Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Really Random Tuesday #7: Giveaway Winners and Cats vs Dogs

Congratulations to PA and Jinky! Each won a copy of Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors, a collection of poems by Sweta Srivastava Vikram. And Miss Lissy has won a copy of An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon. Congratulations, Miss Lissy! Thanks to everyone who participated in these giveaways. It was a lot of fun for me to host them and to read all of the wonderful comments. If you didn't win this time, please take a look at the other book giveaways posted on the right side of my blog and try your luck again if anything appeals to you.

Last week, Avis from She Reads and Reads included some photos of her photogenic cat, Cairo, in her Really Random Tuesday post, whereas Naida from the bookworm often posts photos of Diego, her adorable chihuahua. Today Veens from Giving Reading a Chance treats us to some pictures of her very beautiful baby boy. This Tuesday, I decided to include some photos as well. I don' t have a baby at this point in my life, but I do have a cat and a dog.

"As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows cats have enormous patience with the limitations of human kind."
~Cleveland Amory

"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."
~Christopher Morley

My guess is that most book bloggers prefer cats to dogs, but I could certainly be wrong. (I would have thought that Virginia Woolf was a cat person, due to her introspective nature, yet she wrote the biography Flush, a book devoted to a cocker spaniel owned by Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.) Perhaps many of you, like me, appreciate the attributes of cats and dogs. Are you a cat person or a dog person--or both, like me?

Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mailbox Sunday

  Mailbox Monday, one of my favorite memes, just happens to be hosted in September by one of my favorite bloggers, Kathy from Bermudaonion's Weblog. Created by Marcia of The Printed Page, Mailbox Monday is currently on tour. During October, Avis from She Reads and Reads will be hosting this meme. This week, I'm following Kathy's lead and posting a day early. Pictured are the books that recently graced my mailbox.

13 rue Thérèse
by Elena Mauli Shapiro arrived from Reagan Arthur books, gift wrapped and with a small tin of candy! This will be the first book I review for The Reagan Arthur Books Challenge.

Have you ever ordered used books from Amazon? I often do, and have been quite happy with my purchases. (I also sell a few used books on Amazon, as I've mentioned previously.) Three of the books in the photo are used books that I bought from Amazon. I'm planning on reading the millennium trilogy by Steig Larsson, and I've read the first book and a bit of the second, but I needed to get the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, to complete the set. I'm also determined to read all of the books in The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, so I ordered the latest book, The Double Comfort Safari Club. (I did not expect to love this series as much as I do. Take me to Botswana!) Lastly, I ordered Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan, a short story collection that sounds absolutely extraordinary.

What new (or used) books have you gotten recently in the mail or from elsewhere?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Hop: Getting to Know You

Welcome! The Book Blogger Hop is a wonderful, weekly event for bloggers and readers, an opportunity to connect with other book lovers, make new friends and followers, and share an appreciation of books. I've discovered numerous book blogs in this way. Hosted by Jennifer from Crazy-for-Books, this Hop lasts from September 24 until September 27, so there's plenty of time to join and enjoy the BOOK PARTY. If you'd like me to visit your blog, please leave a comment.

This week's question is from Elizabeth from the lovely blog, Silver's Reviews:
When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

As a general rule, I write my book review after I've finished reading the entire book. Often I take notes while I'm reading, or jot down a few page numbers, but I don't write my actual review until I'm completely done reading a book.

The Book Blogger Hop puts me in a social mood, but I'm also in a curious mood, and have another question for my fellow book bloggers and readers. But first I have a confession to make.

I am having a love affair! I expect this is just a summer fling, which will change because the summer is over. After not having had any coffee for many years, it has been fabulous to drink coffee again, mostly iced coffee, with lots of soy milk and ice. I haven't given up my previous love, tea, especially green tea, but am also drinking coffee again after a long hiatus. Very recently we bought a Keurig machine, which even has a setting for iced coffee! What's your favorite beverage while reading or blogging, if any? Is it tea, coffee, water, a glass of wine, or something else?

Monday, September 20, 2010


"Each of us is here to discover our true Self; that essentially we are spiritual beings who have taken manifestation in physical form; that we're not human beings who have occasional spiritual experiences, that we're spiritual beings who have occasional human experiences."
~Deepak Chopra

First there was Buddha, then there was Jesus. Now there's Muhammad. Mind-body guru Deepak Chopra has been interested in the spiritual nature of life since his first book, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, published in 1993. The best-selling author and founder of The Chopra Center has a brand new book, published in September of 2010, Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet.

For many reasons, it seemed like the right time to read this book. Lately there have been several Muslim-related issues in the news. Should NYC build an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero? How do we stop Pastor Terry Jones, the leader of a small church in Florida, from burning copies of the Koran because he believes that it's evil and incites violent behavior amongst Muslims? Is President Barack Obama really a Muslim (a recurring question)? I hadn't studied Islam since my high school social studies classes, and was eager to learn more about this religion and Muhammad.

