Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review - The Prophet

Title: The Prophet
Authors: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira; Original edition (April 24, 2012)
Format: eBook
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Amazon Digital Service
Series: Graveyard Queen #3

The first book - The Restorer, I loved. The second book – The Kingdom, I could not get through quick enough. The third book, The Prophet, I kept putting it down and reading other books in its place. The book was slow and sluggish from the start and never picked up for me. The very end, and I mean the last 2 percent of the book, had a nice twist and it will be interesting to see where Amanda Stevens goes with this bit of information, but overall, the book did not hold the interest and suspense that the previous two had.



“Never acknowledge the dead, never stray far from hallowed ground, never associate with the haunted and never, ever tempt fate”. “To concede their presence was to invite them into my world forever.”


The Prophet twists back around to the first book and uses Detective Robert Freemont, also known as The Prophet as a jumpstart into yet another dark place. With Amelia back from Asher Falls, and the secrets about her own past revealed, she returns to Oak Grove Cemetery to finish the work that was started in book one.



“I wanted to believe there was a purpose to my life, a reason why I saw ghosts. It wasn’t just a dangerous legacy. I had been given a gift.”


From the first book, we know that Robert Freemont is dead and can appear at will in front of Amelia. He and Shani have found a way past Amelia’s safety borders. With this, Amelia is no longer safe, Mariama is determined to keep John Devlin out of Amelia’s life and Amelia is willing to disregard all of the rules that her father has raised her with. Now the moment of truth has come. Is Amelia strong enough to do battle on all fronts for the sake of Devlin? Can she stand up to Darius Goodwine and his gray dust?



“The stars have finally aligned. The players have all taken their places”


After finding out the truth about the deaths that have surrounded her, is Amelia resilient enough to go forward and in so doing, is she able to bring Devlin along with her?

Even though this is book 3 of a planned trilogy, I do wonder if Amanda Steven’s has yet another dark alley for the remaining characters to travel down. What did Devlin bring back and is it something that they can fight together?



Never bargain with the dead, they have nothing to lose.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Skeleton Box


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: The Skeleton Box
Author: Bryan Gruley
Publisher: Touchstone (June 5, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Starvation Lake Mysteries #3

Overview:

A series of mysterious break-ins is plaguing the small town of Starvation Lake. Someone is slipping into the homes of elderly people when they’re out playing Bingo. Oddly, the intruders take nothing, despite evidence that they rifle through personal files.

Worry turns to panic when a break-in leads to the death of a beloved citizen. Phyllis Bontrager is found dead in the home of her best friend, Bea Carpenter, mother of Gus Carpenter. Bea, suffering from worsening dementia and under the influence of sleeping pills, remembers little of the break-in. Her son, editor of the local newspaper, must pursue a terrible story: the death of a woman he has known all his life, who also happens to be the mother of his ex-girlfriend, Darlene.

With the help of Luke Whistler, an ex-Detroit Free Press reporter who came north looking for slower days and some old-fashioned newspaper work, Gus sets out to uncover the truth behind Mrs. B’s death and the “Bingo Night Break-Ins.” The secrets he’s determined to unearth could forever change Gus’s perceptions about Starvation Lake and even his own family.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Breaking Dawn


Title: Breaking Dawn
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company(2008)
Format: Audio
Genre: YA / Fantasy
Source: Library
Series: The Twilight Saga, Book 4



Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea







Chapter 1

NO ONE IS STARING AT YOU, I promised myself. No one is staring at you. No one is staring at you.

But, because I couldn't lie convincingly even to myself, I had to check.

As I sat waiting for one of the three traffic lights in town to turn green, I peeked to the right — in her minivan, Mrs. Weber had turned her whole torso in my direction. Her eyes bored into mine, and I flinched back, wondering why she didn't drop her gaze or look ashamed. It was still considered rude to stare at people, wasn't it? Didn't that apply to me anymore?

Then I remembered that these windows were so darkly tinted that she probably had no idea if it was even me in here, let alone that I'd caught her looking. I tried to take some comfort in the fact that she wasn't really staring at me, just the car.

My car. Sigh.

Overview

I am sure that everyone who has wanted to read this series has already completed this book, but here goes - the fourth and final novel in the The Twilight Saga by American author Stephenie Meyer. Divided into three parts, the first and third sections are written from Bella Swan's perspective and the second is written from the perspective of Jacob Black. The novel directly follows the events of the previous novel, Eclipse, as Bella and Edward Cullen get married, leaving behind a heartbroken Jacob. When Bella faces an unexpected situation, she does what it takes to undergo the ultimate transformation and fight the final battle to save her love.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mailbox Monday - A Room Full of Bones



Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month


Title: A Room Full of Bones
Author: Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 3, 2012)
Format: ARC Paperback; Pgs 352
Genre: Mystery /Suspense
Source: Amazon Vine
Series: Ruth Galloway #4

Overview

It is Halloween night, and the local museum in King's Lynn is preparing for an unusual event - the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But when Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise, she finds the museum's curator lying dead beside the coffin. It is only a matter of time before she and DI Nelson cross paths once more, as he is called in to investigate. Soon the museum's wealthy owner lies dead in his stables too. These two deaths could be from natural causes but Nelson isn't convinced. When threatening letters come to light, events take an even more sinister turn. But as Ruth's friends become involved, where will her loyalties lie? As her convictions are tested, she and Nelson must discover how Aboriginal skulls, drug smuggling and the mystery of The Dreaming may hold the answer to these deaths, and their own survival.

