Saturday, June 11, 2011

Moved!

I have imported this blog to Wordpress to avoid having the blog blocked by my school.  I'm still trying to see if I can import my followers, but because I am using Wordpress.com instead of Wordpress.org I can't seem to make it work.

In the mean time I hope you will join me at the New Booklady's Booknotes.

If I Move To Wordpress Will You Still Follow?

This first full week of summer vacation has been spent in professional development.  Yesterday's class was all about blogging.  I've been blogging for a couple of years, but wanted tips on how to do it better, as well as getting tips on how to use blogging with my students. Got some great ideas, but found out that I will not be able to use blogger with my students.  Something about not being able to restrict searches on blogger and therefore not being able to keep the appropriate level of safety/privacy for students.

I totally understand the reasoning.  I've already moved my school library related blog over to the D20 Wordpress site. You can find it at Mrs. Archer's Book Notes.  I have strict privacy settings on it - i.e. all comments have to be approved by me before they are posted.  This blog is not school related, but covers books of all genres and ages.  However it does have information that I like to share with my staff.  If I keep it on blogger, they won't be able to access it from school.  Educators are busy.  If I send them a link to a blog post they might find useful, then tell them they can't look at it until they get home, chances are they'll have forgotten about it by the time the get home.

After the recent Splash Into Summer Blogger Hop Giveaway, my followers jumped up to 149. I was very excited about this.  Though I'm sure many of those new followers only signed up for a chance to win the Amazon gift certificate I was giving away. Still, I worry that if (when) I move to Wordpress, I'll lose those followers.

Another advantage to moving this blog over, would be having everything on the same dashboard. Of course that would mean I'd also have to move my Breast Cancer and Photography Blog as well.

I think I know what I'm going to do, but tell me - What would you do?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Goddess Test by Amiee Carter

I received an e-galley of this book from Librarything's Early Review program.

Summary:  It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

I love good books with a take on mythology. So this was a good read for me.

What I liked about the book:  1.) Kate. She's a strong character, very well developed.  Life has been tough for Kate. Her mother is dying. She's moved to a new school.  She makes a new friend (though an unlikely one) only to have her die.  Instead of whining about how life has mistreated her, Kate sets out on a course to try to make things right and to try to save her mother.  Kate is not your stereotypical spoiled teen.  2.) It's a modern twist on Greek mythology. (Did I mention how much I like mythology?).  Granted Carter has put her own spin on the Greek Gods, but that actually makes the story better. I like how she thinks outside the box.  3.) It's not your typical paranormal romance.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good vampire/angel/werewolf romance, but it's refreshing to find a well written different take on the paranormal romance.

What I didn't like about the book:  There really wasn't anything I didn't like about the story. If pressed, I would say I might have liked it better if Kate didn't take so much blame on herself. She feels guilty  about what happens to Ava and she even feels guilty when she has to pass judgement on her.   Yet, I can't really say this is a bad thing about the book. It's part of what makes Kate who she is.

If you enjoy books about mythology and a you enjoy the teen romance, this is a good read for you.

June RAK


RAK is hosted by Book Soulmates. Its a way to pass on the book love.
 May sure went by quickly. I didn't receive any RAKs this month. I only sent out one RAK this month. I hope to be better about it in June. I'm such a book geek and I love sharing books with others.  I guess that's one of the reasons I'm a librarian. 

So, here is my WISHLIST for this month. 
If you want to participate this month sign up is HERE.

Can you believe it's already June?!
 
 
Rules:

• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.
• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)
• Create a wishlist and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
{Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}
• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wishlist and contact that blogger for their address.
• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
{Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes :)


Happy Summer Reading Everyone!

Friday, June 3, 2011

June Book Club Read - The Next Thing On My List by Jill Smolinski


June Parker gives a ride to a stranger and it changes her life.  The passenger, a young woman named Marissa, is killed in a freak accident, leaving June feeling responsible.  When returning Marissa’s purse to her grieving family, June discovers that Marissa had a list of things she wanted to accomplish by her 25th birthday.  June decides that she will finish Marissa’s list for her.  Kissing a total stranger, going braless, and eating ice cream in public are the easy ones.  Changing someone else’s life will be the challenge. Yet, June, with the help of friends and co-workers tackles the list with determination.  As she marks things off her list, she discovers it just might be her own life she changes.

My book club (The Pikes Peak Bookworms) selected The Next Thing On My List because we wanted a light read after having read two rather dark selections.  It was certainly a light, quick read.

What I liked about the book:  It was easy for me to connect with this book because I am working on my own Life Celebration list.  It’s a feel good story – a welcome break after the rather somber reading I’ve been doing the last several months.  The pacing was just perfect for a summer beach read. And though the book does make you think about your life and where it’s going, it’s not so deep that it feels like “assigned reading.”  Smolinski has a light, witty writing style that will appeal to most readers, especially those who enjoy “Chick Lit.”  The author includes discussion questions at the back of the book along with activities to help readers create their own list.  Since this is a book club read, I found this to be rather helpful.

