Saturday, December 12, 2009

Free flu vaccines through weekend clinics & health centers in NYC

The City is making the H1N1 flu vaccine available for free through health clinics and weekend clinics in all 5 boroughs. This weekend's five vaccine clinics will admit any New Yorker who is at least 4 years old, including any healthy adult who would like to be vaccinated. Learn more about the NYC flu vaccination program at

R & I just went to the Brooklyn weekend clinic which was very organized and well run. There was barely a wait at 9:30 am.

If you'd like to check out the closest health center or weekend clinic near you, go to This is supposed to be the last of the weekend clinics, so it's worth making the trip.

Here's a quick list of the 5 weekend clinics:

I.S. 127 Castle Hill (X127)
1560 Purdy Street, The Bronx
Sat. Dec 12 9 am - 6 pm
Sun. Dec 13 9 am - 5 pm

P.S. 186 Dr. Irving Gladstone (K186)
7601 19th Ave., Brooklyn
Sat. Dec 12 9 am - 6 pm
Sun. Dec 13 9 am - 5 pm

George Washington High School (M465)
549 Audubon Avenue, Manhattan
Sat. Dec 12 9 am - 6 pm
Sun. Dec 13 9 am - 5 pm

I.S. 25 Adrien Block (Q025)
34-65 192nd Street, Queens
Sat. Dec 12 9 am - 6 pm
Sun. Dec 13 9 am - 5 pm

Staten Island:
I.S. 24 Myrna Barnes (R024)
225 Cleveland Avenue, Staten Island
Sat. Dec 12 9 am - 6 pm
Sun. Dec 13 9 am - 5 pm

Friday, December 11, 2009

A quick thank you

I love books - browsing, reading, trying to think of which friends and family members might enjoy a particular story or book. Even as a kid, I would spend a large part of my allowance on books. When I lived in the Philippines and studied in the U.S. for boarding school or college, I would fill my suitcase and backpack with the hard to find books. Months worth of reading. I would stockpile books for the day that I'd graduate and relocate to Asia.

These months of book reviews have been an unparalleled experience for me. There's the excitement of looking at a beautiful cover and interesting blurb, then receiving the book - wading through it and describing it to friends here on Starting Fresh.

I've always had immense respect for writers. I've loved interviewing and hosting guest posts. I hope that you've come across new books and writers at Starting Fresh. I'm incredibly grateful to the publishers, authors, book tour promoters and agents that have generously given me the chance to review these books. (Thank you!!)

It's hard to fit in everything that I'd like to do - visit other blogs, read all the books that interest me, write reviews, read up on authors, and do the other things that occupy my life. For the other bloggers out there, how do you balance everything? How has this year been for you?

I also just wanted to thank you guys for visiting, reading, and commenting. You've made this a wonderful experience for me. If you have any suggestions on how to improve this blog, I'd love to constructive criticism. Feel free to comment below or to write me at gaby317nyc at

Winners of Nelson DeMille's The Gate House

Winners of Nelson DeMille's The Gate House

beapangilinan.0921 - confirmed
kmkuka - confirmed
tiramisu392 carlos - confirmed
booklover0226 - confirmed
womackcm - confirmed

I've contacted the winners who have until noon on Monday to send me their mailing addresses. Thanks for participating!

Thanks so much to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway!

Winner of Judi Fennell's Mer Novels

Congratulations! Wanda (aries18) won Judi Fennell's In Over Her Head and Wild Blue Under. - confirmed

Please send me your mailing address by noon on Monday and I'll forward your details to the publisher who will send you the book directly. Thanks for participating!

Thanks so much to Danielle, Sourcebooks and Judi Fennell for sponsoring this giveaway!

Hatchette Audio Book Winners

I'm sorry for to send this out so late - here are the winners to the Hatchette Audio Book giveaways! Congratulations!

