Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Salon: Book club date moved

I feel terrible because I didn't get a chance to read the book club selection for this month. I was scheduled to post the review today, but with Thanksgiving and end of the semester projects due, I just haven't had time. I also started reading Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama last week, thinking I could read it simultaneously with The Tortilla Curtain, but I got too drawn into Obama's book and always choose to pick it up instead. I know, big mistake, right?

Anyway, I'm going to New York next weekend and plan to read the book on the plane rides there and back, so I should be posting on December 10 instead. I hope those of you who have read the book will stop by to leave your thoughts, or links to your own reviews.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose

I read The Reincarnationist last week so I could send it out as soon as I announced the winners. This was another quick and easy read that kept me in suspense throughout, however, I didn't like it quite as much as The Memorist. Overall I really liked the book but I just had a couple of problems with it.

First, the book is called The Reincarnationist, who is identified in The Memorist as Malachai Samuels, however Mr. Samuels is a VERY minor chracter throughout this book. I think the title is misleading because The Reincarnationist has nothing to do with this book. Maybe The Memory Stones or something else that at least hinted at what the book was about would have worked better for me.

Another thing that bothered me about this book was that a third story line was introduced at about Chapter 22. I was reading and enjoying Josh Ryder's flashes to the past when suddenly there's some girl Rachel having flashbacks in New York. I had to stop reading and flip through the chapters wondering if I had missed something somewhere. Her role comes into play later and it all ends up making sense, but I really needed her to be brought into the story much earlier for the book to flow better for me. That, or the author should have made some connections early on.

Anyway, enough negativity. Other than these couple of issues I really did enjoy the book. The flashbacks in this book are to Rome in 391 A.D., which is pretty awesome to read about. I thought it was interesting to gain a little perspective on how pagan religions were destroyed by the emperor at the time to make way for Christianity. It's obvious that M.J. Rose has done a lot of research about the time periods, as well as reincarnation. If you like thriller/mystery books and are interested in reincarnation, this will definitely be an interesting book for you. Just don't expect to learn much about The Reincarnationist until you get to The Memorist.

Monday, November 24, 2008

M.J. Rose Winners!

OK, so since some people got more than one entry for posting about this giveaway, I did this by listing you by number and then using to generate a sequence. The top five entries won books, with the first number chosen winning the grand prize, the second and third places getting The Memorist, and the last two getting The Reincarnationist. Here's the results:

GRAND PRIZE (a copy of each book): Literary Feline
Copies of The Memorist: Serena and Carol's Notebook
Copies of The Reincarnationist: Judi and Carolyn.

I don't have all of your e-mails, so if you don't hear from me then please e-mail me at bexadler(at)yahoo(dot)com with your mailing address and I'll get the books out to you! Thanks everyone for participating!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Is it Karma?

It seems that all the giveaways I've been hosting lately are paying off on the Karma scale because I just won five books from and Hatchette books! I'm so super excited for these books:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Up High In the Trees by Kiara Brinkman

I didn't know much about Up High in the Trees when I ordered it from Amazon, nor when I began reading it. I chose the book because I had read posts by Kiara Brinkman on The Nervous Breakdown a while back and remembered liking them. When I heard she had a book out I ordered it purely based on that. So I was delighted to find that I actually liked the book.

Up High in the Trees isn't a typical novel. It's told in vignettes from the viewpoint of 8-year-old Sebastian Lane, whose mother has just died. Because I hadn't read the cover of the book, I first thought Sebby was autistic. He takes note of a lot of colors and intricate details of spaces. He also likes to sit under tables, in closets or curl up in small, dark places. It isn't until a few chapters in that we learn this is a coping reaction to his mother's death (this isn't a spoiler! The cover talks about his mother's death). Sebby learns to cope in other ways and even begins making new friends as the book moves forward. At the same time his dad has some type of breakdown and Sebby and his older brother and sister have to fend for themselves for awhile.

This book was particularly interesting to me because it takes place in the fall and covers an election year (1992, when Bill Clinton was first elected). I read the Halloween scene on Halloween and the election part near the election so it made it seem that much more real. Anyway, I don't feel like I've really done a great job of explaining this book. I enjoyed this novel because it was so different than other books I've read this year, mostly because the voice throughout is that of an 8-year-old, which makes it pretty unique. I enjoyed being in the mind of an 8-year-old for a couple of days. I think Brinkman did a great job of conveying how confused a child can be about something as tragic as a death, especially when everyone tries to help the child by keeping things from him/her. This book shows how a child might use their imagination to make up a different reality when the facts are lacking in his life.

If you're interested in reading this book, I'll be giving away my copy. It was already used when I bought it so it has a little wear, but it's still FREE. And who doesn't love free, right? So leave a comment below and I'll pick a winner Dec. 1. Also, don't forget to enter my M.J. Rose giveaway.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Interview with M.J. Rose and a Giveaway!

