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Win a Blog Theme

Want to win the premium Wordpress theme, called Money Blogger and worth of $49.99?

The offered theme has a blue-green color scheme and it features CSS tabs to display recent posts, recent comments and monthly posts.

The theme features

  1. Widget Ready.
  2. Fully XHTML compliant.
  3. Unique design.
  4. Easily customizable using CSS.
  5. Appealing & modern layout.
  6. Modular sections for easy editing.
  7. Full post sales support.
Javi over BlogOhBlog is providing a free copy of this template. If you want to take a place in the contest, all you need to blog about it before 25th March and you’ll get a chance to win a copy of Money Blogger premium theme.


Treat me to a Starbucks, so I can stay up late blogging my heart out!

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Win some games from Atari

Atari has hooked up this blog with a box full of games! And they're generously giving them away to you!

The prizes up for grabs:

  • 2 Grand prize winners: 1 copy of Godzilla Unleashed ($40), 1 copy of DBZ Budokai 2 ($30), 1 copy of DBZ Budokai 3 ($40) and 1 copy of My Horse and Me ($30)
  • 2 Runner-up winners: 1 copy of Godzilla Unleashed ($40), 1 copy of My Horse and Me and 1 copy of DBZ Budokai 3 ($40)
  • 1 consolation winner: 1 copy of Godzilla Unleashed ($40) and 1 copy of My Horse and Me ($30)
Just follow this link to go to Wii Game Players and leave a comment. The contest will end Sunday, March 23rd at 11:59PM ET.


Treat me to a Starbucks, so I can stay up late blogging my heart out!

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Book Review : The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

Author: Joshilyn Jackson

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 4, 2008)

Book Description

Laurel Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother make sure the literal family skeleton stays in the closet or turning scraps of fabric into nationally acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister Thalia, an impoverished Actress with a capital A, is her polar opposite, priding herself on exposing the lurid truth lurking behind middle class niceties.

While Laurel's life seems neatly on track--a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, and a lovely home in suburban Victorianna--everything she holds dear is suddenly thrown into question the night she is visited by the ghost of a her 13-year old neighbor Molly Dufresne. The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool.

Molly's death is inexplicable--an unseemly mystery Laurel knows no one in her whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving. Only her wayward, unpredictable sister is right for the task, but calling in a favor from Thalia is like walking straight into a frying pan protected only by Crisco. Enlisting Thalia's help, Laurel sets out on a life-altering journey that triggers startling revelations about her family's guarded past, the true state of her marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.

Richer and more rewarding than any story Joshilyn Jackson has yet written, yet still packed with Jackson's trademarked outrageous characters, sparkling dialogue, and defiantly twisting plotting, THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING is destined both to delight Jackson's loyal fans and capture a whole new audience.

Review

Compelling, haunting (no pun intended) and poignant are the words that come to mind when I try to sum up this novel. To put it simply, I loved it. However, I didn’t fall in love with it right away. In fact, I found it quite confusing to begin with. But my feelings gradually changed as I got deeper and deeper into the story and had better understanding of the characters. Everything in this Joshilyn Jackson story leads up to, revolves around and hinges on solving Molly’s death. And yet, it’s the characters, more than anything else, who constitute the true mystery in this novel.

I didn’t really get the protagonist, Laurel, at first. She was a mystery to me, as much as the corpse floating in her pool was a mystery to Laurel. Over the course of the story, I got to discover how Laurel’s seemingly perfect life isn’t perfect at all. Although Laurel is this famous maker of innovative quilts with an affluent cookie-cutter perfect life in the suburbs with her computer nerd of a husband and a precocious daughter, her entire life has been and continues to be haunted by DeLop.

This seedy and impoverished former mining community is where Laurel’s mother hails from and to whose faults that lady has conveniently blinded herself from. Although Laurel despises this willful blindness in her mother, Molly’s death forcibly makes her comprehend how without realizing it, she herself has adopted her mother’s attitude. Whether this results in a tragedy like her mother’s did once before, makes for some very tense and expectant reading.

Another main character is that of Thalia, Laurel’s older sister who’s a born-actress. Although this character is referenced to quite frequently, she doesn’t put in an actual appearance until well into the story. By then, I’d read such conflicting descriptions of her as to be quite befuddled as to what to expect. What she turns out to be is more than expected and yet less. Confusing? You bet! But that’s exactly what Thalia is – an enigma, as much as Laurel, and yet different. The sisters are polar opposites and yet their shared past, their not-so salubrious history binds them together and gives them something in common – a tragedy.

Haunted by memories, Laurel buries herself in a quiet and boring suburban life while Thalia deals with it by celebrating the ugliness of life and indulging in outrageous behavior. This makes her ideal for investigating Molly’s death for only she can burrow under the social fa├žade of the Stepford-like life in suburban Victorianna and strip it away to reveal the rot underneath. And so Laurel invites her over little realizing that Thalia will begin her work by peeling away the anesthetized cover of her own marriage.

The strength of Jackson’s writing lies as much in her powerful and lifelike characterizations as it does in evocative storytelling. As a result, every character in this book, no matter how minor, is of interest. In the end, I identified with them all, even the dead girl and the cold mother … except for the Uncle. Without revealing the story, suffice to say that I just didn’t get why he behaved the way he did (was he sick, or enacting some revenge against Laurel’s mother, or both? or was it quite something else?).

Throughout the story, the author raises expectations of how things might turn out to be or how a character might behave under given circumstances. And every time, without fail, predictability fails. Or at least, it did for me. Every time I thought I had a handle on things than Jackson yanked away the figurative rug beneath my feet. This I enjoyed, more than anything else.

