Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Read 8/24/10 - 8/31/10
5 stars - Highly Recommended/ The Next Best Book

"Part science fiction fantasy, part action adventure and thriller, Gene Doucette creates the perfect balance of humor and edge-of-your-seat anticipation in this genre-defying story of an immortal man named Adam, who finds himself battling demons and bounty hunters in his eternal search for Eve, the red haired mystery woman of his dreams. Witty and wonderful, with a bite of sarcasm, Immortal is a five star read for any fiction lover. " (Book Blurb submitted by yours truly!)

I have the extremely amazing honor of being the first person to write a review on Gene Doucette's debut novel, which will be released on Amazon.com October 1st by HIP (Hamel Integrity Publishing).

In "Immortal", we are introduced to Adam, our immortal but not invincible quazi-hero, as he awakens confused and disoriented nursing a massive hangover from beneath a futon at a college frat party, immediately puting his reliability as a narrator into question. But don't worry guys, it's all part of Adam's charm.

Witty sarcasm, quick quips, and an uncanny knack to self-preserve at all costs, our leading man quickly endears himself to you. We find ourselves drawn to him, not unlike the way one is drawn to the scene of an accident, nudging and jostling one another for a better view of the carnage.

Believing he is one of a kind, Adam asks the reader not to mistake him for a vampire. No, he doesn't age and does not get sick, though he is most certainly capable of dying. He has no super powers to speak of, though he is fluent in every language that has ever existed and can blend in with whatever culture he is hanging out in.

And he is searching for a red haired mystery woman who haunts his dreams throughout myriad millennia. Little does he know that while he searches for her, someone else is searching for him, and will stop at nothing to find him - leaving a bloody trail of unfortunate bodies in it's wake.

Adam narrates our novel through two time lines - The italicized text at the beginning of each chapter is Adam's current timeline where he appears to have been captured and locked away with a mad scientist who is determined to discover the why's and how's of his immortality. The main text recaps all of the wild and crazy events that lead up to Adam's eventual capture.

Along the way we meet tricky iffrits, whimsical pixies, sexy vampires, and armored dragons as Adam finds himself on the run on more than one occasion, forced to battle demons and bounty hunters, while trying to uncover who is coming after him.

A rapid fire, unrelenting wild rumpus of a ride - Immortal earned it's spot as the Next Best Book. Everyone will find something to love, and everyone should sign up to purchase a copy come October 1st! Do not miss this hilarious, edge-of-your-seat action packed thriller. Or I will come find you and harass you until you do! You have NO IDEA what you are missing!!!

For additional information on the author and his novel, and to sample a chapter of Immortal - view his website here.

Crazy Twitter Dreams

Ok. So I think it is officially official. Twitter has not only taken over my waking hours, but it has now infiltrated my unconscious mind as well.

I had a crazy weird twitter dream last night.

"@BenTanzer @ericabrooke had a dream that the two of you ran in an all day race together and I was glued to twitter to see who won!"

This is what I tweeted this morning, as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes at 5:30am to see my oldest son off to school.

I woke up remembering a strange dream that starred Ben Tanzer, author of "99 Problems", and Harper Perennial Marketing Guru Erica Barmash in which they had both entered to compete in a marathon race. I found out about it and, knowing that they were both dedicate runners and were both on twitter, I monitored their progress as they raced - because somehow, they both found a way to tweet while they ran!

I was glued to tweetdeck, reading their tweets, which came in pretty steadily. They did not know each other before the race, though they would tweet about each other - hilariously commenting on each others form and choice of running gear, the fact that they were being passed by each other - since they were both at the head of the pack.

So many things are wrong with that dream on so many levels. It proves that my tweeting/blogging/addiction to publishing and books has gotten incredibly out of control!

It also proves that, subconsciously, I want to connect the people I know and like with other people I know and like that I know they will like knowing!

See, I happen know that both Ben and Erica are dedicated runners. And this dream comes on the tale end of Ben's newest release (which is apparently kicking ass and taking names!) which is all about running and writing.

Wonder what I will dream up next!!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"The Elephant's Journey" Winner!

Congratulations to Rach! She won an ARC of The Elephant's Journey!

She shared her unabashed love of Madeleine L'Engle at a young age, and how that love carried right through to her adult years. I can certainly relate to that!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Elephant's Journey

Read 8/16/10 - 8/24/10
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended

Originally published in Jose Saramago's native language of Portuguese in 2008, The Elephant's Journey will be released in english September 9th, posthumously.

The idea for this novel came about when Jose Saramago and a university teacher went out to dinner at a restaurant called "The Elephant". He asked her about the history behind the wood carvings decorating the restaurants walls, and was informed of the sixteenth century journey from Lisbon to Vienna made by an elephant that once belonged to the Portuguese King Joao III. Sensing a story within that story, he began to construct the tale of Solomon the Elephant.

