Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Size Eight in a Size Zero World by Meredith Cagen

My thoughts:
The title of this book appealed to me. It sounded like it was going to be a funny read and it did not disappoint! I forgot the synopsis entirely from the time I requested the book from Bostick Communications and the time I read it, and one of the things I kept thinking was that it reminded me of Sex and the City. Not the book, while I own a copy I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, but the TV series. I have never lived in New York City and have to admit that, while I enjoy watching movies about it and reading books about it, I don't think it is a place I would want to live. I enjoy going there for day trips but I don't see it as being the right fit for me. It is fun to go in someone else's shoes for a while.

This book grabbed me right from the start. At the beginning of chapter one in italics it says, "When men were asked to identify women's ultimate fantasy, 97.8 percent said to have two men at once." Then there is as asterisk and a note to see end of the chapter. At the conclusion of chapter one the following is stated, "It appears that most men do not realize that in this fantasy one man is cooking and the other man is cleaning."

Lindsay is a working married mother of two who gets up at 5:30 every morning so she can go to gym before making her husband and children breakfast, walking the dog, putting the kids on the school bus, cleaning up the apartment and going to work. Lindsay's husband Grant refuses to help her at all or allow her to hire any outside help. He doesn't like to go out to eat or order in food but wants her to prepare all of it (including breakfast which reminded me of the 1950's- I feed my kids every day but on most days it is cereal, we save pancakes and such for a dinner treat because we just don't have enough time in the morning). He spends all his time either at work or online playing video games or surfing the Internet. Even when he wants to participate in the board for their apartment building he emails her the questions and expects her to go and report to him. He calls her multiple times at work but complains if she calls him. He has never been to one of his children's school functions and even the doorman isn't sure what he looks like.

Then she meets the man upstairs, whose name she never uses. This called to mind for me how Carrie in Sex and the City used "Big" or "Mr. Big" as the name of her love interest. The man is very attentive to her, makes her feel heard and important, is wonderful with her children. he charms her, asks her for a advice and becomes her friend. But even when she is spending time with him and having fun, taking on a new plan for her life where she loses weight and becomes more stylish, he always seems just a little bit too good. He dates models and goes to a lot of social functions. I started to wonder if anything he did was really genuine or because he had an ulterior motive. I don't want to say any more and risk spoiling it.

I had a lot of fun reading this and the pages just flew by. I discovered the authors signature on page 122 of my copy which made me wonder if there was a significance to the number 122. Was it part of her address, a goal weight or starting weight, number of rewrites(definite hope not), her lucky number or just a way to thank the reader for enjoying her work.

Size Eight in a Size Zero World: A Hilariously Provocative Book on Love, Life, Libido and Low-Fat Yogurt in New York City

Lindsay Chandler is a complicated woman caught in the shallow society of Manhattan's snooty Upper East Side social X-rays in this funny and deliciously naughty take on the boy-next-door story certain to appeal to the 21st century female.

The witty and inspirational novel follows the love-struck Lindsay, a multi-tasking,
working wife and mother, on an infatuation-turned-obsession for her upstairs neighbor - a man she recently met on the elevator. Hers is an aspiration filled with hope and wonder, warmth and wanton lust.

Life is perfect on the outside for Lindsay: Handsome attorney husband, two healthy children, friends, a job with flexibility and a beautiful New York City home. Then one day on the elevator of her posh luxury high-rise, she meets "The Man Upstairs," and becomes convinced that he is the perfect one. Her friends try to tell her, "Perfect men only exist in online dating profiles." Nonetheless determined not to become a member of the Lonely Wives Club, Lindsay devises Plan B, a practical strategy to change herself, maintain her new friendship and improve her life.

But can a girl who actually eats cheeseburgers with fries make this happen on the Upper East Side without counting calories? Readers of this book will discover the secrets of survival and the thrill and humor of falling in love in the most exciting city in the world, and perhaps come away from it with a Plan B for winning at life of their own.

In the tradition of Sex and the City, Bridget Jones's Diary and The Ivy Chronicles, Size Eight in a Size Zero World is the contemporary story of a good girl who is trying to do the right thing and the wrong thing at the same time, while remaining true to herself, whoever that is.

About the book:
Size Eight in a Size Zero World by Meredith Cagen
ISBN: 978-1440169748
Publisher: iUniverse
Date of publish: Nov 23, 2009
Pages: 340
S.R.P.: $19.95

About the author:
Accidental author Meredith Cagen, a New York City resident, has drawn on a storehouse of personal experience in writing this exciting, unpredictable, and yet believable, adventure in romance.

"My debut novel is fiction based on my reality as an Upper East Side working wife and mother. Surrounded by seemingly picture-perfect, double-processed blonde mannequins dressed in look-alike designer clothes, with their honor roll children and bland husbands who lead extraordinary lives, I found myself wondering whether 'having it all' means giving up the most important thing: your uniqueness.

I have become an unofficial commentator on lifestyles while observing this search for personal perfection in a world devoid of passion. Where else do women compete to
position themselves with such vicious intensity?"

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tempt Me If You Can by Janet Chapman

My thoughts:

Tempt Me If You Can is the second book in Janet Chapman’s series about the Sinclair family. I don’t know how many books she plans to have as she only has one brother left but with her highlander series she ended up moving on to the children of the highlanders so the series could go for a while. I vaguely recall reading The Man Must Marry, which was book one, but didn’t really recall any of the details until pretty far into this novel when the plot of the last one was mentioned. Not having read the first book won’t hamper your enjoyment of this one, but I do wish she had reviewed the last one a bit sooner because I spent a lot of time trying to remember what happened in the last one.

