Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CFBA Book Spotlight: The Tomb by Stephanie Landsem

About the Book: In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?

Monday, March 23, 2015

HBO Documentary: It's Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise

Tonight, HBO will air a documentary about the illustrator of the Eloise books, Hilary Knight. Eloise is the little girl who lived in the Plaza Hotel and the storybooks were wildly popular. They ignited the imaginations of little girls throughout time as this documentary discusses.

In fact, one of those girls was Lena Dunham who is one of the executive producers of this film. She loved Eloise so much that when she was 17, she had an image of Eloise tattooed on her! She appears in this documentary since she befriended Knight a few years ago.

I personally love learning about the creative process and creative people, and Eloise is such an iconic children's book that I really looked forward to this documentary. And it doesn't disappoint. The film adequately explores the history of Eloise...from Kay Thompson and her eccentric and controlling ways to the eventual break in relationship with Knight that ended the books.

But Knight signed a contract so early in his career that he forfeited all rights to ever drawing Eloise again. When something like that happens to a person, what do they do? They've been stripped of one of their most essential creative outlests. It's Me Hilary answers a bit of that, showcasing some of his other works and the way in which he engages his imagination in present day.

It's Me, Hilary includes a detailed history of the Eloise books, interviews with celebrities, family, and friends, footage through the years of Knight and rare at home shots of the ways in which he expresses himself creatively now. It's a treat for anyone who enjoys learning about creative people and a wonderful slice of history regarding one of our most iconic children's book illustrations.

It premieres tonight on HBO at 9:00 PM. It will also run at multiple other times throughout the week including the 26th at 10: 30 AM and 4:45 PM, and the 28th at 12:45 PM. Please note that even though this is about a children's illustrator, it's not suitable for children.

Many thanks to HBO for an advanced screener!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CFBA Book Spotlight: Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

About the Book: Where Legend and History Collide,
One Young Woman Will Fight for the Innocent

Born a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father's failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village--a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he's forced to reexamine everything he's known.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

This past Christmas, I was excited to bring my ereader on vacation. I only packed a few hard copies of books and was looking forward to having so many choices at my fingertips. And then when I got to my brother's place, I realized I had brought the wrong charger. No one had a spare, and I was sad. It put me seriously behind on reviewing and reading! I did happen to bring The Pocket Wife with me, but I had to save it for the flight home! Even saving it, I finished it long before the flight ended, sigh.

The reason why I chose to save this book and why I must have felt compelled to bring it is because it's a thriller. There's a mystery at the heart of it and those are the kinds of stories I usually get engrossed in quickly. And I did get into the book pretty well. It has a really interesting premise...Dana was the last person to see her friend alive, but she doesn't remember the details. Her friend was murdered and she's obviously a suspect since she was the last person to see her. And since she has trouble remembering what happened, she has all this suspect behavior to account for.

The book is fairly quick paced and probes questions about criminal investigations and the mentally ill. I read it one sitting, obviously, because I was on the plane. There are some surprises, but I don't remember feeling genuinely shocked by anything that happened in the book. Even so, it was a good read, a worthy one, and definitely one for anyone who likes thrillers with unique premises!

There's also an interesting cat and an unlikely romance!

I received a copy for review from the publisher.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Ella by Mallory Kasdan and illustrated by Marcos Chin

Do you love Eloise? They you'll get a kick out of Ella by Mallory Kasdan. Ella is a modernized version of the charming classic tale. It's about Ella who lives in the Local Hotel and has all the modern trappings and maybe still all of the neglect. She has a manny, she has a manny who is in a band and little dogs you can fit in a purse, etc.

The book is a fun and a great modern twist. The illustrations are lovely and vibrant. I can imagine that Ella's world will ignite the imagination of a child in the same way Eloise's did. The book is billed as being for hipsters of all ages, and I think you'll agree.

I have to admit when I first heard about this, I wasn't sure it would also be for children, but it is! It's child friendly with adult appeal, my favorite kind of children's book! :)

Definitely give it a look! Later this week, I'll have a review for you of HBO's documentary about the illustrator of the Eloise books, Hilary Knight.

Until then, enjoy!

*Please note I received a copy of this book to review.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

All Lovely Things: A Field Journal for the Objects that Define Us by Lea Redmond + Giveaway

I've always been the type of person to hold onto things. Part of it is sentimentality, part of it is laziness (getting rid of things takes effort), and part of it is worrying that I'll need it for a future date. It wasn't until I was packing to move for the first time, though, that I realized how much objects hold memories. Being materialistic was the sort of thing that was discouraged in the environment I grew up, but I always associated it with the idea of wanting new shiny things and not necessarily holding onto things from the past. The idea of being materialistic about objects because of the way they hold memories and acquire their own kind of value was a revelation.

All Lovely Things: A Field Journal for the Objects that Define Us recognizes that truth and encourages you to really look at the things in your life and see them for their meaning, what they are, and spend some time cherishing them by sketching them and reflecting on them. It may seem like a strange idea, but it's actually really lovely. The creator of the book spends some time in the beginning helping you to see how to value your objects and how to see them in your life and then the book opens up to pages that allow you to put it into practice.

This is the time of year where we're thinking about spring (well here it's 90 degrees here so I'm actually thinking about summer), and starting to clear out our drawers and prepare for lighter days ahead. It's the perfect time to spend some with All Lovely Things.

Luckily, the publisher has offered to send one lucky person in the United States a copy of this book. To enter for a chance to win, just fill out the form below.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Giveaway: Splinters of Light by Rachael Herron

About the Book: From the acclaimed author of Pack Up the Moon comes a poignant and beautiful novel about love, loss, and the unbreakable bonds of family—particularly those between mothers, daughters, and sisters.

Ten years ago, Nora Glass started writing essays about being a single mother of a six-year-old daughter. Her weekly column made her a household name, and over the years, her fans have watched Ellie grow from a toddler to a teenager.

But now Nora is facing a problem that can’t be overcome. Diagnosed with a devastating disease that will eventually take away who she is, she is scared for herself, but even more frightened about what this will mean for her sixteen-year-old daughter.

Now Nora has no choice but to let go of her hard-won image as a competent, self-assured woman, and turn to the one person who has always relied on her: her twin sister, Mariana. Nora and Mariana couldn’t be more different from one another, and they’ve always had a complicated relationship. But now the two sisters will have to summon the strength to help them all get through a future none of them could have ever imagined, while uncovering the joy and beauty that was always underneath.

I have one copy of the book to give away to a US resident. Just fill out the form below to be entered! Winner will be contacted via email.