Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Ghost of Greenwich Village GIVEAWAY!

I got some great responses to my review of The Ghost of Greenwich Village and am so excited to let you all know that the publishers are letting me give away one copy of Lorna Graham's novel to one lucky US/Canada resident.  All you have to do is fill out the form below with your name and email.  Should you want to do the extras - like post on Facebook/Twitter, comment on the review, or follow my blog - I'll give you an extra entry for each.  The contest is open through July 18th.  Good Luck!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Ghost of Greenwich Village - Lorna Graham

Title: The Ghost of Greenwich Village
Author: Lorna Graham
Paperback: 345 pages (ARE version)
Publisher: Random House/Ballantine Books
Published Date:  June 28, 2011
FTC: free from TLC Book Tours

When I was asked by TLC Book Tours if I wanted to read and review The Ghost of Greenwich Village, I thought why not?  I'm quite the sucker for a good New York City book since I briefly lived there.  I am so incredibly glad I did because I loved this tale - almost like a fairy tale. The letter from Random House wrote that it "is the simplest of love stories: Girl meets City, Girl falls for City, Girl and City live happily ever after".  What a perfect description.

Back of the book:

For Eve Weldon, moving to Greenwich Village is a dream come true. She’s following in the bohemian footsteps of her mother, who lived there during the early sixties among a lively community of Beat artists and writers. But when Eve arrives, the only scribe she meets is a grumpy ghost named Donald, and the only writing she manages to do is for chirpy segments on a morning news program, Smell the Coffee. The hypercompetitive network environment is a far cry from the genial camaraderie of her mother’s literary scene, and Eve begins to wonder if the world she sought has faded from existence. But as she struggles to balance her new job, demands from Donald to help him complete his life’s work, a budding friendship with a legendary fashion designer, and a search for clues to her mother’s past, Eve begins to realize that community comes in many forms—and that the true magic of the Village is very much alive, though it may reveal itself in surprising ways.

My thoughts:

I'm not quite sure how Lorna Graham managed to pack all that she did in her novel and pull it off exquisitely.  Here's why:

Eve - What a wonderful character.  Her full name is Eventual Weldon (love that) and she moves to Greenwich Village from Ohio.  She HAD to live in Greenwich because she is trying to connect with her mother (who passed away) who had lived in the Village when she was younger.  After working for her father and being dependent for much too long, she wants to make it for herself.  Eve could have been such a stereotypical and apathetic character but she wasn't.  She was honest and refreshing because seriously, NYC is full of people trying to make it on their own.  I also enjoyed her fashion side - wearing her mom's vintage clothing.  Nice touch.

Donald - The Ghost/Beat Gen writer.  This could have come off as just plain weird because really? A ghost?  But she really made it work.  I loved his character.  He was surly but likeable which is what, I think, Eve liked about him too.  The whole Beat Generation thing and how Donald was in Eve's life - it all just worked.  Bravo.

Matthias Klieg - the fictionary legendary dress designer. You are really just going to have to read the book to find out what a gem this character is. 

Literary references - galore! I mean, her past time is walking her dog, Highball, around the neighborhood and finding all the plaques on the apartments noting what famous author lived there.  I need to re-read this book just to jot down all the authors and works she mentions.  (Check out her website for a literary map.)  (Just read that Lorna Graham lives in Greenwich Village - so yeah, I think that is cool.  Just had to mention that here somewhere.)

New York City -  last but definitely not least.  This is the first NYC book I've read that depicted the city how I saw and felt as I lived there.  The fact that it is really really tough sometimes - most of the time.  That it can be lonely.   But it can also be beautiful and magical.  That you can meet some of the best people.  Let me just give you some quotes:

"Eve and Highball wandered down Bleecker Street, the city seeming to her like a giant clique, impenetrable. She was never going to find a way in. She looked hard at each person she passed, every store merchant, every police officer, every deliveryman. What was the damn secret?" (pg 57)

Yep, I've totally been there.  Or this one - since I worked in Midtown I totally got this and cracked up that she nailed it perfectly:

"She disembarked the subway at Thirty-fourth Street, still amazed at how different Midtown was from the Village. In the Village, locals meandered, strolled, ambled at best. Here everyone marched smartly in military precision as if taking orders from some unseen general." (pg 63)

And this one, I've been there too.  We grabbed and given away things on the street and we too had a random stranger help move our couch into our apartment:

"For all its expense and toughness, New York could be extraordinarily generous. It coughed up regular goodies on stoops and sidewalks, ranging from books to blenders to dining room sets. She'd come across her love seat on Bank Street and a street person had even helped her carry it home." (pg 80)

There are a lot more quotes I'd love to share but you're just going to have to read it yourself.  I loved this New York love story and seeing the City through Eve's eyes and also through the Beat Generation's era when Greenwich Village became more than just a neighborhood.