In this book Benjamin Sinclair gets a mysterious letter telling him he has a fifteen year old son he has never met and knew nothing about. He hires a private detective and discovers that the claim in the letter is true. He travels from New York to Maine to get to know his son in disguise and discovers that the town still blames him for an explosion that occurred and killed a man, his son’s grandfather, when he was in town with an environmental group. During the course of getting to know his son and the aunt who is raising him, as his mother disappeared ten years ago and has not been heard from since, he finds himself being drawn to Emma who has been raising his son Michael since she was 19 or 20 years old. Along with the romance between these two there are also a couple of mysteries. What happened to Kelly and why has she never contacted her sister or her son? Who blew up the dam that killed Kelly and Emma's father? What are the strange coordinates found in one man's room for? By the end of the novel these things are resolved.

I enjoyed this book. Janet Chapman is a resident of Maine and each of her books that I have read have been set there. She makes it sound like such a beautiful place. Each time I read one I am left thinking it would be a nice place to visit. The state is very large and not very populated and has both coasts and beaches and large forests and mountains. Lately it seems I’ve read quite a few books set in Maine, maybe the universe is trying to tell me something! I received this book as part of Pocket Books Blog tours for review purposes.

Product Details
Pub. Date: February 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 368pp
ISBN-13: 9781416595441
ISBN: 1416595449


When an anonymous letter stuns shipping magnate and confirmed bachelor Ben Sinclair with the news that he has a teenage son, he's determined to make good on the past. But Emma Sands doesn't trust him. The beautiful, fiery blonde has raised her nephew in the peaceful woods of Maine since he was five, and just because fifteen-year-old Michael is the spitting image of his tall, handsome father doesn't give Ben the right to march in and change their lives forever. Or so she thinks, until his return mysteriously unearths a dangerous small-town secret. With Michael's help, Ben will do whatever it takes to prove to fiercely independent Emma that he can be the fearless protector she never knew she wanted...and the passionate lover she always thought she could resist.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Summer of the Sea Serpent: Merlin Mission #31 Mary Pope Osborne

Summer of the Sea Serpent: Merlin Mission #31

For a little while now we haven’t read any Magic Tree House books, but last week my son brought this one home from the library at his school and this week he brought home another one so I guess he is ready to read more of them! I’m glad because this is a series I can really get into and that I enjoy with them, more so than some of the other chapter books they’ve self selected at library. If you are unfamiliar with the characters there is a prologue to help you jump in, but basically Jack and Annie are a brother and sister from Frog Creek Pennsylvania who find a magical tree house in the woods by their house. They find that they can wish to go places from books that are in the tree and in each place they learn something or go on a mission for either Morgan Le Fee or Merlin to find or help someone. We read the first 24 books in order but have skipped around through the rest, but that doesn’t seem to bother my children at all and it is easy to find where they are as each book is separate from the others. I would be more inclined to read them in order but that may just be my grown up sense of order!

In this book they go to a time before Camelot to save the Sword of Light so Arthur can later use it. They encounter a sea knight (a knight who rides a half horse/half water animal), selkies (people who are people on land and put on seal skins to be seals in the sea), a sea serpent and a spider queen. Using a riddle written by Merlin they navigate their way through this fantasy place to retrieve the sword for Merlin. They get the chance to become selkies and fight a sea serpent. This really held my children’s attention and was really well paced. I recommend this series to just about everyone, I've used it since I taught first and second grade. I look forward to finishing our book for this week as well. Check it out if you have kids!

Product Details

Pub. Date: March 2004
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Format: Hardcover, 128pp
Age Range: 6 to 9
Series: Magic Tree House Series, #31
ISBN-13: 9780375827358
ISBN: 0375827358


Jack and Annie are off on another mythical mission at the request of Merlin the magician. Luckily, they have a young sorcerer, Teddy, to help them. From underwater caves to a Spider Queen, from mystical selkies to a magical sword, this is a Magic Tree House adventure kids won’t want to miss!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Is there a monster over there? by Sally O. Lee

My thoughts:

My daughter is convinced that there are monsters under her bed so I was excited to read this book and share it with her. Mabel is scared of monsters and hides from one until she decides that he might not be scary at all. She finds out that the monster is just as afraid of her and she is of it. So they play together and have a tea party. I really liked the font that was used for the text, it is called furry monster and it really fit with the story and added to it. The name of the font reminded me of Sesame Street, I think there might even be a monster named that but I always get their names mixed up- I think Harry Monster is one of their best names! Once Mabel and the monster started playing together and having their tea party there was very little text and mostly illustrations. This section of the book reminded me of Where the Wild Things Are, when Max and the monsters are having their wild rumpus (love that line!).

This was just the right book for me to share with my monster shy child. It really helped deal with some of her fears. We tried reading Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed but it ended up making her more sure there were monsters since Junie B.’s friend gets rid of hers by vacuuming it up and putting it in a trash compactor. This was much better because it took the scary element away and made it so even if a monster was real it would be friendly and not mean. I can see kids, and parents, really appreciating the message of this book. My children also really enjoyed the illustrations.

Book Description:
Enchanting Picture Book Teaches Children how to face their fears no matter what they are.

"Is there a monster over there?" tells the story of Mabel who is afraid of monsters. She thinks they are lurking under her bed or behind the door. One day she decides to face the monster and learns some wonderful lessons about facing her fears.

Award-winning Author Sally Lee celebrates writing and illustrating with her twenty third children's book about learning how to face your fears whatever they may be.

