We’re not all pleasant people; we have flaws, some of us more than others.  Sometimes we do or think despicable things.  This may not be the best way to conduct life, but it does make for an interesting character for a book.  In April Fool, George Willets is at a point in his life where maybe he’s just a wee bit too comfortable.  His daily routine with his wife is just that – routine.  The boredom he endures begins to be too much for him; so when he meets the perfect woman, he feels his luck is about to change.  It may be changing, but whether or not it’s for the better is what makes this book a great read.

Author John Neufeld does an excellent job at taking a distasteful personality and turning him into someone a reader wants to spend time with and learn about.  This is a difficult task for any writer; despite George’s behavior and his desire to consider murder an option for getting out of a rut, I still somehow rooted for George and hoped he’d find the error of his ways.  The book was entertaining and a pleasure to read, filled with humor, suspense, and politically incorrect characters.  I doubt there was a noble one in the bunch, which made it all the more interesting.

John Neufeld has written over 20 novels for adults and young readers, and has been nominated for an Edgar, been twice included in the Sunday New York Times’ Best Books of the Year, and has been published in several countries as well.  I’m happy to tell you I have a copy of April Fool to give to one carp(e) libris reviews reader.

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Have you known people with major character flaws?  Of course you have! But did you like them anyway?  Do share.  Be thoughtful with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Saturday, October 25, 2008, to enter.

Congratulations to Rebekah, the winner of The Front Porch Prophet.  

A.J. has just discovered his best friend is deathly ill, so he decides it’s time they got over their rift and made amends.  But Eugene is no simple friend.  His dying requests are killers.  What A.J. has to face is more than just sorting through their friendship’s past.  He also has some big decisions to make, and it’s time to see how far he’ll go for friendship.

Set in the mountains of Georgia, The Front Porch Prophet gives the reader a look at quirky small town life.  Amidst humorous dialogue and unusual townsfolk, Atkins weaves a tale that will have the reader hard-pressed to set the book down. The Front Porch Prophet is a touching and clever novel that looks at life, death, and friendship with a warm Southern slant.  If you like John Nichols (The Milagro Beanfield War), you’re gonna love Raymond L. Atkin’s new novel.  This book does all the things a good novel should do:  It inspires, brings on the tears, makes you laugh out loud.  That’s why The Front Porch Prophet gets the Goldfish Award.  And that’s why I’m so pleased to tell you I have an extra autographed copy to give away.  

If you don’t win, do yourself a favor and go buy a copy of The Front Porch Prophet.  This is the kind of novel to read when the autumn weather is moving in and you just want to curl up in your favorite spot with an absorbing book.  

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me what you’ve done for a friend or what they’ve done for you.  Did it change you?  Did it change your friendship?  Be thoughtful with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Monday, October 6, 2008, to enter.

I don’t believe I’ve reviewed any self-help book at carp(e) libris reviews yet.  But the opportunity came up recently to review one, and its focus on helping people who have been the target of discrimination is certainly something that could help many of us.  Withstanding the Lie by father and daughter team Roger and Nicole Brewer is literally healing between the covers of a book.  If you’ve ever experienced any sort of discrimination, whether it’s due to your race, religion, sex, size, physical ability, etc., and if that discrimination hurt you, made you hate, or somehow affected you so that you are unable to heal and move beyond it, then you’ll want to get a copy of Withstanding the Lie.

Both of the Brewers have experienced discrimination in their lives, but neither are bitter or hateful.  They’ve learned how to move beyond the pain the incidents caused, and now they’re passing on their knowledge to others.  I found the information insightful and sensitive.  In fact, while reading the book I came up against a problem wherein I was able to apply something I was learning from the book.  I was able to avert a situation that could have easily mushroomed into a hurtful experience for both me and the other person involved.  While the Brewers are quick to let you know that fixing the hurt takes time, there is much to be learned from Withstanding the Lie that a reader will be able to apply to their life immediately.

Want to win your own copy?  I have an extra right here.

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me if you’ve ever been discriminated against.  How did it hurt you and did you try to do something to get over it? (There’s no need to tell us why you were discriminated against if you don’t want to.) Be thoughtful with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Thursday, October 2, 2008, to enter.

Check out the Withstanding the Lie website too.


Every parent faces it at some point or another – empty nest syndrome. In Liam’s Going, Cathleen and Noah prepare to start this new and unfamiliar stage of their lives after their son Liam leaves for college. As Cathleen drives with her son to drop him off at college and Noah stays behind to give mother and son much-needed alone time, each of them flash back to the defining moments of their lives, both together and apart.

Author Michael Joyce has a sensitivity to language that brings an almost poetic feel, quite appropriate for a story whose protagonist Cathleen is a poet herself. Join that with realistic character building, wonderful dialogue, and a touching plot, you’ll find you have a book that’s both a pleasure and a heartbreak to absorb.

