Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Call Me Mrs. Miracle

Author: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Mira Books

This Christmas, Emily Merkle (call her Mrs. Miracle!) is working in the toy department at Finley’s, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than…Jake Finley, the owner’s son.

For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means just one thing to him — and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat.

Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly’s widowed brother is in the army and won’t be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley’s, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to afford it…

Fortunately, it’s Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others — and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking!

This Christmas will be different. For all of them.

I listened to the audio version. It was a very quick "read". I really enjoyed the story. Just the right book to put me in the mood for the holiday season. Even though it was published this year, it had an old fashion feel to it. The characters were fun and believable. The romance was sweet, without any angst and a nice change of pace. My only regret is that it wasn't longer. I would have liked a better epilogue or more about Holly's brother and her boss. I would definitely recommend for anyone looking for a quick holiday read. 5 stars on Goodreads.

Monday, November 29, 2010

In The Dark of Dreams

By: Marjorie M. Liu

4 Stars

She was only twelve when she saw the silver boy on the beach, but Jenny has never stopped dreaming about him. Now she is grown, a marine biologist charting her own course in the family business—a corporation that covertly crosses the boundaries of science into realms of the unknown…and the incredible.

And now he has found her again, her silver boy grown into a man: Perrin, powerful and masculine, and so much more than human—leaving Jenny weak with desire and aching for his touch.

But with their reunion comes mortal danger—from malevolent forces who would alter the world to suit their own dark ends. For Perrin and Jenny—and all living creatures— their only hope for preventing the unthinkable lies in a mysterious empire far beneath the sea—and in the power of their dreams.

A true love story. A real world romance with believable conflicts, (yes, he's a merman and shape shifters and magic abound - it's still believable) motivations and emotions.

Liu writes like a poet. The phrase "beautiful turn of phrase" was created for writers with her skill. For example:

And then those eyes disappeared, blown apart as though made of sand - each grain floating through the water toward his face, slow and glittering. Perrin watched, breathless. No longer hearing anything but the sound of his pounding heart.

Too often in today's romance novels hot sex (not that there's anything wrong with that & it does put in an appeareance here too) sucks up all the oxygen in the room and leaves none for love scenes. Dark of Dreams has oxygen enough for both:

She wrapped her arm around his neck and pulled him close until his head rested on the cot, their cheeks pressed together, her mouth against his ear, whispering words that she forgot as soon as she said them, just that her heart was in her throat, she wanted him to feel her heart, and hear it, and know he wasn't alone.

The lead characters are Perrin & Jenny. Perrin - forgive me - is a fish out of water. Save me from super-natural beings who thrive in the human world. Shouldn't other-worldly beings have a tough time in a society that doesn't have a place for them? In the world Liu has built the "different" truly do have a difficult time fitting in and I think her books are better for it. Perrin is in full exile from his world and people; a true stranger in a strange land and he suffered accordingly.

Jenny is smart and capable, while still being in need of help. She does help herself as much as possible, but she does really need Perrin's support. Together they are more than the sum of their parts. And isn't that a wonderful thing? Two people in love and actively supporting their partner. I think this is something we all dream of. Jenny & Perrin both are willing to sacrifice for the good of the other, this is perfectly written selfless not martyred love.

I'll let you read them for yourselves, the final three lines of In The Dark of Dreams are happily ever after gold.

This is the 10th installment of the Dirk & Steele series. It's not necessary to have read the previous 9 (but you should, Liu is a wonderful writer - her entire body of work is just lovely). Besides pure enjoyment the other books will give you a better understanding of the Dirk & Steele organization.

A Winter Solstice Celebration

Author: Didi Lemay
Publisher: AuthorHouse

From the author's site: A Winter Solstice Celebration” helps children and adults alike to understand how the animals feel about their planet, how humans can help and how and how humans and animals can live together in harmony. A Winter Solstice is warm story that relates to all who read it.

A Winter Solstice Celebration takes young readers deep into the forest, where they discover how seemingly harmless human activities can wreak havoc on the natural world

This was a cute story that I think most kids will like to read. It teaches a good environmental lesson. It also shows how one person's voice can make a difference. I think my kids will enjoy the book. The illustrations were really nice, and I wish there had been more of them.

One thing I didn't like about the book was the format. I'm a bit picky, but the white lettering on blue background made it hard to stay focused. I also didn't like the use of all capital letters. But, I think this is just a personal preference.

