Archive for September, 2010

Giveaway – The Postcard Killers – James Patterson

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Thanks to Brad at Hachette Book group I”m able to offer my readers 3 copies of this book. To enter, follow these simple rules:

1) One Entry if you’re a follower [You can follow through Google Friend connect to the right, you can also sign up to follow through Twitter or Facebook].
2) An Additonal Entry if you blog about this contest.
3) An Additonal Entry if you’re a new follower.
4) One entry each for posting on facebook and/or twitter.
5) Must leave a comment letting me know how you follow me, blog link to this post, facebook/twitter link, etc.
6) Contest will continue until October 13, 2010.
7) This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada. No PO Box addresses (street mailing only).

See our review here.

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Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

 

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316069884
ISBN-13: 978-0316069885
Order Book from here:
amazon
Order E-Book here:
 
 
 

I love meat. There’s nothing like a bacon and tomato sandwich, or a juicy cheeseburger. I grew up eating meat. Add Potatoes to the mix, and you’d have the staple product of my diet. Vegetarianism always seemed liked a whacked out idea to me. Eating only vegetables, who could do that. And Vegans, forget about it. No Milk, No Cheese, no Diary Products? What No Ice Cream, surely you jest.

I originally started reading this book under the assumption that it was a man’s journey to discover why we eat the things we do as a culture, and not like other cultures. And in fact, that’s how it started out, wondering why we eat cows, pigs, and chickens, but not cats and dogs.

But then the book became disturbing. Disturbing because it made me confront things that I’d never fully considered. Things such as the amount of fecal waste that gets pumped into the air, water supply, etc. from animal factory farms. Things such as how the animals are tortured in these factory farms. Torture including broken bones, being boiled alive, sexually assaulted, skinned while alive, etc.

The author breaks the book up into four primary areas chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows. He goes behind the scenes to farms that are trying to go back to the old ways of Animal Husbandry vs. the new growth science. He talks to people who’ve worked at the factory farms. Some of the things in the book, both in the treatment of the animals, and also some of the stuff that actually goes into our food, will turn the reader’s stomache.

All this is done so that we can have cheap eggs and meat. I didn’t know prior to reading this book that modern turkeys (unless they are special breeds) can no longer reproduce through modern means. Chickens are manipulated so that they lay way more eggs than normal.

This book made me re-think my stance on things. I don’t think I can go cold-turkey on eating meat,, but I know I definitely want to try cutting down on the amount of meat I consume, and will be more careful about the companies I purchase from. Smithfield Farms and Perdue were listed as two of the worst.

If you are into animal welfare, or are vegetarian, or want an eye opening view of what goes on in factory farms, then pick up this book. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Beware though, there is a lot of strong language, and descriptions that are not for the young or faint of heart. I don’t think you could read this book with it having some effect on you.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at Hachette Book Groups for a review copy of this book.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

City in Shadow – Evan Marshall

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

 

 

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Severn House Publishers (November 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0727869213
ISBN-13: 978-0727869210
Order from here:
amazon
 
 
 

Characters:

Anna Winthrop – Sanitation Worker and Amateur Detective.
Santos Reyes – NYPD Police Officer.
Nettie Clouchet – Blogger and wannabe journalist.
Eddie Pushkar – Nettie’s estranged boyfriend.
Patti – Anna’s Cousin

Synopsis:

Anna Winthrop sells a desk to a Ukrainian man. While he and his partner are loading the desk, Anna sees a note fall from the truck. The note say’s Help Me. Thus begins the latest in what Evan Marshall calls The Hidden Manhattan Mysteries. A subplot involves Anna’s downstairs neighbor Nettie, and her abusive ex boyfriend Eddie. Nettie is secretly writing a book involving Anna, and is trying to uncover everything she can about Anna. This brings the two of them together into this case. A smaller subplot involves Anna’s cousin Patti who is staying with her for a while, and mysteriously going into strange areas of Manhattan.

Review:

This is my first time reading one of Mr. Marshall’s mysteries. I read a book of his previously, The Marshall Plan for Writing® (See Review here). I was eager to review this when I was contacted, because I wanted the chance to see how his process played out in practice.