It saddened me a bit to be reading this novel, knowing that Saramago passed away mere weeks from it's American release. Though, it also felt like coming home, in a sense. It has been awhile since I've curled up with one of his novels, and beginning this one was like walking into the arms of a long lost friend.

Typical of his past work, Saramago pulls us into the story of Solomon by narrating through an unusual first person plural POV. His run-on sentences, lack of punctuation, and multi-paged paragraphs force you to concentrate on every word as you read from line to line, page to page, your eyes and your mind begging for a breath, yet at the same time, unwilling to stop and break up the rhythm.

Solomon and his human companion Subhro are given as a wedding gift to King Joao's cousin, the Archduke of Austria, Maxamillian. Forced to travel by foot, Solomon, Subhro, and a sizable crew of soliders, horses, oxen, and porters head out of Lisbon and cover unimaginable distances and territories to arrive upon the Archdukes homeland of Vienna.

While not an overly impressive topic, Saramago weaves a wonderful tale of friendship, trust, admiration, and survival. He has this impressive knack of turning mundane, every day sort of things into beautiful stories that are both tender and tough, frustrating and funny.

Leave it to Saramago to work religion and politics into his novel! Hidden very cleverly within the pages of the book, he addresses his feelings and opinions on christianity and war through his characters. I always look forward to seeing how he works those in.

Overall, while not my favorite Saramago (as nothing can compare to the bleak dystopian feel of Blindness, the dark claustrophobic tale The Cave, or the withdrawl of death in Death With Interruptions), it certainly deserves a read - not only by his fans, but by history lovers, elephant lovers, and travel lovers as well.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Saramago and "The Elephant's Journey" Giveaway

If you have been following my blog for any amount of time, or know me from TNBBC on goodreads, you will know my unabashed love of Jose Saramago and his writing ever since I accidently stumbled across his novels in a Borders Bookstore back in 2007.

Back in June, as the first blog entry in a monthly series I planned to roll out, I proclaimed myself as a Saramago Book Whore to the entire blogosphere. It thrilled me to be sharing Saramago and his amazing stories with everyone. (Sadly that is where the blog series ended because exactly two weeks to the day it premiered, Saramago passed away. And I can't help but wonder if he would still be alive today had I not posted that cursed blog!)

I knew he had some novel translations in the works, and his sudden death initiated a frantic scramble to get my hands on his 2008 novel "The Elephant's Journey", which will be released in english on September 9th. I sent emails out like a mad woman to the hard working folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I was reaching out to contacts at other publishing companies to try to get an "in". And finally, I got a reply to my request. The ARC was on it's way!!! I would have a brand new Saramago to fall in love with.

Imagine my surprise when, two days after the book arrives on my doorstep, a second copy hits the deck! I can only think that at some point, somewhere, someone else came across my request and decided to just ship the book out. Oh, if I only knew who to kiss and thank for that!

This is where the giveaway comes into play.

I have one ARC of "The Elephant's Journey" to share with someone who either (a) already loves Saramago and his writing or (b) is ready to fall in love with Saramago and his writing.

Since I will be shipping this copy out, the giveaway will be International!
The contest will end on August 27th.

Here's how you enter:

1 - Post a comment here and tell me which author YOU are a book whore for. Who is it? What crazy desperate things would you do to meet them? Why are they your favorite? Or maybe you have already done crazy desperate things to meet them.... do tell!!

2- Be sure to include a way for me contact you (via email, blogger contact, goodreads profile) so I can notify you if you are winner.

Best comment wins! But don't try to outdo one another. You never know which will impress me most. Good luck everyone and I can't wait to see who your favorites are!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"The Act of Devotion" Giveaway

Samantha Bruce-Benjamin and I have been in contact about her new novel The Art of Devotion, and have partnered together to create a TNBBC sidebar group read for the month of September. It has been creating quite a buzz on Goodreads - with an average rating of 4.1 - and has been read by a few of our TNBBCer's already. Are you ready to read what everyone is talking about?

Samantha has agreed to give away 10 copies of her book!!

The Goodreads description is simple:
"A girl summers in the Mediterranean with her beautiful aunt, who hides secrets that could destroy everything she holds dear."

In order to win a copy of this novel:

1- You must post a comment to this thread including your email address so we can contact you if you win.

2- You must agree to participate in a group read book discussion that will run during the month of September over at TNBBC on Goodreads. Samantha has agreed to participate in the discussion and will be available to answer any questions you may have for her.

3 - You must be one of the first 10 people to comment. Yup, that's right. It's first come first serve! By commenting, you are agreeing to read the book and join the group discussion at TNBBC on Goodreads (the thread for the discussion will be emailed to you at the first of the month).

This giveaway is available to residents of the US and Canada only (Sorry folks, the books are not being shipped by me), and will remain open until the 10th copy has been claimed. Upon it's close, I will email the winners and announce them here on my blog. Good Luck!!

In the meantime, please check out Samantha Bruce-Benjamin's website, and the Art of Devotion book trailer.