To read more about the author, Didi LeMay, visit her website: Didi LeMay

* I have been provided a complimentary copy of A Winter Solstice Celebration for review by Author DiDi LeMay through an e-mail from The YP Publishing. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me. - Kari*

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bright Young Things

by:  Anna Godberson
published by:  Harper

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the roaring twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey have escaped their small Midwestern town to chase their big city dreams. In New York, they meet Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have everything she could ever want.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Luxe series so I had high hopes for this book.  It lived up to expectations in my opinion.  It was somewhat similar to The Luxe series except that it was set during the Summer of 1929. 

Letty and Cordelia were both very likeable characters.  Astrid was kinda eh.  I think she was the girl you were supposed to not like, but there wasn't much about her to not like.  

This book reminded me a lot of The Great Gatsby.  If that's a book you liked, I think you would find this book pretty interesting.  The back of the book  indicates that it'll be a series and it should be an interesting time period to continue this story of affluent young women.  I'm looking forward to the next book already.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Throwback Thursday & Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of Thanksgiving, I would like to launch Throwback Thursday. Every Thursday, a review of an "older" book, i.e. pre-2005, will be posted. Since I tend to read a lot of not so recently published books, I thought it would be fun to share reviews of some of them with you. Who knows? Maybe you will get re-acquainted with a favorite author or discover a great book that you may have missed. Enjoy!

The first Throwback Thursday book is.....

The Bride
Author: Julie Garwood
First published in 1989 by First Pocketbooks (Simon & Schuster)

From Goodreads:
By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, the feisty youngest daughter of Baron Jamison. Alec ached to possess her forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian. Though his kisses fired her blood, shadowed secrets from Alec's past threatened Jamie's happiness. She brazenly resisted him -- until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills.

I absolutely loved this book. It was so much fun reading Jamie and Alec's love story. Ms. Garwood created two very likable characters. The romance is believable as they fall in love over time and not over night. There are a few steamy love scenes that made me want to blush. I loved the running joke of Jamie's lack of a sense of direction. There is even a little mystery and I was surprised at who that killer turned out to be. I listened to the audio version of the book and I think that really enhanced my "reading" experience. The narrator did a great job with the voices. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion and I often felt my heart melting. I think this is going to be one of my favorite all time romance novels. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a good romance. 5 stars!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: Talion

by:  Mary Maddox
published by:  Cantraip Press

The dying body has a thousand voices, and all of them speak to Conrad (Rad) Sanders. Fifteen-year-old Lisa Duncan has no idea she has attracted Rad’s interest. At a mountain resort in Utah, he watches as vivacious Lisa begins an unlikely friendship with Lu Jakes, the strange and introverted daughter of employees there. Lu enters his fantasies as well. He learns she is being abused by her stepmother and toys with the notion of freeing her from her sad life and keeping her awhile as his captive. Lu seems like an easy conquest who could be persuaded to act out his fantasy by turning against her new friend.

But someone else is watching over Lu.

Talion appears to Lu as an angelic vision. He offers her love and counsel, the courage to defend herself from bullies at school and a way to free herself from her stepmother’s violence. He seems to know beforehand what will happen. But Talion’s true nature is unclear. His guidance leads Lu into dark places, moving her inevitably closer to the world inhabited by Rad. When she and Lisa are thrust into that darkness, will Talion come to her aid? Or will he become the killer’s ally?

I will say that I really liked this book.  I liked it a lot more than I was expecting.  I enjoyed the characters.  Lu was a really great character. 

I thought the writing was really solid and quite good.  The thing that surprised me about this book was the level of violence that Rad inflicted on his victims.  You don't normally see that from female writers.  Usually it's kind of glossed over and male writers get more into the nitty gritty details.  There wasn't anything wrong with it because it was appropriate in the context of the story, but it was something that surprised me a bit.

My only negative about the book was that I was a little unclear on Talion.  I know if he was real, like a real angel coming to Lu or if he was a hallucination.  Maybe that was the intent of the writer, to leave it open to interpretation.

About Mary Maddox

Mary Maddox grew up in Utah and California. A graduate of Knox College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she now teaches composition and literature at Eastern Illinois University.

She lives in Charleston, Illinois with her husband, film scholar Joe Heumann. Her interests include riding her horse, Tucker, and playing club and tournament Scrabble. Mary’s short stories have appeared in a number of magazines including Farmer’s Market, Yellow Silk, and The Scream Online. Her writing has been honored with awards from the Illinois Arts Council.

Talion, her debut novel, is available at as a trade paperback and at as both a paperback and a Kindle book. You can visit her at her Web site and follow her blog at

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Empty

by:  Suzanne Weyn
published by:  Scholastic

It's the near future - the very near future - and the fossil fuels are running out. No gas. No oil. Which means no driving. No heat. Supermarkets are empty. Malls have shut down. Life has just become more local than we ever knew it could be.

