Posted by: chartroose | July 10, 2009

I’m Baaack! Did You Miss Me?

Well, fellow bloggers, I took a much longer break than was originally intended.  It just felt so GOOD to be a non-blogger for awhile.  I don’t think I could ever be a journalist working to deadlines — ugh!

Now I’m ready to rock-n-roll again, and because I’m feeling a little guilty about abandoning my online friends for so long, I’ve decided to host one of the biggest giveaways in the history of chartroose giveaways.  This time, I’ll be giving away five new books (which I will buy after the winners are chosen).  These are novels I have purchased on Kindle but haven’t read yet.  I will pick FIVE WINNERS on Wednesday, July 15 at around noon, and then I will buy the books from Amazon and have them sent directly to the winner’s homes.  The choice of book for each person will be random (if you’ve already read one of them, let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to give the novel away to another winner).  This giveaway is open to all comers, including expatriates and strange old British people.

When you leave a comment, please do me a favor and let me know whether you love or hate my new Rupert Grint banner.  Do you want me to go back to Monty Python?

Here are the novels I’ll be giving away:

Publisher’s Weekly Review:
Pat Peoples, the endearing narrator of this touching and funny debut, is down on his luck. The former high school history teacher has just been released from a mental institution and placed in the care of his mother. Not one to be discouraged, Pat believes he has only been on the inside for a few months–rather than four years–and plans on reconciling with his estranged wife. Refusing to accept that their “apart time” is actually a permanent separation, Pat spends his days and nights feverishly trying to become the man she had always desired. Our hapless hero makes a “friend” in Tiffany, the mentally unstable, widowed sister-in-law of his best friend, Ronnie. Each day as Pat heads out for his 10-mile run, Tiffany silently trails him, refusing to be shaken off by the object of her affection. The odd pair try to navigate a timid friendship, but as Pat is unable to discern friend from foe and reality from deranged optimism, every day proves to be a cringe-worthy adventure. Pat is as sweet as a puppy, and his offbeat story has all the markings of a crowd-pleaser.

Publisher’s Weekly Review:
In this remarkable debut, Bauermeister creates a captivating world where the pleasures and particulars of sophisticated food come to mean much more than simple epicurean indulgence. Respected chef and restaurateur Lillian has spent much of her 30-something years in the kitchen, looking for meaning and satisfaction in evocative, delicious combinations of ingredients. Endeavoring to instill that love and know-how in others, Lillian holds a season of Monday evening cooking classes in her restaurant. The novel takes up the story of each of her students, navigating readers through the personal dramas, memories and musings stirred up as the characters handle, slice, chop, blend, smell and taste. Each student’s affecting story — painful transitions, difficult choices — is rendered in vivid prose and woven together with confidence. Delivering memorable story lines and characters while seducing the senses, Bauermeister’s tale of food and hope is certain to satisfy.

Publishers Weekly Review:
Jordan’s beautiful debut (winner of the 2006 Bellwether Prize for literature of social responsibility) carries echoes of As I Lay Dying, complete with shifts in narrative voice, a body needing burial, flood and more. In 1946, Laura McAllan, a college-educated Memphis schoolteacher, becomes a reluctant farmer’s wife when her husband, Henry, buys a farm on the Mississippi Delta, a farm she aptly nicknames Mudbound. Laura has difficulty adjusting to life without electricity, indoor plumbing, readily accessible medical care for her two children and, worst of all, life with her live-in misogynous, racist, father-in-law. Her days become easier after Florence, the wife of Hap Jackson, one of their black tenants, becomes more important to Laura as companion than as hired help. Catastrophe is inevitable when two young WWII veterans, Henry’s brother, Jamie, and the Jacksons’ son, Ronsel, arrive, both battling nightmares from horrors they’ve seen, and both unable to bow to Mississippi rules after eye-opening years in Europe. Jordan convincingly inhabits each of her narrators, though some descriptive passages can be overly florid, and the denouement is a bit maudlin. But these are minor blemishes on a superbly rendered depiction of the fury and terror wrought by racism.

