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!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

In September 1897, Francis Pharcellus Church, a former Civil War correspondent and editor at the New York Sun, received a letter from the then 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon. It bears repeating all these years later.
Original article
Dear Editor,
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in the Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

115 West Ninety-Fifth Street


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been
affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world
are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times te
n thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading and asks you to :
1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3 . Share 2 "teaser" sentences also citing the title of the book and the author and in that way people can have great recommendations if they like the "teaser".
4. Please avoid spoilers!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I won this book last year from The Shady Glade and I love it! The illustrations are half the fun and since I can't show them all here you'll just have to go get this book for yourself. It's so entertaining I had to include two teasers for your enjoyment. Happy holidays!

~page 26
Selecting a Tree -

Another alternative is to invest in a plastic tree, which can be stored during the year and, at holiday time, assembled in minutes. Though quite expensive initially ($65.00 and up) a plastic tree will last many years and can be passed on to the next generation, if they have no taste either.

~page 60
Wrapping It Up -
But some annual Christmas customs, exhaustion among them, are best let go. At 4:00 A.M. this coming Christmas morning, take a quick break from your traditional Search for the Scissors and jot on the October page of your next year's calendar: "Have all Christmas presents gift-wrapped by stores."

Christmastime by Sandra Boynton

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Christmas Tree

I loved this feature last year on Shelf Awareness and I'm so glad they are doing it again! This is the Book Christmas Tree of the Day from Magers & Quinn Booksellers featuring a display from the University of San Francisco. Isn't it awesome?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading and asks you to :
1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3 . Share 2 "teaser" sentences also citing the title of the book and the author and in that way people can have great recommendations if they like the "teaser".
4. Please avoid spoilers!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(When Cassie reluctantly agrees to be an elf for the mall Santa she is given a tiny costume to wear - a short green dress, gold slippers, a Santa-style hat and tiny, size 4 tights that are too small and don't even reach her waist. When she is hoisted into the air in a harness to swing over the crowd at the mall and announce Santa's arrival - disaster strikes...)

Cassie gasped as her tights rolled down, catching on her thighs... The tights slid farther down and everyone in the entire mall seemed to be staring up at her. "I can see the elf's underpants," one little boy called, pointing at her. Suspended above the ground, Cassie watched as several mothers covered their children's eyes.

~Pg 123-124
The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

The last week has been very interesting here in western NY state. Let me see if I can give you the short version...

*Furnace quit, no heat for hours but hubby fixed it.
*Heavy rain, flooded yard, water in basement, no hot water for shower because water put out pilot light on water heater -brrrrr...., hubby fixed it
*Rain turned to snow and lots of it. We had several inches but some places had 2-3 ft!
*Basketball season just started for our youngest son, a senior in high school. We've had games every other day, all away on very snowy roads. I guess we got that bad tire replaced just in time for the winter weather.
*House phone quit working due to bad weather and phone company didn't fix it for days. Bad signal makes it hard to use cell phone. We can go outside in the snow and cold to make calls or try it inside in the kitchen, standing on one foot, with the phone pressed against the window pane, the wind blowing from the north, at sun set, on Tuesdays in months with a "q". Sometimes we get lucky.
*Visit to aunt for two days while uncle is away. She has chemo treatments for breast cancer and wanted company. I was more than happy to do it and wish I could do more. It was a fun visit and was great to have her all to myself. She happens to live 2 hours away near Buffalo and if you've ever heard any weather report in your whole life you know that Buffalo tends to get a bit of snow. (2-3 feet in less than 48 hours) I was able to travel with minimal problems and (mostly) clear roads.
*12 days until Christmas and I have a total of 4 gifts. Four. FOUR. And 2 of them are only stocking stuffers. And my oldest has a birthday on the 22nd. Every time I ask my kids what they want they tell me they don't know. I'm glad they aren't greedy and ask for anything and everything but it would be helpful if they asked for something. After all, I'm pretty sure that Christmas Day is on December 25th every, single year. They knew it was coming. They knew I was going to ask for a list. But, since we go through this time after time I'm not worried. It always gets done.
*Picked out a beautiful tree for a great price. My son helped bring it home, now hubby has to put it up. It sits on the porch, lonely and naked. I do the decorating. ALL of it. But I like the decorating and I love the lights. It's the undecorating that really stinks.
*Read a book and started another. Started several reviews but didn't finish any - yet.