McPherson & Company is giving away one copy of Liam’s Going to a carp(e) libris reviews reader, so if you’re in the mood for a good read, enter to win!

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me if you’re an empty nester; or were you the one who left the nest? What do you remember about that? Have fun with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Monday, September 22, 2008, to enter.


You may remember when not too long ago I reviewed a book of short short stories published by Rose Metal Press. I discovered I loved the short short story form, and thankfully that book wasn’t the only of this sort Rose Metal chose to publish. Their latest, In the Land of the Free, written by Geoffrey Forsyth, is another fascinating example of why I feel short shorts should get more exposure. Forsyth’s stories, most lasting no more than three or four pages, are packed with raw human emotion. From humor to ache, love to death, these stories are concentrated forms of literature that bear reading over and over.

Forsyth’s stories are most original; I’m sure it’s a large part of the reason he won the Rose Metal Press Second Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest. His stories feature young people – a baby born in the kitchen, a man who in his youth purchases a wall out of his naivete, a young man who wakes to find his dead relatives in his living room. These addictive little bits will most certainly get you hooked on short shorts.

If you’ve not read a short short story before, I highly recommend you try it. We all need something artistic and deep in our lives, and let’s face it – most people skip it completely, never realizing it’s missing. But for us readerly types, it’s a necessity that we recognize. Think of short shorts as multivitamins for the brain and the soul. Or a pick-me-up more handy than a cup of coffee, healthier than a cigarette break. If you decide to start with In the Land of the Free, you’ll have yourself a most creatively published work as well. This chapbook has an old-style letterpress cover which was produced at the Museum of Printing in Andover, Massachusetts–the perfect format for In the Land of the Free. I ask you, when was the last time you heard of a mainstream press take such care with their book printing? Another reason to love the Indie presses.

Want to win your own copy of In the Land of the Free? Here’s your chance.

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me what interests you about reading short short stories.  Have you read them before?  Why would you like to try? Have fun with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Thursday, September 18, 2008, to enter.


I love reading and learning about Asian culture and its rich history. China certainly has no shortage of either! When you mix that with the genealogy of a family, you’ve got my interest. Growing up, I listened to my mother’s stories of our ancestors as she uncovered their secrets while studying our family tree. While there are no Chinese branches on mine, there is a wonderful Asian twist that has given me a lifelong fascination with the Orient. That’s why books like Sweet Mandarin always manage to grab me and hang on.

Sweet Mandarin is more than a true story. It is several true stories all woven into one amazing family history that is author Helen Tse’s. Starting with the story of her great grandparents, it works its way from generation to generation, giving a beautiful account of what makes her family unique. Helen Tse’s family history contains a long line of fascinating people who struggled to work their way out of difficult situations, regardless of what they were “supposed” to do. The story starts with a great grandfather who began his own soy sauce factory and the family that suffered the consequences of his success. The bulk of the focus is on the women in Tse’s family; strong, brave women who break the bonds of China’s traditions, all the while coveting their culture like a valuable pearl. Tse’s family boasts three generations of restaurant owners, all having stories that will inspire and entertain.

Sweet Mandarin is a book that will appeal to a very wide audience – men, women, even young adult. Will it ever appear on the silver screen? I wouldn’t be surprised, and I certainly hope to hear there’s a movie contract in the works. And I thought my family was fascinating…

Want to win your own copy of Sweet Mandarin?

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me a little something about your family history. (I promise I won’t tell.) Where are you from? Do you know your roots, or are they a secret? Have fun with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Friday, September 5, 2008, to enter.

Scan through the archives of carp(e) libris reviews and you’ll find quite a selection of poetry. As I learn more and more about poetry, and as we learn to have a deeper appreciation for it through reviews and giveaways, I’m refining my tastes in the craft a little more with each book. The Opposite of Clairvoyance holds something of a blend of strength of voice and gentleness of spirit that I keep finding myself drawn into. Gillian Wegener’s selection of poems in her new book (published by Sixteen Rivers Press) covers a multitude of subjects that keep continuity through Wegener’s unique voice and musical rhythm. I often wonder how poetry would sound when read aloud by the poet, and this book is no exception.

Whether you’re a nature lover, someone who gains solace from reading heartbreak, or a mom in love with her kids, you’ll find something to relate to in The Opposite of Clairvoyance. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this poetry is cotton candy and tulips. There is a power to the voice as well as an edge, and many of the poems have an undercurrent of longing or reveal a disappointment in life. Regardless of the topic, each one ends leaving the reader to pause and reflect. For me, this is one of the main reasons to read a poem – reflection, either on the positive or negative aspects in life, and possibly the hope that the poet feels the same way we do, expressing it in ways we never thought to attempt.

To win your own autographed copy of The Opposite of Clairvoyance, read on.

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me what you look for when choosing poetry. Do you like something you can relate to? Easy to understand? Or do you like something more abstract? Have fun with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.
2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.
Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Monday, September 1, 2008, to enter.


