Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Patricia A. Hawkenson - Magnetic Repulsion - Giveaway & Review

Sometimes a book strikes a reader in a manner not initially intended by the author. Magnetic Repulsion: 100 Poems from Desire to Disgust by Patricia A. Hawkenson is more humorous than heartbreaking. It begins with a heavy emphasis on sex, proceeds into metaphors about the loss of desire, and concludes with an anger-fueled break-up. Hawkenson says the collection of poetry is a mixture of real-life events and those created in her imagination. Written over a 10-year span, the poetry reflects the progression of a relationship from can't-keep-my-hands-off-you attraction to get-out-of-my-sight repulsion.

How is relationship drama given levity? Through Hawkenson's hilarious descriptions of physical desire. Lovers in bed are compared to a dryer set on tumble. The man's hotness is related to the hissing steam of a grandmother's radiator. Wanting to devour each other like a Thanksgiving turkey. The empty holes in a hunk of cheese are their inner longings
for fulfilling love.

At times, it seems that the love story is told out of order. Questions arise such as: Did the two know each other in high school? Was the man married before? Is he still married when he begins the relationship with the woman? Is the man still living with his wife while sleeping with the woman? Does the woman eventually become the man's second wife? Is the man in a hospital dying of lung cancer? The progression through the 100 poem collection appears to be linear, but some pieces of the poetic narrative don't seem to follow a chronological order.

There are stand-outs among the pack.
  • "Can I Borrow A Pencil?" is a great image of schoolboy showing his feelings for a girl by giving her a hard time: You stepped on it intentionally, all for the want of a room full of giggles distracting others from realizing you loved me.
  • "The Crack" shows the first moment in doubting a lover's fidelity: I couldn't tell you when it sprouted through the frozen earth the rock solid foundation of our partnership that seed of doubt.
  • "The Teller" describes the solidarity of women as casualties of love: ...so she repeated "Congratulations" and just then I wondered if the pain of divorce like the pain of childbirth is forgotten when the next hope for the new life comes along.
  • "Saturday at the Farmers' Market" compares a farmer's tan to a man's finger missing a wedding band: ...but the white line of your finger where you have removed our ring, lies about your futile effort.

Hawkenson admits that she does not follow any particular rules when composing poetry. She writes as the spirit moves her, even if it takes her to some unusual places.
  • Contemplating the beauty, not the mess, of broken eggs in "Over Easy."
  • The sentimental post-coital statement, "My DNA is all over you" in "Call Me Cell."
  • Feeling admiration for the buttery popcorn public display of affection of an overweight couple in "All I Want."
  • Heartache as "discolored and chunked" vomit in "When I've Had Too Much."
  • Devotion as a towering mountain of folded underwear in "Stiff as a Board."
  • All words being with the letter d in "Dating Dilemma" including dude, damn and diarrhea.

The final poem "Existing After Our Love Dies" leaves the status of the couple's relationship unresolved. Do they get back together? Are they now pursuing a purely physical relationship free of a marital bond? Is an unexpected night of passion a mistake? It is up to the reader to decide.

Overall, desire and disgust aptly describe this collection of poetry.

Magnetic Repulsion by Patricia A. Hawkenson is available for $12.95 at Amazon.com and at Expressive Domain.

Congratulations to our winner: Wayne Hurlbert!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Philippa Gregory - 'The White Queen' - Giveaway & Review

Royal families hold the title of being the precursor to reality entertainment. These infamous courts provide more melodrama and intrigue than chivalry and decorum. Regardless of their high station, morality takes a back seat to murder, incest and betrayal. Power is the asset that all strive to cultivate. The characters in Philippa Gregory's The White Queen are taken from the bloody battle for the crown in the Cousins' War, a.k.a. the War of the Roses. A civil war which tears 15th century England apart when the Plantagenet family splits into the rival factors of Lancaster (the red rose) and York (the white rose). The book's heroine is Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of York king, Edward IV. Her riveting story is deserving of a full-length novel. From whore to witch and everything in between, she is a woman whose many faceted personality defies categorization.

God forbid a royal marry for love. Like a modern day Princess Diana, Elizabeth is an English commoner without massive fortune or titled family. She meets Edward while begging on the side of the road. Her beauty is enough to stop him in his tracks. They exchange vows in a secret ceremony. When they go public, the kingdom's gossip mill goes into overdrive. Why would a king reject an advantageous alliance with one of the princesses of Europe for a nobody who has nothing to offer? The only plausible explanation? Witchcraft, of course. She tricked him into it with her mystical allures and diabolical enchantments.

