Monthly Archives: February 2009

Wicked Game by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

wicked-game

About the book:

ONE BY ONE, THEY’LL DIE…Twenty years ago, wild child Jessie Brentwood vanished from St. Elizabeth’s high school. Most in Jessie’s tight circle of friends believed she simply ran away. Few suspected that Jessie was hiding a shocking secret—one that brought her into the crosshairs of a vicious killer…

UNTIL THERE’S NO ONE LEFT…Two decades pass before a body is unearthed on school grounds and Jessie’s old friends reunite to talk. Most are sure that the body is Jessie’s, that the mystery of what happened to her has finally been solved. But soon, Jessie’s friends each begin to die in horrible, freak accidents that defy explanation…

BUT HER…Becca Sutcliff has been haunted for years by unsettling visions of Jessie, certain her friend met with a grisly end. Now the latest deaths have her rattled. Becca can sense that an evil force is shadowing her too, waiting for just the right moment to strike. She feels like she’s going crazy. Is it all a coincidence—or has Jessie’s killer finally returned to finish what was started all those years ago?

My Review:

20 years have passed since the disappearance of Jezebel “Jessie” Brentwood, but the case is back in the news after bones are discovered at St. Elizabeth’s school. Detective Sam NcNally is hoping that he will finally get the break he deserves, and prove to all of the skeptics that she was murdered all those years ago.

Becca Sutcliff is shocked when she receives a phone call from her ex-boyfriend and true love Hudson Walker. The group of friends that hung out with each other at the time of Jessie’s disappearance is meeting to compare stories. The common belief is that the remains will be identified as Jessie, but they want to make sure that their stories haven’t changed. There seems to be a dark cloud hovering among the members of the group, and when tragedy starts to strike, Becca feels it’s only a matter of time before she’s next.

This paranormal romantic suspense thriller was well thought out and it was impossible for me to tell that it was written by two sisters. I have a feeling I know where the added romance came in, as this isn’t common in most of Lisa’s books. I felt it added nicely to the storyline, and made it appealing to a more diverse crowd.

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Win a copy of Sway by Zachary Lazar!

Would you like to win a copy of Sway by Zachary Lazar? Here is some info about the book:

sway

Three dramatic and emblematic stories intertwine in Zachary Lazar’s extraordinary new novel, SWAY–the early days of the Rolling Stones, including the romantic triangle of Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith Richards; the life of avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger; and the community of Charles Manson and his followers.

Lazar illuminates an hour in American history when rapture found its roots in idolatrous figures and led to unprovoked and inexplicable violence. Connecting all the stories in this novel is Bobby Beausoleil, a beautiful California boy who appeared in an Anger film and eventually joined the Manson “family.”

With great artistry, Lazar weaves scenes from these real lives together into a true but heightened reality, making superstars human, giving demons reality, and restoring mythic events to the scale of daily life.

“One hypnotic tone poem…. It is not the now-historic acts of violence that make Sway so riveting, but its vivid character portraits and decadent, muzzy atmosphere, all rendered with the heightened sensory awareness associated with drugs and paranoia.

The near miniaturist precision with which he describes Keith Richards’s attempts to master his guitar, Brian Jones’s acid trips and Anger’s obsessive desire for Beausoleil bring this large-scale tableau into stunning relief.” –Liz Brown, Time Out New York

I will be giving away 5 copies of this book. Unfortunately winners are limited to the US and Canada…sorry about that. I will be drawing the winners on March 8 so hurry up and leave a comment. Please remember to have a valid email address so I know where to contact you and thanks!

 

 

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Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee

trail-of-crumbs

About the Book:

Already hailed as “brave, emotional, and gorgeously written” by Frances Mayes and “like a piece of dark chocolate–bittersweet, satisfying, and finished all too soon” by Laura Fraser, author of An Italian Affair, this is a unique memoir about the search for identity through love, hunger, and food.

Jim Harrison says, “TRAIL OF CRUMBS reminds me of what heavily costumed and concealed waifs we all are. Kim Sunée tells us so much about the French that I never learned in 25 trips to Paris, but mostly about the terrors and pleasure of that infinite octopus, love. A fine book.”

When Kim Sunée was three years old, her mother took her to a marketplace, deposited her on a bench with a fistful of food, and promised she’d be right back. Three days later a policeman took the little girl, clutching what was now only a fistful of crumbs, to a police station and told her that she’d been abandoned by her mother.

Fast-forward almost 20 years and Kim’s life is unrecognizable. Adopted by a young New Orleans couple, she spends her youth as one of only two Asian children in her entire community. At the age of 21, she becomes involved with a famous French businessman and suddenly finds herself living in France, mistress over his houses in Provence and Paris, and stepmother to his eight year-old daughter.

Kim takes readers on a lyrical journey from Korea to New Orleans to Paris and Provence, along the way serving forth her favorite recipes. A love story at heart, this memoir is about the search for identity and a book that will appeal to anyone who is passionate about love, food, travel, and the ultimate search for self.

