Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and took a moment to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day and honor those who sacrificed for our freedoms.  Now that we've had unofficial start of summer, you may want to spend your days laying out reading in the wonderful weather.

"Summer Days," the latest romance by Susan Mallery sounds like the perfect summer read.  You may also enjoy "Hot for Fireman," by Jennifer Bernard, "Along Came a Duke," by Elizabeth Boyle, or "Against the Sun," by Kat Martin.

Mystery fans may want to take "Tattooed" by Pamela Callow or "The Yard," by Alex Grecian to the beach with them.

Meanwhile Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans may enjoy "Tangle of Need" by Nalini Singh or "All Spell Breaks Loose," by Lisa Sherman.

YA buffs will want to tote the latest novel by Susanne Colasanti, "Keep Holding On," or "Dark Frost," by Jennifer Esteep.

Happy Reading !  We're also pleased to announce a winner in our "Fifty Shades," giveaway.  Congratulations to Eva T.  You've won a copy of "Fifty Shades of Grey," signed by the author, E L James.  You should receive an email from us shortly.  We'd also like to thank all those who participated in the raffle.  Please stay tuned this blog for more chances to win great books. 

As you being to load up your summer reads, remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

What to Expect the first year...or in english, you had the baby now here's what should be happening...

Ok ok I know I promised you all a review about a book event my family went to, but life just keeps getting in the way.  May 11th, Anastasia finally came home from the hospital after 31 long days in NICU.  She is doing well and my whole family is adjusting to having her home with us.

My husband Alex and I decided when I was pregnant that we would not get the VERY popular What to Expect when You're Expecting book.  I felt I would basically have the living s#$% scared out of me and being already scared about being pregnant in general did not feel it was in my best interest to scare myself even more.

I was planning on having the same approach when it came to raising our little darling, but alas we needed help.  Yes we have my mother and father to give us advice but alot has changed in 30+ years so we broke down and purchased What to Expect the First Year.  So far it's been somewhat helpful.  The hospital taught us some ways of basic care, but the book gives us other options for feeding, and burping techniques.

It's nice because they do break things down month by month as to what should be happening with the child once they are born and at home.  It also gives tips on what to look for when purchasing items for the baby (crib, stroller, car seat etc.)

One other positive about the book is that it has other sections for special interests, such as babies who have special needs, are adopted, and what I really needed it for pre-term.

So before you scoff at the book series, (like I did) keep in mind it really can come in handy for those of us who have no clue (like me!)

By the way this is Anastasia at 6 weeks

Til next month (and hopefully I remember to post)


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

I normally don't include e-books in the Laydown Lowdown but today I have to make a special exception.  Caroline B. Cooney, the best-selling author of "The Face of the Milk Carton," (and its three sequels about heroine Janie's struggles to reconnect with her birth parents after being kidnapped as a toddler) has written an all new short-story "What Janie Saw," this e-book exclusive is a bridge between the fourth novel, "What Janie Found," and the forthcoming fifth novel, "Janie Face to Face," which will be available in early 2013! The previous novels are also all being re-released today with sleek new covers. 

Other new releases in YA include "Alice on Board," the penultimate book in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's "Alice" series.  "Soul Seekers: Fated," the first in a new series by best-selling author Alyson Noel and "Taken by Storm," by Jennifer Lynn Barnes are also available today.

Over in Romance, you'll find the latest novel by best-selling author Cherry Adair, "Vortex," along with "Midnight's Master," by Donna Grant, "Lethal Rider," by Larissa Ione, and "Beautiful Sacrifice," by Elizabeth Lowell

Travel into the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section and you'll see "2312," by Kim Stanley Robinson, "Dark Magic," by James Swan, and the latest "Adversary Cycle," novel, "Nightworld," by F. Paul Wilson.

Moving onto Mystery, you'll find "Cliff Walk," by Bruce DeSilva, "A Beautiful Death," by Charles Finch, "Don't Ever Get Old," by Daniel Friedman, and " Red Means Run," by Brad Smith.