So that was last week. I have lots to do this week and a lot of it is the same stuff as last week. I have lots of blog stuff to work on and lots of good books to read so hopefully I'll get to that. There's more decorations to put up too. I love the lights. Most of the outdoor stuff is done fortunately because this week is supposed to be cold. Single digits cold. Brrr... The first snow was very beautiful though and I did take some photos to share here.

In all of the craziness that comes with the holidays I hope you take time to enjoy your blessings. Even in the hardest times I know I am truly blessed. I have a wonderful family and friends, a roof over my head and junk food in my cupboards. I'm very lucky and very grateful. And I'm happy to have "met" all of you in the blog world too. Enjoy December!

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page (this month at Let Them Read Books) is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

It's mid-December and I have lots of shopping to do and lots of good books to read (guess which one is more fun!) Was your mailbox full last week?

by Lauren DeStefano

from Simon & Schuster for review

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine att
empts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

by Jennifer Estep

Bought (Brand new $1.25!)

Sparks are going to fly in this new superhero romance from the author of Karma Girl and Hot Mama.

Bella would feel better about being born into a family of superheroes if her own superpower was something she could control-or at least use. But static electricity? That's less a power than a jinx. Then she stumbles on two things no supergirl should be without: an ubervillain and a dashing-if shady-stranger named Debonair. Bella's about to learn just how well love and danger mix.

Allison Hewitt is Trapped
by Madeleine Roux

from Goodreads First Reads for review

Allison Hewitt and her five colleagues at the Brooks and Peabody Bookstore are trapped together when the zombie outbreak hits. Allison reaches out for help through her blog, writing on her laptop and utilizing the military's emergency wireless network (SNET). It may also be her only chance to reach her mother. But as the reality of their situation sinks in, Allison’s blog becomes a harrowing account of her edge-of-the-seat adventures (with some witty sarcasm thrown in) as she and her companions fight their way through ravenous zombies and sometimes even more dangerous humans.

Magnus Maximus, a Marvelous Measurer
by Kathleen T. Pelley

autographed from author

Magnus Maximus is a marvelous measurer. He measures wetness and dryness, nearness and farness, and everything in between. When a lion escapes from a traveling circus, Magnus and his trusty measuring tape come to the rescue. Now a hero, all is well until the day Magnus accidentally breaks his glasses, and he sees—for the first time—that he’s been missing out on life’s simple pleasures.

Kathleen T. Pelley’s marvelous tale and S. D. Schindler's inspired illustrations remind us that the best things in life are not meant to be measured, but treasured.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Contest winner!

Thanks to all who entered for the two arcs I'm giving away, The Replacement and Nightshade. These are books that were passed on to me and I'm happy to pass them on to you. I have lots of books taking up too much space on my shelves so watch for more giveaways!
Congratulations to

I've sent you an email to get your mailing address.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review: Radiance by Alyson Noel

Most people think that
death is the end.

But those people are wrong.
And I should know.
I died almost a year ago.

Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she's summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn't just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She's been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can't quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who's been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he's never met Riley...

This is the first book in a new middle-grade series.
Riley Bloom is the twelve year-old sister of Ever, the main character of The Immortals series. While those books are about Ever's life on earth this is Riley's adventures in the afterlife. The story is age appropriate and not a scary take on death. In fact, it's really about her trying to adjust to new surroundings, her new home. Since they are in the Here and Now they can live any way they want so they manifest a house and a neighborhood just like the one they left on Earth. They even eat meals, sleep in beds and attend school. The only thing she can't do is be with her sister. Eventually she is given as assignment as a Soul Catcher and Bodhi is her guide and teacher. She is excited to return to earth and Her dog Buttercup gets to come too.

