Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to my cousin Dawn. Today she would have been 36.

I miss you Dawnie, especially on your special day. It's only been a few months but I can't imagine it ever getting easier without you.

Friday Fill-Ins


Friday Fill-Ins

1. It was a dark and stormy night, almost every night of this stinkin' rainy summer.

2. I was already going to the library so I offered to take the books myself.

3. Rushing out, I dropped my purse, stepped on the cat's tail, tripped on the rug and fell on my caboose. And I don't even have a cat.

4. Oh no Scooby Doo...I think I heard a howl!

5. Shhhh... be vawee qwuiet, I'm hunting wabbits.
(I am really dating myself with these cartoon references!)

6. Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching scary movies, tomorrow my plans include enjoying not having to go trick or treating anymore and Sunday, I want to read all day!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the capital wants revenge.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before...and surprising readers at every turn.

*sigh* I loved The Hunger Games. I never know if I'm going to like the second book as well as the first but I like to continue on with a series to see how it finishes. I couldn't wait to get this one. I reserved it from my library and got it last week but I was so busy that I didn't do it justice. I could only read it in bits and pieces much of the time and it was so hard to tear myself away. I wanted to do nothing but read, read, read but of course I didn't want it to end either!

**double sigh** I loved Catching Fire. I won't get into a recap here because I'm afraid I'll post a spoiler if you haven't read this series yet. There was plenty of action, adventure and strong emotions. It was really, really, really good. Really. It's going to be an extremely long wait for the final book in this trilogy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review: Billy Bones The Road to Nevermore by Christopher Lincoln

Will skeleton boy Billy Bones
be brave enough to face
the dangers of Nevermore?

Billy Bones and his cousin Millicent are ready to explore the world beyond the Biglum mansion. When Uncle Grim and Millicent are captured and taken to the hidden world of Nevermore, Billy begins an adventure bigger than even he could have asked for. As Billy searches for his loved ones, Millicent discovers that some secrets are too big for any Secrets Closet to hold-and may be too dark for any skeleton to overcome.

This sequel offers another spooky romp in the tradition of filmmaker Tim Burton, where friendships grow, betrayals linger, schemes entangle - and heroism appears in the most unexpected places.

Another book I'll be sharing with the nephews! I didn't read the prequel yet and I would have preferred to read them in order. While this story is easy to understand and there are plenty of references that help you catch up, I like to start at the beginning. It didn't distract me from enjoying this story though.

Billy is a human boy but he had once been turned into a skeleton by an evil skeleton uncle and was subjected to many otherwordly events. He was transformed back and saved from the Afterlife. Now he lives happily in a mansion with his cousin Millicent and her grandmother Mum Biglum. His skeleton parents also live there in a special closet where they are the Keepers of Secrets. When Gossip, an evil snoop, overhears and repeats important secrets, Billy is once again turned into a skeleton and is sent to Nevermore. Once I got all of that straight we were off and running into Billy's next adventure!

The characters were so interesting and quite humorous. There is plenty of action and while it may seem like a scary setting it's not a scary story. It's a very clever twist on a tale of a young boy fighting evil and trying to do the right thing. Occasional black and white illustrations within the chapters enhance the story. I hope there will be more adventures with Billy Bones.

Highly recommended, Book 2 in the series.

Thank you to Hatchette Books for a review copy of this book.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release date: 8/09
Pages: 208
Price/format: $10.99/hardcover
Type: Children's fiction
Age: 8-12

Review: A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons by Cressida Cowell

It's Hiccup's birthday,

but that's not going to keep
him from getting into trouble.

To save his dragon, Toothless, from being banished, Hiccup must sneak into the Meathead Public Library and steal the Viking's most sacred book. But the Vikings see books as a dangerous influence and keep them locked up and under heavy guard. To save his friend, Hiccup must brave the Hairy Scary Librarian, his dreadful army of Meathead Warriors, and the formidable Driller Dragons. Will he make it out and live to see his next birthday?

I adored this book! I haven't read any of the other Hiccup books but I will be now and I'll be sharing these with my nephews. This had a comical story about a young Viking boy, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, the Hope and Heir to the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, who is in his first year of the Pirate Training Program and isn't really turning out like the HERO he is expected to be much to the dismay of his father, Stoick the Vast, O Hear His Name and Tremble, the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. And this is a time where you weren't allowed to be anything less.
Imagine a time of VIKING HEROES, in which men were men and women were sort of men, too, and even some babies had chest hair.
Poor Hiccup is off to a miserable start for his twelfth birthday but it does make for a hilarious adventure.

