Monday, May 30, 2011

BEA & BBC wrap-up !!

My feet have returned to normal size and my shoulders no longer ache. That must mean I can finally tell you of my adventures at BookExpo America. Hang in there with me, this will be a long post.

Tuesday: When that alarm went off at 7:00 a.m., I thought, "It's morning already!" I work at night, and seeing the sun rise is a bit of a shock for me. An hour later I hop on the train. After snaking my way through the chipper Manhattan rush hour crowd, I made the walk towards the convention center.

I thought I was being good by arriving at the Javits Convention Center for 9:00 a.m., but I was wrong. The tickets for ticketed author signings were already GONE!! What's up with that? I really, really, really wanted to meet Temple Grandin, but they were all gone. I also wanted to meet Ice-T, but not because he's an inspirational figure like Temple Grandin. I just wanted to meet a celebrity!!

A little bummed, I registered and checked in my suitcase. Yes, a suitcase. I learned from last year. Books are great things, but walking around with a bag full of them feel like a ton of bricks. I've heard that checked suitcases were looted last year. But, I really had no choice but to check it. I made sure not to leave any signed books or books I really, really wanted in the suitcase.

My first signing of the day was Kristan Higgins. As soon as I showed her my badge, she remembered my blog!! How awesome is that ! She said she would come back to my blog any time!

My first conference session was, Online Book Discovery. Think about how you heard about the last book you read. Was it online? It was for me. You hear about it on Twitter, GoodReads, or another blog. What drew your attention? A picture? A rich description? An eye-catching widget? All of those things were discussed, and I have to say that's all true for me.

I heard about L.A. Weatherly's book, Angel Burn from another blog. I made sure to get a signed book earlier in the day. According to this panel, books are right behind movies and weather in online searches. You learn something new everyday!

Now on to the fun stuff!!! Pictures!!

Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books signing her book Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels. Could be some good advice in there !!

Leigh Fallon signing copies of The Carrier of the Mark. I went to the Young Adult Editors buzz just before the signing. Her book was heavily hyped. I made sure to get on line for the signing just after the talk. The room where the panel was located was standing room only. I managed to get a seat in the front corner. I couldn't see the editors' faces, but it was worth it. I enjoyed the panel, but I heard it was marred by the behavior of some. I left to go upstairs for Leigh Fallon's signing, but apparently there were some sealed boxes of the books discussed in the back of the room. They were then pilfered, without permission, by some rather eager people. It's sad. That snatch and grab attitude is giving bloggers and librarians a bad name. The behavior even made Publisher's Weekly.

My legs were like rubber at the end of the day, but I made it home.

Wednesday: This day I came armed with an ice pack. Yes Javits is air conditioned, but all the walking can get to you. My first signing of the day was for Lauren Oliver. I was in a bit of shock that line was already LONG at 9:00 a.m. It was worth it because she was very nice.

Next came a talk by Michelle Hodkin, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Kristi from The Story Siren. Michelle's book was also hyped at the Young Adult Editors buzz. A girl gets in a car accident and can't remember what happened. Or what killed her friends. I'm intrigued. I didn't get a copy here, but I managed to snag one at Book Blogger Convention.

Then it was on to Maureen Johnson's signing. I follow her on Twitter, and she's hilarious. I confess, I haven't read her books yet. But I will.

I got off of Maureen's line a little late. I missed the bulk of the Dear Bully panel. I was little bummed, but Ellen Hopkins (in the blue) made up for it. She gave me a copy of Dear Bully. Ellen is awesome.

I browsed around for awhile before getting a signed book by Candace Cameron Bure. I wanted to say, "I got to meet D.J. Tanner!" I didn't call her D.J., all I could get out was thank you. After that I moved on to the Chely Wright (above) line. I saw her on Oprah, and wanted to read her book. She was very, very nice. She even asked about my blog, and hoped for a good review!! I won't be swayed by kindness, but I always try to give a good review.

After going to the Audiobook Tea, I want to listen to an audiobook. That's not the best picture, but I was little tired. The tea was at the end of the day. Star Jones (standing at the podium), Tony Horwitz, Karin Slaughter and Brad Meltzer were on the panel. I've heard of Karin Slaughter and Brad Meltzer, but I have never read their books. Brad Meltzer was very funny!!

Thursday: This day was much lighter. I only got the books I really wanted. I went straight for the Maureen Johnson line. Yes another Maureen Johnson book. I must stress I was there about 42 minutes before the actually signing! If I didn't want to read The Name of the Star, I wouldn't have sat on that dirty floor. It was a good thing, because I got to talk to some fellow bloggers, including Elin from The Norwegian Book Girl.

