Sunday, November 29, 2009

Review: Thanksgiving at the Inn

Book cover
Title: Thanksgiving at the Inn
Author: Tim Whitney
Genre: Young Adult, Holiday, Family, Fiction
Pub Date: October 2009, Bancroft Press
Hardcover, 223 pages
Book Source: Harrison at Bancroft Press

Synopsis (from the dust jacket)

Ever since his mother left, life hasn't been easy for Heath Wellington III. Between his father's (Junior's) bouts with alcoholism and literary rejection, and Heath's own wrongful suspension from school, there hasn't been all that much to be thankful for.

But following the tragic death of estranged grandfather Senior, father and son alike stand to inherit a life-changing fortune... with one catch.

Heath and Junior must spend the next three months managing Senior's bed and breakfast, located in the same Massachusetts home Junior has spent the last eight years trying to escape.

Upended from his everyday life and relocated to a town where everyone knew and loved the grandfather he can't even remember, Heath finds an inn full of some of the strangest people he's ever met, such as:

~ Winsted, the old, wise Jamaican man who used to lead the prayers in Senior's factory;
~ Mrs. Farrel, an elderly woman giving away her late husband's fortune letter by letter;
~ Mustang Sally, the muscle-bound, tattooed grease monkey who doubles as a children's author;
~ Carter, the silent TV news junkie and secret Harvard graduate.

And at a nearby school is Savannah, Junior's first love and her adorable, autistic daughter, Tory.

Bust most of all, there's Junior himself, vinegar to Heath's oil. As Heath adjusts to his new world, what he needs most is to start anew with his father, to understand that Junior, too, is dealing with loss, and to realize that even in the most tragic of times, there's a lot in life to be thankful for.

My Thoughts

First of all, I would like to thank Harrison of Bancroft Press for sending me a copy of this book!

Thanksgiving at the Inn is an easy, enjoyable read that is not only perfect for the holiday season, but any time of the year. While on some levels I felt that this story could pass for middle grade reading (except for some mild profanity), it is a story that really anyone of any age can appreciate. This story reminds us the importance of being thankful for what we have--and that it's important to remember that at all times, not simply when tragedy strikes.

In my opinion, the writing is generally solid, though the plot may be a tad predictable and some of the characters could stand to be fleshed out a little more--particularly Heath's father. What I did enjoy was the variety of characters we see--the synopsis sums them up nicely, and they make for an interesting premise. Some elements of the plot may not seem believable, such as Junior's transformation after his accident, but I think the real importance of this book is the message that Whitney is trying to send. While all of the serious issues are dealt with on a superficial level, that does help to keep the read a little easier for those young adults out there that Whitney is targeting.

If you are looking for a book that is a quick read with a message of gratitude, then you might considering giving Thanksgiving at the Inn a try.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Thanksgiving at the Inn:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review here, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giveaway: 16"x20" Rolled Canvas Print!

In preparation for the Holiday season Online Poster Printing is rolling out another giveaway – a 16x20 rolled Canvas! Rolled canvas prints are perfect for home decor, photo prints and signage. For more information on rolled canvas prints from Online Poster Printing, please click on the link provided or the image below.

This contest is open to US Residents only. One lucky winner will receive a 16x20 rolled canvas print plus free shipping, courtesy of Online Poster Printing!

Here's how to enter:

Leave a comment on this post telling me what photo gifts you'd like to have printed for your family and loved ones.

For additional entries, you may blog about this giveaway, tweet about it, become a follower on Google Friend connect, or become a follower on Twitter. Please leave me links/mentions in your comment, etc. for these additional entries.

This contest closes on Friday, December 4th, at 8PM and the winner will be chosen using and will be announced within the 24 hours following the closing of the contest! Good luck to everyone and thanks for participating!

Many thanks to Online Poster Printing for sponsoring this giveaway. For reviews on this company, please visit Yelp.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WINNER: Karma for Beginners

Sorry for the delay in posting this, I kind of forgot! Oops!