Today, as part of her TLC Blog Tour, M.J. Rose is here with some more insight to her newest novel, The Memorist, which I reviewed on Tuesday. In this interview we learn more about where Rose came up with the ideas for her novel, some of her own experiences in Vienna and how she came to be so interested in reincarnation. But first, a little about the author:

You may have heard about M.J. Rose through her first adventures in the publishing industry. Rose self-published her first novel, Lip Service, late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn't know how to position it or market it since it didn't fit into any one genre.

Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Today, she is the international bestselling author of 10 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, and The Memorist.

Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L'Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly. And now she's here today:

You noted at the end of The Memorist that you have spent time in Vienna and that the underground ruins really do exist – Did you get a chance to explore some of the abandoned city below the surface?

Yes I did, it’s an amazing thing to see.

What first interested you in reincarnation and binaural beats?

When I was three years old, I told my great grandfather things about his childhood in Russia that there was simply no way I could have known. He became convinced I was a reincarnation of someone in his past. And over time, after more incidents, my mother – a very sane and logical woman -- also came to believe it.

Reincarnation was an idea I grew up with that my mom and I talked about and researched together.

For years, I wanted to write a novel about someone like my mother – who was sane and logical – who started out skeptical but came to believe in reincarnation. But I was afraid if I did people would think I was a “woo woo weirdo”.

I tried to start the first book in this series ten years ago after my mother died but I was too close to the subject and missed her too much to be able to explore it objectively. Every once in a while the idea would start to pester me again but I still stayed away from it.

Then a few years ago on the exact anniversary of my mom’s death my niece, who was a toddler at the time, said some very curious things to me about my mother and I – things she really couldn’t have known -- and the pestering became an obsession.

That’s when I sat down and started in earnest to write The Reincarnationist – which was published in September '07 and is out now in paperback and is the first book in the series. But they don’t have to be read in order.

As for binaural beats- I came across them in my research I did in 2005 when I was searching out information for the first novel in this series.

Throughout the book there are quotes from famous people like Carl Jung, Tolstoy, and Goethe regarding reincarnation. Were you surprised to find that so many influential people throughout history believed in reincarnation?

Yes and it was one of the things that really helped make me decide to tackle these books on this complicated and amazing subject.

Are you a fan of Beethoven, or was he just used because of the location and his interest in this type of research?

Here’s a short essay I wrote about the inspiration for this book that explains all that…

Once upon a time, my husband and I went to Vienna on a vacation and fell in love. Not with each other - we'd already done that - but with the city.

Growing up in Manhattan you don't bump in to history on every street corner - mostly you're bumping into other people or great shopping or eating experiences. In New York you have to go out of your way to find eighteenth century history but it’s still alive on every block in Vienna. There’s so much of it you are literally breathing it in. Arts and sciences have flourished here for centuries and whatever your passion you can visit museums, monuments and memorials to art, music, architecture, literature philosophy and psychology.

And visit them we did including making visits to homes of many famous people who’d once lived there and since my husband is a musician the trip turned out to be what I now jokingly call our Beethoven pilgrimage.

There are several of the great composer's residences in the city proper and its environs and we visited every one of them as well as churches, cafes and music halls he frequented. We walked the streets he walked following the routes he took and spent one day wandering the woods he wandered during the summers he spent in Baden, a spa town an hour out of the city.

But it was in the Heligenstadt house that the idea for my novel, The Memorist was born.

The house at Probusgasse 6 is in a neighborhood called Heligenstadt at the bottom of the Kahlemberg, which in Beethoven’s time was outside the city and filled with vineyards that are still growing there. And it was here at the end of the summer of 1802 that the 31-year-old Beethoven wrote the heart-wrenching Testament to his two brothers documenting his anguish at the onset of his terrible deafness.

The upstairs of this small apartment is open to the public and we walked through the ordinary rooms where he lived. Wandering over to the window I looked down at a simple courtyard where there was a single tree growing.

I stared at the gnarled, twisted trunk and the rich healthy verdant green leaves and realized that Beethoven must have once stood there and looked down at that same tree. Suddenly the composer’s ghost was standing there with me looking out the window.

Later I told my husband what I had been thinking and he said: “You’re going to write about that aren’t you?” Until that moment I hadn’t thought about it but after he said it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

At home I read several biographies about Beethoven and in one discovered the great composer had been fascinated with Eastern philosophy, which includes a strong belief in reincarnation. His own notebooks contain quotes a number of passages from Bhagavad-Gita. As well as a quote from William Jones that was included in his Hymn to Narayena, We know this only, that we nothing know.

And with that piece of information the idea at the heart of my tenth novel revealed itself.