Lee's "Is there a monster over there?" tells the story of Mabel who thinks monsters are lurking behind every corner. Along with her cat, Tiffany, Mabel builds forts to protect her from them. One day, she wonders if maybe they aren't so scary after all and may be just like her. She faces her fears and learns some very important lessons.

When asked what inspired Lee to write this particular story, she said, "Every kid has fears. And usually they lurk under their bed, or in their closet, or maybe it's a person or place. This book teaches kids to face their fears head on and the result is usually very positive and empowering."

Children will appreciate that fears are not uncommon or unusual in "Is there a monster over there?" and parents will appreciate and welcome a story that teaches this with colorful pictures depicting monsters, scary emotions, and happy endings.

"I really enjoy writing and illustrating kid's books. It uses all my talents, and I like that. I have many more ideas so I think I will be writing and illustrating many more books." says Lee.

About the book:

Is there a monster over there? By Sally O. Lee

ISBN: 978-1450531023

Publisher: CreateSpace

Date of publish: Feb 13, 2010

Pages: 36

S.R.P.: $17.99

About the author:

Sally O. Lee earned her BA in Studio Art and Art History (with Distinction) from Colby College and then went on to study graphic design and painting in Boston (Art Institute of Boston) and in New York City (New York Studio School). She has had several shows of her work and received an art grant from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conceive and create a series of paintings, and from this came her 2002 exhibition- A Journey Into Abstraction. Some of Ms. Lee's paintings are in various private collections in the US.

In recent years, Ms. Lee has begun to write and illustrate children's books. Some of them deal with the struggles of living with some form of handicap...or, as the author prefers to call it, imperfection. Many of her illustrations have been published and she has earned both academic and public recognition for her important work in children's books. She has had illustrations published in Worldlink Magazine, IEEE Magazine, and several other publications.

Sally lives and works in Massachusetts. Sally Lee writes "My children's books are an extension of my work as a painter. Writing is a new addition for me, and I am enjoying it very much. And creating the illustrations is a perfect way to continue my painting in a new direction and a nice way to complement my writing. I hope to write and illustrate many more".

Friday, March 26, 2010

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs


A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart.
Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.
My thoughts:
I love books about Scotland. I think one of the first I stumbled upon was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon about ten years ago. Since then it is one of my favorite places to visit in books. I would love to one day go there but so far I've just used my imagination, less jet lag that way I guess! I read books set both in current years and set centuries ago, it just depends upon my mood!
This book is part of a blog tour and I was very happy to take part in it. It was very interesting to read about how Lowlanders in Scotland viewed the Highlander who were siding with Prince Charlie at the time of the uprising in 1745. I have read other books set in this time and conflict but realized as I read this that they were all set in the Highlands. Elizabeth is a Highlander who fled the advances of an older man by coming to Edinburgh to attend school and then married a lord and remained there as his wife with his mother and brother. It was hard for me to read about how Elizabeth's mother in law never really accepted her because of her background and her different accent and ways of doing things. Marjory much favored her other daughter-in-law, Janet, who she handpicked for her younger son. It was easy to see Elizabeth's loneliness even as part of the household and how much she held back of herself in an attempt to fit in.
Since this book is set in a historical time period for which the outcome is already known there weren't surprises in that regard, but in how the characters cope with what life deals out to them there were surprises. To see how they react to infidelity and loss of wealth shows who they are beneath the mask they show to society.
This was a very enjoyable read and I found myself routing for the rebel army even knowing what was to come! This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah. You can purchase the book by going here: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781400070015

Author Bio:

LIZ CURTIS HIGGS is the author of twenty-seven books with three million copies in print, including: her best-selling historical novels, Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Christy Award-winner Whence Came a Prince, and Grace in Thine Eyes, a Christy Award finalist; My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland, an armchair travel guide to Galloway; and her contemporary novels, Mixed Signals, a Rita Award finalist, and Bookends, a Christy Award finalist. Visit the author’s extensive website at http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/.
You can view the trailor for the book here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2nPMBA_rgM (I really need to learn how to embed better- anyone with suggestions please leave them in the comments, sometimes I feel so far for being tech savvy!)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bailey's Day by Robert Haggerty

Product Details
Pub. Date: January 2010
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Format: Paperback, 46pp
ISBN-13: 9781432745509
ISBN: 1432745506

Did you ever wonder what your dog does when you go to work? This is a children's book which tells the story of Bailey, a pointer, and what she does after her owner goes to work. Bailey is the narrator of the story, and tells of the adventures she goes on when her dad, a mailman, is gone for the day.

The book has illustrations and actual photos of Bailey on her adventures. She is quite a character.

My thoughts:
I received this book from Bostick Communications for review purposes, but I requested it because of my children and especially my daughter's love of dogs. I really thought it was a book she would enjoy reading and that I would enjoy sharing with her and I was not wrong.

Bailey is owned by a mail carrier in Arizona. Every day when her owner, or dad as she refers to him, goes to work she and her neighbor Frankie (who is a Dachshund who looks like a hot dog, thus the name) go exploring. They swim in the pool, eat tacos from a traveling vendor (in what we used to refer to in Las Vegas a a Roach Coach), see wild animals at the wash and then try to get home before her owner.

A nice touch at the end of this book was the photos of the authors own dog of the same name. It added something to the story to see that he wrote it about and for his own pet.

My husband and I lived for a number of years in Nevada and were dog owners. I recall writing my own story about them one summer. It was an unpublished story and is now lost among our boxes of things that have been moved multiple times since then. From reading this story I could feel how Bailey is a member of this family and is loved very much. My children enjoyed hearing about the adventures and seeing the illustrations and especially the photos of the real dog.

