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!"

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

What if the person you
were meant
to be with
could never be yours?

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.

I must be the last person on earth to have finally read this book. The mysterious prologue pulled me right in with an intriguing beginning but then the first half of the book moved a bit slow for me. While I realize there needs to be background information given to build up the story, especially for the beginning of a series, the early chapters didn't always hold my attention well. But I also didn't do the book justice with my sporadic reading so that was also a factor. I had too many interruptions to get into a good flow at first.

I liked the characters more as I got to know them. It was obvious they had many secrets and peeling back the layers of their past, getting to the real story, was interesting. Luce is drawn to the mysterious Daniel and the outgoing and friendly Cam. They are completely opposite and may not be the people they appear to be. She also forms a bond with Penn, a girl who has grown up at this school. I was a bit annoyed with Luce in the early chapters. She had been through so much - a mysterious fire that takes the life of her friend, being sent to a reform school, threatening black shadows that appear often and unexpectedly, a confusing love triangle - so I expected her to be sad and confused but she (and her parents!) seemed whimpy and weak. Why were they so trusting of all of these strangers? But as the story developed and progressed, so did Luce. She started to participate in her own destiny.

The creepy setting at the boarding school and cemetery added to the tension. As the chapters went by the story picked up for me and the suspense continued to build with more secrets being revealed. Some of them I was able to figure out but there were still interesting twists. I did like the ending even though the loose ends weren't all wrapped up with a tidy bow. It's a nice set up for the next book in the series, Torment, to be released September 2010. I will be looking forward to it.

Thank you to Delacorte Press. I received an ARC in exchange for a honest review of this book.

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release date: 12/8/09
Pages: 464
Price/format: $17.99/Hardcover
Type: YA fiction, paranormal

Contest reminder

My contest for Truly, Madly by Heather Webber ends today, 1/31/10, at 11:59 pm. If you're interested make sure you sign up now! Just enter your name to qualify and good luck!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins



1. Wouldn't it be easy to just get in the car and keep driving? Too bad that gas costs too much to get very far.
2. If I could just get more sleep I would be better than ever! Well, it would definitely help.
3. I love the taste of chocolate, any kind of chocolate. (Did you really think I was going to say anything else?)
4. Oh the memories of things that have happened in the living room! (Did you really think I was going to say anything more?)
5. The first thing we're going to do is buy a house at the beach when we win the lottery. Yeah, it made me laugh too but what a great dream!
6. All I could hear was drip, drip, drip; I was too lazy to get up and fix the faucet.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going out to dinner with friends to celebrate hubby's birthday, tomorrow my plans include staying warm and reading and Sunday, I want to do the same thing but I really need to get some work done around here!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

S-s-s-so cold!

It's cold today. Really cold. Colder than a witch's...well, you know. With the wind chill factor it was -14 degrees and that was during the daytime. And it's suppose to get even colder the next two days. Two of my children left the house today wearing hooded sweatshirts instead of coats. They are teens and they all drive so they don't like the bulk of a winter coat. And I gave up trying to tell them what to do a long time ago. I have to say that I often do the same thing when I'm just running back and forth from the car to another building. Coats are a pain! Can you tell we are used to living like this? A little bit of snow and cold doesn't slow us down much. It almost takes an act of God to get a snow day here school is so rarely canceled. It's western NY state after all. We just suck it up and pray for an early spring. That will probably be about mid June. I'm not kidding.

So, I was just wondering…

woman wondering

I have always been fascinated by book covers. I love to draw and I earned my bachelor degree in graphic design. Although I didn’t get much use out my degree as a career (I worked in a custom framing shop for 3 years and then was a gym teacher for 10 years) I have always enjoyed it as a hobby. I would never buy a book because of it’s cover but they attract my attention every time. It’s always interesting to learn how a cover comes about and it surprised me when I first heard how little influence an author usually has in the decision making process. Sometimes this presents a problem when it doesn’t match the story being told.

Recently, there’s been another cover change in the world of YA books. Here is a brief description from an article at 

Bloomsbury USA's decision to feature a white girl on the cover of Jaclyn Dolamore's debut novel Magic Under Glass, which stars a dark-skinned heroine, has sparked controversy across the internet and accusations of "white-washing", just five months after the same publisher was forced to back down over a similar controversy.

