Monday, October 7, 2013

The Returned by Jason Mott Review and GIVEWAY!

Harold and Lucille lived through the worse tragedy that a parent can face; their eight-year old son Jacob tragically drowned on his eighth birthday in 1966.  The years have passed by and they’ve grown old together without him.  Then one day, eight-year old Jacob shows up on their doorstep with Agent Bellamy of the Bureau of the Returned.  Jacob looks the same, acts the same, and has the correct memories.  He has no memory of what happened to him and is overjoyed to see his parents.

Harold and Lucille are not sure what to believe.  Why has Jacob returned?  Why are people that were previously dead returning all over the world? Is it a miracle?  A curse?  Lucille has nothing but love for Jacob, while Harold is mistrustful.  As more and more people are returned, the infrastructure is not able to care for so many more people.  Although some are overjoyed to see their loved ones again, many feel that the dead are taking over what should be for the living.  Tensions increase to a boiling point.  What will happen?  How will the world survive?

I loved the premise of this novel and had a hard time putting it down.  I really wanted to know how this novel would end.  I’m still pondering the end of the novel.  I enjoyed how the novel showed that what would seem like a miracle (a dead son alive again!) could be a curse if too many people came back alive and we didn’t have enough food, water, housing, sewer, etc.  Where would these people go?  I also enjoyed how the novel delved into humanity and ethics.  How would you treat these people?  They are as alive as you or me, but they were once dead.  Do they deserve the same respect and regard as those that have never died?

I also think it is interesting that this novel is already being made into a new TV series by Brad Pitt's Production Company - Plan B.  I will be watching!  This trailer brings tears to my eyes.

I reviewed this novel as part of the TLC Book Tour.  For more review and information, please click here.

Author Jason Mott and publisher Harlequin Mira has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of  The Returned.

If you would like to win this book please leave a comment about what most intrigues you about this book.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday October 18th, 2013.

Please make sure to check the fourth week of October to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


Title: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Author: Roald Dahl
Read by: Douglas Hodge
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Length: Approximately 3.5 hours (3 CDs)
Source: Penguin Audio Review Copy – Thank-you!

Somehow in my youth, I missed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I’ve never read the book nor have I seen either version of the movie.  My husband LOVED Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when he was a youth.  When these new audiobook versions of Roald Dahl showed up in the mail from Penguin for me to review, he was VERY excited.  The kids had also not been exposed to Charlie yet, so we got out the CD to listen to on our trip to Michigan in August to visit my family.

My seven year old and five year old sons LOVED this audiobook.  Douglas Hodge as the narrator was enthusiastic and had a fantastic English accent.  The audiobook also featured numerous sound effects and great music that definitely added to the entire audiobook experience.  My two-year old daughter just wanted to listen to the music at the start of the story over and over again. The story itself was fantastic and really engaged the boys.  They didn’t want to stop the car as they wanted to find out what had happened to Charlie, especially whether he had won the golden ticket.

For those of you like me that have somehow not been exposed to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this story is about a nice, honest boy named Charlie Bucket.  He lives with his parents and both sets of grandparents.  They are facing tough times with not enough food to eat, but the one thing that engages the entire family’s imagination is a contest to win a “golden” ticket to visit Willa Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  Only five lucky children will be lucky enough to win a ticket to see the wonders of the factory itself.

The kids were fully engaged with the story and loved the vivid imagery.  It was quite the story and so very unique.  I enjoyed it as well.  The boys started listening to the next novel, Charlie and the Glass Elevator and they are having a harder time listening to it,  although they have recently been listening to it again on trips to Green Bay and are enjoying it.

I typically donate audiobooks to the library after I review them, but the kids have begged me to keep this one.  They definitely want to listen to it again!

Kids’ Summer Reads

 I know its October, but I’m finally posting about our favorite kid reads from the summer. We read a lot in my family.  Each kid gets at least one book a night (one or two depending on how the night is going, sometimes more if you are Penelope and look cute).  We read to my five-year old son and two-year old daughter, but we “flip-flop” with my seven-year old son.  He reads two pages and then we read the next two pages and so forth.  These favorite books are actually favorites for the boys, particularly Kile (my seven year old) from the summer.  I need to make a post soon with Penelope’s favorite reads!

