Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Pandemonium

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Pandemonium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 28, 2012), Pgs 384
Format: Hardcover
Genre: YA
Series: Delirium #2

Book Description:

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver:

"At the end of 'Delirium,' I left Lena in such a difficult spot, I kind of felt guilty about that. And it was difficult for me to pull her out of there," she said of "Pandemonium."

"We get introduced to a whole new set of characters, which is exciting," Lauren added. "It basically picks up both immediately from where 'Delirium' ends, and then it also takes place about six months after 'Delirium' ends, and you alternate between the two time frames until they ultimately converge."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph - Defending Jacob

Title: Defending Jacob
Author: Mary William Landay
Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (January 31, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Legal Thriller
Source: Library

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1
In the Grand Jury

Mr. Logiudice: State your name, please.
Witness: Andrew Barber.
Mr. Logiudice: What do you do for work, Mr. Barber?
Witness: I was an assistant district attorney in this county for 22 years.
Mr. Logiudice: "Was." What do you do for work now?
Witness: I suppose you'd say I'm unemployed.

In April 2008, Neal Logiudice finally subpoenaed me to appear before the grand jury. By then it was too late. Too late for his case, certainly, but also too late for Logiudice. His reputation was already damaged beyond repair, and his career along with it. A prosecutor can limp along with a damaged reputation for a while, but his colleagues will watch him like wolves and eventually he will be forced out, for the good of the pack. I have seen it many times: an ADA is irreplaceable one day, forgotten the next.


Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mailbox Monday - The Leftovers

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Leftovers
Author: Tom Perrotta
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; (August 30, 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 368
Genre: Fiction

What if the Rapture happened and you got left behind? Or what if it wasn't the Rapture at all, but something murkier, a burst of mysterious, apparently random disappearances that shattered the world in a single moment, dividing history into Before and After, leaving no one unscathed? How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event?

This is the question confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family falls apart. His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence but haunt the streets of town as "living reminders" of God's judgment. His son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet by the name of Holy Wayne. Only his teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she's definitely not the sweet A student she used to be.

Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety. The Leftovers is a powerful and deeply moving book about people struggling to hold onto a belief in their own futures.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

We Give Books - Roly Poly Pangolin

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: Roly Poly Pangolin
Author and Illustrator: Anna Dewdney
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (March 9, 2010)
Format: eBook
Genre: Childrens
Source: We Give Books
Ages: 3 and up

Told in rhyme, the reader meets Roly Poly, a very small pangolin that is not very adventurous and each sound and specie scares him very much.

One day when he is frightened, Roly Poly stumbles and curls up into a tight ball so he can hide from the world. What was that sound? When Roly Poly has the courage to open his eyes, just a little bit, he sees something looking back at him.

Do you have a shy young one? This book might just be the right icebreaker to let your child know that if you try just a little, there is a whole wide world out there and maybe, just maybe, you will find a new friend.

PANGOLINS are an endangered species that have furry tummies and no teeth. They protect themselves by rolling into tight balls so that they are completely covered by their scales.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review - Dead and Kicking

Title: Dead and Kicking
Author: Wendy Roberts
Publisher: Signet, Pgs 288
Publication Date: December 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Ghost Dusters Mysteries #3

I am not sure if cozy mysteries are supposed to hit an emotional chord with the reader, but I can tell you that the end of this book did bring a tear to my eye. The conversation between Sadie and her father was the type of interaction that any girl would want to have with her father.

Dead and Kicking is the third and what appears to be the final book in the Ghost Dusters series. A series that I have enjoyed from the start because it does not follow the typical cozy format. Of course, there is a dead body; several in fact, since Sadie Novak owns Scene 2 Clean, a trauma scene clean up company, but the main character is not out to be an amateur detective, she is there to do a job and to help answer some questions so the Seattle Police Department can solve crimes.

Sadie is the person that the police department calls in when a murder or unattended death occurs and there is hazardous “matter” to be cleaned and disposed of. What makes Sadie different is that she can see and speak with the dead and helps them tend to unfinished business on this side, so they can shimmer and shine and meet their loved ones in the great beyond.