Nobody expected the end to come this fast. And in the small town of Spring Valley, decisions that once seemed easy are quickly becoming matters of life and death. There is hope - there has to be hope - just there are also sacrifices that need to be made, and a whole society that needs to be rethought.

Teens like Nicki, Tom, and Leila may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again.

I had a lot of high hopes for this book.  It sounded like it had a really great premise.  It sounded like it would be a really cool dystopian type novel. 

Unfortunately, this book just wasn't what I had hoped it would be.  I felt like the whole book was kinda preachy about consumption, not just about oil consumption, but all consumption on the part of Americans.  The book wasn't badly written or anything like that and the story carried well.  It just wasn't something I was in the mood to be chastised about.

I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading this book because it was pretty interesting, but be warned that it's a "tree-hugger" type book.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I'm a bit late in announcing the winners of two giveaways.  It's been a hectic week.  My oldest daughter turned 9 and her party sapped all my energy for awhile.  Carrying on...

The winner of Fragment by Marilyn Monroe is Jen @ I Read Banned Books

The winner of The Radleys ARC is Rachel

I've sent emails to the winners so check your email ladies.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review and Giveaway: To Nourish and Consume

by:  Ryan O'Reilly
published by:  Black Oak Press


Brian Falk and his best friend, Dabney, share a passion for the beautiful and wealthy Jackie, their childhood playmate and the prize catch of their social set. But, the young men are also drawn to each other—a secret, illicit connection that is cut short when Jackie chooses to wed the more moneyed Dabney.

Soon after graduation, a devastated Brian flees his hometown and, for ten agonizing years, tries to overcome the anguish that has all but consumed him. Now he is drawn back to try to answer some of the questions he can no longer ignore: Is he over Jackie? Was what he felt for Dabney really love? Does Jackie still love him?

As Brian desperately searches for closure, old wounds are reopened, a new love appears and revelations about his past throw his life into renewed turmoil.

I thought this book was fairly good.  It was well written and well constructed.  However, I just kinda kept waiting for something to happen. 

The main character kinda frustrated me.  I felt like he was stereotypical of a lot of people my age.  Sort of drifting around without a clue of what they want to do with their lives.  I don't know anyone like that though.  Most people my age have settled down and grown up.  I wanted to tell Brian to quit being such a baby and get over himself and deal with it!
About the Author:  Ryan O’Reilly’s is the author of critically acclaimed travel novel, Snapshot, which was published in 2007 and received rave reviews from Kirkus, Midwest Book Review, fellow authors and his many devoted readers and fans. He is also a freelance contributor to newspapers and periodicals across the country and a member of the National Writers Association and the Writers League of Texas.

I have two copies of this book to giveaway thanks to PR By the Book.   Just leave a comment with a valid email address on this post  before 11/23.  I have to ship these myself so US addresses only please.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Demon's Fall

2 Stars

She was an angel at the gates of Hell.

Knowing he must gain Jahel's trust if she is to come to his bed willingly, Kenan treats her more as his guest than as his slave. When she reveals what brought her to the mouth of Hell in the first place — retrieving the soul of a young girl she was guarding — he even offers to help her complete her mission.When Kenan, an incubus, finds a caged angel for sale in the Hellsgate marketplace, he sees her as a challenge. Certain that his skills in seduction will work as well on a heavenly creature as they do on mortal women, he buys Jahel, intent on having her soul as a novelty in his collection.

Though he has promised Jahel freedom, Kenan soon realizes she has captured his heart instead. And as their passion for one another grows, they find themselves caught in a struggle between Heaven and Hell, one that will lead them to the very edge of the apocalypse...

Demon's Fall wasn't a bad story, but it wasn't a good one either. I think it'll be easiest to make a pro/con list for this book. Cons first, because I do want to end a positive note with Lee.


This story has been done. It's been done to death. And it has been done better.

Still don't know why the hero/heroine are in love.

General silliness, plot devices not characters, chases, lukewarm sex.


There was of seed of interesting world building. I don't think it was fully realized, but that could be to do restrictions on word count.

A cute nod to the fairy tale world.

My issues were with plotting, the writing was good. I may have rolled my eyes on occasion, but I never cringed. I think Lee could be a good writer. This book reads like an early effort of someone still learning. And I am willing to read more of Lee's work, I think in the future she could write a book I really enjoy.

Cara McKenna

By: Cara McKenna

4 Stars *

(* recommended to those who don't read the genre but are interested in trying it out)

For those readers who aren't comfortable with explicit sex scenes move along, nothing to see here.

Still with me? Good. Cara McKenna is the Good Stuff.

