Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #29: LibraryLove May 30, 2010

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

Book description~ This book tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers’ bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still see, talk, and even play catch with Sam’s spirit. But townsfolk whisper that Charlie has never recovered from his loss.  Into his carefully ordered life comes Tess Carroll, a captivating, adventuresome woman training for a solo sailing trip around the globe. Fate steers her boat into a treacherous storm that blows her back to harbor, to a charged encounter with Charlie, and to a surprise more overwhelming than the violent sea itself. Charlie and Tess discover a beautiful and uncommon connection that leads to a race against time and a desperate choice between death and life, between the past and the future, between holding on and letting go.

Soulful and transformative.  Suspenseful yet subtle. Engaging and realistic. Set in New England, these are just a few words that describe Ben Sherwood’s thought-provoking novel, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. First and foremost, St. Cloud is about the unbreakable bond of devotion between brothers Sam and Charlie, who are forever changed by a tragic car accident. I am fascinated to read about sibling dynamics and love to see such a strong bond with these characters. Sherwood does a fantastic job developing the characters of both brothers. Charlie and Sam were just so relatable, making me miss my sister,  even more than I normally do. Two forces pulled me toward this novel almost simultaneously. My favorite author, Garth Stein, posted a comment on Facebook last week saying his best buddy Ben Sherwood’s novel, St. Cloud, was made into a soon-to-be-released major motion picture with Zac Efron cast as Charlie. I added the book to my library queue the following day when a friend and I went to the movies and I saw a preview for the film! I’m a curious person by nature and knew I’d want to see the film. Why do I always do this?? I walk out of the theater disappointed.  Frankly, it’s my own fault for having unrealistic expectations and a vivid imagination; the films always somehow fall short. Ah well, maybe one of these days I will learn from Pavlov’s Dog. In the meantime, I wanted the book under my belt first. Most of all, as I was with The Lovely Bones, I’m curious how the director is going to interpret the “in between” scenes.

Regardless of how the film turns out, I’m SO glad my interest was piqued into devouring this book at the pool over the weekend. Sherwood paces the action just perfectly. I was right along side Charlie’s struggle to find a place in this world after the accident. Charlie felt that he robbed Sam of life because of the accident. I could really sympathize with  how Charlie felt he didn’t deserve love or  happiness, as suffering was his due diligence. He wrapped himself in a bubble where he didn’t let anyone in for a while. These walls of limitation prevented him from truly feeling or moving on… that is, until Tess came along.  You will have to pick up this fantastic book for yourself to see how Tess flips Charlie and Sam’s worlds upside down.

In St. Cloud, Sherwood created an interesting world where tragedy is morphed into a renewal so beautiful, you will not want to put this book down. Clearly I was compelled….can’t you tell by my furrowed brow?

As you know if you follow this blog regularly, poolside is where we bookwormz get our best reading done. I couldn’t put this book down and finished it at the pool this afternoon. This novel was a thoroughly enjoyable read I recommend to everyone. I’ll be interested to see how the movie interprets this novel. Have you read any of Sherwood’s other works? What’s your take on books made into films? Would love to hear your thoughts! And if you haven’t already, there’s still time to enter to win our current summer giveaway. Click here for details!

When the goin’ gets hot, take a dip in the pool and crack open a great book this summer!

5/5 stars

29 down, 23 to go!

In progress, Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

PS- below is where you’ll find us all summer chugging through this challenge!


Advertisements
 

Summertime Giveaway: FREE Garth Stein Swag Bag! ***Winner just announced*** May 26, 2010

Ok guys. Are you ready for this??

I’ve been bursting at the seams with excitement over here and can finally announce this exciting giveaway!

Thanks to Garth Stein and his publicist, Sarah at Terra Communications, I am excited to announce our first contest here at Year of the Bookwormz. One OH-SO-LUCKY winner will receive a FREE Garth Stein  ‘GoEnzo.com’  SWAG BAG (pictured below) with a stunning red Raven Stole The Moon umbrella AND autographed hardcover copy of Garth Stein’s prolific New York Times Bestseller, Art of Racing in the Rain!

How can you win this fantastic booty?
It’s SUPER EASY! Just leave a comment  and tell us:

1) Your name

2) The name of your favorite pet (past or present)

3) Something funny or cute or anything at all this pet did/does to make you smile

If you’ve never had a pet, you can still enter– use your vivid imagination and make something  up!

This contest will be open until Wednesday June 9th.

After the contest closes, a winner will be chosen using Random.Org. Please check back here to find out if you’re the lucky winner of this fantastic prize pack!