Sadie is having a rough time right now, after the death of a family member and finding her almost fiancé in a delicate situation with his ex-girlfriend, Sadie is in a personal tailspin. What she needs is a good job to keep both her mind and body busy. What she did not expect was to clean out the home of a hoarder that has a resident nasty spirit and the body of a mummified child falling out of one of the boxes.

No one wants a week like Sadie is living through, but being able to help the dearly departed to find the way home and ridding society of killers just seems to be a typical day in the life of a gifted trauma cleaning specialist.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - So Damn Lucky

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: So Damn Lucky
Author: Deborah Coonts
Publisher: Forge Books, Pgs 384
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fiction
Series: Lucky O'Toole Las Vegas Adventures #3

Book Description:

While performing his final trick at the performance marking the end of a forty-year run of one of Las Vegas' most renowned burlesque shows, magician Dimitri Fortunoff appears to have a fatal accident. Then, when his body disappears, the questions mount for Lucky O'Toole, head of Customer Relations for the Babylon resort, the crown jewel of the mega-resorts dotting the Las Vegas Strip. And the timing couldn't be worse. Her live-in lover, Teddie, has morphed into a rock star and been swallowed whole by life on the road. Her mother, Mona, pregnant, petulant, and perpetually under foot is giving new meaning to the term 'high maintenance.' Paxton Dane, a handsome Texan long on charisma and short on history, is forcing himself into the void of Teddie's absence, and a suave French chef is proving to be equal parts charm and venom, seasoned with a dash of irresistible.

But Lucky can't shake the question: Did Dimitri Fortunoff really die or is this an elaborate hoax? UFO conventioneers and high-ranking magicians fill her hotel and she turns to some of them for answers: Zoom-Zoom Zewicki, a retired astronaut with an agenda all his own, Crazy Carl Colson, a psychic clinging to the edge of sanity, Marik Kovalenko, a smoldering internationally renowned magician, The Great Tursinov, a famed mentalist, Bart Griffin, late-night talk show host, and Junior Arbogast, professional cynic and hoax exposer.

The trail leads her through the miles of storm culverts under the city of Las Vegas, to the hordes of believers who gather at Rachel for a glimpse of a UFO, to hints of secret programs at Area 51, then culminates on the catwalk above the crowd attending the annual Harry Houdini Séance on Halloween, where Lucky must risk her life to catch a killer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph - Doc

Title: Doc
Author: Mary Doria Russell
Publisher: Random House, Pg 394
Publication Date:
May 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover / Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Library

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

He began to die when he was twenty-one, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle. The disease took fifteen years to hollow out his lungs so completely they could no longer keep him alive. In all that time, he was allowed a single season of something like happiness.

When he arrived in Dodge City in 1878, Dr. John Henry Holliday was a frail twenty-six-year-old dentist who wanted nothing grander than to practice his profession in a prosperous Kansas cow town. Hope – cruelest of the evils that escaped Pandora’s box – smiled on him gently all that summer. While he lived in Dodge, the quiet life he yearned for seemed to lie within his grasp.

At thirty, he would be famous for his part in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. A year later, he would become infamous when he rode at Wyatt Earp’s side to avenge the murder of Wyatt’s brother Morgan. The journalists of his day embellished slim fact with fat rumor and rank fiction; it was they who invented the iconic frontier gambler and gunman Doc Holliday. (Thin. Mustachioed. A cold and casual killer. Doomed, and always dressed in black, as though for his own funeral.) That unwanted notoriety added misery to John Henry’s final months, when illness and exile had made him a lonely and destitute alcoholic, dying by awful inches and living off charity in a Colorado hotel.


The year is 1878, peak of the Texas cattle trade. The place is Dodge City, Kansas, a saloon-filled cow town jammed with liquored-up adolescent cowboys and young Irish hookers. Violence is random and routine, but when the burned body of a mixed-blood boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered, his death shocks a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp. And it is a matter of strangely personal importance to Doc Holliday, the frail twenty-six-year-old dentist who has just opened an office at No. 24 Dodge House.