About the Author

Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly's husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece's head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly is the mother of twins and lives near Brighton. A Room Full of Bones is her fourth crime novel featuring Dr Ruth Galloway.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review - The Knitting Diaries - The Twenty-First Wish

Title: The Knitting Diaries - The Twenty-First Wish
Authors: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Mira (March 29, 2011)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Romance
Source: Library
Series: Blossom Street #6.5

I am not a big fan of half books or in-between books or whatever it is that authors are calling them nowadays. Those annoying books that either follow up where the last one left off or a taste of what is to come next in the series. I just do not understand them. Why not include the information, if it is at all necessary, in the book where it belongs and not tempt the reader to buy yet another book that turns into a waste of money.

I read the Twenty Wishes and I read and I read Summer on Blossom Street and I really do not know how this book, enhances either story. I was not a fan of Twenty Wishes in the fist place and only liked Summer on Blossom Street slightly better. Being a series reader, I cannot help myself to finish what I had started in hopes that I will find the book that made me glad that I did not give up too soon.

Knitting Diaries is actually three short stories; bringing together three separate authors, Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery and Christina Skye. Since I am unfamiliar with the other two authors, I only read Macomber’s contribution so I can say that I have kept the series together. I know, a lame excuse, but if I did not I might have missed that gem.

If only it were that easy.

The Twenty First Wish brings us back to Anne Marie, a widow and Ellen her recently adopted daughter; Anne Marie has purchased a home and as she and Ellen are planning their move, Mel (Anne Marie’s new boyfriend) and Tim (Ellen’s biological father) start doing that he-man dance and Anne Marie has very little patience for such tomfoolery.

For a short story that is only 123 pages long, this review is going longer than I thought and if you know Macomber's writing, you can guess where this storyline goes and who has their Twenty-First Wish granted. You will have to read Twenty Wishes to understand the importance of the original list. Suffice it to say that it is a bucket list of sorts. A list that will help bring closure to some and open new worlds for others.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review - Slow Cooker Recipes for 2, 4 or More

Title:Slow Cooker Recipes for 2, 4 or More
Authors: Better Homes and Gardens
Publisher: Wiley (September 2, 2008)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Cookbook
Source: Library

I need to invest in a new crockpot. I had purchased the 4qt size, but have come to find out, for the smaller serving sizes that are offered in this book, I need a 1 ½ to 2qrt size. I had no idea that the size of the crockpot affects the overall outcome - good to know, learned something new.

I still enjoy a cookbook with pictures and there are a few here. Not every recipe gives you a visual, but the pictures that are shown, are very tantalizing and give you confidence when approaching slow cooking for the first time.

Regardless of what other cooks say, for me, the crockpot is for soups and stews with an occasional casserole type meal thrown in. What I need is basic, easy ingredients with cook times that will cover a normal workday. Unlike the previous cookbook that I reviewed, this recipe book does that.

I am not looking for gourmet food done in a crockpot, I am looking for home cooked meals that fit into my day and this book offers just that. This book is a good starting point for and individual or small family to enjoy the luxury of fix and forget food.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Diva Digs Up The Dirt


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: The Diva Digs Up The Dirt
Author: Krista Davis
Publisher: Berkley (June 5, 2012)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Domestic Diva Mystery #6

Overview:

Determined not to be a garden-variety diva, Sophie Winston’s neighbor Natasha cultivates a plan to shine on television -- using Sophie’s backyard. As the cast and crew of the make-over show Tear it Up with Troy bulldoze through her backyard -- and vacation -- Sophie retreats to her perennial boyfriend Wolf’s to replace a dead rosebush. But her tender deed goes awry when she digs up a purse belonging to Wolf’s missing wife.

As speculations sprout, Wolf bolts, and then a body crops up in a garden. Is Wolf’s thorny past raising an ugly head? This is one case the domestic diva can’t let wilt on the vine.


Chapter 1

“I’d like to hire you to find my daughter.”

The woman’s request caught me by surprise. I’d been deadheading geraniums in pots by my front door in the early morning and held flower snippers in my hand.

Pouffy dark hair framed her face. It wanted to curl, but had been firmly set into a helmet by a hairdresser. Her clothes were equally impeccable. Full-figured from top to bottom, she made no effort to hide her shape under black garments. Her skirt and matching short-sleeved top bore a festive purple, pink and yellow print. I guessed her to be in her mid-sixties, but she oozed energy.