Riley's first task is to remove the Radiant Boy from a castle he haunts. No other Soul Catcher has ever been able to get him to leave and cross over. As she works to figure out this mystery she also learns more about Bodhi. They don't always get along well and it becomes obvious to her that he has his own problems that he keeps to himself. Riley may only be 12 but this assignment has allowed her to realize she doesn't need to be so selfish and she can be helpful to others. In fact, she seems to have a knack for it.

The book was
a quick read about an imaginative new world. It's an interesting take on the afterlife, not scary and is age appropriate. The main characters grow and change as they learn lessons about themselves and others. Some of the problems are resolved a little too neatly but that also seems age appropriate. I really enjoyed the sense of humor and Buttercup was my favorite character. You gotta love a dog who still chases tennis balls in the afterlife! The first book ends with a nice set up for the next one. I look forward to reading more of this series.

Thank you to Square Fish for an arc to review.

Shimmer (B
ook 2) due 3/15/11

author -

Publisher: Square Fish
Release date: September 2010
Price/format: $7.99/paperback
Pages: 192
Type: Middle-grade fiction

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page (this month at Knitting and Sundries) is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! I certainly did, and although the food was amazing, spending time with my family was the best part of the day. I did get a chance to get in some quality reading too. Now that the weather is getting colder and darker I'm spending less time outside (I do miss my hammock) and more time inside, snuggled up near the fireplace. So what goodies made their way to your house last week?

Blind Your Ponies
by Stanley Gordon West

From Algonquin Books

Hope is hard to come by in the hard-luck town of Willow Creek. Sam Pickett and five young men are about to change that. Sam Pickett never expected to settle in this dried-up shell of a town on the western edge of the world. He's come here to hide from the violence and madness that have shattered his life, but what he finds is what he least expects. There's a spirit that endures in Willow Cree, Montana. It seems that every inhabitant of this forgotten outpost has a story, a reason for taking a detour to this place--or a reason for staying. As the coach of the hapless high school basketball team (zero wins, ninety-three losses), Sam can't help but be moved by the bravery he witnesses in the everyday lives of people--including his own young players--bearing their sorrows and broken dreams. How do they carry on, believing in a future that seems to be based on the flimsiest of promises? Drawing on the strength of the boys on the team, sharing the hope they display despite insurmountable odds, Sam finally begins to see a future worth living. Author Stanley Gordon West has filled the town of Willow Creek with characters so vividly cast that they become real as relatives, and their stories--so full of humor and passion, loss and determination--illuminate a path into the human heart.

Night Road
by Kristen Hannah

From LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People—and Jude—demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her—the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had—while Jude loses even more. When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself. Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Contest reminder and extension

I wasn't planning very well when I picked the original date for my Share the Wealth Contest to close. I wasn't even thinking that November 25th was Thanksgiving. Duh! There have been too many other things going on so I'm going to extend it a few days. That gives me a chance to get some reminders posted too. So sign up now for your chance to win The Replacement and Nightshade. Contest ends 11/27/10.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and your family special blessings! myspace graphic comments

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading and asks you to :
1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3 . Share 2 "teaser" sentences also citing the title of the book and the author and in that way people can have great recommendations if they like the "teaser".
4. Please avoid spoilers!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And that's when she heard, out of nowhere, near her ear, the voice of her dead husband, Jimmy.
"We got any Bud? I'm thirsty," Dead Jimmy said, causing Constance to jump straight out of her skin, scream like the devil, and run straight across the living room and out her front door.

~page 63
Every Demon Has His Day by Cara Lockwood

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page (this month at Knitting and Sundries) is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Now that the holiday season is upon us I hope you are still finding time to enjoy reading. We need to take a break from roasting turkeys and shopping for the perfect gifts. Of course receiving the perfect gift (like a pile of new books) is always a good thing! What have you gotten lately?