And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp really begins—before Earp is the prototype of the square-jawed, fearless lawman; before Holliday is the quintessential frontier gambler; before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology—when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Far From Here and The Orchid House

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Far From Here
Author: Nicole Baart
Publisher: Howard Books (February 2012)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 352
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster

Danica Greene has always hated flying, so it was almost laughable that the boy of her dreams was a pilot. She married him anyway and together, she and Etsell settled into a life where love really did seem to conquer all. Danica is firmly rooted on the ground in Blackhawk, the small town in northern Iowa where they grew up, and the wide slashes of sky that stretch endlessly across the prairie seem more than enough for Etsell. But when the opportunity to spend three weeks in Alaska helping a pilot friend presents itself, Etsell accepts and their idyllic world is turned upside down. It’s his dream, he reveals, and Danica knows that she can’t stand in the way. Ell is on his last flight before heading home when his plane mysteriously vanishes shortly after takeoff, leaving Danica in a free fall. Etsell is gone, but what exactly does gone mean? Is she a widow? An abandoned wife? Or will Etsell find his way home to her? Danica is forced to search for the truth in her marriage and treks to Alaska to grapple with the unanswerable questions about her husband’s mysterious disappearance. But when she learns that Ell wasn’t flying alone and that a woman is missing, too, the bits and pieces of the careful life that she had constructed for them in Iowa take to the wind. A story of love and loss, and ultimately starting over, Far From Here explores the dynamics of intimacy and the potentially devastating consequences of the little white lies we tell the ones we love.

Title: The Orchid House
Author: Lucinda Riley
Publisher: Atria Books (February 2012)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 464
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster

Spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from the Wharton Park estate in England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family, whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences.

As a child, concert pianist Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the grand estate where her grandfather tended exotic orchids. Years later, while struggling with overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to this tranquil place. There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation.

When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed the estate. Their search takes them back to the 1940s when Harry, a former heir to Wharton Park, married his young society bride, Olivia, on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt for generations to come.

This atmospheric story alternates between the magical world of Wharton Park and Thailand during World War II. Filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Review - The Serpents Trail

Title: The Serpents Trail
Author: Sue Henry
Publisher: Onyx, Pgs 288
Publication Date: March 1, 2005
Format: Audio
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Maxie and Stretch #1

When I first picked up this book, I saw the name Sue Henry and immediately remember the Jessie Arnold series that I had started last year and thought that this was another in that series. Well, no, I was wrong; this is a series that involves Maxie and her dog, a mini-dachshund named Stretch, traveling in their trusty Winnebago.

When twice-widowed 63-year-old Maxie gets a call from an old friend living in Colorado, she decides that it is time to take a little trip. Sarah is her dearest college friend and since the diagnosis, Sarah realizes that she only has months to live and wants to see Maxie one last time.

Unfortunately, someone has seen to it that Maxie and Sarah do not have a chance for a last visit. Sarah has been murdered and true to her nature, has left hidden clues for Maxie as to her final wishes and secrets that have been kept hidden.

The storyline progresses incrementally revealing little bits and pieces until the reader gets the fuller picture of whom each character really is and the true character of the killer is revealed. What I enjoyed about this book is that the reader had to follow along and not be misled by outward caring of one character and the aloofness of another. Like many books in this genre, not everything is easily laid out and you do have to pay attention.

Of course, I will continue with this dynamic duo. Who could resist a feisty woman and her trusty dog companion traveling by themselves? Part travelogue, part mystery, this series should take the armchair reader to interesting and varied destinations.

