Monday, January 30, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Harm None and If You Lived Here

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Harm None
Author: M. R. Sellars
Publisher: E.M.A. Mysteries (May 31, 2000)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 378
Genre: Horror
Series: Rowan Gant Investigations #1

This one looks like it is going to scare the heck out of me; at the same time, it looks really good.

When a young woman is ritualistically murdered in her Saint Louis apartment with the primary clue being a pentacle scrawled in her own blood, police are quick to dismiss it as a cult killing. Not one for taking things at face value, city homicide detective Ben Storm calls on his long time friend, Rowan Gant-- a modern day practicing Witch-- for help.

In helping his friend, Rowan discovers that the victim is one of his former pupils. Even worse, the clues that he helps to uncover show that this murder is only a prelude to even more ritualistic bloodletting for dark purposes.

As the body count starts to rise, Rowan is suddenly thrust into an investigation where not only must he help stop a sadistic serial killer, but also must fight the prejudices and suspicions of those his is working with--including his best friend.

Title: If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name
Author: Heather Lende
Publisher: Algonquin Books (March 29, 2006)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 281
Genre: Memoir


Tiny Haines, Alaska, ninety miles north of Juneau, is accessible mainly by water or air—and only when the weather is good. There’s no traffic light and no mail delivery; people can vanish without a trace; and funerals are community affairs. As both obituary writer and social columnist for the local newspaper, Heather Lende knows better than anyone the goings-on in this breathtakingly beautiful place. Her offbeat chronicle brings us inside her busy life: we meet her husband, Chip, who owns the local hardware store; their five children; and a colorful assortment of friends and offbeat neighbors, including aging hippies, salty fishermen, native Tlingit Indians, Mormon spelunkers . . . as well as the moose, eagles, sea lions, and bears with whom they share this wild and perilous land.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

We Give Books - Regards to the Man in the Moon

We Give Books was started by Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation to "support literacy through programs that engage entire communities through literacy and awareness programs". The We Give Books program is an initiative that allows anyone with Internet access to give books to children in need. When you sign up you can choose from one of five charities. Then you can select from one of 151 digital picture books (both fiction and non fiction) to read online.

This is all completely free for the reader! Simply choose the charity you want to read for and then select the books you want to read. For each book you read online, a book is donated to a leading literacy group on your behalf. So please sign up and support literacy.

Title: Regards to the Man in the Moon
Author and Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats
Publisher: Aladdin (July 15, 1987)
Format: eBook
Genre: Childrens
Source: We Give Books
Ages: 4 - 7

“All a person needs is some imagination, and a little of that stuff can take you out of this world”

Louie is embarrassed because his friends call him the junkman, so when he tells his dad, both his parents get to work showing Louie and his friends that junk is only in the eye of the beholder.

Louie had no idea that you could build a space explorer with the things in his backyard, but his parent understood and that set Louie on a day of adventure.

“It’s not Voyager 3, it is Imagination 1”

Sometimes you just need the love of a parent and the faith of good friends to help you open your mind and imagine. Most importantly, if you become scared and run out of imagination, hitch your ship to a friend, and they will help you along.

Ezra Jack Keats

Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983) was born to impoverished Polish immigrants of Jewish descent in East New York. Long before multicultural characters and themes were fashionable, he was the first American picture-book maker to give a black child a central place in children's literature. Keats illustrated over eighty-five books, and wrote and illustrated twenty-four children's classics. He established the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation in 1964.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: 77 Shadow Street

Title: 77 Shadow Street
Author: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantam, Pg 464
Publication Date:
December 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Horror
Source: Library

Reading 77 Shadow Street has become a journey in patience. After wading through the first 43 pages, I was ready to close up the book and move on. Koontz was up to his usual overly wordy and rambling self and I just was not in the mood for it. Then I hit page 44 and was mesmerized by this book.

This is where I wish I could write the dialogue that begins on page 44 to give you a taste of what would have keep me completely engaged and then poof the amazement was gone. I have absolutely no idea as to what goes on in the mind of this writer, but I am beginning to wonder if a split personality is involved.

When the dialogue is good, it is very good and when he rambles, I scan my way through the next 50 pages. I finally decided to stick with one character, Winny, and focus solely on his story. From time to time, I would check in on other characters to see what they were up to and I am under the impression that three books were mashed into one.

The basic jest is – An old home, built in the late 1800’s has been turned into a high-end apartment building. Every 38 years or so, something freaky happens and the residents are subjected to shadows, voices, fungus on the walls that seem to breath, evil doings of previous tenants and a timeline that blurs past and present in a type of time warp.

Why did I pick Winny to follow? He is a child that has been bullied by his father, a person that came around less often than the Fed-Ex guy and slightly more often than Santa Claus, his whole life and this is the one and only chance that he has to be brave. Young Winston was named after courageous people and just because he has a small body and skinny arms does not mean that cannot do big things. Winny has formed an attachment with Iris, a young autistic girl, and Winny just knows if he can help her, he will not grow up to be the sissy that this dad said “is all but guaranteed”. Iris is not making it easy on him -though when she runs off and Winny is right on her heels.