My hound mix, Daisy, sniffed the woman’s dainty purple and yellow shoes with kitten heels. Not the best footwear for Old Town’s uneven brick sidewalks. Daisy’s tail wagged with restraint.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “You must have the wrong person.”

“Aren’t you Sophia Winston?”

Close enough. “Sophie, actually. But I’m not an investigator.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Spilled Blood


Title: Spilled Blood
Author: Brian Freeman
Publisher: SilverOak (May 1, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Suspense
Source: Library




Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea








Prologue

Hobbled by a flat tire, Ashlynn's fire-orange Mustang convertible limped to a stop on the main street of the abandoned farm town.

It was nearly midnight, but moonlight gave the ruins of the town a silver glow. Dirty shards of glass from whitewashed storefront windows littered the gravel. Dead weeds traveled like snakes along broken sidewalks. Beside her, the fa├žade of a deserted building boasted the name of the Southwest Farmers Mercantile Bank chiseled into its red brick, but the bankers had long since gone bust, along with the farmers and shop owners. Across the street, a rusted 7Up sign dangled from the worn metal banner for Ekqvist Foods. When the wind blew, the lone screw made a tortured, twisting squeal, like a captured animal.


From the Author's Website

Two teenage girls play a deadly game of Russian Roulette...

It's every parent's worst nightmare. Christopher Hawk's daughter has been accused of murder . . . and she looks guilty as sin.

Chris rushes to the rural badlands of southern Minnesota, where his ex-wife and his only child, Olivia, now live, determined to defend his daughter.

He discovers two towns at war: Barron, where a chemical company has brought jobs and money, and St. Croix, Olivia's downriver home, where the same chemicals are believed to have brought death: a cancer cluster with mysterious origins.

Olivia is at the center of the feud, and so is the girl she's suspected of killing. If Chris is to find out what really happened, he needs to learn everything about his daughter... but he's beginning to realize he hardly knows her at all.

Chris wants to believe Olivia is innocent, but belief is only the first step. Now he has to prove it.

And all the while, her enemies are waiting, baying for her blood...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mailbox Monday - These Girls and Shelter




Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month


Title: These Girls
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Publisher: Washington Square Press (April 10, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 336
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster

Overview

Cate, Renee, and Abby have come to New York for very different reasons, and in a bustling city of millions, they are linked together through circumstance and chance.

Cate has just been named the features editor of Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. It’s a professional coup, but her new job comes with more complications than Cate ever anticipated.

Her roommate Renee will do anything to nab the plum job of beauty editor at Gloss. But snide comments about Renee’s weight send her into an emotional tailspin. Soon she is taking black market diet pills—despite the racing heartbeat and trembling hands that signal she’s heading for real danger.

Then there’s Abby, whom they take in as a third roommate. Once a joyful graduate student working as a nanny part time, she abruptly fled a seemingly happy life in the D.C. suburbs. No one knows what shattered Abby—or why she left everything she once loved behind.

Pekkanen’s most compelling, true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate the complications of careers and love—and find the lifeline they need in each other.




Title: Shelter
Author: Frances Greenslade
Publisher: Free Press (May 15, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 400
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


Overview

For sisters Maggie and Jenny growing up in the Pacific mountains in the early 1970s, life felt nearly perfect. Seasons in their tiny rustic home were peppered with wilderness hikes, building shelters from pine boughs and telling stories by the fire with their doting father and beautiful, adventurous mother. But at night, Maggie—a born worrier—would count the freckles on her father’s weathered arms, listening for the peal of her mother’s laughter in the kitchen, and never stop praying to keep them all safe from harm. Then her worst fears come true: Not long after Maggie’s tenth birthday, their father is killed in a logging accident, and a few months later, their mother abruptly drops the girls at a neighbor’s house, promising to return. She never does.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award - Part 2

The Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award


The Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award was initiated in 2000 to recognize authors, illustrators, and publishers of high quality fictional and biographical children, intermediate, and young adult books that appropriately portray individuals with developmental disabilities.

The award is a collaborative work by members of the Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Special Needs Project (a distributor of books related to disability issues). Every even year, an award is presented to an author and illustrator (if appropriate) of a children's picture book, an intermediate, and/or a young adult book that includes appropriate portrayals of individuals with developmental disabilities.

2012 Dolly Gray Award Winners:


My Brother Charlie
Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete (authors) and Shane W. Evans (illustrator)
Disability: Autism
Publisher: Scholastic
Ages: 4+

"Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It's harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe." But as his big sister tells us, for everything that Charlie can't do well, there are plenty more things that he's good at. He knows the names of all the American presidents. He knows stuff about airplanes. And he can even play the piano better than anyone he knows.



