Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sky Below by Stacey E'Rasmo

Sky Below by Stacey E'Rasmo
Book Description:  At thirty-seven, Gabriel Collins works halfheartedly as an obituary writer at a fading newspaper in lower Manhattan, which, since 9/11, feels like a city of the dead. This once dreamy and appealing boy has turned from a rebellious adolescent to an adult who trades in petty crimes.His wealthy, older boyfriend is indulgent of him to a point. But after a brush with his own mortality, Gabriel must flee to Mexico in order to put himself back together. By novel's end, we know all of Gabriel's ratty little secrets, but by dint of D'Erasmo's spectacular writing, we exult in the story of an imperfect man who was tested by a world that is often too much for him and rises to meet the challenge.

Lily's Thoughts- (As published in Elle Magazine, January 2009)
Rich in details, sentences spun as expertly as an artist's brush renders a masterpiece, this novel is a tale for the connoisseur of words. We live Gabriel life along side him; the painful departure of his father and subsequent loss of the mother he remembers as being so creative and attendant, who now must fend for him and his older sister. We endure his long wait for life to begin, for his coming of age that never materializes the way he expects it will. We hold witness to the thin line between reality and fantasy, sometimes unable to distinguish the differences. Gabriel, long into adulthood, holds onto an idea of the past, a world he's created in his mind, a world he can never seem to grasp, even as his moves mindless through real life situations and relationships. To me, more than anything, this novel explores the question "If you think something is true, does that make it real?"  I give this one 4 blooms.

Disclosure:  This book was given to me by Elle Magazine in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Petal Pusher: A Rock and Roll Cinderella Story by Laurie Lindeen

Book description-

In the years between the meteoric launch of Madonna and Courtney Love, Petal Pusher takes readers on a thrilling journey across rock-and-roll—from the big haired 1980s to the grunge-filled 1990s—when Laurie Lindeen brought her all-girl band Zuzu’s Petals to compete in the indie rock arena.
Minneapolis in the eighties was a musical hotbed, the land of 10,000 lakes and 10,000 bands that gave birth to Prince, the Replacements, and Soul Asylum. For Laurie Lindeen it was the perfect place to launch her rock-and-roll dream. She moved to the city with best friends Phyll (“Annie Oakley meets Patsy Cline”) and Coleen (“former cheerleader gone off the arty deep end”) to crash in decrepit apartments and coax punk rock from crappy used guitars.

Lily's Thoughts- (as posted in Elle Magazine, August 2007)

Choppy and sometimes incoherent, Laurie Lindeen recounts her story of the turbulent beginnings of her Minneapolis all girl rock and roll band, Zuzu's Petals. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll is the anthem screamed by Lindeen's book, regardless of Lindeen's own lack of confidence and obligatory 1980's angst.. There is no doubt, You, the reader, are along on this journey--the good, the bad, the frequently ugly and incomprehensible. Sometimes juvenile, always brutally honest, the story evolves and grows up, finally, leaving the reader with a sense of relief that Lindeen, finally, is at peace with her past and ready to face the future with her head held up high.  3 blooms for this one.

Disclosure:  This book was given to me by Elle Magazine in return for a review.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Biplar Road Trip in 4-D by Lizzie Simon

Book Description-

Detour is the extraordinary first book by Lizzie Simon, a twenty-three-year-old woman with bipolar disorder. We meet her as she is set to abandon her successful career as a theatrical producer in New York City, with plans to hit the road and find other bipolars like herself -- young, ambitious, opinionated, and truth-seeking. Her goal: to speak with them candidly without judgment, fear, or the slightest trace of anything clinical or jargon-laden. She wants their stories in their words. Detour : My Bipolar Road Trip in 4-D

Lily's Thoughts--

Lizzie Simon, a diagnosed bipolar, decides to take leave from her job and drive around the country looking for her "herd," people like her, who, because of a defining moment, were diagnosed manic depressive, but, despite the difficulties, were successful and living life to the fullest. What she discovered was that people with bipolar are complex and at times, very hard to define and that success sometimes is just being able to wake up and say "Hey, I'm alive." A quick, powerful read. Highly recommended 4 blooms.

Disclosure:  No compensation was provided for this post.  I bought the book.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Any Given Doomsday (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 1) by Lori Handeland

Any Given Doomsday (The Phoenix Chronicles, Book 1)

Any Given Doomsday (Phoenix Chronices, Bk 1)
by Lori Handeland.