I liked the subplots. There were some areas where you have to suspend some reality, such as Anna flying all over the country on her salary. But if you can do that, it’s an enjoyable, but short mystery. People will die, dead bodies will show up, and it will keep you turning the pages.

Once I got into the storyline of this, I was up until 4:00 in the morning to finish it. There were a few loose ends, that I’m not sure if they were intentional or if the ball was dropped. But overall, I enjoyed the story, and think you would too. There was some strong language, and violent situations, as well as an adult theme, so I’d say only older teens and adults on this.

One nice aspect, was at the end Mr. Marshall explained certain hidden areas of Manhattan that the characters had visited (Thus the Hidden Manhattan title). I found that an interesting aspect to the story.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book.  It in no way influenced my review.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Jesus Outside the Box – Mark Townsend

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

 

 

Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: O Books; Reprint edition (September 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1846943264
ISBN-13: 978-1846943263
Order from here:
amazon
 
 
 

This is my second time being able to review one of Rev. Townsend’s books. And I wasn’t disappointed. While the book was rather short, it was effective. The basic premise of the book is to take many of the Jesus stories and present them from a different angle. For example, there is the story of the 5 loaves and fishes, presented from the view of the young boy who provided the food.

It reminded me of books such as 1001 Arabian Nights, or books I’ve read where they take a particular event, and show it through the eyes/emotions of those around the event.

I think anyone who has heard thes stories will like this book. I don’t think you necessarily have to be Christian to appreciate it. There are a few strong words, so it might not be for the younger children, but for older teens and adults I think it would be appropriate.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Mark for a review copy of this book, it in no way influenced my review.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Oogy: The Dog only a Family Could Love – Larry Levin

Monday, September 20th, 2010

 

 

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 12, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446546313
ISBN-13: 978-0446546317
Order from here:
amazon
 
 
 

Oogy didn’t have an easy time coming into life. At about two months old, he was used as a bait dog. A bait dog is used to train other dogs for fighting. Oogy had the left side of his face destroyed, his jaw broken, and his left ear ripped off. It seems he was pretty much left to die when the police found him.

A veterinarian and his assistant did all they could to keep Oogy alive. Then one day the Levin’s came into his life. Larry Levin and his two sons Noah and Dan were under the sad duty of taking their cat Mr. Buzzy to be put to sleep. It was there at the Vet that they met Oogy, and decided he needed to come home with them.

I could relate so much to this story, the abusive past, the family learning to overlook the physical damage and just love. And that is what Oogy’s family provided him, and what he’s provided his family.

This story was beautifully written. There were times I was deeply moved by Mr. Levin’s tale about Oogy. It was disturbing at times to read about the treatment the poor dog suffered. At one point I had to stop reading and put it aside because I was just too disturbed by the imagery. Although it always bothers me to hear these stories, I’m also never surprised. The Human being is capable of such inhumane acts against anyone perceived as weak.

If you get a chance to pick up this book, I think you’d fall in love with the story of Oogy as I did. Sometimes the most beautiful things don’t come in the most beautiful packages.

From the ASPCA site I found these 10 ways you can help stop dog fighting:

  • Support stronger laws. Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to keep up to date on dog fighting legislation in your state.
     
  • Alert the media! Your local newspaper and television station are always looking for stories, especially investigative ones—be sure to contact them about the cruelty and dangers of dog fighting.
     
  • Call or write your local law enforcement department and let them know that investigating dog fighting cruelty should be a priority. Dog fighting is a CRIME—and the police MUST investigate these cases.
     
  • Keep your eyes and ears open. If you suspect dog fighting in your own neighborhood, contact the police or your local animal control officer. Provide as much information as you can, such as the date and time you noticed something wrong, the address or location, and what led you to believe there was dog fighting taking place.
     
  • Protect your pets. Dog fighters sometimes steal companion animals to use as bait dogs. Don’t let your animals outside without supervision, and make sure they have proper identification tags and are microchipped.
     
  • Adopt a Pit Bull and let your perfect pooch be an ambassador for the breed! Be sure to read our Pit Bull adoption tips before you start your search.
     
  • Set a good example for others. If you are already the proud parent of a Pit Bull, be sure to always show them the love and good care that they deserve. And always let others know what great companions they make!
     
