Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 Virtual Advent Tour

Kailana from The Written Word and Marg from Reading Adventures put together another round of Virtual Advent Tour. The gist of it is:

Each day anyone who wants to participate takes turns sharing a treat with our friends here in blogland. For example it could be something about your family traditions, recipes, your country's holiday traditions, or a favourite Christmas memory, movie, book, song...anything you like. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas we would like to hear about what your family does during the holiday season, whether it be celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever it is that you do during this time.

I found out about this event from BethFishReads' post "Getting Involved In The Blogging Community" about all the holiday events going around the blogosphere. The post is a lot of help and a fantastic tool that makes it possible for bloggers to know about all kinds neat December happenings.

I didn't get a chance to participate in it last year but I am very happy and excited to make up for it this year. So happy in fact that I will be posting twice, on Dec. 6th & Dec. 24th. I think that the tour is a grand idea and will be impatiently waiting to read evrybody else's posts because the whole world, each family's traditions are full of wonders and I like to know as much about it as possible. Somehow I feel this knowledge will make me richer and I can maybe even incorporate some of it into my own.

The tour is going on from December 1st to December 24th and there are tons of bloggers participating. If you are as excited and curious about holidays in other homes, you can find a list and dates of all bloggers writing about their own traditions right here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekly Geeks: Top Ten

Weekly Geeks asks us today:

For the second year in a row, we're asking book bloggers to help put together a top 10 list of books published in 2009.

I encourage you to read the whole post Jackie wrote because it is very interesting and it talks about the originator of Weekly Geeks, our dear Dewey. It also explains in details how the Top Ten list should be put together. It is pretty much made out of the best books we have read published in 2009 (no re-issues). When I first read it I actually thought I would not be able to come up with 10 titles deserving the spot of the best ones. I did however, quite easily too.

One thing I would like you all to keep in mind is that some of these titles, while on the top published-in-2009 list, would probably not make it on the top ten books read in 2009. But they are still great books worth your time and attention.

Finally just to give you some perspective and a bigger picture: in 2009 I read a total of 52 books published in 2009, therefore the ten I put together beat 42 other contenders.

And now, taa daaa (meaning, the list)*:

1. A Child's Journey Out of Autism by Leeann Whiffen - memoir

2. The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham - historical fiction

3. BoneMan's Daughters by Ted Dekker - thriller

4. Afraid by Jack Kilborn - horror

5. Finding Grace by Donna VanLiere - inspirational memoir

6. A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal - memoir

7. Follow Me by Joanna Scott - contemporary American fiction

8. Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant - horror/thriller

9. Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor - memoir

10. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi - thriller

* The books are listed in order I read them

Friday, November 20, 2009

First Anniversary Giveaway No. 3

For the last giveaway I am offering two Sci-Fi titles and again both books will go to one winner. I am very happy with the response so far and thank you all who left me warm and encouraging comments regarding my blogiversary. It was very heartwarming to read them all. And now the books:

1. Hyperion by Dan Simmons


On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope--and a terrible secret. And one may hold the
fate of humanity in his hands.

2. Titan by Stephen Baxter


Humankind's greatest—and last—adventure!

Possible signs of organic life have been found on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. A group of visionaries led by NASA's Paula Benacerraf plan a daring one-way mission that will cost them everything. Taking nearly a decade, the billion-mile voyage includes a "slingshot" transit of Venus, a catastrophic solar storm, and a constant struggle to keep the ship and crew functioning. But it is on the icy surface of Titan itself that the true adventure begins. In the orange methane slush the astronauts will discover the secret of life's origins and reach for a human destiny beyond their wildest dreams.

Giveaway rules:

1. All three titles are one prize for one (1) winner.

2. The giveaway will last until November 30th so some lucky person will get a nice Christmas present.

3. Because I appreciate all of you, the giveaway is open to all countries, all over the world.

4. All you have to do is just leave me a comment with your email address if I can't contact you any other way.

Good luck to you all!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

First Anniversary Giveaway No. 2

As promised, today I have a 'thrilling' giveaway in lieu of my blog's first birthday. Below are the three books descriptions and the whole bounty will go to one winner.

