Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mother Daze: Tales from the Imperfect Playground by Christine Carr

Description from
"Have mothers gone mad? They magically do it all, yet never quite think they've accomplished enough. Christine Carr helps us to realize that we need to start recognizing the comedy, give mothers some credit, and take a good hard look at the ridiculousness of high-octane parenting. While she does not pretend to have all the answers, nor claim to have this parenthood thing all figured out, she does provide some hard-hitting anecdotes and advice in her first book, MOTHER DAZE."

My thoughts:
This book was just right for me, I found so many points where I agreed with the author and loved the way she expressed herself. There were parts of the book that were laugh out loud funny and it was an easy, quick read. It never felt like work, it kind of reminded me of how when you open a bag of potato chips and mean to just eat a few you somehow look down and see you ate the whole thing. I would sit down to read and find that I had read just about the whole thing.

I enjoyed how Carr was realistic about a lot of things and really recognizes how all moms are doing a lot, even when they don’t feel like they are doing enough. I was a bit jealous of the school district she worked for that offered one year maternity leaves. When my first two children were born I was had a teaching position but our district offered 6 to 8 weeks (depending on the type of delivery you had) and you could take up to 15 weeks by using Family Medical Leave. I also had the option of taking a leave of absence but there was no guarantee where you would be working when you returned, just that you would have a job at one of the schools and our district was huge!

It was nice to hear someone admit that pregnancy isn’t always fun. I love my children but did not really enjoy being pregnant most of the time and she got that. She told a story of how her own mother jokes that if anyone made an advertisement for the job title of “mom” with all it’s responsibilities no one would apply or if they did they would demand better pay.

Even as a PE teacher she recognizes the crazy demands for youth sports organizations, plus points out how so many moms feel pressured to sign really young children up for multiple classes. She was frank about conflicts and misperceptions with her husband, like his idea that playgroups were just relaxed time with other moms that she was so lucky to have. (While a playgroup can be fun, it is rarely all that relaxed as you do need to watch your own children as well as monitor how they are interacting with other children and depending on the personalities of who is playing there can be some tears, fighting and more. Not always of course, but it is always a possibility in the playgroup pot!) She suggests that before a man criticizes how things are done he should actually try doing them.

Most importantly she really suggested that as moms we remember to make time for ourselves. Her solution of a 6 am Saturday yoga class isn’t my idea of time to myself, but I can see her point about the need.

Overall this was a fantastic read. I am so glad I had the chance to read it and I already know a friend or two I am going to suggest it to.

About this book:
This book was provided free of any obligation by Publishing Works, Inc. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Publishing Works was launched in 2003 as an independent press specializing in regional titles. Since then, the company has grown dramatically to embody a list of titles that spans diverse genres, age levels, and subject matter. Please visit them at their website, , or view their catalog for a complete list of titles.

To purchase this book or any other book published by Publishing Works, visit their online store here At checkout, include the Coupon Code BLOG for a 20% DISCOUNT, courtesy of Publishing Works, Inc. and their continued support of book blogging! Happy reading!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Description from
The Narnia Chronicles, first published in 1950, have been and remain some of the most enduringly popular ever published. The best known, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been translated into 29 languages! The illustrations in this book have been coloured by the original artist, Pauline Baynes. "This is the land of Narnia," said the Faun, "where we are now. And you -- you have come from the wild woods of the west!" "I -- I got in through the wardrobe in the spare room," said Lucy. Lucy steps into the Professor's wardrobe -- but steps out again into a snowy forest. She's stumbled upon the magical world of Narnia, a land of unicorns, centaurs, fauns! and the wicked White Witch, who terrorises all. Lucy soon realises that Narnia, and in particular Aslan, the great Lion, needs her help if the county's creatures are ever going to be free again!

My thoughts:While I have seen the movie for The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe I hadn’t read the book in years. This time I listened to it on an audio cd from the library with my children in the car. This was our second C.S. Lewis book and we are currently listening to book three in the series. The first one was narrated by Kenneth Branagh and I enjoyed how he changed his voice for the characters. This one had a different reader who while fine, just wasn’t quite the same. It is interesting how much the voice of the narrator can color you perception of the story being listened to. I am finding that I prefer female readers to male ones but can’t quite put my finger on why that is.

As with most books, there were so many more details and things were more richly described in the book than they were in the movie. I got a much greater understanding of the allure of the Turkish Delight Edmond gets from the witch from the book than I ever got from the movie. After listening we watched both the most recent movie theater version of the movie and one produced by the BBC. I find that once I’ve seen actors as the parts it is very hard to then imagine my own faces for each character. That is often times the reason I like to read before seeing a movie, although I do find that I then lose my imaginary versions once I’ve seen the movie anyway.

It was interesting how the children’s past became like a dream to them. Does childhood often become dreamlike as we get older and memories grow dimmer? I feel the older I get the less I remember all the details of the past, although things and people can remind me of things and the memories do come back, as the do for Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy. As we were listening I wondered when they would return to Narnia. The series has seven books and I haven’t yet read the rest. It will be interesting to see where it goes. Since we listened to this one and The Magician’s Nephew I kept comparing the Aslan from the founding of Narnia and the Aslan here and also wondering what happened to the people who were king and queen at the end of the first novel and it seems there are no humans left in Narnia. Also only one pair of each animal was made to be able to talk but there seem to be more here, is it from having offspring? It must be. I guess animal generations go a lot quicker than human ones. Plus time in Narnia does not seem to run the same as out time. What would happen if a non-talking and talking animal paired up? Would the talking one lose the ability to talk as it was warned by Aslan not to mix with the other kind of beasts in the last book? I wonder how long it has been since Diggory and Polly were present for the founding of Narnia in the last book.

About the Author
Clive Staples Lewis, born in 1898, wrote many books for adults but the Narnia stories were his only works for children. The final title, The Last Battle, published in 1956, won the Carnegie Award, the highest mark of excellence in children's literature.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Letter Birds by Pam Spremulli

Description from
Pam’s simple and colorful graphic illustrations of birds from around the world make up this delightful book. Every letter has a corresponding bird, from the well-known C for Cardinal to the more obscure and exotic, like L for the brightly colored Lapwing. How many people know what bird starts with “X” or “U” or even “Z”? Children (and parents!) will discover a wonderous array of birds brought to life with fun, colorful illustrations and, in the process, learn the alphabet.

