Friday, November 30, 2012

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreux

Overview from Barnes and Noble

Freak of nature takes on a whole new meaning...
If she hadn't been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?
Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.
Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?
Jade is determined to find out. So how does a plus-size, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend, Cori, and to her crush, Luke?
This summer is about to get a lot more interesting...
My thoughts:
I was browsing through the ebooks available through our public library and decided to look for mermaid books. Not sure why, none of my other searches were getting me anywhere.  I found some books I want to read, but they were checked out so I added myself to the waiting list for them, then found this one.  The title sounded fun so I checked it out. 
I enjoyed the lightness of this book and the fun way mermaids were introduced.  Being in middle school is a tough time for a lot of early teenagers and tweens, your body is changing, people start dating, friendships change and hormones are playing all sorts of havoc.  Jade is self conscious of her larger than average body, still having a hard time dealing with her mothers death by drowning a year before, struggling with a new friend who is coming between her and her best friend and surprised by the reappearance of a boy she thinks started a mean nickname about her.  The last thing she needs is another complication, but she gets it when she gets into the tub, falls asleep, and wakes up with a tail!  After finding out her mother was a mermaid new questions arise, such as how her mother could have drowned if she is or was a mermaid.  Jade wants to tell Cori, her best friend all about it, but her father cautions her about it.  How hard would this be for someone else to believe and what might happen to her if scientists were to find out that she could transform into a mermaid.
This was a fun, easy read.  I highly recommend people who love to read taking the time to find out if their local library offers either digital audio or ebooks to read.  I think if more people took advantage of them library systems might expand their catalogues even more which is good for all of us.  Plus, being able to search for and immediately check out a book from home is so convenient and easy.
Product Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781402244124
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 117,528
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

When Abraham Lincoln was nine years old, his mother died from an ailment called the "milk sickness." Only later did he learn that his mother's deadly affliction was actually the work of a local vampire, seeking to collect on Abe's father's unfortunate debts.

When the truth became known to the young Abraham Lincoln, he wrote in his journal: henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become learned in all things—a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose."

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for reuniting the North with the South and abolishing slavery from our country, no one has ever understood his valiant fight for what it really was. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time—all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War, and uncovering the massive role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

My thoughts:
I loved this book!  I wasn't sure going into it if I would enjoy it or not, but I really did.  I love how the author took real facts and then told Lincoln's life story with a twist.  I am hoping that the non-vampire facts were true, I don't know all the dates and people who were a part of his life, but I have to say this might be a way to get reluctant readers or students who are having trouble memorizing dates and names to learn them in an innovative way!

At the start we meet the reluctant biographer and find out how he came to have journals and records about Abraham Lincoln.  Who gave them to him and for what purpose he was allowed to read and review these items.  From there we get the story of Abe's life and how vampires made their mark on both his life personally and on the country as a whole.  How slavery was perpetuated as a way to keep an easy food supply for vampires and how embedded they were in all forms of government and politics.

Abe comes to life as a hunter.  Some real details such as how be became a lawyer, got involved in politics, married and had children are there to hold the new construct together so the vampire element can be added in.  After finishing the book I commented to my husband that we should rent the movie.  I'd like to see how they developed it all for the screen.  Movies never really seem to live up to my expectations, but I plan to rent it anyway.

I enjoyed the audio for this book.  Sometimes the reader that is chosen doesn't complement the story, but this time I think they really got it right!  I am still struggling through a different audio book because I don't enjoy the woman who is providing the narration, but that was not the case this time at all!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455510177
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Edition description: Media Tie-In Edition
  • Pages: 384

Meet the Author

Seth Grahame-Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In addition to adapting the screenplay for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seth also wrote Tim Burton's latest film, Dark Shadows. He lives in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Think homeschooling is only for a handful of eccentrics on either end of the political spectrum? Think again. Today in America, two million primary- and secondary-school students are homeschooled. Growing at a rate of 10 percent annually, homeschooling represents the most dramatic change in American education since the invention of the mimeograph—and the story has only just begun.
In The Year of Learning Dangerously, popular blogger, author, and former child actor Quinn Cummings recounts her family’s decision to wade into the unfamiliar waters of homeschooling—despite a chronic lack of discipline, some major gaps in academic knowledge, and a serious case of math aversion. (That description refers to Quinn.)
Trying out the latest trends, attending key conferences (incognito, of course), and recounting the highlights and lowlights along the way, Quinn takes her daughter’s education into her own hands, for better and for worse. Part memoir, part social commentary, and part how-not-to guide, The Year of Learning Dangerously will make you laugh and make you think. And it may or may not have a quiz at the end. OK, there isn’t a quiz. Probably.