Magic Under Glass, a young adult novel, is the story of a "foreign" music hall girl, Nimira, hired by a sorcerer to sing with a piano-playing automaton. But she finds that a fairy has been trapped inside the clockwork automaton, and the two fall in love. Although Dolamore's heroine is described in the book as black-haired and brown-skinned – and the official trailer for the novel shows her as such – the cover chosen by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books shows a white, brown-haired girl. The choice has provoked outrage from bloggers and commentators, particularly following the publisher's decision (later reversed) last year to feature a white girl on the cover of Justine Larbalestier's novel Liar, about a black girl.

I haven’t read these books yet but I’ve seen both of the covers and followed posts about these issues from The Shady Glade, MotherReader,  a teen blogger at Reading In Color and many other sources. They all include links to even more information. If you haven’t heard about this yet check it out. I wasn’t aware of any of this myself until recently.

So, I was just wondering what do you think of this? Were you familiar with the issue of “white-washing”? And as for covers in general, do they affect your decision when choosing a book? Do you care what the cover looks like and is there anything that attracts you or annoys you? I’ve combined the issues a bit here but it all comes back to covers. Comment on whatever you like but I’d  love to hear from you! And if you can think of any covers that stand out for you, good or bad, mention those too.

Tuesday, January 26, 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!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
But I just let him talk it out as I navigate traffic, my finger absently tracing the thick red scar on my forehead, the one that's hidden under my bangs. I mean, how can I explain how ever since the accident, the only people whose thoughts I can't hear, whose lives I can't know, and whose auras I can't see, are already dead?

~page 13
Evermore by Alyson Noel, YA fiction

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mailbox Monday

For the last several weeks I've only received one book in the mail each week. It's a good thing because I was in a bit of a reading slump and wasn't getting through anything very quickly. I just couldn't stay concentrate or stay interested. That's all changed now! I've been reading good books and my mailbox has been full.

Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page 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.

When Will There Be Good News?
by Kate Atkinson

won from Peeking Between the Pages

On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever... On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound... At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency... These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls "an absolute must-read."

The Heretic's Daughter
by Kathleen Kent

won from Revenge of the Book Nerds!

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived. Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendent of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

Then Came The Evening
by Brian Hart

to review from Bloomsbury USA

Bandy Dorner, home from Vietnam, awakes with his car mired in a canal, his cabin reduced to ashes, and his pregnant wife preparing to leave town with her lover. Within moments, a cop lies bleeding in the road.

Eighteen years later, Bandy's son -- a stranger bearing his name -- returns to the town, where the memory of his father's crime still hangs thick. When an accident brings the family -- paroled father, widowed mother, injured son -- back together, the three must confront their past, and struggle against their fate.

Like a traditional Greek tragedy, suffused with the mud, ice, and rock of the raw Idaho landscape, Then Came the Evening is tautly plotted and emotionally complex -- a stunning debut.

Spanish Holiday
by Kate Cann

along with a homemade bookmark!
won from Books Are My Love

Dear Bella and Bobby,

Thank you SO MUCH for letting us stay at your villa. It's gorgeous, and we're having a fab time looking after it and enjoying the view of the mountains and the lovely olive grove. I figured out the bus to Ercos on the first day here -- it's as easy as you said! And Miguel's son Juan is helping us take care of everything, so you needn't worry at all!

Love, Laura

The Christmas Clock
by Kat Martin

won from Bookin' With Bingo's amazing Christmas contest

Sylvia Winters just found a job and an apartment in her hometown of Dreyerville, Michigan, but she is hesitant to return. Eight years ago, she jilted her fiancé, Joe Dixon, telling him that she was moving to Chicago because small-town living was not for her. But she was lying. Syl was headed to Chicago to be treated for cervical cancer. Sadly, Joe never knew the real reason she left him. Confused and distraught, he turned to drinking to heal the pain, until he accidentally killed a man and served years in jail. Now Syl and Joe are both back in town, but it will take a miracle to bring them back into each other’s arms.

Also in town is Lottie Sparks and her grandson, Teddy. Ever since Lottie’s daughter was killed in a drunk-driving accident, Lottie’s been in charge of Teddy. He appreciates her love more than she knows, so much so that the industrious eight-year-old hits up Joe’s auto body shop, so he can save enough money by Christmas to buy his grandmother a Victorian clock she adores—one that vividly reminds her of her childhood, even as the rest of her memories are slipping away with the onset of advanced Alzheimer’s.