Publishers Weekly Review
This entertaining first novel by an English television writer tells the story of Brian Jackson, an unworldly but affable college freshman whose main ambition in life is to compete on the BBC quiz show University Challenge (a Jeopardy-like game show in which schools compete against each other; in the U.K., the show is a national institution). Between securing one of the four coveted spots on his school’s team for the show, Brian chases after two girls: Alice, a beautiful but aloof actress who is also on the squad, and Rebecca, an artsy intellectual who thinks Brian’s ambition to be on the show is silly and bourgeois. A visit from Brian’s hometown pal Spencer brings the class tensions roiling beneath the novel’s surface to the fore, but Nicholls is more interested in comedy than pathos. Some of the humor is very British (“I’m sharing my house with a right pair of bloody Ruperts”), and Nicholls waxes overly nostalgic for his 1980s setting, but the writing is often sharp and funny (number four on Brian’s list of New Year’s resolutions: “Become lightly muscled”). Unexpected developments at the final University Challenge match bring the novel to a rather unlikely conclusion, but readers will root for hapless, engaging Brian as he struggles his way out of adolescence.

Publishers Weekly Review:
Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn’s new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who’s raised 17 children, and Aibileen’s best friend Minny, who’s found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.

Later, Gators!



  1. I was just wondering the other day if all was well with you, I’m glad you were just enjoying your break!

    Personally, I like the banner. You can always go back to the Python one, but this one is “topical” as well as entertaining.

  2. Of course we missed you! I hope you were able to get in some reading while you were away and that your life is on an even keel now. I like your old banner because I thought it fit the title of your blog, but that’s just me. I’ve read The School of Essential Ingredients and own The Help.

  3. Of course I missed you but I hope you had fun while you were “away”! And I’m partial to Monty Python but then again, I’m old and set in my ways.

    Both The Silver Linings Playbook and The Help look like they’d be great albeit cringe inducing reads. Read about what disturbs you?

  4. Of course we missed you! How could we not? 🙂

    No need to enter me in your giveaway, but I did prefer the Monty Python header. I’m geeky like that. Harry Potter, even Rupert, isn’t quite as geeky.

  5. I missed you! I’m good with either header, although Monty Python will always be a first love. 😀

    I’ve red Mudbound, and was in the minority that didn’t like it. But I hope you do!

  6. And of course I meant read*

  7. Woot! You’re back 🙂 It’s so good to hear that you enjoyed your break, and to know you’re doing well.

    I like that particular pic of Rupert – he’s so adorably cute but then I feel like such an old coug for thinking so. But I gotta say I prefer the Monty, but I’m a die-hard fan so it’s a biased opinion.

  8. Welcome back! Finally!


  9. Hooray!! Welcome back! Cthulhu and I missed you.

    No need to enter me…I think I’ve won my fair share of your contests. 🙂

  10. Welcome back! I was thinking earlier this week that I hadn’t seen you for awhile.

    Since I’m seeing SPAMALOT! tomorrow night, I’ll admit that I’m a little bit partial to the Monty Python banner – since you asked and all :-).

    I haven’t read any of these yet, but I just bought THE HELP for my own Kindle.

  11. Yes, of course we missed you. I’m glad you had a good time not being a blogger, though. Sometimes a break is nice.

    I’ve got a copy of The Help, already. Two of those are on my never-ending wish brick, though. Welcome back!!!!

  12. Welcome back! You were missed in the blogging world. I like both banners, although like everyone else here I appreciate the geekiness factor of Monty Python the most given that I am a geek.

    I have already read and loved The Help, but two of those books are wishlist books so I can’t help myself here!

  13. Hey there – I was just about to send you a note saying something sweet and gushy (but not mushy) and then you post!
    I was going to tell you that I saw your boy (the one in the header) being interviewed on the telly and I thought of you! so, keep him – or don’t. whatever. He IS my favorite of the Harry Potter ‘kids’. oh, and I’m reading a book with a red-headed ‘stubborn cuz he’s red-headed’ character and again, I think of you?!
    I’ll put all five of these titles into the Chartroose challenge… 🙂

  14. Happy to see you back! I love the expression on Rupert’s face, but I have to see I’ve always liked the Monty Python header.

    I had (and love) The School of Essential Ingredients. The others sound great!

  15. Yay, I’m so glad you’re back! We’ve missed you around here. I quite enjoy the Rupert header. 🙂

    And I have actually read The School of Essential Ingredients, but I’d love to read any of the other four! Thanks so much.