1. A Simple Plan by Scott Smith

From Publishers Weekly:

Once one accepts the bizarre premise of Smith's astonishingly adept, ingeniously plotted debut thriller, the book fulfills every expectation of a novel of suspense, leading the reader on a wild exploration of the banality of evil. Indeed, it is difficult to believe that a tyro writer could have produced so controlled and assured a narrative. When Hank Mitchell, his obese, feckless brother Jacob and Jacob's
smarmy friend Lou accidentally find a wrecked
small plane and its dead pilot in the woods near their small Ohio town, they decide not to tell the authorities about the $4.4 million stuffed into a duffel bag. Instead, they agree to hide the money and later divide it among themselves. The "simple plan'' sets in motion a spiral of blackmail, betrayal and multiple murder which Smith manipulates with consummate skill, increasing the tension exponentially with plot twists that are inevitable and unpredictable at the same time. In choosing to make his protagonist an ordinary middle-class man -- Hank is an accountant in a feed and grain store -- Smith demonstrates the eerie ease with which the mundane can descend to the unthinkable. Hank commits the first murder to protect his brother and their secret; he eerily rationalizes the ensuing coldblooded deeds while remaining outwardly normal, hardly an obvious psychopath. Smith's imagination never palls; the writing peaks in a gory liquor store scene that's worthy of comparison to Stephen King at his best.

2. On the Fifth Day by A. J. Hartley

From Publishers Weekly:

In Hartley's newest, disgraced English teacher Thomas Knight confronts a church conspiracy of silence surrounding the death of his brother, Father Edward Knight, while on a research trip in the Philippines. Looking to make sense of it all, Thomas's search leads him from Italy to Japan to the site of his brother's death, all the while narrowly escaping agents of unknown origin who seem hellbent on stopping him. With the distinction between friends and enemies becoming more fluid all the time, Knight falls in with his ex-wife at the State Department, a priestly colleague of his brother's and a murderous biologist to discover a secret that threatens, yes, the very foundations of Christianity. Not only is Hartley's novel well paced, with enough twists and turns to keep most thriller fans satisfied, he avoids the missteps of most attempts to cash in on the Da Vinci Codezeitgeist by focusing on the faithful rather than freewheeling conspiracies; his is a welcome take that considers thoughtfully, if at times clumsily, issues of belief and doubt. Though the action occasionally snags on some repetitive character details, this slam-bang title is a very fun, surprisingly satisfying read.

3. The Killing Ground by Jack Higgins

From Publishers Weekly:

After almost two score books, many of them bestsellers, Higgins ("Without Mercy") knows how to fire up a thriller. In the first half-dozen pages, he establishes his London locale; reintroduces recurring lead Sean Dillon, the colorful former IRA man turned British intelligence antiterrorism op; has Sean shoot a smalltime hood's ear off; and intimates there are much bigger fish to fry beyond the hood's Russian employer. The real villain is a Muslim extremist of the al-Qaeda variety: Hussein Rashid, aka the Hammer of God, and one of the most successful assassins alive, with 27 certified kills of American and British soldiers and Iraqi politicians. Hussein has his sights set on Charles Ferguson, head of British intelligence. It's a longstanding grudge, complicated by the recent kidnapping of Hussein's promised bride, his 13-year-old cousin Sara, who was earlier kidnapped by Hussein himself. The proceedings are complicated; it helps if the reader is a veteran of this long-running series. But it's all pure Higgins: almost every shot hits square between the eyes, and all the characters are hard lads indeed.

Giveaway rules:

1. All three titles are one prize for one (1) winner.

2. The giveaway will last until November 30th so some lucky person will get a nice Christmas present.

3. Because I appreciate all of you, the giveaway is open to all countries, all over the world.

4. All you have to do is just leave me a comment with your email address if I can't contact you any other way.

Good luck to you all and remember to come back tomorrow for a Science-fiction giveaway.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy First Birthday to Reading Extravaganza!!!!

Today is the day I didn't think would arrive when I launched my blog a year ago. The whole idea was pretty much a spur of the moment but today I am very proud of this little project I have going on and I truly hope that there will be many more blogiversaries for Reading Extravaganza.

The one most important thing I want to say is THANK YOU to each and every person who visited and keeps visiting my blog and reading the creations of my sometimes quite deranged mind :) (well, it really isn't that bad yet but I like the sound of this word).

With that said, I have three giveaways with three different books each. The first giveaway starts today, the second tomorrow and the third one on Friday.
Today I have something for all the romance lovers out there and all of you who never tried it but would love to.