My thoughts:
I requested this book for review because I have a three year old at home who is obsessed with letters. He started getting into them when he was two and he just hasn't quit. Before becoming a stay at home mom I was an elementary teacher (I taught both first and second grade) and before my high education was derailed I was working towards a degree in Library Science. I love books and have been obsessed with children's' books for a long time.

This book is perfect for us! I love how simple but beautiful the illustrations are. My son loves to point to them and we are learning new bird names that we haven't encountered before. He loves that he can pretty much read it himself, minus the unfamiliar birds whose names he is still learning. That said my five year old also picks this book up and flips through it. Her kindergarten class does a lot of letter activities and reading activities and this book really draws her in. The illustrations are also very realistic, yet not trying to be anything but an illustration if that makes sense. I'm not sure how else to put it.

This book is simple and a great tool for early learners that I can see staying a favorite for years. I loved the picture of the author at the back with birds drawn in all around her chair. Pam Spremulli obviously is both a gifted artist and a very imaginative person.

About this book:
This book was provided free of any obligation by Publishing Works, Inc. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Publishing Works was launched in 2003 as an independent press specializing in regional titles. Since then, the company has grown dramatically to embody a list of titles that spans diverse genres, age levels, and subject matter. Please visit them at their website, , or view their catalog for a complete list of titles.

To purchase this book or any other book published by Publishing Works, visit their online store here At checkout, include the Coupon Code BLOG for a 20% DISCOUNT, courtesy of Publishing Works, Inc. and their continued support of book blogging! Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman by Ogo Akubue-Ogbata

Product Description from
"Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman is about the metamorphosis of a young girl into a woman of courage, juxtaposed with the evolution of the country she loves but doesn't understand..."
"This book isn't content with just being a love story, or a story about the relationships women have throughout their lives. It is an amazing read on a culture and world many will never experience. Beautifully written and full of detail and mystery..."

The story kicks off in the early 1950s when two orphan sisters are separated against their wish because their aunt cannot afford to feed two mouths. The first sister is weak and wilts away but the second, Nkiru, digs deep and keeps on walking.

In the wake of her country's independence from British rule, Nkiru meets an aspiring diplomat with radical political views and hopes that love will put her life back on course. However, love only complicates things. Her new husband asks for more than she knows how to give and the past is filled with shameful secrets that threaten to erupt.

The plot thickens as Nkiru climbs the ladder of life, fearing the sudden loss of all that she has toiled for (her children's love, her husband's trust and the successful business she built out of nothing) all because of a single fatal mistake. At the same time, Nigeria descends further into conflict and corruption as a single foundational flaw leads to a brutal war and lingering mistrust.

Eventually Nkiru finds the courage to confront the past and seek forgiveness for an unpardonable sin. This is the only path to peace - both for Nkiru and her beloved country, Nigeria.

Set in the politically charged colonial and post-independence Nigeria (as well as the vibrant capitals of Uganda, Sierra Leone and Britain), Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman is a novel that fearlessly chronicles the history of Africa's most populous and complex country whilst tackling big themes such as ethnic identity, racial discrimination, domestic violence, gender equality, endemic corruption, entrepreneurship and self actualisation, as well as universal themes such as love, mother-daughter relationships, betrayal and forgiveness.

Through a language of passion, poetry and deceptive simplicity, we see sisters and daughters, mothers and wives who metamorphose over time, juxtaposed with a nation's fight for freedom, fall from grace and pursuit of an elusive destiny.

Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman: Buy it, Read it, Love it!

My thoughts:
I received this book as part of Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tours. When it arrived in the mail I was excited to see that it had been signed by the author to me. That was such a nice touch!

I decided to participate in this tour since it is almost February and when we celebrate Black History Month. Also, I am making a point of trying out different types of books than my usual selections. This is a book that, while I thoroughly enjoyed, I might not have picked up on my own and I would have been missing out. I was astounded by Nkiru courage and perseverance throughout. It felt for a while as if nothing good was going to happen for her. She did a good job dealing with being orphaned and loosing her sister and kept finding ways to make it, often times on her own with little help from the adults that should have been protecting her. Her Aunty Dubem kept hinting at a secret which kept me reading at some points. While of course I will not reveal that secret, i would hate to spoil the story for other readers, I will say that you won't be disappointed with this book.

There was a lot of political information in the book about Nigeria and the colonists who had control of the country. Reading it made me realize how little I know about the history of the countries in Africa. It feels like it is the continent that is most ignored in school. That said, I don't recall ever covering a great deal of history outside of the US or how the other countries affected the US unless it was a war that the US participated in. I cannot imagine living in the conditions that some of this people were subjected to and it really highlighted how children can fall between the cracks especially when they loose one or both parents. I am sure this is true everywhere.

I liked how the author separated the book into different years we could watch Nkiru grow from a child of 12 to a mother with a demanding career in a field that was not traditionally for women and the views she got from other women about how men don't like smart women, how women should make themselves appear less smart, how all women were refereed to as sister or aunty even if they were not related by blood in any way.

This book opened my eyes to a country I had not thought too much about and made me think.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Highlander's Destiny by Melissa Mayhue

A Highlander's Destiny by Melissa Mayhue

From the back cover:
JESSE CORYELL, a descendant of the Fae, is a man in search of his destiny. He's tried to lose himself in his work, taking on the worst mankind has to offer, but what he really needs to find is his true love. When he sets out to help a mysterious woman find her sister, what he gets is much more than he bargained for: battling an undeniable attraction to his sexy new client while fighting an ancient evil to keep her safe.
DESTINY NOBLE, abandoned by everyone she's ever loved, will stop at nothing in her desperate quest to find her sister. Authorities have declared Leah a runaway, but Destiny knows better. Her dream visions have shown her the frightening truth. They've also shown her Jesse. But finding her Soulmate could result in the most painful loss of all, when she's forced to choose between loving Jesse and saving Leah.

Jesse and Destiny race against time to save an innocent girl from a powerful ancient evil. Is true love their best weapon...or will they be required to sacrifice their own destiny?

My thoughts:
I received this book as part of Pocket Blogs Book tour but it has been on my TBR list for a while. This is Mayhue's fifth highlander novel. Of the five currently in print I have read four of them. That said, it had been a bit of time since I read them and the stories and characters from the other novels were a bit fuzzy to me. While you certainly do not need the background information from the other books to enjoy this one, it works quite well as a stand alone novel, I did find myself wishing that Mayhue would do just a bit more review of what had transpired previously.

