Friday, February 26, 2010

Giveaway of The Crazy School by Cornelia Read

Thank you to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway of Cornelia Read's The Crazy School!

The Crazy School

About the Book:
Recently settled in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts, Madeline Dare now teaches at the Santangelo Academy, a boarding school for disturbed teenagers. But behind its ornate gates, she discovers a disorienting world where students and teachers alike must submit to the founder's bizarre therapeutic regimen. A chilling event confirms Maddie's worst suspicions, leading her to an even darker secret that lies at the academy's very heart. Now cut off from the outside world, Maddie must join forces with a small band of the school's most violently rebellious students - kids who, despite their troubled grip on reality, may well prove to be her only chance of survival.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Cornelia Read knows old-school WASP culture firsthand, having been born into the tenth (and last) generation of her mother's family to live on Oyster Bay's Centre Island. She was subsequently raised near Big Sur by divorced hippie-renegade parents. Her childhood mentors included Sufis, surfers, single moms, Black Panthers, Ansel Adams, draft dodgers, striking farmworkers, and Henry Miller's toughest ping-pong rival.

At fifteen, Read returned east, attending boarding school and college on full scholarship. While in New York, she did time as a debutante at the Junior Assemblies, worming her way back into the Social Register following her expulsion when a regrettable tantrum on the part of her mother's boyfriend's wife landed them all on "Page Six" of the New York Post.

Today, her Bostonian Great-Grandmother Fabyan's Society of Mayflower Descendants membership parchment is proudly displayed at the back of Read's tiny linen closet in Berkeley, California. She continues to rebel against familial tradition by staying married to a lovely sane man who is gainfully employed. They have twin daughters, the younger of whom has severe autism. Learn more at Cornelia Read's website at

Reading Group Guide:

1. Maddie is the only Santangelo Academy teacher who lives off campus. How does this affect her views of what is “normal”?

2. Wiesner tells Maddie she is “too whacked to maintain appropriate boundaries” and has issues with authority. Do you agree? Does anyone at Santangelo maintain “appropriate” boundaries?

3. Maddie claims she hates Mindy because she is so shallow. What does this assessment reveal about Maddie herself? How does the generally negative nature of Maddie’s worldview affect the outcome of this particular narrative?

4. Maddie wants to believe that Santangelo can “fix” her. What is broken in her life?

5. The school uses a lot of phrases such as “firing yourself ” and “doing a turn-in.” Many groups use language to create a shared sense of identity. When can this be beneficial, and when can this be dangerous?

6. What are the author’s views on therapy, as expressed by Maddie? Do you agree with her?

7. Why does Maddie stay on as a teacher at Santangelo? Is it only about the paycheck for her?

8. While he never appears in the novel, Maddie’s father is discussed twice during the course of the story. What impact do you think his mental illness has had on her development and on her issues with “authority”?

9. What might be different about this novel if Dean had a steady job? What do you think of his attitude about drug testing—is he standing up for individual rights, or should he put down the bong and get over himself already?

10. Could Maddie have been a more effective advocate for her students if she’d played by the Santangelo rules? What would this have meant for Fay and Mooney, specifically? Should she have “done a turn-in” with regard to their secret?

11. What impact has the advent of psychotherapeutic drugs such as Prozac had on the public perception of “talk therapy”?

12. Has the influence of such psychiatric authorities as Freud and Jung been diminished or enhanced by advances in our understanding of neurochemistry over the last two decades? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

13. How do you think Maddie will respond when she hears about the events of the final chapter? Did what happened change your perception of Wiesner and Sitzman?

14. Is the final word of the book, uttered by Sitzman, significant? Does its use here tie in with the discussion of campus prohibitions against it in chapter one? How would the novel be impacted if there were no profanity used by any of its characters?


To enter, please just share why you'd like a copy of this book.

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
2. You must be a follower to join the contest.

The contest is limited to US and Canada. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on March 21, 2010.
Thank you to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway!

Friday 56: Week 34

* 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:

He had the paper spread out against our little table and a tall milky glass of Cafe Bustelo waiting for me on the kitchen counter, sweetened to syrup just the way I like it.

- The Crazy School by Cornelia Read

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Blog Tour of Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass

Shadow BladeThe blurb:
For Kira Solomon, normal was never an option.

Kira's day job is as an antiquities expert, but her true calling is as a Shadowchaser. Trained from youth to be one of the most lethal Chasers in existence, Kira serves the Gilead Commission, dispatching the Fallen who sow discord and chaos. Of course, sometimes Gilead bureaucracy is as much a thorn in her side as anything the Fallen can muster against her. Right now, though, she's got a bigger problem. Someone is turning the city of Atlanta upside down in search of a millennia-old Egyptian dagger that just happens to have fallen into Kira's hands.