What has prompted me to review all of her work in one post is the quality of her writing. These books

are all fabulous without exception. McKenna is a very good writer, maybe it was unexpected - there is plenty of Erotica out there that I find wanting. Characters are blow up dolls jumping from one sex scene to the next, but in McKenna's books they are three dimensional and fully fleshed out. There is also a joy to her characters' interactions. Too many times the sex in Erotica is unrealistic thrusts and groans and orgasms by the bucket full. When McKenna writes, her characters are enjoying themselves, they enjoy what they're doing and not just on a physical level but on an emotional level too.

McKenna is also a master of sexual tension, I have literally found myself biting my lip and twisting locks of my hair around my fingers while reading. And then she snaps it, usually with a laugh. Absolutely brilliant.

Quickie reviews of each book:

Dirty Thirty - Caliguliberal, lol awesome. Blazingly hot read, but a real romance. Evan and Margie are so wonderfully in love. This is a little love story masquerading as pure Erotica.

Backwoods - Prequel to Shivaree. I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. Let me rephrase that, I'm still not sure how I feel about the character of Gabriel in this story. In most of McKenna's stories there's a character that, well, you never really get inside their head. You're not entirely sure why they're doing what they are doing. That's not to say they don't act in a consistent and logical manner, you are left wondering at their motivation. It's interesting and thoughtful, not maddening and sloppy.

Shivaree - Still not sure about Gabriel (but there is a 3rd book coming, so yay! please I'm begging - closure). Hot & thought provoking.

Ready and Willing - "It's exactly two o'clock according to my cable box." Lines like this are one of the reasons I love McKenna's writing. Her characters live in the same world we do, they are all people we could bump into. Perfectly relatable. This book is also a testament to the strength of McKenna's story telling. Abby, the female lead, is choosing to have a baby all on her own, a choice I'm not really on board with. In fact I put off buying the book because this. I ended up liking Abby, and while I still don't like her choice, I do like her and understand her decision.

Willing Victim - This was my introduction to McKenna. I love this book, I really can't recommend it enough. A hot hot hot story that turns into love and ends on a happy note, but not with the traditional puppies and rainbows happily ever after.

Ruin Me - This was my 6th Cara McKenna and the first one I didn't approve of the story line. Couple in committed relationship but something just isn't right, so the male half of the couple says go ahead screw the other guy and get him out of your system. Not cool. Know why I read this book, even with a plot I knew I would hate? I had just read read 5 of McKenna's books and she was too perfect, I picked this up because I was sure this was going to take her down a peg in my mind. It didn't, again - she made me understand and like her characters even when I didn't like their choices. Ruin Me made it possible for me to pick up Ready and Willing.

Brazen - A quick little novella that left me wanting more. This is a rare short story that keeps me thinking about it after I finish.

Read the blurbs on the books themselves and pick one. You won't be disappointed, and I bet you'll end up a fan girl just like me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lipstick in Afghanistan

published by:  Gallery Books

Gripped by haunting magazine images of starving refugees, Elsa has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a teenager, of leaving her humble working-class Boston neighborhood to help people whose lives are far more difficult than her own. No one in her family has ever escaped poverty, but Elsa has a secret weapon: a tube of lipstick she found in her older sister’s bureau. Wearing it never fails to raise her spirits and bolster her confidence. With lipstick on, she can do anything—even travel alone to war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of September 11.

Violent nights as an emergency room nurse in Boston did not prepare Elsa for the devastation she witnesses at the small medical clinic she runs in Bamiyan. As she struggles to prove herself in the male-dominated culture, a tube of lipstick she finds in the aftermath of a tragic bus bombing leads her to a life-changing friendship with Parween, a young woman who has lost her adored young husband to the Taliban’s treachery. In Parween, Elsa finds a kindred spirit, fiery, generous, and determined to fight back against the restrictions that plague the women of her small country.

Together, they risk their lives to rebel against the Taliban and bring opportunity to the people of their village. But when they must stand up and fight for their own survival, Elsa discovers her only hope is to unveil the warrior within.

I was really interested in reading this book.  I loved The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I didn't love this book as much.  It had a great premise and I liked the idea of the story.  However, for me, the writing just wasn't the best. 

I felt like a lot of the scenes were very abrupt.  I found myself reading with an eyebrow raised a lot of the time.  I didn't believe what was going on.  Not that it was outrageous, but that I didn't feel like was going on was "real".   I couldn't get any emotion connection going on with the main character and I didn't particularly like her.  It's hard to get into a book when you don't like the MC.

I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading this book, because like I said the story has a great premise.  It's a quick easy read.   Go check it out and see if you feel the same way about it.  It might be a great book for a book club.  I'm sure there would be quite a lot to debate about it. 