Happy Reading !  Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ichigo Kurosaki my imaginary boyfriend...

Manga. You either hate it or love it. I love it. I remember years ago when Borders first opened I would beg my mom to drop me off there so I could hide in the corners of the store and loose myself in this mix of Science Fiction and Japanese culture. Around 2003 I found this Manga that has had my heart forever. Bleach

Ichigo Kurosaki finds himself in the worst situation, but like any other male of worth he defends his family with no concern for his health or well being. He meets Rukia, a deadly soul reaper who has sensed a Hollow coming to earth, and is more than prepared to defeat it. When their two paths meet they will never be the same again.

Ichigo has many allies but even more enemy's. You see Hollows are in no short supply. As long as there are humans in this world there will be Hollows. They are created when a deceased human looses its 'chain of fate' and is overcome with the sorrow and negative energy within them leaving a hole where their heart should be...literally.

Have I caught your attention? Good! Now don't get overwhelmed. There are currently 39 volumes out for sale, and number 40 is set to release on June 5th. There are even more already release in Japan, but short of actually learning Kanji you will have to wait patiently like the rest of us. I know, my inner nerd is not happy either, but lucky for you and me they release them every few months. I truly hope you give this a shot. It may not be what you are used to but believe me it is Manga at its finest.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Summer Reading

As the school year begins to come to a close and summer rolls in, an event beloved by some and dreaded by others looms ahead; Assigned Summer Reading.  At Borders we worked hard to try and get the reading lists and the books on them for numerous schools in the region.  Some schools had very strict assignments that required the students to all read 2 or 3 specific titles others had very broad lists and allowed the students to choose 2 or 3 books from that list.

When I was in high school our school required all classes to read 3 books of their choosing and we were tested on them in early September.  We also had to keep a journal as we read where we were to summarize the chapters and note our thoughts on what we read.  Despite being an avid reader, I dreaded summer reading.  I wanted to read what I chose to read.  I found the assigned reading boring and the need to keep a journal monotonous.  One of the worst books I had to read was "Lord of the Flies," by William Golding.  I don't understand what a teenage girl was to learn from a group of boys who went wild after being stranded on a deserted island.  You can mock Sweet Valley High all you want but the series is full of life lessons; if you do drugs, you'll die; if you stay out all night with a boy, you'll get a bad reputation; if you drink and drive, someone is going to get hurt or killed.  Every summer I put off my assignment until the last minute and read my favorite reads all summer long.

However, after I polled my fellow bloggers, I found not everyone shared my experience.  KC loved "Lord of the Flies," and actually asked her teacher if she could go past the page limit on her assigned paper to make additional arguments.  Her other favorites included "Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse and "Miss Lonelyhearts," a novella.

Mallory had to read an assigned book every year and then write a paper on it.  She still remembers "The Red Scarf Girl," by Ji-Li Jiang.  She was amazed by the story of the horrors this young girl experienced in her life.

Rachel looked forward to summer reading and often got the assignment done early.  She found "The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck to be vivid and beautifully written. I  Like KC she also loved "Siddhartha" as well as"A Separate Peace," by John Knowles, and "The Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger.

I had to read "The Good Earth" in my freshman year of high school and I struggled to get through it.  I thought it was really boring.  I'll have to have Rachel enlighten me the next time I see her.  Jess P. and Albert had the type of summer reading assignment that I wanted, none !

Jess P. went to a school that didn't have an assigned summer reading list so she spent the summer reading what she loved such as books by Beverly Cleary and Ann M. Martin's "The Baby-Sitters Club." series.

Meanwhile Albert spent his summer days reading every "Goosebumps" book by R.L. Stine that he could get his hands on.

When I wasn't in Sweet Valley, or Stoneybrook with "The Baby-Sitters Club," I could be found not too far from Albert, over on "Fear Street," R.L. Stine's other hit series.  The "Fear Street" story, "Lights Out," is still one of my all time favorites.