Then there's Khefar, the dagger's true owner - a near-immortal 4,000-year-old Nubian warrior who, Kira has to admit, looks pretty fine for his age. Joining forces is the only way to keep the weapon safe from the sinister Shadow forces, but now Kira is in deep with someone who holds more secrets than she does, the one person who knows just how treacherous this fight is. Because every step closer to destroying the enemy is a step closer to losing herself to Shadow forever....

Seressia Glass's Shadow Blade is a mix of fantasy and an urban action adventure. Kira Solomon is a mysterious heroine: supernaturally strong and psychically gifted with a strong sense of justice. Kira spends her days fighting the darkness in the world; each evening, she offers up the violence and trials of the day to Ma'at, the Goddess of Truth. Kira's biggest fear is that the light that she works for will be overpowered by the darkness of her actions. As Kira struggles through each day, she relies on her personal code of honor, the guidance of Ma'at, and the training from her mentor Balm of Gilead.

In Kira we have a strong action heroine, her physical and spiritual battles draw you in. When Kira and Khefar finally connect, we find that they both share a sense of isolation, a commitment to justice, and a superhuman strength. As Kira and Khefar face a deadly evil and risk the loss of everything that they value, Shadow Blade combines fast-paced action with fantasy to give us a fun, satisfying read.

ISBN-10: 1439156794 - Mass Market Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Pocket; Original edition (January 26, 2010), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:

Seressia has always been a voracious reader, cutting her teeth on comics, cereal boxes–anything at hand. So it came as no surprise to family and teachers when she began creating stories featuring some of her favorite characters. One of her earlier works included the autobiography of a piece of bubble gum, and a short Halloween story was turned into a PTA play in elementary school.

Her proudest writing moment remains winning the first Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday “Living the Dream” essay contest as a high school senior and getting to meet Coretta Scott King. Since then, she’s channeled her belief in the power of the written word by creating rich, emotional stories of diverse people coming together to achieve the universal goals of love and acceptance.

When not working on her next story, Seressia is an instructional designer for an international home improvement company. She spends her free time people-watching, belly dancing, and watching way too much anime. Learn more at Seressia Glass's website at

Participating Sites:

Pam’s Private Reflections:
The Cajun Book Lady:
Book, Books Everywhere:
Book Junkie:
I Heart Monster:
Carol’s Notebook:
My Guilty Pleasures:
The Neverending Shelf:
The Bibliophilic Book Blog:
Chaotic Book Obsession:
Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm:
Drey’s Library:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
Books Gardens & Dogs:
See Michelle Read:
The Wayfaring Writer:
Jen’s Book Talk:
Pick of the Literate:
Starting Fresh:
Booksie’s Blog:
Temple Library Reviews:
The Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object:
Dan’s Journal:
Cheryl’s Book Nook:
I Heart Book Gossip:
Geek Girl Reviews:
All Things Urban Fantasy:
Vision Quest Fail:
Wendy’s Minding Spot:
Eclectic Book Lover:
Parajunkee’s View:
You Wanna Know What I Think?:

Thank you so much to Sarah and PocketBooks for this review opportunity!

Winners of February Book Contests: A Good Talk and Prime-Time Health

Winners of Prime-Time Health by William Sears, M.D.

  1. delilah0180
  2. wandanamgreb
  3. retsbar2go
  4. mistyfuji
  5. womackcm

Winners of A Good Talk by Daniel Menaker

Congratulations! I've contacted the winners and they have until Friday evening to send me their mailing addresses. Thank you for participating and thank you to Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring these giveaways!

Winners of January Book Contests

I apologize for the late announcement! Here are the recent winners:

A Black Tie Affair by Sherrill Bodine
  1. Benita (bgcchs)
  2. Scottsgal (msboatgal)
  3. Misusedinnocence
  4. Pixie13 (gevin13)
  5. Sean (spynaert)

Sleep No More by Susan Crandall
  1. lizzi0915
  2. elaing8
  3. squiggles87
  4. theluckyladybug
  5. megalon22
When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

The Survivor's Club by Ben Sherwood
  1. cenya2
  2. justpeachy36
  3. nfmgirl
  4. walkerd
  5. steffanie771
Seduced by a Rogue by Amanda Scott

I've emailed the winners and they have until Friday evening to send me their mailing addresses.
Thank you for participating!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Blog Tour of Coming of the Storm: Book One of Contact: The Battle for America by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

Coming of the Storm: Book One of Contact: The Battle for America

The blurb:
Black Shell, an exiled Chickasaw trader, is fascinated by the pale, bearded newcomers who call themselves "Kristianos," and not even the wise counsel of Pearl Hand, the extraordinary and beautiful woman who has consented to be his mate, can dissuade him. It will unfortunately take a first-hand lesson in the Kristianos' unfathomable brutality for Black Shell to fully comprehend the dangers that these invaders pose to his people's way of life.