Other than the Odd Thomas series, I think I am now officially done with Koontz. I miss his old thrillers and once he became commercial, something was lost. I guess there will never be another Watchers or Twilight Eyes - that is too bad because the old Koontz is who I fell in love with and tell people about.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Defending Jacob

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Defending Jacob
Author: Willliam Landay
Publisher: Delacorte Press , Pgs 432
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Legal Thriller

Book Description:

At home, Andy Barber is a quiet family man, a devoted husband and father. At work, he is a trusted senior prosecutor, the District Attorney’s right hand and master trial lawyer. When a teenaged boy is found dead in the woods near Barber’s suburban home, naturally he takes on the investigation, as he has countless homicides before. But the case may be Barber’s undoing: in a terrifying swerve, Barber’s own 14-year-old son, Jacob, is accused of the murder.

The boy insists he is innocent, and Barber rallies to his son’s defense — as any father would, he thinks, as any father must. But defending Jacob exacts a terrible price. Neighbors lock their doors against him. Jacob’s classmates refuse to talk. Barber’s marriage begins to crumble as his beloved wife Laurie buckles under the relentless pressure of suspicion. Finally, as Jacob’s trial intensifies, Barber faces a trial of his own, in which he is forced to confront his own secret history, a past he thought he’d buried long ago.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Specials

Title: Specials
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse, Pg 384
Publication Date:
May 9, 2006
Format: Audio
Genre: YA
Source: Library
Series: Uglies #3

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

The six hoverboards slipped among the trees with the lightning grace of playing cards thrown flat and spinning. The riders ducked and weaved among ice-heavy branches, laughing, knees bent and arms outstretched. In their wake glowed a crystal rain, tiny icicles shaken from the pine needles to fall behind, aflame with moonlight.

Plot introduction

The Uglies series is set at least 3 centuries in the future, after current civilization was destroyed by a bacterium which de-established all petroleum products, causing widespread chaos. The survivors of this disaster established cities much smaller than those currently existing, each of which is independently governed with limited traveling. At the age of sixteen, each person undergoes an operation which boosts their immune system and reflexes while giving them well-proportioned, symmetrical faces based on an international standard, so that all pretties look nearly identical. They are also given brain lessons which make them peaceful and compliant. Before they receive the operation, children are referred to as "uglies", and are kept separate from their older friends. Later operations follow to show signs of increasing age while maintaining this beauty, and the lesions may be removed for pretties entering careers which require quick thinking. Pretties who work for Special Circumstances, a group which ensures the city's security are given an operation to make them look terrifying, become very strong and fast, and have incredibly fast reflexes. Specials also receive brain surgery to make them obedient.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Mind Over Murder

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Mind Over Murder
Author: Allison Kingsley
Publisher: Berkley (September 6, 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 272
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Raven's Nest Bookstore Mystery #1


Cousins and best friends, Clara and Stephanie Quinn run The Raven's Nest Bookstore, where people go to find their most coveted reads. But they have no idea it's the psychically-gifted Clara who's reading them...

The bookstore has made an enemy of the town crier, Ana Jordon, who claims that the store's occult collection is "poisoning" the town's youth. Meanwhile, the store's number-one employee, Molly, has made no secret of her anger over Ana's antics. So when Ana is found dead, killed by the bust of Edgar Allen Poe sculpted by Molly, the evidence is stacked against her. And Clara must rely on her gift to make sense of this senseless murder...

Pseudonym for Kate Kingsbury.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thank You - Liebster Blog Award

Thank you to Thrilled by Books for this award.

The Liebster Blog Award is intended to draw attention to small but worthy blogs with less than 200 subscribers.

And Thank You for the kind words............

Books n'Whatnot - This is a very lovely blog with enjoyable reviews. For anyone looking for a book review blog with a wide selection of genre's to choose from, this would be it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We Give Books - Ladybug Girl

We Give Books was started by Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation to "support literacy through programs that engage entire communities through literacy and awareness programs". The We Give Books program is an initiative that allows anyone with Internet access to give books to children in need. When you sign up you can choose from one of five charities. Then you can select from one of 151 digital picture books (both fiction and non fiction) to read online.

This is all completely free for the reader! Simply choose the charity you want to read for and then select the books you want to read. For each book you read online, a book is donated to a leading literacy group on your behalf. So please sign up and support literacy.

Title: Ladybug Girl
Author: Jacky Davis
Author and Illustrator: David Soman
Publisher: Dial (March 13, 2008)
Format: eBook
Genre: Childrens
Source: We Give Books
Ages: 4 - 7

Playing dress up is very important in a young child’s life and no child appreciates this more than Lulu.

Lulu is a smart and imaginative child, but when her mother tells her that she has to find her own entertainment for the day Lulu is lost. What can she do? Her brother Max does not want her around with his friends so off to her room she goes. That is not what a Ladybug Girls wants so out to the backyard she goes.

Ladybug girl has found her power in this outdoor world and sets about fixing and doing and helping. Just what Ladybug Girls are meant to do. See, she is not too little like her brother said; she can do many things.