Book Description-
Elizabeth Phoenix once used her unique skills as a psychic to help in the Milwaukee Police Department's fight against injustice. But when Liz's foster mother is found viciously murdered—and Liz is discovered unconscious at the scene—her only memory of the crime comes in the form of terrifying dreams...of creatures more horrific than anything Liz has seen in real life. What do these visions mean? And what in the world do they have to do with her former lover, Jimmy Sanducci?

Lily's Thoughts-

Almost condemning Any Given Doomsday from the beginning, I decided to plod on through and eventually found myself enjoying this somewhat of a paranormal romance meets Buffy the Vampire Killer story. Liz Phoenix, a feisty psychic orphan, is destined to be the savior of the earth. With the help of DKs, or Demon Killers, she must lead the battle between good vs. evil. I found this a rather ambitious goal of the author and, although there are entertaining aspects of the novel, I feel that, for the first book of this series, Handeland falls short. The first 1/3 of the novel was choppy, almost incoherent. The second third was better, but was riddled with flat circular dialogue that seems to just be a filler. The last third was where the meat of the story lay. Handeland has the bare bones started for a great series. Let's hope the next book does a better job at entertaining.
3 Blooms

Disclosure:  This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Guest Review: Black Baby, White Hands: A View From the Crib

Black Baby White Hands: A View from the CribHello everyone! We have a special guest reviewer today, Sherrie, a good friend that I met through a group we both love! She lives in Texas and is a foster and adopted mother. I'm very proud to call her my friend and happy that she has decided to share a bit of her life with us in this review.

Black Baby, White Hands: A View From the Crib by Dr. Jaiya John, Soul Water Rising, publisher

Sherrie's Thoughts:

I don't know if it was necessarily my favorite book I've read in the last year, but is sure has stayed with me the longest. It's called Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib by Dr. Jaiya John

Admittedly, it was a very difficult read for me. When I decided to adopt transracially and as a single parent, I didn't do so lightly. I wanted to read everything written, look at the subject from all sides and go into it with my eyes wide open. I didn't get this particular book until last year as it was on my wish list for a while and honestly, wasn't one that I thought to go out and buy. Boy, I sure wish I would have.

I read TONS of books by adoption professionals, therapists, social workers , adoptive parents, children's books regarding adoption and "non-traditional" families, but truthfully there aren't very many written by adult adoptees especially those adopted transracially or by single parents from from foster care (maybe I should write one heh?? LOL)

Anyway, Dr. John is obviously very well spoken and possesses a gift of the English language - beautiful prose throughout the book. Initially, it was very hard for me to get through the book as Dr John kept pointing out all of the things he had wished his parents had done or not done or did differently, etc, etc. I kept identifying with the adoptive parent (s) and quite frankly vacillated between finding myself lacking as a parent or Dr. John unappreciative and unsympathetic to his parent's journey into transracial parenting with absolutely no map.

However, toward the end of the book, it was obvious that he greatly loved his parents and that things were okay.

It was only after I had read the entire book, and was able to reflect that I was able to take from the book that it was HIS story, not the story of his parent's journey as transracial parents, but a story of a black boy raised in a white home, with white parents living in a (mostly) white community - his feelings of isolation, lack of identity and struggle to find himself. I guess what this book has helped me realize is - until the world is truly color blind, I won't raise my son to be.

I'm not going to raise him wearing rose-colored glasses about the world and the people around him. I'd be doing him a disservice if I did. My son is black and I want him to know that and be proud of it. That's part of who he is.

One of my biggest peeves, is when people tell me that oh, I bet you don't even notice that he's black, he's just your son. That is absolutely not true. Being black is part of who is he, I don't love him regardless of whether or not he is black, one of the many reasons that I love him because he is black.

Speaking of adoption and foster care , of the 19 children that I've fostered, 18 have been children of color. Of those 18 , 9 have been African American. I feel it truly is my calling to foster and adopt African American Children most especially males. They are the hardest to place and to get adopted. For me this is an intently personal issue - and I hope one that resonates for all of those fortunate enough to read this book.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Freebie Friday Book Giveaway: Frenzy: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex

Frenzy: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex

This weeks Freebie Friday Book Giveaway title is Frenzy: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex, an anthology edited by Alison Tyler and published by Cleis Press, 215 pages trade paperback. The book has a story each by two of my favorite authors--Jayne Pupek, author of the most awesome Tomato Girl, and Gwen Masters, author of numerous hot and sexy short stories and publications. Gwen Masters has generously signed this copy on her short story page. This collection of quickies is HOT!

Since this book is most definitely of an adult nature, please only those who are 18+ are eligible to win.