The Emerald Atlas
by John Stephens

for review from Random House

Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage. Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about. Until now. Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.
The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.

(You know you're curious about this next one!)
Why You Should Store Your Farts in a Jar
by David Haviland

for review from Penguin

The national bestseller Why You Shouldn't Eat Your Boogers & Other Useless or Gross Information About Your Body uncovered everything one might want to know (and a few things one might not) about the human body. The follow-up bestseller Why Fish Fart & Other Useless or Gross Information About the World contained an artful selection of odd and/or unsavory facts about the world. Why Dogs Eat Poop scoured the animal kingdom for gross and or off-color facts about animals. In this delightfully disgusting new book in the series, David Haviland plumbs the world of medicine to uncover the answers to such vitally important questions as: *What exactly is urine therapy? *Is it safe to fly with breast implants? *How did a nine-and-a-half-inch spatula find its way into a surgery patient's body? *Why do some boxers drink their own pee? *What is cyclic vomiting syndrome and how can one avoid it? Any fan of the absurd and/or obscure is sure to delight in this strange (and slightly stomach-turning) book.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Patch and Nora's
story continues...

Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described as anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away, and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.
The farther Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim blood line has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch, or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?

The first book in this series Hush, Hush was interesting and had mystery but some of characters actions made me crazy. Strange occurrences in a new house and the teen daughter stays there alone... repeatedly! Those kinds of things were frustrating but I was curious about the rest of the story and I kept reading.

I did like this book better than the first one. The story was more developed and the writing more mature. It was good to get some answers to the mysteries of Patch and Nora's past. I think I've been more interested in that than their present relationship. I'm sure part of that has to do with the fact that I'm not a teenager and I don't relate as well (although I do remember!) to some of the behavior. There was so much drama that kept things on edge but was so unnecessary. Of course Nora would be jealous if Patch seemed interested in Marcie but there were many times that I wondered why she didn't just ask him herself. And when they know there are life and death decisions involved it seems like they would try to have much better communication to avoid misunderstandings. Teen love is already hard but they were making it so much harder. It was an interesting storyline, it just felt drawn out to me.

The characters are becoming more developed and interesting now that we are learning their backgrounds. New characters were introduced including the villain with the unknown identity, the Black Hand. The mysteries are more complex and as we peel back the layers we start to get some answers, but only some. Nora is learning more about her Nephilim (that word was used way too much) bloodline and she knows there is more to the death of her father. She feels she may be responsible in some way and has no idea who she can trust anymore, even Patch. Of course, there is another cliff hanger ending so be prepared! I look forward to the next installment in the series Tempest coming in 2011.

These covers have always grabbed my attention and I think they are very striking. There is interesting information on the author's blog about how they were made and outtakes from the photo shoots. The first cover came from a photo of a model jumping on a trampoline - clever!

Thank you to Teen Simon & Schuster for an arc to review.

Hush, Hush (book 1) available now
Tempest (book 3) is due out Fall 2011.

Author -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: 10/19/10
Pages: 427
Price/format: $18.99/hardcover
Type: teen fiction

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day


Words are not enough to express my gratitude to all of our men and women who have served, and are now serving to protect us all. We honor you and your families today and every day for your sacrifice. Thank you for all you do.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Share The Wealth Contest!

I was so very lucky to win a box of ARCs from Nancy at A Lush Budget Production Tales of a Ravenous Reader. Among the 13 YA titles (yes 13!) were two books that I already had. Since I love to read and I know you do too I wanted to share the wealth and pass them on to someone else. So if you're interested fill out the form below and good luck!

by Andrea Cremer

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

The Replacement
by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

- Simply fill out the form to enter.
- This one is international!
- Winners chosen by
- Contest ends 11/25/10 11/27/10 (extended!) at 11:59 p.m. EST

Extra entries:
+1 new follower
+2 old follower
+2 promote - leave link
+2 comment at A Lush Budget Production - leave link


Review: White Cat by Holly Black

Marks forget than whenever
something's too good to be true,
that's because it's a con.