Almost every page had wonderful illustrations, hand drawn sketches of Vikings and dragons. There were also excerpts from the Hero's Guide and they looked like drawings from a book. And all throughout there were different interesting fonts that added to the fun. It's not just a good story it's also fun to look at.

In the back of the book at the end of the story were some great additions.
Dragon Profiles
- names, drawings, statistics and notations of each of the dragons Hiccup has experience with.
Dragonese Dictionary - important terms for the reader
all right - okey dokey
bad mood - thunder puffs issa zapping
chair - bum support
Dragonese colors and numbers
yellow - butter color
1,2,3 -oos, doos, twa
Conversations with Toothless the Dragon - get to know Hiccup's cute little dragon (the littlest ever and he has no teeth but very hard gums) even better.

Highly recommended. Book 5 from a series.

Thank you to Hatchette Books for a review copy of this book.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release date: 8/1/09
Pages: 256
Price/format: $10.99/hardcover
Type: Children's fiction
Age: Middle grade

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Last week I mentioned that I didn't get anything in my mailbox. I wasn't complaining and it wasn't a problem at all because I have plenty of reading to catch up on. A few of you mentioned that the next week would be better. Well guess what? I got a lot of books in the mail! Most of them were a set from one place so it was only three deliveries but I got eleven books. Eleven. And I won the same series again this week in another contest too. (I declined and another lucky reader will get them.) I guess I have some reading to do! Share what you got in your mailbox and leave a link at The Printed Page. You'll find even more goodies while you're there!

Hollywood Moon
by Joseph Wambaugh

to review for Hatchette

One moonlit night, LAPD veteran Dana Vaughn and "Hollywood" Nate Weiss, a struggling-actor-turned cop, get a call about a young man who's been attacking women. Meanwhile, two surfer cops known as Flotsam and Jetsam keep bumping into an odd, suspicious duo--a smooth-talking player in dreads and a crazy-eyed, tattooed biker. No one suspects that all three dubious characters might be involved in something bigger, more high-tech, and much more illegal. After a dizzying series of twists, turns, and chases, the cops will find they've stumbled upon a complex web of crime where even the criminals can't be sure who's conning whom.

by Lauren Kate

ARC from Delacourt

There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori. Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move. Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce--and goes out of his way to make that very clear--she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her. Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

YA series - 8 books
by James Patterson

won from Missy's Book Nook

Maximum Ride (book 1) - James Patterson's young adult masterpiece of non-stop action, mystery and suspense soared to the top of bestseller lists and created an explosion of new fans for this beloved, multimillion-selling author.Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel are kids who are pretty normal-except that they're 98% human, 2% bird. They grew up in cages, living like rats, and now they're free-but being chased by the wicked, wolf-like Erasers, who've kidnapped Angel. Led by Max, the "Flock" embarks on a quest to find Angel, infiltrate a secret facility to track down their parents, get revenge on an evil traitor, and try to save the world-if there's time.

Maximum Ride series
1) The Angel Experiment
2) School's Out - Forever
3) Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
4) The Final Warning
5) Max

Daniel X series
1) The Dangerous Days of Daniel X
2) Daniel X Watch the Skies

Maximum Ride

contest at Princess Bookie

If you hurry you can still get in on the Big Box Contest at Princess Bookie! She challenged us to recreate some book covers and here are mine.

Join the fun and get creative!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Unfortunately I can't participate this year but I'll be cheering on as many people as I can whenever I get to my computer. I will also be reading on my own whenever possible. I'm with you all in spirit people! Perhaps my biggest contribution will be the fact that I posed for the image for this button. This is how I always cook, don't ya know? Next year I'll take the time to fix myself up a bit so I'll look good. *snort*

Oh, I can't even type this with a straight face! This had to have been designed by a man. It's very cool but if it were really me I would be wearing my sweatpants and ratty sweatshirt with no bra, bed head (and not the sexy kind either) and my glasses. And that's just my look for dinner. Eek! Breakfast would really be a nightmare! Maybe that's why my hubby cooks dinner now...