Just Because
Rebecca Elliott
Disability: Multiple Disabilities
Publisher: Lion Children's
Ages: Preschool to Grade 2

A younger brother describes all the fun he has with the big sister he loves so much—just because, in this heartwarming picture book about being perfectly loved, no matter what. He is enthusiastic about just how loving and special she is, and delights in telling us about all the fun things they do together. Only as his tale unfolds does the reader begin to realize that his sister has special needs—and by then the reader just accepts, as he does, all the wonderful things about her. Teachers and librarians will appreciate this book for its sincere and convincing treatment of children with special needs, while parents will use this book to encourage sibling friendship and to read with children who are beginning to ask why a particular child they know is "different."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review - If All the Animals Came Inside

Title: If All the Animals Came Inside
Author: Eric Pinder
Illustrator: Marc Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company ( April 17, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 4 and up

It is all fun and games to have animals in the house, but the minute you wish to watch television or play with your own toys the fun ends. So goes the day when you invite the animals to come in and play.

A cute story about how not everything is as fun as it first seems, mom and dad are mad and your sister hides, but the panda and elephants are having fun.

A nice interactive book that allows your young one to giggle along at the antics of animals in the house, and to learn that not all ideas are as fun as they first seem.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review - The Surgeon

Title: The Surgeon
Authors: Tess Gerritsen
Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (August 21, 2001)
Format: Audio
Genre: Medical Suspense
Source: Library
Series: Rizzoli & Isles #1

There was a great deal about the Surgeon that reminded me of James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Mystery Series. I do not know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but I can tell you that this book was more on the creepier gorier side than Patterson and for that, and the more intense writing, I think I have found a new series to follow.

Yes, I know that I am a little late to this rodeo since the book was written in in 2001, but all good things come to those that wait. Since the publishing industry only gives new writers three books to make their mark and Tess Gerritson has been around a good long time - I figured she must have something good to bring to the table and I was not disappointed.

Two years prior, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and beat her attacker. She does not remember the second shot that killed the man that had drugged her and had plans to incise her body organs, but she sure knows that she killed him. His body was laying there on her bedroom floor - two shots to the head.

That is until a new killer re-creates, with precise techniques, Cordell’s attack and now the Boston news media has nicknamed him The Surgeon. As the bodies pile up, no one can answer the questions - how does he know things about his victims? What inside information does he have that should terrify the women of Boston? Most importantly, why is he taunting Cordell with each murder?

Under hypnosis, Catherine recalls one very important bit of information

See one
Do One
Show One


Thomas Moore needs to save Catherine, he needs to find the link between the past and the present before Dr. Cordell is the final victim.

Terrifying in its possibility, this book, will stay with you for a long time.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review - The Dark Horse


Title: The Dark Horse
Authors: Craig Johnson
Publisher: Viking Adult (May 28, 2009)
Format: Audio
Genre: Western Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Walt Longmire #5

I do not know if mildly depressed Wyoming Sheriff’s and Northern Cheyenne Indian’s are usually this funny, but I look forward to each book in the Walt Longmire series for this sole purpose. I am not going to say that Walt Longmire has a death wish, but that man sure can find himself in questionable situations. Who else in their right might would try to go undercover in a town of forty people and not think that there might possibly be a chance of being shot at? Yeah, that should tell you a little about Walt and the sticky situations that he and his best friend Henry Standing Bear, a man who does not use contractions, usually find themselves in.

Mary Barsad is currently in Walt’s jail accused of killing her husband. Now, no one is saying that the man did not need killing; it is just that Walt does not think that Mary did it. She may have confessed, but Walt sees something in Mary and using his questionable judgment goes into the small town of Absalom, a town without pity, to pose as an insurance salesman to sort out the mess.

Walt should have known right off that he was not cutout for undercover work when a young child and his mother, a Guatemalan immigrant with a two-year college degree in criminal justice see right through his disguise. In for a penny, in for ten pounds of bad luck, Walt digs deeper into the whole Barsad story and what he finds out surprised me with a couple of twists and a whole lot of humor.

I truly wonder what dialogue goes on in the head of Craig Johnson when he is trying to figure out what Henry and Walt will say to each other. These two men have history; they have respect and somewhere in their years together, Henry learned that Walt would not always think situations through and because of this he is there with his words and stories to help Walt see the bigger picture –and to save his butt.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Yard



Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: The Yard
Author: Alex Grecian
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) (May 29, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Suspense / Fiction


Overview:

1890, London. Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror is finally over, but a new one is just beginning…

Victorian London is a cesspool of crime and Scotland Yard has only twelve detectives – known as “The Murder Squad” – to investigate countless murders every month. Created after the Metropolitan police’s spectacular failure to capture Jack the Ripper, The Murder Squad suffers rampant public contempt. They have failed their citizens. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own…one of twelve…

When Walter Day, the squad’s newest hire, is assigned the case of the murdered detective, he finds a strange ally in the Yard’s first forensic pathologist, Dr. Bernard Kingsley. Together they track the killer, who clearly is not finished with The Murder Squad…but why?

In The Yard Alex Grecian offers a meticulously researched vision of the bustling city of London, which teems with Dickensian color. With a masterful talent for storytelling, he weaves multiple narratives that converge in a heart-stopping climax. Filled with fascinating period detail, and real historical figures, The Yard is a spectacular debut in a new series showcasing the depravity of the late Victorian city, the advent of criminology, and introduces a stunning new cast of characters sure to appeal to fans of Caleb Carr and Jed Rubenfeld.

