Secret Santa arrived again!

I received another Secret Santa package (this one hosted by The Neverendingshelf) in the mail this week (I'm involved in four Secret Santas - three via the internet, one at work) and it was another wonderful surprise! I opened the box to find several beautifully wrapped gifts. (Sorry in my excitement I didn't take pics!). There was body lotion which is very appropriate for the cold Montreal winter; some delicious Ghiradelli chocolates (my favourite kind, how did my Santa know that?!); not one, but two pairs of very pretty earrings (made by my Santa and her daughter); and two books: Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I haven't read either of these and I'm very much looking forward to reading them when my holidays officially begin.

So a very special thank you to my Secret Santa for a wonderful holiday package! It was just perfect!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

Something to think about at this time of year.

I picked this up from a friend's post on facebook. It really puts perspective on the holidays.


Booklover's Secret Santa gift!

This year I'm taking part in three online Secret Santas and one in RL. What isn't such a secret is that I have a lot of fun with them. Therefore I was very excited to find a parcel when I came home from work yesterday. I opened the package and The Conqueror by Georgette Heyer slid out of the envelope and into my lap. I couldn't have been more surprised and pleased! Georgette Heyer's books have been on my wish list for quite a while but I have yet to read one. And for some reason I just didn't expect to receive one.

I am very curious to know who my Secret Santa was and I hope she (I'm supposing she's a she) checks my blog and sees that I have received my gift and it was the perfect choice for me! So, whoever you are, a huge thank you!

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

I love to read books about the holidays around holiday time and was really pleased that my friend Tina passed Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley on to me when she had finished it. From page 87:

'No, I don't think it would be very easy to get to Antarctica,' I agreed. 'By the time you got there it would probably be time to turn around and come back, too.'

To read Tina's review of Twelve Days, click here.

Review: City in Shadow by Evan Marshall

I love New York! I know that sounds like the oft-run ad from awhile ago, but I can’t help it - it’s the truth. And books that are set in and around that city naturally catch my attention. So it was with City in Shadow by Evan Marshall, a novel that is part of the Hidden Mysteries series. This is the first book that I’ve read by this author and I don’t believe it's necessary to read the other books in the series first to be able to enjoy this one.

The story begins with Anna Winthrop, a sanitation department worker, witnessing what she thinks may be a woman being held against her will. Anna follows the trail of this woman to a mysterious building on 42nd Street. Meanwhile, Anna’s upstairs neighbour, Nettie, also sees the young woman and starts her own investigation. Both women encounter plenty of obstacles, sinister characters and danger in their quest to find out the truth.

This novel had several elements to it that stood out. First, it was written a bit like a noir thriller/hard-boiled detective novel. That genre pairs well with the New York setting (as does the plot) but the book also had a cozy mystery feel to it. The characters’ backgrounds were divulged, neighbours got to know neighbours (even if they were bad neighbours) and the way the characters zipped around the city and bumped into people just gave me a ‘small town’ sort of feeling. It was an interesting mix and I liked it.

I found the writing somewhat choppy at times and it could’ve used a bit more editing. I didn't always need to know how beautiful or handsome someone was and I felt those descriptions were somewhat clichéd.

Despite those flaws, I think this would be a great series for those who haven’t read a mystery before. It would also be very appealing for young adults new to the genre. And of course anyone who loves books set in New York!

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly. From page 106:

I would have overlooked the sliver of newsprint if I hadn't been so diligently trying to replace everything exactly as I had found it, to remember which photographs had been where. The slim, yellowing column had been folded three times, the creases as sharp as razors through years of being pressed in Rex's box.

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. Mailbox Monday is on tour and in December it is being hosted by Let Them Read Books.

Last week I received Endgame by Frank Brady. Subtitled 'Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness', that just about says it all! From Random House's website the description is fleshed out:

Endgame is acclaimed biographer Frank Brady’s decades-in-the-making tracing of the meteoric ascent—and confounding descent—of enigmatic genius Bobby Fischer. Only Brady, who met Fischer when the prodigy was only 10 and shared with him some of his most dramatic triumphs, could have written this book, which has much to say about the nature of American celebrity and the distorting effects of fame. Drawing from Fischer family archives, recently released FBI files, and Bobby’s own emails, this account is unique in that it limns Fischer’s entire life—an odyssey that took the Brooklyn-raised chess champion from an impoverished childhood to the covers of Time, Life and Newsweek to recognition as “the most famous man in the world” to notorious recluse.

At first all one noticed was how gifted Fischer was. Possessing a 181 I.Q. and remarkable powers of concentration, Bobby memorized hundreds of chess books in several languages, and he was only 13 when he became the youngest chess master in U.S. history. But his strange behavior started early. In 1972, at the historic Cold War showdown in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he faced Soviet champion Boris Spassky, Fischer made headlines with hundreds of petty demands that nearly ended the competition.

It was merely a prelude to what was to come.

Arriving back in the United States to a hero’s welcome, Bobby was mobbed wherever he went—a figure as exotic and improbable as any American pop culture had yet produced. No player of a mere “board game” had ever ascended to such heights. Commercial sponsorship offers poured in, ultimately topping $10 million—but Bobby demurred. Instead, he began tithing his limited money to an apocalyptic religion and devouring anti-Semitic literature.

After years of poverty and a stint living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, Bobby remerged in 1992 to play Spassky in a multi-million dollar rematch—but the experience only deepened a paranoia that had formed years earlier when he came to believe that the Soviets wanted him dead for taking away “their” title. When the dust settled, Bobby was a wanted man—transformed into an international fugitive because of his decision to play in Montenegro despite U.S. sanctions. Fearing for his life, traveling with bodyguards, and wearing a long leather coat to ward off knife attacks, Bobby lived the life of a celebrity fugitive – one drawn increasingly to the bizarre. Mafiosi, Nazis, odd attempts to breed an heir who could perpetuate his chess-genius DNA—all are woven into his late-life tapestry.

And yet, as Brady shows, the most notable irony of Bobby Fischer’s strange descent – which had reached full plummet by 2005 when he turned down yet another multi-million dollar payday—is that despite his incomprehensible behavior, there were many who remained fiercely loyal to him. Why that was so is at least partly the subject of this book—one that at last answers the question: “Who was Bobby Fischer?”

Winner of Suck On This Year Giveaway!

The winner of Denis Leary's new book is entry number 5:

True Random Number Generator Min: Max: Result: 5 Powered by RANDOM.ORG (I wish I knew how to copy and paste that little box - this line is all that I got when I tried!)

And entry number 5 is Cindy! I've emailed you, Cindy - congratulations!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I'm anticipating the release of Kim Edwards new book, The Lake of Dreams, on January 4th. By the author of the bestseller, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, this new book is described on Kim Edward's website:

At a crossroads in her life, Lucy Jarrett returns home to upstate New York from Japan, only to find herself haunted by her father’s unresolved death a decade ago. Old longings stirred up by Keegan Fall, a local glass artist who was once her passionate first love, lead her into the unexpected. Late one night, as she paces the hallways of her family’s rambling lakeside house, she discovers, locked in a window seat, a collection of objects that first appear to be idle curiosities, but soon reveal glimpses of a hidden family history. As Lucy explores these traces of her lineage—from an heirloom blanket and dusty political tracts to a web of allusions depicted in stained-glass windows, both in her hometown and beyond—a new family history emerges, one that will link her to a unique slice of the suffragette movement, and yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her life to its fullest and deepest.

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