Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Killing Tree

killtreeThe Killing Tree by Rachel Keener was an amazing read. It was the kind of book you stay up until 1 in the morning reading “just one more chapter”.

This is Keener’s first novel, which makes it all the more impressive. The voice is incredibly unique and the plot was unpredictable.  The imagery, symbolism and message were beautiful, bewitching and powerful. (And I have to say that the colloquial language used is addictive. I keep finding myself thinking in the dialect used long after I’ve put the book down.)

I know when a book was really good because even if I’m satisfied with the ending, I want more. I close the book and mourn the characters I will never see again and the place I no longer get to visit. This is one of those books.

The Killing Tree is about a young girl named Mercy who is coming of age in the mountains of Appalachia, the only place she’s ever known. She’s being raised by her grandparents, Mamma Rutha an eccentric nature-loving grandmother with a mysterious, magical connection to the mountain, and Father Heron, a strict religious grandfather who cares more than anything about his own reputation and can’t stand Mercy’s promiscuous best friend Della. Mercy’s life doesn’t seem to be going anywhere as she works her job at a BBQ diner in their small town, until she falls in love with a migrant worker named Trout. Trout is Caucasian like Mercy, but is still looked down upon as a second class citizen by those who live on the mountain, including Father Heron. Mercy must choose to toe the line, or follow her heart.

I recommend this book highly. Look for it in March 2009.

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The Makedown (Giveaway!)

***CONTEST CLOSED*WINNER SELECTED***

Using Random.org the winner was selected. Congratulations to…MANDY!

Thanks to all who entered and watch for more giveaways soon.

makedownLast month I reviewed a book called The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari. I really loved this book and Hachette Book Group said I could have another copy to giveaway.

Here are the rules:

1. You must be able to provide a US or Canada shipping address if you win. (No PO Boxes.) Please, only entries from those who have not won a giveaway on Curious Villager in the past 6 months. One entry per household.

2. Leave a comment with a valid E-mail address (in the E-mail field is fine). In your comment, tell me either the best or worst relationship advice you were ever given. You could alternately share the funniest or most embarrassing moment in a past or present romantic relationship.

3. I will pick a handful of the best answers and then let Random.org randomly select the winner. Winner will be announced on this blog post and notified by E-mail on February 28th, 2009.

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Hungry Woman in Paris

hungryparis The back cover description of Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina Lopez is deceptively mild. One can hardly expect the spicy story that awaits them. For some getting into this juicy novel will be a pleasant surprise, and for others, a nasty shock.

The back cover description is as follows:

“Canela, a journalist living in L.A., believes passion is an essential ingredient in life, but lately it seems to be in short supply. Increasingly disillusioned with life and haunted by her own past, Canela runs away to Paris and enrolls in cooking school to reawaken her senses and mend her broken heart.”

I thought this would be a fun chick-lit travel romance sort of book, and in some ways it was, but I had no reason to suspect that its love scenes would rival the raunchiest of X-rated erotica. So, a word of warning to those of us who still claim to possess feminine sensibilities that may be easily offended – this book is not for you. (For the rest of us, enjoy the jaw droppingly graphic sex scenes.)

Aside from the sex, I found the plot interesting and unpredictable, which kept me turning the pages. The main character was relatable and likable even when she made crazy choices that many of us wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves, but many passages came across as preachy. I’m not a big fan of our former President either, but the “W” bashing seemed excessive.

The author, Josefina Lopez, (the same who authored the screen play for the film, Real Women have Curves), impressively and successfully weaves a wide variety of issues into her story including, feminism, racism, mental illness, suicide, self-esteem, politics, censorship, culture, sexuality, sensuality, language, family, and the ever popular quest for self.

This book will be available March 2009.

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Survivors Club Giveaway

CONTEST CLOSED! WINNERS SELECTED!

Using Random.org, the following 3 winners have been chosen.

Congratulations to:

Angela C
Victoria
Kim V

I will be contacting winners via E-mail so your prize can be sent.

Thanks to all who entered!

surclub

“Each second of the day, someone in America faces a crisis, whether it’s a car accident, violent crime, serious illness, or financial trouble. Given the inevitability of adversity, we all wonder: Who beats the odds and who surrenders? Why do some people bound back and others give up? How can I become the kind of person who survives and thrives?

The fascinating, hopeful answers to these questions are found in THE SURVIVORS CLUB. In the tradition of Freakonomics and The Tipping Point, this book reveals the hidden side of survival by combining astonishing true stories, gripping scientific research, and the author’s adventures inside the U.S. military’s elite survival schools and the government’s airplane crash evacuation course.”

-Hachette Book Group description

If you want to enter for a chance to win a copy of The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood, check out the rules below.