Cassel comes
from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love -- or death -- and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

After reading this author's middle grade series The Spiderwick Chronicles I was curious to see what this book would be about. She came up with another unique and interesting twist on a different reality. There are current cultural and pop references that let you know this is set in the present day but there's a magical, fairy tale twist. Wearing gloves is the norm to protect you from the dangerous touch of oily con men. They are classic bad guys, bullies who take advantage of the weak. Cassel is a teenage boy living a lonely, nonmagical life among a family of these bullies. His older brothers have many secrets and he suspects they've involved him and taken his memories.

The brothers and mobsters and characters you love to hate and I do admit that I didn't like them at all. Their behavior is selfish and dangerous and Cassel has been forced to do their bidding. Much of his past is a blur and we learn pieces of it as he does. He lives with enormous guilt from the murder and an overwhelming sense that there is much more to the story. His unusual roommate and crazy grandfather seem to be the only people he can turn to and they provide some entertaining moments.

The story is an interesting crime drama as well as a mystery. It felt slow as the beginning but the suspense increases and wraps up in a satisfying ending although the story is left open for more to be told. Cassel has only begun to learn about his past and the family's secrets. Book 2: Red Glove is due next spring and will carry on this dark tale. I will be looking for the next installment in the series.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for an ARC to review.

Red Glove (Book 2 of The Curse Workers series)

Coming 4/5/2011


Author -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: 5/4/10
Price/format: $17.99/hardcover
Pages: 310
Type: teen fiction

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: Huck by Janet Elder

The remarkable true story of
one lost puppy taught a
family -
and a whole town -
hope and happy endings.

In the tradition of Dewey, A Lion Called Christian, and Homer’s Odyssey, HUCK is an unforgettable true story of a lost puppy and a family who learned a valuable lesson about tenacity, faith, and the generosity of strangers.

This story begins with a little boy’s dream. Janet Elder’s son Michael was about four when he began begging for a dog. His relentless campaign went on for years. At one point, when Michael was about seven years old, there was even a PowerPoint presentation entitled, “My Dog,” with headings like “A Childhood Without a Dog is a Sad Thing.” Janet almost caved, but then thought about the impracticalities and the logistics--their city apartment, her and her husband Rich’s demanding jobs, their need to get away. So as much as she hated having a heartbroken boy on her hands, she remained steadfast: no dog. What makes her reconsider her long-standing position on a family dog is a breast cancer diagnosis.

Worried about the toll the illness would take on eleven-year-old Michael and Rich, Janet decides the anticipation and excitement over the arrival of a new puppy would be the perfect antidote to the strain on the family of months of treatments for her illness. The prospect of a new puppy would be an affirmation of life, a powerful talisman for them all.

On Thanksgiving weekend, shortly after the treatments were completed, they bring home a sweet, mischievous, red-haired, toy poodle, they name Huck, who quickly and conclusively wins everyone’s heart.

A few months later, the family ventures south to attend the Yankees’ spring training and enjoy a much-needed vacation, leaving Huck for the first time with Janet’s sister in Ramsey, New Jersey. Barely twenty-four hours into their trip, Janet gets a dreaded phone call. Huck has slipped through the backyard fence and run away. Broken hearted and frantic, the family races home to begin a search for little Huck. It’s a race against time, for Huck, lost in an area he is entirely unfamiliar with, faces the threat of bears, coyotes, raccoons, swamps, freezing temperatures, rain, and fast cars on curvy roads. Moved by the family’s plight, strangers – from school children to the police lieutenant -- join the search.

As the days pass, finding a small puppy in a densely wooded area in freezing and rainy weather proves to be an incredible test. Buoyed by grit, the open arms of strangers, and faith, the family soldiers on. Touching and warm-hearted, HUCK is a page-turning, heart-stopping story about resilience, the kindness of strangers, and determination. It is a story about hope, a story the reader will neither put down nor forget.

