recieved her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Southern California and has completed a children's book, The Witches Club.

Thanks so much for the book tour opportunity, Sarah and Pocket Books!

Book Blog Tour of Charlie and Mama Kyna by Diana Rumjahn

Welcome to the Book Blog Tour of the children's book Charlie and Mama Kyna by Diana Rumjahn! We have a guest post from Diana about the inspiration behind her children's book Charlie and Mama Kyna. With no further ado, let's welcome Diana!

My inspirations in life come from my love of animals and stuffed animals, music and film. They are so cute, friendly and comforting. The wild stuffed animals like lions and giraffes are fun because they are wild but available to be loved. When I am listening to new age music especially music by Enya, I am so inspired to be even more creative. The music is so spiritual and fantastic that it makes me forget about anything negative going on in the world. Being a filmmaker is great because I am able to create an artistic project from passion. As I am working on the project, I am also inspired to make improvements. I love to visit the countryside, explore new places, experiment new ideas while writing and making films and being inspired while working on the artistic project.

Some moments in life can be inspiring in an everlasting way. When I was child, I attended a high school orchestra concert. They played famous classical symphonies as I sat in the chair with Kitty, my stuffed animal cat. Even though I was not a player, I was inspired to choose an artistic field. Kitty agreed with me. At the same time, I watched some of the most exciting and well-written television shows along with Kitty in the living room. The television shows made me feel apart of their world and drama.

Along with stuffed animals, television/film and music, I was truly inspired to be an artist.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Diana! You're fortunate to have made this decision early and to have discovered that this was truly the right path for you. Congratulations on Charlie and Mama Kyna and best of luck on your new venture!

About the Author, courtesy of the author:

Diana Rumjahn earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from San Francisco State University where she currently works at the College of Creative Arts . She wrote and directed the film Going Home which has been screened at venues worldwide. She is also the author of the new children's picture book, Charlie and Mama Kyna. Rumjahn resides in San Francisco and is currently at work on film and book projects. You can visit her website at

Thanks so much for this book tour opportunity, Diana Rumjahn, Dorothy and Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tour!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review of Ansel Adams In Color

Ansel Adams in Color

"Throughout his life Ansel remained ambivalent about color photography - a sampling of his reflections on the subject is included at the end of this book. Much of his antipathy toward color stemmed from the extremely poor quality of color photographing. Another source of his frustration was the inability to adequately translate the brilliance of a color transparency into a fine print."
-Foreward by John P. Schaefer and Andrea G. Stillman

I had always loved Ansel Adams' black and white photographs of nature. His photos of Yosemite had added to the pleasure of my trip to the National Park years ago. I hadn't known that Ansel Adams had worked in color, much less, that he had over 3,000 color transparencies. He had worked with color photography when the medium and technology was in its early stages. His frustration with the technical limitations explain why he is best known for his black and white work. However, with the developments in photography and computers, it is now possible to see his work as he would have been prepared to show it.

The photos in this book were selected by a photographer of Adams' generation and fellow member of the Detroit Camera Club who has expressed the debt he owed Adams for the direction and advice. Callahan is also highly regarded and has been described as one of America's greatest visual poets. He chose the photos based on his own aesthetic pleasure - "selecting those things that pleased me" without adjustments for historical reasons or concern for what the image might have looked like once.

The essays and text that accompany the stunning photographs give a fuller understanding of Ansel Adams' work and the development of the art of photography. This book is such a pleasure - whether you read it carefully or glance at the photographs.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Revised edition edition (October 21, 2009), 168 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Thank you so much, Anna and Hatchette Book Group for the chance to review this book!

Sites for more information on Ansel Adams:

The Ansel Adams Gallery at
Ansel Adams and the Sierra Club at
The History Place at

Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-Thon on Oct 24-25!


I wanted to mention Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon on October 24-25, 2009.

Dewey from Hidden Side of A Leaf started Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-Thon began in 2007 with 37 participants, then the second Read-a-Thon had 69 participants. There were 119 participants in Oct. 2008. Dewey passed away in November 2008, and so Hannah (WordLily), Ana (Nymeth) and Trish (Hey, Lady!) are continuing the tradition. As of today, 73 people have signed up.

If you'd like to learn more and sign up, head over to

I'll be visiting my brother in Boston this weekend before he heads overseas, so I doubt I'll be able to participate. It's too bad because it would have been a nice way to socialize with other bloggers and make a dent in my reading backlog.

Book Review of The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik

The Smart One and the Pretty One

The blurb:
Smart, successful Ava Nickerson is closing in on thirty and has barely had a date since law school. When a family crisis brings her prodigal little sister Lauren back to Los Angeles, Lauren stumbles across a forgotten document - a contract their parents had jokingly drawn up years ago betrothing Ava to their friends' son.

Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava's constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she's in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister's childhood fiance. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to reenter the Nickerson sisters' lives. And always-accountable Ava will soon realize just how binding a contract can be...

The title says it all. The Smart One and the Pretty One captures the rivalry and tension two young single sisters can share. Though the plot is a familiar one, I enjoyed the book very much. The pretty one, Lauren, is flighty and irresponsible and I wanted to shake her a number of times while Ava, the responsible lawyer sister, had my sympathy. The other characters are equally engaging and the Nickerson family draws you in to their lives. I found The Smart One and the Pretty One a fun satisfying read.

Publisher: 5 Spot (September 10, 2008), 305 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the author's blog:

Claire LaZebnik grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, went to Harvard and moved to LA. She's written three novels: Same as It Never Was, Knitting under the Influence, and The Smart One and the Pretty One. With Lynn Koegel (who’s absolutely brilliant), she co-wrote Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies and Hope That Can Transform a Child’s Life and the upcoming (out in March) Growing up on the Spectrum: A guide to life, love and learning for young adults with autism and Asperger’s.

She now lives in the Pacific Palisades with my husband Rob (who writes for “The Simpsons”), my four kids (Max, Johnny, Annie and Will) and too many pets to keep track of.

Reading Group Guide from Claire LaZebnik:

1. Do you think that siblings tend to define themselves in opposition to each other? Is this more true for girls or boys? Do you feel that this happened in your own family? Were you the smart one or the pretty one?

2. Lauren’s problems with money set off the whole plot. Have you ever bought things you couldn’t afford? Do you think Lauren will learn to control her spending in the future? Or are some people doomed to be lifelong spendthrifts?

3. This book has several very different depictions of mothers and their relationship with their sons and daughters. Which mother would you say yours is most like? Do you think Russell would have been as devastated if his mother was dying as Daniel is?

4. Both women make good arguments about their beauty choices, Lauren that it’s fun and worth it to make yourself look good and Ava that it’s a waste of time and only encourages people to focus on your exterior and not see through to who you really are. Which one do you agree with more? Why? How much time do you spend making yourself look nice on an average morning?

5. Do you think Lauren is just a one-night stand to Daniel? Is she right that he won’t remember her name? Lauren expresses a fairly casual attitude to sex early in the book (”You can sleep with a guy you don’t know that well-it’s one of the best ways of getting to know him.”), but then she seems pretty upset when she finds out Daniel has a girlfriend. Why do you think that is?

6. Russell and Lauren would seem on the surface to be a much better match than Russell and Ava. But he and Lauren are never actually interested in each other. Why do you think that is? On her part? On his? Do you think there’s truth to opposites attracting more than similar types?

7. Have you ever felt like the “extra bag of bagels”?

8. Contracts play a large role in this book. Ava believes that writing a contract is meaningful, even if it’s not a legal one-or at least she does until her sister confronts her with the betrothal document. Have you ever written a contract to change your behavior, like to diet or save money or work harder? Did it work?

9. Late in the book, Ava eavesdrops on her parents talking alone and realizes that they have an entire relationship that’s separate from anything the girls share with them. Do you think that’s true of parents in general? A well-known writer was recently criticized for saying publicly that she loved her husband more than her kids. What do you think most women would say about that?

10. Ava worries that Russell is trying to make her over, that he wants to change her and that must mean he doesn’t love her the way she is. Have you ever been in a relationship where you felt your significant other was trying to change you in some way? Have you ever tried to change the person you were with? How do you feel if someone gives you a gift that is more for the way he/she thinks you SHOULD be than the way you ARE?

11. After the book ends, do you think Ava will care more than she did before about clothes and make-up? How do you see the gifting and dressing up aspect of her relationship with Russell progressing? Do you think their relationship will last?

12. Do you think brownies with ice cream and nuts provide all the essential nutrients and make a healthful dinner?

Thank you so much, Miriam and Hatchette Book Group for this opportunity!

