Friday, July 31, 2009

Find out about the Book of Black Magic

"Catherine de Medici has been considered history's most ruthless and cunning queen. Even today, it is commonly accepted that Catherine resorted to astrology and black magic to keep her family, and herself, in power at all costs. Here, for the first time, bestselling author Jeanne Kalogridis (author of THE DEVIL'S QUEEN) opens the pages of history to reveal some of Catherine's favorite black magic spells and dark charms in the 'BOOK OF BLACK MAGIC: The Devil's Queen Grimoire'..."


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Review: Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

Description: Payton Kendall knew from the minute she met J.D. Jameson that he was going to make her work life interesting. As both are lawyers in the same firm they are constantly competing for everything - including the opportunity to be partner. For some reason they have rubbed each other the wrong way (but they also have had an undeniable attraction for one another). When a case comes up that they both must work on they realize that the things they thought they knew about the other aren't all true. But can two dedicated lawyers give up some of their career aspirations in order to be together?

Thoughts: I liked it a lot. It had more story then a lot of contemporary romances and yet kept you entertained. The characters are likable and fallible. They have great jobs, lots of money, and yet are still not totally satisfied with their lives. Add to that the fact that a misunderstanding at the beginning can start people on the wrong track and you have the makings of a very fun story. If you like these genre of books I would recommend it.

What genre would you consider this?


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews: The Cemetery Dance

The Cemetery Dance
By Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

What this book is about:
A prominent New York Times reporter is killed in a brutal attack in his posh Upper West side apartment. His archeologist wife escapes with minor injuries and is able to identify their attacker. The problem is that by all accounts the alleged attacker was dead and buried ten days prior.

Did you like this book:
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but I just don’t read a lot of fiction. I was not too enthused when I found myself stuck behind a construction area accident, going no where fast and with only an audio copy of The Cemetery Dance and a cell phone with a dead battery in the car with me. Reluctantly I popped the book in the CD player. The story that unfolded is a must read summer action/mystery. It is good enough to warrant being tossed in your tote bag to go on vacation with you. I was hooked by Chapter 2 and would have listened to the entire 13 hour audio straight through if I could have. It was fantastic and I can see this sophisticated read appealing to a wide rage of tastes! If you only have time to read one book the rest of the summer- this is it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Review: Dial Emmy for Murder

Dial Emmy for Murder by Eileen Davidson

Alexis Peterson is a soap star who looks to have it all. Of course life is never that easy. She loves her daughter and has a supportive mother. She has moved to a new soap because of the problems she had at her last one (everyone thought she was a murderer for a while - and who can work like that)? But she has moved on and is ready to present at the Daytime Emmy Awards. But for Alexis life throws her a curve ball - and in this case it is a fellow soap star dead on the awards show.

Many people would go their own way - but Alexis can't leave a mystery alone. And she can't help her attraction to Dective Frank Jakes either. Both drag her into another mystery that maybe only she can solve - as she has all the inside scoops. But being a detective can mean danger. Can Alexis figure it all out in time?

Thoughts: This was my first Eileen Davidson book. From what I an tell she has several Alexis Peterson books out there. And it was different to read a book about a soap star from the perspective of someone who really is a soap star. She seems to take the world as it is. She is lucky (or at least Alexis is) to have what she has. She works hard but she gets lots of benefits. And beyond that is this idea that she loves a mystery. It makes me think that if I could Eileen would be a great person to meet in real life. The books are written as if the "star" is down to earth and knows what is important to her - mainly her family.

Add a touch of romance and a murder mystery and you have a very entertaining book. I am not a big mystery reader (my interest comes and goes) but I would definitely be willing to pick up another one of these books!

What genre would you consider this?


