30 August 2011

All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

U.S.: $16.99 Canada: $18.99
ISBN: 9780740797576
Format: Hardcover
On Sale: October 18, 2011 — Coming soon! 

Inside All Wound Up, New York Times best-selling author and self-proclaimed Yarn Harlot Stephanie Pearl-McPhee spins her third yarn on knitting for the 60 million knitters in North America who collectively spend $45 billion a year on knitting-related merchandise.
In her trademark style, McPhee talks about knitting, parenting, friendship, and—gasp!—even crocheting in essays that are at times touching, often hilarious, and always entertaining. Fans of her popular blog at www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/ will adore this all-new collection of tales of the woolen and silky skein, which follow the Yarn Harlot's previous exploits chronicled inside Yarn Harlot and Free-Range Knitter.


Well.  What can I say about Stephanie Pearl- McPhee's latest book?  I want to tell you how I had to stop reading this book in public less I look like a loon.  Ms. McPhee's sense of humor and witty use of language had me laughing uncontrollably.  Giggles would erupt unexpectedly as I would suddenly remember a passage from the book.  Her relationship with her craft is genuine and her connection to the reader is so very...real.  This is an honest woman being honestly funny telling the truth the best way she knows how.  And she shines.  Buy it and love it but be prepared to read it alone.


Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Image of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is the author of Yarn Harlot, At Knit's End, Knitting Rules!, and Casts Off. She maintains a popular blog at www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/. She lives with her family in an untidy, wool-filled house in Toronto, where she avoids doing the laundry and knits whenever she gets a minute.
This biography was provided by the author or their representative.

29 August 2011

It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil – Giveaway!

Do you sometimes feel like a gerbil running on a wheel inside a cage as you scurry from place to place, chauffeuring your children from one endless activity to another? What if, for one moment, you could just step off of the wheel . . . and relax? How would you feel then? And what if that single moment could stretch into an hour, or even a whole day? In his new book, It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil, Kevin Leman will provide practical solutions and helpful insight to get off the activity wheel so that you can put your time and energies where they really count: in establishing strong character and a love for home and family that will serve your kids well for a lifetime.
Want to help promote this idea to your friends and family and possibly win something for it?
Here’s how you can help:
-          Visit the It’s Your Kid Not A Gerbil Facebook page and become a fan
-          Invite at least 10 friends to become a fan of the It’s Your Kid Not A Gerbil Facebook page.
-          Share a link to this contest page on your own Facebook page or on Twitter.
-          Write a blog post linking to this contest page.
Each task you complete counts as an entry into our giveaway.  We’ll draw names at random from all the entries, here’s what you can win:
3 Random people will win a prize pack of Kevin Leman books
5 Random people will win a copy of It’s Your Kid, Not A Gerbil
1 Random person will win an iPod Touch
We’ll announce the winners on September 9th!
Enter Here
Good Luck!

26 August 2011

Treasured Amish & Mennonite Recipes

Publication Date 01 October 2011


Whoopie Pies and Chow Chow - These Recipes are the Real Deal

New book includes AUTHENTIC Amish and Mennonite entrees, baked goods, jams, jellies and more

(LANCASTER, PA) From generations of women cloaked in dark, plain clothing comes a collection of country fare for your family - Treasured Amish & Mennonite Recipes (Fox Chapel Publishing, October 1, 2011).

The new edition of this cook book includes 600 delicious recipes from the kitchens of real Amish and Mennonite families, with 50 new to this version.

Dishes include country kitchen favorites, like chicken pot pie, apple butter, ham loaf, classic mashed potatoes and much more. There's endless appetizers, dips, soups, salads and dressings, casseroles, pickles, relishes, sauces, pies, tarts among other items that reflect the German heritage and agricultural roots of these notably peaceful people.

The recipes are easy to make and require no special ingredients. In fact, many of the items might be growing in your garden or on backyard trees. Readers will also be delighted by interesting facts, and fun stories about the recipes. Using this cook book in your kitchen will provide delicious meals and plenty of fun, family time at the table.

Cute cookbook that gives the reader a glimpse into the Amish and Mennonite worlds.  This book is packed with trusted and traditional recipes.  Casseroles, stews, soups, mains, salads, beverages it's all in here.  If you don't already have a basic go to cook book this could be a good choice for you.

About the Author: 

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) works alongside local churches and communities in more than 50 countries, including Canada and the United States, to carry out disaster relief, sustainable community development, justice and peace-building work in the name of Christ. MCC also seeks to build bridges to connect people and ideas across cultural, political and economic divides.

* I received a free copy from the publisher for purposes of review. I was in no way obligated to write a review much less a favorable one. The opinions stated herein are all my own.

20 August 2011

Zero G-The Weightless Experience

19 August 2011

HAVANA REAL by Yoani Sánchez

9781935554257 / eBook: 9781935554912

One Woman Fights to Tell the Truth About Cuba Today

A diary of life inside Havana by one of Cuba's few bloggers--a worldwide sensation. 