Review:

This is a very intriguing memoir.  Kim is abandoned at a young age by her mother and ends up being adopted in New Orleans.  She struggles to fit in and eventually falls in love with an older man from Paris.  Although there is much love between the two there is also many differences which make her rely too heavily on him making it unable for her to find herself.

I didn’t mind this book but felt that the author may have been a little to rushed to write a memoir.  There seem to be gaps in her writing that make it hard for the reader to make the connection between her thoughts and feelings and the actual events that inspire them.  I will say that the addition of the recipes added a wonderful element to a book that needed a little something to help pull it through. 

About the Author:

Kim Sunée is the founding food editor of Cottage Living. She was born in South Korea and adopted and raised in New Orleans, and lived in Europe for ten years. She now resides in Birmingham, Alabama.

Many thanks to Miriam of Hachette Book Group for the opportunity to review this book!

 

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Rock bottom by Michael Shilling

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Once, the Blood Orphans had it all: a million-dollar recording contract from Warner Brothers, killer hooks, and cheekbones that could cut glass. Four pretty boys from Los Angeles, they were supposed to be the next big thing, future kings of rock and roll.

But something happened on the way to glory, and now, two years later, along with their coke-fueled, mohawked female manager, they have washed up in Amsterdamfor the final show of their doomed and dismal European tour. The singer has become a born-again Buddhist who preaches from the stage, the bass player’s raging eczema has turned his hands into a pulpy mess, the drummer is a sex-fiend tormented by the misdeeds of his porn-king father, and the guitar player–the only talented one–is thoroughly cowed by the constant abuse of his bandmates.

As they stumble through their final day together, the Blood Orphans find themselves on a comic tour of frustration, danger, excitement, and just possibly, redemption. 

If I was asked to use just one word to describe Rock Bottom I think the word I would use would be surprising.  For a novel that has been referred to as “raunchy, knowing, brilliant” using the word surprising is somewhat…surprising.  But, let me explain.

Rock Bottom chronicles the last day of a rock band called Blood Orphans.  At one point they were the next big thing.  This book is a comically dark, sometimes over the top look at what might have been as well as what is yet to come. 

As we are introduced to the guys in the band we find that each one, in his own way, is bitter, disillusioned, and praying for a quick end to this less than magical mystery tour.  But, something funny happens on the way to the last gig.  A strange set of events conspires to show each of them that even though all seems lost, there is a level of love and respect that wasn’t really lost, just misplaced somewhere along the road.  And while this was their last night together as band mates, it wasn’t their last night together as friends.

As I read this book I began to have my doubts that it could hold my interest.  Getting to know these self-absorbed underachievers almost didn’t seem worth it.  By the end of the book I found myself pulling for each one of them to come away with something positive that they could carry with them into the next stages of their lives.  I began to care.  How surprising.

Michael Shilling is a Lecturer at the University of Michigan, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing. His stories have appeared in The Sun, Fugue, and Other Voices. A recovering rock musician, he played the drums in The Long Winters, as well as numerous other bands in Seattle. Currently, he is working on a novel set in Victorian England.
 
Thanks so much to Miriam of Hachette Book Group for the opportunity to review this book!
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The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

the-sugar-queen

 

In this irresistible novel, Sarah Addison Allen, author of the New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.

Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.

Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.

I purchased Garden Spells at a library book sale a few weeks ago and have yet to read it.  But, this book has been on my TBR pile for quite awhile so when I saw it at the library I felt compelled to pick it up.  I am sure glad I did.

This story centers around Josey Cirrini.  Josey takes care of her mother, a bitter woman who was married to Marco Cirrini, the king of Bald Slope, a town he helped form from a nothing town to a great place to ski.  Margaret was really just a trophy wife, and when she became pregnant at 47 (Marco was much older) she was hoping that it would change Marco.  It didn’t so she tended to harbor some resentment.  The only person to take it out on was Josey.

Josey is really a loner and does her mothers bidding so when she opens her closet to get to the hidden stash of sweets, she is totally shocked to see Della Lee Baker there.  Della Lee has just left an abusive relationship and didn’t know where else to turn.  She won’t stay long she promises, and the only reason Josey allows it is because she doesn’t want her secret about the  sweets revealed.

I really can’t go into a whole lot of details without giving away a lot of this story.  Let me say that this author is almost enchanting in her writing.  I have to admit that I thought the whole Della Lee angle was a little strange but it all came together by the end of the story.  I am pulling out Garden Spells because this is an author that I can’t seem to get enough of.  This is highly recommended!

Seven things about Sarah

1. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a trash man. I would spend hours daydreaming about riding on the back of a garbage truck, jumping off at every house and dumping people’s trash into it.

2. I was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, a place Rolling Stone magazine once called “America’s New Freak Capital.”

3. I have my B.A. in Literature, a major I chose because I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate.

4. I can’t turn away stray cats and I’m convinced they know this.

5. My father was a copy editor, reporter and award-winning columnist for our local paper.

6. My mother has a nose ring, but we pretend it’s not there.

7. Garden Spells, my mainstream debut, didn’t start out as a magical novel. It was supposed to be a simple story about two sisters reconnecting after many years. But then the apple tree started throwing apples and the story took on a life of its own…and my life hasn’t been the same since.

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