Monday, July 27, 2009

Ten Trivia Facts You Probably Used to Know By Caroline Taggart, Author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

Ten Trivia Facts You Probably Used to Know By Caroline Taggart, Author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

You know how it is -- the kids come home from school full of enthusiasm for a new subject, ask you to explain something, and you think, "Oh, yes, I used to know that." When I started to write a book on things you'd forgotten from your schooldays, I realised that I half- knew lots of stuff. I'd heard of phrases and clauses, but did I know the difference between them? I had a vague idea about photosynthesis -- it's to do with how plants grow, isn't it? But doesn't being green come into it somewhere? And then there was the War of 1812 -- what was that all about?

So there are three Top Trivia Questions to start with; I'll answer them and then I'll give you seven more. That way, even if you can't answer the kids' questions, you can quickly change the subject and throw in some knowledge of your own.

Language: What's the difference between a clause and a phrase? These are the building blocks of a sentence. The difference is that a clause contains a subject and a verb. It often stands alone as a simple sentence (He loves dogs), but may also be part of a longer sentence (He loves dogs, but he doesn't own one). A phrase is a group of words in a sentence that does not contain a subject and a verb (In the afternoon, he took his mother's dog for a walk).

Biology: What is photosynthesis? It is -- as we suspected -- to do with how plants grow. It's the process by which they convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates, using the energy they absorb from light by means of a green pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is stored mainly in the leaves and is the reason most plants are green. Photosynthesis releases oxygen into the atmosphere, enabling the rest of us to breathe.

History: The war of 1812, between the U.S. and Britain, actually lasted nearly three years, from 1812 to 1815. Britain was already at war with France (under Napoleon) and the U.S. sided with the French. American ships, trying to break a blockade that would prevent supplies from reaching France, were being seized by the British, who then coerced American seamen into the Royal Navy. On top of that, the U.S.
was disputing British control of territories in Canada; New England's support for Britain complicated the issue further. This war -- the last time the U.S. and Britain fought on opposing sides -- ended in stalemate when the British defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo and subsequently lifted their blockade.

Literature: Where does the expression 'It just growed' come from? It's a misquotation from Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-96), a fiercely anti-slavery novel published in 1852, when this was the political hot potato in America. The most famous character is the slave girl Topsy, who didn't know where she came from (i.e. didn't realise that God had made her) and said, 'I s'pect I growed.'

Math: who was that Pythagoras guy anyway? He was a Greek mathematician and philosopher who lived in the 6th century BC. His theorem (the word comes from the same root as "theory" but means something that can be proved) states that in a right-angled triangle "the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides." The hypotenuse is the longest side of the triangle, opposite the right angle. This theorem really really matters to mathematicians, because it is fundamental to calculations used in architecture, engineering, astronomy, navigation and the like.

Geography: which were the original 13 states of the Union? In alphabetical order: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia. Delaware was the first to ratify the new constitution and is nicknamed "The First State" to this day.

Chemistry: what's the Periodic Table of Elements? It's a way of setting out the names of all the known chemical elements so that the vertical columns contain groups or families with similar properties. It was devised in the 19th century by a Russian chemist called Mendeleev and has been in use ever since. An element, by the way, is a substance that cannot be decomposed into a simpler substance by a chemical process. Groups of elements come together to form compounds.
So, for example, a combination of the element hydrogen (H) and the element oxygen (O) can form the compound water (H2O).

Physics: what are conduction, convection and radiation? These are the ways in which heat is transferred from one "body" (that is, "thing") to another. Put simply, conduction means that a cool thing -- whether solid, liquid, or gas -- is warmed up by coming into contact with a hot thing. Convection occurs in liquids and gases and is the basis of the principle that hot air rises. A hot liquid or gas is generally less dense than a cool one; as the hot particles rise, cooler ones rush in underneath to take their place. The hot particles, having risen, cool and come down again, and so on. Radiation involves the energy that all objects emit. It is the only one of the three methods that works in a vacuum and is how the sun's rays manage to warm the Earth from so far away.

Art: who was Jackson Pollock? He was what is called an Abstract Expressionist and he believed that the act of painting was more important than the finished product. His paintings are therefore highly colourful, often huge, and (like his life) chaotic to the point of frenzy. He died in a motor accident in 1956, aged only 44.