I missed some talks, but I did get to meet Jane Fonda!! I went to her talk. She was saying how at 73, she was happier than she's ever been. Granted not everything she spoke about applied to me, but she's a great actress. I got her book Prime Time for my mother, and when I told her that she said, "That's nice!" A celebrity talked to me!!

I wrapped up the day the day at the Book Blogger Reception. That's me with M.L. Malcolm author of Heart of Lies and Heart of Deception. She wears some fabulous hats and fascinators!!

Friday: The grand finale was the Book Blogger Convention. As keynote speaker Sarah Wendell said, it's awesome that we have our own convention.

Sarah took her blog took the next level, turning it into her job and eventually books. What I got out of her speech is it's up to me elevate my blog. I can make it what I want. In the beginning it was about having a place to express myself creatively. Now, I don't know what I want.  I love books. I love what I'm doing. How to make it something more, I'm not sure yet.

The ask a Publisher/Publicist panel was great. I've always wondered when publishers want reviews of books posted. I have alot of ARCs that won't be published until late in the year. I usually wait until it's close to publication. Apparently, if it's available for pre-order you can post your review. I used to be afraid to approach the big publishers for ARCs, but they really want us to approach them. They want to know what they can do for us! Some questions from the audience, like NetGalley expiration dates, were a little unnecessary.

The Grey Areas of Book Blogging, was the best of the bunch. What I got out of it was, "review the book and not the author."

The last two panels were lacking. Blogging for a Niche Market had too many people on it. It should have been smaller. For those of us not attached to a particular market, including myself, it would have helped to have less people. Too many ideas leads to too much confusion. I missed most of the Technology panel, but I've heard I didn't miss much. WordPress vs. Blogger? I'm thinking of switching, but that's down the road.

I wrapped up the day at the day at the Planned Television Arts party. I don't know how, but outside of staff I was the only one there. Perhaps people were tired, forgot, or had something else to do. Too bad you missed out on the lobster, foie gras, steak and champagne!!!!

Note: A video of my book haul will be posted on Sunday. It's pretty big!!

What's on the cover: post-BEA edition

Friday marked my last day trekking back and forth to Manhattan for BookExpo America and the Book Blogger Convention. I'll admit to being a little behind and tired. Walking the Javits Convention center for three straight days is murder on the shins. This week I'm going to get back on track. A review of Skinny by Diana Spechler will be posted on June 2.

I'm sorry, but I had to punt on The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo. I will be coming back to that title in late July or early August. I have some review books that have a set date that I need to get to.

Now onto the business at hand. If you're new to my blog, every Monday (knock wood!) I discuss the covers of the books I'm reading or going to be reading.

Silver Sparrow

Thanks to Algonquin for providing me with a copy of Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. Set in 1980s Atlanta, a young girl discovers her father is a bigamist. Hmmm?!?! I don't get bigamist from that cover. Those two feathers make me think there is a much softer story inside those pages. Stay tuned!

Your Voice in My Head: A Memoir

It's been awhile since I've read a memoir. Thanks to Other Press for providing a copy of Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest. The cover is beautiful. From top to bottom it looks like the colors of the rainbow. It could be the shades of color represent Emma Forrest's moods through time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 2 BEA photos!!

I paced myself a little better today. I think yesterday I got caught up in, "I have to make it here by 11:00, here by 11:30....." I managed to get everything I wanted to day and more. A full recap is coming next week, but for now how about some photos!!

Maureen Johnson was super nice. It took an hour to get off the line, but it was worth it. She had no problem posing for a picture. I'm a little bummed she didn't wear the Abe Lincoln outfit she hinted at on Twitter.

Michelle Hodkin, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Kristi from The Story Siren. Her book sounded so good. I missed out on the ARCs, but you never know there might be some on Thursday.

Contributors to the book Dear Bully. I got there late because it took a little while to get off Maureen Johnson's line. I know the blonde in blue is Ellen Hopkins, everyone else I have no idea.

Country singer Chely Wright signing copies of her book Like Me. It's a little far away because I wasn't sure if I could take one up closer since she was running late. She was super super nice!!

After going to the Audiobook Tea, I want to listen to an audiobook. That's not the best picture, but I was little tired. The tea was at the end of the day. Star Jones (standing at the podium), Tony Horwitz, Karin Slaughter and Brad Meltzer were on the panel. I've heard of Karin Slaughter and Brad Meltzer, but I have never read their books. Brad Meltzer was very funny!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 1 BEA photos !!

I wish I had the fortitude to do a full recap of my day, but I'm EXHAUSTED !! My shoulders and feet are still aching. Next week I will do a full recap of BEA and Book Blogger Convention. If I'm feeling really brave, I will do a video of my book haul. In the meantime, how about some photos!!

