Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Lost Chalice

The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece

By Vernon Silver

Illegal trade in antiquities...always a thrilling subject to be sure - but at the level that this book reveals - jaw dropping!

This is a historical journey through time and art, from the seedy world of plundered graves and archeological the upper crust in the finest Museums and Auction Houses.

Riveting, real-life adventure story that will involve you to the world of Euphronios - deemed the "Leonardo da Vinci of Ancient Greece" - his world and culture.

From the back of the book: "Spanning 2,500 years and moving from a Trojan War battlefield to an Athens pottery workshop to an Italian crypt, and involving tomb robbers, smugglers, a Hollywood producer and a Texas billionaire..."

Whats not to like!

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

By Katherine Howe

One of the hardest things for an author to do is move the reader seamlessly between to time periods - this book does it...but is it worth it?

The story of Connie - grad student in 1991 - is not really interesting. What does work for me is the house and the character of Grace (don't we all know a "new age" sensitive?). I found I was more interested in her "SteepleJack" boyfriend than in Connie.

The story of Deliverance Dane and her Physic Book is the story of the innocents lost to accusations of witch-craft. These "cunning women" were usually midwives and healers at a time when medicine and "doctors" were new in the area.

Whether it was the moldy bread or the toxic levels of leaded glazes used for cookware - people were thrown into seizures and some people died. The people of Salem believed that these witches in their midst were the cause.

What Howe brings to this oft told story is the twist that Deliverance Dane IS a witch and is appalled that these innocent women are dieing. Even when offered the opportunity to escape (because if these folks were witches how could they be held in prisons?) she stays to offer support to the women that were arrested with her.

The author, Katherine Howe, was a graduate student in New England studies...and brings her real-life family history to the table. She is a descendant of two women who endured the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, one of whom survived and one who didn't.

An interesting twist on previously published books about the Salem Witch Trials.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Have your cake - and eat it too.

First Book proudly unveils Books for Kids, Books for Keeps for Birthdays, a new Web site offering something everyone wants: celebrations that give back.

Now you can tie charitable giving into your birthday celebrations. Just personalize a fundraising page and invite friends and family to donate to provide brand new books to the kids who need them most. Visit

Join us to celebrate the site's launch: tell us about the worst gift you've ever received. For each comment posted on Bookmark, the First Book blog, First Book will provide one new book to a child in need.

All participants will be entered in a random drawing on July 1 to win a prize - their choice of an autographed copy of one of the three following titles: Linda Sue Park's Keeping Score, James Patterson's The Final Warning or Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Thirteenth

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Her prose will wrap you in words and carry you into her world...

Libation: A Bitter Alchemy
by Deirdre Heekin

While this is the perfect addition to a Wine Conniseur's library it is so well written that you don't necessarily have to like wine at all. Deirdre Heekin's prose wraps you in words and draws you into her world. Her musings on grapes, wine, business and the Italian History and Culture are prosaic and amusing. Her writings will appeal to all who are interested in life... " While we would have been disappointed if our wine isn't drinkable this vintage, the lessons I've learned have already been great...We must fall before we can rise." This book is the perfect rainy day - curled up in front of a fire - feel good read!

Product Description from Amazon
For many years, Deirdre Heekin has been creating an unusual, revitalist wine archive of rare and traditional Italian varietals at Osteria Pane e Salute, the nationally celebrated restaurant and wine bar she shares with her chef husband, Caleb Barber. Self-taught in the world of Italian wines, she is known for her fine-tuned work with scent and taste and her ability to pair wines and food in unexpected yet terroir-driven ways.

In Libation, a Bitter Alchemy,, a series of linked personal essays, Heekin explores the curious development of her nose and palate, her intuitive education and relationship with wine and spirits, and her arduous attempts to make liqueurs and wine from the fruits of her own land in northern New England. The essays follow her as she unearths ruby-toned wines given up by the ghosts of long-gone wine makers from the red soil of Italy, her adoptive land; as she embarks on a complicated pilgrimage to the home of one of the world’s oldest cocktails, Sazerac, in Katrina-soaked New Orleans; as she attempts a midsummer crafting of a brandy made from inherited roses, the results of an old Sicilian recipe she found in a dusty bookstore in Naples.

Musing on spirits from Campari to alkermes, Heekin’s writing is as intoxicating, rich, and carefully crafted as the wines, liquors, and locales she loves.

Chasing the elusive Green Diamonds...

by John B. Robinson

We have all heard the term "Blood Diamonds" and many have seen the film, Robinson throws the grity reality of the diamond trade in the Congo in your face in this fast paced thriller!

Lonny, diamontaire from a family tradition of diamontaires is looking to cement his personal reputation in the better to do that than to capture the elusive suite of "green diamonds" that is the talk of the Industry. His adventures through the Congo are made more difficult due to his committment to help a beautiful Seminary Student locate her missing father.

Trouble abounds - and not just from the obvious "child soldiers" and unscrupulous miners - Africa is not a culture that believes that women should be in advisory (especially religious) positions over men!

This is a thrill a minute - I am going to go back and pick up Robinson's previous book The Sapphire Sea!

Product Description from Amazon
Fast-talking gem expert Lonny Cushman encounters the dangerous and malevolent world of the African gem industry as he accompanies a young female seminarian from New York to Rwanda in search of her missing father. Once they reach Africa, Lonny chases a collection of flawless green diamonds through the killing fields of the Congo. Their survival depends upon negotiating the bloody network of the conflict-ridden African diamond trade, including Islamic jihadists, corrupt military officers, Israeli agents, Ukrainian arms dealers, and a whole host of con men. Can Lonny save himself and the young seminarian from a tragic demise?