"My Formerly Hot Life" Winners

Congratulations to the following Formerly's

Suzanne - Formerly Fearless
John - Formerly Champion Debater
KRSTRPP - Formerly Firm

They shared some wonderfully honest and interesting stories about their former selves. To check them out, please read the comments on the blog's contest as well as the comments over at the goodreads group.

The winners have been notified via email or PM and must contact me with their shipping addresses in order to receive their copies!

For more information on My Former Hot Life, check out the following links:
Your Ass Needs A Bra (author video)
Formerly Hot (author website)

Thanks to everyone who participated and made this giveaway possible!

It's a Book

Hooray for this awesome little book trailer!

I managed to snag the adorable book tote for this at this years BEA in NYC.
You can see a photo of it on my sidebar.

Light Boxes

Read 8/10/10 - 8/15/10
5 Stars - Highly Recommended

Shane Jones is awe inspiring. His words taste like honey and smoke. His sentences read like lucid dreams. His book melts in your hands, soaks into your skin, and nestles inside your lungs until you are breathing snow and ice.

He mindfucks you so gently you aren't even aware he is doing it.

Ok, that last one might have been a bit drastic.

What we have here is the dreadful fairy tale-like story of a month that has decided to take up permanent residence in an unnamed town. February has settled in and will not be moved. A tricky god-like entity that sits among the heavy clouds in the dark gray sky, he destroys every effort the townspeople make to end winter. He kidnaps the children and declared the end of flight. Hot air balloons, birds... They all lie stationary and still on the snow covered ground. Some of the residents become depressed, and confused. Many die.

Yet there is hope in the shape of a man named Thaddeus, who has lost his wife and daughter to February. He and a group of men who wear bird masks and dub themselves The Solution create a War Effort to bring an end to February and all his tricks.

Throughout all of this, Shane Jones stuffs his words with emotion and heartbreak and then twists and wrings them above the pages. You can feel every syllable take shape in your mouth. And hear them whispering in your ear.

A story that showcases perseverance, willpower, and the strength of many men against an unseen enemy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

99 Problems

Read 8/4/10
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended

I have to be careful. I know what you guys are thinking. You are thinking I have a thing for this guy, don't you? Yeah... Go ahead. Admit it. The second you saw this review was for Ben Tanzer and his newest release, you rolled your eyes. Didn't you? Don't deny it! I saw you!

Well. You know what? I don't care. Think what you want. The man knows how to write. You would review everything he wrote too, if you downloaded some of his stuff. CCLaP, his e-publisher, makes it so easy to do. Why don't you take a look. Go ahead, it's ok. I'll wait. No, really... go ahead. I will just sit here, I don't mind.

Oh, did I mention that they offer different ways to download it? It's available in PDF for both US and EU laser printers, and there's an EPUB version for most eReaders. There is even an payment option (yes, free is an option. No strings, I swear).

Did you know Ben is a runner? Yup. He likes to run. Every day. No matter where he is or what he is doing. It helps him get his thoughts together. It's like a drug. He pushes himself. Hard. He times himself. He likes to feel the burn. And the ache. I wonder if he is a masochist. He gets itchy and cranky when he's all cooped up. He can't function. He panics. He throws temper tantrums.

Well, ok. Maybe not temper tantrums.

I was trying to build suspense. You know? Trying to get your attention. But I let it get out of hand. Here, let me try this again.

99 Problems is a collection of essays that Ben wrote about his own experiences with running and writing during the winter of 2009, and how intricately entwined the two processes are for him. As his feet hit the pavement all across the country, Ben's thoughts wander to the book he is currently writing. Or the passing of his father 9 years ago. Or the fact that he is no longer as young as he used to be, and needs to step up his game. Or the time when he watched his buddy chat up a chick he knew in high school.

His writing is lovely. The words run across the page, smooth and effortless. They flow together so naturally. His transitions almost hypnotize you... Look at my words. You are getting sleepy, You want to put on a pair of running shoes. You want to go for a run outside, You want to run like the wind.

I'm no runner. Not a big fan of the running. Pumping the legs. Wearing the sneakers. Making the sweat. I'm the girl who was left panting and gasping on the outer edge of the track in gym class, clutching her side, while all the other kids ran laps around me.

But Ben manages to make me wish I was a runner. His essays make me think I am missing something by not running. They make me think I should run out to Sneaker King and purchase a pair of running shoes.

This is Ben. A story teller. An influencer. A glutton for punishment.

This is Ben wearing his heart, like his Ipod, on his sleeve.

This is Ben cranking up the volume on Jay-Z, and running the words of his next story out of his head, down into his arm, and storing them in his fingers until he makes his way home to write them out.

So. Did you check 99 Problems out, like I asked? Well, hang on. Watch this. I am going to attach a link for you look at. Jason from CCLaP put together this really cool interactive google map that showcases one of Ben's essays by tracing the actual path he ran in "The Long Haul". It's complete with photos of the places he mentions in the essay as well.