The book cover:

The copy I have has the above cover which I adore.  Also, and this may sound weird, but the cover has a deliciously wonderful texture...kind of waxy and smooth.  I noticed that TLC Book Tours has a different cover:

I prefer my cover since I think it conveys the fairy tale/love story feel of the story.  The other one looks a bit too bleak for me.  Thoughts?

Lorna Graham’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, June 20th:  Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, June 22nd:  Life in Review
Tuesday, June 28th:  Knowing the Difference
Wednesday, June 29th:  A Library of My Own
Thursday, June 30th:  Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Books
Tuesday, July 5th:  Well Read Wife
Wednesday, July 6th:  Redheaded Book Child
Thursday, July 7th:  Bookfoolery and Babble
Monday, July 11th:  Amusing Reviews
Tuesday, July 12th:  Books Like Breathing
Wednesday, July 13th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, July 14th:  Book Reviews by Molly
Monday, July 18th:  Peeking Between the Pages

Connect with Lorna on her website,, and on  Twitter.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nerd Do Well - Simon Pegg


Title: Nerd Do Well
Author: Simon Pegg
Paperback: 353 pages (ARC version)
Publisher: Gotham Books
Published Date: June 2011
FTC: free for TLC tour

When I saw that TLC Book Tours was hosting Simon Pegg's book Nerd Do Well, I asked if I could join the tour.  I will say here that I love British comedies and I love some of Simon Pegg's movies.  We own Shaun of the Dead and absolutely love it.  If you've never seen this zombie comedy (zomedy?) go rent it now.  I've also seen Hot Fuzz and Run Fatboy Run which were pretty funny too. (If you have no clue who Simon Pegg is or don't feel like reading the synopsis, check out his video below).

Here's the synopsis from TLC Book Tours:

The unique life story of one of the most talented and inventive comedians, star of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Star Trek.

Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: actor, comedian, writer and self-proclaimed supergeek Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows in recent times. Having landed on the U.S. movie scene in the surprise cult hit Shaun of the Dead, his enduring appeal and rise to movie star with a dedicated following has been mercurial, meteoric, megatronic, but mostly just plain great.

From his childhood (and subsequently adult) obsession with science fiction, his enduring friendship with Nick Frost, and his forays into stand-up comedy which began with his regular Monday morning slot in front of his twelve-year-old classmates, Simon has always had a severe and dangerous case of the funnies.

Whether recounting his experience working as a lifeguard at the city pool, going to Comic-Con for the first time and confessing to Carrie Fisher that he used to kiss her picture every night before he went to sleep, or meeting and working with heroes that include Peter Jackson, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino, Pegg offers a hilarious look at the journey to becoming an international superstar, dotted with a cast of memorable characters, and you’re rooting for him all the way.

My thoughts:

I think it's always difficult to review someone's memoir.  I really don't want to judge their life.  Fortunately for Nerd Do Well, I really enjoyed it.  I was pretty hesitant picking it up since my husband had already given me his thoughts on the book.  The minute I got the book in the mail, my husband snagged it and read it.  He said it was "British comedy, British comedy, Star Wars, British comedy, Star Wars, Star Wars, Nick Frost".  You can see why I was a bit hesitant.  But I honestly thought it was better than that.

I was also a bit nervous that since he was British, even though I lived over there for a few months and love British shows and movies, I worried I wouldn't get a lot of references.  I didn't have to worry too much (although there were more 1970s/80s references that I didn't get just because I wasn't old enough back then to watch, say Bionic Man). 