Blog Tour of The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

"When the hole started opening two years ago, Lisa and I congratulated ourselves because at least we weren't in one of those La Brea Tar Pit adjustable-rate home loans. We had a normal thirty-year, with a normal fixed rate, and even though we'd unwisely cashed in equity for a couple of costly remodels, we were still okay. We had some normal debt; normal credit cards, normal furniture layaways, normal car payments, some uncovered medical bills, Teddy's normal braces and Franklin's normal speech therapy (Oh, for God's sake, say your 'R's'). But then my perfectly normal dream of starting my own business, the afore-derided, turned out to take longer and be more costly than we thought, and we found ourselves taking another line of credit on the house, going deeper in debt. Then came Lisa's abnormal online shopping binge, and our credit cards rolled over on us a couple of times and the car payments lapsed and the ground began slipping away and the only thing that seemed rock steady was the house, so we took another chunk out of it, just to catch up, we said, to temporarily cover living expenses, and we refinanced at the peak value; like a snake eating its tail we borrowed against our house to pay the house payment of a house leveraged at forty percent more than the house was worth. When the dip came I scrambled back to the newspaper, but with the hole growing deeper and the monthly interest charges eating us alive, we fell further behind, missed a few house payments and our helpful mortgage lender offered us an "agreement of forebearance," six months away (with interest!) to get on top of our payments, and we jumped at that lifeline, but then I lost my job and maybe we were distracted by that and by my father's collapse (we dragged him into the hole with us) because while we fretted and waffled and stalled, the stock market went out for milk, got stoned and lost forty percent of its value, depleting my 401(k), which, due to my stubborn love for financial and media stocks, had already begun to look more like a 4(k). ...This is how a person wakes up one morning to find that he's six days from losing his house."
-The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

The Financial Lives of the Poets


Successful throughout his life, Matt Prior finds himself in the unexpected position of being unemployed, deeply in debt and weeks away from losing his home. Things have been difficult at home and he can't bare to tell his wife the true state of their finances. Matt continues with the everyday life - caring for the children, applying for jobs, negotiating with their mortgage lender, and the usual household chores. When one late night, Matt discovers a possible solution - wacky and dangerous though it may be - to solve their financial hell, he decides to give it a go.

Review: In Jess Walter's The Financial Lives of the Poets, Matt Prior goes on a hilarious and absurd adventure triggered by today's financial crisis. Matt has his own crooked logic that will leave you chuckling, whether he's plotting ways to sabotage his wife's flirtation with her high school boyfriend or eke revenge against M_ who laid him or finding ways to reassure his father during his slow descent to senility. A fun and crazy ride - highly recommended!

Publisher: Harper (September 22, 2009), 304 pages.
Review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours.

About the Author, courtesy of his website:
Jess Walter is the author of five novels and one nonfiction book. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and his essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been widely published, in Details, Playboy, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe among many others. Learn more on Jess Walter's website at

Participating Blogs:

Monday, October 12th: Lit and Life
Wednesday, October 14th: One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books
Thursday, October 15th: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!
Monday, October 19th: Starting Fresh
Tuesday, October 20th: I’m Booking It
Wednesday, October 21st: Beth’s Book Review Blog
Friday, October 23rd: Take Me Away
Monday, October 26th: Raging Bibliomania
Tuesday, October 27th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, October 28th: Book Nook Club
Thursday, October 29th: Books and Movies
Friday, October 30th: The Novel Bookworm

Book Tour Events in your area:

October 21-25 -- SAN FRANCISCO Tomales Bay Writers Conference

October 26 -- CORTE MADERA, CA Book Passage, 7 p.m.

OCTOBER 27 -- BELLINGHAM, WA Village Books, 7 p.m.

October 28 -- SEATTLE, WA Elliott Bay Books, 7 p.m.

October 29 -- SEATTLE, WA Seattle Mystery Bookshop (noon)

October 29 -- PORTLAND, OR Powells Books, 7 p.m.

November 4 -- SPOKANE, WA. Tinman Gallery 7 p.m.

November 5 -- MISSOULA, MONT. Fact and Fiction, 7 p.m.

November 16 -- BELLINGHAM, Western Washington University

November 18 -- LEAVENWORTH, WA, A Book for All Seasons

November 19 -- EVERGREEN STATE COLLEGE, OLYMPIA, WA 3 p.m. & Swing Winery 7 p.m.


November 21 -- HOOD RIVER, Bookstop

December 2 -- EWU MFA -- The Zero with Sam Ligon

December 3 -- MOSCOW, IDAHO -- University Bookstore

December 5 -- AUNTIES BOOKS, Spokane Reading with Sherman Alexie

December 10 -- THIRD PLACE BOOKS, Bothell

January 22 -- BOOKMANIA, Florida




April 17 -- SPOKANE, GET LIT

April 23 -- WHITWORTH COLLEGE, 7 p.m.


Thanks so much to Jess Walter, Trish and TLC Book Tours for this opportunity!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Review of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush

The blurb:
Nora Grey is responsible and smart and not inclined to be too reckless. Her first mistake was falling for Patch. Patch has a past that could be called anything but harmless. The best thing he ever did was fall for Nora.