Me and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. She was signing copies of her book Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels. Sarah is also the keynote speaker for BBC. Can't wait for Friday!

Leigh Fallon signing copies of The Carrier of the Mark. I went to the Young Adult Editors buzz just before the signing, and the book was heavily hyped. I had to make sure I got an ARC.

L.A. Weatherly signing copies of Angel Burn. I heard about her book on The Story Siren. I know it's paranormal, and that's about it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My take on: Faith

Faith: A NovelJennifer Haigh made me mad and sad after reading her latest novel Faith. Mad for how the story unfolded and sad because some of the characters are left with overwhelming feelings of guilt. Feelings that can never be eased.

The book centers on the 2002 abuse scandal that rocked the Boston archdiocese. Priests were accused of being child molesters left, right, and sideways. A lot of the allegations were true, but some weren't. The accusation is enough to make a person a pariah. In this book, the McGann family is forced to question one of their own.

Arthur "Art" Breen is the jewel of his mother's eye. He chose to become a priest at an early age, beginning his seminary training as a teenager. She beams with pride telling her friends and family that her son is a priest. But Art has always been a defacto member of the McGann family ever since his mom married Ted McGann after a failed first marriage. Art's siblings, Mike and Sheila, know they belong. They know they have a place in the McGann family. Sheila has always been the closest to Art, but always feels like she has to choose sides.

Sides have to be picked when Art, now middle-aged, is accused of molesting a boy he had befriended. Mike and his wife Abby are quick to believe the worst. Sheila, having always been in the middle, doesn't know what the truth is. The accusation causes everyone, with the exception of his mother, to question their faith in Art. He isn't a McGann 100 percent of the way, who knows what is in the other half of him?

What made me mad about this book is Art refuses to defend himself. Throughout the book you will be questioning whether or not he is guilty. I didn't know what to think myself. Is it natural for a man to pay such close attention to child who isn't a family member? I know evil can exist within a family, but that isn't the situation we are dealing with here. But I wanted him to at least put up a fight. Perhaps it's the mentality of a priest to always be humble and have faith that everything will work itself out.

Art never gave himself a chance at love. Love is something he didn't want after being sexually abused as a child. He knows love from his immediate family, but intimacy is something he has feared since childhood. Being a priest allows him to put his faith in God, instead of a person. But befriending the troubled Kath and her son Aidan puts all of that into question. Taking Aidan on trips and watching him after school is glimpse into the life he could have had. But is that glimpse a sin or a test of his faith? If he had kept his distance from Kath and Aidan, would his actions have been questioned?

This one was hard to put down. I didn't quite know what to expect, because this is my first time reading a novel by Jennifer Haigh. And, all I can say is WOW! The entire book is a punch to the gut. It has elements of mystery novel, mixed with an engrossing family drama. The book is essentially the gospel of the McGann family. Whose side are you on? If you're not on my side, you're not my family! Everyone questions their faith not just in God, but in each other. Put this one on your list!

Rating: O.M.G !!!

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) as part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours. For more information on author Jennifer Haigh visit

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My take on: The Civilized World

The Civilized World: A Novel in Stories"...all of her half-formed thoughts about Africa became as clear and sharp as the air around her, and she understood at last why she hated living there. It wasn't, as she had once thought, the poverty and constant harassment for money. It wasn't the heat or the dirt or the cacophony of foreign tongues. What she finally understood was that nothing felt safe to her -- not her marriage, not her physical self, not even her sanity -- and without that feeling of safety, she could never create a home for herself and her child." -- Pg. 125

That was my favorite quote from The Civilized World by Susi Wyss. Ophelia and her husband Philip have lived in Africa for years because of his job. Her marriage lacks the passion it once had. They have been struggling with fertility, and Ophelia thinks a child will cure everything. Even on the cusp of adopting a child, nothing seems right. A child can't solve the overwhelming feeling that something is missing. What's missing is a sense of security. And that's just one of the stories in this book.

Adjoa and her brother Kojo are twins living on the Ivory Coast, trying to save money to open a hair salon. Adjoa works for Janice, a white woman, as a masseuse. Janice sees Adjoa as more than just an employee, she sees her as a friend. Adjoa sees Janice as the white lady who asks too many questions. Why would this white woman care about her? Adjoa has dreams of a better life, but Kojo loses his way. Instead he goes for the quick fix, robbing Janice and several others. Janice is unaware it's Kojo, but Adjoa learns the truth she keeps the secret from her family and her friends. Why tarnish his name? It's a secret that eats at her soul even after Kojo's death. Does she owe Janice the truth? Does Adjoa owe it to herself to tell the truth? Janice, like Ophelia, loses her sense of security.

