May 29, 2012

Akhmed and The Atomic Matzo Balls

Meet Akhmed, the quirky Iranian president whose only regret was not hooking up with Rosie O'Donnell, who keeps magazines scattered on the floor near his bed, who eats matzo balls soup, has a short-man complex and is strangely paranoid. "Pork makes you stupid" is just one example of his classic one-liners. Interesting enough main character for you? Yes, indeed. But the president has a more elaborate, serious plan. He wants to destroy America by smuggling radioactive matzo balls into Miami Beach and detonate them with explosives. 

Back in America, we are introduced to other characters. Professor Les Fenwich just learned he is a father of a 27-year-old Republican named Karma. Karma is soon to be married and wishes her "Popsie" to walk her down the aisle. Professor Les is unknowingly brought into President Akhmed's plan along with Karma's mother.

Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls is not meant to be a fast read. In fact, I found it necessary to read at a slower than usual pace to keep up with the terrorist plot, the multiple characters and their individual plans. I also read slower to appreciate the witty one-liners and clever dialogue. 

This novel is a fine example of creative writing. There is no other book that combines international leaders, bizarre circumstances, star-crossed academic lovers and radioactivity in a hilarious, sometimes offensive, and oh-so-entertaining setting. The cover is also striking and what I call "public-friendly." While reading Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls in public, I was questioned twice about the book's contents. (Aside from the artsy cover, I was probably questioned because I literally laughed out loud from reading a funny passage.) It is definitely a conversation starter.

Check out Akhmed's video trailer and order a copy of this book. As a bonus, there is a recipe for Matzo Ball Soup, known as the Jewish "comfort food," included. Thumbs up to author Gary Buslik for writing this novel of "international intrigue, pork-crazed termites, and motherhood."

DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the author for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Author: Gary Buslik
Published: March 2012
Pages: 359
Edition: Paperback
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


May 27, 2012

Series Sunday: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.

  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name. 

My Series Sunday pick is The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. This review includes all three (3) books: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

I'm so late to this series, it is not even funny. I fought giving in to the Hunger Games craze for as long as I could. Welp, I drunk the kool-aid. And let me just say, it is worth every bit of hype.

There isn't much more I can say about this series that hasn't been covered in the fitty-lem reviews already published. So I will just entertain those who live under a rock.

Panem is a country that "rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America." The Capitol is surrounded by twelve districts. In the Dark Days, there was an uprising against the Capitol. Twelve districts were defeated; the thirteenth district was destroyed. To prevent another uprising, the Capitol has turned cruel and harsh. The Hunger Games is an annual reminder to never repeat the Dark Days.

The Hunger Games has simple rules, yet a complex hard-to-swallow concept. Each of the twelve districts must provide one boy and one girl (tributes) between the ages of 12 and 18 years old to participate. The 24 tributes are imprisoned in an arena for several weeks. The tributes fight; the last tribute standing wins. And it is all taped for family and friends at home to watch. The winner and his/her district is blessed with prizes (mostly food) for a whole year. It is basically a televised fight to the death...amongst children.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives with her mother and younger sister, Prim. Ever since her father was killed in a mine accident, she has become the Head of Household. Hunting for food to prevent starvation and learning survival tactics is second nature. So when her little twelve-year-old sister is picked to participate in the Hunger Games for District 12, Katniss volunteers to take her place without hesitation.

At first the 74th Hunger Games are filled with flashy fiery costumes and delicacies. Then practice and training begins to prepare the 24 tributes. But one tribute in particular, who just so happens to be the main character, has everyone in the Capitol's attention. Unjust game on!

Because The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy, it was obvious whether Katniss Everdeen would win. The interesting part was what happened in the arena and Katniss' growing relationship with the other tributes (namely Peeta—the boy tribute from her district) and entourage of stylists, chaperone and mentor Haymitch.

In the second installment, Catching Fire, Katniss is rich, famous and hated by the Capitol. She overthrew authority. She made a mockery of the Hunger Games. Her little trick with the berries was an act of defiance. The Capitol surely cannot let Katniss just walk away unharmed. Now life back in the district isn't so different from life in the arena. She still has to fight and face whoever wants her dead. 

In the final installment, Mockingjay, Katniss is crowned the Mockingjay: the symbol of an uprising. It is the rebels versus the Capitol. And it is unclear whose side Peeta is on. But Gale, Katniss's best friend, is by her side. It's just unclear who Katniss will choose in the end...if she survives.

Some people compare The Hunger Games Trilogy to the Twilight series. Nope. It is totally different. It is more mature. It is deeper. It is frighteningly more realistic. (Shout-out to those who believe the government already has such controlling plans for citizens.) There is no fluff or wordiness. It's impossible to skip a paragraph and not miss a vital element of the story. Through the author's words, the characters show us their feelings and personalities, rather than tell us. Almost every piece of dialogue is essential. The writing is an editor's dream!

And the movie? Great adaptation!