Feeling as big as the whole outdoors, has put her in the perfect mood to realize that she is not so little after all.

Cute book with adorable illustration - my favorite being a little Ladybug Girl with her trusty dog looking over a large wall of books and counting all the L’s. This is a very powerful picture that has stayed with me more than another other illustration in the book.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: Quilter's Apprentice

Title: The Quilter's Apprentice
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 6, 1999
Format: Audio
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Library
Series: Elm Creek Quilts Series #1

Sometimes simple is best or so the story goes when Sarah McClure, an unfulfilled accountant, followers her new husband Matt to a small college town in Pennsylvania as he works on a crew as a landscape designer. Sarah struggles to find her place in this small town until one day she accompanies Matt to the crotchety Mrs. Compson’s old family home.

Sylvia Compson, a master quilt maker, does not make getting to know her easy; when she offers Sarah a job helping her to organize the old homestead for sale, Sarah takes up the offer with apprehension. As their friendship grows, Sylvia reveals the old stories and heartaches that surround Elm Creek Manor. While the women work together and quilt, a bond is formed and a future is developed for both Sarah and Elm Creek Manor.

This book is a little too happily ever after for my tastes. Being the first in a series, I am sure that the characters will come more to life in future books, but I came away from this book feeling that Sarah, the main character, did not have much depth, so I found very little to draw me back to her. Because of this, I do not see myself continuing with this series.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Scarecrows

Title: Scarecrows
Author: Tom Upton
Publisher: Hightowne Press
Publication Date: April 17, 2009
Format: eBook
Genre: Horror
Source: Amazon Digital / Kindle

First, you have to get past the poor grammar, spelling and awkward sentences, this is not a well-edited manuscript. Second, read the story that is being told and do not get hung up with the little things like correct tense, word usage or missing letters.

Horror is a very interesting genre, if it is done poorly, it is a travesty, if it is done well, you check under your bed. Mr. Upton has a very good story to tell and if he was blessed with the editors, this writer would be spoken about as a new rising talent.\

I picked up Scarecrows on a whim, read a couple of pages and put down the current Koontz so I could finish this book. Yes, to me it was that good.

When an unforeseen storm blows into a small Wisconsin town, the police force and its band of volunteers are not prepared for the evil that is about to be unleashed on them. Now, we are not talking zombies exactly, more like reanimated dead people. Apparently, there is a fine line between the two and only the town whack-job, a PTSD suffering ex-Viet Nam vet knows how to handle this situation.

There are parts in this book that will make you shutter, there are parts that will make you blush, there are parts that will make you laugh and what is truly funny – it is not always the parts that you would imagine.

This book is not completely plausible, but that does not mean it is not a darn good read and if you are starting to burn out on the current batch of horror writers, check out what Mr. Upton has to offer. Just do not be too meticulous about little things, like everything your English teachers taught you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Pregnancy Project

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir
Author: Gaby Rodriguez (Author), Jenna Glatzer (Contributor)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Pgs 224
Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Memoir

Book Description:

It started as a school project…but turned into so much more.

Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers; from an outsider’s perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn’t include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she “lived down” to others' expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby’s school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process.

In The Pregnancy Project, Gaby details how she was able to fake her own pregnancy—hiding the truth from even her siblings and boyfriend’s parents—and reveals all that she learned from the experience. But more than that, Gaby’s story is about fighting stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.

About the Author

Gaby Rodriguez made national headlines in 2011 when, as a seventeen-year-old high school senior from Toppenish, Washington, she revealed she had faked a pregnancy for a class project. Her grades were in the top 5 percent of her graduating class, and she was a commencement speaker. She was also in the ASB Leadership group and president of the school's chapter of M.E.Ch.A (Movimiento Estudiantil de Chicanos de Aztlan: Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan). She was raised by her single mom, has seven brothers and sisters, and has been dating her boyfriend Jorge since 2008. She is currently attending college.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph - 77 Shadow Street

Title: 77 Shadow Street
Author: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantam, Pg 464
Publication Date:
December 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Horror
Source: Library

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

For me, this book did not get interesting until page 44. If you are not a Koontz fan, you might give up before this point, but if you have been reading his books for awhile, you know that you have to hang in there until it gets good - then the ride begins.

Chapter 1

Bitter and drunk, Earl Blandon, a former United States senator, got home at 2:15 a.m. that Thursday with a new tattoo: a two-word obscenity in blue block letters between the knuckles of the middle finger of his right hand.

About the Book:

I am the One, the all and the only. I live in the Pendleton as surely as I live everywhere. I am the Pendleton’s history and its destiny. The building is my place of conception, my monument, my killing ground. . . .

The Pendleton stands on the summit of Shadow Hill at the highest point of an old heartland city, a Gilded Age palace built in the late 1800s as a tycoon’s dream home. Almost from the beginning, its grandeur has been scarred by episodes of madness, suicide, mass murder, and whispers of things far worse. But since its rechristening in the 1970s as a luxury apartment building, the Pendleton has been at peace. For its fortunate residents—among them a successful songwriter and her young son, a disgraced ex-senator, a widowed attorney, and a driven money manager—the Pendleton’s magnificent quarters are a sanctuary, its dark past all but forgotten.