So what about you?  What kind of summer reading assignments did you have?  Or, are there any teachers out there who could share what kind of summer reading assignments they give?  If so, what do you hope your students gain from the assignment?  Share with us !

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Two Years, So Many Books

I've just spent the last two years of my life working on my MA in English. It has been an amazing experience and I can't believe that I graduate on Saturday (eep!).

So I thought that now would be a fun time to reflect on some of my favorite books and authors I've encountered during this time - all those things I probably never would have read on my own - and maybe introduce some of you to some fabulous literature!

19th Century American - One of my favorite periods of literature, but we read a lot of stuff I never had and even some things I'd never heard of. The great discovery in that class was Sarah Orne Jewett. I did my paper on The Country of the Pointed Firs and I really want to read more of what she has written.

For Introduction to Literary Research I did a case study on Willa Cather's O Pioneers! Cather led a fascinating life and her other books are definitely on my TBR pile.

Second Semester (aka And I thought LAST semester was bad?!):
Fiction Workshop - though most of this class was reading each other's submissions, we also read a few novellas and sets of short stories. My personal favorite was Cynthia Ozick's The Shawl. A short story and novella together in a book that was absolutely heartwrenching.

Studies in 20th Century British Literature was a fun class and I read a bunch of things I'd wanted to read but hadn't gotten to yet like 1984. But my two favorite books from that class are both lesser known works by popular authors. The first was George Orwell's Coming Up for Air. I wrote a paper on this book and it is one of those novels that you get more out of the more times you read it. In my opinion it was far superior to 1984. The second was Virginia Woolf's Between the Acts. I read Mrs. Dalloway in undergrad and was seriously underwhelmed. So I never read anything else by Woolf. I appreciated it more when rereading it for this class, but Between the Acts was even better. I really think it's a shame these two are not as well known. So you should go read them.

This was the semester I started my thesis and I was also working on 2 major papers for other classes so I had over 85 books checked out of the library at one point. The librarians literally knew me by face and shook their heads in mock horror every time they saw me. I wrote my thesis on L.M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon trilogy (which you should all go read right this second). But in the process of researching things about material culture and house/space theory I discovered Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space. I don't really read non-fiction, but this book sucked me in. I found something incredibly profound on every page. It is phenomenal!

British Romanticism - Not really my favorite class, but I ended up doing my paper on Charles and Mary Lamb - focusing specifically on their literature for children (my main interest) and had a lot of fun reading Charles' letters and their Mrs. Leicester's School

Post-Colonial Literature - We read some fantastic things, but I really loved Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books of all time and this tells the other side of the story - the tale of the madwoman in the attic.

Fourth Semester (aka HOW DO I STILL HAVE SO MUCH TO DO?!):
In Early American Literature we focused on the grotesque, which was a little odd at times, but an interesting way to approach a really wide variety of texts. It was probably my favorite overall class. I loved reading Benjamin Franklin's "Silence Dogood Letters." He has the quirkiest sense of humor. And I read Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables for the first time. It's a little dry, but as I started to get into the story I found it rather interesting.

Modern American Writers: I loved Eudora Welty's The Robber Bridegroom. The professor made tons of parallels to fairy tales and myths and it really enriched the story. But the book by itself is a lot of fun!

And now I'm super excited that I will get to read the things that I want to read again! As much as I've loved these two years, I really miss time to read for pleasure. So excuse me as I attack my TBR pile :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

It's the middle of May.  A lot of TV shows are wrapping up their seasons.  Summertime is just around the corner, it's a great time to find some good reads.  Perhaps some of today's new releases will do the trick.

In Mystery, best-selling author John Sanford delivers his latest "Lucas Davenport," mystery with the 22nd installment, "Stolen Prey," out today.  "The Columbus Affair," by Steve Berry and "As the Crow Flies," by Craig Johnson are also available as well as a new paperback edition of "Dead as a Doornail," by Charlaine Harris is out today.   The fifth entry in the series provided inspiration for the fifth season of "True Blood," which premieres June 10th on HBO.  The novel's text is the same but collectors may way want to snag one with the sexy new cover. 