Just when you get into Adjoa's story, you meet Comfort, a widow from Ghana with several children, including one living in America. Her American daughter-in-law frets about everything. Comfort can only hold her tongue, while hoping her son Ekow will still preserve family traditions. Comfort is the matriarch that every family has. She believes in respecting your elders, cooking in the traditional way, and dispensing wisdom no matter how much people don't like it.

How does everyone come together? At Adjoa's salon, The Precious Brother Salon. Kojo is gone, but in way he is still with his sister. He is gone physically, but Adjoa can still feel the loss physically.

Each chapter is a snapshot in their lives. A snapshot, that's vividly written by Susi Wyss. I can just picture all of the women sitting around the salon swapping stories and gossiping.
Rating: Superb
Note: I received a copy from the publisher (Henry Holt and Company) in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just a few more days and the fun begins!!!

This week I finally sat down and made a schedule for BookExpo America and Book Blogger Convention.

Lets start with Tuesday:
I'm fortunate to live in New York. All I have to do is hop on the train. For those of you coming from out of town, I don't know how you do it. Living here is expensive enough!

I work at night and will be coming off of a night shift, but I still plan to get to the Javits Center at 9am. My first stop will be a book signing by Kristan Higgins. I read her latest book, and can't wait to read her next. I'm torn between getting a ticket for Temple Grandin's signing and going to the Online Book Discovery talk at 10. They start at the same time!! It's a tough choice. I'm hoping I can get off the line in time for the discussion. Then I'll slide over to the Uptown Stage for a take on Russian literature. I haven't read any in the past, so there is a first time for everything.

Next up autograph signings by LA Weatherly, Sarah Weeks, and maybe Ice-T. Yes Ice-T. His signing is also ticketed. Then cap the day off with the Young Adult Editors panel at 2pm. Of course I'll be walking the aisles of the center all day.

Lauren Oliver is signing books at from 9:30-10:30 am!!! I loved Before I Fall, and will be making a beeline for her signing. Maureen Johnson will be signing books at noon. One panel I don't want to miss is, "The Report of My Death was Exaggerated: The Printed Book." I'm still against E-readers. I just like the printed book.

Heart of Deception: A Novel

If you're in the mood for a little historical fiction. M.L. Malcolm will be signing copies of Heart of Deception at Table 6 from 3:00-3:30 in the main autographing area. She will also be at the Book Bloggers Convention cocktail reception on Thursday, from 3:00pm – 5:00 pm, in Javits Center, Hall E– Room 1E12, and at the “Speed Dating” event at BBC on Friday.

The Audiobook and Author Tea is also on my list. I've never listened to an audiobook, so it will be nice to get a different perspective. Then at the end of the day it's off to the Harper Perennial party.

Meeting Ellen Hopkins and Kody Keplinger are at the top of my list. Jane Lynch and Jane Fonda are also scheduled to speak on one of the Insight stages. I have no idea what they will say, but I can't pass up the opportunity.

The Book Blogger Convention begins!! Registration/breakfast START at 7:15. I'm so not a morning person, but I'm going to have to be this week. At the end of the day, it's off to the party at Planned Television Arts. Whew!!

I know I'll be tired by the end of the week, but for good reasons. If you're going, keep your eye out for me!

The Mirror of Yu-Huang book excerpt

About the Book:
Confucius never said anything about this.
Megan Montgomery, spending her second Christmas in England, was expecting peace and quiet over the holidays. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.
First, the headmistress of St. Agatha’s College for Girls, Megan’s school, her school has strong-armed her father into hosting a huge New Year’s ball at their home. Next, she winds up playing hostess to a Chinese ambassador, his family, and his staff.  While the guests seem very pleasant, Megan is still uncomfortable. She’s been unlucky with houseguests in the past—like one of the guests died kind of unlucky. Of course, he also tried to steal one of the precious magical artifacts that are hidden in the Library of Athena, a cavernous room hidden beneath her home, so it wasn’t totally her fault.  Now hundreds of people will be crawling all over the manor.
Megan tries to relax and enjoy the holidays despite her home being turned into Grand Central, but her worst fears are realized when Megan receives a mysterious Christmas gift, one that links her to the Library of Athena. Now she’s on her guard, hoping to identify the culprit and learn just how much he or she knows about the Library, before someone gets hurt, or worse, she winds up inside another enchanted book.

Book Excerpt from Christine Norris’ YA fantasy novel, The Mirror of Yu-Huang

They headed toward the opposite side of the room.Megan spotted quite a few of her classmates, who waved or said hello as the three girls breezed by. Some of the older girls had brought dates—boys from St. Bart’s, the brother school of St. Agatha’s. A few looked uncomfortable in their tuxes, moving their arms from one position to the next as if unsure what to do with them, while others looked like attending a formal ball was a daily occurrence in their world.