My thoughts:
When my oldest two children were younger I went through a time when I wanted to homeschool.  I loved the idea of it and of being able to keep them with me.  Planning field trips and learning at their pace, being able to use their interests to make learning personal and meaningful, but my husband wasn't in favor of the idea and then we had two more children and now I think it would be really hard to be working with all four of them on my own for all their educational needs.  One of the things that really struck me when I started this is how different it must be to just have one child.

Cummings does a great job of making her book entertaining while relating her year homeschooling her daughter and the research she did into the different groups who are homeschooling in America.  The history of homeschooling and even how it is handled in different countries.  I am not sure I would have wanted to disguise myself in order to attend conferences for fundamentalist groups of homeschoolers, but she made it fun and entertaining while still managing to teach something along the way.  If all history books and lessons could be done in such an entertaining fashion I think students of all ages would learn more!

I found myself loving this book.  I picked it up off the shelf at the library when the title jumped out at me.  Sometimes I find the best books that way.  I may or may not have seen a review of it in a magazine, but it just looked like a book I wanted to read.  I found it interesting how she dealt with teaching subjects that she herself wasn't the best at (which had been one of my concerns when I was thinking about homeschooling myself six years ago).  It will be interesting to see if she writes any more books on this subject.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399537608
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Pages: 240

Meet the Author

Quinn Cummings is an Oscar-nominated actress (The Goodbye Girl, Family), and the critically acclaimed author of the memoir Notes from the Underwire. She writes the popular blog The QC Report, and her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Los Angeles Magazine, and Newsweek. She lives in Los Angeles with her partner and daughter.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

I missed posting last week and then had a very slow reading week, so this week has what I read last week and the week before.  I am still behind on reviews in a big way, but hope to put some time in this weekend writing up reviews for books I have finished.  I'd like to get some more reading time in as well of course!  Things just keep seeming to come up that take longer than I had anticipated.

Finished reading:
The  Year of Learning Dangerously:  Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings
Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller
The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) by Jeff Kinney

Still Reading/Listening to:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer by Seth Grahame-Smith
Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep

Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller


Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The "First Lady of the West," #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller is back with a new series about Parable, Montana-where love awaits.
The illegitimate son of a wealthy rancher, Sheriff Slade Barlow grew up in a trailer hitched to the Curly-Burly hair salon his mother runs. He was never acknowledged by his father-until now. Suddenly, Slade has inherited half of Whisper Creek Ranch, one of the most prosperous in Parable, Montana. That doesn't sit well with his half brother, Hutch, who grew up with all the rights of a Carmody. Including the affections of Joslyn Kirk, homecoming queen, rodeo queen, beauty queen-whom Slade has never forgotten
But Joslyn is barely holding her head up these days as she works to pay back everyone her crooked stepfather cheated. With a town to protect-plus a rebellious teenage stepdaughter-Slade has his hands full. But someone has to convince Joslyn that she's responsible only for her own actions. Such as her effect on this lawman's guarded heart.

My thoughts:
I love reading Linda Lael Miller.  Her books always bring me up a bit and give me a hopeful view of life.  Her characters have their shares of ups and downs, but still find each other and make their lives better together.  Joslyn has felt guilty for years about all the people who lost money to her step father when she was a teenager and has worked for years with the hope to pay them back.  She has grown and changed from the spoiled girl who left town as a teenager and she is back to make amends, both with repayment of the lost money and by facing awkward and uncomfortable situations with people in town who link her with her stepfather.  Slade has made his own way, with no help from his rich biological father, so to have him recognize him as an heir after his death brings up all the old hurts. 

Along with Joslyn there is her best friend who has had her own relationship issues including a divorce from a wealthy man in England, Hutch who is Slade's half brother and dated Joslyn in high school, Opal who worked for Joslyn's family when she lived in Parable and a host of other colorful characters.  I can make a pretty good guess who will be featured in future books set in Parable if this is part of a trilogy or series.  While with some authors that would bother me, here it just wet my curiosity for the next book.  She makes being a cowboy or being with a cowboy sound like so much fun, somehow missing all the hard work that goes into it as well!  I was so glad to find this on the shelf at the library.