Over in Romance, you'll find "Star Struck," by the genre appropriately named, Jane Lovering plus "Persuade Me," by Juliet Archer, and "Always Something There to Remind Me," by Beth Harbison.

Moving over to Sci-Fi/Fantasy, you'll discover the latest Neal Stephenson book, "Reamde," is now in paperback along with "The Profession," by Steven Pressfield, and "The Testament of Jessie Lamb," by Jane Rogers.

Over in YA, it's a bittersweet day for fans of Ellen Screiber's "Vampire Kisses," series.  Fans will finally discover if Raven gets her wish of spending an eternity with her vampire love Alexander in the series' conclusion, "Immortal Hearts."  Or if immortal love isn't your thing, you may enjoy reading about a man with many loves, King Henry VIII.   "Gilt," by Katherine Longshore, is a historical fictional tale of the King's fifth wife as witnessed by her best girl friend.

Happy Reading !  Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible. Just because our blog is online, it doesn't mean your shopping has to be.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

More, More, More !

Some stories are full of characters that we love so much, we hate to leave them.  Fortunately, many books often have sequels that allow us into these beloved characters lives time and time again.  Unfortunately, all good books and series must come to an end but if we had our way, and could get the original authors to pen some new stories, here are some sequels we'd like to see.

Claire really loved "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," by Ransom Riggs and hopes their is a sequel planned.  I do too as the ending certainly set up for further adventures with the children.  It looks like we'll get our wish as the author posted on his site, http://www.ransomriggs.com/ that he was currently working on a second installment !

Jess P. would appreciate a sequel to" Time of the Witch" by Mary Dowing Hahn.  She is curious to see how the characters were afterwards as the ending wasn't, "all rainbows and unicorns."  I have to add that sometimes unicorns aren't very nice either.  See "Cabin in the Woods," if you don't believe me.

Rebecca wishes it were possible for a new "Winnie the Pooh" story by A.A. Milne.  She found the original tales a lot of fun and subsequent stories by a new author just didn't do the series justice.

I would be thrilled if Megan McCafferty wrote another story about Jessica Darling.  Despite five novels about her, I can't get enough.  Jessica finally got together with her true love Marcus in the last book, and I'd love to hear if they got married and if so, what their married life is like.  Knowing Jessica Darling, she'd have some biting commentary about bridezillas, wedding planning, and the pressure to start a family.

What about you guys ?  What sequels would you like to see ?  Share with us, don't be shy !

Friday, May 11, 2012

Helmcamp's Recyclopedia

Another one bites the dust.

My last post here was about a new book by a high school classmate of mine.  I'm excited to say that Dr. Glenn Pemberton's book, "Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms" has since been released.  I just received a copy from Glenn's publisher, and am looking forward to digging in.

I start with that because another Cleburne High School connection is closing one chapter and beginning a brand new one.

I'm talking about "Helmcamp's Recyclopedia," a used book store in my hometown of Cleburne, Texas.  The store is currently having their going out of business sale.  But in this case, it's not because they couldn't keep up with spartan.com, or any of the huge nationwide franchises.  The owner, Richard Helmcamp, is retiring.

Mr. Helmcamp, or "Uncle Dick," has been a fixture in Cleburne for years.  He has had a tremendous personal impact on the lives of literally thousands of people, going back to the early 1970s, when he became CHS's band director. 

High school bands in Texas are a big deal.  The biggest, and most obvious reason for this is football.  If you are unaware that high school football is an iconic cultural phenomenon in Texas, then wake up and smell the nachos. 

Why the tie-in between football and bands, and what does this have to do with books?

Alright, I'm getting to the point.  The bands play at the football games.  Not just the home games, either.  They take buses to the away games as well.  And they march during halftime.  So every fall, the band director is responsible for teaching music to the band members, ranging in age from 14 - 18 (shudder), songs that will be played either in the stands or out on the field every week.  In our case, the pieces we played while marching were memorized.  Not only that, but the director choreographed all the marching routines.  Each routine would be used for probably two weeks, and then a new one, with new songs, would take over.