My one criticism of the book is that all the text is done in capital letters. As an elementary teacher this is something that bothers me especially from my time working with young and beginning readers. I'd much rather see the text done the way it is taught and that would make this book easier for children to read to themselves.

My son's school is doing a basket bingo event next month and his grade was asked to bring in donations of books to use as prizes. We made sure to be very careful when we read this book so that we could send it along to his school to be included as one of the prizes. This was another child's family will get to enjoy it as well!

Robert Haggerty has been a mailman for more than twenty years. This is his first children's book. Haggerty lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can find out more about the book and author at http://outskirtspress.com/Bailey

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Her Last Chance by Michele Albert

Product Details
Pub. Date: February 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 368pp
ISBN-13: 9781416531401
ISBN: 1416531408



Compelled to leave the Dallas police force after killing a convicted rapist in a dark alley, tough and sexy Claudia Cruz becomes an operative with Avalon, a clandestine organization of mercenaries who recover stolen art. But her new career choice pits her against the darkly intense FBI agent Vincent DeLuca, who is determined that this time, Avalon is not going to beat out the Feds.


While Claudia seethes about this irritating man who gives as good as he gets, Vincent is discovering there's a fine line between love and hate. And though Claudia is willing to use their crazy-hot attraction to achieve her goals, she never intended they'd end up in bed together. She's always lived on the edge and flirted with danger...but this time the worst danger may be to her heart.

My thoughts:
I received this book from Pocket Books as part of the Pocket Books Blog Tour. It is the second book in a series. I had not read the first one and that did not hinder my enjoyment of this one in any way.

Both Claudia and Vincent were very strong characters who are both working on finding the thieves responsible for stealing artwork from galleries and stores. Vincent is a member of the FBI's art crime unit and Claudia works for a private company. While they seem to hate each other at first they find that by working together they are able to put together the pieces more efficiently, and of course it gives them a chance to explore the attraction they feel for one another!

The mystery elements of this book were well done and the thieves responsible for the crimes slowly become more clear. As they investigate further they find out motives they hadn't even imagined. In the background of this story are also other members of Avalon. I think the one couple were probably the focus of book 1 of the Avalon series and I have an idea who will be featured in the second one but I guess I will have to wait and see.

I was unfamiliar with Michele Albert prior to reading this book but I am glad that I have discovered her work. My TBR list just keeps on growing!


Michele Albert is the author of One Way Out (available from Pocket Books), Off Limits, and Getting Her Man, which was nominated for Best Mainstream Novel by Romantic Times, who praised it as "sexy, sassy, and exciting" romantic suspense. She holds a degree in classical archaeology from the University of Michigan, and pursued the field until switching gears to become a full-time novelist. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron

Product Details
Pub. Date: May 2010
ISBN-13: 9780312558468


Set in the wilds of Maine, this is an explosive tale of an estranged son thrust into the hunt for a murderous fugitive—-his own father.

Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father, Jack, a hard-drinking womanizer who makes his living poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: They are searching for the man who killed a beloved local cop the night before—-and his father is their prime suspect. Jack has escaped from police custody, and only Mike believes that his tormented father might not be guilty.

Now, alienated from the woman he loves, shunned by colleagues who have no sympathy for the suspected cop killer, Mike must come to terms with his haunted past. He knows firsthand Jack’s brutality, but is the man capable of murder? Desperate and alone, Mike strikes up an uneasy alliance with a retired warden pilot, and together the two men journey deep into the Maine wilderness in search of a runaway fugitive. There they meet a beautiful woman who claims to be Jack’s mistress but who seems to be guarding a more dangerous secret. The only way for Mike to save his father now is to find the real killer—-which could mean putting everyone he loves in the line of fire.

The Poacher’s Son is a sterling debut of literary suspense. Taut and engrossing, it represents the first in a series featuring Mike Bowditch.

My thoughts:
I received this book as part of Barnes and Nobles First Look Book Club. This was the sixth First Look I have participated in and I highly recommend the experience to anyone who loves to read and discuss books. It is really hard for me to make actual face to face book clubs for a variety of reasons, but since I can do these online and discuss the book with lots of different readers through posts it really adds to the story for me. Other readers will point out things I missed or connections are made through reading the thoughts of others.

This is the first book in a series about Mike Bowditch, a game warden for the state of Maine. I felt like the woods and lakes were described so well they were almost characters in the story. Oddly I've read quite a few books set in Maine lately but I have never been there myself. I guess I am vacationing from my couch at home!

Mike has an estranged relationship with his father, his parents divorced when he was nine and he spent most of his time with his mother and his step-father. While he did seek out opportunities to spend more time with his father, rarely did his father seek him out. Through a series of reminisces we see what his life was like at the times he was with his father and a picture of Jack Bowditch starts to emerge. It is ironic that Mike became a game warden since his father was a life long poacher.

The story unfolds in a very engrossing manner, at the end of each chapter I wanted to go on to the next to see what would happen next. Mike is so convinced that his father is innocent of the crime he is accused of and does everything he can think of to prove his father's innocence. He alienates all the people in his life who care about him, from his girlfriend to his boss to his fellow warden and mentor. I can't wait to see what Mike encounters in his next adventure!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Demon Possessed by Stacia Kane

Product Details
Pub. Date: February 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 336pp
ISBN-13: 9781439167618
ISBN: 1439167613


Psychologist and psychic Megan Chase has grown remarkably comfortable hanging out with demons. The demon "family" she leads is happy, her solo practice is stabilizing, and she and her steamy demon lover, Greyson Dante, are closer than ever. But when the couple books a week at a luxury hotel to attend a meeting of demon leaders, some unanticipated problems appear. An FBI agent with an unhealthy interest in less-than-legitimate demon business practices shows up; the demon community is urging Megan to undergo the rite that will make her a real demon; and a slightly shady minister is holding one of his wildly popular "weekend exorcisms" just down the road. And oh, yes, someone with scary magical abilities is attempting to kill her. Then, just when it seems as if things couldn't possibly get any worse, a secret comes to light that could jeopardize Megan and Greyson's future — if Megan manages to live that long. With things heating up, it's becoming difficult for her to keep a cool head...