But now inexplicable shadows caper across walls, security cameras relay impossible images, phantom voices mutter in strange tongues, not-quite-human figures lurk in the basement, elevators plunge into unknown depths. With each passing hour, a terrifying certainty grows: Whatever drove the Pendleton’s past occupants to their unspeakable fates is at work again. Soon, all those within its boundaries will be engulfed by a dark tide from which few have escaped.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Charity's Point and Practical Jean

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Death at Charity's Point
Author: William G. Tapply
Publisher: Ballantine Books 1984
Format: Paperback; Pgs 231
Genre: Mystery
Source: Paperback Swap
Series: Brady Coyne #1

From the Back Cover:

A legal thriller without a courtroom? A lawyer who's actually a nice guy? Here's the brief. . .
The Lawyer. . . Boston's Brady Coyne is keyed way down. He'd rather fish than fight. When he's full of beans, they're from a can, washed down with beer. He's not partnership material--legal or matrimonial. Barrister to the Brahmins through a quirk of Fate, Brady finds his clients usually demand his personal, discreet attention.

The Client. . . Elderly Florence Gresham is wealthy and whipcord tough. A realist, she's accepted the loss of her elder son to the jungles of Vietnam and the suicide of her husband. But when her scholarly, reclusive younger son steps off a cliff, Florence won't buy the coroners obvious conclusion.

The Case. . . What happened to George? His mother wants Brady to uncover the truth. She offers an incentive: a hefty percentage of the double indemnity life insurance policy payoff--assuming, of course, that Brady overturns the suicide verdict. And low key or not, barrister Brady likes to win...

Title: Practical Jean
Author: Trevor Cole
Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 11, 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 320
Genre: Satire
Source: Paperback Swap

From Amazon:

Jean Vale Horemarsh is content, for the most part, with the small-town life she’s built: a semi-successful career as a ceramics artist, a close collection of women friends (aside from that terrible falling-out with Cheryl years ago), a comfortable marriage with a kind if unextraordinary man. But it is only in watching her mother go through the final devastating stages of cancer that Jean realizes her true calling. No one should have to suffer the indignities of aging and illness like her mother did—and she, Jean Horemarsh, will take it upon herself to give each of her friends one final, perfect moment . . . and then, one by one, kill them.

Of course, female friendships are quite complicated things, and Jean is soon to discover that her plan isn’t as simple as she initially believed it to be.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Give Books - You Can't Go To School....

We Give Books was started by Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation to "support literacy through programs that engage entire communities through literacy and awareness programs". The We Give Books program is an initiative that allows anyone with Internet access to give books to children in need. When you sign up you can choose from one of five charities. Then you can select from one of 151 digital picture books (both fiction and non fiction) to read online.

This is all completely free for the reader! Simply choose the charity you want to read for and then select the books you want to read. For each book you read online, a book is donated to a leading literacy group on your behalf. So please sign up and support literacy.

Title: You Can't Go To School Naked
Author: Dianne Billstrom
Illustrator: Don Kilpatrick III
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (July 3, 2008)
Format: eBook
Genre: Childrens
Source: We Give Books
Ages: 3+

Told in a rhyming fashion, this adorable book follows the parents reasoning as to why their son has to wear clothing to school. All the reasons are quite plausible, but their son is not quite sure.

All they want him to do is to consider the consequences, well, that is a mighty big task for a little boy, but that night has he sleeps he lets their tales roll around in his head like a big pot of soup.

As morning dawns, the little boy has come up with the perfect solution. It might not be ideal is all public situations, but for now it will work and the little boy is quite please with himself for coming up with the idea.

I am sure that all parents have had to deal with this while raising their children. It is a cute story that will surely have both the reader and the listener giggling together and coming up with their own consequences.

This would be a fun addition to a child’s library.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Entangled

Title: Entangled
Author: Barbara Ellen Brink
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: November 20, 2010
Format: eBook
Genre: Mystery
Series: Frederickson Winery #1
Source: Amazon Digital / Kindle

What an absolute jumbled mess. There is a possibility that this would have made an adequate short story, but somewhere along the way, Barbara Ellen Brink was told to add a little here and a little more there and we will call it a book.

A very bad idea.

Ms. Brink will add long meanderings that add absolutely nothing to the story. Her main character arrives as a wine novice and then suddenly waxes on about wines with no training, skill or gained knowledge and poof she is a winemaker. No. If you are looking for a good mystery series involving wine and vineyards, checkout Ellen Crosby and her Wine Country Mysteries series.

“Perhaps once a deep chardonnay, the color had faded over the years to a tawny brown. I swirled the liquid lightly around the sides of the glass to let the alcohol evaporate and breathed in the heady bouquet. A nutty, toasty sensation was followed with the underlying hint of something floral. Roses perhaps."