Here's how to enter to win-

Post a comment (be sure I can contact you to let you know you won), comment on my Twitter, or link to my blog on your blog, Facebook, or message board. You'll have to send me an email to let me know that you've linked to the blog. Each link and comment will count as one entry. Next Friday I will enter each entry in a random generator app and the winner will be chosen. Results will be posted on here and on Twitter on Saturday.

Good Luck!

DVD: The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees was one of the best movies I've ever seen. Often, when a movie is an adaptation of a novel, as this one was, the movie version is often lacking. This is so not true of this movie. It captures the essence of Sue Monk Kidd's beautiful book.

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning), whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson), insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina -- a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, August Boatwright (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys) and May (Sofie Okonedo), Lily is introduced to their mesmerizng world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

Lily's Thoughts-
Queen Latifah (Dana Owens) is impressive as August Boatwright, the matriarch of the three beekeeping sisters, but all of the women stand out as strong, self-confident, independent women. This movie will touch you, it will connect you with the feminine divine, you'll be weeping one second and laughing out loud the next. Issues touched upon include racism, sexism, mental illness, abuse, and civil rights. If you want to see a movie with a great plot and terrific acting, you don't want to miss this one.

5 Blooms

Disclaimer:  No compensation was given for this post.  The book and DVD were purchased by the reviewer.

Heart in the Right Place: A Memoir by Carolyn Jourdan

Heart in the Right Place

Heart in the Right Place: A Memoir
By Carolyn Jourdan

Carolyn Jourdan, an attorney on Capitol Hill, thought she had it made. But when her mother has a heart attack, she returns home-to the Tennessee mountains, where her father is a country doctor and her mother works as his receptionist. Jourdan offers to fill in for her mother until she gets better. But days turn into weeks as she trades her suits for scrubs and finds herself following hazmat regulations for cleaning up bodily fluids; maintaining composure when confronted with a splinter the size of a steak knife; and tending to the loquacious Miss Hiawatha, whose daily doctor visits are never billed. Most important, though, she comes to understand what her caring and patient father means to her close-knit community. With great humor and great tenderness, Heart in the Right Place shows that some of our biggest heroes are the ones living right beside us.

Lily's Thoughts-
Carolyn Jourdan's amusing but poignant spiritual journey into what is really most important in life does not disappoint. Jourdan comes back home to rural Tennessee from her prestigious job in Washington, DC to help her father, a doctor, while her mother, his receptionist, recuperates from an illness. Her descriptions of the parade of eccentric but lovable characters through her father's small country medical practice leave the reader completely absorbed into the story and wanting more. By the end of the story a realization sets in--success is not measured by fame, money, or location of residence--but by the small, although significant, differences for the better we make in others lives.

5 Blooms

Disclosure:  This book was given by Elle Magazine in exchange for a review.

Author Spotlight: Carolyn Jourdan

I'm proud to announce that Carolyn Jourdan is the first author to be spotlighted on this blog. Those of us who have read Carolyn's beloved Heart in the Right Place can't wait to see what she brings us next.

For those who haven't had the pleasure, Heart in the Right Place is "the true story of a spoiled, high-powered Washington lawyer forced to give up a glamorous job at the Senate, come back home to the Smoky Mountains, and work as an unpaid and inept receptionist in her father's tiny medical office. Comedy, pathos, and bad reception follow." The book is the winner of numerous awards and critical acclaim.

Carolyn's website,, is chocked full of fun. You'll find everything from podcasts to her comedy blog. You'll also see the many, many accolades that her book has received. You can even click a link to hear her self-proclaimed hillbilly accent!

Each author spotlight will ask the featured author the same three questions. Here's what Carolyn has to say-

What was your inspiration?
James Herriot’s "All Creatures Great and Small", my wacky family, and our amazing Smoky Mountain community.

How has completing this project changed you?
Getting an objective look at yourself is agonizing, but useful. Working on a memoir and then going through the editorial process is a really valuable chance to get insight into how you go about in the world. Once you recover from the shock, you have the chance to tweak any aspects of yourself you’re not particularly proud of. In my case, the follow-up “tweaking” was a mammoth undertaking.

What are you working on now/next?
I’m finishing up "The Laying on of Hands", a collection of true stories from country doctors, each of whom at the time of telling had been in practice for 40-60 years. The stories concern absurd or terrifying real life peak moments from the careers of dozens of men who worked alone in some of the most isolated and poverty-stricken areas of the country.

Great answers! Thank you, Carolyn, and thank you to our readers!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Week 1 Giveaway Winner!