About the Author Sue Henry

Sue Henry’s first Jessie Arnold mystery, Murder on the Iditarod Trail, won both the Anthony and Macavity Awards for Best First Novel. Since then the critically acclaimed series has extended to ten books. The Serpents Trail is the first in a new spinoff series starring Maxie McNabb (first met in Dead North), retiree and avid RVer. Henry is a former college administrator and has lived in Alaska for thirty years. When she’s not RVing the Alaska Highway, or around the Lower Forty-eight, she makes her home in Anchorage.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review - The Serial Killer Whisperer

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: Hardback
Genre: Memoir
Source: Library

I do not know what direction to go in with this book. There were two main themes, traumatic brain injury and shock and awe of convicted serial killers looking for yet another 15 minutes of fame. The insight into the world of Tony Ciaglia, after he sustained a near fatal blow to the head by a Wave Runner while a 15-year-old teen at a summer camp was fascinating. How the brain compensates and rebels after an injury is what initially drew me into the book, but once the story fell into the black pit of yet another serial killer getting off on telling his story and justifying his actions I lost interest.

If you have read about one serial killer, you have pretty much read about them all. It is never their fault, society does not understand them, and if the victim were not in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing then they never would have been singled out. Yada Yada Yada.

Back to Tony, because this is what the real story should have been about. After the injury, Tony fell into a deep depression and was unable to fit into the life he had before, if he was going to mentally survive this new hand that was dealt to him he have to find a purpose . Turns out that the purpose was both obsessive and terrifying at the same time.

Becoming pen pals with death row inmates is not what a parent would want for a child, but with Tony’s injury, he had lost the usual shock and disgust that others feel towards killers. With this ability, he was able to correspond with them in a nonjudgmental way that allowed these men to both open up and confess to crimes that investigators needed answers to.

You will need a strong stomach to get through some of these letters. This is not a book for anyone that is sensitive to this subject matter. I am still not sure if Tony was being played, but I do hope, that somewhere down the road, additional crimes will be solved and families will finally be able to get the long awaited answers that they so desperately need.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Darlings

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Darlings
Author: Christina Alger
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, Pgs 352
Publication Date: February 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fiction

Book Description:

Now that he’s married to Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to New York society and all of its luxuries: a Park Avenue apartment, weekends in the Hamptons, bespoke suits. When Paul loses his job, Carter offers him the chance to head the legal team at his hedge fund. Thrilled with his good fortune in the midst of the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression, Paul accepts the position.

But Paul’s luck is about to shift: a tragic event catapults the Darling family into the media spotlight, a regulatory investigation, and a red-hot scandal with enormous implications for everyone involved. Suddenly, Paul must decide where his loyalties lie—will he save himself while betraying his wife and in-laws or protect the family business at all costs?


This is it, he thought, as he clicked on his left blinker. The end of the road.

The sign for the bridge had snuck up on him. He had done this drive before, but not at 2 a. m, and he had never been much of a night driver. There had been a little traffic leaving the city, but now there was almost none. Every time a car passed him on the left he wondered who the driver was and why they were on the road this late. He wondered if they were thinking the same about him.

More than one driver had turned to look at him as he passed by. Checking out the car, he thought. He probably shouldn’t have brought the Aston Martin. Even in the dark it was a real showstopper. Of all his cars, it was his favorite. It was a near- perfect replica of the one driven by James Bond in Goldfinger and Thunderball. The original had sold at auction two years before for over $2 million; he would have bought it in a heartbeat if he had had the opportunity. But this was the next best thing: perfectly restored and refinished in classic silver; even to a professional’s eye, it was almost indistinguishable from the genuine article.

As he merged toward the bridge turnoff , a white Kia pulled up alongside him. For a moment, he locked eyes with the driver. The guy gave him an approving smile, a thumbs-up. Usually he got a little rush from impressing guys like that: some accountant from Westchester who probably made less in a year than he could in a day. This time it sent his heart racing, and not in a good way. It was a miscalculation. This wasn’t the time to be attracting attention.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph - Dead and Kicking

Title: Dead and Kicking
Author: Wendy Roberts
Publisher: Obsidian, Pg 280
Publication Date:
December 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Ghost Dusters Mystery #3

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

The cemetery smelled of freshly mowed grass. Today Sadie would’ve preferred the pungent stench of body decomposition. She shifted uneasily from one foot to the other and skipped her gaze over the cluster of family and friends to glance upward at the gunmetal sky. She looked anywhere but at the casket just ahead that rested on straps, waiting to be lowered into the gaping hole beneath.