What I didn’t like about the book:  I didn’t like the romantic twist at the end. Not that this takes away from the book.  It just didn’t end the way I expected or had hoped.  However, upon reflection, Smolinski did include clues about where the romance was going. I just failed to pick up on them.

If you enjoy Chick Lit or if you are looking for a quick, easy read for travel or the beach, this is a book you should slip into your travel/beach tote.

The Pikes Peak Bookworms will be discussing this book on June 6th. I’ll let you know what the rest of the group thinks.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Splash Into Summer Winner!

The winner of the $25 Amazon Gift Certificate is Kim The Book Butterfly.

Thanks to everyone who entered. I am working on compiling everyone's favorite summer reads for a future post.  Happy Reading!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

ARC Review: The American Heiress: A Novel by Daisy Goodwin


I won an ARC of this book from Goodreads. 


The American Heiress tells the story of Cora Cash, a wealthy young American beauty from the turn of the Twentieth Century.  The only child of a “new money” family,  Cora is her mother’s entrĂ©e into society.  Mrs. Cash is determined to make the ultimate marriage match for her daughter – one with a title.  On a trip to England, Cora finds herself in a whirlwind courtship with an impoverished duke with secrets.  After an over the top wedding, Cora finds herself trying to navigate the pitfalls of being American among British nobility.  For once, her wealth can’t solve everything.

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about this book. I thought it was well written.  Godwin included just the right amount of detail to give the reader a sense of the time period.  I found Cora to be a very likable character. I was very interested in her story and wanted to know how it would end.  However, I had a real hard time reading this book. I kept finding it way too easy put it aside.  In the end, I had to force myself to sit down and not move until I finished the book.  In fairness, that could be due to the fact that I would classify this book as a romance, not a genre I read very often.

What I liked about the book: Cora. She’s a very strong woman, but not so strong as to be unbelievable.  She is the reason I kept reading.  The setting – I’m an Anglophile and I enjoy stories with a British or Irish twist.  The ending – I won’t post any spoilers, but I have to admit I was a little concerned about how she was going to wrap it all up – would it be believable.  It wasn’t a Pollyanna ending, but it fit the story rather well

What I didn’t like about the book: There were several characters I didn’t like, but I don’t think the reader is meant to like them very much.  There is more than one villain in this story. The main thing I did not like about this book was the pacing. It was a good story, but it just didn’t grab me. It often felt like a chore to read this book and that is why I only gave it three stars.

If you enjoy romances, stories about turn of the century England and are not looking for a fast paced, grab you by the collar read – then this could be the book for you.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ARC Review - Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

I received an Advance Reader's Copy of this book through the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for a honest review.


Summary:  The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and complete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eye liner. 

What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up? 

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again. 



There has been a lot of comparisons of this book to the TV show Lost. I can't really speak to that since I've never watched that show.  It did remind me vaguely of Survivor and Lord of the Flies - only with with teen age girls and a great deal more humor.


What I liked:   This is a funny, mindless read.  Several times I found myself reading aloud humorous passages to my husband. But of course, being a guy he didn't always get the humor.  It was action packed with perfect pacing.  I also liked that it was a light read. Of course, it has plenty of depth, if you want to get serious and think of it as  a commentary on feminism, commercialism and the shallowness of the cosmetics industry. Buty why spoil the fun?


What I didn't like? Even though I much prefer Bray's  Rebel Angels series, I can't think of anything I didn't like about this book.  It's an all around great summer read.







Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood by Ice-T and Douglas Century

Amazon Product Description: 



My life’s been a great story / In the ultimate war / Should I ill or do right? / Make peace or go raw?—Ice-T, “Exodus”

He’s a hip-hop icon credited with single-handedly creating gangsta rap in the 1980s. Television viewers know him as Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola on the top-rated TV drama Law & Order: SVU. But where the hype and the headlines end, the real story of Ice-T—the one few of his millions of fans have ever heard—truly begins.

Ice is Ice-T in his own words—raw, uncensored, and unafraid to speak his mind. About his orphan upbringing on the gang-infested streets of South Central Los Angeles. About his four-year stint in the U.S. Army’s famed “Tropic Lightning” outfit. About his successful career as a hustler and thief, the car crash that nearly killed him, and the fateful decision to turn away from a life of crime and forge his own path to international entertainment stardom.

Ice by Ice-T is both a tell-it-like-it-is tale of redemption and a star-studded tour of the pop culture firmament. The acclaimed rapper and actor shares never-before-told stories about friends like Tupac, Dick Wolf, Chris Rock, and an antler-clad Flavor Flav, among others. Readers will ride along as Ice-T’s incendiary rock band Body Count narrowly escapes from a riotous mob of angry concertgoers in Milan, and listen in as the music legend battles the self-appointed censors over his controversial “Cop Killer” single.

Most of all, Ice is the place where one of the game’s most opinionated players breaks down his own secret plan for living, offering up candid observations on marriage and monogamy, the current state of hip-hop, and his latest passion: doing one-on-one gang interventions and mentoring at-risk youths around the country.