Looking back on it now, it staggers my imagination.  And, along with 1 or 2 assistant directors, Dick Helmcamp did this for decades, he taught the children of some of his earlier students.  He excelled at this job, which was obviously a passion for him.  It became a passion for many of those students, as well.  Band wasn't just something we did, it was part of who we are.  Personally, it was how I identified myself.  I was a member of the Golden Pride of Cleburne High.

When exactly Mr. Helmcamp hung up his baton, I'm not sure.  I believe it was shortly after the turn of the century.  I had lost touch with him, but through the wonder of facebook, was able to re-establish the relationship somewhat.  I found that he and his wife Patsy went to Nevada for a few years, where he dealt blackjack.  Then they returned to Cleburne and opened up a book store.  A used book store, to be precise.  Here, according to legend, the Helmcamps established a local hideaway where bibliophiles could browse, buy, sell, trade, listen to music (some of it recordings of Golden Pride performances from generations past), and shoot the bull.  Unfortunately I haven't been back down to Cleburne in a coon's age, so now I'll never get to visit Helmcamp's Recyclopedia.

Dick Helmcamp is still keeping busy.  He has been dedicated to the performing arts in Cleburne, appearing in and directing a number of productions with the Carnegie Players. 

He's just one of those people, you know?  Have you ever been asked, "who are the 5 most influential people in your life?"  Well, he's way up there on my list.

I wish Dick and Patsy nothing but the best as they say goodbye to Helmcamp's Recyclopedia.  Actually, I'm a little worried for Patsy.  The facebook page clearly says everything must go, "except the computer and the dog." 

There's no website for the store, but if you're curious, here are the facebook page, and a couple of links with reviews.



Much love, Dick and Patsy.

Alan Andrews

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Darker and Freed

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the New York Times Bestseller and the most buzzed about book of the moment, "Fifty Shades of Grey."  The sequels were just as entertaining if not more so than the first.

"Fifty Shades Darker" begins just a few days after "Grey" left off.  Ana is determined to stay away from Christian but he's just as determined to win her back.  I don't think it's a spoiler to confirm that they reunite.  This wouldn't be much of an erotic romance if you didn't have a romantic couple.  However, new complications threaten and deepen their relationship.  I actually think a better title for this book would've been Fifty Shades Deeper as it took you deeper into Ana and Christian's personal lives, family backgrounds, and the structure of their relationship.  And of course, being an erotic romance, there are a ton of fun, frisky sex scenes. As well as the continued, unintentional humor I found with the terms "inner goddess" and the one I can't write here, but I'll just abbreviate it as KF.

"Fifty Shades Freed," is the conclusion to the trilogy and just when Ana and Christian seem to have found their happily ever after, unexpected complications jeopardize their relationship and their lives.  This book really upped the ante on dramatic events and the sex.  I wasn't really pleased with one of the obstacles Ana and Christian faced and I found the conclusion a little too neat.  However, I really enjoyed the edgier sex scenes in this book and the dramatic events moved at such a frenetic pace, that it was hard to put this book down.

This is honestly the most entertaining and fun series I've read in a long time.  It's no fine work of literature and it's not extremely well written but if you're just looking for a good time, give them a read you won't be sorry.  I read through "Darker" and "Freed" in just a matter of days.

I recently had the privilege, to meet the author E.L. James.  My awesome dad agreed to take May 8th off of work to take me and our friend to meet E.L. James at a signing at the Barnes & Noble in Paramus, NJ.  Paramus isn't too far away from where we live in NY and the event didn't start until 7:30PM.  However, Barnes & Noble began handing out wristbands at 9AM that day to the first 300 guests.  So to ensure we got in, we embarked on our adventure early that morning.  We arrived at the store a little after 9AM and about 100 ladies were already waiting to get in the store to buy the book and obtain a wristband.