Destiny was a believable character. She was dedicated to finding her sister and using her gifts in anyway they would work to make that happen. She stayed true to her beliefs and did not let things like money or power influence who she was or what she was doing. She was understandably leery about believing in Fae beings.

Jesse shows dedication to his job and is very closed off due to past hurts in his personal life. Seeing him interact and open himself up to someone else showed his ability to grow and change as a person.

I love the idea of magic, about there being a little extra something out there in the world. Not so keen on the idea that some of that magic could be used for evil. Sometimes life can seem small and in some ways repetitive (how often can you fold laundry, wash dishes, grocery shop before it becomes hard to find the fun in the chore) but having a fun book to escape into at the end of the day gives me something to consider while doing less than intellectually challenging chores. Could magic really be out there? Does it hurt to pretend sometimes that it is? The adventure that Destiny and Jesse go on takes them to numerous states, two countries and even the world of Faeries. This was a fun romance to escape into.

About the Author
Melissa Mayhue knows a great deal about men -- after all, she's wife to one and mother of three. She and her family live in Colorado, in the shadow of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, with three insanely spoiled dogs, one domineering cat, a turtle with an attitude, and way too many fish in their aquarium.
Readers can visit her website at .

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gentlemen Prefer Succubi by Jill Myles

From the back cover:
Jackie Brighton woke up in a Dumpster this morning, and her day has only gotten weirder. Her familiar B-cups have somehow become double Ds, her sex drive is insatiable, and apparently she had her fi rst one-night stand ever...with a fallen angel. All she remembers is gorgeous Noah's oddly hypnotic blue eyes...and then a dark stranger whose bite transformed her into an immortal siren with a sexy Itch. With help from Noah, Jackie begins to adapt to her new lifestyle -- until she accidentally sends Noah into the deadly clutches of the vampire queen and lands herself in a fi erce battle for an ancient halo with the queen's wickedly hot righthand man. Who just happens to be the vampire who originally bit her. How's a girl supposed to save the world when the enemy's so hard to resist?

My thoughts:
I received Gentlemen Prefer Succubi as part of Pocket Books Science Fiction Blog Tour. This is the first book by Jill Myles in a series about Jackie Brighton. Jackie is such a fun character and reminded me of other characters from series that I enjoy reading. She had some characteristics of Queen Betsey in MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series, some of Rachel Morgan from Kim Harrison’s witch series and even some of Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich’s number series. She was likeable, sarcastic, and a fish out of water who keeps ending up in situations beyond her understanding or control.

What attracted me to this book was the fallen angel idea. This fall I read Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick which also features a fallen angel and I was interested to see another authors take on the idea. I can’t recall ever reading about succubi before and wasn’t sure what that meant. The succubi part of the novel made it racier than what I usually read. This might not be a book for everyone, I know I have friends who don’t care for books with too much passion. I took it to read at my daughters ballet class and was actually embarrassed at one point hoping no one was looking over my shoulder at it. That said a lot of it was just sexual tension which really added to the novel. In the authors letter she thanks many people and then comments that she plans to go to her parents house and rip out all the sex scenes. A lot of them are clustered at the beginning of the book and part of me wondered what would be left if she removed them all, but then I saw that there was just a lot of it at the beginning but not so much later on.

Jackie meets a vampire when she is out at a bar who drains a lot of her blood and then leaves her where a fallen angel hangs out. The combination of the loss of blood and being intimate with the serim (or fallen angel) changes her into a succubi. As a succubi she has a very appealing figure, wonderful hair, and is beautiful and attractive to all men. She can eat whatever she wants and doesn’t need to sleep anymore. Plus she is now immortal. On the downside, she needs to have sex every other day. Especially in January when so many of us have made new year’s resolutions I am sure many people have wondered how much they would be willing to trade to be thin and beautiful, to have the perfect figure and live forever, and tempting as that train of thought is, I’m not sure we would trade it with some of the other factors involved.

I am used to thinking about angels as being all good, but can anyone, even someone who should be divine, be all good? Does desire to sin go to all beings or just humans?

While I found both of Jackie’s love interests to be alluring, I have to admit that I found a favorite and it wasn’t who I thought it would be. Zane grabbed my heart in this novel! I am so glad that I had an introduction to this author. The beginning of her next novel is included in the back and I have already added it to my TBR list!

Vegas Games


There are a lot of thoughts about gambling and casinos. I know many people who enjoy going to a casino for entertainment. They go to sit at a slot machine or a table game, to see a show, eat at a restaurant or visit one of the other attractions offered by any given casino. My view of casinos and gambling may be different than some other people because for seven years Las Vegas was my home. My husband and I owned a house and had jobs in the area. I taught elementary school and half or more of the parents of my students were employed by casinos. The funny thing is people can picture the Las Vegas Strip or Freemont Street with its casinos and light shows but have trouble picturing that there are people who live there year round, with homes or apartments, mortgages and jobs. We drive by the billboards daily with the toll free number for people suffering from gambling addiction and forget that in other places in the country there is such a thing as last call.

When we first moved to Las Vegas we loved to go to eat at the casinos, this was eleven years ago and the buffets were really reasonable and full of fun food. Suffice it to say those first few months we both put on some extra pounds. We got used to walking by slot machines to pay for gas at the gas station or to go to the movies, a restaurant or a museum. So many casinos had extra attractions to entice people to visit and stay longer. We saw 3-D Imax movies at the Luxor, sharks at Mandalay Bay, dancing fountains at Bellagio, gondoliers at the Venetian, pirate shows at Treasure Island before the show was changed, rode a roller coaster at New York, New York and looked at the town and rode rides at the top of the Stratosphere. While we loved all of the attractions after the second month we never gambled again. Those bells on the slot machines lost their luster and I have never in my life sat down at a table game. Since we moved a few years ago new casinos have been build with even more attraction like the Wynn .

I recall one night going to dinner with friends and one of them stopped at a table game at the Mirage and bet $20 each on two hands of black jack. He lost both and kept walking like it was nothing. The friend I was next to turned to me and pointed out how that would have paid for the boots she had considered at the mall the week before and he had just gambled it as if it were nothing. I share a similar line of thinging. While I know there are a lot of people who get enjoyment and consider gambling to be entertainment I always thought more along the lines of, “What else could I be spending this on?” I would rather spend money on going out to eat, seeing a show or movie, going on vacation and staying at a hotel or visiting an amusement park. To me the money that went into a slot machine felt like I was throwing it away since the chances of winning are so unlikely. I know they post great returns on big signs in lots of casinos, but in the long run how many big winners do you really know? How many people who win big one day actually lost way more than what they won if you were to tally up the days they didn’t win?