Claiming to be the descendant of a goddess doesn't help.
Melusina is the inspiration behind the tale of The Little Mermaid. The half woman/half fish desires to keep her dual identity from her husband who nevertheless discovers her secret ultimately resulting in rejection and separation. Elizabeth is a firm believer in her fabled ancestry. [Melusina] is the ancestress of the royal house of Burgundy, and we, her descendants, still try to walk in the paths of men, and sometimes we too find the way unbearably hard. Her position as Queen of England leads to similar conflicting emotions between what it means to be a mother versus what is required to be a monarch.

Edward seizes power from the sainted Lancaster king, Henry VI eventually being accused of his predecessor's murder. Elizabeth, as the usurping queen, has a tenuous hold on power. Her mother, Jacquetta, goes even further stating,
"It is a battle to the death. This is what it means to be Queen of England. The road you have chosen will mean that you have to spend your life scheming and fighting. Our task, as your family, is to make sure you win." Yet Elizabeth can't help but revel in her new position. "I become a new being, one above mortals, only one step below angels, beloved and elect of heaven. Half the kingdom may hate [my family] but now I have made us so powerful that I do not care."

However, the love match isn't all bliss. Elizabeth turns a blind eye to her husband's notorious philandering. "
Edward's whoring doesn't trouble me. He is the king, he can take his pleasures where he wants. And I am the queen, and he will always come home to me. Everyone knows that." Edward does not try to hide his infidelity, in fact, he boasts about his excessive virility. "I have a score of whores, perhaps hundreds. I hope that no woman can resist me." In fact, he is so consumed by desire he frequently summons Elizabeth with the command, "Bed, Wife."

With shades of the Clintons, Elizabeth seeks to hang onto the throne even without Edward at her side. Despite her humble beginnings, she is determined not to lose what she gained through her advantageous marriage. But there are those who question Elizabeth's priorities including her own daughter.
"I think we are cursed. I blame you and my father for bringing us into the world and putting us here, in the grip of ambition, and yet not holding strongly enough to power to make it right for us. You love the crown more than your children (i.e. the unresolved fate of the princes in the Tower - were they murdered, hidden?)."

Gregory hits her stride when she depicts Elizabeth debating her life as queen with her mother, Jacquetta; her brother, Anthony and her daughter, Elizabeth. The scenes of dialogue illustrate a woman grappling with what is right in a world that does not play by a set of rules. The narrative falters when Elizabeth is depicting conjuring storms or scheming for influence while in sanctuary. The book is heavy in explanatory exposition and could have moved at a faster pace if it did not follow such a rigid time line. Some moments that occurred during Elizabeth's life could have been told with a brief chapter introduction instead of pages of battlefield play-by-play.

Overall, love at first sight ends with heartbreak in the Tower.

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory is available for $14.99 at Amazon.com and at PhilippaGregory.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Simon & Schuster.

Congratulations to our winner: Michele Daley!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dorothy Garlock - 'The Moon Looked Down' - Giveaway & Review

Nothing stirs a female heart more than a handsome man with a handicap. The inherent mothering instinct is intertwined with a mixture of physical desire and deep-seated admiration. In Dorothy Garlock's The Moon Looked Down, Sophie Heller is entranced by the club-footed Cole Ambrose. Her focus is more on the muscles under his shirt than the hitch in his gait. Cole has zero experience with women, but his confidence is buoyed by the determination to protect Sophie from the dangerous intentions of a local group of thugs.

The time is summer 1942. The place is aptly-named Victory, Illinois. The rural community is composed of homes adorned with flags and businesses displaying anti-German propaganda. Ellis Watts and his cronies view German immigrants, like Sophie's family, as Nazi spies. In a planned attack, they set fire to the Heller barn leaving Sophie and her father brutally beaten. With fear of reprisal, they do not report the true nature of events to the police.

Tensions are high when Sophie enters Marge's Diner only to be taunted with the slur, "Kraut." Feeling invincible, her tormentors issue their accusation in a public place. Sophie confronts them only to be viciously grabbed. Like a scene out of Back to the Future, Cole comes to her defense. Mocked by the men, his bravery nevertheless makes an impression on Sophie. With her trust in tatters, she is still able to appreciate the fact that Cole is an honorable man.

"I'm not going to hurt you, Sophie," he said, his voice determined and firm. "After everything that happened at the diner, I think you have plenty of reasons to trust me."

The sincerity in his voice gave Sophie pause. Though she had met Cole Ambrose only an hour earlier, she could feel that there was a depth to him, a strength in the way he carried himself that put her at ease. She found herself believing what Cole told her.

"I don't think you'll hurt me," she heard herself answer.