Music: why should I care about Johann Sebastian Bach? He was incredibly important in the development of classical music: without him, some say, there might have been no Haydn, no Mozart, and no Beethoven. He wrote mostly organ music, church music, and orchestral music; his most famous works include the Brandenburg Concertos, the St. Matthew Passion, The Well-Tempered Clavier, and Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. He had many children, including the composers Carl Philip Emmanuel and Johann Christian.

©2009 Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

Author Bio
Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School, has been an editor of non-fiction books for nearly 30 years and has covered nearly every subject from natural history and business to gardening and astronomy. She has written several books and was the editor of Writer's Market UK 2009.

For more information please visit

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book Review: Undead and Unwelcome

Undead and Unwelcome by Mary Janice Davidson

Description: Betsy and Sinclair are off to do their duty as King and Queen of Vampires. A werewolf has died under their protection and they must make amends with the werewolves. Of course things are never easy for Betsy. She can't keep her mouth shut and that only causes more problems.

Meanwhile at home things aren't going so well either. Marc is left with Betsy's half-sis Laura (oh did anyone tell you she is the child of Satan). It all starts off with the best of intentions but things go south quickly. Can Betsy and Sinclair make it back in time to fix all the problems?

Thoughts: I like these undead books. I think the refreshing tales of Betsy who is queen of the vampires but not really all that into anything but herself, her family, and staying alive, fun. They aren't written to make you scared or think the world is crashing down - they are witty and light.

That being said - this wasn't my favorite of these books. I feel like I am just not getting enough story from this one. Yes we find out some tidbits about BabyJon and the sister who is half-Satan, but overall there isn't a ton of progression. I wanted more in terms of plot moving forward.

I also didn't particularly enjoy the "diary" aspect where Betsy's friend Marc is writing things from his perspective. Yes, that is the only way to tell that story since Betsy isn't around. But I didn't like it so much. So in terms of recommendations - yes read the series. Don't start with this one - I think it may make you put it down and you shouldn't judge every book by this one.

What genre would you consider this?


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Book Review: The Last Hellion

The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase

Description: Lydia Greenville is a writer who wants to help the world. She sees the young women in the town getting abused and forced into prostitution and she will do anything to stop that - even if it means putting herself in danger as well. Lydia has no use for men and is a bit of a unique woman of the time in that she does things other women cannot get away with.

Meanwhile Vere Mallory is used to being one of the wild ones. He has been hurt by those he loves dieing and he has little use for opening his heart up for another abuse. Lydia though is entertaining on a level he never thought he could be entertained on. Can he open his heart to her? Can he deal with her wild side?

Thoughts: One of the things that stuck out to me in this book (which really has little to do with the story) was the author's use of footnotes. If the author refers to someone from a previous book there is a little footnote at the bottom of the page that tells me what year the book was made in and what book it was. It is definitely interesting and makes you more likely to pick up whatever book has that character in it.

Now on to the story. It is a good story. Entertaining. A classic romance novel. The beginning and end stuck out to me as being unique more in the way they were written then in the story itself. Either way it kept me entertained and wanting to read more.

What genre would you consider this?
Historical Romance


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: The Immortal Hunter

The Immortal Hunter by Lynsay Sands

Description: Decker Argeneau is a Rogue hunter who needs a vacation. But when there are rogue vampire's out there - vacations sometimes have to wait. When he comes across a nest of vampires and their captives everything changes. Decker has found his soul mate. Dr. Danielle McGill knows there is more than meets the eye going on. But if Decker and his friends will help her find her sister she will follow along and do what needs to be done.

Along the way Danielle realizes that Decker is not what she expected. Is she ready to be his soul mate? Can she get her sister back before she is really hurt? What happens when Danielle becomes one of the undead too?