The priest’s voice droned on about how the human body was merely a shell.

Tell me about it, Sadie thought, swallowing a thick lump of emotion.

Book Description:
Sadie Novak cleans up crime scenes for a living and is also blessed-or cursed- with the gift of second sight. This time she's digging out the home of a compulsive hoarder. She discovers unexpected things, including an angry ghost who wants her to go away. And there are even more secrets beneath the surface that someone will kill to keep buried...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mailbox Monday - and she was

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: and she was
Author: Alison Gaylin
Publisher: Harper
Format: Paperback; Pgs 384
Genre: Suspense
Source: Amazon Vine

Brenna suffers from hyperthymestic syndrome, a rare neurological disorder which gives those who suffer from it perfect autobiographical memory. Triggered by the years-ago disappearance of her older sister, the disorder forces Brenna to remember every moment that’s happened since in precise, visceral detail - the good, the bad, the mundane and the tragic. Yet the one event she wants desperately to remember – and solve - grows foggier and foggier in her mind.

In And She Was, a woman's disappearance intersects with a missing child case Brenna investigated eleven years ago – in which 6-year-old Iris Neff walked away from a Labor Day barbecue, never to be seen again. When Brenna is called upon to investigate the disappearance of Carol Wentz, 51, she learns that Carol – like herself – had been secretly obsessed with tracking down Iris, and may indeed have found her.

Reliving life-changing and deeply upsetting memories, Brenna discovers myriad ties between Carol, Iris and other residents of the Westchester County town where they live – and uncovers a shocking web of murder and deception that stretches back more than a decade.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday at the Movies - We Bought a Zoo

Matt Damon ... Benjamin Mee
Scarlett Johansson ... Kelly Foster
Colin Ford ... Dylan Mee
Maggie Elizabeth Jones ... Rosie Mee

It must be very disappointing for Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson to be upstaged by a seven-year-old child (played by Maggie Elizabeth Jones), but that is exactly what happened in this Disney family movie. I am not going to go as far as to say that I loved the film, because for me, the movie did not get interesting until we were two-thirds of the way in -- and that is just a bit too far. The scene between Damon and his fourteen-year-old son Dylan, played by Colin Ford, is what opened up this formulaic adaptation, it just took too long to get to the good stuff.

Based on the book by Benjamin Mee, the family is in turmoil following the death of Ben’s wife and the family is in desperate need of a getaway. Not just physically, but emotionally, so when Ben and Rosie go house hunting a curious thing happens. The perfect house is available, the only stipulation, a small zoo is also part of the package.

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

With no experience and very limited funds, Ben jumps in with both feet, and is able to turn the place into a home for both his family and the abandoned animals.

As I said, this film is based very loosely on a book by Benjamin Mees. The Mee’s zoo is actually located in England whereas the fictional Rosemoor Wildlife Park is portrayed to be located in California. There are a couple of facts that are toyed with, but for a child going to see this movie, that does not matter. The animals are adorable and Rosie will appeal to even the hardest heart.

There have been some complaints about the language used by the 7-year-old daughter, but for me that was not too big of a deal. That is how some children talk, and to be honest, it was a funny scene.

Do I recommend it, yes, but only if you are not expecting high drama and like a little sugar coating.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

We Give Books - Miss Rumphius

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: Miss Rumphius
Author and Illustrator: Barbara Cooney
Publisher: Puffin (November 6, 1985)
Format: eBook
Genre: Childrens
Source: We Give Books
Ages: 4 - 7

The Lupine Lady was not always an old woman, a long time ago, she was a young girl named Alice. She loved spending time with her grandfather, an artist, and in the evenings he would tell her stories of is travels and faraway places.

Alice dreamed of living by the sea and traveling to distant places, but her dear grandfather told her that there was a third thing that she must do. Alice must also make the world a more beautiful place.

That is quite an undertaking for a young girl, but as she grew, she never forgot her dreams and desires. Oh, the adventures that Alice had, but now it was time for her third promise. She would find a way to make the world a more beautiful place.

