Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Review-The Common Bond, by Donigan Merritt

I read this book for the Early Reviewer program for Library Thing. This was the first time I read anything by Donigan Merritt, but I enjoyed his writing so much I can't wait to read other works by him.

The Common Bond
by Donigan Merritt
ISBN 1590513061
Other Press


A dream takes you out of the present and seduces you to read more, as an afternoon affair is uncovered. In the dream, Morgan Cary and Victoria Novak are discovered by Tioni Kamakani who has a common bond between both of them; as Victoria’s boyfriend and Morgan’s best friend. It is Morgan’s dream, a reality of a time in the past, but upon waking he is landing in Hawaii. He is moving back home after the death of his wife, Victoria.

Flashing back to Victoria’s displaced childhood it is easy to understand her desperate need for a committed relationship providing reassurance and dependency. She finds in Morgan a man who she believes will not betray or leave her. She can be volatile, impulsive and act crazy if this stability is challenged. Their marriage becomes a complex series of twisted tales and lies by both of them, even as they profess their love.

Morgan is racked with remorse and questions of self-guilt over her death. He turns to living a life as a drunk to anesthetize, to forget, to be able to cope with life. He will ultimately turn to his love of fishing to survive, at least on the surface. When he befriends the young Ben Iki Kamakani, a small boy whose grandfather taught Morgan to fish.

I wondered as I read the book, what The Common Bond referred to. Could it be the common bond of friendship two friends had, lost and regained? Could it be the common bond of lies and deceit in a marriage that presented a false love? Could it be the common bonds made by members of the Kamakani family and Morgan? Could it be simply the common bond of love shared? There are parallels and common bonds throughout this book making the title The Common Bond an appropriate one.

Intoxicating poetic prose and aromatic stimulation of all senses would best describe Donigan Merrit’s writing. I was drawn to his descriptive style as I could imagine myself chasing the magnificent marlin, or diving for black coral in the cold ocean depths of darkness. The Common Bond was an uplifting seafaring tale of triumph over self loathing and learning about love. With writing so captivating, I have put his book Possessed by Shadows on my TBR pile.
Highly recommended.

Wisteria Leigh

Review-The Year the Swallows Came Early

I read this book for First Look Harper Collins and I wanted to share it with everyone.

The Year the Swallows Came Early
by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Grade Level: 4-7
Release Date 2/3/08


Kathyrn Fitzmaurice has captured all the flavors of a successful first novel in The Year the Swallows Came Early. The year the swallows came early is not the only anomaly that occurs during the year you follow Eleanor “Groovy” Robinson in this delightful debut novel by Kathryn Fitzmaurice.

Eleanor Groovy Robinson is an endearing character with a heart as big as sunshine. As the story begins, Groovy is disturbed when her daddy is picked up by Officer Miguel and taken away in the backseat of the police car. Hadn't her mom read the horoscope at breakfast and it said, "Expect the unexpected." Well,she was warned. What is even more troubling to her, is discovering that her mother is the one who had him arrested. She faces a tough challenge of forgiveness when she learns why her daddy is in jail. Most troubling of all is that it is her daddy who has ruined her dreams and plans for the future.

Fitzmaurice offers a descriptive prose so precise you feel painted in her background as a voyeur to her story. Groovy’s language and character is so genuine, kids will find her naturally appealing and easy to relate to. Groovy’s dialogue is further enhanced by the author’s use of simile, metaphor and a humorous wit wise beyond the character’s age.

When you look for a great book to read, The Year the Swallows Came Early has everything you could want. It offers a picturesque setting on the Pacific coast, offbeat characters with memorable personalities, imagery that evokes an awakening of all senses and an interesting story that captures your attention.

I highly recommend this book for read aloud, read alone, literature circle or reader’s workshop groups.

Monday, December 29, 2008

December 28th Giveaway Winners!!!

Congratulations to the following winners of my Giveaway for December 28th.

Northanger Abbey...Kristi
Mansfield Park.....Lesa
Hound of the Baskervilles...Meghan


Handmade Scarf.....Tisa

Please send me your snail mail address to this
email: bookwormsdinner (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

or the one listed on my blog
Thanks for everyone's comments and Happy New Year to all.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays to All

Sunday Salon December 28, 2008

2009 Book Buddy Blogger Challenge

I'm going to try and host my first challenge as we head into 2009. It will be called Book Buddy Blogger Challenge 2009.

Rules: The challenge will run all of 2009. You will be required to read 5 books from a list of 10 that are recommended by a book blogger buddy. The books should be from their list of best books from 2008. It's that easy. Then let us know what you think of your friend's choices. Do you agree or disagree and why?

Post Your Five Book Choices with Your Comments.