With insights into the cutthroat world of the street—and the cutthroat world of Hollywood—Ice is the inspirational story of a true American original.
This book was an impulse check out at the library. I was standing in line waiting to checkout and it was on the new non-fiction display. I enjoy watching Ice-T on Law and Order SVU.  I like to read the occasional biography. So I decided to give it a try.
For the most part, I enjoyed reading this biography. I felt as though I was getting an inside glimpse into what makes Ice-T, Ice T.  I realized that Ice-T is a lot different than my perception of Finn on Law & Order SVU.  I found it to be well written and interesting.
However, if you are looking for a biography that will provide a moral lesson for today's youth, this is not it. He does discuss his transition from crime to legitimate work, but he doesn't take a strong stand about the wrongness of his time as a criminal. He's very true to his beliefs, which makes for an honest read.
Also, if you have a problem with foul language, particularly the F-word, then you might want to skip this book.  If you want to learn about the man behind the image, then you should read this book, but if you have an "agenda", if you are looking for a motivational "don't do crime - take the straight and narrow path" story, you might want to search for another book.  
If you are looking for an honest account of this man's life then this is a good read for you. He's very true to himself and he doesn't pull any punches. He doesn't smooth over his mistakes. And while he might not provide a strong warning against a life of crime, I really didn't find that he was glamorizing it.  He does point out that there are risks and the price you pay if you get caught is high.
Overall, it was an impulse check out that turned out to be a rather good read.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bookish Giveaway!

I just ran across a new blog that I'm excited to follow. And not because they are giving away a wonderful prize. I'm really looking forward to reading the reviews. Of course this means my mountain of a TBR list will never shrink. :)

Do you want to win some of these great reads?! I know I do! Head over to Evie Bookish and enter the 500 follower giveaway! There will be 3 winners and it's open internationally and there are TONS of ways to earn extra entries! It ends June 15th!

Check it out for the prize, but I think you'll stay for the reviews.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Splash Into Summer Blog Hop Giveaway

The Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Page Turners. It officially starts at Midnight tonight.




This is open to anywhere Amazon ships as the prize is a $25 Amazon gift card.  You must be a follower and fill out the to enter.  You can get an extra entry by leaving a comment with the title of your favorite summer read.  Winner will be drawn randomly. Winner will be announced on June 1st.  

After entering here hop on over to I Am A Reader Not A Writer to visit other blogs on the hop.

Happy Summer Reading!

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Dertling

Cover from Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7827221-desires-of-the-dead

Summary:  VIOLET AMBROSE'S SECRET IS OUT
Violet has a curious gift: the ability to sense the echoes emitted by murder victims.  Only her boyfriend Jay and her closest family know.  But when she locates the body of a missing boy sought by the FBI she puts herself firmly on their radar.

NOW SHE'S BEING WATCHED
As if dealing with regular calls from the FBI isn't enough, threatening notes are being left on her doorstep, and she feels disturbing echoes around the home of Jay's new best friend.  Violet needs answers fast...

WHO CAN SHE TURN TO?
Violet should feel closer to Jay now he's moved from best friend to boyfriend, but she hasn't told him what's worrying her.  She tells herself she's protecting him, but is their fledgling relationship strong enough to cope?

As Violet faces her fears alone she uncovers dark truths that lead her to danger...


Review:
Violet has a secret.  The dead call out to her. She can't hear them speak, but she can the imprints of their death and that same imprint is on their killers. Only her family and her boyfriend, Jay, know she has this ability.

She sees and hears the echos of the deadViolet has the ability to detect echos left behind by murder victims, the same echos that are carried around by their killers.  This has always been a closely guarded secret known only by her family and her best friend (and now boyfriend) Jay but it now looks like someone else has found out.  With the FBI constantly asking questions and someone leaving threatening notes for Violet she has a lot on her plate.  But why is she finding it so difficult to turn to Jay for help?

This is the sequel to Dertling's The Body Finder.  And while I liked the first book better, this one was a good solid read.  Rumor has it there will be more books in this series and I'm looking forward to finding out what Violet does with her ability.


What I Liked:  The difference: Paranormal is the buzz word in young adult novels these days. However, much if it is centered around angels, demons, wolves and vampires.  The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead is a refreshing break from the norm.

The pacing:  Even though I was not surprised the events in the book, I felt Dertling did a nice job of creating a suspenseful story. The pacing is just right for building that suspense.  And even though it is a sequel, it would work well as a read alone.  Dertling pretty much ties up all the loose ends in The Body Finder.


What I Don't Like:   Violet's friends. Jay is wonderful, but Chelsea is down right irritating. I suppose she's is to be the stereotypical selfish teenage girl.  She did come across as spoiled, but rather flat. She's incredibly annoying and I'm not sure why Violet puts up with her.

Violet's secretiveness and lack of self preservation: Violet keeps to many secrets to herself. You would have thought she would have learned her lesson from the first book. She keeps putting herself into situations that anyone with a bit of sense would avoid.

Lack of parental involvement:  I also found it disturbing that her parents are not more protective, especially after what happened to her in the first book.

These annoyances aside, it is an overall good read, one that sparks an interest in readers that will keep them coming back to see what happens next.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Cover from Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7285498-angelfire

Product Description

First there are nightmares. 

Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.
Then come the memories. 

When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.

Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

I found this to be a very enjoyable read. Lately, it seems I've been swamped with books, that instead of being enjoyable were just a chore to read.  Angelfire was a nice change of pace.

What I likedThe main characters.  Ellie, though I think she has room to grow, is a very likable character. She came across as rather well grounded, concerned about many typical teen concerns (school, clothes, parties), but not overly spoiled or snotty.  Will is your typical brooding, dark and handsome love interest. 

The bad guys:  No, I'm not on their side, but I thought the Reapers were a nice departure from your usual demons out to destroy the world.

What bothered me: There were two things that I found disturbing.  Ellie's acceptance: When Ellie is "awakened", she seems to accept what is happening rather quickly. I guess that's to be expected when you are forced to fight the Reapers or die.  I just thought she might have questioned her sanity a little more. I think most teens would.

Ellie's father:  This isn't a criticism of the book. I just don't like him. He is certainly up for the bad parent of the year award.  I sometimes wonder if he's been possessed by a Reaper.

Over all this is a great book. If you like good vs. evil with a little bit of romance as well as action, then this is a book that you should read.  It is true that there are a lot of unanswered questions, but I think the author planned it that way on purpose as there are two more books yet to be published.  Angelfire is a new and interesting spin on what seems to be a fast growing popular genre of books about angels.  There is enough action and enough twists and turns (including a surprising revelation about Ellie) to keep readers turning the pages.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ARC Review: Rise of the Wolf: Wereworld Book 1 by Curtis Jobling


Imagine a world ruled by Werelords--men and women who can shift at will into bears, lions, and serpents. When Drew suddenly discovers he's not only a werewolf but the long-lost heir to the murdered Wolf King's throne, he must use his wits and newfound powers to survive in a land suddenly full of enemies. Drew's the only one who can unite the kingdom in a massive uprising against its tyrant ruler, Leopold the Lion. But the king is hot on Drew's tail and won't rest until he's got the rebel Wolf's head.

I received this book from Librarything’s Early Review program. I have to admit I wasn’t sure if I would like it.  Nothing against werewolves, but there are just so many good paranormal stories out there.  In the first chapter or two things seemed to be moving so slowly, I had just about decided this was going to be one of those laborious reads. But, I was wrong. All of a sudden this story really took off and it became a real page turner.


Though the wolf takes the lead in this story, it’s not just about lycanthropy. Therianthropism runs rampant in this story.  The Seven Realms is inhabited by were beasts of all kinds:  wolves, lions, foxes, stags, bears, rats, serpents, boars, and even sharks. I found that this made it more than just your normal run of the mill paranormal fantasy. This story has it all: a little romance, lost children, treachery, a little magic, and a little necromancy and of course, good vs. evil.  Leopold, the Lion Werelord and current ruler of Lyssia, stole the throne from Wergar the Wolf King. Leopold murdered the king and all of his children - or so he thought. 

Our hero, Drew, is the long lost son of the murdered king, hidden away by a loyal servant.   He knows nothing of who or what he is, until one night a monster attacks his family and Drew makes his first shift to the inner wolf.  That night is the first step that will lead Drew to his true history and destiny.

What I liked about this book:  The pacing. Even though it gets off to a slow beginning, once it gets started it really moves along. I was often reluctant to put it down.   Though there is some magic, I like that the story is more about paranormal creatures than it is about magic.  I like the fact that Drew inspires loyalty in those around him, NOT because he the long lost son of the old king, but because of his character.  For a young boy thrown into a fantastical situation, he really is very level headed.  The contrast between his level headed down to earth character and the haughty spoiled nature of Gretchen works well.  Though, Jobling could have worked a little more on the growth of Gretchen’s character.  Gretchen aside (and I think we will see her grow more in future books), the characters seem very well developed. There is nothing flat about this book at all.

The only thing that concerned me just a little is that the back of the ARC states that the intended audience is ages 10 and up.  To me the story seems a little older – perhaps for teens.  It’s a very clean story, perhaps a little scary with some of the creatures.  Somehow it just seems as though the story is for an older audience.

The back of the ARC also includes a quote from The Times (London) – “Superior to Eragon, and pure fun.”  I liked Eragon. But you know? I think I agree with The Times.

This book is scheduled for release in September 2011.  Book two: Rage of Lions is scheduled for release in 2012.


Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Summary from Good Reads:

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common. 

I wanted to like this book, but I didn't. I wanted to stop reading, but I didn't.  I'm not really sure why I kept reading.  Wishful thinking?  This was a hard book for me. The concept was interesting, but somehow it just didn't live up to my expectations.  Though to be honest I'm not really sure what those expectations were.

It's a dystopian young adult novel, which is something I normally enjoy reading.  In the interest of fairness, maybe as a parent, I couldn't get past the disturbing concept of a society that not only encourages teen pregnancy, but pays for it!  That combined with the sad fact that I didn't really care for any of the characters made this a very disappointing read. I found Melody and Harmony to be confusing. I understand that they didn't know each other, but I didn't feel like they really knew themselves.  Sometimes, characters who are searching for self understanding can create a good story, but in this case they just come across as flat and underdeveloped.