But chose the winner of Karma for Beginners today, drumroll please...

Congrats to.... Ms_Blingammm!!!

I've sent you an email, please email me your info within 48 hours or I will be choosing a new winner.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway... Keep your eyes open for another soon, perhaps a little Thanksgiving contest? :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review: Nibble & Kuhn

Nibble & Kuhn cover
Title: Nibble & Kuhn
Author: David Schmahmann
Genre: Fiction
Pub Date: November 2009, Academy Chicago Publishers
ARC, 279 pages
Book Source: Academy Chicago Publicity

Synopsis (from publisher)

An unraveling law firm. An unwinnable case. An unworkable love.

Derek Dover has it all.

Derek’s up for partner at Nibble & Kuhn just as that most proper of Boston law firms comically tries to ‘rebrand’ itself for the Google era. Pompous and arbitrary, the ruling junta of partners saddles him with a high visibility lawsuit just weeks before trial. The diligent young attorney arranges things so that Maria Parma, a new associate in the firm for whom he’s fallen hard, also gets named to the case. Maria, in turn, can’t keep her hands off Derek, but it’s complicated because she’s engaged to someone else.

As Derek prepares his case on behalf of seven young victims of an industrial polluter, his anxieties about his career and his torments over Maria’s mixed messages only increase. Have his eccentric WASP superiors handed him a ‘toxic’ case to ruin his chances of becoming a partner? How can he get his opponents to settle – an outcome the presiding judge all but demands – unless his unorthodox ‘expert witnesses’ perform with enough gravitas to match that of the other side with its Harvard Medical School scientist? Will Nibble & Kuhn survive the partners’ spectacularly bad business judgments? Does it even matter to Derek, given that his looming fiasco of a trial and his indiscretions with Maria seem set to sink any chance he ever had at partnership?

Ultimately, Derek sets into motion a line of inquiry that spins events entirely out of the control of the judge, jury, and any and all attorneys. 

My Thoughts

As I read this novel, I found myself wavering back and forth between feeling vaguely bored and detached, then intrigued and amused. Schmamann's writing is often dry, though ultimately that enhances the satirical nature of the story. Though I do not have a legal background, it was reasonably obvious when Schmamann was treating certain aspects of the legal profession with irony. With Nibble & Kuhn I also found myself reading another novel in the present tense, but this time it worked and rarely felt awkward.

Admittedly I was much more interested in the storyline involving the actual "unwinnable" case that Derek Dover was saddled with, rather than his workplace romance that was apparently going nowhere. Trudging through some of the drier parts of the book were ultimately worth it--the ending was priceless and one that I didn't see coming--a ridiculous conclusion that fit the rest of the story. It was truly a "laugh out loud moment." Overall, I thought Nibble & Kuhn was a good example of legal satire, and in the end I even enjoyed the outcome of Dover's relationship troubles.

My rating: 3 stars

Thank you to Jacob from Academy Chicago Publishers for the ARC. Readers, keep your eyes open for a giveaway in the near future! 

Other reviews of Nibble & Kuhn:

Drey's Library

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review listed here, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giveaway: Karma For Beginners

Book coverI thought I would offer up my copy of Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank to another reader out there who might enjoy it. You can check out my review in the post below... Just because it wasn't my cup of tea doesn't mean it won't be someone else's, right?!

So here's how to enter:

+1 entry ~ Leave a comment telling me why you want to win this book.

+2 entries ~ Become a follower on Google Friend Connect.

+2 entries ~ Become a follower of @Melsbookshelf on Twitter

+3 entries each ~ Tweet about this contest, blog about this contest, stumble this post, Digg it, and/or bookmark it on delicious. Leave the various links, etc., letting me know you've done whatever it is you decided to do :-)

Since we're in the season of giving, I'd like to open this contest internationally, yay! Please be sure to leave an email in your comment so I have a way of contacting you. One comment with all the entries is preferred but not mandatory. This contest is open until Friday, November 21st at 8PM. Good luck to everyone!!