But back to the reading. Good luck everyone and I hope you have a blast. Reading should always be a fun thing. It's not too late to join in and there's plenty of ways to be involved. Dewey's Read-A-Thon site has more information and there's plenty of readers out there that could use the support.

Go, Fight, Win! Read that book tonight!
(Can you tell I was never a cheerleader in high school?) Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins


1. The crickets sing, the birds fly and the bunnies romp in the fields by my house. Just stay out of my flowers.

2. I'll always be with you wherever you are. (Sounds like a stalker!)

3. I want to get far away from the housework!

4. Motherhood; this was my dream.

5. But as for me I'll choose a book every time.

6. Very strong women are the foundation of the family I come from.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to snuggling up and watching TV by the fire, tomorrow my plans include catching up on my reading all day long and Sunday, I want to finish getting the yard and porches ready for winter!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

A killer is preying
on sacred ground...

Painters Mills, Ohio is a small rural town where the Amish and the "English" have lived side by side for over two hundred years. But sixteen years ago, a serial killer was on the loose and left victims in his wake shattering this peaceful community. Their innocence was lost and only one victim survived the Slaughterhouse Killer. A fourteen-year-old girl named Katie Burkholder escaped with her life but she would never be the same.

When she was old enough she left the Amish community and eventually started a career in law enforcement. When Painters Mills needed a new chief of police she was asked to fill the position. With her unique perspective of the Amish and the English she understands both worlds. She was happy to return and has fit in comfortably for the last two years, until a body of a young woman was discovered in a snowy field. All the painful memories and dark secrets have flooded back and she is now unsure of what exactly happened that horrible night. Katie vows to stop this killer even if she must betray her family to do so.

The first thing I noticed about this book was the cover. The image of the empty cornfield in the middle of the winter sets the perfect tone for this murder mystery. The action starts with the very first page as a crime is committed and the first body is found. The story is told from Kate's perspective and the author does an impressive job of tapping into her emotions and her interactions with her family and coworkers. The murders tipped the delicate balance between her two worlds and her self control. The characters are flawed but appealing and I was interested in knowing them. The plot is fast paced with twists and turns that intensify until the end. I will definitely be looking for the rest of this series after finishing the debut. Highly recommended.

Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for a review copy of this book.

Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release date: 6/09
Price/format: $24.95/hardcover
Pages: 336
Type: fiction

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So, I was just wondering...

I have to thank Dar again for her helpful tip for writing posts. It was the topic two weeks ago and then last week she shared one of the best tips ever! I've used it every time. So thanks again Dar! What a difference you made with just one little comment.

I know more and more people are using the e-readers and I see they are getting new models and updating old ones all the time. The Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader and now the new Barnes & Noble Nook are the ones that I've heard the most about. I've never had the pleasure of using one but they look very cool. I don't really have the need or the money for an e-reader but if I traveled that would be very handy. And if my kids could use those in school instead of the giant text books they have to lug around, it would be so much easier and less of a burden on their developing spines. Although I can't even imagine how much it would cost to have to replace one of those babies.
"Mom, have you seen my expensive e-reader that I need in 10 minutes but I probably left it at the gym and will never see it again?"
(Last year my high school sophomore informed me at 9:00 p.m. that he needed 3 sock puppets for a project the next morning. I was not surprised. I grabbed some old, clean socks, a bunch of craft goodies and turned him loose. He got an A!) But I digress...

I've noticed that there are a lot of you that use e-readers so I was wondering, what do you think? What kind do you have and what do you use it for? Are you happy with it? If you don't have one, are you planning to get one? Go ahead, share with us! I want to know more.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blog Tour and Review: Ginger High by Melissa Burmester

The novel begins in 1901 where a series of murders take place. All of the victims have bite marks on their necks. Could it be vampires? The story jumps forward to modern days and focuses on teen Daisy Fisher. After her school is burnt down, Daisy is sent to a new school in New York. Ginger High is a private school for students with extraordinary powers and abilities. She befriends some of the students who can teleport, heal others, and create fire. She soon finds out that people came to Earth from a parallel world called the Kingdom of Animists. A murder occurs at Ginger High, bringing the supernatural beings Amanta, Matthias, and Taeru from the parallel world. While they investigate the death, Daisy struggles with her supernatural powers, and with her mysterious new friend, Fredrick. Amanta must deal with a long time, buried family secret. What are powers? And what is with this crazy school?