Winners of Michael Connelly's Nine Dragons

bgcchs - confirmed
dakota - confirmed

Winners of Uwem Akpan's Say You're One of Them

enyl - confirmed
bekki1820cb - confirmed
janemaritz -confirmed

Winners of Malcolm Gladwell's What The Dog Saw and Other Adventures

catss99 - confirmed
r_lapus - confirmed
sharon54220 - confirmed

Winners of David Baldacci's True Blue

Bethie (lizzi0915) - confirmed
lahlstedt - confirmed
tbranco - confirmed

Winners of Dr. Jane Goodall's Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink

walkerd - confirmed
allisonsattic - confirmed
tanyainjville - tony - confirmed

Winners of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Cheating Death: The Doctors and the Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds

redbike599 - confirmed
copperllama - confirmed
merryweatherbookblog - confirmed

Winners of Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman's NurtureShock

daanel - confirmed
jason - confirmed
rsgrandinetti - confirmed

Winners of Robert Feldman's The Liar In Your Life: The Way to Truthful Relationships

pbclark - confirmed
Aitmama - confirmed
ssummmer - confirmed

I've emailed the winners and they have until noon on Monday to send me their contact details. Thanks so much for participating!

Thank you so much to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for generously sponsoring these giveaways!

Winners of The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton

Winners of The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton

wheresmyrain - confirmed
librarygrinch - confirmed
dorcontest - confirmed
lizzi0915 - confirmed
cenya2 - confirmed

I've contacted the winners and they have until noon on Monday to send me their mailing addresses. Thank you so much for participating!

Thank you so much to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway!

Winners of The Lovely Bones (audio) by Alice Sebold

Winners of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

chinook92 - confirmed
r_lapus - confirmed

Congratulations! I've emailed the winners and they have until noon on Monday to send me their mailing addresses. Thanks so much for participating!

Thank you to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway!

Friday 56: Week 23

* 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:

"I found your rig on my property." Henry pointed vaguely. "I've returned it."

- The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Book Review of The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox

The Magic WarbleThe blurb:
Dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals, and an evil queen - all these and more can be found in The Magic Warble, an enchanting tale of adventure and friendship.

Twelve-year old Kristina Kingsly feels like the most unpopular girl in her school. The kids all tease her, and she never seems to fit in. But when Kristina receives an unusual Christmas gift, she suddenly finds herself magically transported to the land of Bernovem, home of dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals, and the evil Queen Sentiz.

In Bernovem, Kristina not only fits in, she's honored as "the chosen one" the only one who can release the land from Queen Sentiz's control. But it's not as simple as it seems. To save Bernovem, she must place the gift she was given, the most famous "Magic Warble," in its final resting place. And she must travel through the deep forest, climb a treacherous mountain, and risk capture by the queen's "zelbocks" before she reaches her destination. Guided by her new fairy friends, Clover and Looper and by Prince Werrien, a teenage boy, as well as an assortment of other characters, Kristina sets off on a perilous journey that not only tests her strength but her heart.

In The Magic Warble, Victoria Simcox creates a rich fantasy world full of magical creatures and villains. Bernovem has an elaborate magical world. I enjoyed the book but felt the book would have been stronger if there were more details about the nature of the quest facing "the Chosen One" (Kristina) and Prince Werrien at the start of the novel. Simcox makes clear that the Magic Warble has the power to restore the balance in Bernovem and that the land has suffered the loss of magic, but the steps that need to be taken to remove the evil queen and to help save Bernovem only become known towards the end of the novel, just before they must be performed. Overall, The Magic Warble is a fun and wholesome quest fantasy full of magical creatures - a tale of loyalty and friendship.

Publisher: Two Harbors Press (January 1, 2009) 276 pages.
Review copy provided by Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tours.

Thank you so much to Victoria Simcox, Dorothy and Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tours for this review opportunity!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book Review of Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds by Sanjay Gupta

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: When the heart stops beating, it's not the end. In fact, you might say that your troubles have only just begun. As it turns out, life and death is not a black-and-white issue. There is a gray zone - a faint no-man's land where you are neither truly dead nor actually alive. In order to control it, in order to cheat death, we have to first better understand it.
-Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds by Sanjay Gupta

Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds
The blurb:
An unborn baby with a fatal heart disease. . .a skier submerged for an hour in a frozen Norwegian lake. . . a comatose brain surgery patient whom doctors have declared a "vegetable."

