Monday, October 31, 2011

Mailbox Monday: October 31, 2011

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and October is being hosted by Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit! Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks and audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all are having a fabulous Halloween with whatever your plans may be! Since we live in a condo we don't get any trick or treaters which always makes me sad as they are my favorite part of the holiday. Oh well, more candy for me I guess!

Now, onto the books. Here's what came in the mailbox this week:

From the author for a TLC Book Tour:
1. The CHICK-tionary: From A-Line to Z-Snap, the Words Every Woman Should Know by Anna Lefler

From Minotaur Books:
2. The Templar Magician by P.C. Doherty

From PBS:
3. Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

Personal Purchases!:
4. A Bride's Book by Martha Heckman

5. The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day by Mindy Weiss with Lisbeth Levine

6. The Busy Brides Bible by Angela A. Kear

7. Bridal Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields

What did you get?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We Have Some Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered! All winners were chosen via

First up, my Blogoversary Celebration! There are two winners of this giveaway are:

  1. Grand Prize: Anna has won two books that I have reviewed here on Amused By Books from the Book Depository!
  2. Second Prize: AubreyLaine has won one book that I have reviewed here on Amused By Books from the Book Depository!
Next we have the winner of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern! The winner of this giveaway is:
  1. Elisabeth!
If you weren't a winner, don't be sad, there are still some giveaways open here! Just check the right hand corner of the blog and enter :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Her Sister's Shadow

'Her Sister's Shadow'
Author: Katherine Britton

Format: Paperback
Published: Berkeley Trade; June 2011
Pages: 352
Genre: Literary fiction
Grade: A
Source TLC Book Tours

Synopsis: Renowned painter Lilli Niles is at home in her North London flat when she receives an unexpected call from her elder sister, Bea, who's at the family homestead in Whitehead, Massachusetts. Bea's husband has just died, and she'd like Lilli to fly home to attend the funeral. There are reasons Lilli moved all the way to England to escape her older sister, reasons that have kept them estranged for decades. But something in Bea's voice makes Lilli think it's time to return to the stately house in New England she loved as a child, to the memory of the beloved younger sister they both lost. With Bea more fragile than Lilli remembered, maybe she can finally forgive Bea for a long-ago betrayal that has simmered between them for nearly forty years.

My Take: At this point, if you've followed my blog for any length of time then you know that I love books about relationships! Not just male - female relationships, but friendships and families too. This book takes you on an amazing journey through the kind of family bond that will rip your heart out: sisters! I don't have one but I have heard all about them. You either love them, or love them and fight with them non-stop, but either way you are stuck with them for life. Those of us on the outside can empathize regardless because we all have families. From the moment I opened the first page of Britton's Her Sister's Shadow I was hooked on the amazing story of the Niles' sisters lives.

The story mainly revolves around Lilli Niles. When it opens, it is 2009 and we find ourselves in Central London and Lilli is a self-composed woman of the world, famous for her paintings. Hiding behind all that is some long ago, deep seeded mystery though regarding some deaths in her family. Lilli is not from London. She is from Massachusetts. She is one of four sisters and their lives are very entangled. Or they used to be.

A death in the family sends Lilli home. She hasn't been home for forty years. Can you even imagine not seeing your family for forty years?! I mean sure at times that sounds like a nice proposition but for the most part that just seems ridiculous. As soon as I read that I knew there was something Britton wasn't telling us here. What happened to make Lilli run so far and for so long? 

Basically that is for me to know and for you to find out! This is one of those books where I alternately wanted to read faster because I wanted to find out the mysteries of this family quicker but didn't because I didn't want this story to end. The novel jumps between the present (2009) and the past (mid-1960s), filling in the gaps of the four Niles sisters lives: Bea, Charlotte, Lilli, and Dori and what became of them as they grew up or didn't as the case may be. All I can say is, if you are looking for your next deeply engrossing read, I can honestly say you need look no further! I can highly recommend Her Sister's Shadow

Cover Lust: I do take some serious issue with this cover. Ok, if this cover is to be Lilli, and we can safely assume it is since she is the main character, when she was this young woman's age it was the mid-1960s and people did not wear this outfit. I find it incongruous with the book. I do find the rest of the cover's setting perfect. Just change her outfit please! That kind of stuff makes me crazy.

Giveaway Details
The publisher has kindly offered up one new copy to a lucky winner! The deadline for this giveaway is Nov. 11th; entries open to those in the US and Canada.

To Enter (Mandatory)!
Comment below with a way for me to contact you.

For Extra entries (Optional), indicate that you are:
+1 Follow this blog on Google Connect (see right sidebar)
+1 Follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway (include @amusedbybooks in your tweet)
+1 Blog/Post about this giveaway on your sidebar

3 extra entries available. Giveaway open until 11:59pm PST Nov. 11th. I will draw the winners using and announce them here on my blog. Good luck!