I have conflicted feelings about online gambling. The laws about online gambling are a bit confusing. Depending on how it is done some sites may be illegal and rules vary from state to state. One of my first objections was that it is available 24/7 but then so are casinos in Las Vegas and other locals so I guess that concern may be unfounded. More than that though my biggest worry is that people will overdo it. The same people who are susceptible to the lure of a big win in person are just as likely to hope for the big win online. In writing this I looked at some web sites that offer online gambling and they do manage to make it look fun. I guess if you are able to be realistic in your expectations and responsible in what you risk, playing online may be a good option for people who live far from a casino and still want to enjoy taking a chance. It may not be for me, but that doesn’t mean it might not be just right for someone else. One site that I looked at was VegasRed. It offered games like black jack, roulette and slots. I guess with a lot more people doing staycations rather than vacations this might be a way to visit a casino from home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks GIVEAWAY!

I'm hosting my second giveaway. This time for The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks courtesy of Hatchette Book Group.

The movie adaption hits theaters April 2, 2010. Miley Cyrus is a teen whose estranged father (Greg Kinnear) tries to reconnect with her through music

Product Description
Seventeen year old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alientated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.
The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels--first love, love between parents and children -- that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts...and heal them.

About the Author
Nicholas Sparks is the author of 15 books. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and children. You can visit the author's web site at www.

Reading Group Guide

Contest guidelines:
1. Leave a comment with a valid email address.
2. Have a US shipping address
3. Become a follower
4. Have fun!

Thanks for reading with me! Contest ends on February 5.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Alice I Have Been" by Melanie Benjamin

Product Details
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (January 12, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385344139
ISBN-13: 978-0385344135

Synopsis from Review
Melanie Benjamin on Alice I Have Been

For an author--at least, for an author like me--the single most important factor when writing a book is the protagonist’s voice. Who is she, what does she sound like, is she strong or weak? Headstrong or passive? If an author doesn’t have a clear vision in her head, writing a novel centering around this person is going to be very, very difficult.

Fortunately for me, I had a clear vision; so clear I could actually see it and read it myself. I was inspired to write Alice I Have Been after unexpectedly viewing a photographic exhibit called "Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll." Among the many photographs there, all taken by the man who wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, one stood out to me. It was of a young girl clad only in rags, but with an expression on her face that stopped me in my tracks. She was so adult, so frank, so worldly, as she gazed at the man behind the camera.

She was 7-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of Dean Henry Liddell of Christ Church, Oxford. It was to her that Lewis Carroll--or Charles Dodgson, as she knew him--told the story of a little girl who tumbled down a rabbit hole. She was the one who begged him to write it down.

I wondered what happened to her after she grew up; I wondered what happened between the two of them to result in such a startling photograph.

I wondered so much that I decided to write about it, write her story in her own "words"--although of course, with historical fiction, I got to make those words up. But she was my protagonist, and immediately the most important factor in writing this novel was known to me. For the girl in the photograph, and the girl in the classic books, were one and the same; they were my Alice, and I knew her voice, I knew who she was because of them. The wise yet wary face in the photograph, the unflappable voice of the girl in the books--all I had to do was capture it on the page.

My task, then, was to show that voice, that personality, maturing naturally through the years as she continued to try to leave Wonderland behind. But the difficult work was done for me, I truly believe, all because of the collaboration between two remarkable people--Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll. What happened between the two of them 150 years ago continues to fascinate and inspire. It gave the world Wonderland, after all--

And it gave me my heroine. Sometimes all you have to do is open your eyes and look around you for inspiration; look at a photograph, read a book. I’m so very glad that I did.--Melanie Benjamin

My thoughts:
I received Alice I Have Been from Pump Up Your Book Tours for review purposes. The description intrigued me and I was really interested in reading it. The book is also available in stores, as I saw it on the shelf at the library last week for checkout.

The premise of the book is that it is about the girl who Alice in Wonderland is based on and her life as she grows into adulthood. According to the notes from Melanie Benjamin at the end of the book she used what facts are available about Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson (who wrote as Lewis Carroll) and then added in her own fictionalization about their lives. Even the facts that are available were open to some interpretation.

As I read this book I felt a mounting sense of urgency to find out the secrets that were hinted at through out. Alice bounces around, she starts as a woman in her eighties who is thinking back on her childhood but at times she is at different stages of her life. Even though some things were revealed earlier in the story I still found myself hoping against evidence to the contrary that things would work out differently. When I finished the novel I was left with a lot of questions especially about Lewis Carroll and who he really was and what he was really like. I may need to look for a biography of him to learn some more.

This was a very intriguing premise for me, I loved the idea of a fictionalized account of real people based on known facts. I think it would be even more interesting to find out, if it is even possible, how close to true Benjamin’s account was.

There were times when I really liked Alice and her independent nature and times when I did not care for her. I don’t know if it was a product of the time but it seemed like an awful lot of the characters ended up going mad or insane, whether it was because they were creative types or from something else, it just seemed like a disproportionately large number. The big question I was left with is would it really be possible for it to take years to recognize love and how fast does life pass when we are busy focusing on the mundane?

About the author from her web page:
Melanie Benjamin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. An avid reader all her life--as a child, she was the proud winner, several years running, of the summer reading program at her local library--she still firmly believes that a lifetime of reading is the best education a writer can have.

While attending Indiana University--Purdue University at Indianapolis, Melanie performed in many community theater productions before meeting her husband, moving to the Chicago area and raising two sons. Writing was always beckoning, however, and soon she began writing for local magazines and newspapers before venturing into her first love, fiction.

By combining her passion for history and biography, she has found her niche writing historical fiction, concentrating on the "stories behind the stories." ALICE I HAVE BEEN is her first historical novel; she is currently at work on her second, also to be published by Delacorte Press.

She and her family still live in the Chicago area; when she's not writing, she's gardening, taking long walks, rooting for the Cubs--

And reading, of course.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Knit, Purl, Die" by Anne Canadeo

Product Details:
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Pocket; Original edition (December 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 141659812X
ISBN-13: 978-1416598121

Product Description from back cover of book:
Counting on each other...
Meet the Black Sheep knitters -- five smart, funny
women who love to knit, gossip, and solve crimes.