I'm a sucker for animal stories. Especially the cute, fuzzy pets who have a heart-wrenching story to tell. This wasn't quite what I thought it would be but it was still a touching story. I assumed the author was writing this book about her struggle with breast cancer and how this new puppy helped them through this horrible trauma. Huck was actually a gift for her animal-loving son after her treatments. He was a goal for them to achieve as a family, something for them to be excited about and plan for. This little dog helped them accomplish this and immediately won their hearts. He was a handful but he brought them great joy in a very short time.

He also brought great heartache when he ran away while the family was on vacation in 2006. They returned to Janet's sister's home in New Jersey to help search for him. Their tiny dog was alone in the freezing woods facing many dangers and they were desperate for help. During the days that Huck was missing they were blessed to have the help of many people. Despite the fact that they were complete strangers and Janet's family wasn't from their town these people stepped up to help someone in need. The book details the days Huck is lost and how sightings of him kept people motivated. We get to know Ramsey, New Jersey and what it took to find this little pup. (I don't like to give spoilers but it tells early on that Huck is found and the cover notes it's a book about hope and happy endings.)

Although it wasn't the story I expected it and it seemed to wander a bit it was still a feel good, easy read. It was nice to hear how these interesting characters came together through hope and determination to help others. It was also inspiring to find out Janet's personal experience with breast cancer and how she and her family fought for her survival. Her struggle and perseverance are great examples to others.

Janet Elders is a senior editor at The New York Times.

Thank you to Broadway Books for an ARC of this book to review.
Author's blog -

Publisher: Broadway Books
Release date: 9/28/10
Pages: 304
Price/format: $23.99/hardcover
Type: nonfiction

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading and asks you to :
1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3 . Share 2 "teaser" sentences also citing the title of the book and the author and in that way people can have great recommendations if they like the "teaser".
4. Please avoid spoilers!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(When the author finds out he has a life-threatening tumor in his leg he is worried that his young daughters may not have enough male influence as they are growing up. He writes a letter to six men who have come from different parts of his life and asks them to be a part of his daughters' lives. He called them "The Council of Dads".)

In a letter to his girls:
The air force teaches its novices that when they face a life-defining challenge, they should not run from their fear. They should embrace it. "Hug the monster," they say. Wrap your arms around your fear, wrestle it into submission, redirect it into a source of resilience and purpose.
Hug the monster, girls.

~page 232
The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, And The Men Who Could Be Me by Bruce Feiler

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page (this month at Knitting and Sundries) is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

I hope you had a very happy and safe Halloween. Now that it's the holiday season it seems like the rest of the year usually flies by. Of course I won't be ready for any of it. I'm still mourning the loss of summer and am in denial that it's fall. I really can't wrap my brain around the fact that it's November! Well, whatever time of year it is I know I will always be reading and these are the new books I just got. What goodies came into your home last week?

For Silence
by Linda Castillo

In the quiet town of Painters Mill, an Amish family of seven has been found brutally murdered on their farm. Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her small force have few clues, no motive, and no suspect. Formerly Amish herself, Kate is no stranger to secrets, but she can’t get her mind around the senseless brutality of the crime.for review from Harper Collins

State agent John Tomasseti arrives on the scene to assist. He and Kate worked together on a previous case during which they began a tentative relationship, but each is wary of commitment. The disturbing details of this case will push them to their limits and force them to face demons from their own troubled pasts.

When Kate discovers a diary, she realizes a haunting personal connection to the case. One of the teenage daughters may have been leading a lurid double life. As the case develops, Kate’s list of suspects grows. Who is the attractive stranger that stole the heart of the innocent young Amish girl? Did her estranged brother—a man with a violent past who was shunned by his family and the Amish community—come back to seek out revenge? Driven by her own scarred past, Kate swears she’ll find the killer and bring him to justice—even if it means putting herself in the line of fire.