Tell me that isn't the coolest thing you have ever seen!

Happy e-publication day Ben! May your running paths always be clear, the weather always be perfect, and the stories continue to flow through your fingers, my friend!

A Dirty Old Man Would Have Grown Older...

I stumbled across Charles Bukowski nearly a decade after he had passed away. After experiencing his writing, I wondered how I had managed to go so long without. It is raunchy and raw. Rough and ragged. He holds no punches and finds poetry in everything. He was a genius and put dirty old men on the map.

The saddest part of finding him so late is the fact that I will never get to see him read his poetry. The best part - He has published so many books and collections that I have years worth of reading to catch up on!

In honor of his birthday
- He would have been 90 today -
I want to celebrate a different side of Hank. The painter, the artist.

To see a list of what he has written click here; or to view the individual paintings you see up above click here. Which painting is your favorite? What book or poetry collection is your favorite?

Friday, August 13, 2010

33 A.D.

Read 8/3/10 - 8/10/10
2.5 Stars - Recommended lightly to readers familiar with genre/Not as an introduction to genre

There are times when I get my hands on a copy of a novel, and begin to wonder if I'm reading the same version everyone else is reading. You know, that one novel that was love at first sentence... that rocked your socks... that blew your mind... only to see that everyone else reviewed it with one or two stars? Where you are left staring at the computer screen at a loss for words, wondering what the heck is wrong with everyone, flabbergasted at how they didn't see what you saw in that novel?

Well, earlier this week, I was sitting on the opposite end of the book, wondering what everyone else saw that I just didn't see when they read David McAfee's vampire novel 33.A.D.

The book seemed right up my alley, in so many ways: Vampires and Christian Conspiracy! Blood and Gore! Secrecy and Revenge! It's Indie! and rather unknown!

It was recommended to me anonymously on Goodreads, and after reading the blurb, and seeing the great reviews it was accumulating, I contacted David and asked if he would send me a copy for review. Which he very graciously did. (Thank you David.)

Even though it sounded like it was a perfect match for me and my tastes, I just could not get into the writing. It began rather rough for me and just never got any better.

David creates an alternate Roman history in which Vampires walk the world unnoticed by humans. Secretly, they have a separate authority that they answer to, and kill for. And when one of their own breaks the rules and betrays the society of vamps in order to join Jesus and his followers - all hell breaks loose. It's humans against Vampires in the sneakiest, bloodiest battle Jerusalem has ever seen.

In order for this very ambitious story to work, David had to make some adjustments to the history of Jesus and the events leading up to his crucifixion. Now, alright, don't get me wrong, I'm not religious by any means, and I certainly do not claim to have read or remember much of what takes place in the bible, but there are just certain things that should never ever be touched, and I suppose I have to draw the line at the deception and crucifixion of Jesus. He rewrote history to illuminate the fact that vampires were the ones who actually set Jesus' downfall into motion.

The vampires do not represent traditional vamps - big fangs, blood sucking, feeding off humans. Rather, they kill more often than not with swords and super long extendable claws. Due to the lack of vampiric behavior and David's unaggressive way of describing characters, I had to keep reminding myself that the novel contained actual vampires for the first 100 pages or so.

Some of the conversations that took place happened during "fight scenes" where two vampires were attempting to kill each other, or a vampire and a human were locked in combat, and came off as forced and awkward. I am certain that if I were clashing swords with a vampire, I would not be talking to him about anything. period. I would be swinging that sword like hell or running for my life. And then pleading for my life when he caught me. And then most certainly dying a horrible, bloody death. the end.

There were a few points throughout the book where I found myself engaged with it and anticipating what was coming next. But more often than not, I was putting the book down and focusing on other things, putting some distance between myself and it. The urge to pick it back up again, sadly, was not very strong.

I admit, once I hit the half way point, to struggling with the idea of setting the novel down permanently. But I am not the type to leave a book half finished. So I kept picking it back up until suddenly, I was reading the final page.

I would be lying if I said a little sigh of relief did not escape my mouth. God, that sounds harsh as I write it. But it was a mix of so many different things for me. I was disappointed. I was craving a real honest-to-goodness vampire novel - especially after reading the dud "Fangland" - and it just did not deliver.

Here's to hoping that I find the perfect vampire novel for me. And here's to hoping that this becomes a favorite vampire novel for someone else. Perhaps for you?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Harper Perennial Author Book Tours for August

Hi everyone! I am back again spreading the love for Harper Perennial and their authors who are hitting the road to promote their new books. Grab yourself a copy and join the party -

(please note that the book descriptions have been taken from Goodreads.com)

First up is Katrina Little and her novel " The Blessings of the Animals" - a wry and moving story of forgiveness, flexibility, happiness, and the art of moving on.