Haven't you always wanted to read books that your blogger friends rave about? Now is your chance. Look up those reviews, ask your buddies for a list and pick five for 2009! Then go to Mr. Linky and sign up. I'm hoping I did the Mr. Linky part right.

There are a couple of graphics to use for now. One is of my dog "Wizard" with his favorite book Waggit's Tale by Peter Howe. The other is just a simple graphic that I'm working on. See posts coming up. Good Luck!!

Giveaways: Last Chance Today

....Drawing at Midnight with posting tomorrow!
Someone will win the handmade grey crocheted scarf, or one of the many book raffles.
Happy New Year Week Everyone!!! Don't forget to leave comments for those chances to win.

War Through the Generations Challenge

This challenge I can't pass up. Hosted by Anna and Serena at War Through the Generations you must commit to read at least five fiction or non-fiction books about any aspect of WWII. I have decided to challenge myself and read at least seven books covering this topic. Great challenge and I can't wait to start. Thanks for hosting the challenge Anna and Serena!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Salon, White Christmas in Connecticut

When you're a teacher there is nothing like a snow day to give back a little bit of your childhood and a few memories of waking up to hear that school was closed. Friday, was one of those special days of simple quiet solitude spent reading while the snow covered the ground like a thick layer of whipped cream over a chocolate cake. You love the whipped cream, but then too much can make you feel sick. When morning came and I looked out at fourteen inches plus, images of shoveling began to appear as the dawn of my awakening brain thought, "Too much whipped cream for sure!!!" But like whipped cream, you still eat too much and love every bite no matter how sick you feel afterwords. So as I wake up this morning to more snow I smile thinking of another day of peace, solitude, reading time and sharing Sunday Salon. I'll worry about the shoveling later. Who knows, maybe we'll get another snow day.

Congratulations Jessica James for Shades of Gray

Shades of Gray has moved to #3 on Amazon's Romance/Historical category.This book is one of my top picks for 2008. (See my review)

This Weeks Reads

Lima Nights

by Marie Arana
This book had me flipping pages frantically expecting a great finish, as the author crafted increasing suspense. As the story ended, I felt like I ran into a brick wall. Lima Nights is a wonderful sensual love story depicting racial and class prejudice and society’s intolerance. Arana’s obsessive lovers, have an allure and chemistry that will steam glass with their passion. (Complete Review)

The Common Bond

by Donigan Merritt- Review next week

The Year the Swallows Came Early

by Kathryn Fitzmaurice-Review next week
The Scramble for Africa by Steven Fake and Kevin Funk-Review next week (Awesome, compelling, needed overview of the crisis in Dafur. Extremely well researched with extensive bibliography for further study.)

On the Nightstand

Red Clay Blood River

, by William J. Everett

The King's Daughter
, by Sandra Worth

Don't forget the great Holiday Giveaways!!!

Leave a comment this week to enter again.

Review-Lima Nights, by Marie Arana

Lima Nights,by Marie Arana, The Dial Press,pp,246pages,978-0-3458-2,
Release date: December 30, 2008

Lima in 1986 is a pluralistic society of race, economics and social class. Carlos Bluhm, white, married and father of two sons, comes from money and lives in a mansion. Maria Fernandez, a marginalized member of the city is a Peruvian with dark-skin who lives in the slums. She struggles to survive by working two jobs. At night, Maria works in a tango bar, where she is hired to dance with the male customers. The salacious dance club is in a seedy section of the city and Carlos happens to be there one night when Maria is working. After meeting Maria he becomes obsessed with a monomaniac drive to be with her. He even goes so far as to make a comparative checklist to weigh pros and cons between Maria and his wife. The game begins as Carlos wonders what can he be thinking? In his mind he knows they are diametrically opposed in all ways.

My favorite character was Maria who demonstrated a vivacious spirit and tenacious will, with a personality full of contradictions; complex yet simple, young yet wise, childlike yet mature, poor yet rich.

This book had me flipping pages frantically expecting a great finish, as the author crafted increasing suspense. As the story ended, I felt like I ran into a brick wall. Lima Nights is a wonderful sensual love story depicting racial and class prejudice and society’s intolerance. Arana’s obsessive lovers, have an allure and chemistry that will steam glass with their passion.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Salon-More Giveaways & Win a Scarf

Happy Sunday everyone.