Yoani Sánchez is an unusual dissident: no street protests, no attacks on big politicos, no calls for revolution. Rather, she produces a simple diary about what it means to live under the Castro regime in Cuba: the chronic hunger and the difficulty of shopping; the art of repairing ancient appliances; the struggles of living under a propaganda machine that pushes deep into public and private life. For these simple acts of truth-telling her life is one of constant threat.
But she continues on, refusing to be silenced—a living response to all who have ceased to believe in a future for Cuba.


I'm reading Havana Real. My thoughts turn to my youth in the seventies. I remember watching news coverage showing, what seemed to me, valiant people daring shark infested seas in search of freedom. Their 'boats' little more than flimsy rafts pieced together from the most unlikely parts: old tires, planks of plywood, the shell of an old rusting car. I remember seeing the US Coast Guard waiting beyond an invisible barrier silently cheering the refugees on, waiting to bring them to freedom. These were days just after the Cuban Missile crisis and my country was still fearful of our neighbors, fearful of the might of a little island with a strong and passionate leader. Every Cuban that crossed that imaginary boundary in the middle of the Atlantic was a victory for freedom and even I, as a child, was touched by their bravery.
It's been many years since I was first exposed to the desperate plight that plagues this small island yet the struggle of Cubans still wages on. I recently met a man that told me his story. He first tried to come to The US as a young man, still in his teens. His crossing was not successful and he and his raft mates were caught somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic between America and Cuba. He was held in prison for nine years emerging finally, a man in his late twenties. He told me how he felt that his most important years had slipped away from him. First love, a chance for education, any kind of decent employment were lost to him. He emerged into an island more degraded than the one he had sought to flee and his sadness overwhelmed him. After three years of working, doing anything to earn enough money to buy his right to risk his life on yet another raft he finally made it to the US.
He is free now, he misses his family, he is grateful for his freedom. He spoke of the wonderful people he left behind in Cuba, of his family, of the slow pace of life, the warmth of community and I wondered at the price of freedom. I wondered at the lengths humans will go to so they can be free to speak and think, to worship and simply live. I wonder how those of us fortunate enough to have all of this seem not to notice how millions around the world are living under conditions so severe that they can not even voice an opinion for fear that they may end up in prison. I wonder how many millions of stories there are left to be told. Stories of oppression and desperation. Tales of constant fear, hunger and terrible hardship. We see the news, we hear stories of war and we are saddened at the loss of life. But what do we know of the human tale? What do we know of mothers trying to feed their children when there is little food to be had, of father's leaving in the morning to find work when there is none? What do we know of hunger or seeing your child go barefoot in the cold because shoes can not be found much less bought? What do we know of the little struggles that people go through every day just to survive? Reading a book like Havana Real makes the situations, not just of the Cubans but millions around the world, so personal. We are familiar with the horrific stories but the little daily struggles we can not understand because we have no frame of reference. We have no gauge by which to measure it. At what point would it be too much of a burden to bear? At what point does a young man break under the pressure and leave everything behind to build a life in foreign country where he knows no one? Would I be strong enough do that? The answer I can tell you is no.
Havana Real is a book that needed to be written but more than that it is a book that needs to be read.


Yoani Sanchez, a University of Havana graduate in philology, emigrated to Switzerland in 2002. Two years later, she decided to return to Cuba, but promised herself she would live there as a free person and started her blog, Generation Y, upon her return. In 2008, Time magazine named her one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World"; it named Generation Y one of the "Best Blogs of 2009." Spain honored her with its highest award for digital journalism, the Ortega y Gasset Prize. This year, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored her with the International Women of Culture Award. She lives with her husband, independent journalist Reinaldo Escobar, and their son in a high-rise apartment in Havana, overlooking Revolution Square.
Translator M.J. Porter lives in Seattle, where she is a partner in a transportation-consulting firm. She co-founded the cooperative website, HemosOido.com, where volunteers now translate the work of more than thirty Cuban bloggers into English, German, French and Danish.

* I received an advance copy from the publisher for purposes of review. I was in no way obligated to write a review much less a favorable one. The opinions stated herein are all my own.

18 August 2011

The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates, Linda Schatz

ISBN #9781401935436

If you’re experiencing discomfort, fatigue, or other symptoms that won’t go away no matter what you do or how many doctors you see, chances are you’re one of the millions unknowingly suffering from a systemic fungal/yeast infection, “the hidden invader.” The result of an imbalance starting in your internal ecosystem, this can be a key factor in headaches, joint and muscle pain, depression, cancer, food allergies, digestive problems, autism, and other immune-related disorders.  
     The Body Ecology Diet reveals how to restore and maintain the “inner ecology” your body needs to function properly, and eliminate or control the symptoms that rob you of the joy of living. Tens of thousands of people have already benefited from the Body Ecology way of life—Donna Gates shows you, step-by-step, how to eat your way to better health and well-being . . . deliciously, easily, and inexpensively!
     In this book, you will learn how to: use seven basic universal principles as tools to gain mastery over every health challenge you may encounter; focus on your inner ecology to create ideal digestive balance; conquer cravings with strategies for satisfying snacking and for dining away from home; and plan meals with dozens of delectable recipes, an array of menus, and detailed shopping lists.