She will be touring on:
8/10 Schuler Books and Music, Grand Rapids MI
8/11 Schuler Books and Music, Lansing MI
8/12 Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord MI
8/17 Next Chapter, Mequon WI
8/18 Books and CO, Oconomowoc WI
8/24 Joseph Beth, Cleveland OH
8/25 Joseph Beth, Cincinnati OH


Rachel Shukert will be out promoting her new book "Everything is Going to Be Great" - in which she bounces through complicated relationships, drunken mishaps, miscommunication, and the reality-adjusting culture shock that every twentysomething faces when sent off to negotiate "the real world"—whatever that may be.

She will be touring on:
8/25 Happy Ending Reading Series, New York NY
8/28 Bookworm, Omaha NE

Go out and show your support for these lovely Harper Perennial authors by picking up their books and joining them on their book tour! If you attend, please send pictures and share the experience here. I'd love to hear about it!

Twitter Wordle Weirdness

During my daily perusal of Twitter, I ran across @literalicious and her blog - where she posted a Wordle - it's an app that Twitter uses to analyze your tweets, showing you the words you tweet most often.

Of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to create one of my own. Take a peek :

Wordle: The Next Best Book Blog
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Yup. That seems about right! Want to create one of your own? Follow the directions on @literalicious's blog, and share the results with me. What words do you tweet most often?

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Diary of a Disappointed Book

Do yourself a favor and watch this!
It's the most adorable short film you will see this year.

It Truly is the Little Things

I'm not going to lie. Nothing makes me happier than coming home to a beautiful new book waiting patiently for me in the mailbox or on the doorstep.

Well. Hang on. Nothing makes me happier than coming home to a beautiful new book that is signed by the author and waiting patiently for me...

Ok. Wait. Nothing makes me happier than a beautiful new book that is signed by the author and accompanied by a personalized card, and bookmark, and other little trinkets of affection!

Ann Mauren is a great example of this.

Not only was her book signed, but she attached a coin - which has some significance to the main character in the novel - a bloggers pamphlet, a couple of cool bookmark cards, and a personalized note thanking me for my interest and letting me know the book is undergoing some minor changes, so she will be sending me out a new copy when it's ready.

Antonia Banyard, while not signing the book, sent along a bookmark and a personalized card that depicts one of the locations from her book.

The little extras go a long way with this book blogger! It shows me that the author appreciates the fact that I accepted their book for review. It not only catches my attention, but it also ensures that I will remember those authors. It's one of the reasons I enjoy working directly with the authors.

What puts a smile on your face? Which authors shower you with extra little gifts to entice you to read their novels?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Editing a Manuscript, You Say?

Why, yes, actually, I am.

Jason Pettus of CCLaP emailed me earlier in the week and asked if I, among a few hand-selected others, would be interested in helping him proofread the final version of Ben Tanzer's latest collection of essays detailing the relationship between running and writing - "99 Problems".

Now, it should go without saying that I am big fan of Ben. He's been a huge supporter of TNBBC - writing a guest post about love, signing a copy of his novel for a TNBBC giveaway, agreeing to be interviewed - and wrote two amazing books that I was thrilled to have read and reviewed.

Of course, I jumped at the chance to participate in the final proofing of his manuscript, which will be released digitally, in all it's edited glory, on August 9th. Not only is this an amazing opportunity, but it is also immensely flattering to have been asked.

Now, where is that red pen hiding??? I have a deadline to meet!

I'm Prolific...

Or, at least that is what Ashley over at Books From Bleh to Basically Amazing thinks!

The award claims that

"A prolific blogger is one who is intellectually productive, keeping up an active blog with enjoyable content. After accepting this award, recipients are asked to pass it forward to seven other deserving blogs."

I am very flattered to add this wonderful blog award to my collection and to also share it with other bloggers that take an active interest in keeping things fresh, informative, and enjoyable!

I pass this award on to:

1.Dead White Guys - she keeps the classics fresh
2.Tri'ing To Make A Difference - I sit in awe of this woman and the things she accomplishes
3.Mandy the Bookworm - she pulls off some of the best interviews I have ever seen.
4.The Book Whisperer - ARC queen and official mystery convention press!
5.The Reading Ape - pulls no punches and lays it all out on the line.


Read 7/29/10 - 8/3/10
3 Stars - Recommended to readers familiar with genre

Another sleeper. Slow to get going, content to tread water for as long as humanly possibly, almost to the point of exhausting the reader... and terminates in a less than satisfactory finale.

That sounds kind of harsh, doesn't it? I apologize. I do. But I want to be honest and up front with you, fellow book lovers. I don't want you to go into this with the wrong set of expectations. You will thank me for it. I promise.

Strangely enough, this is the second book I have read in a row that was praised by Audrey Niffenegger (The other was Your Presence Is Requested At Suvanto) which received a less than raving review from me. I say it is strange because I have enjoyed both of Niffenegger's own novels immensely, and find it surprising that she and I don't share similar opinions of the books we read. But that is really neither here nor there.