Prologue

LONDON, 1889.

Nobody noticed when Inspector Christian Little of Scotland Yard disappeared, and nobody was looking for him when he was found. A black steamer trunk appeared at Euston Square Station sometime during the night and remained unnoticed until early afternoon of the following day. The porter discovered it after the one o’clock train had departed, and he opened the trunk when it proved too heavy for him to lift.

He immediately sent a boy to find the police

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First Chapter - First Paragraph - Mockingbird


Title: Mockingbird
Author: Kathryn Erskine
Publisher: Philomel (April 15, 2010)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: YA
Source: Library





Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea




Chapter 1

It looks like a one-winged bird crouching in the corner of our living room. Hurt. Trying to fly evey time the heat pump turns on with a click and a groan and blows cold air onto the sheet and lifts it up and it flutters for just a moment and then falls down again. Still. Dead.

Dad covered it with the gray sheet so I can’t see it, but I know it’s there. And I can still draw it. I take my charcoal pencil and copy what I see. A grayish square-ish thing that’s almost as tall as me. With only one wing.


School Library Journal

From inside Caitlin’s head, readers see the very personal aftermath of a middle school shooting that took the life of the older brother she adored. Caitlin is a bright fifth grader and a gifted artist. She also has Asperger’s syndrome, and her brother, Devon, was the one who helped her interpret the world. Now she has only her father, a widower who is grieving anew and whose ability to relate to his daughter is limited. A compassionate school counselor works with her, trying to teach her the social skills that are so difficult for her. Through her own efforts and her therapy sessions, she begins to come to terms with her loss and makes her first, tentative steps toward friendship. Caitlin’s thought processes, including her own brand of logic, are made remarkably clear. The longer readers spend in the child’s world, the more understandable her entirely literal and dispassionate interpretations are.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Depth Perception




Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month




Title:Depth Perception
Author: Linda Castillo
Publisher: Berkley (February 1, 2005)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 336
Genre: Fiction
Source: Friends of the Library Sale


Overview

Nat Jennings nearly died the night her family was murdered—and spent the next three years wishing she had. Now she is returning to the bayou town of Bellerose, Louisiana, driven by cryptic messages only she can hear—messages pleading for her help . . .

After serving six years for a crime he didn’t commit, Nick Bastille is back in Bellerose, mourning his precious son, who drowned while Nick was in prison, unable to protect him. But when Nat approaches him with a shocking revelation, his denial slowly turns into a desire for revenge.

Together they will hunt for a merciless killer who nearly destroyed them both once before—and is now preparing to finish them off once and for all . . ..

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award - Part 1





The Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award


The Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award was initiated in 2000 to recognize authors, illustrators, and publishers of high quality fictional and biographical children, intermediate, and young adult books that appropriately portray individuals with developmental disabilities.

The award is a collaborative work by members of the Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Special Needs Project (a distributor of books related to disability issues). Every even year, an award is presented to an author and illustrator (if appropriate) of a children's picture book, an intermediate, and/or a young adult book that includes appropriate portrayals of individuals with developmental disabilities.

2012 Dolly Gray Award Winners:


Mockingbird
Kathryn Erskine
Disability: Asperger Syndrome
Publisher: Penguin
Reading age: 10 - 12

In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead, and her father cries a lot. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of “closure” in the dictionary, she realizes that is what she and her father need. In her search for Closure, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white--the world is full of colors--messy and beautiful, and it is through this discovery that she embarks on a road which leads her to find both healing and Closure.



Waiting for No One
Beverley Brenna
Disability: Asperger Syndrome
Publisher: Red Deer Press
Grade 8 Up

Taylor Jane Simon is an eighteen-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome who has a refreshingly different view of the people she encounters and the life she wants to have. Young adult readers will identify with Taylor’s struggle for independence and self-control, and empathize as she outlines the ways—both positive and negative-- that her Asperger’s Syndrome affects her daily life. Connecting with a play by Samuel Beckett, Taylor explores a fear of solitary existence while reaching out to a world at times perplexing. Most important, Taylor wants to be seen as an individual, not as a stereotypical “person with special needs,” or a rare wild flower—images that haunt her from the past. A cameo performance by Taylor’s new gerbil -- Harold Pinter-- adds further emphasis to themes of existentialism and humour.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Review - Chloe and the Lion


Title: Chloe and the Lion
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Adam Rex
Publisher: Hyperion April 3, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 4 and up

From time to time, children’s board books fall into the same rut of princess and happily ever after. Well, I have no idea what was rolling around in the minds of Mac Barnett and Adam Rex, but I can tell you that there is no way you will find a sparkly princess or get bored reading this book.

To be honest, I am not one hundred percent sure that it is a child’s book, so right there it should tell you that it deserves to be picked up. Mac and Adam not only wrote and illustrated this book, but they actually star in it. When the collaboration between writer and illustrator goes amuck, it is up to lead character Chloe to get them all back on board and convince the ever changing lion, who should have been a dragon, into giving up his dinner so the story can be finished. I know that sounds a little strange, but this book is so funny and convoluted that the reader is in for as much of an entertaining evening as any young child.

