15. March 2010 · Comments Off on The Country Where No One Ever Dies by Ornela Vorpsi – Book Review · Categories: Albanian Literature · Tags: , , ,

Albanian born Ornela Vorpsi’s first novel, The Country Where No One Ever Dies, is a work of heartbreaking honesty. Albania, formerly one of the Easter Bloc’s most closed countries, is the backdrop to this novel, gives the story of a young girl dealing with youth in a severely oppressed nation.  Her father is a political prisoner, her mother the emotionally distraught town beauty.  The young protagonist herself appears to be levelheaded and strong, despite the surrounding tumult.  Although her personality remains stable throughout the story, her name and age often change with the chapters, leaving one wondering if she views herself as solid or in constant flux.

The Country left me feeling as if I’d actually spent time in Albania, in a most difficult and painful era.  I am most certain I gained a good look at truth, whether Vorpsi based her novel heavily on personal experiences or not.  The truth lies in the spirit of the work no doubt, and no one can share such deep hearted feeling without having first tasted it for themselves.

For anyone wanting a book that sets you in a dark place, yet somehow edifies you for having been there, you’ll find The Country Where No One Ever Dies to be a worthwhile journey.

Ornela Vorpsi was born in Tirana, Albania and currently lives in Paris. The Country Where No One Ever Dies has won several prizes in Italy, including the Viareggio and Grinzane Cavour Prizes.  It’s been published in fourteen languages, and the English version is published by Dalkey Archive Press.

For most of us, the wilderness of Alaska is shrouded in a beautiful mystery. We picture pristine forests, clear rivers and all manner of wildlife.  Its culture is diverse and unique from much of the lower 48, and it is these two elements – the land and the culture – that give Garth Stein’s novel Raven Stole the Moon the perfect soil in which to plant a story.

Raven Stole the Moon begins in Seattle where a husband and wife struggle to survive the two-year anniversary of their son’s death.  In an effort to make sense fo it all, wife Jenna suddenly flees her life and finds herself in a remote town in Alaska, reconnecting with her heritage and trying to find closure by returning to the land of her son’s death.

But no sooner has she found herself in Alaska than strange and otherworldly things start to occur.  Her Tlingit ancestry resurfaces, bringing with it all the myths and legends she’d assumed were nothing more than fairy tales.  But it seems there may be more to the town’s stories of Tlingit folklore.  Jenna begins to question the events surrounding her son’s death.  What really happened?

Stein, author of bestselling work The Art of Racing in the Rain, has a writing style that is fully engaging, a mixing of mystery and suspense with a bit of romance, and he weaves a tale filled with the supernatural without losing the realism.  His voice is fresh and unique, and anyone searching for a book that holds them tight right to the end will find such an experience in Raven Stole the Moon.

Want to win your own copy of Raven Stole the Moon?  We’re giving one away!

Multiple Options for Multiple Entries:

1.) Just tell me about a supernatural occurrence.  It can be something that happened to you, or you can get creative! Or maybe you think it’s all bunk – tell me! (***You may enter once a day, but please list a new item you like each time.) Remember, leave an interesting comment. If I cannot contact the winner, you might be chosen instead based on your comment.

2.) Blog about, Twitter, and/or Subscribe! Get an extra entry for each of these activities.  This time just leave a separate comment for each (only one time for each extra activity completed), giving me a link to your blog post, your Twitter name, and/or a note saying you’re a subscriber. (Subscribe in the upper right !  

(Psst!  My Twitter name is dkMommy.)

Feel free to do all five to gather multiple entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Monday, March 15, 2010, to enter.

08. March 2010 · Comments Off on Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back! · Categories: Blog Talk · Tags: ,

So Glad We'll Be Hanging Out Again!

 

Yes, it’s been a long and lonely winter, but welcome back to carp(e) libris reviews! And where was our fearless reader of all things between two covers?  Hibernating, I suppose.  With work stacking up from my real world job, and all the responsibilities that go along with parenting and working small business besides, I had to lay aside my carp(e) activities – in fact, I thought my book review days were over aside from whatever books I occasionally review on my other blog dkMommy Spot.  But I discovered something – I missed it tremendously.  I did in fact continue to read books, but they weren’t the latest releases, and they weren’t all indie press.  I continued to listen to music, but nothing very new either.  And when I finished listening or reading, I didn’t have all of you to share it with.  I kept finding myself coming up with things I wanted to tell you about this or that book, and it was that missing, along with email from some of you (thank you so much!) that encouraged me to pick up where I left off.