**DISCLAIMER: I do not suggest this series for children under the age of 16 years old, no matter his/her maturity level.

Title: The Hunger Games Trilogy
Author: Suzanne Collins
Published: 2008, 2009 & 2010
Pages: 821
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

May 25, 2012

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"They're killing me, Hazeem," whined the Iranian president, Akhmed, as he lay in his jammies, tucked into the sheets of his ornately carved, gold-plated bed in the master bedroom wing of his Tehran palace.
~ Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls by Gary Buslik


May 24, 2012

You Crazy For This One, Baz Luhrmann

A classic book. Jay-Z. Kanye. Leo Dicaprio. Baz Luhrmann.

The Great Gatsby hits theaters on Christmas Day. Watch and jam to the trailer below.


May 22, 2012

Guilty Wives

Four best friends are on vacation in the beautiful Monte Carlo. The rules for the ladies getaway are simple. No husbands allowed. Drink champagne at the pool. Gamble high-stakes at the casino. Flirt with handsome men. Live life as if you're someone else for four entire days without a care in the world. To be arrested and accused of murder was not in the itinerary.

Abbie, Winnie, Bryah and Serena woke up on a yacht surrounded by police. A huge crime was committed, possibly even an act of terrorism. The four best friends are accused and begin to question their own memories, friendship, loyalty and the truth. Guilty Wives is primarily told from Abbie's perspective. Through her words, the reader feels every emotion and physical blow. Abbie's narration takes you on a journey through Monte Carlo, the French prison, the U.S. Embassy and more.

I haven't really enjoyed the last few Patterson books. The story lines were blah, inconsistent or not enough suspense. But this book co-authored with David Ellis was a refresher. It took me back to the good times of Patterson and why I enjoyed his mysteries so much. The building-up of suspense and holding-my-breath moments made it worth reading, even though the murderer was easy to figure out. I didn't mind the predictable ending because the chapters leading up to the climax held my interest. 

Guilty Wives is not one of Patterson's best books, but it certainly is not among his worst. If co-author Ellis is mainly responsible for this good book, then I hope they collaborate again soon. Two bookmarks up!

Title: Guilty Wives
Author: James Patterson and David Ellis
Published: March 2012
Pages: 424
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


May 20, 2012

Series Sunday: Vanity, Vengeance & A Weekend in Vegas

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.

  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name. 
My Series Sunday pick is Vanity, Vengeance & A Weekend in Vegas, the sixth book in the Sophie Katz series by Kyra Davis. Sophie Katz, the part-time amateur sleuth and bestselling mystery writer, returns. She discovers that Anatoly, her boyfriend of six years, is a mafia boss. Of course, Sophie kicks him out of the San Francisco home they share. To cheer Sophie up, friends Dena and Marcus take her away for a weekend in Vegas. It just so happens to be the weekend of a sex toy trade show and home of the Russian mafia.

Just her luck, the weekend in Vegas turns into a mystery instead of a getaway. Anatoly is seen there with his wife. But when Sophie goes to their hotel room for a confrontation, she finds a dead body stuffed in a closet and her own belongings around the room. Someone is framing Sophie Katz for murder and she needs to find out who and why. All the while, finishing her manuscript and keeping her man.

This is Kyra Davis's first self-published book. The author blogged throughout the process, giving fans the chance to be involved in her experience of self-publishing. She even offered fans the opportunity of designing the cover. I was especially eager to see and read the finished product. Although the cover matches the art style in the previous Sophie Katz books, meh, I imagined something more for such a bold title. The plot was better than the last few books of the series. The price of the eBook was less expensive than usual (only $3.99). However, there were too many grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. The spacing was also off-centered on the NOOK version. After realizing the errors, the author promptly fixed them and released an updated version of the eBook. After working with the good people at B&N, I was able to swap versions. The update had most of the errors fixed but not all. Overall, I am proud of Kyra Davis's decision to self-publish. It is an accomplishment. I wish her an even better experience the next go-round.

Check out this series if you like suspense, romance and good mysteries with cute titles. Support this self-published author and purchase the eBook of Vanity, Vengeance & A Weekend in Vegas for just $3.99.

Author: Kyra Davis
Published: March 2012
Pages: 162
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


May 18, 2012

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"Summertime and the readin' is easy. If not fun. At least it is for those of us vacation-bound souls who believe we need a well-deserved break from so-called 'serious' reading."
~ 25 Great Beach Reads, The Writer June 2012 issue

"Let's start with the much happier side. Here's my personal list of reasons for wanting to buy—or at least bid on—a proposed book."
~ Why An Editor Says 'Yes' or 'No' to a Book, The Writer June 2012 issue

"Take a quick glance at your writing workspace. Does your desk bear the telltale signs of a creative mind at work? Are there sticky notes scattered like yellow constellations? Or yesterday's coffee mug casting a lonely shadow near that menacing mountain of papers in your inbox you've been meaning to file for—um, months now?"
~ Declutter Your Writing Space in 2 Days, The Writer June 2012 issue 


May 17, 2012

These Girls

Every woman has secrets. The difference is how each woman handles and protects her secrets. Three women came to New York under separate circumstances. By chance, they link up in the melting pot of a city. 