Don't Blink

By James Patterson and Howard Roughan
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

New York's Lombardo's Steak House is famous for three reasons - the menu, the clientele, and now, the gruesome murder of an infamous mob lawyer. Seated at a nearby table, reporter Nick Daniels accidentally captures a key piece of evidence that lands him in the middle of an all-out war between Italian and Russian mafia forces.

I listened to the audio version of Don’t Blink. It was a quick easy “read”; a pretty typical mafia story, with death threats and back stabbing. I won’t say I loved the book, but it was entertaining enough to listen to the whole thing. I would have liked a bit more romance. What little there was could have been left out of the story. I was able to guess the twist fairly early on. The beginning is a bit gruesome, so I don’t recommend eating when you read it if you are the queasy type. The narrator did a decent job, however his female voices sounded alike. It made it hard to know who was talking sometimes. 3 stars on Goodreads.

Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I'll Tell You Mine...maybe

by:  Barbara Holstein
published by:  Enchanted Self Press

From Goodreads:  Following on the heels of the best-selling book The Truth, SECRETS is the continuing diary of a girl moving into her teen-age years. The Girl has plenty to fill her journal. The pages reveal a new school, a new baby in the family, new friends, a new guy and a new set of issues to face. Share the secret world of an almost-teen as she learns which secrets to share and which to keep to herself.

This is second book in The Truth series.  In this book the main character has moved a few towns away.  She's struggling between keeping her old friends and making new friends.  She's getting older and realizing that life isn't always perfect.  She's also coming to terms with her crush and that he might not be the most awesome guy ever. 

I liked this book as well.  I had considered giving these books away, but I'm going to save them for my daughters.  They reminded me of Are You There God, It's Me Margaret?  That same sort of time of life and all the problems a young girl has. 

I would recommend this book and the one before it called The Truth.  Check out my review of that one below. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Fragments Audiobook

by:  Marilyn Monroe, Stanley Buchthal (Editor), Bernard Comment (Editor)
produced by:  Macmillan audio

In a nutshell Fragments is a collection of poems, letters and notes that Marilyn Monroe wrote.  It's titled Fragments for a reason for sure.  She did not seem to like to write in full sentences, which made it difficult to follow on the audiobook at times. 

This audiobook made me feel deeply sympathetic towards Marilyn.  Her life and death was before my time and I had a basic idea of her life, but this book gave me far more insight into the kind of person she was. 

The thing that impressed me the most about this audiobook was the reader, Isabel Keating.  She did a fabulous job.  A lot of this writing looks to be scraps, fragments, and scribbled through and she had a great way of reading it.  Her voice was SO perfect for this part and she had this little laugh that she did a couple of times that was just excellent. 

Keep in mind that this is an abridged audiobook.  It's only about 3 hours long (from about book that's about 250 pages long).  It does have a pdf supplement on the second disc with scans of some of the letters.

Thank you to Macmillan audio for sending me this audiobook.  I won it from their Facebook contest.  Check out their page here.

Since they were so kind to do that, I'll pass along my copy.  If you'd like it just leave a comment below with a valid email address and I'll randomly pick a winner on 11/17.  US addresses only please. 

The Truth: I'm a Girl, I'm Smart and I Know Everything!

published by:  The Enchanted Self Press

From Goodreads:  THE TRUTH ... how do we carry the truth from girlhood to adulthood? That priceless truth that we all recognize as kids? How do we walk over that bridge into growing up, carrying the Truth? How do we not hide it? How do we not forget what it is? How do we recognize THE TRUTH in our children and help them carry their most precious selves into adulthood? What would the world be like if we could carry it with us into adulthood without damaging it? If we could pass the gift of early wisdom and brilliance along to our children, helping them to hold on to their most precious jewels? THE TRUTH, My Secret Diary, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything, is a delightful, humorous secret diary, written by a girl who is 10-11 years of age. She is wise and yet so innocent. She makes us cry and laugh and remember ourselves. Behind this very easy read is the psychological message to the women reading THE TRUTH that they can and must recapture the fire and passion of their girlhoods not only for themselves to flourish and be happy, but for the next generation to also have the gifts of good emotional and spiritual health.

I thought this was a pretty good for young girls.  I read through it fairly quickly and it was all easy to understand.  There was nothing inappropriate in there. 

It's written as a diary.  I think most young girls would probably enjoy it and relate to it.  I would recommend it to girls that are around 9 or 10 maybe a little older.  I gave this book to the girl that lives down the street who is 10 and she brought it back the next day saying she really liked it and could relate to the main character. 