Meet Vish Puri - India's Most Private Investigator

The Case of the Missing Servant
By Tarquin Hall

There is no escaping the inevitable comparisons with Precious Ramotswe and her #1 Ladies Detective Agency...Hall gives you the provincal tradition and ways of the Indian culture in much the same way that McCall brings you African culture.

Vish Puri is the gentleman PI with his crew of undercover partners - FaceCream, TubeLight and Flush...and the interfering Mummy. Puri works within a changing Indian Culture  - the changing face of the caste system sets limits on the questions and avenues that can be persued.  

This India is a modern day country where girls are leaving the safety of their villages for the lure of the big city and prosperity - and many are in the words of Puri...

"...just one of the dozens of personages who go missing across India every year."

The Glossary of Indian terms at the end of the book is extremely helpful.  I really love the feel this book gave me for the Indian people and the respect for it's ancient culture.

Product Description from Amazon
Meet Vish Puri, India's most private investigator. Portly, persistent, and unmistakably Punjabi, he cuts a determined swath through modern India's swindlers, cheats, and murderers.

In hot and dusty Delhi, where call centers and malls are changing the ancient fabric of Indian life, Puri's main work comes from screening prospective marriage partners, a job once the preserve of aunties and family priests.

But when an honest public litigator is accused of murdering his maidservant, it takes all of Puri's resources to investigate. How will he trace the fate of the girl, known only as Mary, in a population of more than one billion? Who is taking potshots at him and his prize chili plants? And why is his widowed "Mummy-ji" attempting to play sleuth when everyone knows mummies are not detectives?

With his team of undercover operatives -- Tubelight, Flush, and Facecream -- Puri ingeniously combines modern techniques with principles of detection established in India more than two thousand years ago -- long before "that Johnny-come-lately" Sherlock Holmes donned his deerstalker.

The search for Mary takes him to the desert oasis of Jaipur and the remote mines of Jharkhand. From Puri's well-heeled Gymkhana Club to the slums where the servant classes live, his adventures reveal modern India in all its seething complexity. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Thirteenth Child

by Patricia C.

This is a great alternate history of the western expansion where witches and wizards are just as important as the founding fathers!

When Eff receives nothing but grief from neighbors and family alike for being the 13th child her parents decide to take a postion at a University on the edge of the magical divide. The kids are excited and afraid of what awaits in this new frontier...the boys can't wait to see the Wooly Mammoths but Eff can't wait to be in a place where no one knows she is the 13th child!

Wrede does a wonderful job of character development and I love the introduction of the Realists who believe that they can conquer the frontier without magic.

This book will keep you captivated from the first page - I loved it!

Product Description from Amazon:
Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he's supposed to possess amazing talent -- and she's supposed to bring only bad things to her family and her town. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that separates settlers from the beasts of the wild.

With wit and wonder, Patricia Wrede creates an alternate history of westward expansion that will delight fans of both J. K. Rowling and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The Time Thief - Book Two of The Gideon Trilogy

The Time Thief (The Gideon Trilogy)

By Linda Buckley-Archer

Whether you read it as "Gideon, the Cut-purse" or the "The Time Travelers" you may recall that book one in "The Gideon Trilogy" ends with a bang!!! Just as the Peter & Kate are about to return to their own time with Kate's father Dr. Dyer, Peter is thrown aside by the 18th century villain "The Tar Man".

This is where we pick up the story with the Tar Man learning to work with technology to further his evil goals and raise him to a position in society that he could never have attained in the 1700's.

Meanwhile, Kate takes matters into her own hands and goes back to rescue Peter and ends up taking his father back in time with her. But that rescue attempt goes arry when the coordinates are changed and they end up going back to an England where Peter has lived and grown to manhood.

The sequel was even better than the first book and if this ever hit the big screen it would give Harry Potter and Twilight a run for the money!!! I can't wait for part three!!!

Product Review from Amazon: An accident with an antigravity machine catapulted Peter Schock and Kate Dyer back to 1763. A bungled rescue attempt leaves Peter stranded in the eighteenth century while a terrifying villain, the Tar Man, takes his place and explodes onto twenty-first-century London. Concerned about the potentially catastrophic effects of time travel, the NASA scientists responsible for the situation question whether it is right to rescue Peter. Kate decides to take matters into her own hands, but things don't go as planned. Soon the physical effects of time travel begin to have a disturbing effect on her. Meanwhile, in our century, the Tar Man wreaks havoc in a city whose police force is powerless to stop him. Set against a backdrop of contemporary London and revolutionary France, The Time Thief is the sequel to the acclaimed The Time Travelers.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Book Got You Hooked?

We asked and you answered! After launching this year’s What Book Got You Hooked? campaign, we’ve already received great quotes, memories and books that hooked you, making you a reader for life. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, Ethel Glere Chamberlin’s Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax and Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who are just a few of the titles mentioned by you as you recalled the memorable books that got you hooked on reading.

But don’t stop there! We still have a few milestones to pass before meeting our goal of $100,000 by the end of August, and we need your help.


Your donation of just $20 will make 10 books available for the 50,000 book giveaway to be awarded to the winning state of the What Book Got You Hooked? voting contest that will take place later this summer.


So think back to the stories you read over and over again or the first book you just couldn’t put down. Remember the sense of accomplishment, the thrill, the feeling of pure bliss when the last page was turned.


Won’t you help make that feeling a reality for the millions of children waiting for their first book? Join the What Book Got You Hooked? movement today by making a donation…no matter how big or small.


All my best,


Tonya Shive

Director, Community Development


P.S. Father’s Day is just around the corner. Make bedtime stories possible for other Dads and their kids by making a donation in honor of your father 


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