Quite by accident, Miss Rumphius stumbled onto to her way of accomplishing her task. The people called her a crazy old lady, but that did not matter. She knew how she was going to achieve her third and most challenging promise of all.

Instilling dreams and aspirations into a young child and watching them flower is a gift to everyone that they will meet. Read this book to a child and at the end, tell them that there is one last thing that they too much do – make the world a more beautiful place.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review - The Baker's Wife

Title: The Baker's Wife
Author: Erin Healy
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, Pg 352
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Format: Trade Paperback
Genre: Christian Fiction Suspense Paranormal
Source: Amazon Vine

Not too long ago, the question of being gob-smacked by a book came up and I could not recall an incident that had done that to me in a very long time. Then the Baker’s Wife came along and bam, midway through the book and I was questioning what I had missed. Went back to the first chapter and there it was. I did not realize the foreshadowing until it hit me right upside the head. Usually, I am a little better than that, but this time I was caught completely off guard.

Erin Healy has a way of giving a little, letting it stew in your brain and then two or three chapters later explains the parts that you did not know. The interactions of people and their back-stories make you pay closer attention as the layers slowly peel away.

Audrey Bofinger, called by God to be a comfort to others has not always had an easy life, but when a story surfaces about her husband the Pastor of a small church and the questionable acts of their son’s girlfriend, Audrey and Geoff are forced to leave the sanctity of their church and open a small bakery in town.

Early one morning while driving with her son in dense fog, Audrey hits a scooter owned by Julie Mansfield, the wife of the man that ran them out of the church and the father of her son’s girlfriend, leaving nothing but the mangled ruins and blood. Where is the driver of the scooter? Julie Mansfield has a few secrets of her own and when a newly released murderer comes to town searching for forgiveness, their lives intersect with shocking force and each person will have to find forgiveness from those that they have hurt the most.

The Baker’s Wife is a Christian Fiction Suspense book with a wee bit of paranormal thrown in. The paranormal part might throw some people off since it seems to appear in strange ways, but if you can get passed the woo-woo with your dose of scripture, this is a book that will hold your attention and have you flabbergasted at the same time.

The ending does not have the spark or intensity of the first two thirds of the book, but maybe that is just me and others will love it to the end. There just seemed to be something missing, as if the author ran out of ways to surprise the reader. You will not like all the characters in this book, and you are not meant to. Some take a very twisted view with their interpretations, some lie as easily as they breath and some relish in their role as victim. However, all bring something to the table and you as the reader will take something away.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Left For Dead

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Left For Dead
Author: J.A. Jance
Publisher: Touchstone, Pgs 304
Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Mystery
Series: Alison Reynolds #4

Book Description:

When Santa Cruz County deputy sheriff Jose Reyes, Ali’s classmate from the Arizona Police Academy, is gunned down and left to die, he is at first assumed to be an innocent victim of the drug wars escalating across the border. But the crime scene investigation shows there’s much more to it than that, and soon he and his pregnant wife, Teresa, both fall under suspicion of wrongdoing.Ali owes Reyes a debt of gratitude for the help he gave her years earlier when she was dealing with a troubled friend. When she’s summoned to his bedside at Physicians Medical Center in Tucson, it’s impossible for her to turn away. And knowing Reyes as well as she does, Ali finds it hard to believe that he’s become mixed up in the drug trade, despite evidence to the contrary. Upon arriving at the hospital, Ali finds that her good friend, Sister Anselm, is there, too—working as a patient advocate on behalf of another seriously injured victim, an unidentified young woman presumed to be an illegal border crosser, who was raped and savagely beaten.Ali becomes determined to seek justice in both cases and secure safety for both victims. Together with Sister Anselm and a conscientious officer who won’t let the case drop despite pressure from above, Ali digs for clues to find the true culprits.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph - The Serpents Trail

Title: Serpents Trail
Author: Sue Henry
Publisher: Onxy, Pg 288
Publication Date:
March 1, 2005
Format: Audio
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Maxie and Stretch #1