Gloria Sterling had it all -- money, looks, and a new sexy young husband. So when she's found floating face down in her own swimming pool, shock waves ripple through tiny Plum Harbor. At the Black Sheep Knitting Shop, Maggie Messina and her circle are devastated to lose their dear friend -- a woman as colorful as her fabulous yarn creations.

The police are quick to call it an accident, but sorting out Gloria's final hours leaves too many loose ends to satisfy her friends. The vivacious, fiftysomething cougar had her French manicured tips in more than a few pots, and the threads of some inside deals stashed in her chic knitting tote.

Who was the last person to see Gloria alive on that quiet summer night? Two empty wine glasses suggest she wasn't home alone knitting the entire evening.... The Black Sheep need to know the truth and set out to unravel -- stitch by stitch -- the weighty secrets that pulled poor Gloria under.

My thoughts:
I received Knit, Purl, Die from Pocket Books for review purposes. It is the second book in the Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series. I have not read the first book in the series but it is now on my TBR list. When I read the title and the synopsis I was intrigued by the concept and wanted to give it a try. Often times either a title or the cover art for a book jumps out at me which I guess makes me very susceptible to advertising or marketing.

I liked this close-knit group of women who are all friends and support one another. While the women see each other regularly during the week at Maggie’s knitting store they meet formally once a week at one of their homes for dinner and knitting. They share a common interest and are very invested in each others lives. This mystery involved the death of one of their friends when she was home alone at night knitting by her pool. She was found dead in her pool with both alcohol and medicine in her system and the police deemed it an accident, due to the drugs it was even rumored to be a suicide. At times during the novel the mystery even seemed to just be in the women’s heads, as if they didn’t want to believe that their friend might have been so troubled and not shared it with them.

The friends in this novel are Maggie, Phoebe, Dana, Lucy and Suzanne. Maggie owns a knitting shop in a small town by the beach, Phoebe lives above the store and works there, Lucy is a graphic designer who is recently divorces and works from her cottage, Dana is a counselor married to a lawyer, and Suzanne is a real estate agent married to a contractor. Most of the story is about the women and their meetings and lives, very little time is devoted to their husbands or boyfriend and outside interests. The main character of the five for this story was Lucy, but I wondered if the POV rotates between them in the stories because it seemed like with the first one Maggie might have been the central character.

Knitting has often appealed to me, I even tried to pick it up one time but didn’t really give it the effort that it deserved. I fully believe at some point I will try it again. Perhaps if I could find a way to knit and read at the same time I would be more inclined to learn it.

I really liked how the book ended with letters to the readers from each of the main characters as well as recipes. It added a nice homey touch to the book and made it seem more like you as the reader was a friend rather than a reader. Also I liked how the novel focused on their friendship and their shared experiences and showed how women can really support and be there for one another.

Other bloggers participating in the tour:
Knit, Purl, Die: January 20th
My Book Views:
Brizmus Blogs About Books:
Renee’s Reads:
Book Junkie:
Pam’s Private Reflections:
Starting Fresh:
Frugal Plus:
Books, Books Everywhere:
My Guilty Pleasures:
Just Another New Blog:
A Book Bloggers Diary:
Books Reviews by Buuklvr81:
Reading at the Beach:
Foreign Circus Library:
The Cajun Book Lady:
Red Headed Book Child:
Wendy’s Minding Spot:
Books, Movies & Chinese Food:
Pudgy Penguin Perusals:
Between the Pages:
Marta’s Meanderings:
Chaotic Book Obsession:
Savey Spender:
Libby’s Library News:
Books & Needlepoint:
Booksie’s Blog:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
I Read:
Bless Their Hearts Mom:
Steph the Bookworm:
Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews:
Book Dilettante:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Veracity" by Laura Bynum

Product Details

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439123349
ISBN-13: 978-1439123348

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Acquired: Received book as part of Pocket Books Blog tour for review purposes

Synopsis from
Harper Adams was six years old in 2012 when an act of viral terrorism wiped out one-half of the country's population. Out of the ashes rose a new government, the Confederation of the Willing, dedicated to maintaining order at any cost. The populace is controlled via government-sanctioned sex and drugs, a brutal police force known as the Blue Coats, and a device called the slate, a mandatory implant that monitors every word a person speaks. To utter a Red-Listed, forbidden word is to risk physical punishment or even death.
But there are those who resist. Guided by the fabled "Book of Noah," they are determined to shake the people from their apathy and ignorance, and are prepared to start a war in the name of freedom. The newest member of this resistance is Harper -- a woman driven by memories of a daughter lost, a daughter whose very name was erased by the Red List. And she possesses a power that could make her the underground warriors' ultimate weapon -- or the instrument of their destruction.

In the tradition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Laura Bynum has written an astonishing debut novel about a chilling, all-too-plausible future in which speech is a weapon and security comes at the highest price of all.

My thoughts:

I received Veracity as part of Pocket Books Blog Tours. At first I was a bit unsure about the book because I generally shy away from science fiction, but I really enjoyed this novel. It grabbed me right from the beginning and kept me wanting to read more up until the end. It may have appealed to me more because Harper, the main character, was a woman. I think some of the science fiction I have read in the past has had male main characters and I’ve had a more difficult time getting into them. The book reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire because the future that is portrayed is so controlled by the government. When I first started the novel the book it reminded me of was The Host by Stephanie Meyer, because of references to the future and a resistance movement.

It is hard to imagine a world without the freedoms that we enjoy today and the arts that we are accustomed to. Starting with the Pandemic in 2012 the government, for the protection of it’s citizens, starts monitoring all people with an electronic slate in their necks that records everything that is said by that person. Once again for the “protection” of all words are made Red Listed on a regular basis which means that to speak them will cause the person to be shocked by their slate and may lead to further punishment. Over the course of more than three decades thousands of words are lost as well as art, music, books and entertainment. There is one TV channel that just airs government news, no music, no books except how to manuals, no paper for writing, no movies. For entertainment there are bars and there are government sanctioned prostitutes. People do not choose their careers, the government places them where they believe they will do best. The police force, The Blue Coats, enforce very harsh and cruel punishments for offenses and there are no judges or juries. Worse still, since it has been this way for more than 30 years and many of the original population were killed off during the Pandemic, most people do not have any idea of what they are really missing.

Harper has special skills, she can see auras and travel without her body. She can see inside people and tell if they are sick, know their emotions from their colors and can sense answers to questions posed to them. She is a Monitor and is charged with watching files of people who use red listed words or get into other types of trouble with the government. She is recruited by the resistance to work with them to take down the current government.