"I'm not like the men at the diner," he added.

"No, you're not."

The spark is lit. The memory of him was a powerful thing, coming unbidden yet not unwanted. With the idea of a gimpy man as her protector, Sophie's heart melts. Like Jenny in Forrest Gump, Sophie knows she can depend on Cole regardless of his infirmity. She tells Cole what really happened the night of the fire, and he vows to keep her safe.

Sophie found that she wasn't quite so scared. Looking at Cole's square jaw and broad shoulders, she knew that he was a man willing to rise to her defense, just as he had at the diner. If she were to meet any of the men who meant to harm her, she felt sure she would be safe as long as she was in Cole Ambrose's company.

Taking matters into his own hands, Cole confronts an inebriated Ellis in Victory's lone tavern.

"So you decided to play the hero, huh?" Ellis smirked.

"I'll do what I have to do."

"You're only going to get yourself hurt."

"We'll see about that. It'd be a mistake to underestimate me."

"I'm learnin' that very thing."

"You'll find that I'm full of surprises."

"Like the fact that you're sweet on poor Sophie. You ain't ever been with a woman have you? I've known a couple of fellas like you. All of 'em shy and more than a little unsure of themselves. With your leg, wouldn't be nobody that'd blame you for it. Ain't never had no attention from a lady. Then some pretty girl starts talkin' in your ear and you start thinkin' with what hangs between your legs instead of using your head."

"It's not like that. Stay away from her, Ellis," Cole warned him. "Or you'll be sorry."

However, Cole's insecurities lie less with his malformed leg than with his fractured relationship with his father. Like the broken father/son dynamic in Garden State, the father blames the son for the accidental death of the mother.

"If you wanted to come back here, back to this house and to Victory, that's your business, [Cole's father] said evenly. "You can stay here until you find somewhere of your own ... I can do that much for you. But don't think that I will ever forgive you."

"She would not have wanted it to be like this between us."

"All that she would have wanted was to have lived, but you took that away from her that day, took it away from all of us," his father said, the words spoken flat and cold, each of them jabbing at Cole's heart as if they were knives. "It was because of you that she's gone. It was your fault. Don't ever forget that it was your fault."

To make matters worse, further violence descends upon Cole in the form of Graham Grier, a childhood friend of Sophie, who instigates a bloody fist fight with his new rival. Afterward during a dance to celebrate the community re-building of the Heller barn, Graham makes a drunken scene.

"You're not good enough for Sophie, and you never will be! You worthless cripple! She should be with me!"

From that moment on, things come to a head. Over the course of the evening, the score is finally settled in Victory, Illinois.

Overall, the moon is a witness to scenes of love and acts of violence on the WWII home front.

The Moon Looked Down by Dorothy Garlock is available for $13.99 at Amazon.com and at HachetteBookGroup.com.

Congratulations to our winner: RivkaBelle!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blogmania Jane Austen $100 Giveaway - Enter to win!

BlogMania has finally arrived! You have 2 days to enter to win in our Jane Austen giveaway. The $100 prize package includes:


- Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues by Linda Berdoll (retail $16.95)

- Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley (Pride and Prejudice Continues) by Linda Berdoll (retail $16.95)

- Mr. Darcy's Daughters: A Novel by Elizabeth Aston (retail $14.95)

Audio Book

- Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters (retail $29.99)

Music CD

- The English Country Garden by Dan Gibson Solitudes (retail $14.99)

Special Extra - Children's Book

- Three Cups by Mark St. Germain (retail $10.00)
click here to read my review

The contest begins at 12:01 am EST Sept. 15, 2010 and ends
12:00am EST Sept. 17, 2010. The winner will be posted within 72 hours of the giveaway's end.

2 EASY Steps (U.S. residents only):

1. Choose 1 of 3 follow options:
- Google Friend Follower of this blog (see left sidebar for widget)
- Like Tribute Books on Facebook
- Follow Tribute Books on Twitter

2. Enter your name & email address (along with your follow choice & name) in the form below

Congratulations to our winner: Annmarie Weeks!

Follow the links below to go to the next blog in the hop. If you enter all the giveaways (about 200 blogs), you'll have the chance at $40,000 in prizes!

Monday, September 13, 2010

BBAW Interview Swap with 'Entomology of a Bookworm' & 'Papercut Reviews'

Celebrate your favorite book blogs September 13-17 during Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW)!

Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways is participating in the BBAW Interview Swap.