My Thoughts
I am so impressed with this talented, young author! She writes this debut novel very well using good grammar and sentence structure. Her story is clever and imaginative with many details about this world and the parallel universe she created. I loved the cover too and thought it was a great choice for this book. While the characters were interesting, it would be helpful to me if they were a bit more developed. I was often confused with the quick changes back and forth between each world and the many different people and had a hard time making those transitions. I appreciated the detailed back story but there were times I couldn't quite connect all the dots to follow along. But I have to stress again how impressed I am with this teenagers efforts. I can't even imagine accomplishing so much at this age! I look forward to reading more from Melissa and expect her to have a long career in writing. She is currently at work on the next book in this series.

About The Author
Melissa Burmester is presently living in East Moriches, NY with her twin brother George, her parents and their cat Cosmo. Melissa has been writing about vampires and the supernatural since the age of twelve. She has written a few short stories, but “Ginger High” is her first novel. She is presently attending Westhampton Beach High School, and is planning a career as a writer and a teacher.

Thank you to Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours for a review copy of this book.

Publisher: Infinity Publishing
Release date: 5/09
Pages: 229
Price/format: $14.95/trade paperback
Type: YA paranormal

Mailbox Monday

What did you get in your mailbox last week? Add your link at The Printed Page and share your new books.

Last week I got:

That's definitely not a problem though. I have plenty to read and plenty to do. I also got a few library books that I have been anxious to get my hands on. There are so many great books sitting here taunting me, calling my name. I guess I'd better go do something about that. Enjoy your week!

Friday, October 16, 2009

A sad day

I was so broken-hearted this week. I knew the time was coming but I still couldn't face it, I didn't want to admit it. But I put on a brave face and marched outside to do what I knew had to be done. The time had come... *sob*
to take down my hammock.

There will be many long months and dark days ahead. No longer will I be able to swing carefree in the breeze, snuggled comfortably, admiring the view, reading a book. The snow will come and pile up in it's place. The winter will hold us in it's icy grip for a long time before spring finally breaks through. *sniff* When the sunny days and early flowers are here to stay (and that takes several attempts) I will be ready, hammock in hand, to march back out and hang it once more.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Tour: The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall

Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancé. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry. Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking, and after Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple–will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?

My thoughts:
This is the second book I've read by Cindy Woodsmall and I like her better every time! She writes so well about the Amish lifestyle. It may be a simpler way but it's not always less complicated. This story is short but packed with emotions and heartache. The main characters have endured their own hardships that have changed who they are. Their family and friends have recognized the differences but don't know how to help them. When a simple exchange of letters lights that spark in their eyes again they begin to realize that life may not be so bleak after all. Now they have to decide what they want out of life and how far they will go to get it. This story will touch your heart with the charming characters and the hopeful theme.

Author Bio:
Cindy Woodsmall is the author of When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and The New York Times Best-Seller When the Soul Mends. Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families. A mother of three sons and two daughters-in-law, Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband of thirty-one years.

Author's website
Giveaway at Merry Weather
Giveaway at Enroute to Life

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for a copy of this book to review and inviting me to participate in this tour.

Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Release date: 10/6/09
Pages: 208
Price/type: $14.00/hardcover
Type: Christian fiction

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So, I was just wondering....

I learn so much from you people! I'm glad I get a chance to ask questions like this because I either find the answers from someone or find out I wasn't quite as stupid as I thought I was. Two weeks ago I was asking how others wrote their posts and mentioned how it never works out if I write it in Microsoft Word first and try to copy and paste it to Blogger. So many of you said that has happened to you too so I didn't feel so stupid anymore. But just two days ago Dar sent me a response that had me wondering why I didn't think of that sooner!

I don't know if anyone mentioned this but if you write your post in Word and then copy and paste it into Blogger, copy and paste into edit html and not compose. Then the formatting is just fine.

That makes so much sense! I should have tried that sooner. I did use it for a new post and it worked great! Thanks so much Dar!! I'm passing on your good advice to others so that they too may benefit from it as well.

I really enjoy learning more about everyone. It was so interesting to read where your user names and blog titles came from. For this week I was wondering how you chose your header. I've had three so far and my new one is the first that I created entirely myself. So how did you come up with yours? Did you make it or find it somewhere? What was it that attracted you to it? Have you had more than one and if so, how often do you change it? Tell us your story!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Contest - mystery and crime stories

Closed - thank you for entering!