My one little criticism about this book were the cultural references.  They were really outdated.  The TV shows and movies were very old.  There was one spot when the girls were "jitterbugging".  Really?  How many 10 year olds right now jitterbug?  I checked the publication date thinking maybe this was an old book, but it wasn't.  Published in 2007.  However, when I asked the girl who read the book about it, it didn't seem to bother her.  I don't think she got that these things were shows MY mom watched.  So, in the end I guess it doesn't really matter. 

You can see more about this book on The Truth for Girl's website.  Tomorrow I'll be featuring the next book Secrets.

**A note to our readers.  These will be the last children's books featured on this blog.  We started a new blog specifically for the books our kids are reading.  It's called Recess Readers.  We aren't quite started yet, but give us a week or so and we'll get it going.**

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Deadlier Than Male (Anthology)

Published: Harlequin (Silhouette) Coming in November 2010
Authors: Sharon Sala and Colleen Thompson

The Fiercest Heart by New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author SHARON SALA

Torn apart years ago by a family feud and a deadly accident, high school sweethearts Haley and Mack reunite when Haley returns to town. But someone doesn’t want them together and will do anything to keep them apart. Anything…

Lethal Lessons by COLLEEN THOMPSON

One of Mara’s students is troubled by her mother’s mysterious death. Despite warnings that the girl’s father, Adam, is a danger, Mara sees only a handsome, caring protector. Will she uncover the truth before it’s too late?

One thing I love about anthologies is that they are great for times when you want something quick and not too heavy. I have always enjoyed Ms. Sala’s novellas and she didn’t disappoint. Her story, The Fiercest Heart, was pretty good and fairly believable. I liked the characters and the ending was sweet. The twist was easy to call, but how much suspense can you really build up in 120 pages? So 3 stars for Ms. Sala.

The second story in the book, Lethal Lessons, wasn’t as good. I kept having the feeling that I was missing key information. The time jumps in the story were a bit disorienting and left out a lot of needed filler. I think this novella had the potential to make a great longer book. Too much was left out to make it a truly enjoyable short story. 2 stars for this one.

Overall, if you are looking for something light and quick, pick this one up. It will entertain you.

Still Missing

published by:  St. Martin's Press

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two year old Realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever- patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor of the day pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent captive of a sadistic psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered spirit back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

The truth doesn’t always set you free.

I don't know if it's appropriate to say I enjoyed this book, but it was a very compelling read.  Once I started reading I couldn't put it down.  I had to know what was going to happen to Annie.

This was a very dark read.  It had a lot of violence and rough language in it.  If that's not something you can handle, this is not the book for you.  She spent a long time in the hands of a sadistic captor and the book is her retelling of the events to her therapist.  She's understandably bitter about what happened during and after her time away. 

This was a debut book by Chevy Stevens and I was impressed.  I'll be looking for the next book by this author which will be Never Knowing coming out next summer.  In looking at the summary, I think that one will be as dark and moody (and right up my alley) as this one.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bayou Classic: The Grambling-Southern Football Rivalry

by:  Thomas Aiello
publisher:  LSU Press

The annual clash in New Orleans between the Grambling State University Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars represents the fiercest and most anticipated in-state football rivalry in Louisiana. The most significant national game to feature historically black colleges and universities is more than a contest; the Bayou Classic is a lavish event, featuring celebrities, a fan festival, and a halftime “Battle of the Bands” that offers an intensity equal to that of the gridiron. In Bayou Classic, Thomas Aiello chronicles the contest that became the Bayou Classic, providing not only a history of the game but also an exploration of the two schools’ broader significance to Louisiana, to sports, and to the black community.

When the Southern University Bushmen football team traveled to Monroe, Louisiana, to play the Tigers of Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute for the first time on Armistice Day, 1932, few realized they were witnessing the birth of a phenomenon. Aiello recounts Southern’s early dominance over the smaller, two-year institution; Southern’s acceptance into the Southwestern Athletic Conference; Grambling’s hiring of the legendary Eddie Robinson, who would lead the Tigers to 408 wins between 1941 and 1997; Grambling’s first victory over Southern; and years of alternating home and away games. In 1974, the rivalry found a neutral site in New Orleans—first at Tulane Stadium and then the Superdome—and became the “Bayou Classic.” An NBC television contract introduced the Bayou Classic to a nationwide audience and completed the transformation of the game into a major event. The Bayou Classic remains the only nationally broadcast game between two historically black schools. Aiello supplements his colorful narrative with period photographs and informative appendices providing game results, statistics, and all-star teams from every year the schools have played.

“To appreciate the rivalry,” Eddie Robinson once noted, “you have to realize Grambling and Southern fans are close friends, as well as relatives.” Bayou Classic offers a splendid history for fans, friends, and those who want to know more about this special game.