  • Volunteer! If your local shelter is facing a Pit Bull dilemma, volunteer to help keep adoptable Pit Bulls and Pit mixes mentally and physically fit by exercising them or taking them to obedience classes. You can also lead a chew-toy drive at work to collect rawhides or hard rubber playthings to keep them busy, or help create a fundraiser to support a free sterilization program for Pit Bulls in your local shelter.
     
  • Educate others in your community about the horrors of dog fighting and start a neighborhood watch program.
     
  • Teach your children. Do your kids have questions about dog fighting? Visit our children’s website, ASPCA Animaland, for information about dog fighting that’s written especially for kids.
  • *Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at Hachette Book Group  for a review copy of this book.  It in no way influenced my review.

    You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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    The Big Book of Christian Mysticism – Carl McColman

    Monday, September 20th, 2010

     

     

    Paperback: 320 pages
    Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing (August 1, 2010)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1571746242
    ISBN-13: 978-1571746245
    Order from here:
    amazon
     
     
     

    What is Christian Mysticism? It’s described as an experiential relationship with God, meaning actually experiencing God. Non Mystical religion, according to this book, is most often a behavioral religion, ie. if you behave in this manner, you are doing what’s right. Mysticism on the other hand is having a personal relationship with god, and not always as tied into the behavior or rules.

    I thought the book was very interesting in showing Christian Mysticism, and how it relates to other religious Mysticisms such as Kabbalah within Judaism, Sufism within Islam, Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism within Hinduism. They covered a lot of the more famous Mystics such as St. Francis of Assisi and St. Paul. The other included a very good bibliography for further reading, suggested books, and a listing of the more historical mystics.

    While I found the book very informative, I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t meet what I thought it was going to be. That was actually beginning steps in mysticism. But it did pique my interest enough that I plan to further prusue it as an interest, and learn more about it.

    If you are interested in Mysticism, or just want a beginner’s guide, than pick this up. I think you’d find it a good starting place.

    *Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Bonni at Red Wheel Weiser for a review copy of this book.  It in no way influenced my review.

    You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

    Bearers of the Black Staff – Terry Brooks

    Monday, September 20th, 2010

     

     

    Hardcover: 368 pages
    Publisher: Del Rey (August 24, 2010)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0345484177
    ISBN-13: 978-0345484178
    Order from here:
    amazon
     
     
     

    Characters:

    Sider Ament – Last of the Knights of the Word
    Panterra Qu – Male Tracker
    Prue Liss – Female Tracker
    Phryne Amarantyne – Elven Princess

    Synopsis:

    500 Years after The Children of the Hawk were led into the new world, the barrier protecting it is breaking down. Creatures from the old world are getting through. Panterra and Prue find this out when they discover the bodies of two other trackers near the barrier. They find that the killers of their friends were two creatures they’d never seen. Meeting Sider Ament, someone they’d heard rumors of from childhood, they are told about the border breaking down, and given the task to warn the people. However, that task isn’t as easy as it seems.

    Review:

    I’m a big Terry Brooks fan. I have to run out each time a new book is released and purchase a copy. This was no exception. Like most of his books though, it’s not a complete series. That being said, it sometimes leaves you wanting more. I did want more after the story. There was a big buildup, and now I have to wait until the next book to find out how things are resolved. However, I can’t complain about that. I had it happen in a previous book, the character felt something grab his hand, and then I didn’t find out until a year later what happened. So Cliffhangers are pretty much a staple for Mr. Brooks.

    There was a lot you expect from the Fantasy genre such as this. There were betrayals, those who didn’t appear to be what they seem, those who refuse to believe there’s a problem, etc. A lot of obstacles for the chacters to overcome. There are also a lot of relationship development with the characters. That is one of my favorite aspects. I feel the closeness of these characters, and can feel the genuine caring between them.

    If you like Fantasy and have read all of Mr. Brook’s other Shannara novels, I think you’d enjoy this one. If you haven’t read any of his books before, I’d suggest starting with either Sword of Shannara or Running with the Demon and building up to this book. Otherwise you might be left feelin a bit flat.

    You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

    George Hudson Blog Tour

    Monday, September 20th, 2010

    Today we are pleased to take part in our leg of Author George Hudson’s blog tour. Mr. Hudson is an urban fiction author, and his current novel is Drama. You can see the review of Drama here, and see a blog post by Mr. Hudson here. This blog tour is sponsored by B.K. Walker.