Thoughts: I love the Argeneau series and this is just another way to extend that set of books. You get to meet and see the Argeneau's and at the same time extend it to a few more people. The only thing I see as possibly being an issue is the whole - you can only convert one person and these girls seem to have families. What do you do with that?

These books are great and one long continuation of a story. So start at the beginning or I think you will be missing way to much. You don't have to read all of the books - just the Rogue Hunter Novels.

What genre would you consider this?
Paranormal Romance


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Review: Dead and Gone

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Description: Sookie is excited - the weres are going to come out. It has been a while since the vampires have done it and now the Were community has decided to try it. It can't go wrong can it? Except it seems to be a problem.

Add to that her great grandfather the fairy Naill is back. He loves Sookie and wants to protect her. But his enemies know that she is in his life. And they figure why not just hurt the expendable human. Sookie has a lot of friends but can they protect her from all of these enemies?

Thoughts: I have been a Sookie Stackhouse fan for a while now. I have enjoyed the books and kept picking them up whenever they would come out. Imagine my surprise (and feeling of stupidity) when I picked this one up and it explained to me that the TV show I had been hearing so much about (and yet never seen) on HBO - True Blood was based on the books. All of a sudden I couldn't believe that I had totally missed it. I mean I like vampires. I had heard of True Blood but because it was on HBO hadn't paid any attention to it. Well now I will have to.

I liked this Sookie book quite a bit. Sookie has been progressing as a charecter as things have changed in her world. Her brother isn't the man she wishes he would be. She loves Eric (but is that because of their blood bond or cause she really does love him)? Then there are her conflicted feelings for Bill. I mean he was her first love but something has changed. This book explores Sookie's view on family and how having a brother who is a bit of an a** has changed her perspective and made her want just anyone who can love her and care for her. Even if it means he is a fairy and she can't totally trust him.

I would defintly recommend this series and if you can start at the begining. Then you will understand the depth of these feelings she has for everyone.

What genre would you consider this?


Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Review: Mr. and Miss Anonymous

Mr. and Miss Anonymous by Fern Michaels

Description: Lily Madison and Pete Kelly are college students who need to make a few bucks. So what do they do - donate their eggs and sperm. When thy meet outside the clinics one night after their last donation they feel a connection that last years. They also share a conviction that things weren't as expected.

Years have passed and they can't help but think of the other one - so they decide to head off to their college reunion. When what happens? Children appear on the tv that look exactly like Pete. Could that be one of his missing children? They are wanted because of a shooting that occurred.

Pete and Lily start on at track to find out what really happened with their donations. They will find there was a lot more to it then expected.

Thoughts: I don't consider this a classic romance. In fact most of it is the two main characters trying to solve some sort of mystery. Their attraction and love for each other is rather instantaneous so most of it is just figuring out what is going on.

At the same time I don't consider this to be a thriller in the classic sense. So it kind of sits in between multiple genres for me.

The idea that two people who had a small interaction years before and fall in love upon immediately seeing each other is one that is hard for me to really get. Maybe it happens - but I think love is more something that some amount of time and being together forms. Attraction on the other hand...

The idea of the sperm bank/egg clinic having a secret plan on what they were doing with things was very interesting and that part of the story I did enjoy.

What genre would you consider this?


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Author of The Divorce Party: A Novel Stops By

5 Reasons to Stay with the Person You Love
By Laura Dave
Author of The Divorce Party: A Novel

One of my favorite quotes about love and marriage comes from Oscar Wilde: A Man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her. While that saying makes me laugh, Wilde is also getting to something important: Marriage is tricky. And in today's society where the martial woes of everyone from the Sanfords to John and Kate Gosselin are headline news, we are presented with every reason in the world to give up on our relationships -- and fewer and fewer reasons to stay. While researching my most recent novel, I sat down and spoke to women, men, and married couples about why they do stay. And, sometimes, why they wished they had. This is the best advice I've found.