The illustrations are a little different than the usual offerings, think Wizard of Oz meets clay animation meets paper dolls and you would be close.

Loved the storyline and the quips. I am not 100% sure of the age group that I would recommend this book, I recommend that you pick it up and decide if it would be right for your young one or more along the lines of something that you, the adult, will chuckle over.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review - Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch


Title: Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch
Authors: Nancy Atherton
Publisher: Viking Adult (April 26, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Aunt Dimity #17

There is something so inviting about Finch and its people that brings me back time and again to wishing that there were more villages where people cared about one another - even if their main source of entertainment is gossiping.

“I’ve lived in Finch far too long to have scruples about minding other people’s business”.

Finch has a new neighbor, Amelia Thistle has purchased Pussywillows, a small home on the green and on moving day, the inhabitants of Finch are gathered in the Tearoom to watch the unveiling of the contents of the moving van. So far, Amelia meets with their approval, but Charles and Grant, the local art aficionados react differently when they see Mrs. Thistle and Lori Sheppard is quick on their heels to find out what is going on.

Amelia has two reasons for appearing on the doorstep of Finch, first she needs a break from her public life, but second and more importantly, she has promised her recently deceased brother that she will finish his research into Gamaliel Gowland’s memoir and Mistress Meg. With the help of her new friends, Amelia is able to unwind the mystery by following the trail left by Gamaliel and in so doing, not only finds out about Finch’s history, but also finds out that local folklore does not tell the whole truth.

“If a secret is worth hiding, it is worth hiding well”

I loved that we found out a little more about Willis, Sr.’s past before Lori showed up in their lives. You see a man very much in love with his wife and the touching story behind a painting of crocuses that she had presented to him on her deathbed. The storyline is very touching and added more depth to a character that was only until now on the fringes of the series.

This was one of my favorite books of the series. Nancy Atherton is slowly stepping away from Aunt Dimity being a central focus; this may not sit well with all readers, but I for one, love the growth of all the other characters. Dimity’s character was one of mentor and as the characters grow, Dimity can sit back and watch her flowers bloom.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review - Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two


Title: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two
Authors: Beth Hensperger
Publisher: Harvard Common Press (December 15, 2006)
Format: Softcover
Genre: Cookbook
Source: Library

For me, one of the greatest parts of a cookbook are the pictures, I tend to read with my eyes and stomach before I look at the ingredients and the techniques so I am psyched up to try something new. This book was a big letdown. Other than the cover, there are no pictures. Not even a center section where you can go back and search out the recipes when the picture entices you.

Darn, I was hoping for so much more.

I did come across a couple recipes that sound good, but now the dilemma lies in cooking times. What I need are recipes that I can quickly throw together in the morning before work and eleven hours later when I return, the food is ready. Many of these recipes have cook times of two to three hours. That sounds more along the lines of something that you would put together after school and before you rush out to sports practice. Short cook times are not practical for me.

The cookbook covers the usual soups and stews with a couple breakout dishes. Most recipes call for usual pantry and freezer fare, so in that regard, there is no stress in the slow cooker recipes mentioned in this book. The quantities are small since this is a cookbook designed for two, so make sure that you have a 1 ½ - 3 quart slow cooker.

Long story short, if you are looking for small quantities with short cook times, then check out this book. If not, do as I do and keep looking. There has to be something out that that solves all of my slow cooker issues.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - One Shot at Forever

Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season
Author: Chris Ballard
Publisher: Hyperion (May 15, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Non-Fiction


Overview:

The Inspirational Story of a Coach, a Baseball Team, and the Season They'll Never Forget

In 1971, a small-town high school baseball team from rural Illinois playing with hand-me-down uniforms and peace signs on their hats defied convention and the odds. Led by an English teacher with no coaching experience, the Macon Ironmen emerged from a field of 370 teams to become the smallest school in Illinois history to make the state final, a distinction that still stands. There, sporting long hair, and warming up to Jesus Christ Superstar, the Ironmen would play a dramatic game against a Chicago powerhouse that would change their lives forever.

In a gripping, cinematic narrative, Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard tells the story of the team and its coach, Lynn Sweet, a hippie, dreamer and intellectual who arrived in Macon in 1966, bringing progressive ideas to a town stuck in the Eisenhower era. Beloved by students but not administration, Sweet reluctantly took over a rag-tag team, intent on teaching the boys as much about life as baseball. Inspired by Sweet's unconventional methods and led by fiery star Steve Shartzer and spindly curveball artist John Heneberry, the undersized, undermanned Macon Ironmen embarked on an improbable postseason run that infuriated rival coaches and buoyed an entire town.

Beginning with Sweet's arrival, Ballard takes readers on a journey back to the Ironmen's historic season and then on to the present day, returning to the 1971 Ironmen to explore the effect the game had on their lives' trajectories--and the men they've become because of it.