After getting paired with Patch in biology, all Nora wants to do is stay away from him, but he always seems to be two steps ahead of her. She can feel his eyes on her even when he is nowhere around. She feels him nearby even when she is alone in her bedroom. And when her attraction can be denied no longer, she learns the secret about who Patch is and what led him to her. Despite all the questions she has about his past, in the end, there may be only one question they can ask each other: How far are you willing to fall?

I had read about Hush, Hush and was very excited to receive a review copy. I recently heard that the final version of the book has a different ending from the one that I reviewed.

Hush, Hush reminded me of Twilight in part because the main characters and interaction are set in the local high school. Nora Grey's friends are edgier, more dangerous than the Twilight set. Nora Grey reminds me of Bella though: she shares the same observant tone but is similarly prone to get into dangerous situations. When reading Nora Grey's thoughts, I have the same desire to yell - "Watch out!" and to shake her into action that I had when I read the Twilight books. What I enjoyed most in Hush, Hush was the relationship between Nora Grey and Patch. Patch's protectiveness and his kindness towards Nora make the book worth reading and rereading. If you enjoy stories of young love battling crazy odds with a strong dose of fantasy, you will probably enjoy Hush, Hush.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (October 13, 2009), 400 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Thank you so much, Emily and Simon and Schuster for this opportunity!

Review of Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante

Evenings at the Argentine Club

"To every Argentine immigrant, July 9 is a day that brings back memories of family celebrations centered around food, wine, and heart-pounding renditions of national theme playing on every radio and TV across the nation. July 9 is Independence Day. A day of freedom and new beginnings. But to those Argentines living in America, it's also a day to admit with a fair amount of guilt that they chose to give up their old life for the intangible, unexplainable dream of. . . something better."

- Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante

So opens, Julia Amante's newest work, Evenings at the Argentine Club. Julia Amante fashions a story around the lives of two families that have emigrated from Argentina to the United States. She captures with depth and sympathy the points of view of the many and diverse characters.

You'll meet the Torres family. At twenty-eight years, Victoria, has worked for the family restaurant, La Parilla, and the Argentine Cafe, ever since she left college. Vivacious, organized, and kind, she has handled the decorations, celebrations, daycare and helped develop a sense of community. It's been seemed natural for her to step in, so much so, that she's hasn't considered going after her own dreams but this changes. Victor Torres, her ambitious and protective father, who dreams of opening a chain of successful restaurants and returning back to Buenos Aires with his lovely wife. Jacqueline Torres, who has made her family her life and is only now allowing herself to feel lonely and disaffected with her daughter gone. Fortunately, Jacqueline is well loved and easy to befriend - her old friends and new help her ride the transition and find her own path.

The Ortelli family has its own secrets. Eric Ortelli, the successful son, visits home for the first time in years. He spent years building a career and business from scratch. He doesn't expect the hostility and disapproval from his old friends and the Argentine community, but he's determined to make a success of his new venture and to help Victoria with the changes in her life. His father Antonio Ortelli was disappointed when Eric chose not to go to law school but he tries to understand his son's new business. Antonio tries to offer his advice and get involved in Eric's business, but his optimism and business naivete threatens their fragile relationship. Lucia Ortelli is happy just to have her family together in one roof. Lucia can't help dreaming that her Eric will fall in love with her best friend's daughter Victoria and that the young couple will choose to make their lives in the neighborhood.

I thoroughly enjoyed Evenings at the Argentine Club for many reasons. What I loved most about the book is how it captures so well the longings, sacrifices, and the compromises that accompany the immigrant experience. Each person balances the desire to succeed in their new country with the love and longing for a place or time that was left behind.

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September 25, 2009), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by Hatchette Book Group.

About the Author, courtesy of Amazon:

Julia Amante, women's fiction author, lives in California in a home filled with bits and pieces of her Argentine heritage. Paintings of Argentine towns. A colorful leather map with the outline of Argentina. Pictures and trinkets. However, the real details of her beautiful culture unfolded gradually as she grew up the daughter of Argentine immigrants. Today, a product of the American Dream, Julia writes emotionally rich stories about family love, and the passion of chasing and achieving life's goals.

Julia is a proud mother and wife, a teacher, and a lover of life and it's many gifts. Following her passion to detail life in writing as well as share the joys of writing with other aspiring writers, Julia is currently pursuing an MFA. Julia has presented workshops at the Latino Book and Family Festival, the Mexican-American Organization Foundation, the Latina Business Women Organization, as well as in colleges such as the University of California, Riverside, Cal. State Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara City College.

Thank you so much to Hatchette Book Group for this opportunity!

If you'd like your own copy of this book, do enter the Hatchette Book Group Hispanic Heritage Celebration Contest at Harlem Writer until Oct 20. Find out more at