1. Love is a decision

Watching Governor Sanford stand up over these past weeks and speak about how he found his soul mate in his Argentinean lover reminded me of something Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun and author, wrote about Sweat Lodges. She wrote that the only way to be in a Sweat Lodge -- to experience all that it brings -- is to sit far from the exit. Because if you sit too close, you will find a reason to use it.

The same is true of any long-term relationship. If you decide to look for an exit, you will always be able to find it: whether it comes in the form of another lover, or another life. But the couples I spoke with who decided to commit to their marriages and relationships -- to be present for them, to help them grow more sacred -- told me that they were immeasurably rewarded for that decision. The more committed they grew to their marriages -- the further they sat from the exit -- the more joy and peace they found there.

2. There is No Weakness In Forgiveness

I'm not happy anymore; or I'm disappointed; or I have doubts. Three familiar catchphrases that free us up to not work to bring a relationship back to a positive place. In fact, we are conditioned these days to believe that the brave thing is to move on when the honeymoon is over. But that very standard makes it hard for any long-term relationship to survive inevitable disappointments.

While some would argue that it is brave to pick up and start a new life when a relationship begins to ebb, the truly brave thing -- the hard and valuable thing -- is to figure out how to find a new flow together. As one couple, who is happily married after 40 years together, informed me, "The most invaluable gifts come on the other side of the bad periods. If we hadn't forgiven each other for the hard times, we never would have experienced such good ones."

3. Someone New Won't Be New For Long

One factor is consistent in all studies of marriages and long-term relationships: a main cause of divorce and separation is infidelity. Those that stray (statistically, women as much as men these days) sight many factors as reasons: a breakdown in passion, a breakdown in communication, a breakdown . . .

But statistics also tell us that the chance of a relationship born from infidelity being successful is less than 1 and 100. Less than 1%. More often than not, the best thing someone new has going for him or her is being . . . new. And, once they aren't anymore, you are left in an even more precarious position.

Whoever you choose -- it always comes down to one thing. How hard are you willing to fight to make the relationship work? How easily are you willing to give your relationship away?

4. Often the Person You Are Running From Is You

Surprisingly, of all the reasons couples gave me for why they chose to end their marriage or relationship, the loss of love or mutual friendship was often notably absent. It often came down to something else: the desire to start a new life. To not grow old. Or, at least, to not feel like they were.

It is difficult to stay with the person who knows you best when you don't like what we see in the mirror. It may be easier to blame your partner than to take a hard look at yourself. But, at the end of the day, it isn't your partner's responsibility to change your self-image, or to fix your self-doubt. It's yours. And, if we want to like ourselves better, running out on a person who likes us the way we are isn't a wise starting point.

5. You Don't Need A Reason

Like anything worth having in this life, marriage and long-term commitment are hard work. Sometimes knowing that can be enough to help us not pick at the scabs while they are healing, to not make things worse as opposed to letting them feel better. As a lovely couple in Seattle Washington reminded me, things will feel better. "Be good to each other, be patient. If you allow it, love always lives through that."

©2009 Laura Dave, author of The Divorce Party: A Novel

Author Bio
Laura Dave
is the author of the acclaimed novels The Divorce Party and London Is the Best City in America. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Self,Redbook, ESPN the Magazine, and The New York Observer. Dave graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. In August, Cosmopolitan magazine named her as one of the eight "Fun and Fearless Phenoms" of 2008. She lives in California.

For more information, please visit

Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review: Marriage 101

Marriage 101 by Deborah Shelley

Description: Rachel Levin is the new teacher on the block. And she is teaching the one class that the students are known to hate - marriage! She doesn't have a relationship currently but believes she knows what you need to know in order to make them work.

Enter Danny Riccuci. Danny has grown up in a family where everyone is divorced. He believes he carries the divorce gene. So the last thing he wants is a relationship - especially with someone who believes they can make marriage work no matter what. But when he realizes he is drawn to Rachel he starts to wonder - can he make marriage work?