What I enjoyed was his memories. Even though his childhood was probably not insanely unique, I enjoyed his stories.  I mean, he gives a Mars Bar to his teacher and chaos ensues, he struggles with his fear of the swimming pool, and while these aren't terribly unique I enjoyed his stories.  I mean, I loved reading about his childhood self who loved performing comedy and really performing anything even if it meant he looked like an idiot doing it.

Perhaps it's his way of writing which makes it feel like he's talking to you.  This would be an awesome audio book if Simon Pegg narrated (I Googled it and he DOES narrate! Yay!).  Interspersed within his memoir is a silly little story staring Simon Pegg as the "world's most famous international playboy and adventurer" who has a sidekick robot.  I know that sounds weird but it really works and my husband and I both enjoyed that little short story.

Perhaps I liked it because while I don't think I'm a huge nerd (I can't program a computer and I've never been to comic-con), I do enjoy some nerdiness.  I loved when he mentioned his cameo in Doctor Who.  I love that show.  I grew up watching it with my dad and being completely confused about what was going on but loving it anyway.  And I loved all the Star Wars and Star Trek references.  I think it's hilarious that I grew up watching Star Trek and playing with Ewoks and my husband really didn't.  Yeah, he makes fun of me for watching Battlestar Galactica too.  What I'm trying to say is that if you appreciate any of these references and think you may be fit somewhere on the nerd radar, you'll enjoy Simon Pegg's memoir too.

For more fun nerdiness stuff, check out Simon Pegg's website
My husband showed me this article: George Lucas Apologizes to Simon Pegg for prequels?
Simon Pegg on NPR 

Here's his book trailer:

Simon Pegg’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Friday, June 3rd:  GeekDad
Monday, June 6th: We Be Reading
Tuesday, June 7th: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, June 8th: Luxury Reading
Thursday, June 9th: Lit and Life
Friday, June 10th:  Nerds in Babeland
Monday, June 13th: The 3 R’s Blog
Tuesday, June 14th: HeGeekSheGeek
Wednesday, June 15th: Life in the Thumb
Thursday, June 16th:  Simply Stacie
Friday, June 17th:  GeekMom
Monday, June 20th:  Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White
Tuesday, June 21st: Total Fan Girl
Wednesday, June 22nd:  A Library of My Own
Thursday, June 23rd:  Well Read Wife
Friday, June 24th:  Acting Balanced

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anthropology of an American Girl - H.T. Hamann

Title: Anthropology of an American Girl
Author: Hilary Thayer Hamann
Paperback: 640 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau/Random House
Published Date: June 14, 2011 (original 2003)
Note: My copy is first edition, hardback, 568 pages, Vernacular Press
FTC: Bought at Housingworks Book Sale

When I saw that TLC Book Tours was hosting the book Anthropology of an American Girl, I asked if I could join along.  I had found a beautiful first edition at a Housingworks Book Sale back (more on my edition at the end) when I lived in New York and hadn't gotten around to reading it yet.  I thought this was the perfect time to read it.

I will say right here that I did not finish it.  Yes.  I'll be honest and admit that. It's not as if I didn't give myself time to read it.  I started it in mid-May and well, I finally gave myself a break and admitted that it's not my kind of tea at page 147.

The synopsis from Goodreads:

Self-published in 2003, Hilary Thayer Hamann’s Anthropology of an American Girl touched a nerve among readers, who identified with the sexual and intellectual awakening of its heroine, a young woman on the brink of adulthood.  A moving depiction of the transformative power of first love, Hamann’s first novel follows Eveline Auerbach from her high school years in East Hampton, New York, in the 1970s through her early adulthood in the moneyed, high-pressured Manhattan of the 1980s. 
Centering on Evie’s fragile relationship with her family and her thwarted love affair with Harrison Rourke, a professional boxer, the novel is both a love story and an exploration of the difficulty of finding one’s place in the world.  As Evie surrenders to the dazzling emotional highs of love and the crippling loneliness of heartbreak, she strives to reconcile her identity with the constraints that all relationships—whether those familial or romantic, uplifting to the spirit or quietly detrimental—inherently place on us. Though she stumbles and strains against social conventions, Evie remains a strong yet sensitive observer of the world around her, often finding beauty and meaning in unexpected places. 
Newly edited and revised since its original publication, Anthropology of an American Girl is an extraordinary piece of writing, original in its vision and thrilling in its execution.