Portia Kenilworthy cornered her near the entrance to the parlor.
“Hello, Megan.” Her greeting had the polite-yet-arrogant tone she used when she was reminding people she was better than they were. 

“Have you, by chance, seen Mei-Li Wen?”

Megan was completely shocked the girl was even speaking to her. She supposed Portia had gotten over her missed Italian holiday.

But I won’t bank on being invited to her house for tea anytime soon.
Portia’s date was a handsome boy with short blond hair and a very white smile. Seeing him and the other boys made Megan wish again she had invited Diedrich.Portia probably would have bristled with envy over Megan’s having a gorgeous date who was the son of important people. After all, the rest of the world thought Josef Hemmlich disappeared in Egypt on an expedition. No one suspected he had been sucked through the floor of a temple that didn’t exist.
What a shrew I’m becoming. I can’t let them get to me.
She tried to keep the venom from her voice when she replied.

“I think Professor Spencer is going to do some sort of formal introduction.”
“Well, I hope it’s soon.” Portia sipped from the glass her date handed her. “I’m just so anxious to meet her. I want her to join the Garden Club.”
Megan was confident Mei-Li wouldn’t want to be part of the snooty club, where no real gardening was ever performed, as far as she knew. The club was just a reason to get together and gossip. She wanted to say as much to Portia’s face but decided to be more tactful.
“You can ask her, but I really don’t think—”

“Of course, she’ll want to hang out with the most popular girls in school.” Portia’s expression was her best beauty-queen-on-parade look, a combination of boredom and constipation. “I’m sure we’ll be best friends just like that.”
Harriet, perhaps noticing the incredulous look on Megan’s face, put on her own bored expression.
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll get along famously. She’s a lovely girl.”
Portia looked down her nose at Harriet.
“You’ve already met her?”

“Of course I have. Megan is one of my best friends, after all, and Mei-Li has been here almost a whole week. We’ve all become such good chums already, haven’t we, Megan?”

Harriet and Portia stared each other down, diamond-studded Tiffany daggers in their eyes, their smiles colder than the snow outside. If there was something Megan was thankful for at that moment, it was Harriet’s talent for outsnobbing a snob.

Rachel stepped between the girls and broke the tension, which threatened to rip the room apart.

“Excuse us, please, will you?” She slipped an arm through Harriet’s and started to pull her away. “We’re looking for Claire McIlhenny.”

“Oh. Her,” said Julie Winterbottom, who, as usual, was attached to Portia like a pilot fish. “I saw her earlier. Clumsy thing ran right into me.” Julie pointed back toward the entrance hall, a superior smirk on her face. “She ran off that way.”
Megan, watching the color rise in Rachel’s cheeks, grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her away.


They went back to the music room. Claire wasn’t there, but they did see Rachel’s parents. Mrs. Cuthbert wore a sleek dress of dove gray, her dark hair tied up in a replica of her daughter’s.Harriet and Megan gave a polite greeting.
“Oh, don’t you girls look lovely,” Mrs. Cuthbert gushed. She didn’t really look like Rachel, except that theyhad the same smile. She held out her hand for Megan to shake, her wrist decorated with a simple but elegant diamond tennis bracelet.
Mr. Cuthbert was more than six feet tall, and very animated. He raised his glass and toasted Megan.
“Brilliant party, this. Brilliant! You and your father have done a bang-up job.”

“Uh…thanks, but really, I didn’t have much to do with it. Mostly Professor Spencer did all the work.”

Mr. Cuthbert’s opinion didn’t seem to be affected by the information.
“I’ve always loved this house. Used to ride by when I was a boy and imagine what it looked like inside. I guess you’ve heard the stories about a ghost haunting it?”

Megan smiled politely and played with her earring.

“Yes, I heard something like that. No ghosts here, though, I promise.”
The trio excused themselves and returned to the entrance hall. They did not see Claire, and Megan wondered if something had happened to her.
“Maybe she went home?”

She had a bad feeling about what had happened with Julie. She scanned the crowd, keeping an eye out for the ambassador’s staff, but they were as elusive as Claire. Where were they? She wanted to search but couldn’t abandon Claire. She glanced up at the statue of Athena. There was no one near it, which made her relax a little.
“She has to be here somewhere,” Rachel said. “We’ll find her if it takes all bloody night.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How about a giveaway? ****UPDATE****

Intrigued? A copy of The Eighth Scroll by Dr. Laurence Brown is available. Leave a comment and send me an e-mail at with contact information. Entries are open May 23. Good luck because I have a late addition to this giveaway. This giveaway is being sponsored by The Gatekeepers Post. I thought only a copy of the book was available....there is more. In addition to the book, a one-on-one Skype webcam meet & greet with author Dr.Laurence Brown all the way from the Middle East is also available!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Read, read, read, let's spread the word!!