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1


At the end of a four-thousand-mile road trip, I stood in the back porch of Sarah Nunamaker’s large Victoria house in the center of Grand Junction, Colorado, uneasily considering the half-open door that swung ever so slightly as the curious fingers of a drying breeze reached in under the sheltering roof to give it a tentative nudge. After a robust and extended use of the heavy brass knocker on the front door had resulted in nothing but echoes and silence from within, I had made my way through a side garden and around to the backyard, glancing up at each window that I passed for evidence of occupation within. AT well after eight o’clock in the dark of the mid-September evening, all of them showed nothing but the mottled reflection of a streetlight that filtered in between the curbside trees. Only one, a rear second-story pane, held a soft hint of illumination that crept through the lace curtains of a room I knew from past visits was Sarah’s bedroom.

Book Description:
At sixty-three, Maxie McNabb is cruising down the Alaska Highway in her brand-new Winnebago. With her mini-dachshund at her side and the open road ahead, she's never been happier. But before her exploration of the Lower Forty-eight gets underway, Maxie needs to figure out who burgled her friend's Colorado home-and why. And the closer Maxie gets to solving the puzzle, the more it becomes chillingly clear that her friend's life isn't the only one on the line.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mailbox Monday - The Square Root of Murder and The Death Contingency

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Square Root of Murder
Author: Ada Madison
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime 2011
Format: Paperback; Pgs 288
Genre: Mystery
Source: Paperback Swap
Series: Professor Sophie Knowles #1

From The Back Cover

Between teaching, publishing puzzles and brainteasers, and beading at the local bead shop, A Hill of Beads, Sophie has a full schedule. Finding a chance to unwind isn’t always in the equation. She still manages to make time to celebrate famous scholars of the past with her students. But their latest party makes one of their own a thing of the past….

Dr. Keith Appleton was the most disliked professors on campus, but it was Sophie’s assistant, Rachel, who had a real problem with him – he refused to recommend her to a medical school. Sophie is confident that there’s a calculating murderer among them, and equally confident it’s not Rachel. The only possible answer is for Sophie to eliminate the lowest common denominator from the campus herself.

Title: The Death Contingency
Author: Nancy Lynn Jarvis
Publisher: Good Read Mysteries; 1st edition (November 12, 2008)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 310
Genre: Mystery

From The Back Cover:

Regan McHenry is a Santa Cruz real estate agent whose work puts her in the midst of mystery, mayhem and even murder. The amateur sleuth uses techniques she’s learned during her career and skills she’s honed as a keen observer of human nature to solve crimes. She just doesn’t always figure things out soon enough to stay out of trouble.

Regan’s business on the upper west side of town has been putting her so close to so many deaths, her associates have started calling her “the grim reaperette”.

The last death in the neighborhood is ruled accidental, but she’s convinced it’s murder. Regan even thinks she knows who committed the crime. Now she has to unravel past secrets to find proof before anyone will take her seriously. And the problem is, she doesn’t want to be right.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday at the Movies - The Pregnancy Project

Alexa Vega ... Gaby Rodriguez
Walter Perez ... Jorge

I have had this book on my nightstand for about a week, so when I saw that Lifetime was presenting the movie version, I figured it would be a better opportunity to open up a discussion with my daughter in regards to other people’s beliefs and opinions when a teen girl becomes pregnant.

I think I hit a nerve when I asked, “Which of your friends would accept you?” Right away, she knew who would walk out of her life and I think it did dawn on her how tenuous relationships can be when you do not live up to the expectations of others.

For her High School Senior Project, Gaby Rodriguez decided to conduct a social experiment into the thoughts and statements of both students and teachers when a well-liked promising student announces her pregnancy. The truth was, Gaby was not pregnant, she used a fake pregnancy belly and conducted herself the same way she always had. It was others that saw her differently and judged her. Being a child from a single mother who herself had a child at 15, being the sister of a girl that had a baby at 16 and a brother that had gotten his girlfriend pregnant at 17, put Gaby in a difficult position. The community expected her to fail and when she “showed up pregnant” no one was surprised.

What Gaby did not expect was the backlash from her friends and peers when the truth is revealed. Was the base of the anger that she lied to them or that Gaby revealed to them their true ugly selves?