My thoughts:

I have a feeling that this book one of those love it or hate it books.  Yesterday I checked out some reviews on Goodreads because I was really curious to see what other people thought and yeah, it looks like it's a love or hate it type of book.

One of the deal-breakers for me was the writing.  Is it possible that her writing is too good and I just don't get it?  Maybe.  All I know is for the first 10 or so pages I thought "Oh no."  It's so verbose that I couldn't fathom slogging through the next 568 pages.  I feel like her beautiful writing and memorable passages were hidden by all the meandering she did.  Again, this might be something you love or hate.  Here's an example:

We reclined in the sun on a wooden footbridge in back of the nature trail. We hung by our backs from the belly of the earth. We weighed a flawless weight, a liquid and consequent weight, like cylinders half-filled and lying on sides. We were essence and anima, inchoate and divine, complementary and dilute. We were shapes fitting shapes in a universe that was a soft-side maze. (pg 139)

A little wordy? Or beautiful? It's hard to tell.  I'd normally love this type of writing if it was pocketed with gems like this. But it's the entire writing style.  For instance, just a little further down pages 139 is this:

I opened my eyes. Jack's hand was thrust into the air, bobbing wretchedly to chase the able bird. The minute and mortal reach of his limb depressed me awfully. We did not levitate against the arc of the planet as I'd thought - we were mired in circumstance. There was something about the love that did not transfer well from the mind.

Instead of enjoying the writing I kept rolling my eyes thinking no high schooler I know thinks like this. It's also distracting.  There was one point where she was in the school gym and after five pages of rambling it came back to the gym and I was confused because I totally forgot what was going on in the story.  Character's names are thrown out and it takes overly long for me to figure out who they are and how they fit in the story.

I might have been able to get around the writing if it had a compelling story.  At 147 pages I'm still not sure what that story is.  I know it's centered around a girl named Eveline.  At the beginning we know she's engaged to be married at it's 1984.  Then it goes to 1979 when she's in high school.  For the next 125 pages or so all I get out of it is that her best friend's mom dies from cancer which hits her pretty hard, she has a boyfriend named Jack who she loves, a best friend Kate, she gets raped, she has a birthday party, and it's setting up something about a possible affair with a drama teacher.  She's a pretty apathetic character.  I mean, the whole birthday party scene kind of tells it all when she is not fond of the attention and hides behind Jack's character, I think takes some drugs to feel better, and at the end notes "He (Jack) may have had sex with me, I thought he did, I wasn't sure."  (pg 143) I mean, man.  I just couldn't relate to Eveline and didn't really want or need to figure out how the story ends.

I don't know if it's just the timing of me reading that story that's not clicking.  Possibly had I read this in high school I'd have loved it.  I'd be tagging all the beautiful and moving passages instead of the ones I thought were ridiculous.  I checked my Google Reader to see if any blogs I follow had reviewed it and I found one.  The Five Borough Book Review read it and stated, "I did enjoy this one. Quite a lot. Despite not really liking Eveline, I wanted to know how it all turned out. A worthwhile chunkster."  So even though I didn't finish the book, it did make me curious what other people thought.

So have you read this book?  Does it sound like something you'd want to read?

My edition:

Even more disappointing is how much I wanted to love this book.  From the title (I loved anthropology and should have gone into that field), to the beautiful first edition I have.  It's beyond beautiful.  The hardcover is beautifully bound with a scrolling E (for Eveline).  The pages and type are lovely and it comes with an awesome book mark.  It was obviously made and published with thought and love.  Please note that I read the first edition and not the paperback one now published by Spiegel & Grau/Random House.

The first edition cover:

Hilary Thayer Hamann’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, June 6th:  Book Snob
Wednesday, June 8th:  A Library of My Own
Friday, June 10th:  Well Read Wife
Monday, June 13th: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Thursday, June 16th:  BookNAround
Monday, June 20th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, June 22nd:  The 3R’s Blog
Monday, June 27th:  Books Like Breathing
Thursday, June 30th:  The Book Faery Reviews
Wednesday, July 6th:  Caribousmom
Friday, July 8th:  Peeking Between the Pages

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Giveaway Winners!!