My thoughts:

I received this book as part of Pocket Books Sci-Fi Blog tours. It is the third in a series but I had not read the prior books. Even having not read the other books I had no trouble following this story and enjoying it. Enough referencing was made to what had happened before that I did not feel like I was missing vital information.

Megan is a part human part demon woman who is the Gretneg for a group of small demons that live with humans and receive their sustenance from emotions,especially negative emotions, that the people around them are feeling. She is dating a fire demon who looks human and works as an attorney. Her best friends are a witch and a cop and she works as a psychological counselor and hosts a radio show. Most humans are unaware that there are demons living among them. Along with demons and witches we also meet another magical being (don't want to spoil the surprise for other readers).

I am somewhat new to the sci-fi genre. I never approached it too much when I was younger because the books seemed to be more geared towards male readers and that prejudice on my part remained for years. I am finding a lot of interesting reads that are categorized as such. I can't say if they appeal to me because of having female lead characters, I do think that is part of it, but I also think it is because they are different than my usual reading that they are more appealing. I tend to be more surprised while reading them.

I enjoyed the relationship between Megan and Greyson. I did get a bit confused with some of the made up terms for the groups of demons and their social hierarchy, but I didn't dwell on them. The writing was fast paced and it read very quickly, so it is good for a vacation read or something to relax with at the end of the day. The tension and issues were believable (as long as you were going along with the whole demon idea) and the characters seemed real. I am going to be adding the first two books to my TBR list and will keep an eye out for other books by Kane. I would like to see what becomes of these two in the next installment as well!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Synopsis from Barnes and Nobel

One last battle against evil, one final journey to the magical land of Narnia. When evil comes to Narnia, Jill and Eustace help fight the great last battle and Aslan leads his people to a glorious new paradise. With Eustace and Jill at his side, the King, the noble unicorn Jewel, and a few remaining loyal subjects must stand fast against the powers of evil and darkness and fight The Last Battle to decide the future of this once glorious kingdom.

My thoughts:
It is official, I have finished listening to The Chronicles of Narnia. I’m going to be careful with this review because I don’t want to give away anything to readers who haven’t read it. My children and I have now listened to all seven of the books in this series. We listen in the car. For anyone who has problems with their children fighting in the car I highly recommend audio books. We started listening last school year and it carried over through the summer. My kids love to hear the stories and get so frustrated if they miss a chapter.

In this final installment there is an ape names Shift who tricks a donkey named Puzzle into dressing up in a lion skin they found floating in a river. He then uses the donkey, having him stand in for Aslan, and he works with the Calormenes to enslave the talking beasts of Narnia. The final king of Narnia calls on Aslan and the children from the other world to come to his aid and Jill and Eustace return to Narnia to render aid.

This is harder than I though because a big part is what happens to end the series and Narnia. I was impressed with how my children understood what had happened to the children and where they were at the end of it all. They were most sad for Susan as she had decided she was too grown up for stories and nonsense about Narnia and she missed out and will be alone. I think I will revisit these books in a few years with my children to see how their views may change as they get older. Now we need to decide what to listen to next. I am listening to The Swan Thieves but it isn’t something I want to listen to with them as I don’t know all of what might happen.

While I enjoyed the story there was a part that bothered me. The Calormenes are described as having dark skin and worshipping their god Tash who has an eagle head and four arms above his head. At one point one of the dwarves, who have decided that they are not siding with either the Calormenes or Narnians but are going to be just for themselves, take turns taunting each side. When they taunt the Calormenes they call them "darkies" which seemed wrong to me. I almost wanted to fastforward over those scenes because I didn't want my children hearing that. I resisted my urge and they didn't even notice it, so maybe making a big deal about it would have made it worse, but for anyone listening with children I wanted to point that part out.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Product Details

  • Pub. Date: May 2001
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback, 304pp


For years, Charlaine Harris has delighted fans with her mystery series featuring small-town waitress-turned-paranormal sleuth Sookie Stackhouse.

And with HBO launching an all-new show, True Blood, based on the Southern Vampire novels, the demand for Charlaine Harris and Sookie Stackhouse will be bigger than ever.

My thoughts:

I recently started watching the first season of True Blood and I had wanted to have this book read prior to starting it, but with all my other commitments I didn’t get around to starting it until I was almost done with the season. It was hard for me to get into at the beginning because it was so similar to the show I felt like I already knew what was going to happen, but as I got further into the book I started to enjoy it a lot more. I can’t wait to finish up some more of the books I have agreed to review so that I can read the second book in the series.

Since I had already watched the show I had all the actors from the HBO series in my head and wasn’t really able to develop my own faces for them. I appreciate that the show tried to stay with the book pretty well. I have also been watching The Vampire Diaries and that one is so different than the books that it can be a bit frustrating to watch. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t follow the book exactly, but most of it is very similar. I am wondering if the character Tara, who is Sookie’s best friend on the series but does not exist in the book, was put in to make the show more diverse and to compensate for some of the characters who got cut out.