As spring turns to summer and summer to fall, matters in the Sparks’ household take a turn for the worse. And with winter approaching, will a little hope and a big dose of Christmas magic be enough to make everything all right again?

It Happened One Night
by Lisa Dale

won from The Life and Lies of an Inanimate Flying Object

Sometimes love finds you when you least expect it. Lana Biel has always wanted to shake the dust of Vermont off her feet and see the world, one exotic country after another. But when a lighthearted spring fling changes her life forever, she turns to the one man whose strong shoulders can lighten any burden: her best friend, Eli Ward. Eli has always been there for Lana--after all, that's what best friends do. But Lana isn't the only one hiding something. Eli is keeping secrets of his own that threaten their relationship. Yet as summer turns to fall, new desires awaken between them, even as old fears tear them apart. Then, when another Vermont winter fills the valleys with snow, Eli and Lana are given the chance for an adventure greater than they ever dreamed possible...and a love that will last for all time.

Rose Hill
by Pamela Grandstaff

to review from the author - Rose Hill Mystery Series

When the bludgeoned body of rich and rotten Theo Eldridge turns up in the kennel of the local veterinary, police chief Scott Gordon is determined to solve the case before Sarah Albright, the county sheriff’s investigator, beats him to it. Scott is convinced that temperamental bookstore owner Maggie Fitzpatrick is the woman for him, but she’s still grieving over the mysterious disappearance of the love of her life six years previously. Although determined to resist the powerful chemistry between them, Maggie is resolved to help Scott find the killer. As Maggie and Scott attempt to untangle the sticky web of Theo’s shady business dealings, they discover a dog-breeding scam and enough arson, graft, and blackmail to supply motives to a dozen suspects. They also uncover some dark family secrets that may connect Theo’s murder to another committed twenty years previously.

Morning Glory Circle

by Pamela Grandstaff

to review from the author - Rose Hill Mystery Series

What if Rose Hill’s most vicious gossip had access to the deepest secrets of the town’s most prominent citizens? Police Chief Scott Gordon offered Margie Estep a deal: if she'd quit her job at the post office and help her invalid mother move into a nursing home, he might not arrest her for mail tampering and embezzling. This may have protected her sweet mother from scandal, but it left Margie one false move away from jail and desperate for money. After mailing several malicious letters Margie has disappeared, and now it’s up to Scott to find out if one of her poison pen pals made that disappearance permanent. As bookstore owner Maggie Fitzpatrick prepares for the annual Winter Festival, she considers letting go of the past and embracing a future with Scott. Their close relationship is jeopardized, however, when Scott discovers an undelivered letter from Maggie’s ex-lover, who disappeared several years before. Now Scott must decide whether to destroy the letter or reveal the truth about that night, even if it means losing the woman he loves. The list of suspects just grows longer as Margie’s victims are revealed. When Scott follows a hunch that leads him closer to the truth, he also risks becoming the killer’s next victim. It’s February in Rose Hill, and love is in the air (along with heartache, blackmail, and murder). Morning Glory Circle is the second book in the Rose Hill Mystery Series.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins


Come join the fun!


1. You have a chance to do something nice for other people.
2. So do it, right now!
3. There is a silver lining with every cloud, supposedly.
4. Play now and pay later.
5. It's time to make the donuts. (Does anyone else remember those old commercials?)
6. Our dinner plans are up in the air but I think we are going out with friends next Friday instead.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing at home, tomorrow my plans include lunch with Grandma and Sunday, I want to read while hubby watches football!

Changes made at Borders and Waldenbooks

Woo hoo! They heard us and they're changing their ways! Kate wrote an update at The Neverending Shelf that the unsold books will be saved from the dumpsters. Go read the whole post for all the details.

Quote from her blog:
Thousands of books, CDs, DVDs and gift items will be donated—rather than being disposed of—to organizations within the Gifts In Kind national network of charities

January 21, 2010, Washington, D.C.— Gifts In Kind International (, a leading charitable organization in the product giving field, is pleased to announce a new agreement with Borders Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries (NYSE: BGP). Borders selected Gifts In Kind to help the company donate—rather than dispose of—items that have not sold in its Borders and Waldenbooks stores nationwide and cannot be returned by the retailer to its suppliers.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So, I was just wondering…

woman wondering

This is a day late but Wednesday I was on the run with appointments and errands so I didn’t get any blogging done. It worked out even better though because I came across a disturbing post from Kate at the Neverending Shelf that needs to be shared. She wrote about information that she came across that was connected to the closing of 200 Walden Books stores. Apparently they are disposing of unsold books by ripping off their covers and throwing them away. Sadly, this isn’t uncommon in the publishing world. Writer Erik Olse has an article about the same topic (originally posted 12/11/09) in the Huffington Post (1/21/10) -              Known in the bookselling industry as "dumpstering," this method of book disposal is standard practice not only at Borders-owned stores, but at many other chain book stores and mass retailers.