Another thing that bothered me was the lack of adults. In a world where everyone turns infertile after the age of 18, I would expect there at least to be some adults who would be extremely protective of children and teens.  I know it's a dystopian teen centered society, but surely there could have been one semi-reasonable adult. Harmony's ability to just leave her ultra religious community didn't ring true as well.

I'll admit that I'm curious to see how the story ends, but I'm not sure I'm curious enough to spend my valuable reading time reading any more books in this series.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett - Repost


Summary: It starts with whispers.
Then someone picks up a stone.
Finally, the fires begin.
When people turn on witches, the innocents suffer. . . .
Tiffany Aching has spent years studying with senior witches, and now she is on her own. As the witch of the Chalk, she performs the bits of witchcraft that aren't sparkly, aren't fun, don't involve any kind of wand, and that people seldom ever hear about: She does the unglamorous work of caring for the needy.
But someone or something is igniting fear, inculcating dark thoughts and angry murmurs against witches. Aided by her tiny blue allies, the Wee Free Men, Tiffany must find the source of this unrest and defeat the evil at its root before it takes her life. Because if Tiffany falls, the whole Chalk falls with her.



The Tiffany Aching series is one of my favorite young adult series. The fourth installment in the series I Shall Wear Midnight is an excellent read. It was like meeting up with a good friend you had not seen in some time. I find it very sad that this is the last in the series. Though Tiffany would be the first to admit that she's not perfect, she comes about as close as you can get. It's hard to believe that she is only 16 years old. She has wisdom beyond her years, which is why I suppose, she is a witch. Tiffany and the Mac Nac Feegles and Granny Weatherax and Nanny Ogg will be greatly missed.


This story is somewhat darker than the other Tiffany books. It explores the worst of human nature. The writing and imagery are very powerful and will have the reader examining their own actions and thoughts.


I highly recommend this and the other Tiffany Aching books (you really should read them in order) for any young adult (or old adult) that enjoys fantasy and books that make them think.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Randam Acts of Kindness - May



Random Acts of Kindness is hosted by Book Soulmates and is a fun way to show other book bloggers you care! Here are the rules:

Sign up each month that you'd like to participate.
• Show off your participation by grabbing our RAK button :)
• Create a wish list (on Amazon, Goodreads, or your blog etc) and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wish list and contact that blogger for their address.
• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes and share it with us :)


I've signed up for R.A.K. again this month! Last month, I sent out one book. I hope to send out more this month, once I finish paying for the school window my 13 year old hooligan broke. (He knows I love him.)

My wishlist is up on Amazon.com and I am lucky number 71 on the list. I'm looking forward to combing through the sign-up and finding more people to share some book love with.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

ARC: Grace Interrupted by Julie Hyzy

Cover From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Interrupted-Manor-House-Mystery/dp/0425241904/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1304438546&sr=1-1  
This is the second book in The Manor House Mystery series. It takes place in a large manor house in Emberstowne, one of those quaint touristy towns. The heroine, Grace Wheaton, is just beginning to find her bearings as the new curator of Marshfield Manor when the arrival of a large group of Civil War re-enactors throws a spanner in the works. The murder of one of their number implicates Grace's love interest Jack, and it's up to Grace (with the help of her annoying, but very competent assistant, Francis) to clear his name.

I received an Advance Reader's Copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Grace Under Pressure, I had been eagerly awaiting this second book. I was not disappointed.  Grace Interrupted is every bit as well written and enjoyable as the first book.


I find the characters, especially Grace to be very well developed. (Though, if you want to know about Grace's past, you really should read the first book).  Grace is much like her name - she has a sense of elegance and "grace" that permeates the whole story.  The way she handle's Francis is just amazing. You can feel her frustration, but she tries not to let it show.  I do not like Francis, but she's one of those characters that you "love to hate." And who knows maybe she'll grow on me as the series grows. We don't see as much as some of the other supporting characters (Bennett or Grace's two roommates), but that's OK.  We get to see a positive side of Francis and I'm sure we will learn more about the other characters as the series progresses.

The pace of the story is just perfect for a cozy mystery. Never too slow or too fast. One of the things that I enjoyed about both books is that I feel that I can relax while reading, yet stay engaged. It's very much like visiting with an old friend.

This is certainly one of my top favorite cozy mystery series. If you like cozy mysteries, with just a touch of old manor elegance, I highly recommend you give this one a try.

The Baker Street Letters

The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson

Good Reads Summary:


In Los Angeles, a geological surveyor maps out a proposed subway route--and then goes missing. His eight-year-old daughter, in her desperation, turns to the one person she thinks might help--she writes a letter to Sherlock Holmes. 

That letter creates an uproar at 221b Baker Street, which now houses the law offices of attorney and man about town Reggie Heath and his hapless brother, Nigel. Instead of filing the letter like he’s supposed to, Nigel decides to investigate. Soon he’s flying off to Los Angeles, inconsiderately leaving a very dead body on the floor in his office. Big brother Reggie follows Nigel to California, as does Reggie’s sometime lover, Laura---a quick-witted stage actress who’s captured the hearts of both brothers. 

