Jun 8, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Book Giveaway: Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas

Teaser Tuesdays, hosted by MizB, asks you to choose two sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.
"Joe's gone. Don't ask me where, for I'm not knowing. He'll nevermore be back," she said.
Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas - Hardcover, March 30, 2010.

Whiter Than Snow

Book description: In 1920, Swandyke - a small town near Colorado's Tenmile Range - is changed forever. Just moments after four o'clock, a large split of snow separates from Jubilee Mountain high above the tiny hamlet and hurtles down the rocky slope, enveloping everything in its path. Meet the residents whose lives the tragedy touches.

A quintessential American voice and a writer of exquisite historical detail, Sandra Dallas illuminates the resilience of the human spirit in her newest novel.

Book Give-away: The Book Report Network has offered a copy of the book to a reader in the U.S. or Canada. No P.O. box addresses, please. To enter the contest : simply leave a comment with your email address so we can contact you. The contest will run until June 23. The winner will be selected at random and have until June 25 to respond. The Book Report will mail the book directly to the winner.

UPDATE: The winner is Wanda of Canada, who has been notified and has responded. Thanks to everyone who entered the give-away contest!

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Jun 6, 2010

Book Tour/Review: The Mountain Place of Knowledge by Marshall Chamberlain

The Sunday Salon.com

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Today, I'm including the book tour by Pump Up Your Book Promotions and a review of Marshall Chamberlain's adventure/thriller,.

The Mountain Place of Knowledge

The Mountain Place of Knowledge takes place in Belize and involves the mystery of a Mayan mountain, a Mayan diary, and unusual hi-tech devices within the mountain which are coveted by different nations and groups. I read this as a sc-fi and fantasy thriller similar to the Raiders of the Lost Ark series. Set in the jungle and mountains, it has magical qualities with a hi-tech twist.

My comments: Those who like sci-fi adventures and paranormal thrillers lightened by some romance will enjoy the thriller, first in the Ancestor Series of books by Mr. Chamberlain, printed by Grace Publishing Group. I read this as an E-book, provided for the tour by the author; it's only the second online book I have ever reviewed. For me, E-books lack the personal quality of a paper book, but many people read them with ease, especially because of the convenience and speed of reading. Chamberlain's books are available in hardback, paperback, and Ebook form.

You can reach Marshall Chamberlain at author@gracepublishing.org  and information on the book and E-book at the link, The Mountain Place of Knowledge. His guest post is in the previous post, in which he describes the idea of his book in detail. Chamberlain has also written a sequel, The Ice Cap and the Rift and is working on his third book.
During the week I also reviewed the audio version of The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, the book on Downs Syndrome, Making a Case for Life: A New Definition of Perfection by Stephanie Wincik, and Assassins of Athens by Jeffrey Siger. I also joined the Japanese Literature Challenge IV hosted by Dolce Bellezza.
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Jun 5, 2010

Guest Author: Marshall Chamberlain, adventure-thriller writer

Thanks, Marshall Chamberlain, for telling us about your adventure/thriller,
The Mountain Place of Knowledge The Mountain Place of Knowledge.

Chamberlain:  "I thank the host for inviting me to write this guest-post as part of introducing The Mountain Place of Knowledge, Book I in my Ancestor Series of adventure-thrillers."
"Although I’ve labeled the books in the Ancestor Series adventure-thrillers, they would fit well in one or more of the other thriller sub-genres: action, suspense or mystery. BOOK I, The Mountain Place of Knowledge, centers on discovery of a mysterious place of knowledge created by “The Ancestors” 180,000 years ago and located inside a mountaintop in Belize. The plot focuses on two feisty scientists, unable or unwilling to acknowledge they care for each other, who are recruited to investigate the mysterious death of a UN administrator vacationing in Belize.... The unfolding adventure turns perilous with the discovery of an ancient Mayan codex, describing the secret entrance to a mountain and unfathomable wonders inside."
"Some readers have asked me...why I choose Belize as the setting for Book I, The Mountain Place of Knowledge....the beginning of the first draft of Book I was originally about Myakka, a young girl on her path to becoming a powerful sorceress. I got the name from a river in Southwest Florida. The name sounded Mayan, so I set the first book in Belize because 600 years ago the area supported several powerful city-states."
"The STORIES IN THE ANCESTOR SERIES contain scatterings of plausible technological gadgetry, are sprinkled with eastern metaphysical philosophy, and run for readers like raging rivers. Themes of the existence of mythical ancient races, adventure in strange inhospitable environments, discovery of arcane ancient technology and instruments of immense power, encounter with various forms of evil and heedless slaughter, and attraction and growth of a young man and woman sharing experiences of hazardous sojourns are ageless attractions for avid thriller readers."
        Tell us a little about yourself:
"Way before taking up the pen, I received graduate degrees from Michigan State University and The American Graduate School of International Management, served as an officer in the USMC, and spent many years in investment banking and finance. Today I live and write on Estero Island, better known as Fort Myers Beach, in an apartment near the water I refer to as 'The Writing Rock.'”        
Chamberlain's Book Tour through Pump Up Your Book Promotions will be posted tomorrow, June 6!  
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Thanks for visiting, Marshall. The series sound fascinating for lovers of adventure!
You can reach Marshall Chamberlain at author@gracepublishing.org  and at the links, The Mountain Place of Knowledge and Sample Chapters.