Over the years I have come across books without their covers but I didn’t pay much attention to why they were that way. I had no idea that this happened to unsold books! While I understand how expensive it can be to ship them back to the publishers there must be a better way! It such a tragic waste.

So, I was just wondering, have you heard of this practice before? Do you think it’s the best solution to the problem or is there another answer? I’m so curious to hear what you have to say!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Contest: Truly, Madly by Heather Webber

It's time for a contest! Somehow I ended up with an extra ARC of Truly, Madly so I thought I would share the wealth. I'm getting ready to start my copy and it looks good and sounds like a lot of fun!

This is the first book in the new Lucy Valentine series to be released 2/2/10.

Meet Lucy Valentine; sassy, fabulously original…and psychic.

Lucy hails from a long line of matchmakers known as Valentine INC. According to family legend, the Valentines have been blessed by Cupid with the ability to help couples find true love. Trouble is Lucy’s powers were zapped away by an electrical surge and now all she can find are lost objects.

But what good is that in the matchmaking world?

Lucy is about to find out when she tries to solve a murder and winds up falling into a romance of her own.

Very simple, just fill out the form to enter.

Extra entries:
+1 New follower through Google Connect (click on Follow button on right sidebar)
+2 Old follower through Google Connect
+2 Promote the contest and leave a link (up to two times)
(*The form is incorrect with +3 for links)

Ends 1/31/10 at 11:59 p.m.
International entries welcome!

** Book Reviews by Jess is giving away the same book! Go sign up for another chance to win!

Tuesday, January 19, 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!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I swing my legs over the side of the bed and sit up. There are no spiderwebs in sight, no rose petals on the carpet. Cassie is in the morgue, belly slit and draining like a fresh caught fish. It didn't happen.

~pg. 44
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, YA fiction

Monday, January 18, 2010

Caldecott Award to Jerry Pinkney

Congratulations to author Jerry Pinkney for receiving the Randolph Caldecott award for The Lion and The Mouse! In an Associated Press article today by Hellel Italie she provides quotes from him and notes other authors who won the top prizes in children's literature. I fell in love with The Lion and The Mouse when I received it for review in September 09. The wordless adaptation of the famous Aesop's Fable has beautiful watercolor illustrations and is sure to become a classic. While Pinkney has won many national awards for his 75 books during his 40 year career, this is his first Caldecott award. He has been a runner-up five times.

Congratulations to all the authors who received prizes today in children's and young adult literature! A complete list of all the winners can be found on the American Library Association web page.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mailbox Monday

It was another week with just one book arriving but it looks like a good one. I saw it in a lot of other peoples' mailboxes last week so I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived in mine!

Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page 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.

Fireworks Over Toccoa
by Jeffrey Stepakoff

ARC from St. Martins

Every so often that story comes along that reminds us of what it’s like to experience love for the first time—against the odds, when you least expect it, and with such passion that it completely changes you forever. An unexpected discovery takes eighty-four-year-old Lily Davis Woodward to 1945, and the five days that forever changed her life. Married for only a week before her husband was sent to fight in WWII, Lily is anxious for his return, and the chance to begin their life together. In honor of the soldiers' homecoming, the small Georgia town of Toccoa plans a big celebration. And Jake Russo, a handsome Italian immigrant, also back from war, is responsible for the elaborate fireworks display the town commissioned. But after a chance encounter in a star-lit field, he steals Lily's heart and soul--and fulfills her in ways her socially-minded, upper-class family cannot. Now, torn by duty to society and her husband--and the poor, passionate man who might be her only true love--Lily must choose between a commitment she's already made and a love she’s never known before. Fireworks Over Toccoa takes us to a moment in time that will resonate with readers long after the book’s unforgettable conclusion. A devastating and poignant story, this debut novel will resonate with anyone who believes in love