Twenty years ago all of them would have been given up for dead, with no realistic hope for survival. But today, thanks to incredible new medical advances, each of these individuals is alive and well. . .Cheating Death.

In this riveting book, Dr. Sanjay Gupta - neurosurgeon, chief medical correspondent for CNN, and bestselling author - chronicles the almost unbelievable science that has made these seemingly miraculous recoveries possible. A bold new breed of doctors has achieved amazing rescues by refusing to accept that any life is irretrievably lost. Extended cardiac arrest, "brain death," not breathing for over an hour - all these conditions used to be considered inevitably fatal, but they no longer are. Today, revolutionary advances are blurring the traditional line between life and death in fascinating ways.

Drawing on real-life stories and using his unprecedented access to the latest medical research, Dr. Gupta dramatically presents exciting accounts of how pioneering physicians and researches are altering our understanding of how the human body functions when it comes to survival - and why more and more patients who once would have died are now alive. From experiments with therapeutic hypothermia to save comatose stroke or heart attach victims to lifesaving operations in utero to the study of animal hibernation to help wounded soldiers on far-off battlefields, these remarkable case histories transform and enrich all our assumptions about the true nature of life and death.

Sanjay Gupta shares stories of patients that had fallen within that gray zone where they are "neither truly dead or actually alive," and have subsequently benefited from good luck and medical expertise and recovered to lead productive lives.

I found the book fascinating. The clear and detailed descriptions of the medical cases and discoveries were riveting in and of themselves. For instance, learning how hypothermia can slow down the effect of lack of oxygen caused by a stroke or a heart attack is helpful, but it made a difference to learn that "next step." The use of hypothermia only became practicable when doctors discovered that it is essential to minimize the use of liquids when raising the body's temperature. By keeping the use of liquids to a minimum, the doctors are able to prevent the brain from expanding and avoid subsequent brain damage.

I hadn't known much about CPR and did not know that that survival rate from cardiac arrest outside of a hospital is rare. Did you know that only about 2% of the victims survive without long term damage? In certain parts of Arizona, people have a substantially better survival rate because of the use of a modified CPR technique and a public health effort to train more people in CPR. The number one thing that can save your life if you have a heart attack is to have a bystander who is trained in CPR and is willing to help.

The bystander rate of CPR is 20%, in large part because many people are hesitant about performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Through training and education programs, places like Seattle have a 50% rate of bystander CPR assistance and this has meant that the cardiac arrest survival rate in Seattle is much better than in other parts of the country.

Doctors studied the role of artificial respiration in emergency resuscitation and analyzed the three-phase model of cardiac arrest (electrical, circulatory and metabolic). I won't go into a technical explanation here, but the in the first 4 minutes, the heart has its own energy and has oxygen. The heart needs assistance in getting its beat back. Defibrillation works during this phase because it reinserts the heart's rhythm. From the 4 to 10 minute mark is the circulatory phase, the heart needs assistance to circulate oxygen. It is critical to have someone pump the heart artificially. If there is a delay pumping the heart because the rescuer is performing mouth-to-mouth,then the heart isn't receiving the oxygen that it needs. Sanjay Gupta and the doctors that he cites point out that the most important thing is to get the blood and oxygen moving by compressing the chest.

Those are just two examples of practical and revolutionary advances in medicine that Sanjay Gupta covers in Cheating Death. I found Cheating Death to be a fascinating read and recommend it to both laypersons and medical professionals both for the scientific innovations that it chronicles and for its clear writing style.

Publisher: Wellness Central; 1 edition (October 12, 2009), 304 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Sanjay Gupta, MD, is a practicing neurosurgeon and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital and assistant professor at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. He is a columnist for TIME magazine and chief medical correspondent at CNN. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Thanks so much to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

Book Review of True Blue by David Baldacci

I'd been dying to read a David Baldacci novel since I'd heard him speak at ThrillerFest this year. So, I jumped at the chance to review his latest detective thriller True Blue.