I live in Louisiana and I love some football.  I've always wanted to go to the Bayou Classic.  It looks like so much fun. 

This book is amazing.  Football fans will find it interesting.  People interested in the history of Louisiana will love it.  Southern and Grambling fans will have to have it.  It does not only deal with football.  It does deal with a lot of racial issues and history and economic issues.  This isn't a straight up football only book.

I read over a review copy that I got from Netgalley, but I'm going to have to hunt down a finished copy because it was chock full of pictures that my copy didn't have.  According to the notations, they must be amazing pictures. 

This is another one of those books that would make a great Christmas present!  Or the Bayou Classic will be held on November 27th this year.  Go get this book today and have a better appreciation of the event when it happens.

The Surrendered

by:  Chang-rae Lee
published by:  Riverhead Hardcover

June Han was only a girl when the Korean War left her orphaned; Hector Brennan was a young GI who fled the petty tragedies of his small town to serve his country. When the war ended, their lives collided at a Korean orphanage where they vied for the attentions of Sylvie Tanner, the beautiful yet deeply damaged missionary wife whose elusive love seemed to transform everything. Thirty years later and on the other side of the world, June and Hector are reunited in a plot that will force them to come to terms with the mysterious secrets of their past, and the shocking acts of love and violence that bind them together.

As Lee unfurls the stunning story of June, Hector, and Sylvie, he weaves a profound meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, the power of love, and the possibilities for mercy, salvation, and surrendering oneself to another. Combining the complex themes of identity and belonging of Native Speaker and A Gesture Life with the broad range, energy, and pure storytelling gifts of Aloft, Chang-rae Lee has delivered his most ambitious, exciting, and unforgettable work yet. It is a mesmeriz­ing novel, elegantly suspenseful and deeply affecting.

I listened to the audiobook for this.  It was fairly good.  The audiobook reader did a decent job.  However, I don't think this book was suitable for an audiobook, at least not for me.  It got REALLY long.  I felt like I was listening to it forever.  Parts where I might have started skimming the book, I started tuning out the story and then got lost as to what was going on.  There were some pretty big twists and turns and surprises going on in this book so you really afford to tune out too much.

It was a really interesting story most of the time.  There were just times when the descriptions when on a bit too long or the inner dialogue got boring.  Or there were times when the story lingered in the past when I wanted it to get back to the future setting or vice versa. 

I'd say my bottom line on this book would be that it was pretty good, but it was too long.  It could have done with a harsher editor and still got the message across beautifully. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Radleys: Review and ARC Giveaway

by:  Matt Haig
published by:  Free Press
US Publish date:  December 28, 2010

From Goodreads:  Meet the Radleys

Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret

From one of Britain’s finest young novelists comes a razor-sharp unpicking of adulthood and family life. In this moving, thrilling and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain – and lose – when we deny our appetites.

I've seen this referred to as a YA book in several places, however I did not feel like it was at all.  In checking out Matt Haig's website apparently there are two versions of this book.  There's a UK adult version and a UK YA version.  I read the adult version.  I don't know what the differences are so I can't comment on that, but the book I read was definitely not a YA book despite the fact that two of the main characters are teenagers.

Yes, it is ANOTHER vampire novel. And yes, it's another novel about vampires trying to pass themselves off as normal humans.  It had a few little Twilighty moments, but overall it had a unique feel to it.   I think Matt Haig manage to pull off what few have lately, a truly interesting new vampire book in an Edward Cullen world. 

Two of my favorite lines:  "Harper is actually Stuart Harper, but his first name fell off him in tenth grade, somewhere on the rugby field."  "This sex is as disappointing for Lorna as it so often is - a short, straightforward journey from A to B when she could really do with running through a bit of the alphabet."

If you want my ARC leave a comment below with a valid email address and I'll randomly pick a winner on 11/17.    This one is open to US addresses only.  (Sorry international people! Shipping is expensive)

Friday, November 5, 2010

SeaVoices: Working Toward a Sea Change

by:  Duffy Healey & Elizabeth Laul Healey
published by:  Healey Publishing Inc.

This is a great coffee table style book chock full of pictures and interviews of celebrities, activists and scientists on the topics of the environment and protecting our oceans. 

It is an absolutely beautiful large hard cover book.  I will most certainly be keeping this one on the bookshelf for the kiddos to look over.  The pictures are beautiful and inspiring.  The interviews are interesting and full of all kinds of unique information. 

I was impressed to see how up to date this book was as several of the interviews referenced the April 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.  As a resident of Louisiana this is a topic of great interest to me personally. 