We have a winner for week 1 book giveaway! Congratulations "kat lw." Week 2's book will be up on Satuday, April 17. Enjoy The Red Book!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Book Giveaway #1- Signed 1st Ed. Trade Paperback of Aaron Rogier's The Red Book

The Red BookThe Red BookThe Red BookWelcome to Lily's first book giveaway! What I have for you today is a signed, First edition, trade paperback copy of The Red Book-Musings of a Manic Depressive.

The author's website is

Here's how to enter the contest-You can do 1 or all 3, and if you do all 3, that's 3 chances to win!
1. Become a follower of this blog.
2. Leave a comment on any of the posts. If you leave the comment anonymously, please note I will have no way to contact you to let you know if you've won.
3. Become a Follower on Twitter.

That's it! This one is an easy one! Enter today! A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, April 17.

Disclaimer: I will never give away or sell your email address or identifying information.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lima Nights by Marie Arana


If you are looking for a novel that grabs you and doesn't let go until the final paragraph, you've found it in Lima Nights. The book is more than a tantalizing, erotic love story between generations, but a statement that exposes the desperation of indigenous people who live in filth and extreme poverty in contrast to the wealthy German immigrants, who dine on delicacies and live in extravagantly furnished homes, complete with armed guards. Desire and desperation combine into a combustible need; Bluhm, looking for respite from his stifling, unfulfilled marriage, is drawn to Maria's youth and fierceness, while Maria, physically starving, needs to escape the slum she was born into, knowing that if she doesn't, she will be resigned to live the same fate as her mother, sees Bluhm as her saviour. Both Bluhm and Maria are hungry, ravenous, and Arana does very well bringing out the passion between them, and then letting the story evolve naturally, with an ending reminiscent of the masters of classical literature.

4 Blooms

Disclosure:  This book was given in exchange for a review.

The Gilda Stories: A Novel by Jewelle Gomez

The Gilda Stories, a novel about vampires, but much is a story about longing, living in the past, trying to define oneself by criteria that is inconsistent with the reality of one's existence. Gilda moves though her life, extended through vampirism, searching for a place to call home and wanting a lover who will never leave. Her conflict is her inability to leave her life as a human behind and take on the characteristics of a vampire's life. Gomez's writing is concise and gripping. I enjoyed this novel immensely. This novel has lesbian themes, although I wouldn't necessarily label it as a lesbian novel. It also delicately deals with race and class issues over a generations, from the brutality of slavery to the generalizations of theater and urban life.

4 Blooms

Disclosure:  No compensation was given for this review.

Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice by Maureen McCormick

Let's see---
Snorting coke in the 70's-----$250,000
Two abortions-----------------$ 1,000
Kissing rear to every well known studio producer in Hollywood---Priceless. But this memoir wasn't priceless.

  Here's the Story was downright boring--until you get to the end, then it is just bizarre. McCormick tried as hard as she could to make it read as if she has a hard, tough, rough life---but I don't buy it. This was a way to get some media attention and make a few dollars. The publisher could have at least proofread the manuscript--for example, chapter 10, second page--what exactly is "essentically?"
Read it if you have to, but don't think you are missing out if you skip this one.

2 Blooms

Disclosure:  No compensation was given for this review.

The Red Book: Musings of a Manic Depressive Phase: Manic A Collection of Poetry by Aaron Rogier

From the author- "I publish this work in defiance of the stigma that is thrust upon so many persons.

Lily's Thoughts-

As a person who lives with being labeled manic-depressive, more recently called bipolar, I was excited to read poetry written by a fellow manic-depressive. The complete title of the book, The Red Book: Musings of a Manic Depressive Phase, claims that what is contain within is from the Manic cycle of bipolar, but many of the poems seemed to have a tinge of depression, or maybe of a hopelessness. Rogier must be commended for standing up and saying that we will be stigmatized no more--but I don't see much in this collection that would give outsiders any indication of what it is like to be bipolar, much less manic. The author does make good use of metaphor, mania is fire, the sluggishness and disconnect feelings of the drugs are mud, and depression is water. The poems do convey a sense of fear of not being able to maintain a mood homeostasis.
As poetry is always subjective to one's tastes, I won't say that people will not enjoy Rogier's collection. Many will, but for me, the endless rhyming couplets were distracting. I could not determine any discernible meter within the poems. Having said that, I think the author has the talent to write prose, and hope to see that in the future. I believe that poetry might be too limiting for the ideas he is so vehemently trying to convey.

3 Blooms

Disclaimer:  This book was given by the author in exchange for a review.