For other opinions about this book, here is the full TLC Tour Schedule

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Little Bit About Me

Me, age 9mo.
Thanks to Fizzy Thoughts for introducing me to this!

Age: 30
Bed Size: Queen
Chore that you hate: Grocery shopping (it never gets better!)
Dogs: someday I really, really want an English bulldog!
Essential start to your day: Coffee
Favorite colors: Teal
Gold or Silver: Silver
Height: 5'4" on a good day.
Instruments you play: None. But my fiancee plays the banjo which I think is pretty awesome!
Job Title: Marketing Coordinator
Kids: Someday!
Live: The wonderful city of San Francisco, CA!
Mother-in-Law’s name: ask me next year ;)
Nicknames: Amused
Overnight hospital stays: Knock on wood, none so far.
Pet Peeves: Not following through on your promises.
Quote from a movie: Quote from a song, I could name some but a movie, not my thing.
Right or Left handed: Right
Siblings: I'm an only!
Time you wake up: 7am during the week. Usually around 9am on the weekend.
Underwear: Dirty bird!
Vegetable you hate: Kale
What makes you run late: "Oh but I have nothing to wear!"
X-Rays you’ve had: The dentist likes to pretend that I need to have my teeth x-rayed once a year.
Yummy food that you make: Homemade mac n' cheese!
Zoo animal: Monkeys :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Balinese Wildlife!

This would be a GIANT gecko living inside the ceiling of our treehouse where we were staying!

A waterbird and it's baby chicks! IMHO the cutest birds on the island!



Monkey deep in thought!

Don't forget to check out all of the fun Wordless Wednesday entries!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Review: The First Husband

'The First Husband'
Author: Laura Dave

Format: ARC
Published: Viking Adult; May 2011
Pages: 256
Genre: Women's fiction
Grade: A
Source: Author

Synopsis: Annie Adams is days away from her thirty-second birthday and thinks she has finally found some happiness. She visits the world's most interesting places for her syndicated travel column and she's happily cohabiting with her movie director boyfriend Nick in Los Angeles. But when Nick comes home from a meeting with his therapist (aka "futures counselor") and announces that he's taking a break from their relationship so he can pursue a woman from his past, the place Annie had come to call home is shattered. Reeling, Annie stumbles into her neighborhood bar and finds Griffin-a grounded, charming chef who seems to be everything Annie didn't know she was looking for. Within three months, Griffin is Annie's husband and Annie finds herself trying to restart her life in rural Massachusetts. 

My Take: This book had all of the things I love in a novel and just enough of a twist for me to think it was different from anything else I had read. I like that it was close to chick-lit in that our protagonist was stuck in a love triangle and you all know I love chick-lit. I like that it was close to modern literature in that it was, um, modern and savvy and made you think at the end. It didn't just play out the way you would expect a book to play out. Kind of like how life doesn't always play out the way you expect it to. Therefore, this book was the perfect accompaniment for my recent vacation and a relaxing day on the beach. The page count and the subject matter easily digestible in a day. The topics within made me continue to think about them long afterward.

Let's start with the title shall we. The First Husband implies that there will be a second husband but let's not get hasty. Annie Adams is somewhat unlucky. She has a favorite movie, Roman Holiday. It's one of my favorites too! The sad thing is, every time she watches it, something bad happens. This has been true throughout her life. Most recently, her boyfriend of five years, her soul mate, upon her most recent watching, up and leaves her. She is devastated.

After wallowing in self-pity for a week she decides to go out for a drink where she meets a man: Griffin. A whirl-wind romance ensues and he becomes the aforementioned first husband. You might think this was a flighty decision. We all do. Her family and friends sure do. Griffin's family and friends do too. After all, she has to move across country, ends up losing her job, and doesn't even fully realize what kind of a life she has gotten herself into.

What follows is a smart look at life and love. Annie is not necessarily my favorite person. At times she even downright annoys me but I can look past all that because what we have here is a totally human character with very real reactions to an all too believable situation. Often in chick-lit we get somewhat silly plot lines. Often in modern literature everything is overwrought and you go home wanting to slit your wrists. This was a nice meeting of the minds. I can highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a dose of reality!

Cover Lust: I don't hate it, but it also doesn't thrill me. It could be a little bolder if you ask me or more suggestive. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mailbox Monday: October 24, 2011

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and October is being hosted by Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit! Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks and audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Phew! Did you all get a lot of reading done in the read-a-thon! I am really happy with my progress and I always enjoy participating! I always wish I could devote more days to all reading than just twice a year but life gets so busy with other things.