Seeing all these people go through to fight for their freedom brought to mind some of my own questions about our current freedom and how much people in general may be taking it for granted. The book got me thinking and made this alternate reality very realistic and believable. I think Laura Bynum did a great job with this novel and I hope to see more books written by her in the future. I am very glad I had the chance to review this novel because on my own I am not sure that I would have come across this one.

About the author from her website :
Laura Bynum was born in Springfield, Illinois in 1968. Childhood plans to be a writer of novels and screenplays and a director of films are currently underway. Laura completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communications at the University of Illinois at Springfield and Eastern Illinois University respectively. She’s since done some filmmaking (Ugly Girl Productions) and marketing consulting. In 2006, Laura won the Rupert Hughes Literary Writing Award at the Maui Writer’s Conference. As a result, she was signed with the Writer’s House. Her Literary Agent is Dan Conaway and her Books to Film Agent is Sylvie Rabineau of Rabineau, Wachter, Sanford & Harris. Laura’s first novel, Veracity, is due out January of 2010. In the summer of 2008, while moving from Illinois to Virginia, Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer and has since been successfully treated.

Laura’s favorite books are both by Steinbeck- East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath. Her favorite song is Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. Her favorite movie is The Quiet Man. She lives with her husband and three daughters in a small Virginia town in the Shenandoah foothills and is currently writing her second novel and first full-length screenplay.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Upcoming reviews

Lately I have been doing a lot of reading, but plan to start posting my reviews again on Monday. I find that when I focus on one thing I don't have as much time for others. For a while it felt like I was spending a lot of time on my blog and reading other blogs and not as much time on reading as I wanted so I gave myself permission to devote some time to just reading, which is why I started the blog in the first place. Now that I have three books read and another almost done since my last review I am just about ready to jump back into writing reviews. I guess finding balance anywhere is tough! The books I plan to review next week are:

1. Veracity
2. Knit, Purl, Die
3. Alice I Have Been
4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Giveaway: Corked by Kathryn Borel

Meet Kathryn Borel, bon vivant and undutiful daughter. Now meet her father, Philippe, former chef, eccentric genius, and wine aficionado extraordinaire. Kathryn is like her father in every way but one: she's totally ignorant when it comes to wine. And although Philippe has devoted untold parenting hours to delivering impassioned oenological orations, she has managed to remain unenlightened. But after an accident and a death, Kathryn realizes that by shutting herself off to her father's greatest passion, she will never really know him.

5 people will win 1 copy of Corked!


-Only Residents of U.S. are eligable (sorry!)

-No P.O. Boxes

-You must be a follower and leave your email address so I can contact you

Contest will end February 2nd.

Winner will be chosen via and must reply within 48 hours with their mailing info or another winner will be chosen.

Thanks for entering. This is the first contest I am hosting and I am very excited to give it a try!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Big Brown Truck

Today UPS delivered four more books for me to read and review and it kind of felt a little bit like Christmas! I love sending and receiving mail and think of UPS and FedEx as mail that comes in a different truck. I used to have pen pals in school and we would send letters on neat stationery to each other. While I love how convenient email is and how easy it is to communicate via electronic sources, part of me misses the joy of snail mail. I am going to have to post what books I received today and since my last new book post tomorrow, as part of my new balancing idea I am trying to spend less time on the computer for a while and working to find the right amount of time to devote to each of the areas of my life. Right now I am reading "Eternal on Water" by Joseph Monninger for Barnes and Nobles First Look Book Club. While the main characters are kayaking down a river they meet a camp of girls who are spending a month on the river learning about nature. As part of the experience they are not allowed to take any electronic devices with them, no cell phones, no digital camera, no Ipods, etc and they are learning to appreciate nature and relationships. It reminded me of the hours I used to spend with my brother and sister playing in the backyard or riding our bikes with no technology and how carefree it seems from a distance.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins

My rating 4.5 out of 5
Where I acquired the book: borrowed from the library

Product Details
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439023491
ISBN-13: 978-0439023498

Synopsis from
Every year in Panem, the dystopic nation that exists where the U.S. used to be, the Capitol holds a televised tournament in which two teen "tributes" from each of the surrounding districts fight a gruesome battle to the death. In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the tributes from impoverished District Twelve, thwarted the Gamemakers, forcing them to let both teens survive. In this rabidly anticipated sequel, Katniss, again the narrator, returns home to find herself more the center of attention than ever. The sinister President Snow surprises her with a visit, and Katniss’s fear when Snow meets with her alone is both palpable and justified. Catching Fire is divided into three parts: Katniss and Peeta’s mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, preparations for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a truncated version of the Games themselves. Slower paced than its predecessor, this sequel explores the nation of Panem: its power structure, rumors of a secret district, and a spreading rebellion, ignited by Katniss and Peeta’s subversive victory. Katniss also deepens as a character. Though initially bewildered by the attention paid to her, she comes almost to embrace her status as the rebels’ symbolic leader. Though more of the story takes place outside the arena than within, this sequel has enough action to please Hunger Games fans and leaves enough questions tantalizingly unanswered for readers to be desperate for the next installment.

My thoughts:
It took me a few pages to get back into this story, which is the same thing that happened with "The Hunger Games" but once I was hooked I read the book over the course of a day. This time, surprisingly, I wasn't quite as full of questions at the end as I was at the end of the last one. I almost feel like I should have more questions, but for some reason I don't.

One thing I wonder about is the envelopes for the Quarter Quells that state what will make each 25th anniversary special or different from the regular Hunger Games. I am not altogether convinced that these were put together after the uprising and stored away. The envelopes perhaps but not necessarily what is inside of them. I really felt like President Snow might have put in the terms for this one as a punishment for Katnis and Peeta and for all the other winners. Maybe to show the people that they are never safe no matter what. I could feel Katnis's horror when she found out that she would have to be a part of the games again, especially with all of the nightmares she was still having. Also, I can't see how she will ever be able to make a choice between Peeta and Gale if it comes to a time when she is even in a position where a choice can be made. I was left feeling hopeful at the end of the story and will keep August in mind for the final installment of the series. I loved Cinna dress creation for Katnis for the interviews and wonder about his fate.