I agree with some reviews that it seemed to take a long time for the couple to get together, but at the same time that made it seem a bit more believable to me.  Most people don't fall madly in love and right into bed when they first meet, so the fact that it took them longer to get to that point made the romance more realistic for me.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373776436
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384

Friday, November 16, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- Pumpkin Patch

This is from last month.  I took my kids for the yearly pumpkin patch trip.  We walked through the corn maze and played in the pumpkin patch.

We started coming to this patch when we moved her seven years ago.

The first year my daughter was younger than my youngest is now.  I remember her in the maze in her winter coat, hat and gloves.  We were lucky to have a warmer day this year.

I always wonder what they do with the left over pumpkins after Halloween.  Are they used for pies?  Sold for animals?  Used for pumpkin chucking events?  Canned?  Or do they just use the seeds for next year?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Courting Cate by Leslie Gould Review

About Courting Cate :
When Amish farmer Pete Treger moves to Paradise Township, Pennsylvania, seeking a better life, he meets sisters Cate and Betsy Miller. Both are beautiful, but older sister Cate is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Betsy, on the other hand, is sweet and flirty--and seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!

However, the sisters' wealthy father has made one hard and fast rule: elder sister must marry first, before the younger can even start courting. Unfortunately for poor Betsy, and for the men who want to court her, her older sister, Cate, doesn't have any suitors--until Pete comes to town, that is.

Though he finds both sisters attractive, something about Cate's feisty demeanor appeals to him. Soon the other bachelors in the district convince Pete to court Cate. She hardly seems receptive to his overtures, though. Instead, she's immediately suspicious of his interest.

Book 1 in The Courtships of Lancaster County series.

Link to buy the book: 

My thoughts:
I participated in this blog tour as a reader for Litfuse Blog tours.  I love reading books that are based on classics.  My favorite version of The Tempest is Kiss Me Kate and that made me want to see how it could be done in an Amish community.  I love how a lot of Cate prickliness can be traced to misunderstandings and miscommunication and how relying on God's guidance helps her.

Cate has always been the care taker for her sister Betsy.  She started when she was very young and her mother died after giving birth.  She is very responsible in all things, but she does not care for housework and loves to read.  Going to the bookmobile every week is the highlight of the week for her.  After some problems with male members in her community she has given up on finding a husband and hopes to become a published writer, until her father issues and edict, Betsy is not allowed to court or go to social events if Cate doesn't go with her.

When a new man comes to town, an Amish man who loves to read, Cate is intrigued but thinks he will only be interested in Betsy.  The last man who showed interest in her was really only interested in her father's money so she is very skeptical about why he would want to spend time with her.

Over the course of the novel Cate comes to see that her prior relationship and its demise has colored her whole life.  Not only has she pulled away from other prospects for marriage, but she pulled away from God and stopped looking for his guidance in her life.  When she starts to listen and really pray again, she starts to find herself again.  When she stops trying to lead her life in the directions she thinks she is supposed to be going and trusts that she will get to where she is supposed to be if she listens she changes in ways that her family can perceive.  It can be hard to get past misunderstandings, but often times the one who is getting in the way of success and happiness is ourselves.

Meet Leslie:

Leslie Gould is the co-author, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny . She is also the author of numerous novels, including Garden of Dreams, Beyond the Blue (winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006), and Scrap Everything . She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She resides with her husband and four children in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more at

Landing page:

Courting Cate by Leslie Gould Blog Tour

A retelling of the Taming of the Shrew! Leslie Gould is celebrating the release of Courting Cate with a fun Kindle Fire Giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party (11/20)!

One lucky winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire

  • Courting Cate by Leslie Gould

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 19th. Winner will be announced at the "Courting Cate" Author Chat Facebook Party on 11/20. Connect with Leslie, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at an Amish trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of Courting Cate and join Leslie on the evening of the November 20th for a chance to connect with Leslie and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 20th!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

We lost power last week for three days.  I did manage to get some reading done, but I also managed to get in some extra sleep.  Dark cold houses make you want to sleep!  My book lights and headlamp just didn't cut it so my evening reading was all on my kindle!  Here is my week;

Passion by Lauren Kate
Crossed by Ally Condi

Still reading:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (audio)
Big Sky County by Linda Lael Miller
Courting Cate

I feel like I should have read more, but I managed to get through a ton of magazines and read the newspaper as well.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Snapshot--Halloween!