Don't think the TBR pile is shrinking though because books are always coming in around here! Here's what came in this last week:

From Minotaur Books:
1. The Chalice of Blood by Peter Tremayne

From Norton:
2. Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

From Reading Group Choices:
3. 13 Gifts by Wendy Mass

From Free Press:
4. Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life by Priscilla Warner

From Guideposts:
5. Remembering You by Tricia Goyer

From LibraryThing EarlyReviewers:
6. Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson

From PBS:
7. Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt

What did you get?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wrap Up Post: October Read-a-Thon 2011!

We made it to the end of the read-a-thon! Nice work everyone! After coming home from the park we ate some dinner and I was reading in bed so my boyfriend could watch TV in piece and things were fading fast. The book I was reading was great but full belly and comfy bed means sleepy time is calling my name! So I didn't finish that third book I was hoping to but I did make a solid dent in it. 

So let's talk stats:
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Definitely the last hour I managed to stay awake, like 11pmPST. Normally my bedtime anyway, I was hoping I could stay up longer but alas, no luck. 
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Sure! How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche (this is a great, short, interesting book) and I'm about halfway through Her Sister's Shadow by Katherine Britton but it is incredibly engaging!
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Don't make us West Coasters start at 5am? I kid, I kid!
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I liked the reminder emails!
  5. How many books did you read? 2.5 - So close to reaching my goal. I blame the kick-ass weather!
  6. What were the names of the books you read? How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche, Sherry and Narcotics by Nina-Marie Gardner, and (the first half of) Her Sister's Shadow by Katherine Britton.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? See question 2. 
  8. Which did you enjoy least? Sherry and Narcotics by Nina-Marie Gardner. It wasn't bad, just a little melodramatic for my taste.
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? N/A
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Definitely participate again and would be a reader again!
So my totals are:
Pages Read: 560
Hours Read: 9
Books Read: 2.5

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who visited yesterday's read-a-thon post! I will be donating $1 for each of your comments to the American Red Cross!

Here's the charity totals:
Hours amount in dollars: $45
Comments amount in dollars: $15
Total donation to American Red Cross: $60!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

24 Hour Read-a-Thon: October 2011

Update #2: I am back from the park and feeling refreshed after getting a little natural Vitamin D! It was in the 80s here today so how could I not take advantage of the beauty of the day!

Reading in the park in October - yeah it was awesome!

Books Read: How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche (and yes I think this is a good read-a-thon book!) and Sherry and Narcotics by Nina-Marie Gardner (it's short but sad so it's up to you if you are in the mood for this!)
Pages Read: 440
Hours Read: 6
Challenges Participated In: 3 - Intro Meme, State Settings and the Mid-Event Survey (see below)

Mid Event Survey
1. What are you reading right now? Just finished Sherry and Narcotics by Nina-Marie Gardner. I liked it just ok. It was a little dramatic for my taste. I'm thinking it's time to move onto a book I need to have finished for a tour post for this Friday (deadlines looming and all that): Her Sister's Shadow.
2. How many books have you read so far? Two. I am pretty pleased with that. My goal is three is and I am thinking I can reach that! 3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Well I am hoping Her Sister's Shadow is awesome! 4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? I just had to let the fiancee know that I would be reading all day so that he would know that he had to play with someone else. 5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Not really except for people ringing the doorbell about the upcoming Mayoral elections. 6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? For me, its that I haven't had to take a nap! It must be the sunshine! 7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? No I am loving things. 8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I think I've got this down now so I'm good. 9. Are you getting tired yet? Nope, hopefully I'll be able to stay that way for awhile yet! 10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Take breaks and go outside if you can!


Update #1: I am taking my first official break from reading after finishing my first book. Cheers to that! If it weren't a little after noon, I'd be having a glass of wine to celebrate!

Books Read: How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche (and yes I think this is a good read-a-thon book!)
Pages Read: 224
Hours Read: 3
Challenges Participated In: 2 - Intro Meme and State Settings

Next up I think I might shower and take this read-a-thon outdoors. Then I might have to take some photographic evidence! Good luck everyone!


Morning everyone! As I said earlier this week the 5am start time is WAY to early for me after a full week of work. I would be napping all day instead of reading all day :) I'm up now though and I've got the coffee brewing and my stack of books here in the quiet of the house with me ready to attack the day. I am so excited!

*Please remember that I will be reading for charity today. I will be posting all updates within this one post to keep it easier for me to do the math at the end of this! Here's the scoop: for each hour I read on today I will donate five dollars to the American Red Cross and for every comment I get on this post today I will donate one dollar as well!*

Now let's get to it!

