Review: The Alexander Cipher by Will Adams

51olwpvwbnl_sl500_aa240_Because I can only read 1-2 books a week, here’s another review from Elaine, my wonderful book club friend and guest reviewer. Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending this ARC to us!

Fasten your seat belts for The Alexander Cipher!  Author Will Adams is about to take you for an exciting ride through Egypt, with Daniel Knox, archeologist, diver, and all around nice guy, as he sneaks into archeological excavations, trying to find one of history’s great hidden treasures – the tomb of Alexander the Great.  

If you like historical action/adventures like Indiana Jones and National Treasure, this novel is for you.  Daniel Knox starts a chain of events by coming to the aid of a young, naïve girl on one of his dive boats, beating up (and embarrassing) a rich and powerful bad guy, and the chase begins.  Even though Knox knows he should leave Egypt altogether to avoid pain and/or death, he decides to hang around when he hears about an exciting new archeological find in a building site in Alexandria.  He stealthily joins in the fray, along with government officials, Macedonian loyalists, and seekers of knowledge and fortune, all trying to crack the code that will lead them to the tomb of Alexander the Great.  The chase becomes even more complicated with the inclusion of two women who both have connections to Knox’s past, and a long-time nemesis who wants him out of the picture as well.  What Knox has waiting for him along his quest are a plethora of chase scenes, shoot ‘em ups, and close calls. With all these people chasing him, how can Knox possibly get out of all of these fixes alive, find Alexander the Great, and save the girl? 

As someone who is not knowledgeable about ancient Greece or Egypt, I had to read this novel with my “thinking cap” on and an atlas on my lap.  Author Adams gives tons of information about Alexander’s life and conquests, as well as Egyptian geography and Macedonian politics.   These facts, along with the multitude of story lines, characters, and rivalries, cause the novel to become quite confusing at times (I did have to flip back in the book once or twice to refresh my memory).   The book’s point of view also jumps around, following the actions and thoughts of the many different good and bad characters involved, adding to the frenetic nature to this book.  

Yes, it all sounds pretty crazy – and it is.  This may spoil the enjoyment of the book for some, but I thought it was loads of fun.  Daniel Knox is already my new action/adventure heart throb.  

Blogger Bio:  Elaine Legere is a stay-at-home mommy and part-time marketing consultant, after years of working for Disney, Palm (aka Palm Pilot), Los Angeles Times, and Details Magazine.  She received her BA at UCLA in English Literature and an MBA from University of Colorado. She is an avid reader, loves movies, and all things outdoors.

The Alexander Cipher will be released March 18, 2009.

Review: The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari

51ydhmd7v5l_sl500_aa240_The phantom guest reviewer, Elaine, is at it again!  Here she talks about The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari, sent to us by the wonderful Miriam at Hachette.

Is it possible to write a hilarious book about a sad, pathetic main character?  Author Gitty Daneshvari has found the formula in her novel The Makedown.  Anna Norton has always been fat, with acne and a sweaty moustache on her upper lip.  The influence of her completely dysfunctional family doesn’t help much.  She has never had friends and lacks the fundamental social skills to navigate the simplest of life’s moments.  Luckily, she is smart, and decides she needs a fresh start in New York.  She meets her Fairy Godmother (affectionately known as “FG”) in a caterer, who was also once fat, and takes Anna’s physical transformation on as a project.  

Emerging as a better looking, better dressed woman, she begins dating Ben Reynolds, who is aesthetically perfect.  Anna knows Ben is “out of her league,” but she is in love.  Just when we think Anna finally has it all together, her insecurities get the best of her and she decides to “makedown” Ben, so that other women will no longer be attracted to him.  We watch helplessly as Anna becomes completely unglued, and as Ben’s looks deteriorate, her relationship spins out of control. 

Why was I laughing during all this insanity?  Because Gitty Daneshvari’s comic writing is no less than brilliant.  Every sentence is packed with high energy and wit.  Her frequent pop culture references about everything from Care Bears to Footloose were hysterically funny and completely spot on (probably enjoyed most by the “Baby Boomer” and “Gen X” sets).   I loved every moment of this tragic, hilarious, unique book, and found it hard to put down (sorry kids!)  The Makedown is “chick lit” at its very finest, and a highly recommended read for any fan of the genre.    

Blogger Bio:  Elaine Legere is a stay-at-home mommy and part-time marketing consultant, after years of working for Disney, Palm (aka Palm Pilot), Los Angeles Times, and Details Magazine.  She received her BA at UCLA in English Literature and an MBA from University of Colorado. She is an avid reader, loves movies, and all things outdoors.