Fangland begs you to believe that the novel is about vampires. Look at the cover - see those winged animals circling the city's skyline? See the blood splattered across the moon? Hell, even the leading line on the back cover asks "Are the New York offices of The Hour being taken over by a vampire?" Allow me to answer that question for you. No, they are not. Whatever is planning to take over the offices of The Hour is no vampire. At least, no vampire I have ever read about.

Ion Torgu is a notorious Eastern European crime boss. Rumors abound that the man might not truly exist. Evangeline Harker (no, no relation to the famed Jonathan Harker of the classic Dracula story) is sent to Romania to try to get some information on Torgu's whereabouts, and if she can play her cards right, land an exclusive interview with him for her producers over at The Hour.

And oh does she play them right! Torgu picks her up at her hotel and escorts her to his secluded creepy hotel in the middle of the Transylvanian woods (sounds like Dracula, looks like Dracula, even feels like Dracula, but make no mistake, it is not like Dracula), where he tells her they will enter into private negotiations until they agree to the terms of the interview.
He drinks wine with her, he eats chicken and garlic with her, he admires her necklace - a crucifix dangling from a silver chain, he shows her his rancid collection of religious "art", he has a reflection in the mirror they pass when he shows her to her room for the night....

Strange things begin to take place within the hotel... Evangeline is locked up tight in her room during daylight hours, she is not allowed to place phone calls or send emails to anyone, she is upsetting Torgu by asking too many questions and being a tad bit too stubborn. She attempts to escape - each time seeing things she is not meant to see, and each time finding herself back in her room, worse for the wear. Weeks pass....

Back in the offices of The Hour, while investigating Evangeline's disappearance, strange tapes appear that show nothing more than hours of an empty chair. Mysterious crates arrive that contain "archeological artifacts" and put the T.V. station's employees on edge. There is an unmistakeable white noise and whispering that pollutes the entire twentieth floor, seeping into everyone's head, invading their dreams and affecting their waking lives.

And suddenly, months later, Evangeline reappears. She is found in a convent, unable to talk about what she survived, barely aware of who she is, yet determined to return to her position at The Hours.

Is she prepared for the changes that have taken place in the office? Does she know what is trying to take over? More importantly, does she know how to stop it?

Once you come to terms with the story, and realize that this is not a tale of blood sucking vampires with fangs, the book actually has quite a few things going for it. The author tells the story through emails, journals, first person accounts, and third person narratives which allows the reader an opportunity to experience everything that is taking place. The different character perspectives added additional depth, though at times this technique seemed to slow the pace of the novel even further.

Chalk this one up as another novel that failed to meet my expectations. I know I would have enjoyed it more had I not been waiting more than 3/4 of the book for the author to show me the vampires. I know, I know... I need to just get over it.

It's such a shame though.

Because there is no explanation of what really WAS trying to take over the T.V. station.

If there is anyone out there who is going to give this novel a go, or has already read it, feel free to comment here and let me know what you thought. Were you are confused as I was?

Monday, August 2, 2010

"My Formerly Hot Life " Giveaway

TNBBC is featuring another cool interactive book giveaway for a chance to win a copy of

This is an International contest, so everyone can enter.
The number of copies available all depends on the number of entries we have,
so the more entries we have, the more books I can giveaway!

Stephanie Dolgoff, author of "My Formerly Hot Life", runs a fun, informative blog on her website, and also has a pretty funny book trailer that hits home a little more than I would like to admit!

Stephanie and her novel "My Formerly Hot Life" asks us no-longer-young-but-not-yet-old people "What's Our Formerly"? What did you used to be that you aren't any more? What did you used to do that you just don't anymore?

And that is what TNBBC would like to you ask you.

Here are the Rules:

1- Enter here, or at TNBBC on Goodreads, by posting a comment that tells your Formerly story through a photo (holding a sign that says Formerly _____) or through words. (See Steph's book trailer to get an idea of what the photo's look like).

ex: Formerly went to nightclubs - or - Formerly Fashionable - or- Formerly Single.

2- The more honest the comment, the better your chances to win! C'mon guys and gals, I know you have some great Formerly stories to share with us!

3 - Contest will remain open until August 17th. Winners will be announced on the 17th. Remember, the more entries we have, the more books I can give away!

4- Be sure to include to your email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win!

Author Interview w/ Teddy Wayne

TNBBC was thrilled to have Teddy Wayne, author of Kapitoil, spend the week with us answering all of our questions. An all out great guy with a wickedly subtle sense of humor, Teddy dishes on things like living in NYC, editing his novel, and the one thing he cannot live without!

Though an old hat when it comes to writing and seeing his work in print - having been published in McSweeny's, The New Yorker, the New York Times, Time, Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Los Angeles Times - Kapitoil is his first novel.

TNBBC: Welcome Teddy. Thank you so much for joining us and taking the time to meet the most wonderful book group on Goodreads! I am going to be a greedy host and start firing off questions to get this started:

How long have you been living in NYC? What is the best and worst part of living in a big city?