True Blue

Mason "Mace" Perry had been an outstanding cop in Washington D.C. - until her public arrest for armed robbery and drug use. Mace knows that she was kidnapped and framed for the crime, but she's lost her badge, her apartment, the life that she knew. Two years have passed and Mace has been released from prison. Now Mace's one goal is to clear her name and win back her badge. It helps that her sister, Police Chief Beth Perry, believes in her and will not be deterred from hunting down the truth of what had happened two years ago. Mace tries to recreate what had happened and to solve the mystery of who had set her up and why.

Mace accompanies Beth Perry at the her latest crime scene at a lucrative corporate law firm where a partner was discovered dead. Mace connects with Roy Kingman, the associate who discovered the body, and somehow Mace enlists Roy's aid in investigating the death and uncovering secrets. The routine homicide soon proves to be part of a complex crime. While Beth, Mace, and Roy must work together, Mace curb her reactions and instincts and learn to play by the rules.

The Perry sisters face an additional danger. U.S. attorney Mona Danforth is dead set against the Perry sisters. Danforth had sent Mace to jail the first time and is looking forward to sending Mace back to jail - and removing Beth from office.

Fast-paced, action packed, and full of plot twists, True Blue is a fun escape. Beth and Mace Perry are strong woman lead characters - which makes the book even more enjoyable. The relationship between the sisters gives True Blue an additional layer of complexity. True Blue was my first exposure to David Baldacci's writing and I am looking forward to the next Baldacci novel!

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (October 27, 2009), 464 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:

David Baldacci was born in Virginia, in 1960, where he currently resides. He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University and a law degree from the University of Virginia. Mr. Baldacci practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C., as both a trial and corporate attorney.

David Baldacci has published seventeen novels: Absolute Power, Total Control, The Winner, The Simple Truth, Saving Faith, Wish You Well, Last Man Standing, The Christmas Train, Split Second, Hour Game, The Camel Club, The Collectors, Simple Genius, Stone Cold, and The Whole Truth; and in his young adult series, Freddy and the French Fries: Fries Alive! and Freddy and the French Fries: The Adventures of Silas Finklebean. He has also published a novella for the Dutch entitled Office Hours, written for Holland's Year 2000 "Month of the Thriller." Baldacci authored a short story, "The Mighty Johns," as part of a mystery anthology published in 2002.

His works have been in numerous worldwide magazines, newspapers, journals, and publications. Baldacci has authored seven original screenplays. His books have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries. All of his books have been national and international bestsellers. Over 60 million copies of Mr. Baldacci's books are in print worldwide. Learn more about him at and his program to spread books across America at

Thanks so much to Valerie, Anna, and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

Cym Lowell's Book Review Blog Party + A Kindle

Cym Lowell's Book Review Party has an amazing prize this month - a Kindle!

How do you sign up? Head over to his blog and link up any book review (old or new, any genre).

Then follow these rules:

1. Add a permalink to your specific post, not the main page of your blog (only one review per blog).
2. List the name of your blog and then in parenthesis include a little information about your book review (title and/or author, genre etc.) Be sure to use spaces and limit characters to 75.
For example, Gaby @ Starting Fresh (The Riddle of Berlin by Cym Lowell, Thriller).3. Become a follower of my blog
4. Every week that you link up a blog review, you will be eligible for the monthly prize drawing (each week = 1 entry, for up to 3 entries this month). Friday, December 18th Cym will announce the winner of the Kindle.


Book Review of Knight of Pleasure by Margaret Mallory & giveaway

Knight of Pleasure (All the King's Men)

Lady Isobel Hume has been betrayed by the men in her life too often. Her father married her off to a much older man in exchange for riches. It hardly seems fair that after Lady Isobel Hume survived eight years of a difficult and loveless marriage, she discovers that her husband has left the entire estate to a "stranger" who made the dubious claim of being his son out of wedlock. Lady Isobel refuses to marry her husband's heir and instead agrees to accept a marriage arranged by her king to further the alliance with France.

Lady Isobel travels to Normandy to meet the King and await her betrothed. Lady Isobel is drawn to Sir Stephen Carleton, the reckless, devilishly charming companion to the King. Lady Isobel is relieved to discover that de Roche, her intended, is handsome and every bit as attractive as Sir Stephen. But Lady Isobel still finds herself drawn to Sir Stephen.