While his first instinct is to run away with Pearl Hand, somewhere the Kristianos cannot find them. Black Shell has been called to a greater destiny by the Spirit Being known as Horned Serpent. With Pearl Hand by his side, Black Shell must find a way to unite the disparate tribes and settlements of his native land and overcome the merciless armies of de Soto, which will stop at nothing to attain wealth and power.

Coming of the Storm starts a unique series set in America just as De Soto and the Spanish explorers attempt conquest. The Gears weave in historical facts and details which give the story an additional layer. But the best part of Coming of the Storm is Black Shell's awakening to the danger of the Kristianos. When Pearl Hand and Black Shell decide to face an enemy crueler and stronger than any they imagined possible, Coming of the Storm becomes a story of hope and courage.

While I wasn't drawn to the scenes with dreams and visions and portents for the future, I enjoyed the passages where Pearl Hand and Black Shell interacted with the Kristianos. I look forward to learning what happens next - in Book Two of Contact.

ISBN-10: 1439153884 - Hardcover $26.00
Publisher: Pocket (February 9, 2010), 496 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Authors, courtesy of the publisher:
W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear are the authors of over twenty international bestsellers that have been translated into 23 languages. Their novel People of the Raven won the Golden Spur Award in 2005. In addition to writing both fiction and nonfiction together and separately, the Gears operate an anthropological research company called Wind River Archeological Consultants, and raise buffalo on their ranch in northern Wyoming.

Participating Sites:

Frugal Plus:
Book Junkie:
Book, Books Everywhere:
Pam’s Private Reflections:
Reading at the Beach:
My Reading Room:
Starting Fresh:
Confessions of an Overworked Mom:
Just One More Paragraph:
I Read:
Simply Stacie:
Thoughts in Progress:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
Booksie’s Blog:
Pick of the Literate:
Blog Business World:
The Book Tree:
Cheryl’s Book Nook:
Vision Quest Fail:

Thank you to the authors, Sarah and Pocket Books for this review opportunity!

Book Review and giveaway of Adriana Trigiani's Very Valentine

Adriana Trigiani's just released the paperback edition of Very Valentine, the first in the series featuring Valentine Roncalli. Harper Collins is sponsoring a giveaway of 3 copies of Adriana Trigiani's Very Valentine, the first in the series.
Very Valentine pb
"Valentine, I am eighty years old on my next birthday. How much longer can I..." She stops and reconsiders what she is trying to say. "You do most of what needs to be done around here in the shop, in the house, and even in the garden."

"And I love it so much I'll be a burden to you all your life," I joke. "The last single woman in our family sleeping in your spare room."

"Not for now and forever. You will fall in love again." She raises her glass to me.

My grandmother has a way of encouraging me that is so gentle, it is only when I'm alone and reflective that I am able to recall her small turns of phrase that eventually shore me up and help me move forward. When she says
, You will fall in love again, she means it, and also recognizes that I was once in love with a good man, Brett Fitzpatrick, and it was real. I had planned a future with him, and when it did not work out, she was the only person in my life who said it wasn't supposed to. Everyone else (my sisters, my mother, and my friends) assumed he wasn't enough or maybe he was too much, or maybe ours was a first love that wasn't meant to go the distance,but no one else was able to put it in perspective so I might make it a chapter in the story of my life, and not the definitive denouement of my romantic history.
-Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

In Very Valentine, Adriana Trigiani first introduces us to Valentine Roncalli and her lively and memorable Italian American family. The book opens at Valentine's sister's wedding and predictably, Valentine is surrounded by pitying looks for her unmarried state and compliments on her decision to "help her grandmother" with the family business. But these are the impressions of outsiders - Valentine loves her life.

Valentine, the self-described "Funny One" of the three Roncalli sisters, takes us to the beautiful building in the middle of Greenwich Village that serves as her home and the center of the Angelini Shoe Company. The workshop, the upstairs apartment, and the gorgeous roof deck all have the details and handmade improvements that have served the Angelini family for over 100 years and are used well everyday. It's in this workshop and home that Teodora Angelini teaches her granddaughter Valentine the techniques and skills to design and create one-of-a-kind shoes using the same tools and methods that she learned from her Italian husband and his family. Valentine loves her work, so when she discovers that the company is facing insolvency, things come to a head.