I liked Sookie and probably would not have guessed who the killer was in the book, in the series I think it is even less obvious, but my husband had read the book before me and he let it slip. He is terrible with things like that, he likes to know surprises in books and movies ahead of time whereas I like to see it happen on my own. It doesn’t ruin it for me, but I am less likely to read or watch something if I already know all the twists. For me that is part of the enjoyment. I still have two episodes to go for season one and then season two doesn’t come out until this spring. Maybe I’ll make time before that to read the next book!


Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Charlaine Harris is best known for her paranormal mysteries -- a sly, wry blend of humor, horror, that has been called "cozies with teeth."

Beautiful Blogger Award

I want to say "Thank you" to Melissa at Spellbound by Books for the Beautiful Blogger Award.

Here are the rules:

Thank and link to the person that gave you the award.
Pass this award onto 15 bloggers you've recently discovered and think are fantastic
Contact said Blogs and let them know they've won
State 7 things about yourself

Here are 15 blogs I've recently discovered:

A Mom Money and More

Moms Mutterings

Fang-tastic Books

Book Crazy

Hilary Wagner

Jessicas Vision

The Door to Wonderland

Tweezle Reads

Tina's Book Reviews

Giveaway Girl

Sometimes Love is Worth Risking Your Neck

One ARC Tours

Book Magic

Kelly at Home

At Home with Books

7 things about me:
1. I love books and everything about them, it doesn't matter if they are old or new.
2. I enjoy spending time in nature.
3. My laundry seems to be a never ending mountain, even when I finish and put it all away in the morning by evening the hamper is almost full again.
4. I spend most days wearing jeans and t-shirts.
5. When I was little I didn't like icing but now I love it.
6. My favorite place to go on vacation is to the beach.
7. I love to snack and read even though it isn't a smart idea!

Monday, March 8, 2010

How to Never Look Fat Again by Charla Krupp

Product Details
Pub. Date: March 2010
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 253pp

The new groundbreaking style-guide from bestseller author Charla Krupp on how to look 10 pounds lighter, 10 years younger and 10 times sexier every day, all year--in summer, winter, at the gym, even in a swimsuit!

You'll never get dressed the same way again once you discover:

*smart, easy ways to hide arm flap, a big bust, a muffin top, back fat, Buddha belly, a big booty, wide hips, thunder thighs, and heavy calves-and that's only half the book.

*which fabrics, colors, and styles make women look fat

*absolutely the best shades, shapes, and brilliant buys to make the pounds invisible

*clever solutions for special fashion situations--workout gear, evening wear, and even swimsuits!

*which products, fashions, and services you shouldn't waste your money on

*the top ten tips that will make you look thinner by tonight!

So, if you've ever put on a piece of clothing and asked "Does this make me look fat?" Finally, here is the book that will answer your question.

My thoughts:
How to Never Look Fat Again is so much more comprehensive than I was expecting. I hadn’t realized it was a follow-up book to another one entitled How Not to Look Old. While we all want to look good there are some simple mistakes women can make on an everyday basis that can make us look heavier and looking heavier even a little can affect a woman’s ability to get a better job or receive raises. She does qualify that this book is geared for women who are in their normal weight range or slightly overweight, not for anyone who is obese.

Krupp includes a list of clothing and fabrics that she considers high-fat, low-fat and no-fat as well as a quiz for the reader to use to see how the current clothes she has in her closet fit into this rating system. I have to admit I was a bit overwhelmed when I started chapter one and it was asking if your face shape, hair, or make-up was making you look fat. But the common sense is there and I skimmed areas that didn’t pertain to me. For example, while not having bangs might add weight to my face I can’t stand them, they drive me nuts, so I will take any extra weight it adds for me to be comfortable.

I did like her pages of vows of what not to do. Reminders about not parting hair in the middle or dying hair black or wearing cutesy hair accessories jumped out at me. Plus I like the swap outs in each chapter suggesting that instead of one thing you do another similar but slimming thing instead, like instead of a boat neck you try a scoop neck to elongate your neck. Also the use of the same model showing do’s and don’ts make more of an impression than just reading about it. Seeing someone making different choices and looking much slimmer was eye opening.

One trick I’ve seen before but have to admit needs repeating is get sized for a new bra in the correct size and make sure it is supportive enough. By making your midsection as long as possible (by having your breasts in the right place not down at your elbows) makes a big difference. I see this all the time when out in public and it is something I am very conscious of. One thing I disagree on is putting jeans in the dryer. I love my jeans when they are first washed because that is when they fit the best, by the end of the day they have stretched out again and I can’t wait to wear them from the dryer again. Because of that I try to buy them a little longer than I need so they have room to shrink.

One of her reminder messages to all of us is that as we age we can no longer eat as much as we could when we were younger. It is so hard to get used to eating less though. She tells her own story of how she used to be able to use the Weight Watchers plan and with 18 points a day she could easily drop extra weight, but she recently discovered that that plan wasn’t working for her anymore. When she saw her weight Watcher coach she found out that 18 points was now too many and that she needed less. This is particularly hard with eating out because at restaurants the portion of food is so much more than most of us need, but hard to resist when it is sitting on the table in front of us especially when you are socializing and not as focused on the food.

My favorite part of the book was at the end. While I know I should go through my closet and remove clothes that aren’t flattering I am a bit too frugal to do it all at once. I tend to wear things until they wear out (last month I finally threw away a pair of jeans that had a hole in one back pocket, a hole in one front pocket, and a hole in the knee. What landed them in the trash was that when I was folding them the button from the front fell off, at which point I decided they were beyond repair!). That said, I am going to be more selective next time I go through my closet and weed out more items that I rarely wear because I don’t like how they look. Back to the book though, she gives ideas for what to do with your cast offs (eBay, clothing swap, donate) and then 37 tips to be thinner. Who knew putting cinnamon on things helps to burn calories? I am making better choices at the grocery store, I keep walking to the pantry to find chocolate or chips but they are no longer there, so I am able to stop myself from eating them simply by not having them available.