And lest I forget, the pivotal mystery of the girl who stopped swimming is beautifully maintained throughout the length of the book. And only towards the very end is the shocking truth revealed. 'Masterful' is the only word to describe how Jackson ekes out the suspense without making it tedious or predictable.

In Short

Although fellow bookworms had strongly recommended this author to me, this is the very first Joshilyn Jackson book I’ve ever read. But it’s certainly not going to be the last. I loved this story and impatiently count the days until her next book comes out.

Kudos for a superb story, Joshilyn!

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Win a Pair of Polliwalks Animal Clogs

One winner will be selected to receive a pair of Polliwalks animal clogs of their choice. To enter, follow this link to go to One Chic Mama and leave a comment telling what's your choice of style, size and color.

Deadline is Midnight, EST, March 16. The winner will be listed on PRIZEYwinners.

Treat me to a Starbucks, so I can stay up late blogging my heart out!
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UP IN ARMS: Photo Caption Contest

Send in your cleverest caption to this photo!

Click “comments,” submit your entry by Sunday night, and aParently Speaking will send the cleverest caption writer a copy of “Bad Baby Names: The Worst True Names Parents Saddled Their Kids With.”

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Win a Labels gift pack

Mabel’s Labels are the makers of labels for anything in your home that requires identity or organization. Just specify your text, icon, and color, and these labels – which stand up beautifully through the wash – will save you the hassle of ironing or sewing on labels, and the expense of replacing lost, unlabeled clothing.

Want to win a Mabel’s Labels gift pack? Here’s how:

  • Visit Mabel’s Labels, then email contests@bostonmamas.com (with "Mabel" in the subject) and name another type of label that Mabel’s Labels carries (other than Tag Mates and Shoe Labels!).

  • One entry permitted per person; US & Canada entrants welcome.

  • Entry period closes tonight at midnight EST, Wednesday, March 12, 2008.

  • The winner will receive a Camp/School Combo Pack + Canister and Spice Labels set!

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    Book Review : Beginner's Greek

    Beginner's Greek


    Author :
    James Collins


    Hardcover :
    448 pages


    Publisher :
    Little, Brown and Company


    Book Description

    When Peter Russell finally meets the woman of his dreams he falls as madly in love as you can on a flight from New York to LA. Her name is Holly. She's achingly pretty with strawberry-blonde hair, and reads Thomas Mann for pleasure. She gives Peter her phone number on a page of The Magic Mountain, but in his room that night Peter finds the page is inexplicably, impossibly, enragingly...gone.

    So begins the immensely entertaining story of Peter and his unrequited love for his best friend's girl; of Charlotte and her less-than-perfect marriage to a man in love with someone else; of Jonathan and his wicked and fateful debauchery; and of Holly, the impetus for it all. Along the way, there's the evil boss, the desirable temptress, miscommunications, misrepresentations, fiendish behavior, letters gone astray, and ultimately, an ending in which every character gets his due. Both incisive and wonderfully funny, this is a brilliantly understated comedy of manners in which love lost is found again.

    Review

    If you like or watch chick flicks, this novel will seem eerily familiar to you. As I began reading it, I was irresistibly reminded of that John Cusack movie ‘Serendipity’. Just as in the movie, the protagonists meet, there’s love at first sight and then they get separated. But they never forget each other. And when they do meet, circumstances are such that they’re both committed to other people. And neither is sure of the other’s feelings, although the readers are made aware that nothing stands between them but their own uncertainties. How it all gets resolved and whether there’s a happy ending constitutes the rest of this convoluted and not-so funny novel.

    The author of this novel, former Time editor Collins, has written the novel from Peter’s point of view for the most part. As such we see the other characters mainly through Peter’s eyes. And as Holly remains an enigma for much of the story to Peter, thus she remains one to the readers as well. With his insecurity, overtly romantic outlook, awkward chivalrous behavior, a tendency to pontificate on boring issues at length (a flaw that’s applicable to many characters in this novel), Peter didn’t feel real to me nor did I like him until near the end when he shakes off his customary inaction and takes a stand. That stuck as me as believable and somewhat redeemed Peter in my eyes.

    Don’t be under the impression that it’s all about Peter and Holly. On the contrary, there are side plots and side characters galore and from time to time, their stories and POV’s (point of view) take over, eclipsing the main one entirely. I found this terribly distracting. Neither the side characters nor their stories spoke to me. But I read them through, generously skipping paragraphs, just to see how all that meandering would lead back to the main plot line. It was a fruitless exercise.

    The to-be-or-not-to-be Romance between Peter and Holly is pivotal to the story. Despite being somewhat predictable and not as developed as it should be, it’s the one redeeming factor to a novel which otherwise didn’t fascinate me at all.

    In Short

    The dialogues, the scenarios, the dead slow and roundabout pace (and oh boy, does the plot meander!) – mostly every thing about this story felt dull and contrived to me. I’ve seen this book being described elsewhere on the web as “cool”, “sophisticated”, “charming”, “witty”, “romantic comedy” etc. [And all these words of praise came from major review publications – quite confirmed my lack of faith in them.] Frankly, I didn’t find it to be any of these things. Perhaps, it’s just that my own tastes are too plebian for this sort of rarified fare. Or not. You be the judge.

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    About Me

    Hi, I'm Rashmi and this is my blog which has undergone various transformations through the years. I blog about whatever interests me, and when I have some free time, a commodity that has become increasingly precious. Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to leave a comment.

    My email:
    callmeabookworm@gmail.com

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