Cate is the features editor of Gloss magazine. The job position is excellent for her. But Cate hopes her secret past doesn't tamper with her career's future.

Cate's roommate, Renee, also works for Gloss. Her goal is to be promoted to the beauty editor position but she doubts her ability. Renee is insecure about her weight and believes she'll have a better chance in life if she just loses some pounds. Popping diet pills won't hurt, right? 

The third roommate is Abby. She arrived in New York distraught and heartbroken. Not too long ago, Abby was a happy grad student working as a live-in nanny in D.C. Until something happened to make her leave everything behind.

What's a good story without a hot male character? No such thing! There is one hot guy that has a connection to all of the women. It may seem like these three women have nothing else in common. But they do: secrets. As a close friendship grows, they bond together and help each other through issues of love, trust, career choices and self-image.

I thoroughly enjoyed Skipping a Beat, All is Bright and Love, Accidentally. Sarah Pekkanen's latest full novel was just as interesting. This is an author that tells realistic stories, yet offer an escape for fiction lovers. The plots could very well be true for any woman in the real world. This is why Pekkanen's books are so engaging. Don't bypass this author. These Girls is her third novel and I am looking forward to more.

DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Title: These Girls
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Published: April 2012
Pages: 336
Edition: ARC
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


May 16, 2012

Multiple Books at a Time

I usually read two books at a time. So as not to confuse story lines, I usually read one fiction book and one Bible study/nonfiction/reference book. This does not include manuscripts or magazines (11 subscriptions total).

Do you read multiple books at a time?


May 15, 2012

FYI: I'm Going Bye-Bye

Don't be alarmed, bookhearts! I'm not going bye-bye for good. I am taking an extended blogging break soon. Review and guest blogger requests may be e-mailed to LiteraryMarie AT gmail DOT com for consideration in the fall. I will have a minimal presence on Goodreads and other social networks. 

Will miss you lots!


May 8, 2012

50-page Rule

"A bad beginning makes a bad ending." ~ Euripides 

There are too many good books in the world for me to waste time reading an average book. My time is too valuable. My TBR pile is too tall. My brain has limited space for fiction, and it should be occupied with good story lines and memorable characters. Therefore, I implemented the 50-page Rule. If a book does not grab my interest in the first 50 pages, I stop reading. No hesitation. No extra chance. No regret. Close the book and move on to the next.

How do you treat books that do not start off well? Do you have a similar rule?


May 6, 2012

Series Sunday: Sherlock Holmes Movie

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name. 
Today's feature is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. The movie is available for viewing on the Showtime channel. Enjoy this classic mystery!


May 4, 2012

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"They tell me I will die here."
~ Guilty Wives by James Patterson


May 2, 2012

Book Launch Event

Who: Author Gary Buslik
What: Book Launch of Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls
When: Saturday, May 12 from 1-3 p.m.
Why You Should Be There: Meet Gary Buslik, Drinks, Snacks, Prizes and Giveaways (including a chance to win a NOOK) 

Click the book cover image for more info.


Go the Fu(k to Sleep

I love Samuel L. Jackson. He is the perfect narrator for the not-so-kid-friendly bedtime story, Go the Fuck to Sleep. Listen to the audiobook below.


From Book to TV: GCB

It is seldom that a book becomes a successful television series. GCB joins the short list. Good Christian Bitches was originally published by Kim Gatlin in 2008. Amanda Vaughn returns to her Texas hometown after her cheating husband dies in a car accident. She is greeted with old friends and family. There is more than Bible study going on behind the closed doors of these Christians.

The book didn't receive good reviews. But the television series is everything! The writing of the GCB (changed to Good Christian Belles) television series is excellent! Funny, accurate, entertaining and unpredictable. The references to Christian church culture is enough to grab anyone's attention. You must tune in! 

GCB airs Sunday nights on ABC. Check out the video below of my favorite scene.



May 1, 2012

Lit Movie Tidbit: Fifty Shades

Unclutch your pearls, loosen your nun collar, and pour a glass of Red Moscato. By now, you should have heard about the smutty, passionate, erotic fiction trilogy Fifty Shades by E. L. James. It started off as fan fiction then bloomed into its own set of characters and story line.

The movie rights sold to Universal Studios and Focus Films for a rumored $5 million. Casting news and rumors are hitting the internet. So far, Twilight's Kristen Stewart may play the main character, Anastasia Steele. Of course Twihard fans would love to see Kristen's Twilight co-star and real-life boyfriend, Robert Pattinson play Christian Grey. (I disagree with this choice. Keep Bella & Edward out of this!) There is another sexy guy interested in playing the role of Mr. Grey: True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard. (Listen. Do you hear the sizzle of hotness?) 

These are interesting casting picks. I'll keep you updated on the rumors and official news of the movie.

Also, I'm moving this trilogy up on my TBR list. Check back here soon for my reviews of this trilogy on my Series Sunday meme. Share your thoughts if you're currently reading or already read this bestselling series.