In honor of my 222 followers and my 1 year anniversary it's time for another contest! Hatchette Books has so graciously offered some of their great new November titles for my mystery, crime drama lovers. There will be one winner for each book and one grand prize winner will get all three books! So that's four big winners! You can enter for as many as you want but can only win one. Please let me know your preferences in your entry. You must follow to enter.

I ALEX CROSS by James Patterson

Detective Alex Cross is pulled out of a family celebration and given the awful news that a beloved relative has been found brutally murdered. Alex vows to hunt down the killer, and soon learns that she was mixed up in one of Washington's wildest scenes. And she was not this killer's only victim.

THE LINEUP edited by Otto Penzler

The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives. Including Lee Child, Lincoln Child, Michael Connelly, Jeffrey Deaver, Laura Lippman, Ridley Pearson, Douglas Preston, Ian Rankin and more!

HOLLYWOOD MOON by Joseph Wambaugh

Wambaugh once again masterfully gets inside the hearts and minds of the cops whose jobs have them constantly on the brink of danger. By turns heart-wrenching, exhilarating, and laugh-out-loud funny, Hollywood Moon is his most thrilling and deeply affecting ride yet through the singular streets of LA.

One copy of each book will be given away and a grand prize winner will get all three. There will be a total of four winners.


- Leave a comment that has something to do with mystery/crime/drama. Your favorite book or author? Maybe a fascinating true crime? Hopefully not one that you committed yourself!
- You must be a follower in some way for your entry to count. Tell me how.
- Don't forget your email address! I've had people miss out on their prize because I had no way to reach them.
- Tell me which book(s) you would like, or enter for all four choices.
- Contest ends October 31st at 11:59 p.m. EST
- U.S. and Canada only (sorry!)
- Four winners will be drawn by

Extra entries: (can be put into one comment)
+1 new follower
+2 already follow
+2 extra entries if you promote this contest and leave a link.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mailbox Monday

The Printed Page is our host each week where we leave a link to share what we got in our mailboxes last week. Join the fun and let us know what goodies you received too!

by Melody Carlson

for Fun Fiction Fall tour - Waterbrook Multnomah

Claudette Fiore relished the glamorous life in Hollywood because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame and above all, beauty. But age has withered her beauty and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth. Penniless and alone, the widow returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. As she slowly begins to make friends she sees her old life in a new light and begins to question her old values. Is it too late for Claudette to attain true beauty?

What Matters Most - Diary of a Teenage Girl
by Melody Carlson

for Fun Fiction Fall tour - Waterbrook Multnomah

(from series)
Sixteen-year-old Maya has a lot to deal with. She can graduate early and is seriously considering it when the popular cheerleader makes her life miserable. Her mother will also be getting released from prison soon and adds stress when she decides she wants Maya to live with her again. When she discovers she has a talent for playing her fathers' guitar, new options open up for her. She has to decide if she wants a normal or glamorous life and what truly matters most.

Leaving Carolina
by Tamara Leigh

for Fun Fiction Fall tour - Waterbrook Multnomah

When Piper Wick left her hometown in North Carolina twelve years ago she also left her old life behind. She has reinvented herself in a high powered career in Los Angeles and is in a relationship with a U.S. Congressman. But when a reclusive uncle decides to change his will to
make amends for past family misdeeds, Piper knows family secrets will be revealed and she must return home and prepare for battle. When she arrives at her uncle's house she is unprepared for the rugged, blue-eyed gardener and his thoughts on making amends. Is it really about more than just making restitution? Only the truth will set her free.

Century - Book 1
by P.D. Baccalario

from Random House - YA

Every hundred years, humankind is put to the test. Every hundred years, four young people must take an enormous challenge. Another century has passed, and the children have been chosen. The challenge begins in Rome, the city of fire. There is a mystery that will take four cities and these four extraordinary children to solve.

White Picket Fences
by Susan Meissner

Waterbrook Multnomah tour

The Janviers have the idyllic life - a beautiful home, great jobs, and two wonderful kids - and surrounding it all is the proverbial white picket fence that protects them, offers them a sense of security...and hides all their secrets.

Secrets of a Christmas Box
by Steven Hornby

from Ecky Thump Books - children

When the Christmas "Tree-Dwellers" wake up after the long sleep in the Christmas box they find that one of their members are missing. Desperate to find him before the 25th, a small group escapes down the tree and into the house to look for clues. In this unfamiliar world they discover a dark secret and they must find their way back to warn the others before time runs out.