1)Where are you reading from today? Currently, I will be reading from sunny San Francisco! Starting on my couch but since it's going to be in the mid-70s today you better believe I'll be moving my butt to a park or something scenic outdoors!
2)Three random facts about me… a. I just got engaged to my wonderful boyfriend of four years and I can't stop telling everyone! b. This past week we had two minor earthquakes in San Francisco but they really shook us because they were centered close by. If you live in earthquake country, make sure your earthquake kits are up to date! c.  Fall is my favorite season. Always has been, probably always will be. Crisp, sunny days are the best!
3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? More than I could ever read! 14! Ridiculous since I'll probably read 3 but a girl needs variety :)
4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? Well three is the amount of books I hope to read and I hope to read until at least 11pm here. 
5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? Take breaks. Eat snacks. Read outside if you can! And visit other blogs to see that other's are in this too. That's half the fun. Good luck everyone!

Remember, to check in on everyone at the Read-a-thon, here's the scoop!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: Falling for Me

'Falling for Me: How I Hung Curtains, Learned to Cook, Traveled to Seville, and Fell in Love'
Author: Anna David

Format: Paperback
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks; Oct. 2011
Pages: 320
Genre: Memoir
Grade: B
Source: TLC Book Tours

Synopsis: Like most women, whether they’ve chosen the Fortune 500 career path or have had five kids by 35, Anna David wondered if she’d made the right choices. Then she came upon the book Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan’s fearless leader from the mid-sixties to the late nineties. Immediately connecting with Gurley Brown’s unique message of self-empowerment combined with femininity, Anna vowed to use Sex as a lesson plan, venturing out of her comfort zone in the hope of overcoming the fears and insecurities that had haunted her for years. Embarking on a journey both intensely personal and undeniably universal, she becomes adventurous and spontaneous—reviving her wardrobe and apartment, taking French lessons, dashing off to Seville, and whiling nights away with men she never would have considered before. In the process, she ends up meeting the person really worth changing for: herself.

My Take: If this year of reading has taught me anything, it's that I do love reading memoirs! I have read a ton. I especially relate to those about women trying to find their way in life. It's not always easy for us to just leave college and know exactly what we want to do right away and the right way to do it. 

In my most recent memoir reading, we have Anna David whose life needs some help. She is in her late 30s and is dealing with some serious self-loathing. It's hard to read about. The man she is dating when the book opens is married and when it sizzles she pines for him for way to long. Even though she lives across the country from him and has many other dates she can't seem to get over the one she could never really have been with in the first place. This leads her, with tears in her eyes, into her local bookstore and the self-help section. She stumbles upon the old book Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown. Do you all know this book? Or Brown? She was that tiny little woman who lead Cosmo magazine for about 100 years. However the opening line of the book, published in 1962 was about how she married the man of her dreams at 39. So she was well versed at being a happy single gal before it was cool.

Without any other ideas that had worked, David decides to have Sex and the Single Girl become her new gospel to live by. For the most part the advice held within this older book is still relevant, if taken with the average grain of salt, which David does. Ultimately, the advice is this, until you are happy and successful and enjoy all of the pursuits you do on your own, you won't be able to attract a man. You should seize the one life you get to live and live it to the fullest, man or no man, and then men will want to be with you. I wholeheartedly agree with this advice and David starts to live it in this book. 

At times the book is difficult to read because David isn't exactly nice to herself and doesn't break it up with enough of the funny, but it is honest and real and David does work at healing the old wounds she has done to herself and begin to grow up and learn to love herself.

Cover Lust: I love this cover! The bubbles of the things we use in our daily lives are fun and punchy!

For other opinions about this book, here is the full TLC Tour Schedule

To watch the book trailer for Falling for Me click click below!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Read a Thon is Coming Up This Saturday!

Potential reads!
Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon is this Saturday! Yes, I am excited! I love the fact that everyone comes together from all over the world to read and I love that it gives me a chance to make a serious dent in my TBR pile all in one day. Usually I can get through around 3 books all in one day, while visiting many new-to-me blogs to boot. It's a fun day!

My start time is something awful like 6am PST so I will be starting a couple of hours late, probably more like 8-9am so if it's quiet around here on Saturday morning, don't worry, I'll show up! I will then usually read until about 11pm. The fiancee has been warned and the stack of reading material has been picked out (see above). Photo may be kinda crappy but there are lots of potential good reads in there and I can't wait to dig in!

Last read-a-thon I donated to charity while reading and enjoyed that so I will be doing that again. Here's the scoop: for each hour I read on Saturday I will donate five dollars to the American Red Cross and for every comment I get on my Read-a-Thon post on Saturday I will donate one dollar as well! So come back on Saturday and comment!

Will you be reading on Saturday?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Balinese Food!

About to drink some coconut milk!


So much coffee!

The spice market

Don't forget to check out all of the fun Wordless Wednesday entries!
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