I'm an adult, and I have the freedom to read what I want at any given time. It's of the many luxuries I enjoy. Children all over the world are not so lucky. Scholastic has an ongoing program called Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life. As part of that campaign Scholastic is hosting a month-long online auction.  Proceeds from the auction and sales of posters and other items will benefit the nonprofits Reading Is Fundamental and Reach Out and Read.

Here are a few details from the press release:

Twelve outstanding children’s illustrators have created their artistic interpretation of the global literacy campaign — Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life.

An online auction of the original artwork opens May 5, 2011 at 6:00pm at Artists participating in the auction are: Norman Bridwell, Bruce Degen, Edwin Fotheringham, Mary GrandPré, Barbara McClintock, Jon J Muth, Sean Qualls, Stephen Savage, David Shannon, Jeff Smith, Mark Teague and Raina Telgemeier.

After the auction closes June 5, 2011, poster-sized reproductions will be available for purchase.

Kids these days aren't totally equipped with the reading skills they will need to succeed in life, it's wonderful to have a campaign out there to try and combat that. Wonder what exactly is up for auction? Take a look at these pictures:

And that's just for starters. My personal favorite is the top one. Is that the lady from the Magic School Bus? I'm remember reading those books as a child. Wasn't it also a TV series? I'm feeling nostalgic right now. How about you? In the meantime check out the online auction !!

What's that on the cover?

Skinny: A Novel (P.S.)Hmmm? After watching that trailer, I'm intrigued. Skinny by Diana Spechler seems to about embracing your body at any size. By know means am I skinny, except in my head, and I love to see books like this. Looking at the cover, you can't quite see the full shapes of both women on the cover. Perhaps that's good thing. We all come in different shapes and sizes, and we need to embrace that. A review of Skinny will be posted on June 2 as part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours. Stay tuned. !!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Interview with Collen Coble

Thanks to the people at The B&B Media Group for forwarding me this interview from Colleen Coble:

Q: Did you always dream of becoming a writer?  Why did you choose the romance genre?   I wrote my first story in the first grade.  It was about a horse that had twin colts.  The teacher praised it and the writing seed was planted.  I love illustrating God’s love through romance.  I especially love the suspense I put into all my books as well.  I have a strong streak of justice and it plays out in the suspense element.

Q: What inspired you to write a historical series based in the early 1900’s?  What would you have enjoyed about living in that time period and what would you have found the most difficult?   I happened to read an article about the Gilded Age and it mentioned how that era was so similar to today’s.  I was intrigued with that, plus I wanted to choose a time period that wouldn’t be too much of a departure from my contemporary books.  In that era, there were still cars and telephones!

I would have loved the simpler lifestyle.  However, I would miss my jeans!  How vain.

Q: Society at the turn of the century was very preoccupied with appearances and impressing other people.  How is that not so different than our society today and how can we keep from falling into that same trap?   That’s exactly right! The parallels between the two eras are astounding.  I’ve been at the cancer hospital this week with a dear friend, and it was a reminder of how fragile this life is.  We seek THINGS when God wants us to seek Him. We need to keep our eyes set on eternity and remember that THIS life is the real dream.  When we reach heaven, we will finally start to really live.

Q: Bitterness and unforgiveness led to the death of Olivia’s sister.  Why is it so important to forgive those who have wronged us?   An unforgiving spirit hurts us much more than the person we hate.  It makes us ugly and crowds out the love we want to show other people.  God is love, not hate. Bitterness is the very opposite of the attitude God wants us to have.

Q: This is the third book in your Mercy Falls series.  Addie and Katie were the main characters in your first two books.  Olivia was given a true gift in the friendship of Katie and Addie.  What does it take to find trustworthy and loyal friends?  Why do you think that we all desire to find friends like these?   You have to first be a friend.  You have to be open and giving of yourself to have those kinds of friends.  A true friend tells you the truth in love, and that’s an important component of the give and take of real friendship.

Q: What do you hope that your readers will take away from reading The Lightkeeper’s Ball?   I hope the readers who feel they have to earn love will take away the realization that their true worth is that Jesus loves them and died for them.  They are valuable beyond comprehension.  When we can step into the role of daughters and sons, we can realize our true potential.

My take on: The Lightkeeper's Ball

The Lightkeeper's Ball (A Mercy Falls Novel)Look at that cover. Do you get questioning your life through God? Do you get suspenseful, murder mystery from it? I don't, but it's all in there. And, it's well done.