When Nigel is arrested, Reggie must use all his wits to solve a case that Sherlock Holmes would have savored and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fans will adore.


The premise for this book had such great potential, unfortunately the writing just didn't meet that great potential.  I found the actual story to be very boring. Clues appeared in awkward places.  I'm surprised that I actually finished the book as I found that I not only did not care for the characters or really about the solution to the mystery.  I was very disappointed as I was hoping for a good contemporary mystery with a tie-in to Sherlock Holmes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

ARC Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson

Not the most flattering picture of me, but I love that I'm standing next to one of my favorite authors.



I always look forward to a new Goldy adventure. This one didn't disappoint. For me it was a quick, engaging read.

After reading this book I was surprised at the number of negative reviews this book received.  Sometimes I wonder if I am reading the same book as others. But readers have different tastes and expectations, especially mystery readers.

This is why I liked the book:

Though the series often deals with very serious issues (domestic abuse, being just one example), the tone of the books, including this one, is generally light and the entertainment level is high. Over the years I've come to really like Goldy and her supporting characters.  Yes, sometimes I have to suspend disbelief when Goldy's police officer husband, reacts very calmly to some of the scrapes she gets involved in - and yes much of what Goldy does is rather unbelievable - not what you would expect of a real person. But unless, you are reading a police procedural or a P.I. novel, the characters, including law enforcement are not going to behave as real people would.

Ms. Davidson always includes enough twists and turns so that I find I have to work to solve the puzzle before Goldy. I like to be challenged. I also like that even though the puzzle may be challenging, the solution never seems to just come out of left field.

I will say that once Goldy finally got away from "The Jerk" and became more sure of herself, her character seemed to even out - as far as terms of growing. Gold is Goldy, but without giving anything away, it looks as though Davidson has some changes in store for our favorite caterer.

I do have to admit that Gold can be somewhat of a helicopter  mom when it comes to Arch, but she's getting better about giving him some freedom. In fact one of the criticisms I read about this book was that she gives him too much freedom. While all the danger was happening, Goldy didn't seem concerned that he was not at home, but always at friend's house.  As the mother of a teen who drives, I can appreciate that sometimes, even though you would prefer they be at home, you'll take knowing where there are over fighting with them about them not being home and not knowing where they are.  Goldy always seems to know where Arch is.

And of course, the recipes are always an added bonus. Over the years I've made several of her recipes. My favorite is a cookie recipe from The Main Corpse.  I tried to make Crunch Time cookies (she gave us a sample at the book signing), but I can't figure out what to do with the pecans after I've toasted them, chopped them and then set them aside. I thought perhaps since I was given an ARC from the Amazon Vine program, perhaps there was a misprint in the recipe.  I checked Harper Collins's website which has the recipe listed - and I still can't figure out what to do with the pecans. I've sent Ms. Davidson a message on Facebook. Hopefully, I'll find out soon. My family is looking forward to the cookies.

Speaking of this book being an ARC. When I went to the book signing at one of our local Barnes and Nobles here in Colorado Springs, I was a little embarrassed that I wasn't buying a book. Instead I was taking in an ARC to have signed. I usually make it a point to purchase at least one book at a book signing since the store went to all the trouble to host the author.  But my budget is tight since we have to pay a huge sum of money to have a school window broken by youngest teen.  If I were Goldy, I could just offer to cater a lunch or something. 

Turns out that Ms. Davidson was a little embarrassed that I had an ARC as well - not because she was expecting me to buy the book, but because the ARC had so many mistakes (I hadn't tried to make the cookies yet, so I didn't ask her about that.)  Embarrassed or not, I'm still very happy to have the signed ARC. I have a couple of other finished hard covers signed by her. She's an author I was try to see when they are in town.  But this ARC is special because it was sent to me to be reviewed. I'm not sure that makes sense to anyone but me - maybe I need one of Goldy's Espressos.

This review has turned into quite a ramble. In my humble opinion, this is an enjoyable book. If you like cozy mysteries, especially ones about food, you really must try these. I'm looking forward to what happens in the next one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If Books Could Kill by Kate Carlisle

Amazon Product Description

Murder is easy-on paper.

Book restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright is attending the world- renowned Book Fair when her ex Kyle shows up with a bombshell. He has an original copy of a scandalous text that could change history-and humiliate the beloved British monarchy.

When Kyle turns up dead, the police are convinced Brooklyn's the culprit. But with an entire convention of suspects, Brooklyn's conducting her own investigation to find out if the motive for murder was a 200-year-old secret-or something much more personal. 


This is the second book in this series. It's a quick and enjoyable read. Just perfect for a lazy spring or summer afternoon of reading.  I was drawn to this series because it deals with books. I tend to enjoy almost any series with a book or literary theme.  This one revolves around the world of book binding and collectible books.

This is a well crafted cozy mystery. Though part of a series, it is easily readable without having read the first one. Though, reading Homicide in Hardcover will give you a better sense of the humor surrounding some of the characters in Brooklyn's life.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries and are looking for a light, quick read, you should give this book (and the series) a try.