Engaging and poignant, One Shot at Forever is a testament to the power of high school sports to shape the lives of those who play them, and it reminds us that there are few bonds more sacred than that among a coach, a team, and a town

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - The Dark Horse


Title: The Dark Horse
Author: Craig Johnson
Publisher: Viking Adult (May 28, 2009)
Format: Audio
Genre: Western Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Walt Longmire Mysteries #5




Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea





Chapter 1

It was the second week of September on the high desert, and the long, hot summer had baked the color from the plains and had turned the rusted girders of the old bridge into a thinned-out, tired brown. I topped the hill overlooking Absalom and pulled the gunmetal, Lincoln Town Car alongside the Pratt truss structure. There weren't very many of them in the Powder River Country, and the few that were left were being auctioned off to private owners for use on their ranches; I had grown up with these old camelback bridges and was sorry to see the last of them go. My eyes were pulled to the town balanced on the banks of the anemic river and pressed hard against the scoria hills like the singing blade of a sharp knife. The water, the land, and the bridge were sepia-toned; depleted.

I told Dog to stay in the back seat and got out of the car, slipped on my hat and an aged, and of course, burnished-brown horsehide jacket, and walked across the dirt lot. I studied the dusty, wide-planked surface of the bridge and, between the cracks, the few reflecting slivers of the Powder River below. The Wyoming Department of Transportation had condemned and, in turn, posted the bridge with bright yellow signs—it was to be removed next week. I could see the abutments off to the right that they had constructed where the new bridge would soon rest.

Synopsis

Wade Barsad, a man with a dubious past and a gift for making enemies, burned his wife Mary's horses in their barn; in retribution, she shot him in the head six times. But Longmire doesn't believe Mary's confession. Leaving behind the demands of his upcoming re-election campaign, Walt unpins his star to go undercover and discovers that everyone-including a beautiful Guatemalan bartender and a rancher with a taste for liquor-had a reason for wanting Wade dead.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Grey Mask




Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month



Title: Grey Mask: A Miss Silver Mystery (Book One)
Author: Patricia Wentworth
Publisher: Harper Paperback - Originally published in 1929
Format: Paperback; Pgs 267
Genre: British Cozy Mystery
Source: Friends of the Library Sale
Series: A Miss Silver Mystery #1


Overview

The first of the classic mysteries featuring governess-turned-detective Miss Silver, who investigates a deadly conspiratorial ring. Charles Moray has come home to England to collect his inheritance. After four years wandering the jungles of India and South America, the hardy young man returns to the manor of his birth, where generations of Morays have lived and died. Strangely, he finds the house unlocked, and sees a light on in one of its abandoned rooms. Eavesdropping, he learns of a conspiracy to commit a fearsome crime. Never one for the heroics, Charles’s first instinct is to let the police settle it. But then he hears her voice. Margaret, his long lost love, is part of the gang. To unravel their diabolical plot, he contacts Miss Silver, a onetime governess who applies her reason to solve crimes and face the dangers of London’s underworld.

About the Author

Patricia Wentworth (1878–1961) was one of the masters of classic English mystery writing. Born in India as Dora Amy Elles, she began writing after the death of her first husband, publishing her first novel in 1910. In the 1920s, she introduced the character who would make her famous: Miss Maud Silver, the former governess whose stout figure, fondness for Tennyson, and passion for knitting served to disguise a keen intellect. Along with Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Miss Silver is the definitive embodiment of the English style of cozy mysteries.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Review - At Witt's End


Title: At Witt's End
Authors: Beth Solheim
Publisher: Echelon Press (December 20, 2009)
Format: eBook
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Amazon Digital Services
Series: A Sadie Witt Mystery #1

It took me a little while to get into the flow of this book. An initial statement would be made or you would be thrown into the middle of a conversation and then over the next paragraph or two everything that you had just witnessed would be explained. After a while, you begin to see that that is how Sadie is, she has history and since she knows what she is talking about, the reader better catch up before you miss anymore.

Sadie and her twin sister Jane, own Witt’s End a resort in Pine Cone Landing, Minnesota. Everything would be nice and fine if the story ended there, but of course, the sisters have their challenges. The first being a local bully that is under the belief that the resort belongs to him since the twin’s mother used her feminine wiles to finagle the property from his family and second, Witt’s end is where crossers come as their in between place.

Sadie has a gift, she is a death coach and if she did not guide the spirits through their death decisions in the allotted time, the crossers would never realize their death potential. They would slip into oblivion.

Apparently, if a crosser has unresolved issues they cannot cross. They first have to solve the problem that held them back from crossing in the first place and then decide if they want to go back through the light or go to the parallel world. All of this has to be completed within thirty days or they will fade away all together like campfire smoke and they would never see their loved ones again. The one catch is that they must return in someone else’s light.

There is usually one death coach to an area, but after the death of a close friend, an unexpected new coach appears and it is up to Sadie to tutor and guide; and when the training is completed, the student will see a rainbow at midnight.