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins



1. The lesson I learned yesterday was do unto others. I had family that needed my help even though they weren't always easy to deal with. It worked out fine and I was glad that I was there to help.
2. The grocery store and my kids' sporting events - that's where friends and family meet in my social circles. Sad but true!
3. All these years later and I still feel like a teenager, although I certainly don't look like one anymore. My hubby still makes me feel beautiful each and every day!
4. The game was just getting started when I arrived.
5. The truth is I am happier than I've ever been in my whole life and I count my blessing every day.
6. The brilliant blue sky is what I remember most from that day.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to spending quiet time with hubby (falling asleep in front of the TV) while the boys are off with their busy social lives, tomorrow my plans include helping my son clean his room (ugh) and Sunday, I want to read, read, read!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So, I was wondering…

woman wondering

I should have done this one sooner but it’s never too late for a good recommendation. The holidays are over but I’m still looking for gifts to give. Instead of going into debt up to our eyeballs we decided to give what we could by December 25th and then finish up after Christmas. I’m still working on it but it’s been a good alternative for us this year. We also cut back on our exchanges and don’t do nearly as much as we used to. That has also worked well and everyone has been very thoughtful, appreciative and focused more on each other rather than the gifts. I had to force my three kids, ages 16, 19 and 21, to come up with even a short list for themselves. They didn’t want anything this year. While that is very comforting to know that I don’t have greedy children it’s also very hard to come up with something they will like and use.

So, I was wondering, what books or book-related items did you receive this year? What books did you give? It seems like the e-readers were enormously popular this season. What were some of your favorite items that weren’t book-related? How about great ideas that you heard about from someone else? Go ahead and share! I’d love to hear all about it! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

It's time for me to try a new meme. This one always looks like fun!

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!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Before she could look back at Daniel to see whether he'd even noticed, a cold black rush at the edge of her skin made Luce shiver. The shadow swept up on her slowly at first, icy, tenebrous, its limits indiscernible. Then, suddenly rough, it crashed into her body and forced her back.

~page 135
Fallen by Lauren Kate, YA fiction/paranormal

Mailbox Monday

I only got one book last week but I've been curious about it for a long time. I found it at my library on the Used Book Sale shelves for only 50c. It was too good of a bargain to pass up!

Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page 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.

The Glass Castle
by Jeanette Walls

Jeannette Walls's father always called her "Mountain Goat" and there's perhaps no more apt nickname for a girl who navigated a sheer and towering cliff of childhood both daily and stoically. In
The Glass Castle, Walls chronicles her upbringing at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents--Rose Mary, her frustrated-artist mother, and Rex, her brilliant, alcoholic father. To call the elder Walls's childrearing style laissez faire would be putting it mildly. As Rose Mary and Rex, motivated by whims and paranoia, uprooted their kids time and again, the youngsters (Walls, her brother and two sisters) were left largely to their own devices. But while Rex and Rose Mary firmly believed children learned best from their own mistakes, they themselves never seemed to do so, repeating the same disastrous patterns that eventually landed them on the streets. Walls describes in fascinating detail what it was to be a child in this family, from the embarrassing (wearing shoes held together with safety pins; using markers to color her skin in an effort to camouflage holes in her pants) to the horrific (being told, after a creepy uncle pleasured himself in close proximity, that sexual assault is a crime of perception; and being pimped by her father at a bar). Though Walls has well earned the right to complain, at no point does she play the victim. In fact, Walls' removed, nonjudgmental stance is initially startling, since many of the circumstances she describes could be categorized as abusive (and unquestioningly neglectful). But on the contrary, Walls respects her parents' knack for making hardships feel like adventures, and her love for them--despite their overwhelming self-absorption--resonates from cover to cover. --Brangien Davis

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review: The Elite by Jennifer Banash

From the top, you can see everything…
except yourself.

When Casey McCloy steps into the elegant Bramford building, she’s overwhelmed. Fresh from the Midwest, she’s moved to New York’s Upper East Side to live with her grandmother and attend the prestigious Meadowlark Academy. Here all that matters is who you know. The girl to know is Madison Macallister: popular, pretty, platinumblond. She’s not just Casey’s new classmate and neighbor; she’s an icon. So Casey aims to get in with Madison and her gorgeous gal-pals from the start. As the reigning queen of coolness, Madison is capable of destroying reputations with one welltimed whisper. Better to be on her good side.
But after a city-haute makeover from her new frenemy Madison, Casey is wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and meeting the right people—including Drew, the boy-about-town who Madison thinks belongs to her and her alone.