Monday, April 18, 2011

ARC Review: The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Book Cover from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Palace-Carlos-Ruiz-Zafon/dp/0316044733/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303140818&sr=8-1

FTC Disclosure:  I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in the hopes that I would provide a review. I did not receive any compensation for my review.

Product Description from Amazon

In the heart of Calcutta lurks a dark mystery....
Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life. . . .

Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere's sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night--and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces. 

 This book did not have the passion and exciting pace that I normally find in young adult books. I've seen it listed in a few places as part of the series with The Prince of Mist. That might explain why I often felt as though I was missing a great deal of the story.  This book just didn't interest me. I had to force myself to finish and based on the reading habits of the teens that I provide Reader's Advisory for - I'm afraid they would feel the same way. 

Some of the "story telling" by characters was just too long. The author seemed to have spent more time just throwing in details without truly connecting them to the story.  The characters felt underdeveloped as well.  It was difficult to make a connection with the characters in order to care about what happened to them.


 I had considered reading The Prince of Mist in hopes that it would help me understand this story better.  However, my to read list is too long to add a book when it is questionable that it would be enjoyable to me or my patrons.

Giveaway: Addicted 2 Novels

Book Strings: Giveaway: Addicted 2 Novels: "Where: Addicted 2 Novels Whats up for grabs: Prize Pack 1- &nbsp..."

Book Strings posted about an AWESOME Giveway from Addicted to Novels. Click on the link to check it out and be sure to browse the blog while you are it.

Whats up for grabs: 
       Prize Pack 1-
                *Suddenly In The Depths of the Forest (arc)
                *Rip Tide (arc)
                *The Vespertine (arc)
                *The Dead-Tossed Waves (UK Ed. w/signed book plate)
                *Extraordinary (arc)
                *Across The Universe (w/signed bookplate)

               ***US Only***

      Prize Pack 2-
               *Abandon (arc)
               *Wrapped (arc)
               *The Lipstick Laws (arc)
               *See What I See (arc)
               *Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance
               *Purple Daze

               ***US Only***

$10 Book of Choice (US, CA and international):
*One person will win any YA book of their choice (up to $10) from the Book Depository.

Timeline: Now-May 7

Required: Follow Addicted 2 Novels  Fill out the form on their blog.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Book Cover from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Plain-Kate-Erin-Bow/dp/product-description/0545166640/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books


Product Description

Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden charms are so fine that some even call her "witch-blade" -- a dangerous nickname in a town where witches are hunted and burned in the square.For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate's father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he'll give Kate the means to escape the town that seems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish. It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes that she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

First, I have to say that Bow created a character that I cared about and a story that I wanted to follow to the end.  However, the book failed to live up to the story's potential.  I found the pacing of the story to be too slow.  The beginning spark of the story seemed to just die away. It was hard for me to finish this story.  I have a rule about life being too short to finish books you don't have to read. I stuck it out with this book because I did care about Kate and wanted to know how her story ended.

The ending was the best part of the book - not because it was the ending, but because I didn't see it coming. Though not a happy ending, it is one where the right things happen.


Friday, April 15, 2011

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - Book Club Read

Book Cover from Amaxon http://www.amazon.com/Thirteenth-Tale-Novel-Diane-Setterfield/dp/0743298039/ref=dp_return_2?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

Amazon Product Description

Sometimes, when you open the door to the past, what you confront is your destiny. Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author's tale of gothic strangeness -- featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess,a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

This was a re-read for me. I first read this book shortly after it was published.  I enjoyed it immensely and was thrilled when my book club picked it for the April read.  This is certainly one book that I don't mind re-reading.

The Thirteenth Tale is a dark, gothic, rainy afternoon read.  And yes, it does have a certain creepy factor - somewhat reminiscent of  V. C. Andrews.  It is not a quick read - not a fast paced thriller, but I did find it to be a compelling read - hard to put down. Setterfield's prose is beautifully descriptive. The ending is wonderfully unpredictable!  If you enjoy books by the Bronte sisters, this a book for you.

I'm curious to hear what the members of my book club think.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Promise Me by Nancy Brinker - A Review

Promise Me : How A Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer by Nancy G. Brinker with Joni Rodgers

I received an ARC of this book through Amazon Vine.

Product Description from Amazon:

Suzy and Nancy Goodman were more than sisters. They were best friends, confidantes, and partners in the grand adventure of life. For three decades, nothing could separate them. Not college, not marriage, not miles. Then Suzy got sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977; three agonizing years later, at thirty-six, she died.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Goodman girls were raised in postwar Peoria, Illinois, by parents who believed that small acts of charity could change the world. Suzy was the big sister—the homecoming queen with an infectious enthusiasm and a generous heart. Nancy was the little sister—the tomboy with an outsized sense of justice who wanted to right all wrongs. The sisters shared makeup tips, dating secrets, plans for glamorous fantasy careers. They spent one memorable summer in Europe discovering a big world far from Peoria. They imagined a long life together—one in which they’d grow old together surrounded by children and grandchildren.
Suzy’s diagnosis shattered that dream.