Thoughts: What a fun premise. Imagine you think you know everything about relationships and want to teach it to high school kids. They of course resent the idea that a single teacher who is new to the school is making them pair up with others that they just don't like. So when the schools coach can't help himself and takes a bet to be your "spouse" it smooths the transition for you with your teaching.

I just really liked it. It wasn't the book I thought it would be based on the cover. (I am not used to short romance novels in hardcover etc.) And I think that in this case I was judging the book by the cover. But I picked it up anyways and am glad I did. It is a quick fun read and I loved all the characters. I would definitely recommend it.

What genre would you consider this?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book Review: Fade

Fade by Lisa McMann

Description: If Janie is around someone she can see their dreams. That has led her to her best friend and boyfriend Cabel. Cabel works for the police department undercover and Janie has begun that work as well.

The police need Janie and Cabel to figure out why they were getting calls about a teacher possibly drugging a student. This is dangerous for them both. Can they figure it out before anyone else is hurt? What does Janie's abilities mean for her future?

Thoughts: This book started out a little slow for me. When I first picked it up I was thinking how much I liked the last book. When I got started on this one - I just didn't remember what it was. But eventually it did progress to the part where I remembered what I liked and liked this one as well.

The best part of this book though is the digging in to what being a dreamcatcher is. What are the good things and what are the bad. They are answered and it makes you wonder if Janie is strong enough to deal with those things. Sometimes to help others means bad things for yourself.

What genre would you consider this?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Book Feature: Hollywood is Like High School With Money

By Zoey Dean
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: July 2009
Pages: 278
Price: $13.99
Description:Taylor Henning thinks she finally has everything she wants. She is an assistant at a major movie studio. Quickly she realizes there is a lot more to the business (a lot more cattiness that is). How is Taylor supposed to fit into this Hollywood lifestyle?

She meets her boss's daughter Quinn and realizes that there may be someone who can help her. Quinn is the queen of her high school and maybe she can teach Taylor how to be queen bee too. But is that what Taylor really wants?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Book Review: Long Lost

Long Lost by Harlan Coben
Description: Myron had a fling with Terese years ago. So imagine his surprise when she calls him and tells him that she needs his help and that he needs to come to Paris. Before you know it he is there and they have been thrown into a world of intrigue. Terese's husband is dead. Others are turning up dead around every corner and bad guys can't wait to get their hands on them (and neither can the authorities). Can they figure out what is going on soon enough?

Thoughts: The thing I like about Harlan Coben's books is when you think you know what way the story is going - it goes in another direction. This book does that as well. The only thing for me that I didn't really like was the mobsters and crazy things that are thrown in to complete the story. It isn't that it makes it a bad story - it is just a lot to take.

I don't want to ruin the ending for anyone so I will be vague - but the ending is hard to take as well. Can anyone truly be uncaring. Can you grow up in an environment that teaches you that kind of hate. sometimes I think we want to think that so we can justify the bad that some do. But for me that wasn't something that made me walk away happy with how things ended.

What genre would you consider this?


Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews Losing Mum and Pup Christopher Buckley

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews Losing Mum and Pup
Christopher Buckley

What this book is about: In twelve months author Christopher Buckley coped with the passing of his father, William F. Buckley, the father of the modern conservative movement, and his mother, Patricia Taylor Buckley, one of New York’s most glamorous and colorful socialites. He was their only child and their relationship was close and complicated.

Did you like this book: Anyone who was a Political Science major in college in the 90's likely did not get out of school without reading writings from both William F and Christopher Buckley and we were all the better for it. Had I not thoroughly enjoyed the early 90's release of Thank You For Smoking, Christopher Buckley’s story of the Tobacco Lobby’s heyday, I likely would not have picked up this book I am glad I did though, it was a strange poetic journey of the year Buckley lost both his mom and dad. The book twists its way through life, death, hospitals, funeral homes and everything in between. Comedy and tragedy tenderly intertwine in this thoughtful and strangely uplifting work of nonfiction.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the World

Burn This Book
PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the World
Edited by Toni Morrison
Published by HarperStudio
May 2009; $16.99 US; 978-0-06-177400-3

BURN THIS BOOK was born out of a speech last April that Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison gave at the PEN International Festival dinner. Morrison observed that night, "A writer's life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity." As she paid tribute to the difficulties and challenges writers face in many parts of the world, she also reflected on the steep price we all pay when voices are silenced. This powerful, incantatory talk sparked a notion for a book of essays that would explore the issue and impact of censorship in the world.