We are interviewing two wonderful bloggers - Kerry Serini at Entomology of a Bookworm and Stephanie McKeehan at Papercut Reviews. They in turn are interviewing me over on their blogs. So on September 14, click on the links to hop over and take a look at what I had to say in response to their questions.

with blogger, Kerry Serini

1. In 2010, what is the best book you have read?

Much to my shock and surprise, I would say The Passage. And I didn't expect to even like it, let alone love it. Next to that would be Letter to My Daughter, by George Bishop, because it has stayed with me all year.

2. How did you come to blog about books?

I'm very opinionated, and I read an absurd number of books in a pretty wide range of genres. I found my friends and family coming to me for recommendations. I also found myself constantly emailing people links to interesting articles, etc. It seemed natural to put it all in one place. When I started, I had no idea that such a rich book blogging community already existed.

3. How did you decide on a name for your blog?

Entomology of a Bookworm plays on the common mistake of mixing up "etymology" (the study of words) with "entomology" (the study of bugs). As a self-proclaimed bookworm, it seemed natural to offer up a study of a particular kind of bug and play with the wording a bit.

4. What is your strategy for attracting blog readers?

I wish I had more of one! I tweet (@ofabookworm) most of my posts, and put them on Facebook, but that's about it. I guess I read and comment on a lot of other blogs, which in turn has gained me readers, but that was never my intention - I just like to follow what other people are up to!

5. How do you determine which books to read?

I wish I knew! My non-existent "to-read" list (I recently posted my rant against strict what-to-read-next lists) is haphazard at best. I find books through other book blogs, perusing the shelves in my house/my parents' houses/the library, reading magazines, etc. I keep track of books I'd like to read in Goodreads, Librarything, post-it notes, my iPod, and various scribbles in my day planner. I read pretty much whatever strikes my fancy at any given moment. The exception are books I've committed to reviewing for either a publisher or another site (I also review books at www.bookgasm.com). Those I try to read in some timely fashion.

6. Why do feel compelled to share your opinions on books with others?

Excellent question. I guess I'm just opinionated, and I enjoy recommending books to people whose book preferences I know and understand, so it turned out to be fun for me to just recommend all of the books I like (or not recommend those I don't, I suppose).

7. What are your favorite book blogs that you follow?

The New Dork Review of Books - Greg always writes interesting, insightful posts, and the discussions in the comments section are lively, lively, lively.

The Book Lady's Blog - she just figured out what works. And she's a good writer. Powerful combination, that.

Bookish NYC - great assortment of interesting quotes, great photos of libraries/bookshelves, reviews and book spotted on the subway.

This list could go on forever, so I'll stop there.

8. How long does it take you to write a review from start to finish? What is your process?

My writing, whether for articles, reviews, or (when I was a student) essays and research papers, never really follows a process. I rarely, if ever, use outlines, and when I do, I find that I end up re-organizing the entire flow of my argument anyway. When I am reading a book that I know I will be reviewing, there are times that the review literally starts to write itself in my head - some of my ARCs are covered in scribbled beginnings of sentences/paragraphs, etc. When I finally sit down to type it all out, it generally takes me less than 30 minutes, but that's because I've had it growing in my head since I started reading the book.

9. What do you want readers to get out of your reviews?

I hope that I can provide some insight into both the content of the book and the writing style of the author. I'm tired of reading reviews that talk only about the plot... I've read enough books with good plots and poor writing to last the rest of my life, and with so much talent out there, I think writing style is as important as plot - if not more so. I hope that that is reflected in my own writing, and that readers can find a few books that catch their interest.

10. Why did you sign up for the BBAW interview swap?

I love the idea of BBAW, and spreading the word about the growing community of book bloggers. And I always love getting to know another blogger, so it seemed like the perfect fit!

with blogger, Stephanie McKeehan

1. In 2010, what is the best book you have read?

Well the best book I read this year has be Total Eclipse by Rachel Caine! I am a HUGE Weather Warden fan and this being the last book in the series definitely makes my number one book for this year with out a doubt! Although I am sad to see my fav series come to an end it was most definitely bitter sweet:) I recommend reading this series if you have not already. Heck contact me at papercutreviewer@gmail.com and I will send you the first book! ;)

2. How did you come to blog about books?

Wow well I always loved reading books since I was a wee lass, lol! I guess I just took it to another level when I started blogging then I started writing reviews for Bitten by Books for a few months and had a blast!:) Of course by this time I was completely hooked on Reading, Reviewing and Blogging so I decided to start a review blog of my own called Paper Cut Reviews.