When I first started this book I was not so sure, but by the end, I loved the characters. This will probably be the typical three books to a series and then they are through, but I will continue to that end due to the sass of Sadie and the wonderful inhabitants of Witt’s End.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Review - Z is for Moose


Title: Z is for Moose
Author: Kelly Bingham
Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (February 28, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 4 - 7

Moose is so excited; he is going to be in Zebra’s ABC presentation. He can hardly wait his turn and then there is a last minute substitution. Instead of M is for Moose, they switch to M is for Mouse.

Moose is heartbroken and goes on a royal tear. N-O-P-Q-R-S are all in trouble until Zebra steps in and calms the situation by showing that he is a real friend.

Moose is an adorable character that will entertain your young ones. This book opens up a good dialogue about waiting your turn and being a friend when someone has had their feelings hurt.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Review - Because your Mommy Loves You


Title: Because Your Mommy Loves You
Author: Andrew Clements
Illustrator: R. W. Alley
Publisher: Clarion Books (April 3, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 4 and up
When my children hit their early teens, they began to question why I did not do all the “stuff” for them that other moms did for their children. At the time, I did not have an answer that they would accept, the answer that involved learning lessons and becoming self-sufficient. When I came across this book, I had to share it with them.

They still wished that I had been the one to make their life easier, but with age comes wisdom and they are both glad that they were taught the life skills that make getting over their own hurdles that much easier.

While on a camping trip, the mommy in this story knows that it is her responsibility to raise an independent self-reliant young man. When her son faces a few challenges, like carrying his own pack, crossing a wobbly log, or setting up a tent – tasks that she could easily do for him, but she doesn’t – she decides to let her son challenge his own boundaries and with minimal help, mom and son can both celebrate in a job well done.

I loved this book and the life lessons that it teaches. In a world full of hovering parents, it is nice to see a mom that allows their child to gain confidence is lessons learned and challenges faced.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review - All Together Dead


Title: All Together Dead
Authors: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Recorded Books (May 2007)
Format: Audio
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Library
Series: Southern Vampire #7

I do not like the series True Blood, though it takes its initial inspiration from this series, it long ago left any semblance to the Sookie Stackhouse series and I have decided to stick with the books the way that Charlaine Harris had written them.

When I first looked at this cover, I was wondering, “what the heck am I looking at”, but by the end of the book, I realized what a perfect cover it is. Though it does not tell the whole story, it shows a great deal more than you would think.

The Vampire Queen of Louisiana has enlisted Sookies' help in the upcoming summit. Since the death of her husband the King, and the hurricane damage to New Orleans, everything is in a righteous mess and it is up to Sookie to user her gift, or mental defect as she puts it, to sort out the power players.

As the summit convenes, the Fellowship of the Sun has made their presence known and there is some bad blood afoot. As alliances form, Sookie and Barry the Bellboy have to join their powers to read those around them and figure out who is killing the Queen’s enemies all before the building literally falls down around them.

Quinn’s story begins to evolve and Sookie is drawn even more to this man, Bill seems to be a thing of the past and if it were not for the fact that Sookie was forced into a third blood exchange with Eric, her life with Quinn would be perfect.

As you know, Sookies’ life is never complication free and as she travels home to Bon Temp, she must now decide how far she wants to be drawn into the vampire world and with her bond to Eric, will she ever be free.

I just love this series and the incredible characters that Charlaine Harris introduces in each book. Britlingen’s – who knew that they existed and could be such a fascinating bunch. If it were not for the fact that I am a bit skittish, I would love to live in the mind of Charlaine Harris for ten minutes just to see what she could come up with next.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Road to Grace



Hosted by Breaking the Spine




Title: The Road to Grace
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 8, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fiction / Religious Inspirational
Series: The Walk #3

Overview:
Reeling from the sudden loss of his wife, his home, and his business, Alan Christoffersen, a once-successful advertising executive, has left everything he knew behind and set off on an extraordinary cross-country journey. Carrying only a backpack, he is walking from Seattle to Key West, the farthest destination on his map.

Now almost halfway through his trek, Alan sets out to walk the nearly 1,000 miles between South Dakota and St. Louis, but it’s the people he meets along the way who give the journey its true meaning: a mysterious woman who follows Alan’s walk for close to a hundred miles, the ghost hunter searching graveyards for his wife, and the elderly Polish man who gives Alan a ride and shares a story that Alan will never forget

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - The Prophet

Title: The Prophet
Author: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira (April 24, 2012)
Format: eBook
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Amazon Digital
Series: Graveyard Queen #3


Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea





Preface

My name is Amelia Gray.

I am the Graveyard queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I’ve broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.

In order to protect myself, I’ve vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston – where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish – and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.


Chapter 1

Something had been following me for days. Whether it was human, ghost or an in-between – like me– I had no idea. I’d never caught more than a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. No more than a flicker of light or a fleeting shadow. But it was there even now, in my periphery. A darkness that kept pace. Turning when I turned. Slowing when I slowed.