Hello to all two of my Goodreads fans! Glad to be here. I'm from New York and moved back here after college in 2001, with a break in St. Louis for graduate school from 2005-8. The advantages of living here are the cultural stimuli and other urban detritus, the career benefits of being at the epicenter of the publishing world, and waiting for the subway during the completely mild New York City summers. The drawbacks are the punishing cost of living and the everpresent distraction; I was generally more productive as a writer in St. Louis.

TNBBC: Who was the coolest, most friendly, most memorable blogger that you met at the Book Blogger Reception in NYC during BEA?

I can't remember any bloggers I met at BEA. Oh, there was one who stood out. Dori, I think her name was? Just kidding--it was Corey.

TNBBC: How long did it take you to write Kapitoil, from the first word to the last?
How long was the editing process?

My first Word doc for Kapitoil is dated 12/8/05, which really means I began it a little earlier. I started working on it in earnest in Feb. 2006. It was sold in Dec. 08, and I worked with my editor on it from Jan.-May 09. Then there's a copy editing process. I must have crossed the last T in August 2009.

Earrings asked: What are your favorite books of all time? and favorite authors?

I list 10 influential books in the back of Kapitoil, in Harper Perennial's P.S. section. Some of these are my favorite books and authors--The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace (though Infinite Jest is my favorite of his), White Noise by Don DeLillo, and a few more.

Carol(Kitty) asked: If someone wanted to break into the writing field I am assuming NY would be the place to be. How do you find a subject to write about? Was Kapitoil a subject that you had wanted to write about for awhile? And lastly do you do your own research?

For Kapitoil, I had a job editing business school application essays for a few years after college (there's another essay about this in the back of the book, and I also wrote an essay about it for the Wall Street Journal -- http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/05/1...). The applicants were mostly ESL speakers who had a limited command of English but deep vocabularies for business jargon. After a while, I got the idea for doing a version of this for the voice of Karim in Kapitoil--someone who spoke and thought through the lingo of finance and technology but who also had a poetic streak in his soul.

I have a 12-person team of highly paid assistants who do all my research for me while fanning me with palm leaves. Though, on occasion, I've been known to do it myself.

Carol(Kitty) asked: At what age did you decide you really wanted to write? Was it something ingrained or did you just wake up and decide I have a flair for this?

I first got the idea I wanted to be a writer around 3rd grade, and it developed over adolescence. I didn't take any writing classes in college, though, which put me at a disadvantage. At about 24 I decided to make a real attempt at fiction, wrote an unpublished novel, went to an MFA program at 26, and here I am now.

TNBBC: I love how your job gave you the idea for a character. Speaking of characters, Karim is a very unique guy, with a very unique sense of humor. Is he the sort of guy you would want to hang out with? What do you think your readers will like most about him? What do you think they will like the least?

Karim would be very enjoyable to spend some time with in real life--he's curious about others, polite and friendly, and has a wealth of knowledge of generally esoteric areas. But what makes him, I hope, most fun to be with in the book are his thoughts, which would be much less accessible in person. Readers seem to respond to his vulnerability, his intelligence, and his sweetness, all of which are encapsulated in his different voice. Of the criticisms I've seen, some people find him a little too autistic-sounding at times. He is quite awkward, but I, at least, find that quality endearing in him.

Mon asked: I was reading McSweeney's and must say your piece on Ashton Kutcher is absolutely hilarious (and the James Joyce piece as well so I sound more literary)! How did you get started with the journal and what sort of material appeals to you with in terms of these satirical articles?

Thanks, Mon. I turned the Ashton Kutcher piece into a video for Comedy Central--it (and a few others) are viewable here: http://teddywayne.com/video.html

I started writing humor pieces in 2004, after having a mild fascination with it in college, and began submitting to McSweeney's. I broke through after a few attempts. I like writing about topics that are socially or politically relevant (I have the Shouts and Murmurs column in this week's New Yorker, about "Mad Men" updated to the modern day) or about a character, which makes it feel more like fiction writing.

Bobble asked: Can you tell us about the editing process? Television shows, like Being Erica, glamorize the process. What is it like working with an editor?

On the TV show "Being Teddy," it's all very glamorous. I sit in my apartment and receive emails from my editor and then painstakingly revise. Here's how it goes: After your book is accepted, the editor writes a several-page editorial letter describing the bigger changes she wants made, and also goes through the manuscript making comments and small changes. I then incorporate her suggestions and make further changes. We did another round of this, and then I went through the book several more times on my own (I'm a perfectionist about these things). My book--and most that they take nowadays--didn't require a tremendous overhaul, so I'm not sure what it would be like if the book needed a bigger makeover.

TNBBC: So in the end, Kapitoil remained the same book you envisioned when you first set out? Did it hurt to make the adjustments to the manuscript, or do you feel you have a better finished product because of it?