    Drama – George Hudson

    Monday, September 20th, 2010

     

     

    Paperback: 226 pages
    Publisher: GSH publishing; 1st edition (September 1, 2009)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0615314082
    ISBN-13: 978-0615314082
    Order from here:
    amazon
     
     
     

    This book covers the lives of four people. There’s Deb, Lisa, Tammy, and Shaun. Deb has just signed a contract that will take her advertising company into the big time. Deb is involved in a rocky relationship with record producer Frank. Her friend Tammy is engaged to Shaun, who runs an auto body upgrade shop. The third friend Lisa, is single, but currently seeing a man named Leon.

    The book shows the entire story from the perspective of the four main characters, Deb, Tammy, Lisa, and Shaun. You are taken through their lives, and the ups and downs. Drama was a very appropriate title for this book. There was lots of Drama. You get to see their side of the story, and events that happened to them, that the other characters don’t get to witness. I liked this technique. While Urban Lit is not my strongest area of knowledge, I liked the characters, and thought they were well crafted.

    If you are a fan of Urban Literature, or just like books with a lot of dram, then I’d recommend you pick up this book.

    See a guest post by Mr. Hudson on the subject of Urban Fiction here.

    *Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Mr. Hudson, his publicist, and BK Walker for a review copy of this book.  It in no way influenced my review.

    You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

    Guest Post – History of Urban Fiction – George Hudson

    Monday, September 20th, 2010

    Since I am an author and  publisher of Urban Literature, I though you all would be interested in the history of Urban Lit.  This is a genre of fiction known variously as “street lit,” “ghetto lit,” “urban lit” or “hip-hop lit” has begun registering impressive sales, catching the attention of the publishing industry. Previously sold as typewritten photocopies on street corners, these pulp-fiction books now appear in slick paperbacks available in bookstores and online, for instance on my website: http://www.gstreetchronicles.com. I found most of the following information on Wikipedia.

    Urban Fiction was (and largely still is) a genre written by and for African American’s.  Although my book Drama has universal appeal.. In his famous essay “The Souls of Black Folk,” W. E. B. Du Bois discussed how a veil separated the African American community from the outside world.[1] By extension, fiction written by people outside the African American culture could not (at least with any degree of verisimilitude) depict the people, settings, and events experienced by people in that culture. Try as some might, those who grew up outside the veil (i.e., outside the urban culture) simply could not write fiction truly grounded in inner-city and African American life.

    In 1965, The Autobiography of Malcom X was published. Because this non-fictional read captured the realistic nature of African American urban life for coming-of-age young men, the book has consistently served as a standard for reading among African American teenaged boys.

    In the 1970s, during the culmination of the Black Power movement, a jailed Black man named Robert Beck took the pen name Iceberg Slim and wrote Pimp, a dark, gritty tale of life in the inner-city underworld. While the book contained elements of the Black Power agenda, it was most notable for its unsparing depiction of street life. Iceberg Slim wrote many other novels and attained an international following. Some of the terminology he used in his books crossed over into the lexicon of Black English.

    During the 1980s and early 1990s, urban fiction in print experienced a decline. However, one could make a cogent argument that urban tales simply moved from print to music,[3] as hip hop music exploded in popularity, with harsh, gritty stories such as “The Message” and “Dopeman,” set to a driving, strident drum rhythm. Of course, for every emcee who signed a recording contract and made the airwaves, ten more amateurs plied the streets and local clubs, much like urban troubadours telling urban fiction in an informal, oral manner rather than in a neat, written form.  Hip Hop lit in print form, though, is thriving.[

    Toward the end of the 1990s, urban fiction experienced a revival, as demand for novels authentically conveying the urban experience increased, and new business models enabled fledgling writers to more easily bring a manuscript to market. With this new wave of renaissance street lit comes a whole new ballgame when it comes to promotion and exposure. Aside from hand-to-hand sales, which seems to work best in a genre where word-of-mouth has proven to be worth more than any large ad campaign, the Internet has increased the authors and publishers the ability to reach out to the genre’s readers. With Internet savvy, many self-published authors who once had no shot of recognition are now household names.

    You are all invited to my website to investigate the books that fit this genre very well.