Trick or Treating the Friday before Hurricane Sandy.

 For the second year in a row bad weather essentially cancelled Halloween and trick or treating.  Once again we were without power for a number of days.  (Three this year versus five last year so it wasn't quite as bad.)  Luckily we were invited to a party and to trick or treat with friends before the storm hit, so we had a chance to experience Halloween.  I also took my children to some other local events the weekend before as well.  We went to Boo at the Zoo, saw Hotel Transylvania, and went to the local amusement park for Boo Blast.

This is hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Go the F*ck to Sleep byAdam Mansbach and Richardo Cortez

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Go the F*** to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don't always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, California Book Award-winning author Adam Mansbach's verses perfectly capture the familiar--and unspoken--tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. In the process, they open up a conversation about parenting, granting us permission to admit our frustrations, and laugh at their absurdity.
With illustrations by Ricardo Cortes, Go the F*** to Sleep is beautiful, subversive, and pants-wettingly funny--a book for parents new, old, and expectant. You probably should not read it to your children.
Seriously, Just Go to Sleep, a children's book inspired by Go the F*** to Sleep and appropriate for kids of all ages, is forthcoming from Akashic Books in April 2012 and available NOW for pre-order.

My thoughts:
I borrowed this on my Kindle after hearing so much about it online and from friends.  It was highly recommended to me that I look for the audio version with Samuel L. Jackson doing the reading but I haven't gotten around to looking for it yet.

I would be very interested in reading the version of the book that is appropriate for all ages as I think my children would get a kick out of it and there are definitely still nights when I just yearn for everyone to go to bed, even if they aren't asleep, so that I can get a few minutes of quiet to get some things done and relax before going to bed myself.  I think all parents have had those moments when they need the delay tactics to end and for their children to just realize how much they really need to sleep, something we as adults now want more of and children seem to resist.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781617750250
  • Publisher: Akashic Books
  • Publication date: 6/14/2011
  • Pages: 32

Meet the Author

Adam Mansbach
Adam Mansbach's novels include The End of the Jews, winner of the California Book Award, and the best-selling Angry Black White Boy, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2005. His fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Believer, Granta, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. He was the 2010-2011 New Voices Professor of Fiction at Rutgers University. His daughter, Vivien, is three.
Ricardo Cortes has illustrated books about marijuana, electricity, the Jamaican bobsled team, and Chinese food. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, the Village Voice, the San Francisco Chronicle, and on the O'Reilly Factor and CNN. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he is working on a book about the history of Coca-Cola and cocaine. To see more of his work, visit:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

My thoughts:
I bought this book for my Kindle, but kept putting off reading it so I borrowed the audio version from the library.  I alternated between the two versions, sometimes listening and sometimes reading.  Even though the audio version came with the photographs that are sprinkled throughout the book, I think they worked better on the page as you came to each at the appropriate time in the story.  I debated letting my children read or listen to this one, but decided some of the references the relationships between men and women seemed to be more than what I feel they are ready for.  I checked the recommended age for the book and it is older than they are, I do believe when they are older this is one that they will enjoy!

Jacob has been seeing things his whole life that everyone tells him are all in his mind.  He has been working with a therapist because of how strongly he has always believed his grandfather's stories.  Then a tragedy unfolds and he ends up going to Wales to see where his grandfather lived during the war in an orphanage on an island.  The problem is the orphanage is a ruin, but somehow when he is there he feels like there more to everything than what meets the eye.  He can hear them when no one should be there.  He finds the secret to the past which opens up a lot more questions about the future.  Jacob finds out the truth about his grandfather, himself and a part of the world he was always told did not exist.  The way the book ended was a bit open ended which made me wonder if there is supposed to be a sequel or if this book is intended to be a part of a fantasy series. 

I loved the way the author used photos he found at flea markets and similar places to come up with back stories about the characters and to lend an authenticity to these children who have such unusual talents.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594744761
  • Publisher: Quirk Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 971
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Ransom Riggs grew up in Florida but now makes his home in the land of peculiar children—Los Angeles. Along the way he earned degrees from Kenyon College and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television, got married, and made some award-winning short films. He moonlights as a blogger and travel writer, and his series of travel essays, Strange Geographies, can be found at or via This is his first novel.