Billie Fredrickson a 28-year-old divorce attorney inherits a winery from an uncle that she has very little recollection of. When she arrives at the estate, with the full intention of selling the property, her uncle’s attorney – who also happened to be a childhood friend, helps her to navigate the estates history and entanglements.

Something happened to Billie when she was last on the estate. Something that happened to her as an eight year old and being back on the property has reawakened memories that only appear in her nightmares.

“...we pick and choose the memories we need to remember, not necessarily the most important ones, but those useful to our continued wellbeing.”

There is nothing new to this plotline. It has been used repeatedly and when you come to the “climatic” moment, you yawn and have no further attachment to Billie or the other characters involved in this fiasco than you did before the stunning moment.

I see how others have loved this book, now I am beginning to wonder what I missed. There is no depth to any of the characters introduced. The petty squabbling between Billie and her mother seems to have no point and no resolution. Of course, every book must have a love interest, but within a short span, Billie goes from despising the man to suddenly throwing herself at him. Where was the development to get from point A to point B? Most importantly, the “bad guy” was barely mentioned for the first two-thirds of the book and suddenly he is a pivotal character. Once again, no, there needed to be more and this ran along the lines of – we had better find a bad guy fast, whom should we use, oh, I have an idea, it is not a good one, but we can make it work.

I recommend that you pass on this book.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Christmas Letters

Title: Christmas Letters
Author: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: October 1, 2006
Format: Audio
Genre: Romance
Source: Library
Series: Blossom Street #6

The overall story line of K.O. (Katherine O’Connor) is thin and you do not walk away from Blossom Street knowing anymore about the inhabitants than you did before you read this book.

Katherine works from her townhome as a part time transcriptionist while trying to find a new job; to supplement her income she writes Christmas letters for friends and new business contacts. When her sister Zelda (really, the names in this book) goes on and on about a new book that she has read that will change the lives of her daughters written by childless Dr. Wynn Jeffries called the “Free Child” method, Katherine knows that she has heard more than she can handle.

What a coincidence, but Dr. Jeffries just happens to live in Katherine’s building and when she confronts him on his hokum and bull they spend the evening together and the world is raining down sunshine and lollipops.

Oh, but that is too simple, there must be conflict and drama. That comes in the form of twin girls that Katherine will be watching for an evening and she invites the good doctor to tag along so he can spread his educated knowledge on the situation.

Yes, well, we all know how that is going to end.

Other than the fact that this is a series that I started years ago and that some books are better than others, I do not know why I keep picking them up. I am way too skeptical for superficial romances and happily ever after’s. But what is a girl to do?

If you have already started this series, than by all means continue. This thin edition is a quick read and hopefully will lead to a better book next time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Serial Killer Whisperer

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers
Author: Pete Earley
Publisher: Touchstone, Pgs 336
Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: True Crime

Book Description:

Fifteen-year-old Tony Ciaglia had everything a teenager wants—good grades, good athletic skills, and good friends—until he suffered a horrific head injury at summer camp. Pronounced clinically dead three times by helicopter paramedics before he reached a hospital, Ciaglia lapsed into a coma. When he emerged his right side was paralyzed and he had to relearn how to walk, talk, and even how to eat. His brain damage also required him to take countless pills to control his emotions.

Abandoned and shunned by his friends, he began writing to serial killers on a whim and discovered that the same traumatic brain injury that made him an outcast to his peers now enabled him to connect emotionally with notorious murderers. Soon many of America’s most dangerous psychopaths were revealing to him heinous details about their crimes—even those they’d never been convicted of. The killers opened up to him, trusted him, and called him a “best friend.”

But there was a price. As Tony found himself being drawn deeper and deeper into their violent worlds of murder, rape, and torture, he was pushed to the brink of despair and, at times, forced to question his own sanity—until he found a way to use his gift. Asked by investigators from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to aid in solving a murder, Tony began launching his own personal searches for forgotten victims, with clues often provided to him voluntarily by the killers themselves.

The Serial Killer Whisperer takes readers into the minds of murderers as never before—straight from a killer’s thoughts to paper. It is also an inspiring tale of an American family whose idyllic life is shattered by a terrible accident, and how healing and closure came to a tormented man in the most unlikely way—by connecting with monsters.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph - The Quilter's Apprentice

Title: The Quilter's Apprentice
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Simon & Schuster
Publication Date:
April 6, 1999
Format: Audio
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library
Series: Elm Creek Quilters #1

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

Sarah leaned against the brick wall and tried to look comfortable, hoping no one walking by would notice her or wonder why she was standing around in a suit on such a hot day. She shaded her eyes with her hand and scanned the street for Matt's truck -- their truck -- but she didn't expect to see it. He wasn't late; she was early. This interview had been her shortest one yet.

A drop of perspiration trickled down between her shoulder blades to the small of her back where her silk blouse was tucked into her navy skirt. She removed her suit jacket and folded it over her arm, but she knew she wouldn't feel comfortable until she was back in her customary T-shirt and shorts. A barrette held her hair away from her face, and the back of her neck sweltered beneath the thick, brown waves. The people who slowly passed on their way to jobs, shopping, or summer classes at nearby Waterford College looked as uncomfortable and as drained by the humidity as Sarah felt. In a few months, she knew, she'd be griping about the snow like everyone else in central Pennsylvania, but today she longed for autumn.