Harry Potter books 1,2,3
by J.K. Rowling

won from Book Giveaway

I'm sharing these with my nephews!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Technical difficulties, please stand by

I'm having so much fun, and quite a bit of frustration, making some changes to my blog. It started out with wanting a new background for fall but since my old header didn't match anything (and wasn't meant for long term anyway) I needed a new one. I wanted to try making my own so I was thinking about what represents me and also my love of reading. I wanted to use a bit of imagination since I've enjoyed art my whole life (major in college) and while I don't get any professional use out of it now I have to be doing something creative - drawing, painting, x-stitch, needlepoint, some knitting, scrapbooking, and now blogging over this last year. While I'm not super tech savvy on the computer I can hold my own and am enjoying learning more all the time. Having kids around has been my best form of education and they are very helpful, when I force them to be. Of course there is that annoying dial-up connection that slows things down but I can work around it.

So anyway, I decided to take some photos of my mantel. We have a great fireplace in our family room, all built by my parents when I was a kid. The field stone came from our creek and they did the whole room, along with other projects, themselves. This house belonged to my grandparents first, than my parents and now we have it and I love it here. There is so much history for all of us and we've all made our mark. And my kids can't try anything here that my brothers (and maybe me) didn't try first. Ha! I played around with some things that were already on the mantel, old books, a lantern, a cast iron nutcracker shaped like a squirrel that had belonged to one grandparent or another and some of my favorite photos of my kids that I took in our yard. One was when they were little and were playing on their slide and the other was four years ago when my oldest was a senior and I told them they couldn't leave until they all posed for our traditional first-day-of-school photo. Don't they look thrilled? Not a single smile that morning. I arranged and rearranged stuff and took a bunch of shots until I came up with a favorite. I don't have Photoshop but I used some of the programs that came with my laptop to adjust colors, title, font and other good stuff. It's not quite there yet but I thought it was good enough to put on my blog. I need to work on the font style and color more because none of them were just right, and I tried a lot of different ones. The size of the header is also too big but when I decrease it the margins are messed up so I need to experiment more.

I am open to any suggestions and constructive criticism but please be kind. I would love to make it better but don't break my heart and tell me it sucks. This has turned into a much bigger project than I anticipated and I am proud of what I've accomplished so far. Besides, it's my blog and I'll do what I want to anyway. And I'd hate to have to hunt you down and make you take it back if you insult me! :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Review: The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

What if?
Why not?
Could it be?

When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (An elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that Peter can hardly dare to believe it. But it is - all of it - true.

I had seen this on a few blogs and then my librarian recommended it to me. She had really enjoyed it so I snatched it up. And I'm glad I did! This was such a sad, sweet story. The font and the somber black and white illustrations by Yoko Tanaka give it the feel of a classic fairy tale. It begins in Baltese in the 1800s with a 10-year-old boy named Peter who is fetching fish and bread from the market. His guardian, an old soldier who took him in when he was orphaned, is in fragile health and only thinks of giving the boy proper military training instead of love and comfort. Peter has been told that his younger sister died at birth but he is lonely and desperate to believe he still has family. When he gives his only coin to a fortuneteller she tells him that his sister is alive and that an elephant will lead him to her. An elephant! Peter's newfound joy quickly turns to disbelief and sadness because there are no such animals in his town. But when an old magician conjures up an elephant that crashes through the ceiling of the opera house during his show (he intended to conjure up lilies) a chain of events is set in motion that no one could have predicted.

This is a quick read but the beautiful writing will transport you to another time and another place. It has all the elements for an extraordinary tale - the charming yet lonely characters, desperate circumstances, the courage to go on, love, hope and magic. You will be reminded of what's truly important in life. Although I'm familiar with her work, I haven't read this author in the past. I will be looking for her books now since this was such a delightful read for all ages. Highly recommended!

Nationwide book group discussion at www.the

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release date: 9/8/09
Pages: 208
Price/format: $16.99/hardcover
Type: children's fiction
Age: 8-13

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fill-ins


1. Sweet dreams and don't let the bedbugs bite!

2. My hubby does so many nice things especially for me.

3. Silliness should be a requirement for all adults to stay young at heart.

4. Since my kids are older now I don't have to trick or treat this Halloween. It's a lot less work but it's also a lot less candy!