The line moved pretty quickly and one woman, who had already gotten her wristband, was passing out coupons for her store.  She said, "everything that is in the book is in my store."  I appreciate her marketing skills but unfortunately her shop, which we visited later, did not include everything mentioned in the book.  For example, there was no Charlie Tango and even sadder, no Christian Grey.

Anyways, back to the line, we got in around 9:30 and got our books and our wristbands. We spent the rest of the day cruising around the Paramus area.  My dad took me and our friend to IKEA for awhile because we had both never been to one.  It was pretty awesome.  I considered moving into the one mock apartment.

Later we headed back to the store and my dad patiently waited with us and a few hundred other woman and only a couple other guys.  Seriously, if there are single guys out there looking to meet women, an E.L. James signing is good place to look.   We were able to enter the "event space" at 6:30 and they had 300 chairs for the wristband folks.  Anyone who did not have a wristband could line up outside the event space.  They weren't guaranteed a signature but odds were good Ms. James would stick around until she had signed everyone's book(s).

Needless to say E.L. James is the one signing my book.
Finally, at 7:30, Ms. James came out and greeted the crowd with the sweetest english accent I've ever heard.  Due to the size of the crowd, you couldn't pose for photos but someone, like your awesome dad, could try and snap a picture while you got your book signed.

I didn't just get a book signed for myself, I got another copy of "Fifty Shades of Grey," to give away, right here on our blog !

So, if you haven't read the book yet, here is your chance to get find out what all the fuss is about.  Or, if you've already devoured the book, here is your opportunity to have a copy of a book signed by the author herself.  This giveaway is open to US residents who are 18 or older as of today's date. Now to Charlie Tango, I mean the Rafflecopter we go !

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

Many of you have seen Rory, the adorable book club cat on our main page.  However, Rory doesn't do much other than create mischief and help us choose our book club selections by gnawing on the books.  My fat cat Boris however, always curls up by my side when I write my posts.  Today is no exception.  Earlier he even tried to make his own contribution to the site by sitting on the keyboard.  Sadly my Boris is photo shy and he has informed me that there aren't that many new releases today.

However there are few notable titles, particularly in Mystery, such as "The Family Corleone," by Ed Falco.  This is a prequel to "The Godfather," based on an unpublished screenplay by creator, Mario Puzo.  Mickey Spillane's legacy also continues with "Lady, Go Die!," a new "Mike Hammer" story by Max Allan Collins.  Other new titles in mystery include, "Hush Money," by Chuck Greaves and "The Inquisitor's Key," by Jefferson Bass. 

The other looming mystery is why there are no new releases in Romance today.

Meanwhile, over in Science-Fiction/Fantasy, you'll find "Sandman Volume 9: Kindly Ones" by Neil Gaiman and "Rollback," by Robert J. Sawyer. 

Young Adult fans will be excited to see the latest from Meg Cabot, "Underworld" as well as the fourth book in Carrie Jones' "Need" series, "Endure."  "Hemlock," by Kathleen Peacock and "Struck," by Jennifer Bosworth are also available today.

And that's your Laydown Lowdown for the Week of May 8th.  Boris and I wish you a good day and Happy Reading !  Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  Just because our blog is online, it doesn't mean your shopping has to be. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

April Book Club: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

"We read books, talked books, argued over books,
and became dearer and dearer to one another.
Other Islanders asked to join us,
and our evenings together became
bright, lively times--
we could almost forget,
now and then,
the darkness outside" (p. 51).
The year is 1946. The second World War has just ended and author Juliet Ashton is touring to promote her collection of humorous essays written during the war. But she can't figure out what to write next and everything seems a bit sad and broken. Until she receives an unexpected from a Mr. Dawsey Adams, a farmer who lives on Guernsey Island. His simple request piques her curiosity and his mention of the literary and potato peel pie society that started with an illegal roast pig quickly has her writing for more information. Thus begins a long and lively correspondence between Juliet and the various members of the society. As their story unfolds and Juliet learns of their life under German occupation, her own spirits are revived and she finds friendship, inspiration, and love in the most unlikely of places. Filled with humor and heart this is a story about booklovers of all kinds and the power that books have to help us through the darkest times.