Book Description:

After moving with her husband, Matt, to the small college town of Waterford, Pennsylvania, Sarah McClure struggles to find a fulfilling job. In the meantime, she agrees to help seventy-five-year-old Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate, Elm Creek Manor, for sale. As part of her compensation, Sarah is taught how to quilt by this cantankerous elderly woman, who is a master of the craft.

During their lessons, Mrs. Compson reveals how her family was torn apart by tragedy, jealousy, and betrayal, and her stories force Sarah to face uncomfortable truths about her own alienation from her widowed mother. As their friendship deepens, Mrs. Compson confides in Sarah the truth about why she wants to sell Elm Creek Manor. In turn, Sarah seeks a way to bring life and joy back to the estate so Mrs. Compson can keep her home-and Sarah can keep her cherished friend. The Quilter's Apprentice teaches deep lessons about family, friendship, and sisterhood, and about creating a life as you would a quilt: with time, love, and patience, piecing the miscellaneous and mismatched scraps into a beautiful whole.

About the Author:

Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as five collections of quilt patterns inspired by her novels. She has taught writing at Penn State and Edgewood College and designs the Elm Creek Quilts fabric lines from Red Rooster Fabrics. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday - A Code of Jewish Ethics

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: A Code of Jewish Ethics: Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy
Author: Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
Publisher: Harmony (March 7, 2006)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 576
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Purchase

Have you ever had an ethical question rolling around in your head and suddenly you pick up a book and your dilemma is staring you right in the face with a complete answer and direction? Funny, I know, but sometimes things are just meant to be. I am not Jewish nor have I ever studied the Jewish faith, but I do not think that a specific religion is a necessary component when dealing with an ethical issue. Sometimes multiple viewpoints will get you to the best decision.

This is not a book to be read in one sitting, it is a book to be picked up thought about and discussed. This might be a very interesting way to spend 2012.

Book Description:

A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy is the initial volume of the first major code of Jewish ethics to be written in the English language. It is a monumental work on the vital topic of personal character and integrity by one of the premier Jewish scholars and thinkers of our time.

With the stated purpose of restoring ethics to its central role in Judaism, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin offers hundreds of examples from the Torah, the Talmud, rabbinic commentaries, and contemporary stories to illustrate how ethical teachings can affect our daily behavior. The subjects dealt with are ones we all encounter. They include judging other people fairly; knowing when forgiveness is obligatory, optional, or forbidden; balancing humility and self-esteem; avoiding speech that shames others; restraining our impulses of envy, hatred, and revenge; valuing truth but knowing when lying is permitted; understanding why God is the ultimate basis of morality; and appreciating the great benefits of Torah study. Telushkin has arranged the book in the traditional style of Jewish codes, with topical chapters and numbered paragraphs. Statements of law are almost invariably followed by anecdotes illustrating how these principles have been, or can be, practiced in daily life. The book can be read straight through to provide a solid grounding in Jewish values, consulted as a reference when facing ethical dilemmas, or studied in a group.

Vast in scope, this volume distills more than three thousand years of Jewish laws and suggestions on how to improve one’s character and become more honest, decent, and just. It is a landmark work of scholarship that is sure to influence the lives of Jews for generations to come, rich with questions to ponder and discuss, but primarily a book to live by.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday at the Movies - Taken


Liam Neeson ... Bryan Mills
Maggie Grace ... Kim
Famke Janssen ... Lenore

The next time your little darlings want to travel for Spring Break sit their little tokhes down to watch this movie, then have them write a 5 page report on human trafficking and guaranteed they will not want to leave their rooms until they are 30. You, as a parent, might not sleep for the next 20 years, but certainly, you will see the world from a different more paranoid perspective and will hold on to those little honeys with all your fingers and all your claws.

Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills a retired CIA agent that has recently retired and moved to Los Angeles in hopes of building a better relationship with his daughter. Ex-wife and daughter ambush and guilt Bryan into signing the papers that will allow their daughter to leave the country and soon Kim and her friend Amanda are jetting off to Paris only to be befriended by an Albanian gang of human traffickers.

The intensity is nonstop and the perils that both Bryan and his daughter have to face leave your heart and stomach somewhere in the middle of your throat.

This movie is not for the squeamish. There are brutal fight scenes and the subject matter might be too much for some to handle, but over all, this is a very good movie. Liam Neeson does a remarkable job in portraying both the professionally trained killer and the deeply loving and scared father.

This is a movie not to be missed.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

We Give Books - Happy Birthday in Dragon Wood and Belinda Begins Ballet

We Give Books was started by Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation to "support literacy through programs that engage entire communities through literacy and awareness programs". The We Give Books program is an initiative that allows anyone with Internet access to give books to children in need. When you sign up you can choose from one of five charities. Then you can select from one of 151 digital picture books (both fiction and non fiction) to read online.