The Memorist is not about Ludwig Van Beethoven although he does play a small part in it. Rather it’s a suspense novel about a woman on a search for her own ghosts but it was Beethoven’s spirit that inspired the book and his everlasting gifts to us are at the heart of the mystery I attempted to unravel.

Is there going to be a third book in this series?

There is and I’m writing it now.

(Looks like Rose is going to leave us in suspense, but rumor has it the third book will have more details about FBI Agent Lucien Glass, who was one of my favorite characters in this book. Yay!)

Was it difficult to keep all of the timelines straight in this book? How did you manage them and the characters from each time period?

It’s a bit tricky to keep it all straight but I write a first draft and then go back and do a timeline outline and then do a second draft fixing all the dates and making it all consistent.

How long did you spend researching the Indus Valley and Viennese history before writing this book?

I have been researching the whole subject of reincarnation for many years and have read over 50 books – I did an additional 3 months of research before I started this book and then while I was writing the first draft kept doing more research.

I’m also curious about the references to Judaism and Kabbalah. Did you have to research this or is it something you have studied throughout your life?

I’m Jewish but knew nothing about the Kabbalah until I stared doing the research for this book.

One of my readers was also wondering about online marketing for books. She asks: What are some of the biggest mistakes inexperienced writers can make on the web while they're promoting their work? Is it possible to rectify them, or do mistakes follow us forever and ever?

I teach an online marketing class once a year that is of great help to writers starting out or those already out. It will be taught in Jan 2009 - more at this link.

And the biggest mistake is to spend your entire marketing budget on a website. The second biggest is to think you don’t need to do anything - that your publisher will do it all. At we help authors do affordable marketing - and since we work with all the major publishers - authors can feel confident about working with us.

Also, do you have any easy tips for authors starting out who have decided to self-publish?

I’m sorry, I don’t. And unless it’s very niche marketed non-fiction I don’t recommend self-publishing at all. I think it’s a big mistake to self-publish fiction. I’ve written a lot about that online and you can read about why here.

On your Website you mention that The Secret Garden was the first book to get you thinking about writing. Are there other books that have influenced you along the way? And what are you currently into reading? Some favorites?

I hate to do these lists because I always leave too many books out. Here are some of my favorite authors: Paul Auster, Anne Rice, Robert Goddard, Michael Connelly, Arthur Phillips, Lisa Tucker, Douglas Clegg, Ruth Rendell, Sophie Kinsella, Alice Hoffman, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Steve Berry, Jeffery Deaver… and I’ve been influenced by: John O’Hara, Ayn Rand, Daphne DuMaurier, and John Gardner.

I’m reading Buddha by Deepak Chopra right now.

M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 10 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, and The Memorist. Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg of Buzz Your Book. She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: She runs two popular blogs; Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.

And now for the giveaway! MIRA Books has been kind enough to send me extra copies to give away to FIVE lucky readers! Two winners will each receive a paperback copy of The Reincarnationist. Two winners will receive The Memorist. And the Grand Prize winner will receive both books in the series.* So here's how to enter:

1. For one entry you can leave a comment below answering the question: If you were a historian/archaeologist/anthropologist, what place and time would you most like to learn more about?

2. For an extra entry you can post about this giveaway on your blog OR if you don't have a blog you can send an e-mail about the giveaway to five friends. Leave a comment here letting me know you did this.

Also, feel free to leave comments about the interview and the book itself. I'd love to hear what you all think about the themes in this book.

Thanks so much for reading! And be sure to leave your comment by 11:59 p.m. on November 23. I'll be drawing winners on November 24.

*Sorry to do this to you international readers, but I'm super poor right now so this giveaway is only open to the U.S. and Canada.

Also, check out some of the other upcoming TLC Tours for more chances to win The Memorist:

Monday, November 17th: Booking Mama

Tuesday, November 18th: Books I Done Read

Wednesday, November 19th: Diary of an Eccentric

Thursday, November 20th: MommyPie

Monday, November 24th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Friday, November 28th: Frequency of Silence

Check out TLC tours for the entire list.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Memorist by M.J. Rose

When I first received my copy of The Memorist I was a bit freaked out that I wouldn't finish it in time for my interview with M.J. Rose because the book looks so thick. But all of that worrying was for nothing because I really enjoyed the book and finished it all in one day.

M.J. Rose's The Memorist is the second in The Reincarnationist series, but don't be distraught if you haven't yet read The Reincarnationist. I didn't read it before starting The Memorist and I didn't feel lost at all. I don't know which characters were used in the first book because they were all so thoroughly fleshed out in The Memorist.