"What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: Read-Alouds to Get Ready for Kindergarten" Edited by E.D. Hirsh, Jr. and Linda Bevilacqua

My rating 4.5 out of 5
How I aquired the book: purchased at bookstore

Product Details:
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Delta (March 25, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385341989
ISBN-13: 978-0385341981

Synopsis from
Prepare your child for a lifetime of learning and wonder.

Designed for parents to enjoy with children, filled with opportunities for reading aloud and fostering curiosity, this beautifully illustrated read-aloud anthology offers preschoolers the fundamentals they need to prepare for a happy, productive time in school—and for the rest of their lives. Millions of children have benefited from the acclaimed Core Knowledge Series, developed in consultation with parents, educators, and the most distinguished developmental psychologists. In addition to valuable advice to parents, including what it means for a child to be ready for kindergarten, special sidebars throughout the book help parents make reading aloud fun and interactive, suggesting questions to ask, connections to make, and games to play to enrich their preschooler’s learning experience.


Favorite Poems and Rhymes—all beautifully illustrated. Read and recite together— from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “At the Seaside” to limericks by Edward Lear and tongue twisters by Jack Prelutsky, plus fun “clap along!” and “fingerplay” verses that parents and children can act out together.

Beloved Stories and Fables—read aloud from stories like “The Three Little Pigs” and the African folktale “Why Flies Buzz” —and open whole new worlds of learning and discovery.

Visual Arts—help your child appreciate and talk about art. Beautiful full-color reproductions of great works of art will foster early appreciation of art history while igniting discussions about shapes, colors, and different styles and media.

Music—dozens of songs to sing and dance to, including “move around” songs like “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “The Wheels on the Bus”

History—a delightful introduction to American history—from the first Thanksgiving to Martin Luther King, Jr., —with activities and stories parents and children can enjoy together

Science—from the wonder of animals to exploring physical properties of light, air, and water—fun activities that will let children observe, experience, and enjoy the natural world

My thoughts:
While I was browsing in the bookstore at our local mall that is going out of business this book jumped out at me. I already have two children in school and prior to being a stay at home mom I taught first and second grade for a number of years. I know what we were expecting for children to be ready for those grades and feel like I have a pretty good idea of what is expected to enter kindergarten, but I thought this might be a handy reference guide for fun activities to do with my three year old. I read through it last night and for the most part I like it. It has some fun poems and songs, most of which are familiar, with pictures and fingerplays to go with them. My three year old is love with the idea of school, but doesn't start going to preschool until the fall so we have been doing "school" at home. He asks to do "school" all the time so I thought having a few more ideas of would help me when I can't think of something. My daughter came home yesterday saying that they learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. at school and we flipped to the history section of the book to read what it said about him and discussed his life a little more. We have other books on our shelf about his life, but this was easier to find and flip through than searching for the other picture books. Especially for parents who aren't sure what schools are looking for in terms of readiness I can see this being a good guide. It has companiion workbooks but I didn't buy those, I may go back to see if they still have any but it isn't really a priority right now. I like that we can sing a silly song or read a poem and work on rhyming and motions and I can see my son having fun while learning some of the skills he will need to be a reader.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Twilight Video

Today is my branching out day, I'm trying something new. I saw this video on another bloggers site and it made me laugh so I am making my first attempt at posting a video on my blog. See what you think!


"Crossing the Bridge" by Michael Baron

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Product details:
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Story Plant, The (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981956815
ISBN-13: 978-0981956817

Synopsis from
Hugh Penders has been stuck in neutral for nearly a decade since his brother Chase died in a car accident. He carries with him two secrets that he has never been able to share with anyone: that he believes he might have been able to prevent the accident, and that he was deeply in love with Chase's girlfriend, Iris.
When Hugh's father suffers a debilitating heart attack, Hugh must return to the New England home he's been running away from for the past ten years. One day, he encounters Iris - who has long since moved away - on the street. They begin a friendship and Hugh believes he's falling in love with Iris all over again.

But the ghost of Chase haunts both of them. And when each reveals a truth the other never knew, their lives, their vision of Chase, and their chances for a future together will change forever.

Charged by the power of desire and the impact of loss, Crossing the Bridge is a soulful, romantic novel that will speak to you deeply.

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed the beginning of this story. It pulled me in and kept me interested. Hugh's feeling of being trapped, not only in his old home town but in his father's card shop, was portrayed very well. It was almost as if, since Chase never had the chance to continue on with his life that Hugh felt the need to curtail his own life. He never really moved forward all that much from the moment in time when his brother drove off of the bridge. I could see the different meanings as well with crossing a bridge. There was the literal bridge that Chase drove off of, there was the bridge to the future that Hugh didn't want to cross and the bridge to the past that meeting Iris and renewing their friendship showed. At times I got frustrated with Hugh, he was watching his father spend the day in his bathrobe afraid to even climb the stairs because of his heart attack. While he could see how stuck his father was without there being a real need for it, he didn't seem to recognize how stuck he himself was. The moving every year or so to a new job and a new relationship, his fear of developing anything long term or even really starting a career for no real reason. It was so similar to his father but he couldn't see it.

When Hugh and Iris renewed their friendship and spent time together I was glad because they both seemed to still be healing from Chase's death ten years before and they were helping each other. It was nice too to see Hugh start to develop some friendships and interests. Unfortunately towards the end of the middle it felt like the novel dragged a bit. I found myself not as keen about picking it up, but this might have been almost purposeful on the authors part to show us how stuck Hugh was with his perception of the past and his inability to go into the future. As the novel started to conclude and pieces started to fall into place I once again felt very engaged by the story. It was a satisfying story. In the end notes from the author he mentions that he is writing under an assumed name as he usually writes non-fiction which has made me curious about his other works. Along with this fiction novel he has another novel that was published prior to this and one that comes out in May. This book will be available tomorrow, January 5th, 2010.

Where the book came from: Received from the publisher for review. Thank you The Story Plant for the chance to read this novel.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Places people read

Since deciding that I want to make more time for exercise I've had a number of people suggest I try reading while on the treadmill. I tried it the other night and it just didn't quite work for me. I'm not sure if it would be easier with a different book, I had a mass market paperback in my hands, or if a magazine would be better. Perhaps not holding it but putting it on the machine itself would make it easier. Could be that my lighting is just not good enough by the treadmill, but the text jumped around too much. When I tried slowing down it still wasn't ideal for reading and then I felt like I would have to go for longer to make the workout count. Plus I remember reading an interview with some personal trainer in People Magazine who stated something along the lines that if you could read the magazine while working out you weren't working hard enough. All that said, a lot of people have told me that they read while walking or riding a bike so I know there must be a way to make it work. Years ago when I actually belonged to a gym I remember borrowing audio books from the library and listening to them while walking and that usually worked, although I had to turn them up to hear over the sound of the gym TV's. I'm toying with the idea of doing that again, but for now I usually use the time to catch up on something on TV or watch a movie.