Not only is my favorite author of my favorite novel an amazing writer, speaker, and chef, but he’s extremely generous, humble and kind. If you follow this blog, you know I had the honor of meeting Mr. Stein last month at the Bethesda Writer’s Center where he made all the girls cry (ok but then he made us laugh immediately after). I look forward to supporting his future endeavors, including attending his event in September. After viewing this blog and my photos from the event, Sarah, Garth’s publicist,  approached me asking if she could use my photos in Garth’s newsletter. (No brainer!) I was honored and told her yes immediately! She then gave me the opportunity to host this giveaway.

Where would we be without technology?! Social media and Web 2.0 afford me the platform for promoting someone I believe in and support so much. Being able to reach out to our readers and give one of you the gift of this compelling novel  is a privilege. The Art of Racing in the Rain changed my life and I believe if you read it, it will change yours as well.

Good luck! Please share this with all your friends!!

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

PS- Here’s a photo of one of my favorite pets. His name is Zumo and his strength amazes me. Zumo is our 18-month-old rescue Akita. He loves his weekly hydrotherapy rehab sessions and this photo just makes me smile every time I see it, because it’s like a circus just getting him into his “swim gear”. One afternoon, while unloading the dogs from hydrotherapy, one of the young neighborhood girls asked, “So Zumo is a rescue? He, like, jumps in pools and saves kids and stuff?” I laughed and replied, “No sweetie. We rescued him.” 🙂

 

Author Spotlight and Book Signing:: Garth Stein :: April 17, 2010

Two barks Denny, two barks!!

Have you ever read a book that changed the way you view the world? For me, that book was Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, which continues to hold its place on the New York Times Bestseller list. Tonight, I had the rare opportunity to meet this amazing author alongside my friends Becca, Planetbooks, and her husband. Stein held a reading, Q&A discussion, and book signing that still has me floating on a cloud.  Not only is Stein charming, funny, and down to earth, he also loves to cook! Click here for his favorite recipes 🙂 Garth has excellent skills as a public speaker, gave fantastic eye contact, and was truly connected with engaging the audience. As someone who volunteers with animal rescue, this book had such a profound impact on me, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I first read it, as ARR is told from the viewpoint of the family’s beloved dog, Enzo. In our rescue newsletters, we try to establish a connection from our orphan dogs to the reader  often telling their stories as if they themselves, the dog, were writing to our readership. We’ve gotten so many compliments on these types of stories and love doing it whenever possible. It was so fascinating to hear Garth talk about the path to publication, and how difficult it was to find an agent who would represent a novel narrated by the dog. I think it to be genius, and I’m SO glad Garth persevered and followed his dream. In doing so, he challenged the status quo.

I also loved Stein’s Raven Stole the Moon and look forward to supporting and promoting this creative and thoughtful author.

Albeit a small token, I gifted Garth a handwritten card along with a copy of The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide. Garth, I hope you enjoy this book and that you will share it with your 3 sons, as a very small token of my appreciation for your talent and what you do to change peoples’ lives with your writing. What do you get the person who changed your life? Maybe a book that can teach him and his sons how to fend off a bear attack? Or how to find food in the wilderness? Sure, why not! If nothing else, Garth, I hope you get a kick out of it 🙂 I hope to get a full review of the book when we see you at your event in September!!

I’ve shared ARR with countless friends in my circle who have each loved it for their own reasons. Make a beeline for your nearest bookish establishment and pick up a copy of Art of Racing in the Rain or any of Garth Stein’s artful works.  Stein is on my VERY short list of top favorite authors. Art of Racing in the Rain does not disappoint. I laughed, I cried, and smiled at the end of the book and loved the way Stein tied things up. Enzo, one of the main characters, will always be in my heart and I will be forever changed by him. Check Stein’s website for more information on his other projects or to attend an event in your area.

“Garth Stein is the author of the New York Times best-selling literary novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain (Harper, 2008). Now published in 23 languages, The Art of Racing in the Rain was the #1 BookSense selection for June, 2008, the Starbucks spring/summer 2008 book selection, and has been on the IndieBound™ bestseller list since its publication. Stein’s previous novel, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets (Soho Press, 2005) won a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, and was a BookSense Pick in both hardcover and paperback. Raven Stole the Moon (Harper, 2010) was Stein’s first novel. He has also written a full-length play, Brother Jones, and produced a number of award-winning documentaries. With an M.F.A. in film from Columbia University (1990), Garth worked as a documentary film maker for several years, and directed, produced, or co-produced several award winning films. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Seattle, Garth’s ancestry is diverse: his mother, a native of Alaska, is of Tlingit Indian and Irish descent; his father, a Brooklyn native, is the child of Jewish emigrants from Austria. After spending his childhood in Seattle and then living in New York City for 18 years, Garth returned to Seattle, where he currently lives with his wife, three sons, and their dog, Comet.” ~GarthStein.com

Two barks from our Akitas, Senshi and Zumo!!