The first thing I learned (or relearned) in Muhammad is that the word "Islam" means "peace", and September 21 happens to be the International Day of Peace. In Chopra's book, which is a historical novel, different narrators recount the story of Muhammad, who was born in 570 CE, such as his wet nurse, daughters, a beggar, an enemy, a believer, and various others. I was afraid that the multiple perspectives might make the book confusing, but the author makes it easy to follow by providing the names and descriptions of each character as the title of each chapter. Numerous times Deepak Chopra states that Muhammad was an ordinary man, and through the eyes of others, Muhammad is depicted as such--he couldn't even read nor write--yet he was commanded to recite ("to recite" is the root word of Koran). I couldn't help but think that Muhammad really wasn't that ordinary. Even as a child he possessed wisdom and restraint in speech beyond his years; he was visited by angels, and as he matured he developed an unwavering faith, in spite of the fact that he lost both of his sons.

Although I've read and enjoyed several books by Deepak Chopra, including Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, which is a brilliant book, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this particular book, because of it's fictional nature. But I did enjoy it, and I learned about Muhammad, who brought monotheism to replace the polytheism of the Arabs. I found myself highlighting countless lines in the book, something I don't usually do. It's not a biography of his life but an imaginative novel, but it does seem to capture the light and essence of this man who changed the history of the Arabs, who came to believe in one all-powerful God, Allah. What I got out of this book is an understanding of Muhammad that I don't think I'd have garnered from a traditional, factual biography. I got to know a Muhammad who was human and down-to-earth, yet also divine.

Special thanks to Trish from TLC for the opportunity to review an advance copy of this book. For more reviews of this book, please visit the other stops on TLC's Muhammad book tour.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Really Random Tuesday #6: BBAW and a Giveaway Winner

Welcome again to Really Random Tuesday!

Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating. Last week, Naida from the bookworm made my Tuesday! And Veens from Giving Reading a Chance beat me to the punch again this week!

Often I announce the winners of my book giveaways in this meme. Today, congratulations go to Margie for winning Free to a Good Home by Eve Marie Mont. Margie, I'll send the book out to you as soon as I get your address. I haven't read it yet, but it sounds like a book we'll both enjoy. If you didn't win this time, why not enter one of the other numerous book giveaways I have posted on the right side of my blog? Some of them are international.

Last year, during Book Blogger Appreciation Week I hosted a giveaway, and interviewed a then new-to-me book blogger, Amanda from The Zen Leaf. In return, she interviewed me, and we have gotten to know each other better since then. Although our reading interests are different in many respects, Amanda's blog continues to be interesting to me because it's honest and thoughtful. During BBAW 2009, I "met" a lot of book bloggers, and for the first time felt part of a large and supportive community. Book bloggers are the nicest people!

This year, I did not register for BBAW. I started to, but as I didn't wish to nominate myself for any awards, I stopped registering mid-stream. I thought I'd return and try to register, without nominating my blog for anything, but when I did return, it was too late. Registration was closed. So officially I am not registered this year. But I think BBAW is a wonderful idea, and will participate in some of the activities. Did you register for BBAW? What does BBAW mean to you?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Outlander Review, and Giveaway for An Echo in the Bone

When Lisa asked me if I'd like to participate in TLC's book tour for Diana Gabaldon, I accepted the offer, knowing that this would give me an added incentive to read Outlander, published in 1991. For although I've had this book in my possession for a while, and knew it was very popular, I kept postponing the reading of it, probably because of it's length--it's 850 pages long. Also, I didn't really know how I'd react to the time travel aspect of the book, which I knew was an integral part of this novel. For although I enjoy fiction, I also want what I read to be believable as well as entertaining.

Outlander is the story of Claire Randall, a World War II nurse who travels back in time, to Scotland in 1743. Claire falls in love with a Highlander, Jamie Fraser, although she is already married, to Frank, in her present life. The premise of the book sounds rather far-fetched: Claire touches an ancient stone, goes back in time, and begins a romance with a Scot warrior, who affectionately calls her "Sassenach", which means outsider, because she is from England. But this imaginative story unfolds in such a way that I found myself suspending disbelief along with Claire, the heroine and narrator, and immersed myself in this same era. Due to Diana Galbadon's extraordinary skill as a writer, and to her attention to historical detail, the time travel works well here, and 18th century Scotland is vividly presented, reborn, a misty land of Lochs, castles, unrest and warring clans. As a nurse, Claire is an adept healer, ahead of her time in a real sense, and she puts her skills to good use in this book, an aspect of the book I found to be quite fascinating.