But as with every spring and every end to hibernation, changes and newness will be added.  I’ll still be adding indie book and music reviews, and many with giveaways.  And I’ll still be doing reviews and giveaways that book and music lovers will appreciate.  But I’ll be tossing in the occasional review of books and music published by some of the mainstream presses.  This isn’t to take away from the brave and distinctly different world of indie, but rather a way for me to feed my urge to read a little bit of everything.  Besides, oftentimes an artist who started out as indie does not remain indie; in these cases I want to make sure we can all continue to follow them.

So welcome back to carp(e) libris reviews!  I hope you’ll continue to find what you’re looking for in indie books and music, and that you’ll enjoy the new additions as they arise.  I’m looking forward to it myself.  I sure have missed you!  I think the goldfish has too.

Enter carp(e)’s latest book giveaway!

When Dorrit Weger enters the Second Reserve Bank Unit, she knows she’s there to stay; not by choice, mind you.  She’s hit that magical age where, without children and loved ones in need of her, she’s become what has been considered “dispensable”.  While it’s true the dwelling is luxurious beyond what she’s ever obtained for herself, and while she’ll be surrounded by contemporaries who are also without spouses and children on the outside, she and those residing with her are to serve a purpose none of them care to serve.  As dispensable people they will be used for things such as drug testing and organ donation until their lives come to an end.  And life is short inside The Unit.  But somehow Dorrit manages to build relationships unlike any she ever had in the outside world.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, translated from the original Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, is set in the not-so-distant future and told in the voice of a true story weaver, making this author’s first novel eerily plausible.  Holmqvist leaves her readers pondering the conditions of modern society, balancing what is truly the value of life, and perhaps questioning whether one person deserves to live more than another.  If you have a book club hungry for deep discussion and some serious introspection, as well as a glimpse at the possible future, The Unit is the next book to get your hands on.  

While The Unit is Ninni Holmqvist’s debut novel, this Swedish author has previously published three short story collections.  The English translation of The Unit is published by Other Press and was released in June of this year.

You may recall that not too long ago I featured the guitar music of David Pritchard.  The music is astoundingly beautiful and complex, something to feed your brain and get your creative spirit flowing.  Here now are a couple of videos from the David Pritchard Guitar Quartet.  You can find available CD’s of David Pritchard through his website Morphic Resonance Music. Now take a moment to sit back, relax, and recharge those tired batteries.

Click Here for More Giveaways

Is ‘Italian” synonymous with “design”?  Perhaps my husband could help answer that question.  A proud European to the core, he practically shuddered with delight when a Bialetti Moka Express arrived in our home.  Was I excited too?  Yes, I adore coffee, especially any with a European preparation involved, but for my husband it meant a glimpse of home.  He even researched the little unit and discovered the Bialetti is a 70-year-old Italian design icon, found in most Italian kitchens.  And a big hurrah was let out from the man who yearns for something more lasting (and more Old World) these days. 

So what is this Bialetti?  Envision a simple coffee pot that brews espressos and prepares unbelievable coffee-house style coffee on your stovetop, without electricity, loud whirring noises, or attitudinal, heavily-pierced baristas rolling their eyes at you.  If you wanted an espresso machine but didn’t want to cough up hundreds of dollars for the countertop hogging unit of your dreams, this darling Bialetti takes up no more than a few inches of space and starts at only $19.95, well worth every dime.  Mine stays on the stove because it’s just that darned charming looking!  And the coffee?  Let’s put it this way:  Since the Bialetti Moka Express’s arrival, my cappuccino machine has been in storage.  The operation is simple.  Place water in the bottom portion, fresh ground coffee in the strainer, screw on the top half, and set the unit on low heat  until all the water from the bottom has found its way to the top.  (I wait for this pleasant little gurgling sound; then I know my coffee is waiting.)  The results is smooth, heavenly coffee with no grounds to chew around.  I haven’t prepared a bad brew yet!  It’s very consistent in its results, with the simplicity of the unit most likely its secret. 