Who Cloned the President?  By Ron Roy
Kile and I flip-flopped read this book together, but both boys enjoyed it.  I learned of this series from one of my friends on Facebook when I asked for everyone’s favorite kid series.  It sounded like something my boys would like so we checked it out.

KC Corcoran notices something is odd with the President on TV.  He uses the wrong hand to sign papers and is not acting right.  She realizes he must have been replaced by a clone.  She ropes her friend Marshall into sneaking into the White House to solve the mystery.

The boys loved the inventive use of spiders and how the kids saved the day.  They also enjoyed how the kids were rewarded at the end.  I think they would definitely enjoy reading more of this series.

Michigan Chillers #1:  Mayhem on Mackinac Island by Jonathan Rand

Mayhem on Mackinac Island was a bit above Kile’s reading level (he just started second grade), but he will probably be reading these books soon.  I have never seen a book capture both Kile and my five year old son Daniel’s imagination so completely.  What was even more amazing was that this book had no pictures but it was so enthralling that at the end of each capture the kids would say, “Mommy keep reading.”  They loved it.

The book is told through the point of view of a young girl named Sandy.  Every year she vacations on Mackinac Island with her family including her brother Tim. They are riding their bikes around the island when they follow a mysterious stranger into a tree.  The tree swallows them and they find themselves on the Isle of Mayhem. They have to find the mysterious stone key in order to return back home.  They meet various amazing creatures along the way and also are each given a stone that gives them a secret power.  They work together with their new friends and against their enemies (Wartwings) to solve the mystery.

We’ve started reading book two in this series and it is just as engaging to my boys. Thanks to my college friend Liz for recommending this series!

Scooby-Doo!  Mystery #32:  The Haunting of Pirate Cove by Kate Howard

My eldest son Kile LOVES Scooby Doo.  His siblings enjoy Scooby as well, but not to the level that Kile does. He loves to read the Scooby Doo Readers and watch the cartoons, old and new.  He picked this book out from the Scholastic Book order before school ended and we read it over the summer.  It doesn’t have many pictures, and appeared to be above Kile’s reading level.  He was so enthused about the subject matter though that he dove in and read the book with me over the summer.  Pirates are another favorite of Kile’s so combining Scooby Doo and pirates was a winner in his eyes.  

In the Haunting of Pirate Cove, the Mystery Inc. gang are on a pirate cruse.  When Daphne is kidnapped, the rest of the gang has to figure out to crack the mystery of an evil ghost pirate.  Kile enjoyed this book and I think he’s ready to read some more Scooby Doo Mysteries.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Why Do Books have Name Changes? by Elizabeth Chadwick (and GIVEAWAY)

I am excited and honored to have one of my all time favorite authors Elizabeth Chadwick here today as a guest blogger on Laura's Reviews.  I am also embarrassed to admit that this blog should have been posted a few weeks ago.  The new semester with me teaching several new classes with a new lab is taking more time than I even imagined!  One thing that is keeping me going is reading Chadwick's latest novel, The Outlaw Knight.  Or is it her latest novel?  More on that from Ms. Chadwick herself . . . 

THE OUTLAW KNIGHT has just been published in the USA.  It’s the story of medieval knight Fulke FitzWarin who turns outlaw when his lands are taken away from him by King John in order to spite him over a long-running quarrel.  It’s also about the fiery, lifelong  passion between  Fulke and heiress Maud le Vavasour, on whom King John has his own designs.

This isn’t the novel’s first outing. Readers will find it in the UK under the title LORDS OF THE WHITE CASTLE, and several years ago it came out in hardcover in the USA with that same name.  In Spanish it is ‘EL PROSCRITO’ or THE OUTLAW.  In German it’s DIE BRAUT DES RITTERS -    THE  BRIDE OF THE KNIGHTS.