Topping her own bestselling debut, Linda Castillo once again immerses readers in the world of the Amish with a chilling story that is both a fast-paced thriller and compelling psychological puzzle.

Moonlight Mile
by Dennis Lehane

for review from HarperCollins

Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Desperate pleas for help from the child's aunt led investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. The pair risked everything to find the young girl—only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.

Now Amanda is sixteen—and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amanda's aunt is once more knocking on Patrick Kenzie's door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking, clever young woman—a woman who hasn't been seen in weeks.

Haunted by their consciences, Kenzie and Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most. Their search leads them into a world of identity thieves, methamphetamine dealers, a mentally unstable crime boss and his equally demented wife, a priceless, thousand-year-old cross, and a happily homicidal Russian gangster. It's a world in which motives and allegiances constantly shift and mistakes are fatal.

In their desperate fight to confront the past and find Amanda McCready, Kenzie and Gennaro will be forced to question if it's possible to do the wrong thing and still be right or to do the right thing and still be wrong. As they face an evil that goes beyond broken families and broken dreams, they discover that the sins of yesterday don't always stay buried and the crimes of today could end their lives.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Passing Strange by Daniel Waters

Karen DeSonne
always passed
a normal teenager -

and now that she's dead,
she's still passing -
this time, as alive.

Karen DeSonne always passed as a normal (if pale) teenager; with her friends, with her family, and at school. Passing cost her the love of her life. And now that Karen’s dead, she’s still passing—this time, as alive. Karen DeSonne just happens to be an extremely human-like zombie. Meanwhile, Karen’s dead friends have been fingered in a high-profile murder, causing a new round of antizombie regulations that have forced them into hiding. Karen soon learns that the “murder” that destroyed their non-life was a hoax, staged by Pete Martinsburg and his bioist zealots. Obtaining enough evidence to expose the fraud and prove her friends’ innocence means doing the unthinkable: becoming Pete’s girlfriend. Karen’s only hope is that the enemy never realizes who she really is—because the consequences would be worse than death.

When I started this series I thought it was going to be all about the typical teen drama in high school with
some paranormal stuff tossed in. Boy was I wrong. This was the third book of the set and they all share the themes of prejudice and intolerance. The fact that the victims here are zombies is actually not the main idea and they aren't described in the typical zombie fashion. They aren't the ghouls of the horror movies and Michael Jackson videos. They do suffer various physical ailments and possibly some deformities but they retain their intellect, memories and emotions. The same person who was accepted, loved and successful one day could easy be an uncoordinated outcast the next.

No one has been able t
o figure out why or how for the past several years some young people have returned after death. Since these kids no longer have a heartbeat they aren't technically alive, aren't considered citizens anymore and they have no rights. It's not even illegal to "reterminate" them. Society in general isn't very supportive and usually misunderstands them. There are even those who have developed a mob mentality and are on a mission to destroy the differently biotic teens. A few people have decided to try to make a difference and Karen DeSonne is one of them and is the main character in this book. Although she is dead, she looks normal and is able to pass for a typical teen. She risks everything to uncover the truth about recent crimes blamed on her friends. The consequences have been far-reaching and paranoia and fear have spread. Karen is trying to find out who sets this in motion before it's too late and more lives are lost.

I thought it was a very interesting and disturbing take on prejudice, intolerance and fear. The zombie kids could be almost any minority that has suffered in this horrible way. Using the popular paranormal theme brings the story current and sheds a new light onto these horrible issues. It really made me think about it more. It's hard enough to be a teenager trying to cope with all of the typical problems in their lives and then this comes along. The characters were interesting and engaging. I had strong feelings for or against them and their actions. This wasn't a series to be taken lightly. I was impressed with the author's story telling and look forward to reading more of his work.

Thank you to

Publisher: Hyperion Children
Release date: June 2010

Pages: 386
Price/format: $16.99 /hardcover

Books in the series:

Generation Dead (#1)

Kiss of Life (Generation Dead #2)

Passing Strange (Generation Dead #3)