The weather has been so strange everywhere, I hope everyone is all right. My heart goes out to all those who lost power in the ice storm. Luckily, I missed the ice by about 30 miles, but it was hovering at that freezing mark.
Just in time to keep you all warm, I'm giving away a home made knitted scarf. Just leave a comment on my blog between today and December 28th. I will choose the winner at midnight on the 28th. Good luck to everyone. This is called a Fisherman's Scarf and it is a medium grey color. Yes, I made it myself. LOL

Crown in Candlelight

I have been reading a historical fiction book called Crown in Candlelight by Rosemary Hawley Jarman. This author is a bestseller in both the US and the UK. Her first novel, We Speak No Treason sold out its first printing in seven days. She won The Silver Quill Award for this book. She has since written many more historical fiction novels of British royalty. Crown in Candlelight was originally published in 1978. It was published recently in 2008 by TORC (Tempus Publishing). If you are a fan of historical fiction and haven't read her books, you might want to check this or another one of her books out.

In the TBR Pile for the week!

1.The Scramble for Africa by Steven Fake and Kevin Funk
2.The Common Bond by Donnigan Merritt
3.Lima Nights by Maria Arana

Have a great week everyone. Good luck with the giveaways. :-)

My Current Book Giveaways

Classic Book Giveaway
Political Fever Giveaway

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Celebrate a Classics Giveaway

I hope everyone had a great week. I know some of you had snow, some more than others. Last night we had our first snow in Connecticut and it is now looking like Christmas and the holidays. I just love the first fallen snow when the stillness settles on everything, everyone and we pause. Good luck on the two holiday raffles I have for this month, and check back, because I may add one more. Tis the season!!!
Happy hustle and bustle time...remember its the season not one day. Don't let is wear you down. Try to relax and enjoy what it is intended to be...a season of giving and love.

As a celebration of the holidays I am holding two raffles one is called:

A Classics Holiday Giveaway

and the books to be raffled off are:
Northanger Abbey...Jane Austen....Vintage
Mansfield Park.....Jane Austen....Vintage
Dracula............Bram Stoker....Capuchin
The Hound of
the Baskervilles
...Arthur Conan Doyle..Capuchin

Rules: Each week you comment on my blog you will receive a chance to enter. If I have posted more than once during the week, each time you comment to a different day's topic you have another chance. The winner will be chosen on December 28th as a year end thank you. In the comment, please tell me your book preference if chosen. Good Luck!

Thanks to Independent Publishers Group for providing the copies of these classic books for the raffle. (These paperbacks are not ARCS, but newly published editions).

Political Fever Giveaway

The second raffle is for a copy of GIANTS, by John Stauffer, the parallel lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. This book is awesome and if you are into history, you will definitely want to enter this raffle. Thanks to Hachette Book Group for this hardcover first edition copy.

Rules: Each week you comment on my blog you will receive a chance to enter. If I have posted more than once during the week, each time you comment to a different day's topic you have another chance. The winner will be chosen on December 28th as a year end thank you. Good luck.

Here is a review of an historical action adventure that will keep you on the edge. A great holiday read to enjoy.

Red Sky in Morning

RED SKY IN MORNING: A Novel of World War II, Patrick Culhane, William Morrow, 2008, $24.95/C$26.95,hb, 338pp, 978006082555

(published in Historical Novels Review, Nov. 08)

During World War II, Ensign Peter Maxwell is preparing himself for amphibious landing duty overseas. However, his orders are changed and he is told to report to the U. S. Naval Training Station in San Diego for duty as a choir director and trainer. While there, he and three of his buddies form a quartet called the Fantail Four and become the best of friends. When Peter decides he isn’t doing enough in the war, he seeks a ship looking for officers. He finds a posting for a ship needing four officers, quite rare. He persuades his buddies to sign-on with him. Once granted transfers, they discover that the Liberty Hill Victory, is an ammunitions ship with a crew of unskilled and in some cases illiterate African American sailors. The captain of the ship is a monomaniac racial bigot who has only disdain and loathing for his crew. Peter knows the crew’s survival will depend on cooperation, communication and camaraderie. Sometime before shipping out, Peter takes his horn to an all black club where he meets Sarge, an ex-detective. Sarge and Peter form a friendship that night that will transcend race. They are destined to meet in the future aboard the Liberty, when a body is discovered and Peter asks Sarge for help. Is it murder?

I was pleased to see the true story of the Port Chicago explosion included in this novel. An often overlooked horrific accident, including the event adds dramatic suspense and tension. Patrick Culhane based his story on the real ship, USS Red Oak Victory. He points out that the language and social themes in the novel are reflective of the period. This is a well thought out and realistic story of life aboard a naval vessel, during military segregation. Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Winner-Barack Obama Book Giveaway

The winner of The American Journey of Barack Obama published by Little Brown & Company is Jen from Devourer of Books. Jen, please send your snail mail or email address to me in reply. Thanks to Anna Balasi and The Hachette Group for making this contest possible by donating my copy for reviewing and the winner's copy. I loved this book. See my review.