To me, this story is a romance above all else--a historical romance--because the love and passion between Claire and Jamie is very powerful, and defines and shapes the entire book (if not the series). Having read Outlander (at last!), I can honestly say that I didn't mind the length of this book. In fact, I wouldn't have minded reading 1000 pages of this book because it's extremely engaging (an overused word to describe books, but it really fits in this case). I was "hooked" from the very first chapter at the bed-and-breakfast, where Claire and Frank are reestablishing their marriage after a time apart (and having some fun at the expense of the owner, Mrs. Baird), and Outlander kept my attention at a high level throughout the book. It's truly an epic novel, full of romance, sex (lots of it!), fighting, and action. I recommend it wholeheartedly to fans of historical fiction and romance--or to those who simply enjoy great novels.

Outlander is the first of a series of books by Diana Gabaldon that also includes: Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, and An Echo in the Bone. I would love to read the second book in the series to find out what happens next.

Terrific news! To celebrate the trade paperback release of the seventh book in the Outlander series, the publisher is having a giveaway for An Echo in the Bone (U.S./Canada only).

  • To enter this giveaway for An Echo in the Bone, simply leave a comment.
  • For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • If you're already a fan of the Outlander series, you can get another chance by naming your favorite book in this series so far.

Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, September 27. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, September 28. Good luck!

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for including me on this tour. For more reviews of the books in the Outlander series please visit the other stops on Diana Gabaldon's book tour.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kaleidoscope: Review and Giveaway

"Colors are the smiles of nature."
~Leigh Hunt

Having recently interviewed Sweta Srivastava Vikram after reading Because All is Not Lost, I was thrilled by the opportunity to review her new book of poems, Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors. In the introduction of Kaleidoscope, the author says that her book, part of the World Voices Series, "delves into the implication and philosophy of colors from a Hindu woman's point of view", and that "the color she adorns herself with almost depicts the story of her life". The colors of an Indian woman's wardrobe are certainly significant; they represent her emotional state and thoughts. For example, the color red means marriage, green indicates conception, and white signifies widowhood. In the poem "Reflecting on Iridescence in Mama's Wardrobe", the author uses the colors of a sari, from pink to black, to depict the various stages of life from youth until death. The golden warmth of the third stanza is palpable:
"I hid under mama's yellow sari,
warm, as the sunrays at dawn,
so I could lose myself to words,
write an ode to daffodils,
and pretend I was Wordsworth."
While I am not Hindu, I'm particular when it comes to the color of my clothing, too. During the hot months of summer I tend to wear white, but since it was mild this year I wore blouses in the colors that I find most appealing, bright blues such as cobalt, turquoise, and purples; I rarely wear neutral colored tops because they feel too drab. I'm drawn to certain colors in clothing, and recognize the power of color to influence my mood and outlook. This chapbook goes beyond wardrobe colors, though, and mentions color in a myriad of other ways, directly and indirectly, citing her "soft lungs" and the "skies of London". Each verse is beautifully crafted, expressed in a variety of poetic and verbal forms. I dove into this book of poems quickly and eagerly, then slowed down to savor the words and the images, marveling over Sweta Srivastava Vikram's unique mix of grace, humor, and eloquence, which forms a medley of beauty and color.

Exciting news! The publisher is generously offering two books as a giveaway. This book giveaway is open internationally!
  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • For another bonus chance, name your favorite color or colors, or leave a comment about the importance of color in your own life.
Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, September 27. Two winners will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, September 28. Good luck!

Special thanks to Victor from Modern History Press for sending me Kaleidoscope.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Gifts

I almost feel like a child boasting about Christmas gifts! Here are the latest acquisitions to my book collection, and they are, for the most part, gifts.

From Yvonne's blog, Socrates' Book Review Blog, I won the audio book version of The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker. Many book bloggers listen to audio books on a regular basis, while I've only listened to a couple, so I'm pleased to possess a new audio book.

Deepak Chopra's new book, Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet, arrived for an upcoming TLC book tour. This book will be released to the public on September 21, 2010. I have several books by Deepak Chopra, including my favorite so far, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, which the author signed for me many years ago.

Goops and How to Be Them is a gift for my birthday from my mother. She read these verses to me and my sisters when we were mere goops, and it's wonderful to reacquaint myself with this very charming book.

My sister, Karen, gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card as a birthday gift. It's the perfect gift for me!

Lydia from Putnam sent The Defector by Daniel Silva to thank me for being on TLC's The Rembrandt Affair book blog tour. But it should be the other way around. I should thank Lydia, because I enjoyed reading my first Daniel Silva thriller and being on the tour, which was a very different sort of book tour.

Mailbox Monday, one of my favorite memes, is being hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, Kathy from Bermudaonion's Weblog, during the month of September. What new books have you gotten recently in the mail or from elsewhere?

Some of the books featured here were given to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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