Don’t forget to patronize your local library and pick up a page turner. 

Happy reading!

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

 

Book #15: LibraryLove March 7, 2010

Raven Stole The Moon by Garth Stein

Book description: In this haunting debut, Garth Stein brilliantly invokes his Native American heritage and its folklore to create an electrifying supernatural thriller. When a grieving mother returns to the remote Alaskan town where her young son drowned, she discovers that the truth about her son’s death is shrouded in legend—and buried in a terrifying wrinkle between life and death.

Coloring powerful legend with universal emotions, Garth Stein masterfully evokes our most primal dreams and fears. Remarkably vivid and relentlessly suspenseful, Raven Stole the Moon marks the arrival of a stunningly imaginative new talent.

Has anything ever been stolen right out from under you? Can you describe the feeling that comes over you when you mourn the loss of a friend or loved one? It’s pretty intense and hard to articulate with the proper nuance, yes? Does it feel like your whole world has gone dark? Almost as if the moon is no longer present in the night sky to guide you on your way? Have you ever gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and struggle finding your way without a nightlight, feeling lost just on the way to the bathroom? That’s what Jenna, Raven’s main character must have felt when her young son Bobby, drowned in an unfortunate  accident. The surrounding events and its toll on Jenna and her husband Robert, are the basis of this novel.

One of my FAVORITE things about reading is to uncover through my inference, or the author’s intent, the meaning behind the book title. For me, Raven was not just about the Native American fable Stein spells out in the book. But rather the idea that sometimes a life loss sucks the light out from under us and a dark cloud moves in. Anyone with a heart can relate to this.

Don’t want to dwell, but for most of us who have one time or another felt that immeasurable loss, I recommend you read Raven. And if you’re going to read this book, I recommend you take a sick day, take a vacation, do whatever you can to hole yourself up for uninterrupted quality reading time! You will NOT want to put this book down. If you do, it’ll make you cranky because you want to keep reading- trust me, I know from experience 😉

Due to a jam-packed birthday celebration schedule (I know, woe is me, where’s the violin? saucer of milk?), this week didn’t afford me the opportunity for much uninterrupted reading time. However, I sacrificed sleep to read, it was that good! I say the above, because although Raven was SUCH a departure from Stein’s second novel, Art of Racing in the Rain, which is on my short list of best books I’ve ever read, their differences make them each all the more powerful in my eyes.  They’re both amazing books for different reasons. I don’t want to give too much away about either book, but I recommend you read Art of Racing first, as I did.  I love to hear about how/when books find you and their impact on your life. After reading Art of Racing, I felt so fulfilled, satisfied with the ending, and with a goofy grin on my face. I told all my friends. Many of them went to their local libraries and both read it AND loved it immediately. It  forever changed, for the better, the relationship I have with my pets.  Because I loved Art of Racing so much, I decided to check out Stein’s other novels on Paperbackswap last fall. Sure enough, one of the (now out of print) copies was available! I had a stockpile of credits, so there it sat on my bookshelf. I grew busy with library books and book club reads that I forgot all about it. Last Sunday, Planetbooks mentioned she’d been approached by Stein’s new publisher asking if she’d kindly read and review it, as she did for Art of Racing, to promote the re-release and drum up some more interest and internet/blog traffic. When Planetbooks mentioned it, I nearly leapt out of my seat and suggested we read it together. We could compare notes and send texts back and forth sharing our thoughts. I’ve had the book and been waiting to read it, this was the perfect excuse. She had a short window of time and needed to read and review it within a week, to coincide with Raven’s re-release. Knowing myself, I knew that this would be no problem for me, and that I was actually just finishing another book that same evening and could start the following day!

I’m really looking forward to getting to meet Garth Stein at one of his book events this year. Chatting with one of my favorite authors will be a dream come true for me. Art of Racing will without question remain one of my top five books of all time, but recommend you give Raven a try- the action never quits!

5/5 stars

15 down,  37 to go!

In progress- Three Cups of Tea (Audiobook), Waiting for Daisy

Xoxo,

LibraryLove