As far as Sir Stephen Carleton is concerned, the only woman worth marrying is taken. His sister-in-law Catherine has both beauty and virtue, but the others that he'd encountered seem almost interchangeable. The women he's known have been governed by their self-interest and desire for power and riches. But Sir Stephen is intrigued by Lady Isobel - not only is she strikingly beautiful but she's independent, intelligent, and loyal.

As friendship brings Sir Stephen and Lady Isobel, they work together to serve their King - and each other.

Kinght of Pleasure is a thoroughly enjoyable romantic read. Sympathetic characters, politics, intrigue, deep loyalty, and unexpected plot twists - Knight of Pleasure is sure to provide a fun escape during this hectic holiday season.

Publisher: Forever (December 1, 2009), 400 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Margaret Mallory recently surprised her friends and family by abandoning her legal career-and her steady job-to write tales of romance and adventure. At long last, she can satisfy her passion for justice by punishing the bad and rewarding the worthy-in the pages of her novels, of course. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two college-age children. Knight of Desire is her first book. Visit Margaret Mallory's website at

Participating Sites: Feature - 11/24 Review 12/1 Feature & Giveaway - 11/25 Review - 12/6 11/26 - Feature & Giveaway 12/4 - Review - Giveaway 11/26/2009 Review, Giveaway 11/27/2009 - Giveaway 11/27/2009 Giveaway 11/30/2009 Review, Giveaway 12/2/2009 Review, Giveaway 12/3/2009 Review, Giveaway 12/3/2009 Feature, Review, Giveaway 12/3/2009 Review, Giveaway 12/5/2009 Review, Giveaway 12/7/2009 - Review 12/8/2009 Review, Giveaway 12/8/2009 - Feature and Review 12/8/2009 - Giveaway 12/8/2009 - Review, Giveaway 12/8/2009


To enter, tell us if you've read any of Margaret Mallory's novels and which one you like best. Or
visit her website and share something that you've learned about her with the rest of us.

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 noon on December 31, 2009.

Thanks so much Anna and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity and sponsoring this giveaway!

Book Review of My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy

My Unfair Lady

Frontier-bred Summer Wine Lee was raised in Tombstone, Arizona learning how to shoot, use a knife, and generally take care of herself. When her father made a fortune in silver mines and railroads, he wanted her to have the advantages he never had and sent her to New York City for culture and society. Summer Wine Lee falls in love with an Astor but she is ridiculed for her lack of style and polish. To win over her beloved's family, Summer Wine goes to London to become a lady and be presented to the Queen. Summer reasons that if she can do this, then the Astors will accept her and she can marry the man she loves. She approaches the impoverished Duke of Monchester, a renowned wit, to strike a bargain.

Duke of Monchester is incredulous when he receives the message that the upstart American Summer Wine Lee wants his help to become a lady and be presented to the Queen. His contempt for wealthy Americans buying titles is well known. But Summer Wine's offer of one third interest in a railroad gives him pause. And when she pulls a knife out of her boot and offers him a twinkly smile, he goes against his better judgment and agrees. The duke's help saves Summer Wine from the worst snubs, but instead of changing Summer Wine, together they change how Society's definition of what's acceptable.

After Summer Wine Lee is accepted in London, the Duke can't bear to have her leave for her old love in New York. He can't help think that if her beloved Monte loved her, he would accept her for who she is. When will she reach the same realization?

My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy is a fun retelling of My Fair Lady. Both Summer Wine Lee and the Duke of Monchester are engaging and sympathetic characters. If you're looking for a romantic read and a quick escape - this will surely hit the spot!

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (December 1, 2009), 384 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Thanks so much to Danielle and SourceBooks for this review opportunity!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Review of Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley

Supreme Courtship
The blurb:
U.S. President Vanderdamp is so angry at the Senate for rejecting his Supreme Court nominees that his next choice is a doozy: Judge Pepper Cartwright, star of the most popular reality show on TV, Courtroom Six.
Will Pepper, a vivacious Texan, survive her confirmation battle? Will it ruin her love life? And if she serves on the Court, how will she get along with her eight highly skeptical colleagues, including the Chief Justice who legalizes gay marriage only to lose his wife to another woman? Stay tuned. . .for a heady constitutional crisis, a reelection campaign the President wants to lose, and oral arguments of a very romantic nature.