This book thrusts you into the world of the young elite. I felt like Casey facing the culture shock of the rich and spoiled. While it was entertaining to read I would hate to live this way. Every thing these girls do, wear, use and want has a label and a price tag. The higher the better in their opinion. I didn't care for the constant labeling and mentioning every brand repeatedly but I understood the significance of it. I probably wouldn't have minded it so much if I were reading it as a teen but as a parent I would hate for my own children to be so shallow. They weren't always likable people.

As the story moved on and the chapters shifted to focus on each of the five main characters their personalities and insecurities were revealed. They may have looked polished and self assured on the outside but they were each struggling with their own demons on the inside. That was the part that was interesting to me. It was also a nice contrast that one of the main characters was male. I liked Banash's writing style and sense of humor. This was an easy read and I am curious to see what happens next. I will be reading books #2 In Too Deep and #3 Simply Irresistible next. (Love those covers!)

Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for this review.

author sites:

Publisher: Berkley Trade
Release date: 6/08
Pages: 256
Price/format: $9.99/paperback
Type: YA fiction

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review: Soulstice by Simon Holt

The Vours: Evil, demonic beings

that inhabit human bodies on
Sorry Night, the darkest hours
of the winter solstice.

It's been six months since Reggie first discovered and fought against the Vours, malicious and demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on the eve of the Winter Solstice. The Vours still haunt Reggie, but only in her dreams-until one night, when an unexpected visitor turns her nightmares into reality. The battle against evil continues in Soulstice, the second book in the thrilling The Devouring series.

I received the second book before the first, The Devouring, so I had to read these out of order. I really hate to do that and I just got book #1 so I'll be starting again from the beginning. While I obviously missed out on the background information provided earlier I still was able to follow along in Soultice easily enough. From what I have read in other reviews the background has been established in the first book so this one jumps right into the action.

Reggie fears the Vours are planning more evil. No longer are they limited to attacking only in the winter. Summer Soultice is coming and the Vours will be able to enter humans and prey on their fears. Only Reggie can stop them with her ability to protect others when she enters their dreamscapes. But there is more danger than anyone realized. The Vours have assimilated with humans and there are more than expected. And they could be anywhere, within anyone.

This story has plenty of action, suspense and horror. I was anxious to see what would happen next with the endless possibilities of the dreamscape. There were many twists and turns as details of the Vours emerge. The cliffhanger ending has left me so anxious for the third and final installment. You'll be sleeping with the lights on after you read this one!

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release date: 9/09
Pages: 272
Price/format: $16.99/hardcover
Type: YA paranormal/horror
Ages: 8th grade and up

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

So, I was wondering…

woman wondering

Have you ever sent an embarrassing email or text? Fortunately, I haven’t done anything too bad but I was reminded of how easily it can happen last month when I was Christmas shopping for me kids. My youngest son wanted to order a sweatshirt online and it had to be done that day by 5:00 to arrive in time for the 25th. I still needed some things for my other two boys so I was sending them text messages to find out if they would like one too. I was trying to hurry and accidentally sent it to the person’s name next to my son’s in my phone’s address book. A message came back asking what I was talking about. I wrote back and explained what I had done and asked how she had been since I hadn’t talked to her in some time. She wrote back and said she still didn’t know what I was talking about and who was I? That seemed kind of strange since she is a distant relative, after all. It took a few more back and forths before I realized that the person who use to have that number had changed it since the last time we chatted. This was a different person! Fortunately I knew who she was so she believed me. After all that, the stupid order from the company never did come in time even though we made the deadline!

That incident wasn’t really embarrassing so I didn’t worry about it. I did accidentally forward an email from a friend many years ago describing her recent visit to the gynecologist. I meant to forward a joke that was next to it in my Inbox and I sent it out to several people. (I really need to be more careful about clicking on the right one) Lucky for me this friend has a great sense of humor and there wasn’t anything too embarrassing in that note. I don’t forward many jokes anymore and she is probably grateful for that. So are the people who received it. My brothers were traumatized by all of that girly stuff.

So, I was wondering what embarrassing story can you share? How have you been traumatized by your own gaffes with modern technology? Go ahead and share. Don’t worry, we won’t tell. I  probably couldn’t forward it anyway. I’d send the one that was next to it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Review: Secrets of a Christmas Box by Steven Hornby

From the start of December,

to Christmas Eve night,

one chapter an evening,

wrapped up with delight.