I think I will be using her tips as I add new clothes to my wardrobe and as I decide what to discard from what I own, but I do not plan on replacing everything even if it isn't the most flattering. I wore a sweater today that probably made me look heavier than I am but that for some reason I just love. Since I really like it I am willing to look less than my best to enjoy wearing it, that balances out any negatives about it's appearance for me!


Charla Krupp has done more than 100 style segments on The Today Show and she has appeared on Good Morning America, Oprah, The View, Dateline NBC, and has been a regular on The E! Channel and Home Shopping Network. She was beauty director of Glamour, editor of In Style, beauty editor for People's Style Watch and executive editor of Shop Etc. Magazine. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, InStyle, Glamour, Shop Etc., People, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and Time.

Book details: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780446563956.htm

Excerpt: http://software.newsstand.com/bookrdr/hbg-live/BookBrowse.html?a=0U%2F1d9f4lZWEKnI3ui%2Fbuv2EE12V7wnaMtjPCXF5XXlFdAoq1a9CciorpvSARCliWfzn8G8W6wdSVPUefqOK487wwOe4LsmB2asdMzJtAYs7TVOtxvsdUMQX0YrFB0VZ&z=hbg

Video: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/_swf/hbgusa_lightwindowFlvPlayer.swf?quickStart=true&swfPath=/_swf/hbgusa_lightwindowFlvPlayer.swf&flvPath=/_swf/video/adults/HowtoNeverLookFatAgain.flv&titleCard=&=&

Author Website: http://charlakrupp.com/content/index.asp

Twitter: http://twitter.com/charlakrupp

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/HOW-TO-NEVER-LOOK-FAT-AGAIN-CHARLA-KRUPP/289932520885?ref=ts

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vegas Attractions

Even though we are starting to feel spring in the air, I still feel a little jealous when I read friends posts on Facebook about Las Vegas. Yesterday I took my children to our local zoo for a birthday party for two of their otters. It was so nice to be outside and not freezing, but when I read the paper and look at the weather and temperature in Las Vegas I remember how much more we were able to do outside at this time of year when we lived there. The Vegas Attractions offer a lot of options for both indoor and outdoor activities.

There were a lot of mornings when we first relocated to the east coast where I would wake up considering taking my children to one of the local attractions that were no longer local to us. One of our favorites was Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. It was so great to go to the pools where you could reach in and touch some sea animals, but my favorite part was the large exhibit at the end where it looked like you were in a sunken ship and through the windows to the sides, above and below you could watch sharks and other ocean animals swimming around. At times it felt like they were a bit too close it was so realistic!

Some other vegas_attractions that we enjoyed were the dancing fountains at the Bellagio. The way the water is choreographed to music is so neat to see. I love that so many movies set in Las Vegas that feature the Las Vegas Strip show the water moving. The one deceptive thing about the Las Vegas Strip is how big all the hotels and casinos look. I recall walking between hotels and thinking that it looked like they were so much closer than they actually were, the size of them added to the optical illusion that they look closer than they are!

While I was looking around on the web I found a video on youtube.com with tips for making your trip enjoyable and fun. The one thing that people often don't consider is that Las Vegas can be a trip for not just adults, but for children too. Obviously children are not allowed to be part of the gambling, but there are plenty of attractions that are exciting for both parents and children. There are roller coasters at the New York, New York, the Stratosphere and the Sahara. I think the MGM Grand has an amusement park, although that we never got around to trying it out. The dolphins and animals at the Mirage's Secret Garden are fun. Then there are loads of things outside of the casinos, from museums to factories that kids enjoy like the Lied Children's Discovery Museum and the Las Vegas Zoo.

It has been almost five years since we moved from the area and I would like to go back again to visit friends and to show my older children where they were born. I keep considering planning a trip back for our annual family vacation, but want to wait until our youngest is a bit older so he can get more out of it. For now we love our regular trip to the beach. I am already looking forward to it and it is still months away. So, for now I will remember the fun things in Las Vegas by reading friends post of Facebook!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

This was the sixth story in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Once again I listened to it on audio CD while in the car. In this installment Eustace returns to Narnia with a schoolmate, Jill, and meets Aslan on a mountain. Aslan blows the children to where a ship is leaving on a voyage and gives just Jill four signs they are supposed to use and follow. The children have a very tough time with each of the signs for one reason or another. Caspian makes an appearance too, except this time he is an old man nearing the end of his life rather than the vibrant young man we left at the end of “Voyage of the Dawn Treader“.

I enjoyed this adventure with Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum the Marshwiggle. They travel north into the giants territory, where they meet the Lady with the Green Kirtle, a black knight, and giants. They travel through bad weather and even take a trip through an underground world all while seeking to find Prince Rillian, Caspian’s son, who disappeared ten years ago. C.S. Lewis does a wonderful job of describing and creating both the giants and their castle as well as the underground domain of the Lady in the Green Kirtle. It will be interesting to see how the series wraps up in “The Last Battle”. I am currently listening to both that and “The Swan Thieves” depending on who is with me in the car.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Clear Away the Clutter Challenge hosted by The Neverending Shelf

Clear the Clutter Mini Challenge is hosted by The Neverending Shelf at

I think this challenge will be very good for me. I copied the rules and guidelines from The Neverending Shelf below:

Clear Away the Clutter's purpose:

If you are like me, you have an abundant amount of review and TBR books that need desperately your attention. This mini challenge will challenge you to read and do something with those titles once they have been completed.