  16. I have been wondering about you too! Glad to see you back.
    Oh, how I want to read The Help! And I haven’t read any of these (shame on me!).
    I also liked the Monty Python better. Rupert’s cute and all, but the other did seem to fit better.

  17. I missed you terribly Chartroose!!! I was just thinking about you the other day actually. So good to have you back 😀

  18. I think your header has the swine flu.

    No? Too soon? Ok, is it wrong that Ron Weasley makes me swoon? Even though I’m, like, a decade older than him? Have I reached that age.

    I like it, btw.

  19. Welcome back! [contemplates sending hugs and kisses but comes over all British at the last moment and instead offers hand to shake]

    Possibly my biggest quibble with the header is the ’tiled’ nature of it. I think it would look better if you could find one image that would fill the screen.

    I’m obviously a big python fan also – and one suggestion (although I don’t know if it’s doable on a blog) is to see if there’s a way of pulling out a random banner from a choice of three or four every time someone views the page. That way you could have Monty, Rupert, and a couple of others…

    [I’ve read ‘A Question of Attraction’ although I’m fairly certain it was titled ‘Starter for 10’ over here in the UK]

  20. So glad you are back. I’m a big HP fan so like your new header!

    I read The Help and really enjoyed it – probably the best book I’ve read this year, so enjoy!!

    Please add my name in the running for Mudbound – I would love to read this one!

  21. I missed you and what a great giveaway idea. I already have the School of essential ingredients, but I would love a chance at any of the others on the list.

    welcome back!

    savvyverseandwit AT gmail DOT com

  22. Glad to have you back! I’m enjoying the Grint banner but I do think Monty needs to come back at some point … after all, it was what I noticed right away on my first visit to your blog and it was one of the reasons I came back at the beginning (that and your great sense of humor!).

  23. Yes, I did miss you!!

    Banner is .. interesting.

    What a great giveaway. Heard good things about most of them!

  24. Whew, I found this just in time! I’m so behind in my Google Reader. I’m glad you’re back though, and glad you had a good blogging break.

    Enter me in the giveaway, please 🙂

  25. To all of you old Cougar types like me, Rupert is of age, you know.

    I’m just sayin’…

  26. This’ll help immensely on your journey Upstairs: Bob Darker’s-connoisseurs-of-crass!! Q: Why should you love our exploded plethora of produce which’ll plant the seeds for YOU to grow to great heights?? PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK:

    A: Greetings, earthling. Not sure if we’re on the same page if you saw what I saw. Because I was an actual NDE on the outskirts of the Great Beyond at 15 yet wasn’t allowed in, lemme share with you what I actually know Seventh-Heaven’s Big-Bang’s gonna be like for us if ya believe/accept: meet this ultra-bombastic, ex-mortal-Upstairs for the most blatantly deluxe, incredibly incomprehensible, catch-22-excitotoxins, myriads of cogently-ironic-metaphors, sheer guhroovaliciousnessly-delicious-endorphin-rush, pleasure-beyond-measure, Ultra-Firepower-Idyllic-Addiction in the Great Beyond for a BIG-ol, kick-ass, party-hardy, robust-N-risqué, eternal-real-McCoy-warp-drive you DO NOT wanna miss the sink-your-teeth-in-the-rrrock’nNsmmmokin’-hot-deal: PLEASE KEEP HANDS/FEET INSIDE THE RIDE UNTIL WE MADE A CIRCUMFERENCE OF the OUTSTANDING, NEVER-ENDING, THRILLIONTH-RED-MARKER-POSSIBILITIES …with eXtra eXciting eXtroverts doing the most vivid, brazen congrewnts: flawless as pearls from the hydraulic Toyster Upstairs!!! Gain altitude, not attitude, and take front-row-seats, miss gorgeous, as the inexhaustible, irresistible intimacy shall blow-your-fragile-mind to peaces. Meet me Upstairs. Do that for us. Cya soon, girl…

    PS “It is impossible that anyone should NOT receive all that they have believed and hoped to obtain; it gives Me great pleasure when they hope great things from Me and I will always give them more than they expect”
    -Our Lord to Saint Gertrude

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