5. Outstanding or not my blog has been a lot of fun!

6. A good night's sleep is what I want right now!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having a nice dinner and relaxing, tomorrow my plans include watching my son's soccer team win their game and Sunday, I want to read, read, read!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Review: hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

A sacred oath,

a fallen angel,

a forbidden love.

Nora Grey is a responsible, independent teenager who lives alone with her widowed mother in Maine. When she is unexpectedly paired up with the transfer student, Patch, in Biology class she is unhappy to be stuck with someone so sullen and annoying. He is also quite mysterious and very handsome, a bad combination. Although she tries to keep her distance he always seems to be around. He becomes a favorite topic of conversation for Nora and her best friend Vee. Eventually she acknowledges her growing attraction to him and realizes he is linked to many strange occurrences. As she starts to dig deeper into Patch's past she must determine where the true dangers lie and to what extremes she will go to uncover the secrets.

The first thing that drew me to this book was the dramatic black and white cover. I really liked it and I had to know what this book was about. My first impression was that it started very similar to Twilight and there have been many comparisons. In a First Look online bookclub at Barnes & Noble the author explained the background of her book. She told how the inspiration for this story came from her own 10th grade Biology class and she wrote the two chapters of classroom scenes in 2003 before Twilight was published. This book took her over five years to write and when it was submitted to publishers the title was Eclipse. (I like the final title much better!) From 2003-06 no agents mentioned any similarities to the Twilight series. It wasn't until 2007 when it was mentioned that it was too similar and was rejected. It's a tried and true formula that's used often in YA stories and hardly a secret. Teenagers spend much of their life in the classroom and most of their relationships develop there. It works for this story as well. As Nora becomes more interested in Patch her friend Vee seems to feel the opposite. But she has developed feelings for her new friend Elliot and it would be so convenient if Nora could be paired off with his friend Jules. The friction increases between the girls as their lives are pulled in different directions and when Nora finds herself in increasingly dangerous situations she turns to Patch for help. This could be the very person she is threatened by but she is drawn to him and he is the only person who understands these strange events. And it seems the events aren't random and her very life is at stake.

I found this to be fast paced and easy to read. There were plenty of twists and turns that kept me turning pages to solve the mysteries. The story was interesting and I liked the mythology of fallen angels. There were elements that bothered me and some were probably more noticeable as a parent of teens than if I were a teen myself. Nora is mature and independent but she was left alone too often even after threats and attacks and some of her decisions made no sense to me. I also realized that I was curious about these characters but I didn't find them very likable and I'm not sure why. Some were annoying but were suppose to be. Miss Greene, the new school counselor, really got on my nerves with her strange questions. I realize she had motives but they seemed so obvious to me. I'm not sure what was going on with Nora's iron pills but they were mentioned a lot. I expect this will have more of a role in the future as well.

Even with the parts I didn't care for I still want to know what comes next. I thought there was chemistry between Nora and Patch and imagine that it will only get stronger in the future. The ending in the finished copy is different than the ARC version. It's only a few paragraphs but it's on the last page but it does make some changes in the storyline. I like both versions. Since this was the author's debut novel I'm sure the stories will get better and better. I look forward to reading more from Becca Fitzpatrick.

The sequel, Crescendo, will be released in October, 2010.

Thank you to for an ARC of this book.

author website -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release date: 10/13/09
Pages: 400
Price/format: $17.99/hardcover
Type: YA
Age: 14 and up

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So, I was just wondering....

I was so relieved last week to hear that I wasn't the only person to have some trouble formatting my new posts when I write a review. It was great to hear from all of you and to now know that I haven't been doing anything wrong (for the most part). I had wondered if there was an easier way but it appears that I'm getting the hang of it. Thanks so much for your responses every week. I've learned so much already and it's a great way to get different answers and opinions all in one place. You're awesome!

This week I wanted to ask you about a topic that I only started to hear about yesterday but I found it confusing and disturbing. Apparently, starting December 1 the FTC will require disclosure on all products a blogger receives and reviews should they keep the product. Yes, that includes books. Otherwise we can send them back to the publisher or we can risk a fine of $11,000. We must also retain proof (receipts) of reviewing, returning, etc. Huh? This is just a brief summary of what I got out of it but there are plenty of people talking. I've listed some links below that include more details.