The range of people that are interviewed in this book is outstanding.  There are surfers and artists and actors along with the oceanographers and marine biologists.  Politicians and musicians and fisherman also weigh in with their insights about the future of our oceans.  Some names you might recognize are Ted Danson, Yoko Ono, Jason Mraz, Pierce Brosnan, Robert Kennedy Jr, Ziggy Marley, Kate Walsh, and Tony Hawk.  That's just a tiny fraction of the interviews included.

This book would make an excellent holiday gift.  It can be purchased on their website.  I would definitely recommend it for anyone maybe middle grade and up, particularly ocean lovers and people striving to be more environmentally friendly or maybe people you wish would be more environmentally friendly.

Sea Voices also has a Facebook page


Have y'all seen this?  It was posted on Shay Doran's facebook page

I love it by the way!  Goes great with the first cover!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Forgive My Fins

published by:  Katherine Tegen Books

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it's not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you're a normal teenage girl, but when you're half human, half mermaid, like Lily, there's no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily's mermaid identity is a secret that can't get out, since she's not just any mermaid—she's a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn't feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she's been living on land and going to Seaview High School ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems—like her obnoxious biker-boy neighbor, Quince Fletcher—but it has that one major perk: Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren't really the casual dating type—the instant they "bond," it's for life.

When Lily's attempt to win Brody's love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily ever after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

I needed a quick light read and this fit the bill perfectly.  It's classified YA, but I don't know.  I think it might even go MG except for the fact that the characters seemed to be in high school.   It was a cute little story and the fish references made it seem like a older kid's version of Spongebob which I found sort of amusing.

I loved the cover of this book by the way.  One of the surest ways to get me to read a book it to have a girl on the cover with really cool, glam makeup. 

I liked this book enough that I would pick up the next book in the series, Fins are Forever coming out June 2011...which also has a cool cover.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winter Bloom

by:  Tara Heavey
published by:  Gallery Books

In the heart of bustling modern Dublin is a littered, overgrown garden of tangled weeds and a stagnant, hidden pond. Belonging to an iron-willed elderly lady named Mrs. Prendergast, who is rumored to have murdered and buried her husband there, the garden draws Eva Madigan, a young mother struggling to move on from the pain of her past. Eva is joined by Emily, a beautiful but withdrawn college dropout; Uri, an old-world immigrant; Seth, his all-too-handsome son; and occasionally even Mrs. Prendergast herself. But what drives Eva to transform the neglected urban wilderness? What makes the others want to help her? Even as Mrs. Prendergast puts the land up for sale, the thorny lives of all the gardeners are revealed and slowly start to untangle. Overgrown secrets are dug up and shared. Choices are made; a little pruning is in order. Now Eva is about to discover that every garden is a story of growth toward a final harvest. . . .

I so adored this book.  I wanted to gather up the characters and bring them home with me and let them make a garden in my backyard.  I wanted to let snarky Mrs. Prendergast make tea and fancy food for me and let Emily tell me her secrets.  I wanted my kids to know Uri and understand what he went through.  The book ended though and I was really sad.

This is definitely one of those books I could recommend to anyone.  There was a little language and a little sex.  A few situations might make some sensitive people a little uncomfortable.  It was a good book though.  Just a good book!  I would highly recommend it for book clubs.  I'm sure there's a wealth of conversation topics covered in this one book.


The winners of the big giveaway have been notified and responded.  Thank you ladies!

The winner of prize pack #1 is:  Miranda!

The winner of prize pack #2 is:  Eileen!

Congratulations winners!!

Also I have the winners of the giveaway for The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise to announce:  Loni and Tonya904.  I'll be sending emails out to y'all shortly.

Thanks everyone!  We'll be having more giveaways coming soon...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Before I Fall

published by:  HarperCollins

What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last. Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

I picked up this book from the library in anticipation of reading Delirium, Lauren Oliver's upcoming novel.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I really enjoyed this book.  I ended up waking up really early Saturday morning and I read this book all the way through that morning. 

Yes, the premise is pretty much like the movie Groundhog Day and the story progresses pretty much like Groundhog Day.  One day she's angry about having to repeat everything, one day she seems kind of playful with it.  However, it's much more serious than that movie.  The subject matter is fairly heavy, I guess in the world of teenagers. 

I really enjoyed the character progression in this book.  Mainly that of Sam, the main character, she went through a lot of changes throughout the book.  Dying does that to you I suppose, but the way she viewed her friends and her boyfriend and even her family changed a lot and I appreciated those changes. 

While some of the ideas in this book aren't new, they're presented in an interesting way.  I liked it and I think if you like teenage dramas then this one would probably appeal to you too.