I have a few friends who love to read in the bathtub and that I've never really gotten into either. The tub just doesn't seem like the most comfortable place to me and I'm always afraid I'll drop the book in the tub. That said when we owned a pool at our last house, and before we had children that needed to be watched very closely by a pool, I used to read both by and in the pool. We had a floating chair that I loved to sit on and read and I would also sit on the steps and read on really hot days. That was one of my favorite things to do during the hot summer months. There was only one occasion I can recall where I dropped my book in and it was a book I got a library sale for ten cents so I wasn't too heartbroken about it's loss. I never took library books by the pool though.

Anyone have a favorite unusual reading place or advice on how to read and work out at the same time? I'm all ears (or I guess eyes) if you do!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

In My Mailbox 7

This week I totally expanded my TBR pile. At our local mall our Waldenbooks is going out of business. They will be closing sometime this month and all of their inventory is 40-60% off. Also a local used bookstore has decided that they will be closing on January 23 so all of their inventory is $1 per book with a few exceptions. I went a bit overboard with my buying so now there is no way that I will run out of books to read anytime soon, although it wasn't really an issue before that I bought these new books either. I bought 36 books at the used bookstore and eight at the mall bookstore. To save time I am going to skip pictures of the covers and just list the books.

Christmas Anthologies
1. I'm Your Santa by Lori Foster et al.
2. A Stockingful of Joy by Mary Jo Putney et al
3. Jingle Bell Rock by Lori Foster et al

Paranormal Romance
4. The Hunted by L.A Banks
5. The Forsaken by L.A. Banks
6. Crime Seen by Victoria Laurie
7. A Vision of Murder by Victoria Laurie
8. Demons are a Ghoul Best Friend by Victoria Laurie
9. Abby Coopers Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie
10. Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband by Melissa Mayhue
11. Love Underground by Alicia Fields
12. Over Hexed by
13. Ain't Myth-Behaving by Katie MacAllister
14. Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
15. Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon
16. Born of Ice by Sherrilyn Kenyon
17. Phantom in the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
18. Playing with Fire by Gina Showalter
19. Killer Insight by Victoria Laurie

20. Witches' Spell-A-Day Almanac
21. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sugden
22. Pure Drivel by Steve Martin
23. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
24. Mockingbird by Charles J. Shields
25. If I am Dead or Missing by Janine Latus
26. Aruba: The Tragic Untold Story of Natalee Holloway and Corruption in Paradise by Dave Holloway
27. Motherhood and Hollywood by Patricai Heaton
28. Holiday in Your Heart by LeAnn Rimes and Tom Carter
29. Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
30. The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley

31. Mr. Knightly's Diary by Amanda Grange
32. The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street

Science Fiction
33. An Acceptable Time by Madelene L'Engle
34. A Wind in the Door by Madelene L'Engle
35. A Wrinkle In Time by Madelene L'Engle
36. Many Waters by Madelene L'Engle
37. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madelene L'Engle
38. Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Young Adult
39. Invitation Only by Kate Brian
40. Untouchable by Kate Brian
41. Confessions by Kate Brian

Diet and Exercise
42. The Biggest Loser Fitness Program
43. The Biggest Loser Success Secrets
44. The Biggest Loser: The weight-Loss Program to Transform Your Body, Health and Life

In The Mail:
Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Dark Slayer" by Christine Feehan

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
How this book came to me: borrowed from my sister in law

Product Details
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425229734
ISBN-13: 978-0425229736

Synopsis from
Even new readers daunted by 40 pages of appendixes and a two-page family tree will love the tender romance in the 20th installment of Feehan's Carpathians series. Benign blood-drinking Carpathians turn into evil vampires if they fail to find their destined life mates. Broken and left for dead after a family betrayal, Ivory Malinov gradually heals, becoming a loner and dedicated vampire slayer. Razvan's evil grandfather, the mage Xavier, forced him to commit unspeakable deeds against fellow Carpathians. Ivory discovers Razvan near death, and after realizing they are life mates, she nurses him back to health and they plot to combine forces and defeat Xavier. The slow-to-trust Ivory fights her growing feelings for Razvan, whose self-hatred juxtaposes brilliantly with his innate gentle nature. Fans looking for a departure from Feehan's usual alpha male heroes will enjoy this lengthy but powerful tale.

My thoughts:
I think I have read most if not all of the stories in Feehan's Dark series. I was lucky enough to read the first ones all in order and in a row so at that point it was easy to keep track of the characters. Now I am starting to mix up who is who and what makes each of them special. I appreciate the family tree mapping out the relationships at the beginning of the novel, but the community of Carpathians is so large now that at I stopped referring to it and just went with the flow. At the end of the last novel a few more female characters were introduced and with this one some ancient Carpathian male hunters were brought in so my guess is they will be featured in the next few novels. Each novel usually centers around one male and one female character who become lifemates and goes through not just their relationship but also whatever outside forces are coming against them, either vampires or mage, who want to destroy them.

It took a few starts for me to get into this story. The two main characters were both thought to be either dead or traitors to their people for years, centuries even, so their reappearance was kind of jarring. Ivory Malinov had been cut into pieces by vampires and scattered over the ground but did not die. Wolves put her bones all together and using Mother Earth's help she knit herself back together. I had some trouble with that whole concept, but once I got past it I enjoyed the story. At times I felt it was a bit repetitive how Feehan kept reminding us that Ivory was a loner and didn't trust easily. Razvan had truly seemed evil in the other books he was in so to see him as having been possessed and having had his body used by dark magic at first felt forced but then he started to seem real. As I was reading I was wondering how much further Feehan will be able to go with this series. If she is now resurrecting characters has it already run its course? I used to really look forward to the next book but this time I wasn't as excited about reading it. I felt a bit less excited for the last one too. I wonder if it is hard to let go of a series for an author if there is a large readership? Would if feel like you were letting your readers down? Do publishers pressure authors to keep going? Or does Feehan have an ultimate goal for the series that she is working towards? I know I will keep reading any future books that come out, I just wonder if the series will continue indefinitely and if it should.