1. Leave your name and valid E-mail address in the comments. (You do not need to put your E-mail address in the actual comment – in the E-mail field is good enough. I just need to be able to contact you in case you are a winner.) One entry per household.

2. I will choose 3 winners.

3. United States and Canada only, please. You must be able to provide a shipping address for your prize when I contact you via E-mail. No P.O. Boxes allowed. You also grant me permission to share your address with Hachette Book Group – (they send the prize directly.) Your name, E-mail address and shipping address will not be used for anything else.

4. Last day to enter is Tuesday, February 10th, 2009. Winners will be announced on this blog post and notified via E-mail on Wednesday, February 11th, 2009.

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African-American History Month Book Giveaway

***CONTEST CLOSED. WINNERS SELECTED!***

Thanks to everyone who entered. I saw a lot of new names and appreciate all the beautiful things that were shared in comments. I hope you all will come back again for future giveaways. I wish I could say everyone wins, but I can choose only three. In the interests of keeping things totally fair, I used Random.org to select the winners. I enter everyone’s names in the order in which they commented. Random.org scrambles that list and the names it gives me in the #1, #2, and #3 slots are my winners.

Those winners are:

  1. Alyson
  2. Martha Lawsosn
  3. Alyce

contestwin

Congratulations! Winners will be contacted via E-mail for their shipping address so their prize can be sent. Thanks again to all who entered and to the ever generous Hachette Book Group for making this possible.

***

When I was a child, “African-American History Month” was called “Black History Month”… I guess they changed it to be politically correct.

Most of my classmates hated history class in the month of February. In February each year, we read the same stories we had read the year before about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver. The hallway bulletin boards were always a strange mix of Valentine hearts and African American heroes.

Our town was like many small, suburban towns, with very few minority families. We ignorantly wondered aloud, “Why do black people get their own month? White people don’t have a month!” … A brave black classmate named James once replied, “Sure you do. In fact, you got eleven of ’em.”

I’m sure at the time we didn’t appreciate the depth of what our classmate James had said, but years later I would remember it and realize that from that young age, he was already seeing the world differently than his white classmates. Now I think back on “Black History Month” and try to see it through James’ eyes, and the eyes of the other minority kids at our school. It must have felt good to finally turn to those hidden chapters in the History text book and hear the teacher speak with admiration of those more familiar faces.

And today, how far we’ve come. Children no longer have to wait for February’s history class. Today, they can pick up a newspaper or turn on the T.V., and see history writing itself before their very eyes.

In honor of “African-American History Month”, in honor of those past, present and future who will be read about in history books for years to come, Hachette Book Group, has asked if I would like to host a book giveaway.

giveaway

Here are the prizes:

Each winner will receive a copy of each of the following books:

1. The American Journey of Barack Obama By The Editors of Life Magazine
2. Fledgling By Octavia Butler
3. Stand the Storm By Breena Clarke
4. Red River By Lalita Tademy
5. Keep the Faith: A Memoir By Faith Evans
6. Say You’re One of Them By Uwem Akpan
7. The Shack By William Young
8. The Bishop’s Daughter By Tiffany Warren

That’s 8 books!

Here are the rules:

1. Leave your name and valid E-mail address in the comments. (You do not need to put your E-mail address in the actual comment – in the E-mail field is good enough. I just need to be able to contact you in case you are a winner.) One entry per household.

2. In your comment, tell me anything relevant to this topic. It can be a memory of Black History Month, (as I have shared), a personal story of race relations, your hopes for the future, etc.

3. I will choose 3 winners. Each winner will receive all 8 books.

4. United States and Canada only, please. You must be able to provide a shipping address for your prize when I contact you via E-mail. No P.O. Boxes allowed. You also grant me permission to share your address with Hachette Book Group – (they send the prize directly.) Your name, E-mail address and shipping address will not be used for anything else.

5. Contest ends Sunday, February 15th, 2009. Winners will be announced on this same blog post and contacted via E-mail Monday, February 16th, 2009.

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Train Your Brain

brainbook Dr. Kawashima, the same Professor of neuroscience at Tohoku University in Japan who brought us the popular Brain Age video game, now brings us the book, Train Your Brain More.

Dr. Kawashima’s research has shown that “like the body, the brain needs exercise.”

When I first opened the workbook and flipped through it, I was disappointed to see page after page of math problems. (I hate math.) … Then I took a closer look. Here is a sample of the math problems:

0+7=
3+4=
9÷9=
6+6=
8-3=
3×0=

You get the idea? This is simple math that even my 7 year old could do. The idea is to do a page of these a day as quickly as you can. Eventually you will find you are completing these pages faster and faster, and this quick thinking will stay with you, not only for simple math, but in all areas.

Don’t be afraid to try it, even if math isn’t your thing. It can actually be kind of fun.

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