While Valentine's brother pushes Teodora to sell the building in Greenwich Village and to live comfortably off of the proceeds, Valentine solicits the help of an old friend to find other ways to pay off the looming bank loans. Valentine's solution is to expand Angelini Shoe Company's product line - to find a shoe that will go beyond their custom line and that can reach out to ordinary women. When Valentine and her grandmother are invited to participate in a design competition at Bergdorf Goodman, things start to pick up.

Valentine's love life has started to blossom as well with the attentions of gorgeous and charming Roman Falconi, chef and owner of a hot new restaurant in Manhattan. The only downside is that Roman, like Valentine, runs his own business. They don't get to spend enough time with each other - she's busy at their workshop and he's constantly at his restaurant.

Teodora invites Valentine on her annual trip to Italy - she can meet the suppliers and other shoe designers and makers. And Roman has planned a special week in Capri so that they can focus on each other for a change. The trip in la belle Italia turns Valentine's life upside down and brings her much more than she could have imagined.

Very Valentine was my first Adriana Trigiani novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Valentine and Teodora take us to those cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village and give us a glimpse into what it must have been like to live there before it became fashionable. As Valentine takes us to her haunts in Manhattan, it's easy to get drawn into the magic of her life. I found myself hoping that she'd somehow prove her brother wrong and turn the company around.

I love the way Valentine describes her early relationship with Roman, just as she tries to keep things together:

"Despite the depth of my feelings (and his), I sometimes wonder how we can build a relationship when we hardly see each other. I remember reading an interview with Katherine Hepburn. She said that a woman's job in a relationship with a man was to be adorable. I attempt to be a no-fuss, stress-free, supportive girlfriend who is more than aware of the pressures he has at work, so I don't pile on more. To be fair, he does the same for me. I figure as long as we're both in the same place, I imagine this arrangement will work just fine and get us to the next level (whatever that is)."

Very Valentine gives us a story of self discovery, sisterhood, friendship, love, and New York. Very Valentine is a witty, touching, and satisfying read!

ISBN-10: 0061257060 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 5, 2010), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap series and the bestselling novels Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; and Rococo; as well as Viola in Reel Life, the first book in a new young adult series. She has written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. Learn more on Adriana Trigiani's website at

Listen to Adriana Trigiani discuss Very Valentine on Blog Talk Radio.

The second in the series, Brava, Valentine was released hardcover on February 9, 2010.


To enter, tell us if you enjoy historical fiction. If so, please share which period you particularly enjoy reading about or a time period that you'd like to learn about. If you don't like historical fiction, what period of history or historical figures do you enjoy reading about?

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
2. You must be a follower to join the contest.

The contest is limited to US and Canada. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on March 21, 2010.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New York Challenge

I read about Fizzy Thought's New York Challenge through a young blog, Books in the City. Fizzy Thoughts came up with the New York Challenge in part because she's excited for the upcoming BEA and the Book Blogger Convention that are both coming up this May 2010.

Here are the rules of the New York Challenge, as set forth by Fizzy Thoughts:

1. The challenge runs from February 1st through May 15th, 2010.

2. Between now and May 15th, read 1 (one) book set in New York City and post your review. The book can be non-fiction or fiction, poetry or prose, graphic novel or audio book…whatever floats your boat. It can even be a guidebook. It just has to have New York City as its primary setting. And no fair using a book you’ve already read.

3. Here's the link to the separate post with a Mr Linky for everyone to post their reviews. Head over there to sign up!

4. Each month I will also post a sort of mini-challenge asking people to write a post about New York. You do not have to participate in any of these, the goal is to have a fun collection of posts by the time BEA arrives. Each mini-challenge will have a New York themed prize for one of the participants. Here's the link to Fizzy Thoughts's February mini-challenge.

Books in the City, as part of the February Mini-Challenge, recently shared her list of the top places to read in NYC . Thanks to her list, I have a few more places to explore! Check it out!

And if you haven't signed up for BEA or the Book Blogger Convention, do consider participating. It'll be fun - it can be as hectic or relaxed as you wish. Registration for the Book Blogger Convention is ongoing and ends on April 30, 2010. The $115 is fully refundable, if you find that you have to cancel. Use this link to reserve your place for the Book Blogger Convention. You'll automatically be registered for the BEA when you sign up for the convention.

Book Blogger Convention