It's time to announce the plethora of giveaway winners for three lovely books I've read this year.  Thank you so much everyone for entering the contests!!  Without further ado, here we go:

Lynda Simmons offered TWO  copies of Island Girl to give away.

Amanda wrote:  One way or another, if this is the best book you have read so far this year I feel compelled to read it. I really do prefer books that rotate the narrative between characters. Tends to make the story a bit more interesting.

Lisa G. wrote:  I love her description of Centre Island. 

Lisa G. already won a copy so moving on to next winner:

KJ wrote:  I liked that she wrote Harlequin romances :)

The publisher of The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen offered up a copy to give away.

Zoe wrote:  So romantic and sweet! I haven't read any yet but I already love her writing from what I have seen.  I definitely plan to pick up her books soon :)

I hope you enjoy it Zoe and check out her other books too!

Last but not least, I had an extra ARC copy of The Map of True Places to give away to one lucky winner.

Brooke (who has an awesome blog) wrote: I love the maritime history focus! Salem has such a rich history already. Also, I mentioned in my comment that Zee sounds similar to the protagonist of the novel I'm writing. Thanks for the recommendation!

I will be sending out emails to all of you for your snail mail addresses.  Thanks again everyone for entering the contests!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Paperback: 441 pages (ARE version)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published Date: February 2011
FTC: Snagged free from work shelf

Short and Easy:

After Divergent (my review), this is the second YA series I'm eagerly awaiting for book two.  It's more of a romance story with a dystopian backdrop, and if you like that, this is your type of series.


In the not too distant future, scientists have decided that love is a disease, dubbed amor deliria nervosa. In a few months Lena will turn eighteen years old and be old enough to get the procedure done which will prevent her from falling in love...and she can't wait.  On the day of her evaluation (which pairs the person with their future partner), Lena has all the right answers prepared (Here's the Evaluation guide).   But the unthinkable happens and she starts botching questions.  Fortunately chaos ensues when someone (probably the Invalids) lets a heard of cows into the evaluation center.  Looking up Lena sees a boy:

The observation deck. A boy is standing on the observation deck, watching the chaos below. And  he's laughing.  

As soon as I look up, his eyes click onto my face. The breath whooshes out of my body and everything freezes for a second, as though I'm looking at him through my camera lens, zoomed in all the way, the world pausing for that tiny span of time between the opening and closing of the shutter.  

His hair is golden brown, like leaves in autumn just as they're turning, and he has bright amber eyes.  The moment I see him I know he's one of the people responsible for this. I know that he must live in the Wilds; I know that he's an Invalid. Fear clamps down on my stomach, and I open my mouth to shout something - I'm not sure what, exactly - but at that precise second he gives a minute shake of his head, and suddenly I can't make a sound. Then he does the absolutely, positively unthinkable.

He winks at me.  (pg 38)

After that moment, Lena's life isn't so clear cut.  She starts questioning things.  She starts noticing things.  She starts wondering about the Invalids (people who have refused the cure) who live in the Wilds.

My thoughts:

I thought this was wonderfully put-together book.  I liked how Lena started out completely accepting the way things were but as she notices some things the questions just start snowballing.  I love that the story's main part was the changes that Lena go through and the development of her relationship with the Invalid boy.  I think this was a much needed set up for the rest of the series.  Each chapter starts with a quote from either an accepted book/work or a piece from the Comprehensive Compilation of Dangerous Words and Ideas.  Lauren Oliver's website even has a partial list of Forbidden Books which I thought was pretty cool.  It's definitely a story about forbidden love so don't go into this thinking it's radically sci-fyi or dystopian.  Also, it's got an insanely huge cliff-hanger of an ending.  So either read it now and hold your breath for the next book or wait until they are all out if you can't stand waiting to find out what happens.

The cover of my book is the advanced reader's edition with the above cover.  If you go to the store, these are the covers you'll find:

What do you think?  Do you like the published covers or the ARE version?

Also Reviewed By:

The Book Nest
Bookshelves of Doom
The Zen Leaf
Becky's Book Reviews
(tales of) a capricious reader
S. Krishna's Books
Medieval Book Worm
Library Queue
The Neverending Shelf


Serendipity meets Lauren Oliver
The Book Butterfly has ten tantalizing questions for Lauren Oliver
One Librarian's Book Reviews compares Delirium with Uglies