And my Euro husband?  He used to work for an American movie company overseas and says this: “I did see the Bialetti Moka Express sometime in 1993, and had a taste of the coffee it produced. It was a great starter for a hard working day. And it was three Italians that brought this wonderful coffee maker to the film crew. A lot of us gathered there to jumpstart the day. Gianni was brewing, Aldo would comment and Adolfo would bless it, the rest would drink and wish for more.”  I’d say that sums it up nicely!  With no Adolfo for the blessing, though, I’ll just have to thank heaven each morning myself.

Want to win your own Bialetti Moka Express?  The people of Bialetti are kindly offering one to a lucky carp(e) libris reviews reader!

Multiple Options for Multiple Entries:

1.) Just visit Bialetti and tell me something you liked or learned about the company or their products. (You may enter once a day.) Remember, leave an interesting comment. If I cannot contact the winner, you might be chosen instead based on your comment.

2.) Blog about, Twitter, and/or Subscribe! Get an extra entry for each of these activities.  Blog about and/or Twitter this giveaway with a link to the post.  Subscribers to carp(e) libris reviews and get an entry too!  Just leave a separate comment for each, giving me a link to your blog post, your Twitter name, and/or a note saying you’re a subscriber.  SUBSCRIBE HERE!  

(Psst!  My Twitter name is dkMommy.)

Feel free to do all four to gather multiple entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Tuesday, June 16, 2009, to enter.

 

Click Here for More Giveaways

One thing I truly desire to do through this blog is to entice people to explore our world through music and literature.  We sometimes get a little shortsighted in our selections, falling into the ruts of what is set before us through television and radio stations.  But what if you branched out on your own?  What would you discover?  Perhaps you’d stumble upon a musical group such as Nomad, who would have the ability to transport you to a corner of the world that needs more exploring.  And maybe, by listening to Nomad’s Egyptian Dances, you’d discover Egypt is a country that inspires in you more creativity, a stretching of the mind, and a love for something that, while as ancient as the dawn of time, is fresh and new to your ears.

Traditional sounds, instruments, and arrangements make “Cairo – Dancas Egipcias” a most beautiful and haunting collection of the spirit of Egyptian music.  Instrumental with occasional vocals, each of the 10 tracks are enough to make you want to pack your bags, hop on a plane, and experience the windswept sands of the ancients.  One can’t help but have romantic and dreamy visions of pyramids, street bazaars, and camels. 

Maestro Paulo Freitas brings us the Nomad project as part of his specialization in oriental music.  He currently lives in Rio de Janeiro.  You can listen to clips of this CD or purchase the CD through the button below.

Click Here for More Giveaways

When sitting still is just not an option, it’s time to pop in Marianni Ebert’s CD Vai Saber.  This Brazilian Jazz singer puts on quite a show at the Zinc Bar in New York City, and fortunately you can hear a live performance anytime you like when you have Vai Saber on hand.  An amazingly talented woman, Marianni has already built herself quite a reputation in Brazil as a well-known actress, singer, dancer, and songwriter.  She’s been making her mark in New York as well, with a weekly gig at the Zinc Bar (West Village of Manhattan, if you’re in the area).  She’s even appeared in an episode of Law & Order. But she’s not limiting herself to only two countries. With the vivacity that exudes every track of Vai Saber, no one can doubt she’ll continue to take the globe by storm!

Vai Saber is alive with the sounds of Brazilian jazz – cool rhythms, a hot voice, and a sound that bears hitting the play button again and again.  Listeners will be in for a real tropical treat, as all tracks are written by Marianni and lead guitarist Jair Coelho.  The overall feel of the music is fun, sexy, and filled with motion, so it’s with great excitement that I tell you I have one copy of Marianni’s Vai Saber to give to one of you!  Please take a moment to visit Marianni’s My Space Page and take a listen!

Too impatient to see if you win the CD?

Multiple Options for Entry:

1.) Just visit Marianni’s MySpace page and give her music a listen.  Come back here and tell me why you like it!  (You may enter once a day.) Remember, leave an interesting comment.  If I cannot contact the winner, you might be chosen instead based on your comment.

2.) Email subscribers get an extra entry for as long as their subscription is active.

     Already a subscriber?  Leave me a separate comment on this post to let me know you’re interested in this giveaway.