So, the burning question for reader is why on earth publishers have to go around changing names. It’s confusing  isn’t it?   It means that sometimes a keen reader who follows the author and buys their books as soon as they can, will end up with one they have already read because of that name change.
Generally it’s not some fiendish plot aimed at getting the readers to part with their cash second time round for books they already have, but it is born of marketing strategies.  In the case of the change from the LittleBrown UK title to THE OUTLAW KNIGHT for Sourcebooks,  you can blame the White Castle hamburger chain.   We may have imported Macdonald’s to Britian, but we don’t have the White Castle outlets.  So the main reason for the change is to avoid association.  Actually I do really like the new title and if I’d thought of it originally, I might well have used it instead of the longer one.

A couple of other novels of mine have undergone title changes in the transatlantic crossing.  In fact most  of my titles are changed for other overseas editions too, but it doesn’t cause so much of a problem when  they’re not in English, whereas the UK and the USA are countries separated by a common language.   DAUGHTERS OF THE GRAIL          was original titled CHILDREN OF DESTINY in the UK, but this was  because my British Editor and my American editor had different personal preferences.  When the novel was reissued in the UK a few years later, I had a different editor who preferred the American title.  So it changed in the UK for the re-issue.  

Another title that has changed in transit is THE TIME OF SINGING. In the USA it has become FOR THE KING’S FAVOR.  Some people prefer the UK version which is based on a quote from the Song of Solomon in the bible.  Its relationship to the content of the novel isn’t immediately obvious, and hints at the story rather than being to the point.  It was changed for the States because we felt it was slightly obscure and  might benefit from being more direct. FOR THE KING’S FAVOR more or less explains the dilemmas of the hero and heroine and what they have to work through in the course of the novel and why.   In German it’s  DIE ROSE VON WINDSOR – THE ROSE OF WINDSOR. 

Hand in glove with the title changes go the cover changes, which also serve to mask the fact that the reader might have read the book before, but again it boils down to decisions of culture and personal taste and marketing strategies aimed at a wider audience.  The UK cover for LORDS OF THE WHITE CASTLE prefers to show the woman of the piece Maud le Vavasour.  The Spanish one depicts a man with a moustache whom I don’t personally see as Fulke FitzWarin myself, but that’s the way it goes.  Sourcebooks has gone for the male knightly pose with Whittington Castle itself in the background.

Sometimes, although not in my case, you will find titles are changed to reflect a current trend.  The word ‘Tudor’ or ‘Boleyn’ or ‘Darcy’ might be involved in this, and yes, it’s an attempt to garner more revenue, which is understandable, although perhaps questionable if the book is republished in its country of origin.  

It’s an interesting and thought provoking conundrum which has increased since the book market has become more global.  As far as I know I don’t have any more name changes in the offing for the next three novels in the English language, but if I do, I’ll let you know!

 Thank-you for your excellent post!  I especially loved learning about the different covers as well.  If you would like to read The Outlaw Knight yourself, see below for giveaway information.

 Description for The Outlaw Knight from Goodreads

Westminster, 1184-- in the court of King Henry, playful competition is about to turn into something far more serious. Young courtier Fulke FitzWarin would not be an obvious companion for Prince John, but the boy from the Welsh Marches is there as a reward for his family's loyalty to the crown. The FitzWarins are as proud as they are true, and when Fulke is accused by John of cheating during a game of chess, he cannot help but respond. Thus begins a bitter rivalry that will resonate throughout their lives.

The FitzWarins dream of reclaiming their family estate and title, Lords of the White Castle. After this quarrel with Fulke, however, John's vindictiveness leads to Fulke renouncing his allegiance and becoming a rebel outlaw.

In romance, too, Fulke is no closer to fulfilling his heart's desire. A youthful dalliance means nothing compared to his love for the spirited Maude le Vavasour, but marriage in medieval England is more about alliance than about love, and Fulke can only watch helplessly as Maude's father arranges a more suitable match. After all, what can Fulke offer Maude apart from a lifetime on the run....

With all the intrigue and pageantry that bring the twelfth century vividly to life, this award-winning novelist spins us an irresistible tale of a deadly rivalry and an impossible love.

Sourcebooks has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of  The Outlaw Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick.

If you would like to win this book please leave a comment about what most intrigues you about this book or this guestblog.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday October 11th, 2013.

Please make sure to check the third week of October to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!