Enter the magical festive world
of the Christmas 'Tree-Dwellers', as Larry, a Christmas snowman, wakes up after the long sleep in the Christmas box, to find his brother is missing. Desperate to find him before Christmas, Larry, along with his girlfriend Debbie, a newcomer Splint, and Larry's companion Tinsel, break the laws of the 'Tree-Elders' and escape down the tree and away into the house, to look for clues. Away from the safety of the tree and in an unfamiliar world, the Dwellers stumble upon a dark and sinister secret that threatens their entire world. Can Larry and the group make it back to the tree in time to warn the others, and finally uncover the truth behind the 'Secrets of a Christmas Box'?

With it's colorful cover, 56 charming black and white illustrations on heavy weight paper and entertaining story this book could be a family favorite. There are 24 chapters that would be fun to read a chapter a night for the month of December. While some of the dialogue felt out of place and didn't appeal to me - the parents constantly called each other "Love" and said things like "Goodness", the ornaments had an exciting adventure that kept me interested. Larry the Snowman (my favorite) along with his dog Tinsel, girlfriend Debbie an elf/reindeer and their new friend Splint the wooden soldier go off in search of Larry's brother. The last chapters are a bit scary for younger readers but overall I think this story would really appeal to children. I passed it on to my 5 and 9 year-old nephews and they were thrilled with it, especially the drawings. I think this is a book meant to be shared.

Debut novel for multiaward winning animator Steven Hornby. He is currently working on sequel.

Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Ecky Thump Books
Release date: 9/1/09
Pages: 248
Price/format: $18.95/hardcover
Age: 8-12

Monday, January 4, 2010

Contest at Pudgy Penguin Perusuals

Need a pair of reading glasses? Hop on over to Pudgy Penguin Perusals for her giveaway for two pairs of glasses from Reading Glasses Shopper. There so many styles to chose from! Contest ends 1/17.

Curl up with a book...and a Nook Contest!!!

Click for details! Contests from authors Lauren Dane and Anya Bast ends 1/5/10!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mailbox Monday

It's a new year and it's time for new books! I only got one this week but it's adorable. This will be a new holiday favorite!

Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page 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.

by Sandra Boyton

won from The Shady Glade - love this book!

CHRISTMASTIME is Sandra Boynton's humorous and compassionate carol to the season of warmth and giving, celebration and tradition. And tradition, to Boynton, is anything that happens every Christmas without fail: like trimming the tree, a fruitcake from the Rossiters, the crunch underfoot of your most precious ornament, and the customary search for scissors at four A.M. Christmas morning.

With guest appearances by Santa and his reindeer, Boynton's familiar menagerie reveals the many joys and satisfactions that make Chrismastime such a universally special season: the thrill of finding the right gift for someone you love, and affording it; the personal gratification of wrapping all the gifts early; and the wonder of Christmas morning, when you realize you forgot to label them.

And, in the spirit of giving, Boynton includes her own Christmas recipes: Santa's favorite chocolate chip cookies (with suggested note urging him to "please stack dishes neatly in the sink and wrap uneaten cookies in tin foil"); plum pudding (well worth someone else's time and money); and Wassail, which seems like a great treat if you happen to have 2,640 blanched almonds lying around the house.

This hardcover book makes a perfect gift for the "staunch traditionalist" and the "santaclaustrophobic" alike. 94,000 copies in print.

Article - decade in books

I read an interesting article in today's paper from USA Today. Decade in books: Writers work magic, delivery has transformed by author Bob Minzesheimer compares the differences in the publishing world in the last ten years. Stephen King was the first brand-name author to experiment in digital self publishing when he launched a serial novel on his website nearly ten years ago. He asked readers to contribute $1 for every installment. While that particular experiment didn't work out because of lack of inspiration it brought up the issue of how this would affect the publishing world. The article goes on to highlight the changes over the last decade, good and bad, and where we stand now. One encouraging comment:
A 2004 report warned that literary reading was fading away, but a 2009 update found reading on the rise for the first time in 25 years; the biggest increase was among readers 18 to 24.

The author also mentions the ten top selling books of the decade (can you guess?), important memoirs, Oprah Book Club selections, books to movies and the explosion of the e-readers on the market. So many changes in such a short time.