This is all completely free for the reader! Simply choose the charity you want to read for and then select the books you want to read. For each book you read online, a book is donated to a leading literacy group on your behalf. So please sign up and support literacy.

Title: Happy Birthday in Dragon Wood
Author: Timothy Knapman
Illustrator: Gwen Millward
Publisher: Puffin (January 5, 2012)
Format: eBook
Genre: Childrens
Source: We Give Books
Ages: 0 - 5

This is a perfect book for a little boy. Just imagine if the usual storyline was switched and Dragons were waiting for Benjamins. What if Dragons needed a magical boy to come to their neighborhood to teach them how to play football? Keep in mind that what they call football is what American’s call soccer, but that is really beside the point with this adorable book that show how different our world is to the Dragon world and how the food we eat and our customs are alien to them. Most confusing – you blow on a candle to put it out. How can that be?

A charming book that shows our need for friendship and sharing no matter what our differences are.

Title: Belinda Begins Ballet
Author and Illustrator: Amy Young
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (February 14, 2008)
Format: eBook
Genre: Childrens
Source: We Give Books
Ages: 4 - 7

Everything about Belinda was tiny, except for one thing – her enormous feet. We are not talking just regular large feet; we are talking feet so large you could ski with them.

When Talent Show time comes around, it is not all fun and games for this sweet young girl when Mrs. Rhino thinks that her only talent appears to be that of a clown.

Then one day sad Belinda happens upon a ballet dancer. Seeing her float on the stage sparks an idea and a smile for Belinda. Maybe, just maybe.

Sometimes you have to see in yourself what other do not.

This story brought a tear to my eye. To see a young child grow her own wings is an inspiration to all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Review - Ghoul Interrupted

Title: Ghouls Interrupted
Author: Victoria Laurie
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Format: eBook
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Ghost Hunter Mystery #6
Source: Amazon Digital / Kindle

Finally, Victoria Laurie has broken away from the Scooby-Do feel of the previous books in the Ghost Hunters Mystery series. I was beginning to get a little worried on the future of these books with the same path being taken book after book. Gilley will always be the neurotic best friend of M.J. and he will always be able to eat his way through the left side of the menu, but I think this little buttercup is starting to man-up.

After a frantic call M.J., Heath and Gilley hightail it to New Mexico to investigate the death of Heath’s uncle on the Zanto Pueblo. The Whitefeather’s are a difficult bunch, but with the spirit of Sam, Heath’s deceased grandfather to guide them, the trio takes on an ancient evil life-force that has unleashed it hatred on the descendants of the original Whitefeather. It is now up to M.J. and her team to put this malevolent Jeannie back into its bottle and prevent any more deaths.

I am not sure if there is any factual history to the Native American tale that was told in these pages, but I found the storyline fascinating. Ms Laurie drew me right into the legend of great white hawk and the great black hawk and that set the overall feel for the book.

Is the book one hundred percent plausible? Of course not, but it is not meant to be. This is a cozy mystery with a bit of an edge and a can-can dancing parrot. With this story, you will be entertained and drawn in a bit deeper than the previous books. This time I can say that I look forward to the next book in the series.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review - 10th Anniversary

Title: 10th Anniversay
Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: May 2, 2011
Format: Audio
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library

The Women’s Murder Club is the only series by James Patterson that I read. I have tried a couple of the others, but this is the one that I keep coming back to. I have been trying to figure out what it is exactly that pulls me back and all I have come up with is that I am not completely sold on Lindsay Boxer, the main character, but I adore the down to earth common sense of Dr. Claire Washburn, the medical examiner. There is something very appealing about her character that has me paying closer attention when her character is taking center stage. Which in my opinion should happen more often.

What keeps me engaged are the multi-story lines. Some I seem to pay closer attention to and others allow my brain to check out from time to time. Occasionally, in the books, the storylines come together with a neat little bow at the end but others do not and you have to keep the cast of characters straight and the importance of little details with each vignette.

Lindsay is investigating a teenage girl left to fend for herself after delivering a baby, but where is the baby, who is the daddy and which lie is actually the truth? Then you have Yuki Castellano prosecuting a make or break case that has many twists and turns and Lindsay must risk her friendship with Yuki when she doubts the facts in that case. Plus, Cindy Thomas is once again getting in over her head on a story. In addition to all that is going on, you must also keep straight who is dating whom, but most importantly, why is Lindsay getting so emotional.

The best way to describe Patterson’s books is brain candy with an occasional chewy part. They are easy to pick up and put down at will without feeling that you have to go back and reread the previous chapter to get back into the flow. This is book number 10 with the 11th due out soon and with Patterson’s co-writers, there is no telling how long and how far this series will go.

Just wonder where he will go next with the little teaser at the end of this book. Oh, and by the way, please bring back more Claire and I will be a happy little reader.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday - The Crown

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Crown
Author: Nancy Bilyeau
Publisher: Touchstone, Pg 416
Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Mystery
Series: Joanna Stafford #1

Book Description:

An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father—and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwell’s ruthless terror. The year is 1537. . .

Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain.