     Want to subscribe?  Just enter your email address in the “Subscribe” box on the left. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you do not receive it, check your junk mail. Only verified subscriptions are entered for all the giveaways.)

3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post.  Come back and leave me a Comment with a link to your blog post. (If your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry – I may have to approve it first.  My blog might think it’s spam but gosh darn, I certainly don’t!)

4.) I’m feeling Twittery.  If you Twitter a link to this giveaway, come back and comment here to let me know your Twitter name for another entry! (I’m dkmommy if you want to follow me.)

Feel free to do all four to gain several entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Friday, May 29, 2009, to enter.

Click Here for More Giveaways

He’s a rather thin man, hates it when they call him skinny.  But he’s a runner and likes how he is – he finds himself gracile, his own word for his graceful, slender appearance.  We don’t know much about him, really.  His story may be this book but he keeps himself at a comfortable distance, which for him is a little further than most.  We can see him interact with his partner (Wife? Girlfriend?), even hear them speak but it is as if we’re peering through their apartment windows, following him as he runs, spying on him in his office.  I doubt he realizes he’s so distant.  And it appears that, perhaps due to his distance, he is shrinking still.

Long Slow Distance by Thomas Phillips is what one might call a minimalist story.  A mere 115 pages and a character whose name we don’t even know, it’s a very talented Thomas Phillips who pulls off writing in such a manner while still connecting to his audience.  “Distance” seems to be the key word to this story, as the main character certainly keeps his.  Yet even though we don’t get to know him that well, our desire to do so keeps us reading, piecing together what we can.  Perhaps it’s because we’ve all known such people, and as any reader knows, it’s the mysteries of human nature and a bit of a voyeuristic spirit that keeps most of us up to our eyeballs in books.  Long Slow Distance gives the voyeur-by-book a good fix, and gives it brilliantly.  As our runner all but disappears, leaving little more than fleeting shadows as the book progresses, Phillips’ ability to hold his readers’ rapt attention is nothing short of extraordinary.  A fascinating main character and an even more riveting writing style makes Long Slow Distance a worthy piece of literature.

Published by Object Press.

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In Michael Malone’s brand new novel The Four Corners of the Sky, Annie’s father gave her a lot more than an old broken-down airplane when he took off.  After leaving her to be raised by her aunt and uncle, he also gave her a mystery to solve years later; a mystery that would change everything.  Annie’s father Jack is a con artist who, after abandoning his daughter for years without any word, has resurfaced and suddenly needs her help.  Now a successful Navy pilot, Anne isn’t so willing to take the bait – but perhaps if he agrees to finally tell her who her mother is…

The Four Corners of the Sky is suspenseful, humorous, and filled with mystery.  New York Times Best-Selling Author Michael Malone gives us a host of unforgettable characters, both dramatic and humorous, and a plot that will keep you guessing right up to the end.  This his tenth novel, Malone offers an entertaining read to a large audience base.  Whether you’re a mystery, romance, thriller, or comedy reader, you’ll find it in aces in The Four Corners of the Sky.

Want to win your own hardcover copy?  The book debuted this week, so enter to win while you’re still the first in your book club to hear about it! ($24.99 retail)

Multiple Options for Entry:

1.) Just give me a con!  Try and sell me a watch, snow me, or tell me about a con you experienced or heard about.  Ever buy some land in Florida?  Get creative!  (You may enter once a day.) Remember, leave an interesting comment.  If I cannot contact the winner, you might be chosen instead based on your comment.

2.) Email subscribers get an extra entry for as long as their subscription is active.

     Already a subscriber?  Leave me a separate comment on this post to let me know you’re interested in this giveaway.

     Want to subscribe?  Just enter your email address in the “Subscribe” box on the left. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you do not receive it, check your junk mail. Only verified subscriptions are entered for all the giveaways.)

3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post.  Come back and leave me a Comment with a link to your blog post. (If your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry – I may have to approve it first.  My blog might think it’s spam but gosh darn, I certainly don’t!)

4.) I’m feeling Twittery.  If you Twitter a link to this giveaway, come back and comment here to let me know your Twitter name for another entry! (I’m dkmommy if you want to follow me.)

Feel free to do all four to gain several entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, to enter.