In 1977, breast cancer was still shrouded in stigma and shame. Nobody talked about early detection and mammograms. Nobody could even say the words “breast” and “cancer” together in polite company, let alone on television news broadcasts. With Nancy at her side, Suzy endured the many indignities of cancer treatment, from the grim, soul-killing waiting rooms to the mistakes of well-meaning but misinformed doctors. That’s when Suzy began to ask Nancy to promise. To promise to end the silence. To promise to raise money for scientific research. To promise to one day cure breast cancer for good. Big, shoot-for-the-moon promises that Nancy never dreamed she could fulfill. But she promised because this was her beloved sister.
I promise, Suzy. . . .  Even if it takes the rest of my life.

Suzy’s death—both shocking and senseless—created a deep pain in Nancy that never fully went away. But she soon found a useful outlet for her grief and outrage. Armed only with a shoebox filled with the names of potential donors, Nancy put her formidable fund-raising talents to work and quickly discovered a groundswell of grassroots support. She was aided in her mission by the loving tutelage of her husband, restaurant magnate Norman Brinker, whose dynamic approach to entrepreneurship became Nancy’s model for running her foundation. Her account of how she and Norman met, fell in love, and managed to achieve the elusive “true marriage of equals” is one of the great grown-up love stories among recent memoirs.

Nancy’s mission to change the way the world talked about and treated breast cancer took on added urgency when she was herself diagnosed with the disease in 1984, a terrifying chapter in her life that she had long feared. Unlike her sister, Nancy survived and went on to make Susan G. Komen for the Cure into the most influential health charity in the country and arguably the world. A pioneering force in cause-related marketing, SGK turned the pink ribbon into a symbol of hope everywhere. Each year, millions of people worldwide take part in SGK Race for the Cure events. And thanks to the more than $1.5 billion spent by SGK for cutting-edge research and community programs, a breast cancer diagnosis today is no longer a death sentence. In fact, in the time since Suzy’s death, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer has risen from 74 percent to 98 percent.

I had three reasons for reading this book. 
  1.  I’m currently going through treatment for breast cancer. I have another blog (In The Pink) about my experience and I'm reading as much material related to breast cancer as I can.
  2.  I’m a Zeta Alum.  The Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure is very important to our women’s fraternity.
  3. I received an ARC from the Amazon Vine review program – however this book was already on my to read list. Receiving it for review just moved it up to the top of the list.
One thing to keep in mind: if you are looking for an actual history of the Susan G. Koman Race For The Cure, then you should look elsewhere.  This book is about Nancy Brinker and what motivated her to launch an all out global movement to end breast cancer.  To understand the motivation and love behind the movement, you have to understand Nancy. This book does an excellent job in detailing what makes Nancy who she is and why finding an end to breast cancer is so paramount to her.

I found the book to be very inspirational, well written and hard to put down.  It’s not an easy read.  You might want to keep a box of tissues handy.  Even though I knew that her sister Susan died from breast cancer, I still found myself crying when I reached that point in the book.  I also found myself moved by the vignettes scattered throughout the book that detailed the battles others have fought.  The vignettes also included information on the history of breast cancer treatment.  I found them to be both horrifying and enlightening.  

There is a great deal of information included in this book. It is presented in an easily read manner with interesting details and insights into the main players.  If you enjoy memoirs or if you have any connection to breast cancer I highly recommend this book.

On a more personal note:  Until I was diagnosed with it, breast cancer was always something that I was vaguely aware of – I supported the awareness campaigns. I did my monthly self exams.  Yet, it was something that was just slightly outside my own life.  My diagnoses made it a big part of my life.  I always thought that the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure was a worthwhile organization.  After reading this book, I now realize that I may very well owe my life to Nancy Brinker and SGK. I’m a benefactor of early detection.   Their dedication over the years have pulled breast cancer from the far recesses of a dark closet, shown a light own on it and brought the fight out into the open.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wicked Awesome Books: Win the entire Mortal Instruments series SIGNED by...

Wicked Awesome Books: Win the entire Mortal Instruments series SIGNED by...: "Here it is. The super awesome, uber crazy, giveaway of WIN! One lucky person will win the entire MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series thus far: City of..."

I stopped by Wicked Awesome Books because of they are giving away the entire Mortal Instruments series. However, the real treat is the blog itself. You should check it out.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

24 Hour Read-A-thon - April 9th


I came to the party late, but thought I'd give it a shot anyway.   I am up and ready to READ READ READ today - even though I'm feeling very groggy this morning. My doctor prescribed Ambien and I took it for the first time last night. I think I would rather just wake up tired (or just get up and read when I can't sleep) than wake up feeling fuzzy headed.


If  you want more info on the Read-A-Thon check out Dewey Read A Thon site.  I don't really have a game plan.  I have two books I'd like to finish The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield for book club and a If Books Could Kill by Kate Carlisle.  There are plenty of other books waiting in the wings once these are finished.  (Now, let's hope a cup of coffee with sweep out the Ambien cobwebs and I can actually enjoy some good reading time.)


http://www.amazon.com/If-Books-Could-Kill-Bibliophile/dp/045122891X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302351356&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Thirteenth-Tale-Diane-Setterfield/dp/0743298020