Also Reviewed at the following lovely blogs:

 A Novel Menagerie

Books by TJBaff

Bookshipper

Unmainstream Mom Reads

First 100K Celebration Winner Announced!

Ok, the first winner from my 100K Celebration extravaganza is for the Hachette‘s Favorites- a box of 7 new titles including The Little Giant of Aberdeen County (reviewed HERE), One Perfect Day (reviewed HERE), The Bishop’s Daughter (reviewed HERE), Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly, The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent, Run for Your Life by James Patterson and The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari!

So without further ado (adoo? adeaux?  adu?) here we go!!  (reaching into the hat with all the names–  who’s it gonna be??  Oooo I can barely contain my excitement!)  Ok!  Ok!  We have a winner and it is:

Janel from Janel’s Jumble!

Janel has a cool blog, so go say hi!  Congrats to Janel (you scored some great titles, girlfriend!) and thank you to everyone who entered the contest and helped me celebrate.

<——————  All the other contests and giveaways are still open, so check my left sidebar for links!  I’ll be announcing winners every day this week!

Holy Sh*t! 100,000 Hits! And a Hachette Favorites Giveaway!

images-11It appears that I will hit a big milestone today or tomorrow. Never in a zillion years did I think this little blog of mine would reach 100,00 hits, but here it is! Unbelievable. Woo Hoo, Partay!

51ipo1fobxl_sl160_pisitb-sticker-arrow-dptopright12-18_sh30_ou01_aa115_The wildly generous Miriam at Hachette Book Group is sponsoring a Hachette Favorites Giveaway to help me celebrate! Leave a comment on this post by Monday, February 16th for a chance to win a big box of new fiction from Hachette, including The Little Giant of Aberdeen County 31bhf6sljl_sl160_aa115_(reviewed HERE), One Perfect Day (reviewed HERE), The Bishop’s Daughter (reviewed HERE), Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly, The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent, Run for Your Life by James Patterson and The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari!

So, a little background on this blog. I started Books on the Brain at the end of September 2007 with virtually no idea about blogging, the book blogging community, html code, Google Reader, ARCs, memes, book tours, etc. No clue. None.

Laura Fitzgerald, author of Veil of Roses (who, incidentally, has a new book out and will be guest posting later this month!), had just talked to my real life book club by speaker phone. She was terrific, and when I emailed to thank her, she wrote back that I should check out her guest post at Stephanie’s blog, The Written Word. I loved the post, but was entranced by the blog. I’d never seen anything like it! I emailed Stephanie to compliment her on it and ask questions (many, many questions). She was so patient with me and so friendly. A day or two later I started Books on the Brain with this silly post, not realizing at the time how much it would change my life.

So let me throw out some stats: in about 16 months I’ve had 99,866 total views (as of this minute), 337 posts, 4,126 comments, 33 categories, and 927 tags. I don’t want to even think about the number of hours I’ve spent blogging. Or reading the blogs of others. Let’s just say it’s been substantial!

But the MOST wonderful thing about blogging, the thing that I just can’t get over, is this wonderful community. The people are so nice, so helpful, so intelligent, caring and kind. I’ve made amazing friends here and I’m so glad I found you. You’ve greatly enriched my life. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, emails, Christmas cards, and surprises (Care, you’re so cool!). Book bloggers are the greatest! Your comments and posts have made me laugh, informed me, enlightened me, given me much to think about, and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you!

Help me celebrate by leaving a comment to enter the contest.  The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada only (no PO Boxes).  I’ll be celebrating all week with special guests and giveaways, so stay tuned!

Review: One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling

51sk2b7tptl_sl500_aa240_ One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling 

Two mothers are preparing for what could be the last Christmas with their families intact.  Nora’s teenage twins will be heading off to college next year, while Jenna’s daughter, Heather, is on a transplant list waiting for a new heart.  

Nora, the ultimate Christian mom, gets up each day to do her devotions and write in her journal.  Everything in her home is just so.  The decorations, the gifts, the food- she is preparing for the perfect Christmas.  The only thing out of place is that her husband is away on a business trip. 

Jenna, a single Christian mom who lost her husband in Desert Storm when Heather was a baby, works nights in the ER.  She tries to make everything perfect for what could be Heather’s last Christmas, hiding her tears behind closed doors.  Heather, a young adult who has been treated like a much younger child due to her infirmaries, is a great kid but would like her mom to talk honestly with her about her fears and her future. 

Things abruptly change as a tragedy on a stormy night brings these two families together, though they never actually meet.  God is with both families as one deals with heartbreak and the other cautiously begins to hope and plan for a future. Nora slides into depression as her family and friends attempt to pull her out of it.  Jenna, always thinking of the other mother, feels some guilt over their good fortune.  She is publicly optimistic but privately terrified that Heather’s body will reject her new heart. 