I’ve been wanting to review books either written by Chinese authors or containing a Chinese setting, but until recently, I haven’t really seen many. Now I have a few waiting on my “to-be-reviewed” shelf; I suppose we can credit this interest to the Beijing Olympics. Lately we’ve all had a little glimpse into different aspects of Chinese life and culture. For me, The Painter from Shanghai has been more than a glimpse; it has been a riveting history lesson hidden between the pages of an amazing story.

Jennifer Cody Epstein took her fascination with the Chinese painter Pan Yuliang and turned it into a well-written, painstakingly researched story that gives us a vivid portrait of what this artist’s life may have been like. Although we don’t know a lot of detail about Pan Yuliang, we do know she was orphaned and sold into prostitution, and that she was rescued by a man who took a special interest in her. There are other skeletal details, but Epstein has filled in the picture to add flesh and muscle. Pan Yuliang and her early 1900’s China leaps to life and keeps every one of the over 400 pages burning with tales of art, Chinese culture, and one woman’s struggle to become the artist society says she has no right to be.

Having been to art school, I appreciated Epstein’s ability to comfortably write about art and the technical aspects of painting and drawing. As an avid reader, I was impressed with her knack for making these technical tidbits flow through a story, without dragging the reader through any dull sections. Everything flowed effortlessly in a way that will allow any reader to follow the pace set.

Want to win your own copy of The Painter from Shanghai? I’ve got your ticket to China via typeface, so leave me a comment and good luck!

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me if you know anything of Chinese art or culture. What interests you most about either? Have fun with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Friday, August 22, 2008, to enter.

Published by W.W. Norton & Company.


Not too long ago, I reviewed a fantastic book of poetry called The Death of the Poem and Other Paragraphs. I’m happy to be able to share that book a little further, as I now have a copy to give away to one of you. (If you haven’t read the review yet, please do. Oh, and that’s Justin Courter over there on the left.)

Just a few months ago, I considered myself a sort of non-poetry person, and I always felt bad about that. I’d given up on poetry, cast it aside, called it names, and – well, I was neglectful of Mr. Poetry. But through the development of this blog, I’ve come to grow quite a fondness for the guy, and I encourage you to do the same thing too. After all, we need a little poetry in our lives. Everything is so fast-paced. But slowing down to contemplate a poem doesn’t need to be the ho-hum so many people imagine. They can be edgy, hysterical, thought-provoking.  They can be a Courter poem.

Remember being a kid and first discovering Shel Silverstein (if you happen to be of that generation)? How many weeks did you have to wait for it to be your turn to rent one of those books from the school library? And how cool were you, toting around your copy of A Light in the Attic? My friend, you can still be cool and tote poetry at the same time. I shall help you. I shall give away a copy – no wait, I’ll give away two copies – of The Death of the Poem. But you’ve got to do a little something for me. Leave me a comment, if this is how you’re going to enter, and tell me about either your childhood memories of poetry (good or bad) or your adult views of poetry (good or bad). If you hate the stuff, that’s okay. I see that you’re trying–you are entering to win a poetry book after all. I don’t think Justin Courter will mind either. He’s not your average poet.

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me either your childhood memories of poetry (good or bad) or your adult views of poetry (good or bad).  It’s okay–you can tell me.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Friday, August 22, 2008, to enter.

And the winner is…. Ed!  Thanks, Ed, for being a longtime visitor.  Hope you like the book!

I swore I’d never do it. When I started carp(e) libris reviews, I swore I wouldn’t review a book that was self-published. After all, the risk is great. Sure, there are some award-winning self-published books out there, but it just seemed a gamble. So when I got an email from the wife of a poet, a woman who published her husband’s work because she so believed in it,   curiosity got the best of me and I checked the author’s website. After reading a couple of his poems online, I thought, “What is carp(e) libris reviews for, anyway, if not to discover writers we might otherwise never hear of?” I wasn’t sorry. Patrick Walker is an excellent poet with over 35 years of poetry writing to share.

Pegasus at the Plow
is a poetry collection with a truly unique voice. The style is most decidedly classical, and although you can somehow envision a dashing Robin Hood reciting them to his Maid Marian, the subject matter is often ironically modern. I really enjoyed the melding of old and new; how many poems of his did I read wondering how they’d be set to music? Yes, it would have to be to the sounds of a lute and a drum, methinks. (Oh, gosh. Did I just say “methinks”?) A wonderful feature of this book is the artwork, done by Patrick’s talented wife Virginia Cody, who he refers to as a force of nature. The sketches throughout complement the poetry, making the book as a whole a desirable addition to the poet-lover’s collection.

If you’re a poetry lover and you’d like to experience this book firsthand, I have an autographed copy that Patrick Walker was gracious enough to send along for one of you. Just follow the rules below.

3 Ways to Win
:

1.) Leave a comment telling me if you usually read poetry, and if so, who are your favorites?

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t 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.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Friday, August 8, 2008, to enter.