The titles I am giving away are:

1. Trouble in High Heels by Leanne Banks

2. Seducing a Scottish Bride by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

3. Bound to Please by Lilli Feisty

Giveaway rules:

1. All three titles are one prize for one (1) winner.

2. The giveaway will last until November 31st so some lucky person will get a nice Christmas present.

3. Because I appreciate all of you, the giveaway is open to all countries, all over the world.

4. All you have to do is just leave me a comment with your email address if I can't contact you any other way.

Good luck to you all and remember to come back tomorrow for a 'thrilling' giveaway.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A little bit of this & a little bit of that

Boy oh boy, have I been lazy recently! I haven't posted anything for the whole week & haven't even been commenting on my favorite blogs :(. There are a few excuses I will get to next but I realize that while people get colds, flus and other seasonal illnesses, I have been yet again struck with the case of pure procrastination. I just like to be honest with others and try to be so with myself as well :).

Anyway, on to the excuses. The last two weeks were kinda tough because both my daughter and my husband were sick. Karolina ended up with bronchitis and Mark only with a two-week long cold. While I am happy I got off easy (knock on wood), I am sure I'm preaching to the choir saying how much fun it is (not) taking care of two sick people in your house. Another thing is, I am now in my third trimester and I have been getting more and more tired and sleepy to the point that as soon as I pick up a book, it takes me about three to five pages to start dozing off. The result: I am still reading the same book I started more than a week ago and trust me it is an easy and not so very long book either.

All above considered, I am not leaving my blog dormant. It gives me nightmares that I have neglected my blogging life but I will get back into swing of things hopefully soon. One awesome news is that on November 18th, five short days from today, I will be celebrating my first blogging anniversary. I have prepared three giveaways, one for each day starting this coming Wednesday. There will be something for romance, thrillers and sci-fi lovers and it will be international. Please make sure you visit me on these days as I'm very excited about the giveaways.

Maybe (hopefully) I will post a couple of things before then but if my laziness doesn't subside I will definitely be back for the anniversary.

Friday, November 6, 2009

October Reads

Wow! October was an awesome month as far as my reading goes, even with managing to read only one book during the read-a-thon. 10 books in a month is my monthly goal and I wish I could meet it every month. I am certainly happy I did this month. And most of the reads were really, really good which is another plus (and maybe also the reason why I managed to read all ten, lol!).

1. To Serve Them All My Days by R. F. Delderfield - a really, really enjoyable HF about a teacher in England and the country between the wars.

2. Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee - a book club read (my month to lead the discussion and the title was my suggestion) that I guess I am glad I read, it was easy enough to go through but the author annoyed the hell out of me.

3. The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes - another enjoyable HF read, this time about the end of War of Roses and the beginning of Tudor dynasty.

4. Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor - a mother/daughter memoir about life changes and traveling, for some reason made me cry quite a few times

5. Always Watching by Brandilyn Collins & Amberly Collins - another mother/daughter team but this time it's a YA mystery in the Christian fiction stream. I am glad I read it and will be recommending it to my daughter when the time comes.

6. A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick - HF with photography in early 20th century America as one of the main subjects, despite not having a major interest in photography I did enjoy the book.

7. Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart - I liked this one but I wasn't overly impressed with it. Being a 'chunkster junkie', I would appreciate the story to be longer as the whole book seemed rushed.

8. Sliverstein & Me by Merv Gold - a memoir about about one of the most famous children poets that tastefully reveals he was a lot more than just that.

9. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi - a captivating psychological thriller from a debut writer.

10. No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer - I just love her murder mysteries, if ever a want a good laugh I know where to turn.

11. Dragon House by John Shors (did not finish) - I wanted to look past certain blatant political statements of the writer but I couldn't. I am a reader who when reaches out for a fiction book expects fiction and not political commentary on how bad America is and how many lives we've ruined by fighting wars. I wrote a little more on Goodreads if you click on the link.

Audio Books:

1. Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr - I think the worst of the three, I simply could not stand Aislinn who is one of the weakest, most indecisive, afraid to offend even the worst enemy queen I have ever read about.

2. Requiem for a Mezzo by Carola Dunne - I found out about this little gem of a writer on Beth Fish Reads blog and I was right to follow the recommendation. Ms. Dunne is another crime mystery British writer that is earning her way to my favorite authors' list.

3. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong - I believe this one came as a recommendation from Teddyree's blog The Eclectic Reader and it's another one I am glad I followed. One of the best YA paranormal stories (part of a series, which I'm very happy about) I have read.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer

It’s already November, the end of year is near and I can safely speak about who my favorite awesome writer discovery is this year. It is undoubtedly, definitely Georgette Heyer. I am completely taken by this author of mysteries and historical romances and also extremely happy that luck was on my side and I did get to know about her, considering that I had lived on this planet for 31 years (20 of which having been a total bookworm) before I laid my hands on the books of Ms. Heyer. It is therefore not going to be a surprise to you to learn that No Wind of Blame was yet another hit for me.