This is a great movie to open up a discussion with your daughters. I am sure that the book went into more detail, but that is not what is important. Talking to our children and helping them to see the big picture is what our job as parents are all about.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

We Give Books - Little Dog Lost

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: Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Dog Named Baltic
Author and Illustrator: Monica Carnesi
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (January 5, 2012)
Format: eBook
Genre: Childrens
Source: We Give Books
Ages: 4 - 7

On a very cold wintry day, a group of children notices something out at sea. At first they are unsure what it is and then it dawns on them, it is a dog adrift on a piece of ice. What are they to do? The firefighters are called to help, but the floe is too fast and soon the dog drifts away from the town and people that tried to help. Scared, alone and hungry this young animal is in desperate straights.

There is hope; a ship at sea sees him. Has the miracle arrived that this poor dog needs?

Based on a true story of a dog found after floating 75 miles on an ice floe down Poland’s Vistula River and into the Baltic Sea, this very overly simplified story might leave more questions than answers for a young reader. The back cover of the book tells the whole story and this too would be important to share with a young child.

I am not sure that this would be a book that will draw a child back time and again, but it is a worthwhile read in that it will share with a child the need to help others, including animals, when they can.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Specials

Title: Specials
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse, Pg 384
Publication Date:
May 9, 2006
Format: Trade and Audio
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Source: Purchased and Library

Oh goodness, I really should have read this book back in the day when I read the first two in the series. I loved those two books, but the shine is definitely off the apple with this one. Maybe it is because in the intervening years, I have read some remarkable young adult dystopian / science fiction novels and this one is showing its age.

Originally published in 2006, the third book in the Uglies trilogy (which I have come to find out that there is a 4th book in the trilogy) has Tally becoming a member of the surgically enhanced group called the Cutter. This group has found that if you cut yourself, you will become more clear-headed in spite of the brain lesion used to make people pretty-minded. Because of this ability, they have been recruited into Special Circumstances where they are giving additional abilities.

Yes, this is a bit confusing, but when you start the series from the beginning, it does make perfect sense.

This book gets a bit confusing and twisty when a cadre characters and multiple situations are brought in, and once again, if I had read them all at once I am sure I would not constantly be playing catch-up. The Crims, the Smokies, Rusties, Crumblies, Fausto, Zane, etc., your mind begins to reel with the who’s and what-for’s.

Being a Special is not all it is cracked up to be, you become pretty-minded and are repulsed by those less attractive and skilled than you are, so when Tally is cured, a whole new world and set of responsibilities open up for her. What will she do with this and how will she ensure that nature is protected from mankind's excesses.

Apparently, there is a movie in the making for this series. Uglies opened the door for books such as Delirium and Hunger Games, so I guess that it is fitting that Hunger Games continues to hold the door open for Uglies in hope that there is a large enough market for this type of futuristic teen in peril plot.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Good in a Crisis

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Good in a Crisis
Author: Margaret Overton
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, Pgs 256
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Memoir

Book Description:

During the four years of physician Margaret Overton's acrimonious divorce, she dated widely and indiscriminately, determined to find her soul mate and live happily ever after. While dating one of many Mr. Wrongs, she discovered that she had a brain aneurysm. She discovered it during sex.

Nearly dying is not the same as actually dying. She wrote her own obituary, but then went back to work the next day. There was no relief. So she dated even more wildly awful men, and she crossed streets without looking. Her teenage daughters watched in horror. They'd always trusted her to be the sane one.

She went to Graceland seeking enlightenment and came home with a dancing-pelvis Elvis kitchen clock. She took long midnight walks with her dog. The Fates, amused by her groping, decided to really let her have it: Her daughter and her mother were in serious accidents. Four close friends died within a year. A man crushed her heart.

Through all of this, and while giving comfort to those suffering around her, she came to understand herself as a caretaker who refused to take care of herself. She realized that being a patient had made her a better doctor, and being a doctor had saved her life in more ways than one. So she set out on a course to take control of her future, to understand her strengths, and make herself, finally, independent of men. And then she met Henry. The last man she would date.