phantom, music of the night, andrew lloyd webber

DVD Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

After winning this DVD in a giveaway, I feel I should post my review here. It's probably one of the most emotionally powerful movies I've seen in a while, and is well worth watching for everyone, provided kleenex is standing by. My review:

This is an extremely good movie. It somehow manages to be simultaneously beautiful and tragic, innocent and terrifying. Doing what no film has ever done before, it shows the Holocaust through the eyes of an innocent 8-year-old German boy. Though young Bruno may not understand the events unfolding around him, the viewer certainly will. While little or nothing is directly shown (making it an excellent means of introducing younger viewers to the history of the Holocaust), you have no trouble knowing what is happening. I loved the shooting style used in this film, as it successfully captures the innocent view of a child during one of the darkest periods in world history. This also serves to make it even more disturbing, though also more real, as you see Bruno attempt to make sense of what is going on in his world. Then, if all that wasn't enough, the whole film comes to a close with one of the hardest hitting endings ever done on film. My mother and I both were crying throughout, and were left off staring in wide-eyed terror. I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone and everyone. It isn't a happy movie, but it's an important one. I now plan on reading the book as well.
phantom, music of the night, andrew lloyd webber

My First Giveaway WINNERS!!

I meant to post this earlier today, but better a little late than never. Thanks to my Superbowl souvenir Coors Light baseball cap and an impartial third party (also known as my mother), I can now announce the winners of copies of Jantsen's Gift! I got just enough entrants through the post and by e-mail for five winners. So, the people with the following five e-mail nicknames will get an e-mail from me shortly. If anyone fails to reply within three days, I'll draw a new name. Now, the winners:

  • tatertot374
  • debdesk9
  • twinmomx5
  • nfmgirl
  • stuparyk
  • One person hasn't replied so the new winner in their place is: eswright18

    CONGRATULATIONS! E-mails are on their way soon.
phantom, music of the night, andrew lloyd webber

Review: The Noticer by Andy Andrews

When an old drifter named Jones wanders through the town of Orange Beach, Alabama, he seems intent on changing the lives of everyone he meets. A typical town with typical problems, several people of Orange Beach find themselves greatly in need of the help that Jones provides. But can a change in perspective, which is what is offered by Jones, truly be enough to change their lives forever?

I thought this book was mainly talk, with little true substance. There weren't really any new profound insights made, and virtually all the dialog and events were completely unbelievable, mainly because the new perspective offered is nothing that I found to be really convincing or life-changing. I had read most of the insights in other formats elsewhere, including the 'keep your fork' story that is well-known due to a popular e-mail forward that has been traveling around the world for years now already. Add to that the fact that most of what was put forward as profound revelations are conclusions I firmly disagree with, and I didn't care much for this book. That being said, I'm also not the typical audience for this type of book. I gave it a try, but it's not for me. Devout Christians and self-help fans may feel differently about it. For me, I give it 2/5 stars.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson (the publisher) for the opportunity to read and review this. Though I personally didn't care for it, I appreciate the opportunity to give it a try.
phantom, music of the night, andrew lloyd webber

New Giveaway! The Walking People

Hey everyone! I have another giveaway for you, courtesy of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This time it's for five copies of The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane. I'm currently reading a PDF of this one, with the finished copy coming, and should hopefully have a review up before the end of the giveaway. Since I'm travelling out of state soon though, that may not happen, since I'll be without computer access to be able to read PDF files. There are reviews up on Amazon already though, if you're interested.

Greta Cahill never believed she would leave her village in the west of Ireland until she found herself on a ship bound for New York, along with her sister Johanna and a boy named Michael Ward. Labeled a "softheaded goose" by her family, Greta discovers that in America she can fall in love, raise her own family, and earn a living. Though she longs to return and show her family what she has made of herself, her decision to spare her children knowledge of a secret in her past forces her to keep her life in New York separate from the life she once loved in Ireland, and tears her apart from the people she is closest to. Even fifty years later, when the Ireland of her memory bears little resemblance to that of present day, she fears that it is still possible to lose all when she discovers that her children—with the best of intentions— have conspired to unite the worlds she’s so carefully kept separate for decades. A beautifully old-fashioned novel, The Walking People is a debut of remarkable range and power.


"Mary Beth Keane has produced a compelling drama of transatlantic Irish life, told with a truthfulness that is felt not only in the sweep and charm of the story but in its very sentences. The Walking People is an irresistible blend of narrative and syntactic authenticity."--Billy Collins, poet laureate of the United States, 2001-2003


"A marvel of originality and accomplishment. Keane writes about Ireland and the Irish in a completely new way; she explores the situation of "new" immigrants with a Balzacian eye for detail and the implications of class, money, and social situation. At the same time, she writes with a style that is simultaneously pellucid and poetic; many worlds come clear to us, the underworld of the "sandhogs," the countryside of the West of Ireland, the camps of the travelers, the counters of Macy's and Bloomingdales. This is an astonishing debut, and it marks the appearance of a truly major writer."--Mary Gordon, author of Circling My Mother


1) Books are coming from the publisher, so the drawing is open to US and Canada mailing addresses only. No PO Boxes please.

2) Simply comment below for one entry. I asked for influential books last time, so how about this time you just tell me what you're reading now, or read most recently? This is to avoid the boring 'enter me' comments. ALL comments MUST include an e-mail address I can use to contact you.

3) For an extra entry, blog about this giveaway and leave a separate comment with the direct link.