Wally Carter provided all who knew him many reasons to want to kill him and the list includes his overly dramatic wife, absurdly theatrical stepdaughter and a newly acquainted phony Russian prince who isn’t really Russian and has no princely belongings. However, the fact that everyone had a motive is not what complicates the case of Mr. Carter’s murder. It’s not why but how he was killed that Inspector Hemingway has to figure out first because none of the suspects were anywhere near the murder weapon when it was used to fire the deadly shot. Now Inspector Hemingway has quite a cast of characters to deal with before the guilty party is found and how he gets to interrogate the suspects makes up for one hilarious read.

I honestly cannot praise Heyer’s talent at writing mysteries enough. No Wind of Blame my fourth Heyer mystery I read this year and they just keep getting better for me. On the surface it is a cozy whodunit read in the same field as Agatha Christie’s books. And as such it already would have been enjoyable enough. What makes this book extra special for me is the clever dialogue showing off the absurdity of some human characters and the hilarious comedy of manners. Ms. Heyer will provide you with tons of laughs if only you’ll give it a chance. At least I couldn’t stop myself from bursting out laughing every once in a while. And boy did I need it! I think it takes a special kind of author to write intelligent, hysterical mysteries that provide just the right mixture of entertainment and secrets to keep a reader intrigued and hooked until the last page. I also think that Georgette Heyer is that special kind of author and No Wind of Blame is that special kind of book.

Special Thanks to Danielle J. from Sourcebooks, Inc. for sending me a copy of this book for review.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Monday...and it's time for Borrowed Words

Last week I posted some funny quotes to lighten up a mood on Monday. It turns out that my sister loved them and was laughing out loud while reading the Dangerfield quotes especially and Amy from The House of Seven Tails together with her husband also seem to be greatly amused by Rodney, I figured I will post some more funnies for all of you out there to put a little laugh in our lives. Today, I give you words borrowed from Rodney Dangerfield.

I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand.

I drink too much. The last time I gave a urine sample it had an olive in it.

It's tough to stay married. My wife kisses the dog on the lips, yet she won't drink from my glass.

My uncle's dying wish - he wanted me on his lap. He was in the electric chair.

My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep an eye on it.

When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.

When I was born I was so ugly the doctor slapped my mother.

Yeah, I know I'm ugly... I said to a bartender, 'Make me a zombie.' He said 'God beat me to it.'

Okay, and a little bit more from Groucho Marx:

Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.

Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.

Now there's a man with an open mind - you can feel the breeze from here!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Women Unbound Challenge

I absolutely love this challenge! And not because I am a great feminist or anything, because I actually am not. But I am a woman and that is enough. I decided to join also because I don't read enough fiction or non-fiction written by/for/about women and this challenge will give me a kick in the butt to correct that mistake. There is actually a blog devoted to the challenge only, Women Unbound Blog and I will only steal a little bit from the introductory post written by Eva (this is also the post where you sign up for the challenge) just to explain quickly what the challenge is about to those of you who would like to join but haven't really heard of it and want to know a little more before committing.
Here it goes:

The challenge runs from November 1, 2009-November 30, 2010, but you may join in the fun whenever you wish! Participants are encouraged to read nonfiction and fiction books related to the rather broad idea of ‘women’s studies.’ (...) For nonfiction, this would include books on feminism, history books focused on women, biographies of women, memoirs (or travelogues) by women, essays by women and cultural books focused on women (body image, motherhood, etc.). (...) It’s trickier to say what is applicable as fiction. Obviously, any classic fiction written by a feminist is applicable. But where do we go from there? To speak generally, if the book takes a thoughtful look at the place of women in society, it will probably count. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to explain in your review why you chose this for the challenge and its connection to women’s studies.

Sounds great, doesn't it?!

There are three levels but I will try to shoot for the stars and am picking 'The Suffragette' one. That means I have to read at least eight books, including the minimum if three non-fiction.

I do not have a full list yet but here are the titles that will definitely be included:

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

And let me just add a recommendation for all of you who are not sure what to read (it's actually two recommendations):

Lucky by Alice Sebold & Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. They both are memoirs that are extremely difficult as far as the subjects go (first one is about the authors being raped, the second one about the author living with a ruined face due to a childhood illness) but they both are beautiful and really showcase female strength.