I don't want to give too much away about the plot because The Memorist is a mystery book, but I'll tell you a little about it so you can get an idea of whether it's book you'd be interested in reading. Most of the book is set in Vienna as the main character, Meer Logan, pieces together parts of her past lives and her current life thanks to the discovery of a gaming box she'd been haunted by since she was a child. The emergence of the box makes her begin questioning her firmly held beliefs that the box was somehow lodged in her memory from an early childhood experience, even though her father had been trying to convince her for years that they were memories from a past life. The past life we're then introduced to is one in which Meer (who in 1814 was Margaux) befriended Beethoven in an attempt to steal a valuable relic she planned to sell in order to mount a rescue for her husband who had been lost in India uncovering ancient ruins.

There are a couple of other side plots that I don't really want to go into because I'm afraid of being one of those spoilers, so I'm just going to say you should read the book so you can find out. If you like books about the Free Masons or uncovering lost treasures, I think you'll enjoy this book. The story is wonderfully woven and the pace stays exciting throughout. Plus, you'll be inspired to listen to Beethoven and wish for an opportunity to travel to least I am anyway.

P.S. I'll be giving away three copies each of The Memorist and The Reincarnationist at the end of this month. Check back Thursday, when I'll be posting an interview with author M.J. Rose, for details!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Questions for M.J. Rose?

In my post about the upcoming interview with M.J. Rose, I received a comment from Lauri Shaw who had a question for the author, and I thought it might be fun to see if any of the rest of you had questions. SO if you have any questions about the book, the writer, or the writing process, feel free to leave your questions below (by Sunday evening) and I'll include them in the interview questions I send over to her.

Thanks so much!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Giveaway Coming!

Yesterday afternoon I received a box full of books to giveaway to you lovely readers. Super exciting, yes? I'll have three copies each of The Memorist and The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose available for a giveaway that will begin on Nov. 13 when M.J. Rose stops by my blog for a little chit-chat. I'll be posting my reviews of the books the day prior to give you all a little reminder, but I'm super excited to be a part of Rose's blog tour and I can't wait to get started on these books. Oh, and to get you excited too, here's a little preview of what The Memorist is about:

International bestseller M.J. Rose has written a gripping and unforgettable novel about a woman paralyzed by the past, a man robbed of his future, and a centuries old secret. The dreads are back. As a child, Meer Logan was haunted by memories of another time and place, always accompanied by the faint strains of elusive music.

Now the past has reached out again in the form of a strange letter that sets her on a journey to Vienna to unlock the mystery of who she once was. With each step, she comes closer to remembering connections between a clandestine reincarnationist society, a lost flute linked to Ludwig van Beethoven, and David Yalom, a journalist who understands all too well how the past affects the future. David knows loss first hand--terrorism is a reality that cost him his family. He's seen every solution promised by security experts around the world--and he's seen every solution fail. Now, in a concert hall in Vienna, he plans to force the world to understand the cost of those failures in a single, violent act. Because those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it...

Monday, November 3, 2008

November's Book: The Tortilla Curtain

Thanks to Diane and Beastmomma for your suggestions for this month's book club selection. I'd never heard of The Tortilla Curtain, which was suggested by Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea, so I decided we should all give it a try. I love book clubs because they get me to read books I may not have otherwise picked up. There wasn't much about this book on Amazon, so I took this description from the Website:

In this explosive and timely novel, T. Coraghessan Boyle explores an issue that is at the forefront of the political arena. He confronts the controversy over illegal immigration head-on, illuminating through a poignant, gripping story the people on both sides of the issue, the haves and the have-nots.

In Southern California's Topanga Canyon, two couples live in close proximity and yet are worlds apart. High atop a hill overlooking the canyon, nature writer Delaney Mossbacher and his wife, real estate agent Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher, reside in an exclusive, secluded housing development with their son, Jordan. The Mossbachers are agnostic liberals with a passion for recycling and fitness. Camped out in a ravine at the bottom of the canyon are Cándido and América Rincón, a Mexican couple who have crossed the border illegally. On the edge of starvation, they search desperately for work in the hope of moving into an apartment before their baby is born. They cling to their vision of the American dream, which, no matter how hard they try to achieve it, manages to elude their grasp at every turn.

A chance, violent encounter brings together Delaney and Cándido, instigating a chain of events that eventually culminates in a harrowing confrontation. The novel shifts back and forth between the two couples, giving voice to each of the four main characters as their lives become inextricably intertwined and their worlds collide. The Rincóns' search for the American dream, and the Mossbachers' attempts to protect it, comprise the heart of the story. In scenes that are alternately comic, frightening, and satirical, but always all "too real," Boyle confronts not only immigration but social consciousness, environmental awareness, crime, and unemployment in a tale that raises the curtain on the dark side of the American dream.

I'll post some discussion questions on Nov. 30. This sounds like a really interesting book and I think it will spark some interesting conversations. I can't wait!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November Book Club Selection

Does anybody have any suggestions for what we should read this month?