4) For another entry, follow me on Twitter (TiffanyAK) or tweet this giveaway. Leave a separate comment letting me know. If you followed last time, you'll need to tweet this time for the extra entry.

5) The giveaway will end on May 26th, and five winners will be drawn on May 27th. I will notify winners by e-mail, and they will have three days to get me their mailing info or I will be forced to draw another name.

Now that's all out of the way, go ahead and enter if you're interested in the book. I'll also be drawing winners for my first giveaway in the morning, so if you entered that one keep an eye out. Winners will be receiving e-mails shortly after I post the names here.


phantom, music of the night, andrew lloyd webber

MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!! Jantsen's Gift

Hey everyone! Courtesy of Anna at the very generous Hachette Book Group, I have up to five copies of Jantsen's Gift by Pam Cope and Aimee Molloy to give away. Here's a description from the publisher, it sounds like a great book:

Nine years ago, Pam Cope owned a cozy hair salon in the tiny town of Neosho, Missouri, and her life revolved around her son's baseball games, her daughter's dance lessons, and family trips to places like Disney World. She had never been out of the country, nor had she any desire to travel far from home.

Then, on June 16th, 1999, her life changed forever with the death of her 15-year-old son from an undiagnosed heart ailment.

Needing to get as far away as possible from everything that reminded her of her loss, she accepted a friend's invitation to travel to Vietnam, and, from the moment she stepped off the plane, everything she had been feeling since her son's death began to shift. By the time she returned home, she had a new mission: to use her pain to change the world, one small step at a time, one child at a time. Today, she is the mother of two children adopted from Vietnam. More than that, she and her husband have created a foundation called "Touch A Life," dedicated to helping desperate children in countries as far-flung as Vietnam, Cambodia and Ghana.

Pam Cope's story is on one level a moving, personal account of loss and recovery, but on a deeper level, it offers inspiration to anyone who has ever suffered great personal tragedy or those of us who dream about making a difference in the world.

I have a copy on the way to me in the mail, but haven't received it yet. Therefore, I can't provide a review yet, but I was so excited to host my first giveaway that I couldn't wait any longer to get it posted. So, if you have a review of this book I can link to this post please let me know, so that I can link visitors to some actual reviews.

Now, the rules:
1) Books are coming from the publisher, so the drawing is open to US and Canada mailing addresses only, with no PO boxes please.

2) I will draw one winner for every ten qualifying comments, for a total of up to five copies (1-10 comments =1 winner, 11-20=2 winners, etc.) This is my rule, since I'm not sure how many visitors I'll get to my very first giveaway and I do want some random chance involved.

3) Simply comment below for one entry. To make it interesting, how about sharing the book that had the greatest influence on you, or just a favorite title. This is to avoid the boring 'enter me' comments. ALL comments MUST include an e-mail address I can use to contact you.

4) For an extra entry, blog about this giveaway and leave a separate comment with the direct link.

5) For another entry, follow me on Twitter (TiffanyAK) or tweet this giveaway. Leave a separate comment letting me know.

6) The giveaway will end on April 26th, and winners will be drawn on April 27th. I will notify winners by e-mail, and they will have three days to get me their mailing info or I will be forced to draw another name.

Thank you!

phantom, music of the night, andrew lloyd webber

Mt. Redoubt Eruption

For anyone who hasn't heard, Mt. Redoubt erupted for the first time late Sunday night, and has continued throughout the week, and is expected to possibly do so for quite some time to come. Here is one picture taken from the Anchorage Daily News website (, of one eruption very early this morning, seen from Anchorage. Right now, we're all fine here, for those who are worried. We've had some ash fall, and are expected to get more, but we're okay. We have a sizable stockpile of food and water now, just in case, as well as breathing masks. So, please don't worry about me too much. :-)
phantom, music of the night, andrew lloyd webber


Today I received Sway by Zachary Lazar, which I won in an online giveaway. Here's the blurb:

As Mick Jagger sang in the 1970 song Sway, It's just that demon life has got me in its sway. In Lazar's second novel, he uses a number of real demon lives from the '60s—the Stones and their entourage; Kenneth Anger, the filmmaker who shot Scorpio Rising; and Bobby Beausoleil, a musician and Manson family associate—to channel the era's dread and exhilaration. Lazar shows the decade's descent as the culture of youth (represented most clearly by the Rolling Stones as icons of swinging London) responds to assassinations, the war in Vietnam, the repression in Czechoslovakia and the shedding of naïveté about drugs. Lazar sketches out his narrative through discrete episodes: Bobby's first criminal job with Manson; Anger's filming of Scorpio Rising; the breakup of Anita Pallenberg and Brian Jones; and a series of Anger's failed film projects. Anger serves as the narrative's lynchpin, and Lazar could have easily cast him as a tawdry caricature, but to his credit, Lazar understands that, in the '60s, the marginal was central, and he brilliantly highlights the fragility of an era when everyone under thirty has decided that they're an exception—a musician, a runaway, an artist, a star.
phantom, music of the night, andrew lloyd webber

Speak: 10th Anniversary Edition

Another book I won. The 10th Anniversary Edition of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. Here's the usual:

Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning, highly acclaimed, and controversial novel about a teenager who chooses not to speak rather than to give voice to what really happened to her marks ten years in print with this special anniversary edition. Bonus material created for this edition includes a new introduction and afterword from the author, resources, and discussion guide. Will also include a preview of Anderson’s newest book, Wintergirls. The quintessential edition for all fans of this powerfully moving book.