But Dartford Priory has become a dangerous place, and when more than one dead body is uncovered, Joanna departs with a sensitive young monk, Brother Edmund, to search elsewhere for the legendary crown. From royal castles with tapestry-filled rooms to Stonehenge to Malmesbury Abbey, the final resting place of King Athelstan, Joanna and Brother Edmund must hurry to find the crown if they want to keep Joanna’s father alive. At Malmesbury, secrets of the crown are revealed that bring to light the fates of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionhearted, and Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, Arthur. The crown’s intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands.

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must now decide who she can trust with the secret of the crown so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph - The Baker's Wife

Title: The Baker's Wife
Author: Erin Healy
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Format: Trade Paperback
Genre: Inspirational Mystery/Suspense
Source: Amazon Vine

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1


The day Audrey took a loaf of homemade rosemary-potato bread to Cora Jean Hall was the day the fog broke and made way for spring. Audrey threw open the curtains closest to the dying woman’s bedside, glad for the sunshine after months of gray light.

Audrey moved quietly down the hall into the one-man kitchen, where she sliced the bread into toast, brewed tea, then leaned out of the cramped space to offer some to Cora Jean’s husband, Harlan. He refused her without thanks and without looking up from his forceful tinkering with an old two-way radio. Over the past month, his collection of CBs and receivers had overtaken the small living room. His grieving had started long ago and was presently in the angry stage. Clearly, he loved his wife. The retired pharmacist dispensed her medications with faithful precision but didn’t seem to know what else to do. If not for the radios, Audrey believed, he might have wandered the house helplessly and transformed from smoldering to explosive.

Book Description:

Before Audrey was the baker's wife, she was the pastor's wife.

Then a scandalous lie cost her husband a pastoral career. Now the two work side-by-side running a bakery, serving coffee, and baking fresh bread. But the hurt still pulls at Audrey.

Driving early one morning to the bakery, Audrey's car strikes something-or someone-at a fog-shrouded intersection. She finds a motor scooter belonging to a local teacher. Blood is everywhere, but there's no trace of a body.

Both the scooter and the blood belong to detective Jack Mansfield's wife, and he's certain that Audrey is behind Julie's disappearance.

But the case dead-ends and the detective spirals into madness. When he takes her family and some patrons hostage at the bakery, Audrey is left with a soul-damaged ex-con and a cynical teen to solve the mystery. And she'll never manage that unless she taps into something she would rather leave behind-her excruciating ability to feel other's pain.

From Erin Healy:

The Irish girl in me has long been fascinated by the concept of thin places, a Celtic name for locations where the veil between physical and spiritual realities is so slim that a person can see through it. For me, thin places are revelations, bridges between the seen and unseen elements of our lives. Read my books and journey with me into the mysterious places where the spiritual world intersects what is familiar to us, and changes it forever.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Midwife of Venice and The Possibility of You

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Midwife of Venice
Author: Roberta Rich
Publisher: Gallery Books (February 14, 2012)
Format: ARC Trade Paperback; Pgs 321
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster

Hannah ha-Levi, a midwife in the Venetian ghetto is put in terrible danger. She has gained renown for her skill in coaxing reluctant babies out of their mother’s bellies using her “birthing spoons” as rudimentary forceps. One night a Christian nobleman, Conte Paolo di Padovani appears at Hannah’s door in the Jewish ghetto with an impossible request.

He implores Hannah to help his dying wife and save their unborn child. But a Papal edict has made it a crime, punishable by death, for Jews to give medical treatment to Christians. The Conte offers her a huge sum of money, enough to enable her to sail to Malta to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac. He was captured at sea and is a slave of the Knights of St. John.

Hannah acquiesces and delivers the infant, Matteo, a child who captures her heart. As she prepares to depart for Malta to rescue Isaac, she discovers that the baby’s uncles are plotting to murder the baby in order to seize the family fortune.

Title: The Possibility of You
Author: Pamela Redmond
Publisher: Gallery Books (February 28, 2012)
Format: ARC Trade Paperback; Pgs 343
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


1916. It was the one thing Bridget was supposed to never let happen. But no matter how many times she replayed the steps in her head, she couldn’t reanimate the small pale boy who lay limp in her arms
1976. Billie felt as if she’d been wrenched in half more surely than when the baby had been cut from her body. But she felt something else too: happy to think only of her own needs, her own tears. So light she could float away, somewhere no one would ever find her.

The present. Even if Cait never found her birth mother, even if she decided not to have this baby, to leave her lover and kiss her parents good-bye, she was surrounded by so much emotion, so many questions, that she felt as if she might never be free again.

Can we ever atone for the sins of the past? Or does each generation of women invent itself anew? In a complex and beautifully told masterpiece set against key moments for women in the last century, New York Times bestselling author Pamela Redmond intertwines the heartrending stories of Bridget, Billie, and Cait, and explores the ways in which one woman’s choices can affect her loved ones forever. As these three women search for identity and belonging, each faces a very personal decision that will reverberate across generations, tearing apart families, real and imaginary, perfect and flawed, but ultimately bringing them together again.