You know you want to own this book!
Barnes & Noble
Find an Indie store near you
We aren't promoting any particular store, just encouraging you to shop in your local brick and mortars! Keep them in business :)

What we thought:

Naomi Ruth: First off: I absolutely love Annie Barrows. Second off: I don't know why it took me so long to read this book. My sister, the gorgeous Rebecca, told me I would love it, but I didn't believe her because I have this problem where I assume adult books are boring and awful. Oh! How wrong I was. I laughed, I cried, it moved me. I most definitely want to go visit Guernsey now, though, in some ways, I kinda feel like I already did. Shaffer and Barrows make the island come alive and you almost feel like you've already been there. I loved this book with every potato in the world.

Jenn N: Like Naomi, I was also reluctant to read this book but I am so glad that I forged ahead and read it anyway. It took a few pages to adjust to the unique writing style as this story is told through letters. However, you're quickly sucked in and are soon immersed in this warm group of friends who survived WWII through friendship, faith, and a love of reading.

Rebecca T: I fell in love with this book a few years ago and have subtly and not so subtly been begging people to read it ever since. I love the epistolary style and it is done very well; each character has a unique voice that just makes you fall in love with them (or utterly despise them as the case may be). This really is a story about the power of books and their ability to comfort and even change lives. It is laugh out loud funny, but also so poignantly sad that I dare you to read it without shedding a few silent tears. And I was devastated to learn that Mary Ann Shaffer actually passed away during the writing of this book because it means that there won't be any more forthcoming. This is a beautiful book with a little bit of everything for everybody.

Next Month: We'll be reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Read along with us and come back next month to weigh in on our discussion!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Laydown Lowdown

Welcome to your Laydown Lowdown for the week of May 1, 2012.  Yikes - how did it get to be May already?

Not only does May symbolize Winter's farewell for me, it also ushers in the arrival of yet another Sookie Stackhouse novel.  "Deadlocked," the 12th and penultimate novel in Charlaine Harris' beloved series finds Sookie in the midst of vampire politics with a murder to solve.  If you're a Sookie fan, you'll want to check out our site on Sundays in the summer as some of BW/OB bloggers will be doing "True Blood" related group posts and vlogs.  We'll keep you posted on the fangtastic details as they develop.

Other new releases in Sci-Fi/Fantasy today include "Invincible," by Jack Campbell, "Aurorarama," by Jean-Christophe Valtat, and "By the Blood of Heroes: The Undead War," by Joseph Nassise.

Meanwhile over in Young Adult, you'll find another much anticipated release, "Insurgent," the sequel to the best-selling "Divergent," by Veronica Roth hits shelves today. "Destined," the latest from Aprilynne Pike, "Sweet Evil," by Wendy Higgins, and "Bitterblue" by Kristin Cashore are also available today

There are dozens of new releases in Romance today but the highlights include the latest releases by best-selling authors.  Nora Roberts is sure to have another hit with "The Last Boyfriend," as are Sherlyn Kenyon, "Born of Silence," Carly Phillips, "Karma," and Mary Balogh, "The Proposal."

Over in mystery, Ace Atkins picks up where deceased author/creator Robert Parker left off, and continues the adventures of Spenser with "Lullaby."  Other capers today include "Dead Level," by Sarah Graves, and "Body in the Boudoir," by Katherine Hall Paige. 

Finally, for those of you that entered our raffle to win a copy of "Shatter Me," signed by Tahereh Mafi, we are please to announce the winner is MARTHA (I'm shouting your name in Oprah's excited sing-song tone).  Congratulations, Rebecca will be emailing you for your mailing address and I'll send it out ASAP.  If you didn't win, don't fret.  We plan on having more giveaways in the future so stick with us !

Happy Reading Everyone !! Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  Just because our blog is online, it doesn't mean your shopping has to be.