3. How did you decide on a name for your blog?

Believe me it took weeks before i could finally decide on a name, lol! You never really realize how hard picking a name can be! After bouncing names back and forth with my husband Paper Cut Reviews was born! I fell in love with this name instantly and knew the gimmick would attract attention:)

4. What is your strategy for attracting blog readers?

Okay the name and color of my blog *yellow* was one way then opening my reviews to books, movies and comic books helped as well. My husband *Film Cut Reviewer* handles the movie reviews and I do the book and comic reviews. So any age and gender can relate to at least some aspect of my blog.

5. How do you determine which books to read?

Actually I read at least one popular book a month and the rest are what I feel like reading. Mostly Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, YA, Science Fiction and some Horror.

6. Why do feel compelled to share your opinions on books with others?

I love to share my opinion with others about books! What better way to connect with people then by being honest and open about a book you may like or dislike. I have actually found a lot of new authors by just talking with other bloggers so you can imagine how large my TR pile is...LOL!

7. What are your favorite book blogs that you follow?

Let me first say I love so many different blogs and these guys and gals that put all their time and effort into maintaining a very informative and interesting site are simply amazing! Thank you! Here are a few I follow on a daily basis:

8. How long does it take you to write a review from start to finish? What is your process?

Well it takes me at least three days to write a review. When I read I write notes constantly! So After I'm done reading a book and before I start the review process I go through my notes and pick out what I would like to add to my review. Then I hand write the review out on paper and then by the third day I'm typing and revising the review for posting and rating:) Then voilĂ  a book review is born.

9. What do you want readers to get out of your reviews?

I just want readers to use my reviews as a aid to hopefully help them decide on what books they would want to read. If I can point someone in the right direction then I am Happy. Pretty simple really.

10. Why did you sign up for the BBAW interview swap?

The main reason I signed up for BBAW is to connect with other bloggers. I love finding out about new blogs and interesting bloggers so this seemed like a great way to do that:)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tina Martin - Secrets on Lake Drive - Giveaway & Review

Sometimes a character is left in the dark throughout an entire novel. In Tina Martin's Secrets on Lake Drive, Monica Smith is clueless. She may be a college graduate, but her intuition is sorely lacking. She is more aware of the brand name fragrances people are wearing than their ulterior motives. When pitted against a master manipulator, this kindergarten teacher doesn't stand a chance. Little does she know that she is on a collision course with one such smooth operator. Sean Beauvais is the disinterested father of Monica's favorite student, Roman. Sean is known around town as a notorious ladies man. He owns a real estate firm and lives on Milwaukee's exclusive Lake Drive. Using Roman's well-being as a bargaining chip, he virtually forces Monica into the role of live-in babysitter. But living in an opulent mansion is anything but paradise. The two bicker constantly. Sean insists on knowing where Monica is and what she is doing at all times. To say he is cramping her style is putting it lightly.

This controlling behavior sends Monica over the edge. Not having family as a support system, she vents to her lifelong friend, Keisha. The two go way back. Keisha was there for Monica when she had a baby while in high school. Monica's son was given up for adoption, and Cornelius, the baby's father, infuriated by the decision walked out of her life. Like scenes out of the CW's The Game or Girlfriends, Martin nails the authenticity of the dialogue between African American women talking about men. Keisha realizes that beneath the verbal sparring Monica is falling for Sean. "Mmm hmm. I knew something was going on up in that house." Keisha started singing R. Kelly, wiggling her neck and snapping her fingers. "I don't see nothing wrong with a little bump n' grind."

Due to Monica's positive influence, Sean begins to pay more attention to his adopted son. Yet he begins to make a series of odd requests. Roman is to call Monica, "mommy." She must tell Sean she loves him at least once a day since
they are officially married (?) for the duration of her contract. But Sean also begins to open up sharing how his native Haiti influences his taste for home decor to the music of Wyclef Jean. She learns that Sean is a triplet and gets to know his brothers over impromptu breakfasts. She is encouraged to mingle with his mother and sister at a backyard barbecue. Everyone begins to feel that she has become a permanent part of their lives.

But Monica resists their gravitational pull. When the summer ends, so does her commitment to Sean and his son. However, Sean doesn't agree. He uses every trick in the book to get Monica to stay. Frustrated at not getting his way, he explodes and the two go their separate ways on the worst of terms. Yet Monica is intimately connected to Sean and Roman in ways she cannot even imagine. The flaw is that she is so unbelievably blind she is unable to see what is right in front of her face. It is a classic case of Lois Lane not perceiving Superman in Clark Kent. Yet be forewarned, the ending is worthy of the Lifetime movies Monica is so fond of.

Overall, fighting leads to passion leads to WHAT?!?!

Secrets on Lake Drive by Tina Martin is available for $14.95 at Amazon.com and at TinaMartinBooks.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Pump Up Your Book.

Congratulations to our winner: Patsy Hagen!