Your goal is read as many titles as you can and pass along those that you do not absolutely want to keep. This means that if you do not plan to reread a certain book at least once or twice... get rid of it, it is just clutter.


•The mini challenge begins March 1st and ends May 31st. You can join at anytime once the challenge as begun.
•Anyone is welcome to participate in the mini challenge.
•By the end of the challenge, you MUST get rid of all the titles that you do not absolutely love. You can hold a contest, donate, give to a friend, etc. Your ultimate goal here is to clean off your shelves.
•You do not have to have a blog to participate. If you are interested, please email me at neverendingshelf@gmail.com for more information.
•Please create a post for titles you plan to read. You can of course update and modify this list at any time.

•Once a novel is completed, let us know what you plan to do with it. You can put this information beside the title in your challenge list post. Right now, I am planning to host a large contest for all the novels that I read and do not absolutely love at the end of the challenge.
•Crossover with other Challenges is welcome.


Packrat: Read and clean out 5 titles
•Mini-packrat: Read and clean out 10 titles
•Organizer: Read and clean out 15 titles
•Cleaner: Read and clean out 20 titles
While I really hope to be a Cleaner and get through 20 books I know I will definitely be at least a packrat. As of tomorrow I will be mailing out three books, two that I sold on ebay and one that I am trading on paperbackswap as part of my overall year long goal of lightening the amount of stuff in my house. Plus I donated an ARC to a book tour and that should be going out later this week as well.
Here are 10 books to start and maybe I will revisit this on April 1st and double the list:
1. Seized by Max Hardberger
2. Who Owns the World
3. The Twilight Gospel- passed along
4. Power Points
5. How to Never Look Fat Again- passed along
6. Here Burns My Candle
7. Alice I Have Been- passed along
8. Eternal On Water-passed along
9. The Last Song
10. The Poacher's Son-passed along
Here is my current update for clearing away the clutter:
Mailed Out these books so far through Paperbackswap:
1. The Search for God and Guiness
2. Shadow Blade
3. Jordan
4. The Power of Respect
5. At Home in Stone Creek
6. Before I Fall
7. Power of Respect
8. Alice I Have Been
9. Eternal on the Water
10. How to Never Look Fat Again
12. Interview with the Vampire
13. The Vampire Lestat
14. Another Anne Rice (can't recall the name right now)
15. Dead Until Dark
16. Tempt Me If You Can
Sold on Ebay
1. Dinosaurs Before Dark
2. Mummies in the Morning
3. Knight Before Dawn
4. Pirates Past Noon
5. Tigers at Twilight
6. Ghost Town at Sundown
7. 6 More Magic Tree House Books
8. 10 Goosebumps Books
9. 10 Babysitter's Club Books
10 12 More Magic Tree House Books
11. 10 Pony Pals Books
12. 20 Goosebumps Books
Gave to Friends
1.Schooled in Lies
1. 12 Nora Roberts Books
Current number of books that I have cleared away: 102
Current number of books from original list of 10: 3
I'm not sure how with the number I have cleared away I still have so many books! I am going to keep plugging away at it. I hate to give up a book I know I want to read but just haven't had the time to get to yet, but sometimes I feel like I am living in a not very organized library!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Product Details
Pub. Date: March 02, 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardcover, 480pp
Age Range: Young Adult
ISBN-13: 9780061726804

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High, from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12 should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Fortunately, she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

My thoughts:
This book really got me thinking and drew me in. I read it as part of Barnes and Nobles first look book club and after the first four chapters I just couldn’t stick to the reading schedule, I wasn’t able to stop myself from reading further! The book starts with the main character telling you that she is dead but will be reliving her last day seven times. This intrigues me right from the start, I wondered why Sam had to relive the day and if it was possible for her to correct whatever the problem might be and be able to cheat death. The day she relives seven times is Friday, February 12 (which coincidentally we had this year and was during the time I was reading the book) which is Cupid Day at Sam’s High School. A lot of emphasis is put on how many flowers you receive which is then linked to popularity.

Sam is part of the in crowd along with her friends Lindsay, Elory and Ally. Lindsay is the queen bee of the group who drives a Range Rover and kind of calls the shots for all of them. While each day is technically the same different decisions lead to different outcomes. On one day they are early and get the last close parking spot, causing a girl on the swim team to park farther away and be late therefore exempting her from a swim competition. Sam is able to take what she learns about her friends and classmates with her from day to day. On one of the days she is very angry with Lindsay about something that happened the prior day, but her anger doesn’t make sense to her friends as they are living the day for the first time.

These girls are hopefully a bit exaggerated stereotypes of teenagers, but along with being quite engrossing the story also brought to light a lot of issues teenagers face that they might not be ready for. Premarital sex, underage drinking, skipping classes, lying to parents, smoking and bullying. On one of the repeats of the day Sam does not drink at a party and sees for herself that while everyone who is drinking thinks they are cool they actually are acting stupid. These kids think they are invincible but no one is. I am hoping that it isn’t really this easy to skip classes and obtain alcohol but I know those things really do happen.

One of the biggest issues for me was the bullying and how it really does affect the victim. Bullying is such a problem, it always has been present in schools and social situations, but I think it has been getting worse. There have been numerous stories in newspapers and magazines about children and teenagers who feel so hopeless from the constant bullying that they resort to suicide. This is one of the things I would most like to see addressed in schools, and while I think schools are trying, I am not sure it is enough and I don’t know that as adults we can see how harmful this behavior really is in the long run.