The first draft of it had a fairly different second half, and it didn't sell. I revised it considerably over the summer of 2008, and was very pleased with the new direction it took--more character-centered, less plot-driven. My editor helped improve it even more. Each revision improved it, until I felt I was making changes only for the sake of making them. I enjoy the revision process a lot more than the drafting process--I find it much easier and more pleasurable to work with something that's there.

TNBBC: I'm in constant awe of writers. To have an idea, and then take that idea and flesh it out, to put it into words ... simply amazes me. Are you working on anything new at the moment?

Baby steps on a new novel, Lori. Believe me, I'm in awe of writers who can relentlessly churn out fiction, too.

TNBBC: Touche, Teddy! What are you reading right now?

The best fiction I've read recently is Aryn Kyle's "Boys and Girls Like You and Me," and the best nonfiction is Andre Agassi's memoir "Open." I wrote about them both for Time magazine. I heartily recommend Kyle's book, in particular.

TNBBC: What was the strangest job you had ever held?

I think probably the business essay-editing job, but I've had some other strange places that editing has taken me. I once spent a few days in an insurance office fine-tuning their Word documents so that the lines had appropriate spacing between them--that was my entire job. And I recall being in an industrial printers' office, proofreading a company's year-end report, in a small room by myself while right outside huge printers churned rivers of ink. It was strangely relaxing and also deeply alienating, being the one human in a warehouse full of machines.

TNBBC: It sounds like those jobs required you to be alone, or at least work alone, most of the time. Do you find that you prefer to be alone when working, or writing? Or do you find yourself being pulled towards places that are full of life and activity?

Probably both. At times, you need solitude to write, and when it's going well, it's very pleasurable. Other times, it's good to have some kind of company. I either write in my apartment or, if I feel I need some human contact, in a coffee shop or library or with a friend. I've had a few fun office environments, where going in was mostly enjoyable, but I've certainly had my share of bad ones, too.

TNBBC: Do you ever find yourself stuck in a rut when it comes to writing, or experience writers block? What do you do when you have run out of things to write about?

Of course--writing fiction is generally a struggle. When it's more so than normal, I remind myself that the first draft of anything is usually bad, so it's more important to get something down, not be paralyzed by the blank page, and have faith that, with revision, it'll improve.

TNBBC: Do you use friends or family as proof readers and test audiences? Do the people you know attempt to find themselves in your characters or subject matter?

I have a few friends, from grad school and elsewhere, I had read Kapitoil for feedback. I had my younger brother, who's a neuroscientist, read it to help and check all the mathematical and scientific material in it (if this fazes you, don't worry, it's all very accessible), and another friend verify all the financial info (same thing).

People who know me well pointed out a few details they recognize from real-life situations--a throwaway example is how a friend told me her piano teacher, who was often hungover, once said, "Water never tasted so sweet"; Karim, when he gets drunk in one scene, gulps water the next morning and says "I had never valued water as much"--but no one in the novel is so closely modeled on any single person. As you'd expect, they're all composites of people I've encountered, myself, and my imagination.

Hollis asked: How much of your time do you spend on your writing as opposed to the other things in your day? I know there a lot of writers out there who write for basically the entire day which amazes me. I've tried writing for a whole day before and there is actually a great deal pf physical as well as mental effort that is involved in doing that: it makes you realise how much work is involved in creating a book.

For forms of writing other than fiction, I can go for quite a while, but with fiction I tend to top out at three or four hours. There's much harder work in the world, but it's fairly taxing to have to keep inventing something out of nothing.

TNBBC: Teddy, if you were given the opportunity to make a living doing anything you dreamed, while still writing, what would you do?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the amount of attention on music (rock and singer-songwriter, especially Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen) in Kapitoil, I'd love to be a musician. Unfortunately, I'm an intermediate guitar player and have no knack for songwriting. I also think it'd be fun to be a comedic writer-director-actor, in the Christopher Guest/Ricky Gervais/Larry David/Woody Allen mold.

TNBBC: What's the one thing you can't live without?

CHOCOLATE!!! Wait--that's not true. I don't need chocolate at all. I don't know why I answered that. The real answer is: VANILLA!!!

TNBBC: One final question Teddy! What authors, novels, websites, would you recommend people take a look at?

The list of novels and authors discussed at the back of Kapitoil is a good place to start--I've mentioned a few of them so far. For websites, my mainstays are the New York Times, McSweeney's, Slate, The Onion, Pandora, and Arts & Letters Daily. And, of course, www.teddywayne.com.

Thanks to Lori and everyone else who weighed in. I will recommend this group to all my writer and reader friends.

TNBBC: Teddy, Let me thank YOU for being so wonderful and hanging with us all week! I had such a great time getting to know you better... and hope that this interview experience showed some of the TNBBCer's what a great book they are missing out on!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Sex Dungeon For Sale" Winner

Congratulations to Brittany - Winner of "Sex Dungeon For Sale"!!!

She tweeted the link to the contest and most importantly
to Patrick Wensink's awesome video!

Patrick will be sending her a signed copy of his novel along with an 'extra' or two!