The Lightkeeper's Ball by Collen Coble is the third in the Mercy Falls series. I didn't read the first two, but I don't think you need to. Olivia Stewart is drowning amid the rich elite of 1910. She wants out of a life of parties and power alliances. Her sister Eleanor has died under mysterious circumstances, throwing the Stewart family for a loop. Eleanor was set to marry Harrison Bennett, a man from a very wealthy family.

Olivia's money-hungry mother wants her surviving daughter to take Eleanor's place. Olivia has other ideas, like finding out who killed Eleanor. Under the title Lady Devonworth, Olivia sets out to find the truth. Except someone doesn't want her to find out the truth. Is it Harrison? Harrison isn't what he seems. Olivia thinks he's another one of the power elite, who thinks about nothing but business and money. Harrison thinks Olivia is just another society girl, who thinks of nothing but herself. They're both wrong.

Harrison, like Olivia, thinks outside the box. Harrison wants to build things. He wants to build a life without his father's money, power, and influence. He builds an airplane to take him away from that life. Is it enough? Is this what God wants?

"Harrison knew God had given him the talent to work with numbers and money. Why then did he yearn for something more than creating this? Why did his spirit long to be in his machine soaring above the clouds? His mother said he was throwing away God's gift by not tending to his talent in the boardroom. Did God always expect a man to use a gift? What about his own desires?"

We all yearn for more. Olivia yearns for more just like Harrison. She learns to see him in a different light. But is he a murderer? Or is he the man she has been looking for? It's quite possible he is. The relationship between Olivia and Harrison is at the heart of the book. In the beginning they're adversaries, but soon find out how much they have in common. A "scandal" forces them together. Their "friends" disappear because how can a fallen woman help them in society.

Just when you think you have a grasp on the murder mystery, another suspect emerges. A lot of the motives are greed, power, and revenge. I found myself speed-reading the last 80 pages. I just had to know who did what? When? Why? How? I wonder if the first two books were like this. I haven't read many Christian historical fiction novels. The message in the book isn't heavy-handed. It's very subtle and wrapped up in a great plot.

Rating: Superb

Notes: I received a copy of the book from The B&B Media Group in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hop, hop, hop !!

Book Blogger Hop

Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: Are you going to BookExpo America (BEA) and/or Book Blogger Convention (BBC) this year? YES YES YES YES. I'm so excited. I never get the allure of people coming to New York City and going gaga over this city because I've lived here all my life. But sometimes living in NYC has some perks, and going to BEA and BBC is one of them. Last year I found out too late to get the full BEA experience. I went to BBC and the last day of BEA. This year I'm going all three days the exhibit hall is open and I'm going to BBC.
I keep looking on the BEA web site to see who will be there and when. In a few days I'm actually going to sit down and plan out my three days. There are so many author signings and talks I want to go to. I want to meet Maureen Johnson, L.A. Weatherly, Cindy Pon and Kristan Higgins just to name a few. There are talks about online book discovery, audiobooks, and YA book buzz.
I made sure to get the time off from work in January. I didn't have the money then, but I knew I would eventually. When I did have the money, I did a cartwheel. I even did a post on tips for attending BEA. I fully intend to follow my own advice. I'm not a morning person, so the author breakfasts are out, but hopefully there are still some tickets for the tea. I'm not attending on the first day, because I hear it's mostly ceremonial. Seriously, May 24 can't come soon enough!! How about you guys, who is going?
Here are some blogs I came across:
Note: I'm looking for takers for my What's Up Tweeps?! feature. May's question: This is for you YA readers out there. It seems so many YA books are part of a series. Do you get tired of all the series? Ever wish something could stand alone? Entries are open until May 26. E-mail entries to

Blog Q&A with Jamie Lynn Braziel

Here are a few questions I had for Jamie Lynn Braziel author of Declaring Spinsterhood

Q: Old Hollywood movies, Keith Urban, and Nancy Drew play big roles in the book. Are you a big fan of all three?   I am a huge fan of all three!  I could not live without the Turner Classics Movie channel thanks to my mother's influence.  We tend to spend a lot of Sunday afternoons together watching our favorites or be introduced to new ones.  Keith Urban was one of the first singers I ever saw in concert.  His acoustic guitar skills really amaze me, and his lyrics are just beautiful and capture so many great emotions and moments in life.

Q: Is there any of Emma in you? Ever thought about "Declaring Spinsterhood" yourself?   Emma and I are very different.  She's much more adventurous and empathetic. I wish I were more like her especially when it comes to flirting with men.  I tend to clam up around someone I really like and think of all the witty things I could have said many hours later.