I was absolutely thrilled to finally be reading the Body Ecology by Donna Gates.  This book is packed with loads of information so it should be said that, although I read it in one day, I will definitely be rereading it again.  And then probably again.  Her thesis is that modern humans are plagued by chronic yeast infections and I think she makes a compelling argument for it in her book.  Granted some of the assumptions she makes are not necessarily backed up through rigorous scientific study but then again most health gurus' claims rarely are.  
Throughout the first half of the book Ms. Gates details the whys and hows of the diet, mentioning various products and recipes along the way without any real clarification on those particular items.  For instance she mentions fermented vegetables quite a bit and kefir but she didn't really explain what they were until fairly late in the book.  I was also dismayed to realize that she also spent much of the book advocating her brand of this or that...saying things like (and I'm paraphrasing here) 'it's very difficult to find authentic such and such anywhere so luckily I sell it on my website...'.  This is disconcerting to say the least and I felt as if I was reading through an infomercial.
The Body Ecology diet is quite popular and many people assert that this way of eating and living has greatly benefited them.  After reading the book I feel dubious yet I admit there might be something here worth understanding.  There is a sense of rightness about a lot of Ms. Gates assumptions and assertions that rang true to me.  The diet itself just doesn't appeal to me.  It feels gimmicky and even downright exclusivistic with its core components being available primarily through her website (as opposed to being readily found at any local grocer), or labor intensive to prepare.  In my heart I don't believe that healing foods are hard to come by nor are they hard to make.  I believe that God has given us all the perfect food we need to eat.  It is us, man, that has corrupted that food into something hideous that is harming every one of us.  It is our intervention and corruption of that perfect diet that has led us all down the path of ill health.  I just don't agree that the path to healing lies in the miracle of a mysterious fermented drink, a powder, or even baby coconuts.  But then again I'm no expert.


About the Author

Donna Gates, a nutritional consultant, author, and lecturer, has helped thousands of people overcome candidiasis and other immune-system disorders. Drawing on the best of modern medical science, ancient Chinese medicine, and naturopathy—combined with years of firsthand experience counseling clients—she created Body Ecology, her own system of health and healing. Donna regularly appears on radio shows and conducts workshops to educate the public on medicinal foods.

* I received an advance copy from the publisher for purposes of review. I was in no way obligated to write a review much less a favorable one. The opinions stated herein are all my own.

17 August 2011

Saving Savvy by Kelly Hancock

ISBN 978-1936034-536

List Price: $16.99


Smart and easy ways to CUT YOUR SPENDING IN HALF and raise your standard of living...and giving!

You can cut your spending in half—before you clip the first coupon—and raise your standard of living! Then you can become a better steward of all God has blessed you with. Free with purchase: a free issue of ALL YOU magazine that includes up to $100 of coupons.

Everybody wants to save money, but sometimes it’s just too difficult and overwhelming. Kelly Hancock, popular blogger and media personality, has done the hard work for those who want to save big! Her saving secrets will help readers cut their spending half — even before they clip the first coupon. Kelly was a successful business professional who abruptly changed her mind to stay home after the birth of her first child. But it didn’t make financial sense on paper. So Kelly figured out a way to cut family’s overall spending substantially and their grocery budget by 80%. They not only discovered how to make ends meet, they were able to give more generously to others. She reassures readers that God will faithfully provide for those who seek to honor.

I received this book just yesterday and I read it straight through.  It's a fairly slim volume but it's packed with practical advice on how to trim your family's budget.  If you are just like the millions of the rest of us who are looking for ways to make your money go farther and do more then Ms. Hancock's book could be a valuable guide.  I, personally, was so inspired I started right away and have already reaped benefits and rewards...you can too. 

She shows the reader how to search for sales, clip coupons, organize your kitchen, plan meals, and cook from a meal plan.  Much of this information can be found on the web (and none of the information in the book was news for me) but I found that after reading Saving Savvy for a while I realized that there is another perspective at work here--one more inspiring than trimming your grocery budget.  Ms. Hancock is passionate about reminding the reader to pass on their blessings to those less fortunate.  The point isn't just abut saving money but treating that windfall as a windfall for God's Kingdom and redistributing your new found riches to serve His greater plan.  I think, for me anyway, by putting my desire to save money into this perspective, Ms. Hancock has succeeded in convincing me that clipping coupons and shopping sales needs to be a habit in my life rather than something we do to save few pennies here and there.  Following this plan not only will my family benefit but we will always have something to give away.


About the Author

Kelly Hancock has one of the most popular money-savings blogs on the Internet, faithfulprovisions.com. She has also appeared on many radio and television programs to share her amazing savings secrets. She and her husband, Bradford, have 2 children and live in Nashville, TN.

* I received an advance copy from the publisher for purposes of review. I was in no way obligated to write a review much less a favorable one. The opinions stated herein are all my own.

13 August 2011


 Young, beautiful, and lost, Rebecca has come to Athens to abandon herself to the city's strangeness and heat on a campaign to learn about love. Deserted by her mother and brought up by her grandfather in the south of France, she has never had an anchor to keep her from feeling constantly adrift.

George has come to Athens to translate. It's all he knows how to do. Dropped off at a New England boarding school when he was a child, his closest friends are Aristophanes and Jack Daniels, Euripides and Jim Beam.