Fast paced and witty, Supreme Courtship lampoons the politicized Supreme Court confirmation process and grandstanding Senators. Not surprisingly, the most sympathetic characters in this political novel the less ambitious ones: Pepper Cartwright, President Vanderdamp, and presidential advisor Graydon Clenndennynn. Full of absurd situations, Supreme Courtship is an unexpectedly fun and accessible read.

Publisher: Twelve; 1 edition (September 7, 2009), 304 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of Amazon:
Christopher Buckley is the author of fourteen books, including "Supreme Courtship," "Boomsday," and "Thank You For Smoking." He is editor-at-large of "ForbesLife" magazine, and was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor and the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence. He lives on the Acela train between Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Thanks so much to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

Review of Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby

Life after Genius
The blurb:
Theodore "Mead" Fegley has always been the smartest person he knows. By age twelve, he was in high school, and by fifteen he was attending a top-ranked university. Now at age eighteen, he's on the verge of proving the Reimann Hypothesis, an equation that has mystified mathematicians for years. But only days before graduation, Mead suddenly flees home to rural Illinois. What has caused him to run remains a mystery to all but Mead and a classmate whose quest for success has turned into a dangerous obsession.

As Mead embarks on a new life's journey - learning the family business of selling furniture and embalming the dead - he'll discover a surprising truth: that the heart may know what the head has yet to learn.

When we first meet Mead, he's just turned his back on college, fled, and returned to his hometown where he's regarded with as a genius and an oddball. His family is disappointed and puzzled at his reappearance. As Mead works at the family businesses, we slowly see the sacrifices that his family went through to help him succeed at University of Chicago as well as the adjustments and cost that Mead paid in his search to succeed and to stand out.

Life After Genius is a fun and interesting read. At times sad and poignant, and at times witty and humorous. It's about the cost of personal success and about the strength of love and family. It's a story that will stay with you long after finished the book.

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 28, 2009), 400 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

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


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Book Review of Hannibal's Elephant Girl by Ariion Kathleen Brindley

Hannibal's Elephant Girl

The blurb:
In 218 BCE, Hannibal took his army, along with 37 elephants, over the Alps to attack the Romans. Eleven years before this historic event, on the banks of a river near Carthage in North Africa, one of his elephants pulled a drowning girl from the turbulent waters. Thus began Liada's epic journey with the elephant known as Obolus.

Hannibal's Elephant Girl is set around 229 BC, when Hannibal was a young military commander, still living under the shadow of his father Commander Hamilcar Barcar and starting to win the respect of the troops. While Hannibal is a central character in the book, the story revolves around young Liada, after she is rescued from the river by the elephant named Obolus. Though Liada suffers from trauma-induced amnesia, she befriends the people around her and builds a new life.

The story is told from Liada's point of view as she makes sense of her surroundings. Yzebel, a kindly woman who runs one of the soldiers' eateries, takes Liada in. As Liada finds a home with Yzebel and her surly son Jabnet, you get a sense of Liada's sense of humor and responsibility. Liada's openness and industriousness wins her the friendship and respect of others in the community, including Bostar, the local baker, gentle Tendao, a priest's apprentice and Yzebel's son, the weavers, and Tin Tin Ban Sunia, a young slave girl who has stopped speaking. Liada and Yzebel rescue Tin Tin Ban Sunia from her cruel master, but make dangerous enemies.

Hannibal's Elephant Girl is an absorbing and heartwarming read. The characters are sympathetic and interesting. The plot is complex and has some unusual twists. I thoroughly enjoyed Hannibal's Elephant Girl and highly recommend it for young boys and girls alike.

Publisher: CreateSpace (June 16, 2009), 370 pages.
Review copy provided by the author.

Thank you, Ariion Kathleen Brindley, for this review opportunity!