So what do you think? Have you heard any more accurate information on this topic? I have received ARCs but I always add where they came from. Will that be enough? Will they be able to enforce this and do you think it will affect how you do reviews? I can't wait to hear what you have to say. Please tell me more!

These blogs had some interesting posts and additional links about this topic.
Chasing Ray
At Home With Books
Cindy's Love of Books
A Garden of Books for Teens

Nominations for The Cybils and a contest too!

The Cybils (a loose acronym for Children's and Young Adult Literary Blogger Awards) is a book award that's like a cross between the Newbery and the People's Choice Awards. Anyone can nominate a book, but a panel is responsible for sifting through all the nominees to choose a winner. Books are judged both on literary merit as well as kid/teen appeal in 9 categories: Fiction Picture Books, Non-fiction Picture Books, Easy Readers/Short Chapter Books, Middle Grade Fiction, Poetry, Non-fiction (MG/YA), Fantasy (MG/YA), Graphic Novels (MG/YA), and Young Adult Fiction.

The Cybils needs your nominations! You can add your titles until Oct. 15th. For more information there are several helpful links at The Shady Glade where Alyssa is also hosting a contest. Go check it out and if you enter the contest, tell them I sent you!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Review: Undiscovered Gyrl by Allison Burnett

Only on the internet
can you have
so many
friends and be so lonely.

Katie Kampenfelt is 17 years-old who has just graduated from high school. She is taking time off before she starts college and to help sort out her intense conflicts she decides to start a blog. The book is a series of posts written by her about her life, and what a life it is! She doesn't hold back and shares intimate details about everything - her relationship with her divorced parents, her friendships, her sex life. While it appears at first to be a story of a typical teen it quickly spins into a tale of her destructive behavior.

Katie's actions become more and more disturbing as she spins out of control. When her attempts to get attention from her absentee father are rebuffed she eventually seeks out comfort from older, unattainable men. Her emotions are out of control and she goes from seemingly random sex acts to outbursts of uncontrollable crying. Her friendships are dwindling and she turns to drug and alcohol to dull her pain. She reveals it all in her blog posts with crude language that is very disturbing but also appropriate for her situation.

My feelings about this book were very confusing. I found it to be shocking and raw but also compelling. I wanted to know what was going to happen to this teenage girl who was spiraling down into a pit of despair. It was like a car crash that I couldn't turn away from. I felt so bad for the child but I wanted to grab the teenager and tell her to wake up! But I did feel sympathetic for this character and understood how her poor choices snowballed out of control. The ending was quite a shocker that I never saw coming. I won't give anything away here but it did leave me wanting more. It was appropriate for the story but it was very frustrating. I was also surprised to find out that the author was a man. His writing was very believable as that of a broken young girl. This would be a very interesting title for group discussions.

Thank you to Vintage Books for an ARC of this book.

Publisher: Vintage Books
Release date: 8/11/09
Pages: 304
Price/Format:$14.00/Trade paperback
Type: Fiction

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mailbox Monday

It's time to share our goodies! If you would like to show what you got in the mail last week, leave a link with our host The Printed Page.

Savvy Girl
by Lynn Messina

won from Stop, Drop and Read

Chrissy Gibbons can't believe her luck. She landed a coveted summer internship at her favorite magazine, Savvy. She is befriended by the glamorous fashion editor Jessica and her crush on Michael the gorgeous college guy may turn into something more. But her biggest desire is to win the competition to be Savvy's first teen columnist. The problem is that between going to parties with Jessica and thinking of ways to charm Michael she hasn't come up with a topic for her column. During this exciting summer in New York City she struggles to balance her ambitions with her fun. Chrissy is living life in the fast lane...does she have what it takes to keep up?

Thank You For All Things
by Sandra Kring

won from Stark Raving Bibliophile

At eleven, Lucy McGowan knows she'll be a psychologist when she grows up. And her quirky and conflicted family provide plenty of opportunity to practice. Now Lucy, her "profoundly gifted" twin brother, Milo, her commitment-phobic mother, and her New Age grandmother are leaving Chicago to care for her dying grandfather in Wisconsin. In the rural town Lucy believes she will find the missing pieces to the puzzle of her past and possibly the truth about her missing father. But she discovers so much more - lessons in love and forgiveness that the adults around her will need help remembering if their family is ever to find peace and embrace the future.