There is joy, though, for Jenna, as she watches Heather become stronger, do things for herself, meet a boy, make new friends, plan ahead.  And there is a budding relationship for her too, as she moves from the caretaker role in a child centered home to a time when she can think about having a life of her own.  

Nora initially rejects the support of family and friends and the comfort of her church, retreating to her bed and sleeping the days away.  She is unable to help her family through their grief and heartache because her pain is too raw.  But she has the unfailing love and devotion of the family dog, who needs her to get up out of bed to let her out and feed her, and who just wants to be near her without demanding anything in return.  The dog was my favorite character in the book!

Each year I try to read one seasonal book during the holidays, although Christian fiction isn’t something I normally read as I generally find it too preachy and sappy. One Perfect Day isn’t either of those things.  The way the family members react to their circumstances is realistic and emotional.  I found the book to be very positive and inspirational and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good family story.  

Big thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me this novel to review.

Winners! We’ve got Winners!

I’m so bad.  I run contests and then forget to announce the winners.  This one ended days ago (oops!) 

Hachette generously agreed to let me give away 5 copies of Gods Behaving Badly, even though I was a comment shy of the required 15 per copy to be given away (they are cool people, and hey, I was very very close!)  So without further ado, here are the lucky winners:

Chartroose!

Patti!

Rocio!

Kristabella!

Mister M!

What’s up with all the exclamation points, you ask?!!  I don’t know!!  SOrry!!!

Thanks to all 59 entrants, and thanks to the awesome Valerie at Hachette Book Group for sponsoring this contest!

WINNERS!

The 22nd came and went and I forgot to pick the winners of the contest for 3 copies of

Live a Little by Kim Green.. so here we go…  

Michele from Michele – Only One L

 Tasses at Random Wonder

Sharon at Middle Aged Mama 

 

Winners, I will email you for your addresses.  Enjoy!

For my latest giveaway- a signed copy of Sweetsmoke by David Fuller- click HERE, leave a comment, and answer the question in the post by September 1st.  Good luck!

Guest Post and Hachette Giveaway: Live a Little by Kim Green

Live a Little by Kim Green is a new book coming out on August 15th. Hachette Book Group is offering 3 copies to my readers at Books on the Brain!  

It’s about an under-appreciated woman, with two bratty kids and a distracted husband, who is diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer.  Suddenly she’s treated like a queen by her family and friends.  But just as suddenly she finds out that there’s been a mistake and she is, in fact, perfectly healthy.  However, she’s not ready to relinquish the spotlight.  Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?  I haven’t read the book but you can read an excerpt HERE.  

I asked Kim to tell us a little bit about how she came up with the idea for Live a Little, and here’s what she wrote:

Live a Little, or rather, Raquel Rose, the book’s fortysomething, frustrated heroine, emerged out of my own experience as a harried mom of two. Sometime around the thousand-odd days of parenthood mark, I started to realize that not only is parenting not about your (the grown-up’s) fulfillment, it’s actually about the complete abnegation of self. Kid needs a toy while you’re in the first shower you’ve had in six days? No problem; hygiene is overrated. Sleep deprivation got you feeling paranoid or homicidal? Read an attachment parenting book; it’ll explain that you’re just being selfish.

What, I thought one day as I stuffed my writhing offspring into my raisin-littered sedan while yet another writing deadline came and went unmet, would a terminally unappreciated mother do to feel good again? How far would she go?

That’s where Live a Little came from. Now, maybe I’m a cynic, but I tend to think most of us are liars in one way or another. Maybe we just string together small fibs, or perhaps we’re more inclined toward the occasional whopper or self-aggrandizing feint. I think it is very possible for an otherwise ethical, normal person to spin a web of lies she can’t extricate herself from easily. This precept was the baseline for Raquel’s misadventure, and I demanded a lot from it (and, probably, my readers). I wanted to see how far I could take this idea and still make Raquel relatable (according to Publisher’s Weekly, not as far as I thought). What? Demanding a lot from a mom?  Good thing I’m writing fiction, no one would ever believe that….

Kim Green is the author of several romantic comic novels, including Is That a Moose in Your Pocket?,  Paging Aphrodite and Live a Little. Her writing has appeared in Los Angeles Magazine, Mother Jones, and the San Francisco Business Times, among other publications. Her requisite stint in dotcom included editing and managing projects for Women.com and other Silicon Valley companies. Kim earned an MA in International Relations from the University of Amsterdam, which qualifies her to create exotic settings for her books and little else. She lives in San Francisco with her family.

Leave a comment here by August 22nd for a chance to win a copy of Live a Little by Kim Green!