Published in conjunction with the PEN American Center, Toni Morrison's speech now opens this collection of extraordinary voices from around the world: John Updike (in one of his final pieces), David Grossman, Francine Prose, Pico Iyer, Russell Banks, Paul Auster, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Ed Park, and Nadine Gordimer. The writers represent Nobel and other prize winners and they include writers who have had first-hand experience of censorship and its consequences.

Why protect free speech? What is the power of the word? The approaches they all take to these questions are as varied as their works of literature. Here, the personal and the political mingle and collide; philosophical reflection is partnered with the conundrums of experience. Across the pages there is a rush of ideas, emotions and perspectives that disallow assumptions to stand or acquiesce to any force, whether external or internal.

About the Editor:
Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She is the author of many novels, including, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and most recently, A Mercy. She has also received the national Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize for her fiction.

About PEN:
PEN is the leading voice for literature and a major force for free expression and the unhampered exchange of ideas and opinions worldwide. Founded in 1921, it is the world's oldest ongoing human rights organization, and it currently has 144 PEN centers in 102 countries dedicated to protecting the right of all humanity to create and communicate freely. By mobilizing the world's most influential literary voiced and an international network of writers, readers, and human rights supporters, PEN makes a difference every day in the lives of writers who are facing persecution around the world. For more information about PEN, visit

For more information please visit

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book Feature: Dial Emmy for Murder

By Eileen Davidson
Publisher: Obsidian
Publication Date: June 2009
Pages: 294
Price: $6.99
Description: Alexis Peterson is ready to move on to another soap. And her fans can't believe it. But there is already a lot going on in Alexis's life - she is going to be a presenter at the Daytime Emmy Awards. But during what should be a great honor in her life she is dragged into a mystery when a copresenter loses his life. Can Alex find out (with the help of Detective Frank Janks) who the murder really is?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Book Review: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

Description:Laurel Grey Hawthorn has everything she wanted out of life. She has a husband who loves her (I mean who cares that he spends most of his time closeted away in the basement working) and a daughter who is happy and healthy. Laurel has done a lot to move past her own growing up experiences and is finally at a happy place.

Laurel hasn't told her husband everything. She sees dead people. When she is woken up from a deep sleep only to find a dead teen leading her to her body in the Laurel's pool. Laurel is forced to ask her sister for help. Laurel believes that she her sister is stronger than her in so many ways. Thalia is different then her but she has her own ideas on what is right and wrong. Can they face their past and their fears before anything else bad happens in their lives?

Thoughts:Isn't it amazing how the things that you experienced cloud your judgment or make you believe that something is a certain way when it isn't? How we can live in our own little isolated world thinking that we are interacting and seeing how things truly are - but then someone enters that world and throws things for a loop. You realize that some of the things you believed are not even close to being true.

How you can be someone who wants to open someones eyes to what is going on around them - but what really you are doing is projecting your own thoughts and feelings on the situation into their lives.

For me this book was a bit of an eye opener in terms of how we all do things like that. We believe the worst in people based on our own experiences. We believe the best in people for the same reasons. We try to protect those around us from the evils that we think might be out to get them. Only they can really know what is going on in their lives and how it affects them and makes them feel.

The other theme for me in this book is embracing your past - where you come from. Good or bad it shapes who we are. Returning and confronting that past can only help you.

I definitely enjoyed this book and thought it was a great summer read.

What genre would you consider this?
Family Dynamics