Henry has come to Athens to dig. An archaeologist, he spends his days on-site in Athens, and roams the Agora on the weekends. Henry comes from a happy, humdrum Welsh family. Nothing has really ever happened to him.

After a chance meeting on a hot Athens day, however, George and Rebecca begin a conversation...that turns into drinks...then a few dinners...

Until Rebecca meets Henry.
And Henry meets George.
And Athens changes their lives forever.


I have been known to toss about flippant phrases to describe the books I read..."beautifully written", "imaginative and creative", "masterful", "eloquent".  Then I read something that sets itself apart and it's as if everything before it is cast in shadows, clouded in mists of fog.  From the first words 'Everything Beautiful' is lit from within by brilliant imagery and a lyrical quality.  Each sentence crafted lovingly, sounding like poetry, words that fairly beg to be whispered aloud in the deep of night just to hear their sounds.

On the walk back home through the dusk, she's going to ask her father for the story of how he met her mother.  All she knows is that someone fell and that everything beautiful began after.
Devouring this novel in a scant two days I feel almost spent, maybe a tad hungry for something just out of reach.  I don't know how to explain it but this novel has me dreaming and thinking and wondering in ways that I thought were long lost to me.  It's a dreamy read that feels soft...the action has a misty quality as if seen through haze or in fragments.  The main characters seem more like perfectly rendered sketches rather than fully realized portraits.  Yet it is this quality, this disconnectedness, where Van Booy writes from that lends this novel it's beauty, it's far reaching tenderness and emotion.  There are deep thoughts found laying among the pages of 'Everything Beautiful' like the relics found laying about the islands of Greece.  Scattered here and there gems of a literary quality glisten and beg to be kept.
There was a time before he met her mother.  It was before she began.  It was a shadow world with no significance.  A world that was breathing but without form.  She hadn't even been thought of.  She was dead without having died.
Fate is for the broken, the selfish, the simple, the lost, and the forever lonely, a distant light that comes no closer, nor ever completely disappears.
...a world intact, but abandoned.  You scramble down the words like ropes...you dangle from sentences.  You drop from letters into pools of what happened.  Language is like drinking from one's own reflection in still water.  We only take from it what we are at the time.
Each page leads you on, like a stream that gently gurgles into a larger stream, then into a river and on into the sea.  You continue the journey to see where it leads you, what magnificent wonder will emerge on the banks of the waterway.  Maybe an ancient ruin looms up unexpectedly, a modern disaster my await just around the bend...you can't imagine any of this but you want to know anyway.  You simply must know how it all turns out in the end.  And in the end you realize that "Everything Beautiful Began After".



Simon Van Booy grew up in rural Wales. He is the author of The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter, which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He is the editor of three philosophy books, titled Why We Fight, Why We Need Love, and Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter, and his essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and on NPR. He lives in New York City, where he teaches at the School of Visual Arts and is involved in the Rutgers Early College Humanities program for young adults living in underserved communities. He was a finalist for the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, and his work has been translated into thirteen languages.

His debut novel, Everything Beautiful Began After is out now.

* I received an advance copy from the publisher for purposes of review. I was in no way obligated to write a review much less a favorable one. The opinions stated herein are all my own.

An Ancient Earth #1 : The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead

Launch date for Book 1 of The Ancient Earth Trilogy is September 6th
Uncover a land that has been hidden for over a thousand years.

Beneath the land of Britain, a great army is sleeping. On a visit to an old church, Daniel Tully and Freya Reynolds awaken two ancient knights from a centuries-old slumber. They are kidnapped and taken to an underground city that stands in peril, besieged in all directions by a vicious warhost. Nidergeard is the only thing protecting the upper world's blissful ignorance of mythical forces that have been held at bay since the creation of the world. In order to return home, Daniel and Freya must strike at the heart of the opposer's power.

Fast forward eight years. Daniel, now homeless, still wages what he believes to be a righteous war against those he judges to be evil. Freya has tried to put the past behind her and concentrate on getting an education, a job, and a life. When they reconnect in Oxford, unseen forces begin to ally against them. Daniel is pulled through a portal and into another world. Freya is abducted by someone—some thing—posing as her professor and drugged to keep her in a delusional state. After they finally break free, neither can deny the truth . . . they must return to Nidergeard and resume the battle.

With a thrilling narrative that draws heavily upon British mythology, The Realms Thereunder will quickly establish Ross Lawhead as a major new voice in fantasy.


I am a big fan of Ross Lawhead's father, Stephen Lawhead.  You can understand how excited I was to discover that his son is also equally gifted with the talent to spin fabulous yarns.  His début book is a testament to that very fact.  His writing is every bit as engaging as his father's, the characters are credible and the plot line is well crafted and dynamic.  However,  I couldn't help but notice some very obvious parallels between "The Realms Thereunder" and "The Bone House" series by Mr.  Lawhead senior.  Both books revolve around travel between worlds and contain young protagonists seemingly thrust into unimaginable circumstances by the hands of fate.  Their writing style is also very similar.  It is quite clear that father and son have much in common and I imagine that they must spend many long hours in deep conversation about their craft and their work.  So I can't say that I am very surprised that "The Realms" and the "Bone House" series of books travel much of the same track.  What did surprise me is that father and son apparently do not share the same editor.  They should.  The younger Mr. Lawhead's book is crippled by some very obvious editing flaws.  Simple ones, mind you, in tense or of words being flip-flopped around.  For instance:  "She led stepped aside to allow the people out of the hall...", "Ecgbryt took it upon himself to teach the Daniel the principles...".  At first, I thought it was misunderstanding on my behalf but halfway through the book I realized it wasn't me at all and that I didn't need and English to English dictionary to aid me in translating the odd use of language (he lives in England after all).  Despite the books flaws,"The Realms Thereunder" is still a great read, full of adventure, mythical creatures and mysterious places.

*I was reading an advance copy that had yet to be proofed for publication.  My sincerest apologies to the author, publisher and any one else who has been affected by my huge misunderstanding.  I really should have realized that.


Ross Lawhead

Ross Lawhead studied screenplay writing for film and television at Bournemouth University in England. He is the co-writer and penciler on the !HERO comic books and graphic novel. Ross lives in Oxford, England. With a thrilling narrative that draws heavily upon British mythology, The Realms Thereunder will quickly establish Ross Lawhead as a major new voice in fantasy.
 * I received a free copy from the publisher for purposes of review.  I was in no way obligated to write a review much less a favorable one.  The opinions stated herein are all my own.

11 August 2011

On The Kindle!

It's official.  It's a done deal.  Anyone that owns a Kindle can now get my blog delivered wirelessly direct to their device.  Click here.

Creed - Rain

Can you help me out?
Can you lend me a hand?
It's safe to say that
I'm stuck again

Trapped between this life and the light
I just can't figure out
How to make it right

A thousand times before
I've wondered if there's something more
Something more...

I feel it's gonna rain like this for days
So let it rain down and wash everything away
I hope that tomorrow the sun will shine
With every tomorrow comes another life

I feel it's gonna rain
For days and days
I feel it's gonna rain

I tried to figure out
I can understand
What it means to live on again

Trapped between the truth and the consequence
Nothings real
Nothings making sense

A thousand times before
I've wondered if there's something more

Something more...

I feel it's gonna rain like this for days
So let it rain down and wash everything away
I hope that tomorrow the sun will shine
I feel it's gonna rain like this
Rain like this
Rain like this

Fall down
Wash away my yesterdays
Fall down

So let the rain fall down on me

I feel it's gonna rain like this for days
Let it rain down and wash everything away
I hope that tomorrow the sun will shine
I feel it's gonna rain like this
Rain like this
Rain like this

I feel it's gonna rain like this
Rain like this

I feel it's gonna rain like this
I feel it's gonna rain...

10 August 2011

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

This is easily one of the funniest books I have ever read. And to think it almost wasn't even published.  


A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs. In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilly's supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress. Several of the outfits, Ignatius noticed, were new enough and expensive enough to be properly considered offenses against taste and decency. Possession of anything new or expensive only reflected a person's lack of theology and geometry; it could even cast doubts upon one's soul.
--from A Confederacy of Dunces


Walker Percy's Foreword to A Confederacy of Dunces

Perhaps the best way to introduce this novel -- which on my third reading of it astounds me even more than the first -- is to tell of my first encounter with it. While I was teaching at Loyola in 1976 I began to get telephone calls from a lady unknown from me. What she proposed was preposterous. It was not that she had written a couple of chapters of a novel and wanted to get into my class. It was that her son, who was dead, had written an entire novel during the early sixties, a big novel, and she wanted me to read it. Why would I want to do that? I asked her. Because it is a great novel, she said.
Over the years I have become very good at getting out of things I don't want to do. And if ever there was something I didn't want to do, this was surely it: to deal with the mother of a dead novelist and, worst of all, to have to read a manuscript that she said was great, and that, as it turned out, was a badly smeared, scarcely readable carbon.
But the lady was persistent, and it somehow came to pass that she stood in my office handing me the hefty manuscript. There was no getting out of it; only one hope remained -- that I could read a few pages and that they would be bad enough for me, in good conscience, to read no farther. Usually I can do just that. Indeed the first paragraph often suffices. My only fear was that this one might not be bad enough, or might be just good enough, so that I would have to keep reading.
In this case I read on. And on. First with the sinking feeling that it was not bad enough to quit, then with a prickle of interest, then a growing excitement, and finally an incredulity: surely it was not possible that it was so good. I shall resist the temptation to say what first made me gape, grin, laugh out loud, shake my head in wonderment...Read the rest here.

09 August 2011

Time Is On My Side...

About a week ago I was cleaning out my home. It's a chore that must be done from time to time because, though we live in a very small cottage, my family insists on bringing home all manner of 'important stuff' that they are sure they will need someday.  Well, being the evolved human that I am I decided to forge ahead and show a good example by weeding through my collection of books.  See? I wanted to say.  It's not so bad.  We can surely live with less.  If I can do it then so can you!  It's easy! 

I quickly amassed a pile a pile of books that, though each held promise at one time or another, just didn't live up to their potential for whatever reason.  Some were too fickle, another was too tedious, some were just plain silly and I just couldn't put up with their insistent yammering every time I looked at the bookshelf.  Anyway, a friend (and I use the term loosely) stopped by just as I was carefully organizing and cataloging the various tomes into likely piles that I could then distributed into the proper places.  Books suitable for the Church reading room in one pile, books for the local used book shop, the children's library and so on.  I ended up with a miscellaneous pile that I thought would be great to give away to friends and family.  Just because I didn't want them hanging about didn't mean that someone else wouldn't love them.  I told my friend that she was more than welcome to sift through the various piles and take whatever struck her fancy.  I braced myself then, for surely she would reach out in a giant bear hug and dive right into the joy that is FREE books.  That's what I would have done...

But she didn't.  And then there it was.  THE sentence.  She looked at me and said, "Oh, I really wish that I had time to read," casting a somewhat disgusted glance about my book strewn living room as if it were the landscape of the moon.  She went on to say that she was simply just 'too busy' to spend any time at all on reading.  As if reading were optional.  As if reading were anything but necessary.  I've encountered this before and I've often endeavored to find a snappy comeback.  One that would be simultaneously witty and erudite enough so as to prove how clever reading has made me.  At which point said NON reader would be immediately thrust into a fit of deep shame and thus being rightfully put into their place, would pledge to become a reader extraordinaire and beg forgiveness.

I could probably handle it better if people said reading is too hard for them.  Then I could point out that children as young as four have been known to do it, so surely they could as well.  I could handle when they tell me that they feel they are not smart enough too read.  I could repeat the bit about children as young as four and point out that reading actually stimulates brain cells and with baby steps they would actually find themselves becoming smarter and smarter with each printed word. 

These various thoughts and fears I can understand.  I can reason with them.  I am forgiving and kind right up until someone says "they are too busy to read".  That's when I lose it.  I lose all decorum and propriety because what these people are actually saying is that I somehow have more time than they.  That their life isn't as luxurious and carefree as mine.  That they are simply too important doing important stuff that I couldn't possibly understand because I spend too freakin much time with my nose stuck in a book.  I feel the weight of the judgement that mayhaps I am not as productive as the general non-reading public.  That mayhaps I do not contribute my fair share to the burden that modern life places on us.  I am not playing the game. 

Had I actually told this lady how much time I actually spend reading everyday I think she would have had some kind of apoplectic fit right there in my home.  I know for a fact that this woman spends several hours every day staring passively at a screen, waiting for clients to show up, waiting on the phone, playing Farmville, waiting, waiting, waiting everywhere.  She probably left my house to go home and plop herself down on her couch with a hot pocket to watch rerun episodes of "The Golden Girls".  But to suggest that she might actually do something that could potentially boost her IQ rather than reduce it seems out of the question.  I wonder if I am the only one who would rather read a book than watch another stupid television show?  Read a book or cruise the internet looking for nothing in particular?  Read a book or stare into space at the doctor's office?  I don't know.  I don't get it at all. 

08 August 2011

Christ the Lord: Road to Cana by Anne Rice

March 4, 2008
Anne Rice's second book in her hugely ambitious and courageous life of Christ begins during his last winter before his baptism in the Jordan and concludes with the miracle at Cana.
It is a novel in which we see Jesus—he is called Yeshua bar Joseph—during a winter of no rain, endless dust, and talk of trouble in Judea.
Legends of a Virgin birth have long surrounded Yeshua, yet for decades he has lived as one among many who come to the synagogue on the Sabbath. All who know and love him find themselves waiting for some sign of the path he will eventually take.
And at last we see him emerge from his baptism to confront his destiny—and the Devil. We see what happens when he takes the water of six great limestone jars, transforms it into cool red wine, is recognized as the anointed one, and urged to call all Israel to take up arms against Rome and follow him as the prophets have foretold.
As with Out of Egypt, the opening novel, The Road to Cana is based on the Gospels and on the most respected New Testament scholarship. The book's power derives from the profound feeling its author brings to the writing and the way in which she summons up the presence of Jesus.


Most people have read Anne Rice's Vampire series and even those who haven't most likely have heard of them.  Ms. Rice is an author whose reputation precedes her.  Her beautifully written novels have sold millions world wide and she has a loyal and devoted following of fans.  She is a talented writer there is no debate.  Her writing is evocative and lyrical, her characters are three dimensional and fully realized, details are rich and commanding.  Reading any one of her novels is a veritable treat.  Up until recently all of this talent has been largely spent writing about vampires and witches.  A few years ago Ms. Rice had a religious epiphany and has now devoted all of her incredible writing talent to glorifying the Lord.  She has embarked on a new journey; one that will undoubtedly bring the life of Jesus to many who may never have known Him before.  Ms. Rice manages to deftly depict the Life of Jesus in a moving, beautiful, faithful account.  Whether you are a faithful believer or not it makes no matter.  This book is a joy to read.


Anne Rice was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in English and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science.
She is the author of 28 books, most recently Called Out of Darkness, a memoir and Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, novels depicting the early life of Jesus Christ, based on the Gospels and the most respected New Testament scholarship. Her first novel, Interview with the Vampire, was published in 1976 and has gone on to become one of the best-selling novels of all time. She continued her saga of the Vampire Lestat in a series of books, collectively known as The Vampire Chronicles, which have had both great mainstream and cult followings. Anne Rice is also the author of The Witching Hour, Servant of the Bones, Merrick, Blackwood Farm, Blood Canticle, The Feast of All Saints, and Cry to Heaven. She lives in Rancho Mirage, California.

06 August 2011

New Releases August 2011

 A few titles being released soon that I thought looked promising.



The Lantern' by Deborah Lawrenson - August 9, 2011

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
The Lantern is Deborah Lawrenson's sixth novel, but her first released in the U.S. It is being hailed as a modern gothic novel. The Lantern includes romance, a mystery, an old house in the south of France and a possible haunting.

'Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness' by Fuller - August 23, 2011

Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra FullerAlexandra Fuller introduced readers to her family in Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight. In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Fuller focuses on her mother and on her family's life and struggles in Africa.

'Unsaid' by Neil Abramson - August 4, 2011

Unsaid by Neil AbramsonNeil Abramson's debut novel is told from the point of view of Helena Colden, who has recently died of cancer. She watches what happens to her husband and animals (she was a vet) after she dies. Her husband is nearly destroyed with grief, but also compelled to fight for animal rights because of his wife.

05 August 2011

2666 by Roberto Bolano

"It takes some force of will to make it through this sequence of five separate, tangentially linked novels" - Alfred Hickling, The Guardian
That pretty much sums it up for me.  A force of will indeed.  I always read straight through a novel.  If said novel fails to capture my attention I move on.  Life is too short to read bad fiction.  Or bad non-fiction for that matter.  Bolano's 2666 however is something altogether different.  It is an onerous, at times tedious read.  It is a very long book---892 pages.  You begin to think thoughts like, "will this get easier?", "I wonder what's on PBS?", "Maybe now would be a good time to finally clean out those trash bins".  But you do not, I repeat, DO NOT, think, "this is horrible dribble, what a hack!".  You know that you are in the presence of a genius when you read Bolano.  You realize that 2666 is terribly important in some way.  That the author is trying to communicate something here that is incredibly important and that it's quite possible you could understand what that was if you tried really, really hard.  That effort on your behalf is well rewarded I might add because 2666 is impressive in its scope and it's challenges to the reader.  Never mind the bragging rights you'd have, imagine scenes like..."Oh yeah, I read 2666, found it fascinating.  That Bolano sure could write a heck of a story," while your fellow reader friends look on at you with awe and/or respect. At the very least the book is big and could be used as very sturdy door stop (which naturally, would result in making one look rather literary and astute while also giving off the appearance of chic insouciance).  On a more personal note, I have finished this gem of a novel...not bragging just pointing out, mind you.  But I did it with help.  Let's just say that I wasn't exactly faithful.  I had books on the side.  Easy books.  You know the sort. The kind you see lying casually about the local bookshop-pretty cover, slim, catchy back cover.  The kind of books you don't necessarily keep on the bookshelf but rather pass on to the doctors office, local Starbuck's or wherever.  Yup, those little easy jewels made the work of reading Bolano alot more enjoyable.

Author of 2666 and many other acclaimed works, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain. He has been acclaimed "by far the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, The Los Angeles Times)," and as "the real thing and the rarest" (Susan Sontag). Among his many prizes are the extremely prestigious Herralde de Novela Award and the Premio Rómulo Gallegos. He was widely considered to be the greatest Latin American writer of his generation. He wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50. Chris Andrews has won the TLS Valle Inclán Prize and the PEN Translation Prize for his Bolaño translations.
This biography was provided by the author or their representative.

04 August 2011

Mharvi Reads About the Playstation Vita and Ponders the Ideal Gift

So my darling imp really wants something flashy for her upcoming birthday.  Think  anything "i" related.  She's buggers over Apple and honestly, who isn't? Being the prudent mother that I am I just don't see how a 9 year old is actually going to benefit from any of those "i" gagdets.  I mean, how is it going to really enhance her life in any meaningful way?  Is there an app for cleaning up your bedroom?  How about an eat your veggies app?  What happened to jump ropes and barbie dolls, skateboards and bicycles?  Being the push over parents that we are my hubby and I seriously pondered the idea of actually buying her the coveted "i" dream.  In our search and comparison hunt about the web we stumbled upon a new gaming device...the Playstation Vita.  I'm sure, dear reader, that you were hoping to read that I, as a parent, was going to declare that my child would be technologically deprived come her birthday and that she would learn to love and covet her homemade set of building blocks that were lovingly hand painted by her caring and doting parents.  Or perhaps that we, as the enlightened and progressive parents of a precocious soon-to-be 9 year old, would opt instead for an educational trek to the top of Mount Macchu Picchu thereby guaranteeing her entry into the top ivy league university of her choice (nevermind that it would be like a buy one get one gift for me).  Sadly, no.  The Vita is one slick device.  Also, sadly (for her anyway) the launch of the slick and enticing Vita is still several months away. Terribly inconvenient as imp's day of indulgence is in only a few weeks.  Anyone out there have the name and number of a great travel agent?

mharvi reads The NY Times

When you stay here in the night, you can see the stars move”

See it all HERE.

Incredibly beautiful.

Airborn Toxic Event-Changing...a musical interlude

The Airborne Toxic Event (formed 2006) A most literary Band.

The Airborne Toxic Event, who got their name from Don DeLillo's book White Noise, are an American indie rock band from Los Angeles. The lineup of the band consists of Mikel Jollett on vocals and guitar, Steven Chen on keyboards, Daren Taylor on drums, Anna Bulbrook 
on viola and bass player Noah Harmon.

The Airborne Toxic Event: Formation

The band formed in 2006 when Mikel Jollett's novel writing took an unexpected turn and he found himself writing songs instead of prose. Jollett had recently discovered that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer as well as being diagnosed himself with genetic Autoimmune disease.

That summer, Jollett met Daren Taylor and the pair immediately hit it off. They began working together as a two-piece before asking Anna Bulbrook and Noah Harmon to join the band. Steven Chen joined later, as he had met Jollett several years previously, when they had both lived in San Francisco.

Prior to starting the band, Jollett worked as a freelance journalist, contributing to publications such as Los Angeles Times, Filter Magazine and Men's Health. Since the band's incarnation, though, he has continued to write only fiction and has had a short story published in a collection alongside a story by Stephen King. 
In the summer of 2008, McSweeney's issue 27 published one of Jollett’s short stories, The Crack, which appeared between short stories by Liz Mandrell and Stephen King.[2] In keeping with his literary background, Jollett named the band after a section of the postmodern novel White Noise,[3] which won the National Book Award in 1985. In the book, a chemical spill from a railcar releases a poisonous cloud, dubbed by the military and media as an "airborne toxic event". The reason for choosing this as the name of the band, he has stated, is that the event described in the novel triggers a fear of death and a sense of mortality that fundamentally alters the protagonist’s outlook on himself, his family, and his life.*

*From Wikipedia

03 August 2011

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

Set in an exotic Eastern landscape peopled by magicians and fantastic talking animals, Salman Rushdie’s classic children’s novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories inhabits the same imaginative space as Gulliver’s TravelsAlice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. In this captivating novel, Haroun, a 12-year-old boy sets out on an adventure to restore the poisoned source of the sea of stories. On the way, he encounters many foes, all intent on draining the sea of all its storytelling powers.

You may have heard about Salman Rushdie.  You might indeed know of his controversial flight for his safety and the famous million dollar price tag for his life.  Some of you may even have notions of his goodness or lack thereof.  It would, in my humble opinion, be doing yourself a favor of the highest order to reconsider.  Set aside those ideas you may have of the man himself, dip your toes into Rushdie's magical sea and just allow yourself to be transported nimbly into another place and time.  A mythical, magical, fanciful tale woven out of a brilliant imagination and crafted from the finest language.  It is simply a delight and coincidentally one of my most favored books.
So Iff the water genie told Haroun about the Ocean of the Stream of Stories, and even though he was full of a sense of hopelessness and failure the magic of the Ocean began to have an effect on Haroun. He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale. Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was in fact the biggest library in the universe. And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more than a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead, but alive.
"And if you are very, very careful, or very, very highly skilled, you can dip a cup into the Ocean," Iff told Haroun, "like so," and here he produced a little golden cup from another of his waistcoat pockets, "and you can fill it with water from a single, pure Stream of Story, like so," as he did precisely that.

Salman Rushdie is the author of ten novels: GrimusMidnight’s Children (which was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981), ShameThe Satanic VersesHaroun and the Sea of StoriesThe Moor’s Last SighThe Ground Beneath Her FeetFury,Shalimar the Clown and The Enchantress of Florence.
He is also the author of a book of stories, East, West, and three works of non-fiction – Imaginary HomelandsThe Jaguar Smile, and Step Across This Line. He is the co-editor of Mirrorwork, an anthology of contemporary Indian writing, and of the 2008 Best American Short Stories anthology.
He has adapted Midnight’s Children for the stage. It was performed in London and New York by the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2004, an opera based upon Haroun and the Sea of Stories was premiered by the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center.
A Fellow of the British Royal Society of Literature, Salman Rushdie has received, among other honours, the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel (twice), the Writers’ Guild Award, the James Tait Black Prize, the European Union’s Aristeion Prize for Literature, Author of the Year Prizes in both Britain and Germany, the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, the Budapest Grand Prize for Literature, the Premio Grinzane Cavour in Italy, the Crossword Book Award in India, the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, the London International Writers’ Award, and the James Joyce award of University College Dublin.
He holds honorary doctorates and fellowships at six European and six American universities, is an Honorary Professor in the Humanities at M.I.T, and Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emory University. He has received the Freedom of the City in Mexico City, Strasbourg and El Paso, and the Edgerton Prize of the American Civil Liberties Union. He holds the rank of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters – France’s highest artistic honour.
Between 2004 and 2006 he served as President of PEN American Center, and continues to work as President of the PEN World Voices International Literary Festival, which he helped to create. In June 2007 he received a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. In 2008 he became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was named a Library Lion of the New York Public Library. In addition, Midnight’s Children was named the Best of the Booker – the best winner in the award’s 40 year history – by a public vote.
His books have been translated into over forty languages. Films are currently in production of bothMidnight’s Children and Haroun and he Sea of Stories.