Jun 4, 2010

Book Review: Assassins of Athens by Jeffrey Siger

"Ostracize is from the Greek word ostrakizein, meaning ' to banish by voting with ostrakon.' Each vote was cast by writing the name of the one who should be banished on an ostrakon - a piece earthenware, a potsherd." (from Assassins of Athens)

Jeffrey Siger based his crime novel, Assassins of Athens, on this ancient Athenian  custom of banishment of an individual by vote.  The banished person had to leave the country immediately or face death.

That was ancient Greece, but this is Athens in the 21st century. In this crime novel, some fabulously wealthy Greeks may be reviving the old custom to rid their country of equally wealthy but non-Greek families. Add in the anarchists, the revolutionary university students, and the criminal underworld of the city, all being used by an ambitious but revengeful young Greek, Demosthenes, and you have a mix of murder and secrecy that has Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis constantly on the move to find, thwart, and resolve.

Heady mix of politics, society, and distorted nationalism. A great plot, a bit of romance, and some very interesting characters. I liked the Inspector and his cohorts in the Athens police, and the description of the island of Mykonos, where some of the action takes place.

The author lives on Mykonos. He mixes in a bit of Greek customs, such as hand gestures and their meanings, and some Greek sayings. One saying  I had heard before is very direct but practical. It translates to something like this - "If you can't take the heat, leave."

The book was a great library find. It's published 2010 by Poisoned Pen Press. Looking forward to reading Siger's previous mystery, Murder in Mykonos.

Challenge: 100 + Reading Challenge,Support your Local Library ChallengeThriller and Suspense Reading Challenge
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Jun 3, 2010

Japanese Literature Challenge IV: June to January

The Japanese Literature Challenge IV is hosted by Dolce Bellezza and requires only one or more books by a Japanese author, read between June 1, 2010 and January 30, 2011.

You can sign up by clicking on the Challenge link above or on the link to Bellezza's blog. There are already about five reviews posted that you can view.

I plan to finish
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami
2. Beauty and Sadness by Yasunari  Kawabata
3. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Vintage International)  by Haruki Murakami

and a few more.

I managed two books for Japanese Literature Challenge III last year -

The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel by Yoko Ogawa,

                               and After Dark by Murakami.

I also read The Old Capital by Kawabata, though not for the challenge.

Sign up, sign up! You won't be disappointed in either the reviews or the discussions among the participants! Thanks, Bellezza, for another year of the challenge!

Jun 1, 2010

Book Tour/Review: Making a Case for Life: A New Definition of Perfection

Making a Case for Life: A New Definition of Perfection
Making a Case for Life: A New Definition of Perfection
by Stephanie Wincik (Paperback -  2010)

My comments: Ms. Wincik's book makes us aware that there are many valuable reasons for welcoming and accepting the disabled. The children with Down Syndrome, for example, are open, honest, kind, and tolerant, and have qualities that are desirable for us all as human beings. These qualities are more valuable to society than the standards we hold of perfection as being ninety percent that of physical beauty and physical perfection.

An honest and thoughtful book, I recommend it for those who would like a better understanding of Down Syndrome and the place of children with disabilities in our society.

"With only a slight shift in our perception, we can clearly see that the extraordinary individuals dismissed for centuries as 'disabled' actually have a vitally important role to play in the world, and indeed may even hold the key to our positive advancement as a human family." (Book cover)

Thanks to Tracee Gleichner at Pump Up Your Book Promotions for providing a copy of this book for my impartial review.

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Book Review: The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

The story helped the miles pass as we listened to the 17 discs over several long trips. The Swan Thieves tells the sad story of a disturbed man and his obsession with a painting which he tried to destroy with a knife in the National Gallery, and the story of the painter and the subject of the canvas he attacked.

The two stories are meshed nicely by author Elizabeth Kostova. My traveling companions thought the purpose of the novel was to tell the story of the artist Beatrice, adding Robert Oliver only as an interesting way to tell her life story as a gifted but thwarted artist.

I thought the names of the people in the story were significant. Beatrice was adored by Robert Oliver and an inspiration for his art in The Swan Thieves, just as a different Beatrice was the muse for the poet Virgil in the Aeneid. Marlow the psychiatrist observes and tells most of Robert's story in Kostova's book, just as a different Marlow observed the crazed Kurtz in Conrad's The Heart of Darkness. The connections just popped into my mind as I listened to The Swan Thieves.

Reactions to the audio version: The voices matched the characters very well, I thought, except in the case of Beatrice. I could tell that the reader was not French and only trying to imitate a French accent for Beatrice. As a result, many of words sounded as if French speaking Beatrice was speaking English with a lisp. Beatrice's lisping bothered me till almost the very end of the audio. The other speakers, including Anne Heche as Robert's first wife, were excellent.

Art lovers and those who like women's fiction will enjoy The Swan Thieves, as will anyone eager for good storytelling.

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...