The idea of declaring spinsterhood has been very enticing at times, but ultimately, I still believe in love, marriage, and having children as some of the greatest gifts in life.

Q: What's next for you? Would you ever consider continuing Emma's story? Or was this enough?   I just completed a Master's of Science degree in accounting, so I'll definitely keep working in that area.  However, I also intend to continue writing.  The publication of my novel has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  Right now, I don't see a continuation of Emma's story in my future.  I think the novel ended exactly where it should have. However, I never say never.

Q: In three words how would you describe your book?   Lighthearted, romantic comedy!

My take on: Declaring Spinsterhood

Declaring SpinsterhoodEver got so fed up with the dating scene that you decided to give it all up? Think you could be happy without marriage? Think you could be happy with just yourself and a few close friends? I personally say no!! I'm 28ish, and I don't want to give up on the happily ever after fantasy until I'm 30.

In Declaring Spinsterhood by Jamie Lynn Braziel, Emma Bailey is a gun-toting 30-year-old who is ready to give up. A series of bad dates and meddling from her mother lead to this decision. She's quite content running her children's bookstore, reading Nancy Drew novels, listening to Keith Urban music, and watching old Hollywood movies with her dog and best friend Brian. Yes, her best friend is a man.

Brian is the type of friend Emma can confide in at her darkest hour. To me their relationship is as close to marriage, except there is no sex involved. He knows what ticks her off and what doesn't. Only he knows how much Emma would appreciate a blow-up doll of Cary Grant!! You have to read the book to get that one, but trust me it's all in good fun.

Emma says, "I'm declaring spinsterhood." While her mother thinks she has lost her mind. But Brian sees it as Emma standing up for herself. Brian is always there, whether it's to have a shoulder to lean on at church or to run interference with her mother. He's there to comfort Emma when her self-centered former boyfriend breaks her heart. But what happens when he's not sharing her philosophy and "declaring bachelorhood?"

Brian's dating life picks up when Emma decides to abandon hers. Is she just worried that Brian will no longer have time for her? Or is it love? It is love. Rather than confess her feelings, Emma decides to suffer internally. Meanwhile I'm screaming in my head, "No, no, no, no!!" That will never work. If you don't seize the opportunity, it might never come again.

This is a lovely and entertaining story. The only thing that seemed out of place an action sequence towards the end. Overall, it was a cute story worth checking out.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book at the request of the author's publicist (Little Bird Publicity) in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My take on: Wicked Bugs

Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical InsectsA couple of days ago, I got in my car and stared at my windshield. There was a tiny fly or some other insect on the outside. I had a choice. Let it fly off harmlessly or kill it with my windshield wipers? I'll just put it this way, I like a CLEAN windshield. That fly would have bit the dust sooner or later. After reading Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart, I'm glad I did. This book is funny and stomach-turning all at the same time. What do I mean by that? Let's take a stroll through some of the creepy crawlers in the book.

This little creepy crawler is one that we are all familiar with. Although, we're usually asleep when they attack. The BED BUG. Here comes the stomach-turning part, "Once it has a good grip, it begins rocking back and forth, working needlelike feeding organs called stylets into the skin." Who knew these little buggers had such strength. That description makes it sound like they're lifting 40-pound weights. It's probably a good thing I just washed my sheets yesterday. Just thinking about them makes me itch.

The Black Widow spider. Feel like leaving a surprise for someone you hate? It's one of the most feared spiders in the world.

The Chigoe Flea anybody? "A female chigoe flea burrows into the skin of her host by simply tearing into it, living under the skin and dining on the host's blood until she swells to about the size of a pea. She does not allow her host's skin to heal over, maintaining an open wound so that she can breathe and also so she can receive male visitors when she's feeling amorous." Ewwwwwwwwwww!! You can never heal because that nasty flea is in heat? The crew of Christopher Columbus cut off their own toes because they wanted to get rid of the critters.

Did you know mosquitoes are attracted to beer drinkers? I'm so glad I don't like alcohol. Water and juice all the way for me!!

The artwork by Briony Morrow-Cribs is just beautiful. If one can say such things about bugs.

You will come away with a deep understanding of the millions of insects in the world. The diseases they carry. The dumb things people actually thought they could do with them. Like programming them as attack weapons. Male insects have such a hard life most of them end up dismembered and dead after mating.  Trust me when I say, do not eat, drink, or be anywhere near food when reading this book. My face went through several shapes of disgust. But there are moments of laughter, too. If you have an interest in creepy crawlers, this is one for your collection!

In the meantime...

I'm going to curl up with another book and my very own bookworm. This little bugger loves books as much as me, except I don't eat the pages!

Rating: O.M.G!!!

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Algonquin) in exchange for an honest review. For more information author Amy Stewart visit: