Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reagan Arthur Books Challenge

All day on Twitter I have been hearing about a challenge titled The Reagan Arthur Books Challenge.  Well, to say it intrigued me is an understatement.  The tweets kept going out, "Have you joined yet?"  I'm not real fond of challenges, because last year I entered many but finished none.  I just couldn't keep track of it all.  So, I decided that I just wouldn't join any challenges this year.  I just wanted to read what I had and as much as I could.

Can you say sucker?  Yes, I am, I'll admit it.  I'm being sucked into this one because I just can't resist what it's about!  Reagan Arthur Books is an imprint of Little, Brown & Company, whom I love. So, I'm excited about the titles this new imprint has to offer.  This challenge was the brainstorm of two of my blogging friends, Kathy of Bermudaonion's Weblog and Julie of Booking Mama, after seeing the Shelf Awareness newsletter dedicated to the Reagan Arthur Books imprint.

The challenge is easy: read Reagan Arthur Books.  Right now, there are three titles available, with 16 more on the way.  On the challenge site, you can see the full list of titles.  Here are the first three books:

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

 Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup

Doors Open by Ian Rankin

There are really no rules to the challenge except to read any and/or all of the Reagan Arthur Books.  There is no timeline as this is a perpetual challenge.  It starts when you post your write your challenge post, so when are you starting?  I'm starting now, with The Unnamed, since I happen to have that one.  Won't you join me?

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday - 1/31/10

Welcome to another edition of my combo meme In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday.  You can find these hosted by some wonderful ladies: Kristi at The Story Siren and Marcia at The Printed Page, respectively.  They host these memes so that book bloggers can share the books that come into their houses.  I appreciate them both and hope that you will visit their blogs.

I had a light book week this past week, thankfully.  I have many blog tours coming up and I want to make sure I have enough time to devote to each book.  Here's what I received in the mail.

Master Your Debt: Slash Your Monthly Payments and Become Debt-Free by Jordan E. Goodman, from FSB Associates
Strategies and tools to live debt free
The world of borrowing and debt management has changed dramatically, leaving people confused about how best to secure their financial future. This book is the only guide with detailed advice to help you become debt free or master the debt you have, based on the latest laws and new government programs and policies implemented under the Obama administration.
Is the information and advice on debt management different than in years past? Definitely. In this savvy, engaging guide, bestselling financial expert Jordan Goodman will tell you how to
Win the mortgage game: avoid foreclosure, obtain the best refi, and modify your mortgage even if it is under water Clean up your credit report and dramatically boost your credit score Negotiate new terms and payments for burdensome medical bills, student loans, and credit cards Protect yourself from the devastation of identity theft Master the new credit card rules, and avoid the rate and fee traps Learn a revolutionary strategy that will help you become mortgage free in 5 to 7 years, change the way you pay all your bills, and save hundreds of thousands of dollars
Master Your Debt recommends many pioneering strategies as it lays out an innovative plan for achieving the elusive goal of financial success. The book is filled with helpful web sites, toll free numbers, associations and government agencies, and vetted companies and services to help you implement this advice. In today's volatile economy, getting out of debt is the key to surviving and thriving, and author Jordan Goodman provides you with the strategies and tools to live debt free.

An Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor, from Forge via Authors on the Web
Readers of Patrick Taylor’s books know Mrs. Kinky Kincaid as the unflappable housekeeper who looks after two frequently frazzled doctors in the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo. She is a trusted fixture in the lives of those around her, and it often seems as though Kinky has always been there.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Some forty-odd years before and many miles to the south, the girl who would someday be Kinky Kincaid was Maureen O’Hanlon, a farmer’s daughter growing up in the emerald hills and glens of County Cork. A precocious girl on the cusp of womanhood, Maureen has a head full of dreams, a heart open to romance, and something more: a gift for seeing beyond the ordinary into the mystic realm of fairies, spirits, and even the dreaded Banshee, whose terrifying wail she first hears on a snowy night in 1922. . . .

As she grows into a young woman, Maureen finds herself torn between love and her fondest aspirations, for the future is a mystery even for one blessed with the sight. Encountering both joy and sorrow, Maureen at last finds herself on the road to Ballybucklebo---and the strong and compassionate woman she was always destined to become.

Making Toast (ARC) by Roger Rosenblatt, from Ecco Books via Shelf Awareness
Though still reeling from their daughter's untimely death, Rosenblatt and his wife, Ginny, carry on, reconstructing a family, sustaining one another, and guiding three lively, alert, and tender-hearted grandchildren through the pains and confusions of grief.
The Believers by Zoe Heller, from Harper for a TLC Book Tour
When a stroke fells radical New York lawyer Joel Litvinoff, a secret is revealed that forces Audrey, his wife, to reexamine everything she believed about their forty-year marriage. In the meantime Joel's children are struggling with their own dilemmas and doubts. Disillusioned revolutionary Rosa has been drawn into the world of Orthodox Judaism. Karla, a devoted--and married--social worker hoping to adopt a child, is falling in love with the owner of a newspaper stand. Lenny, the ne'er-do-well, faces yet another relapse into heroin addiction. In the course of battling their own demons--and one another--the Litvinoffs must reexamine long-held articles of faith and decide what--if anything--they still believe in.

Hasta La Vista, Lola! by Misa Ramirez, from Minotaur Books (2 copies - 1 to read, 1 to give away)
When Lola comes home to her parents' house to find a horde of relatives mourning her death, no one is more surprised than she is. The news had reported that one Lola Cruz, PI was found murdered in an alley, causing great alarm in the Cruz family. Before Lola can say boo, a cop comes to the house. It turns out the dead woman had a driver's license with Lola's information. Between avoiding an unsavory ex-boyfriend, sorting out mixed signals from the very interested but not yet committed Jack Callaghan, and filling in as a waitress at her parents' Mexican restaurant, Lola tries to find out who the woman was and why she stole her identity. Was the woman hiding from someone who meant her harm, or is there someone out there who wants Lola dead?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 1/29/2010

1. Wouldn't it be easy if someone else did it for me.

2. I wish I was feeling better than ever!

3. I love the taste of chocolate.

4. Our tv went out in the living room.

5. The first thing we're going to do is catch up on the day.

6. Starting at 3 this morning, all I heard was drip, drip, drip; the rainstorm was very noisy.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing with my husband, tomorrow my plans include helping my husband at work and Sunday, I want to ride my horse and read!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blog Tour: How to Save Your Own Life

Title: How to Save Your Own Life: 15 Lessons on Finding Hope in Unexpected Places
Author: Michael Gates Gill
Review Copy Provided by:  Gotham Books via TLC Book Tours

About the Book:  Michael Gill's lemons-to-lemonade memoir chronicled his transformative years working at Starbucks after losing his high-powered job, his marriage, and his health (he developed a brain tumor). In response to overwhelming requests from readers who wanted to know how they, too, could weather downturns, he has distilled his lessons into fifteen meaningful lessons, including:

A-Leap...With Faith: Sometimes it pays to leap without looking and say yes without thinking (Gill accepted the Starbucks job immediately, on a whim).

A-Let Yourself...Be Helped: Pride is even more paralyzing than fear.

A-Look...with Respect at Every Individual You See: Gill was raised to avoid eye contact with those who were different, cloistered in a privileged world. Now he realizes the potential in all who cross his daily path.

A-Lose...Your Watch (and Cell Phone and PDA ): Our obsession with productivity produces madness, not gladness.

Offering living proof that extraordinary happiness is found in ordinary moments, How to Save Your Own Life provides empowering words and hope for anyone facing a reversal of fortune. True fortune, Gill discovered, lies not in fate but in discovering the innate capacity we all possess to rescue ourselves.

My Review:  While I haven't completely finished reading this book, because there is so much to it, I am going to give you my thoughts so far for the tour today.  Michael Gates Gill wrote another book, How Starbucks Saved My Life, which I haven't read, but got great reviews.  This book, is full of new anecdotes from Michael about his father, author Brendan Gill, his mother, family and friends, and people he has met either at Starbucks or out on the road.

Most of us are so busy with life, that we take for granted the little things that are usually common sense.  Gill gives us some lessons to remember, like live each day like it's your last and listen to your own heart, for example.  These are two that are really sticking with me right now.  It's easy to read these, but hard to live.  Life gets hard for many, but everyone has it in them to better themselves.  Michael Gill is living proof of someone who loses everything in life: getting fired from a job with a six-figure salary, his family in a divorce, and possibly his life when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  If he can come back from that, and find inspiration, then anyone can.  His book is an inspiration to me, and one that I look forward to finishing and putting the lessons into practice in my own life.  I hope that you will consider picking it up!

Here are the other stops on the tour this week, if you'd like to visit them.
Monday, January 25th: Silver and Grace

Tuesday, January 26th: Inventing My Life
Wednesday, January 27th: Write for a Reader
Thursday, January 28th: Confessions of a Book a Holic
Friday, January 29th: Simply Forties

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review: Kyle's Island

Title:  Kyle's Island
Author:  Sally Derby
ARC Provided by:  Charlesbridge Publishing
Publishing date:  February 2010

About the book:  For as far back as Kyle can remember, he spent summers at Gram's cottage on the lake--fishing all day, and hanging out with the whole family. But this year is different. His father has moved out, his grandmother has died, and his mother is selling the cottage because they can't afford the upkeep.

My Review:  I really enjoyed this one!  Sally is an author that I was familiar with, through her children's book, No Mush Today, which I have read and reviewed.   When I saw that she was releasing a middle grade book, I wanted to read it. 

This is a great book for middle graders and even young teens.  One thing I liked is that it had a strong male main character.  Kyle knows what he wants and he will do whatever it takes to get it.  Kids today could learn a lot from Kyle.  He goes through his parents' separation with the same feelings that many kids have.  He feels he has already lost his father, and now he is about to lose one of the other constants in his life, that he loves dearly; the cottage at the lake.  But, through the story, he learns a much greater lesson.  He makes a new friend that he never would have thought about and learns to forgive and go on even though life isn't happening the way he wants it to.  There are just so many lessons in this book, for young kids to learn from!

Sally Derby does a great job not only telling Kyle's story, but delivering a middle grade novel that boys and girls alike will enjoy!  The male point of view is not prevalent in a lot of stories today, so it was refreshing to read.  Positive values and lessons in a realistic fiction story, make this a must read for tweens and an excellent addition to a school library.

Charlesbridge Publishing has a Discussion and Activity Guide to accompany Kyle's Island.  What a great tool to use in the classroom!

Monday, January 25, 2010

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday - 1/25/10

Eventually, I guess, I will get used to writing 2010.  I just noticed that on last week's edition of In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday, I dated it 1/17/09...oh well.  Maybe in February I'll get it right.

Welcome to another edition of my combo meme In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday.  You can find these hosted by some wonderful ladies: Kristi at The Story Siren and Marcia at The Printed Page, respectively.  They host these memes so that book bloggers can share the books that come into their houses.  I appreciate them both and hope that you will visit their blogs.

Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn, from Knopf
Very LeFreak has a problem: she’s a crazed technology addict. Very can’t get enough of her iPhone, laptop, IMs, text messages, whatever. If there’s any chance the incoming message, call, text, or photo might be from her supersecret online crush, she’s going to answer, no matter what. Nothing is too important: sleep, friends in mid-conversation, class, a meeting with the dean about academic probation. Soon enough, though, this obsession costs Very everything and everyone. Can she learn to block out the noise so she can finally hear her heart?

Arcadia Falls (ARC) by Carol Goodman, from Ballantine Books via Shelf Awareness
There once was a girl who liked to pretend she was lost. . . .

Meg Rosenthal is driving toward the next chapter in her life. Winding along a wooded roadway, her car moves through a dense forest setting not unlike one in the bedtime stories Meg used to read to her daughter, Sally. But the girl riding beside Meg is a teenager now, and has exchanged the land of make-believe for an iPod and some personal space. Too much space, it seems, as the chasm between them has grown since the sudden, unexpected death of Meg’s husband.

Dire financial straits and a desire for a fresh start take Meg and Sally from a comfortable life on Long Island to a tucked-away hamlet in upstate New York: Arcadia Falls, where Meg has accepted a teaching position at a boarding school. The creaky, neglected cottage Meg and Sally are to call home feels like an ill portent of things to come, but Meg is determined to make the best of it—and to make a good impression on the school’s dean, the diminutive, elegant Ivy St. Clare.

St. Claire, however, is distracted by a shocking crisis: During Arcadia’s First Night bonfire, one of Meg’s folklore students, Isabel Cheney, plunges to her death in a campus gorge. Sheriff Callum Reade finds Isabel’s death suspicious, but then, he is a man with secrets and a dark past himself.

Meg is unnerved by Reade’s interest in the girl’s death, and as long-buried secrets emerge, she must face down her own demons and the danger threatening to envelop Sally. As the past clings tight to the present, the shadows, as if in a terrifying fairy tale, grow longer and deadlier.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow, from Algonquin Books
This debut novel tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. who becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy. 

With her strict African American grandmother as her new guardian, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring mixed attention her way. Growing up in the 1980s, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white.

Who Stole My Soul? by Vishura Prakash, from Synergy Books
If a soul is intangible and resides within our hearts and minds, can it be stolen? More importantly, who do you turn to when you feel your soul slipping away from you? In this fantastical, semi-autobiographical book, Vishwa Prakash addresses these questions. When Vishwa feels a mysterious force sweep away his soul, he embarks on a spiritual quest and appeals to an unusual being for help-the devil, who is not quite what Vishwa expected. Vishwa's dialogue with the devil takes him deep within himself, in search of answers to his dilemma. The devil has an unorthodox viewpoint, which intrigues one moment and enlightens the next.

The Bride Collector (ARC) by Ted Dekker, from Center Street for an upcoming blog tour
FBI Special agent Brad Raines is facing his toughest case yet. A Denver serial killer has killed four beautiful young women, leaving a bridal veil at each crime scene, and he's picking up his pace. Unable to crack the case, Raines appeals for help from a most unusual source: residents of the Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a private psychiatric institution for mentally ill individuals whose are extraordinarily gifted.

It's there that he meets Paradise, a young woman who witnessed her father murder her family and barely escaped his hand. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Paradise may also have an extrasensory gift: the ability to experience the final moments of a person's life when she touches the dead body.

In a desperate attempt to find the killer, Raines enlists Paradise's help. In an effort to win her trust, he befriends this strange young woman and begins to see in her qualities that most 'sane people' sorely lack. Gradually, he starts to question whether sanity resides outside the hospital walls...or inside.

As the Bride Collector picks up the pace-and volume-of his gruesome crucifixions, the case becomes even more personal to Raines when his friend and colleague, a beautiful young forensic psychologist, becomes the Bride Collector's next target.

The FBI believes that the killer plans to murder seven women. Can Paradise help before it's too late?

Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy, from Clarion Books
When little Mabel's bubble gets away from her, it's her baby brother who gets into trouble. Soon he's floating out of the house, above the fence, and all over town! And it's up to Mabel, Mother, and the rest of the townspeople to get him safely back down. Who knew that so much trouble could come from one little bubble?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 1/22/10

1. You have a chance to make things right.

2. I want to eat right now!

3. There is a reason for everything.

4. Buy now and pay later.  (I wish...)

5. It's time to start school but I'm not ready.

6. Our plans are usually up in the air but sometimes we schedule things.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching Ghost Whisperer, tomorrow my plans include a parent workshop at school and working on the driveway and Sunday, I want to relax with a book!

If you'd like to join in the fun, visit the Friday Fill-Ins blog!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday -

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Change of Heart

by Shari Maurer
Publication Date: 2010 by WestSide Books

In a world where the most stressful thing seems to be winning a soccer game or what to wear in the morning, you take some really basic things for granted.

Like the love of your parents.

Or hanging with your friends.

Or the beating of your heart.

When you’re 16 years old, it never occurs to you that you might die. Emmi Miller’s got a fabulous life. She has tons of friends, does great in school and is an all-star soccer player who played in Europe last summer. It even looks like Sam Hunter, a totally cute baseball player, might be interested in her. And then she gets a virus. No biggy, right? Until the virus goes to her heart and weakens it so much that, without a transplant, Emmi will die.

Will Emmi get a heart in time? Is Sam too good to be true? What about her new friend Abe, who has also had a transplant and guides her through these scary times — is he just being supportive or is there more going on between them? And will Emmi realize it before it’s too late?

What an ordeal to be placed on the shoulders of a 16 year old!  I am anticipating this one to see how the author deals with such a delicate situation.  This is something that teenagers don't think about, but it happens.  I'm glad to see an author putting it into a YA story for teens to read.  Maybe it will make them stop and think!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Because of A Book with Kim Russo

Today, I have the honor of welcoming to the blog, Kim Russo.  You can find her online at Book-Diva.

Reading has always been a pattern of consumption for me. The faster I could consume it, the smarter I would be. There was always so much to read and consume in high school and later in college, only to be reiterated in some term paper later on.

Recently, I heard someone say that no student should read the great works of literature before they are in college. Before that, no one would have enough of a perspective to truly appreciate the true value of literature. This is what happened to me.

As any well-read student, I read Shakespeare, Camus, and even a little Upton Sinclair. Just enough of everything to round out my academic record and literary resume. I could discuss the effects of the iambic pentameter of Shakespeare’s literature and the “cloudless climes and starry skies” of Lord Byron’s famous verses. However, many of these pieces did not appeal to me personally, nor did they inspire me to write.

I always thought good writing came from creating a story out of nothing. Personal references were too predictable and too personal. If I became a published author, too many people would try to analyze me and why I wrote what I did because of the life I had had. I’m an intensely private person about my feelings and desires. To have other people appreciate my writing would give me a connection but in a protected way. I would not have to interact with them face to face if I did not wish to.

It’s ironic, then, that the first book that really inspired in me to be a writer was That Night by Alice McDermott. During my first semester in college, I had the opportunity to read this for the very first time. Like me, the author, Alice McDermott, had grown up in the suburbs of Long Island, built after the World War II. In this book, the main characters struggled with the plot, a pregnant teenage girl, who struggles against the current of the ideal suburban life.

It’s not a long book. Not much to consume in terms of pages or words. Rather, I liked the construction and the sound of McDermott’s words in this novel. It had the pitch and rhythm of language that I experienced growing up on Long Island myself. Just like the characters in this novel, I too have struggled with many of the same themes. How to reconcile my uniqueness with the strong blandness of suburban society. How I feared ostracism despite my desire to be a part of a world that demands a certain amount of behavior conformity.

Since reading this novel, I have read two other novels by Alice McDermott, and I have delighted in the same things again and again. Long Island continues to be the backdrop for her work, but it is only where she begins the story, not where she ends it. The knowledge of where she came from does not inhibit or define her boundaries. They add authenticity to the story she created.

This book and this author reminded me that to be a good writer often means using what is a part of you, what you know. It’s not writing your lifestory. It’s about creating a legitimate and authentic story that draws the reader into a different world that’s real to you, the author. That is why, I decided, I would become an author some day.

About That Night:  Recalling American suburbia of the 1960s, this is the story of a teenage boy who retaliates against his girlfriend's mother after fate severs the couple's fragile bond. In souped-up cars, he and his buddies cruise loudly through her neighborhood, wielding chains and egging on the fathers who would dare try to defend their families. The result is a night that no one will be able to forget, and a showdown not only between two generations but also between one young man and the deep-seated fears that have haunted him all his life. 

Buy it at Amazon 
Buy it at Powells

Monday, January 18, 2010

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday - 1/17/09

Welcome to another edition of my combo meme In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday.  You can find these hosted by some wonderful ladies: Kristi at The Story Siren and Marcia at The Printed Page, respectively.  They host these memes so that book bloggers can share the books that come into their houses.  I appreciate them both and hope that you will visit their blogs.

Since I didn't get a post in last week, the following is what came into my house over the last two weeks.

Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love by Pat Mora, from Knopf
Beloved children's book author and speaker Pat Mora has written an original collection of poems, each with a different teen narrator sharing unique thoughts, moments, sadness, or heart’s desire: the girl who loves swimming, plunging into the water that creates her own world; the guy who leaves flowers on the windshield of the girl he likes. Each of the teens in these 50 original poems, written using a variety of poetic forms, will be recognizable to the reader as the universal emotions, ideas, impressions, and beliefs float across the pages in these gracefully told verses.

Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, from Knopf
Dee, Terrence, and Hector are very excited about Author Visit Day.  But something is not right about their special guest, Lewis Scribson, author of the famous Flippy Bunny books.  Coach Birkby, the gym teacher, mysteriously disappears the day of his visit.  What evil designs does this world-famous writer have on his agenda?  Lunch Lady is going to get to the bottom of it, even if she has to kick some bunny butt!

Dream Life by Lauren Mechling, from Delacorte Press
Claire Voyante's first semester at Henry Hudson High School was eventful, to say the least. As she heads into her second semester, things are calming down a bit. But Claire has a few secrets that are getting harder to keep. Her biggest secret of all? The onyx and ivory cameo necklace her grandmother gave her for her 15th birthday. Ever since she started wearing it, her dreams have been coming to her in black and white and turning out to be oddly prophetic.

Becca’s been hanging out with her old prep school friends and never seems to have time for Claire anymore. And soon, Claire discovers why—there’s a secret group of society girls with a mysterious identity. And, turns out, a mysterious enemy who’s out to get them. The second she sniffs out trouble, Claire jumps on the case. But is it someone close to Claire who’s in danger again—or could it be Claire herself whose life is at stake?

How to Save Your Own Life: 15 Lessons on Finding Hope in Unexpected Places by Michael Gates Gill, from Gotham Books
Filled with new anecdotes of life with his father, New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, his mother, his children, his family and friends and the dramatic adn inspiring stories of people he has met on the road and at his local Starbucks since the  publication of How Starbucks Saved My Life,  Mike imparts lessons of life that we often forget in our day-to-day interactions with those around us, lessons which are at once profound as well as common sense.

Fireworks Over Toccoa (ARC) by Jeffrey Stepakoff, from St. Martin's Press
An unexpected discovery takes eighty-four-year-old Lily Davis Woodward to 1945, and the five days that forever changed her life.  Married for only a week before her husband was sent to fight in WWII, Lily is anxious for his return, and the chance to begin their life together.  In honor of the soldiers' homecoming, the small Georgia town of Toccoa plans a big celebration.  And Jake Russo, a handsome Italian immigrant, also back from war, is responsible for the elaborate fireworks display the town commissioned.   But after a chance encounter in a star-lit field, he steals Lily's heart and soul--and fulfills her in ways her socially-minded, upper-class family cannot.  Now, torn by duty to society and her husband--and the poor, passionate man who might be her only true love--Lily must choose between a commitment she's already made and a love she’s never known before.

Get Lucky (ARC) by Katherine Center
Sarah Harper isn’t sure if the stupid decisions she sometimes makes are good choices in disguise—or if they’re really just stupid. But either way, after forwarding an inappropriate email to her entire company, she suddenly finds herself out of a job.

          So she goes home to Houston—and her sister, Mackie—for Thanksgiving. But before Sarah can share her troubles with her sister, she learns that Mackie has some woes of her own: After years of trying, Mackie’s given up on having a baby—and plans to sell on eBay the entire nursery she’s set up. Which gives Sarah a brilliant idea—an idea that could fix everyone’s problems. An idea that gives Sarah the chance to take care of her big sister for once—instead of the other way around.

          But nothing worthwhile is ever easy. After a decade away, Sarah is forced to confront one ghost from her past after another: the father she’s lost touch with, the memories of her mother, the sweet guy she dumped horribly in high school. Soon everything that matters is on the line—and Sarah can only hope that by changing her life she has changed her luck, too.

Beautiful Dead: Book 1-Jonas (ARC) by Eden Maguire, from Sourcebooks Fire
Something strange is happening in Ellerton High. Phoenix is the fourth teenager to die within a year. His street fight stabbing follows the deaths of Jonas, Summer and Arizona in equally strange and sudden circumstances. Rumours of ghosts and strange happenings rip through the small community as it comes to terms with shock and loss. Darina, Phoenix's grief-stricken girlfriend, is on the verge. She can't escape her intense heartache, or the impossible apparitions of those that are meant to be dead. And all the while the sound of beating wings echo inside her head...And then one day Phoenix appears to Darina. Ecstatic to be reunited, he tells her about the Beautiful Dead. Souls in limbo, they have been chosen to return to the world to set right a wrong linked to their deaths and bring about justice. Beautiful, superhuman and powerful, they are marked by a 'death mark' -- a small tattoo of angel's wings. Phoenix tells her that the sound of invisible wings beating are the millions of souls in limbo, desperate to return to earth. Darina's mission is clear: she must help Jonas, Summer, Arizona, and impossibly, her beloved Phoenix, right the wrong linked to their deaths to set them free from limbo so that they can finally rest in peace. Will love conquer death? And if it does, can Darina set it free?

Burn by Ted Dekker & Erin Healy, from Phenix & Phenix
The past Janeal thought had burned away is rising from the ashes.
Years ago, the Gypsy Kumpania where Janeal Mikkado lived was attacked by outsiders. With her best friend about to be consumed by a fire, Janeal had two options: try to save her friend--at serious risk to her own life--or disappear with the million dollars that she had just discovered . . .
But the past is quickly coming back to haunt her. Both the best friend and the boyfriend that she was sure were dead have reappeared in her life, as has someone who knows about the money. There's a debt to be paid for the money she found, but there's an even greater debt she must face--and if the chaff isn't burned from her own heart, it will consume her.

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab, from Delacorte Press
Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

They Never Came Back by Caroline B. Cooney, from Delacorte Press
In a busy school cafeteria, a teenage girl is confronted by a classmate who questions her identity. He explains to the students who have crowded around that the girl bears an uncanny resemblance to his cousin, who was taken away by social services five years ago. Her parents abandoned her, fleeing the country after being accused of embezzling millions of dollars. The students are intrigued, but the girl shrugs off the attention as a case of mistaken identity.

As the days pass, however, the boy refuses to relent and even brings his parents in to back him up. But they are not the only adults involved. An FBI agent who has been working the case these past five years believes that whoever this girl is, she can serve as bait to help the FBI capture the fugitives.

The Less-Dead by April Lurie, from Delacorte Press
Noah Nordstrom has been dissing the religious beliefs of his father, who hosts a popular Christian radio show and whom Noah accuses of spreading hate. When two local gay teens are murdered, Noah’s anti-evangelism intensifies—he’s convinced that the killer is a caller on his dad’s program.

Then Noah meets Will Reed, a cool guy. But when he learns that Will is gay, Noah gets a little weirded out. Especially since Will seems really into him. Noah gives Will the brush-off. Meanwhile, the killer is still at large . . . and soon Noah finds the next victim. It’s Will.

Racked with guilt, Noah decides to investigate. He knows the serial killer is targeting gay teens, but only those who live in foster homes, whose deaths are not that important to society; they are the less-dead. Noah, however, is determined to prove that someone cares. With the help of Will’s journal, which he pocketed at the scene of the crime and in which the killer has written clues, Noah closes in on an opponent more dangerous than he can guess.

What did you get last week?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Waiting on Wednesday" - Everlasting

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

by Angie Frazier
Publication Date: June 1st 2010 by Scholastic Press

Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.

On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic.

The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who—and what—matters most.

If you are a follower of this blog, you know how I'm drawn to covers.  Well, this one, in my opinion, is beautiful!  I love the colors that were chosen.  Very simple, yet it catches the eye.  Then, I read the synopsis.  Not much YA that I've read is set in the past, especially the 1800s.  Not that this is historical fiction, which I love because I'm a big history fan, but the fact that it is set in the past has me highly anticipating this one!  To top it off, there are secrets, magic and romance.  What more could a girl want?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Because of A Book with Maureen Hume

Write For A Reader is very pleased to welcome Maureen Hume to the blog today.

I am the author of ‘The Pizza Gang: Facing The Witch’, a crazy, fun, adventure chapter story for children ages 8-12. Visit The Pizza Gang and myself at
Besides being a children’s fiction author I am the devoted mother to six abandoned, disabled bunnies, friend and aunt to a fantastic extended family full of children and wife to one of the nicest men on this fabulous earth of ours.

Sometimes I think I was born with a book firmly clasped in my chubby baby hands because books are such a big part of my life and the profound comfort they give me I can only put down to a genetic predisposition.
I grew up on a sheep farm in Tasmania, Australia during the 60’s and 70’s and for a young child it was a blissful existence. We didn’t have a television or even a telephone but what we did have was books, books and more books.
Money was scarce so the books I read were either very old, second hand or end of year Sunday School presentations.
‘The Case of the Missing Toff’ was a favorite not because of it’s content but more because to me it smelled like long forgotten treasure, kind of musty and damp, and the spine creaked spookily with each turn of a page. I never did quite understand what a Toff is or was but the book itself is still stuck in my mind several decades later.
As a shy loner child I completely immersed myself in books and the characters became my trusted friends, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five was actually Famous Six but seeing this wasn’t going to work as a title I graciously asked to be left in the background, included in every adventure, but never mentioned.
And then there was my beloved Trixie Belden. My niece has a full set of exactly the same stories that I treasured thirty years ago, with one small difference, the covers are soft and a clever person has given Trixie a very cool millennium makeover.
But there can only be one winner in the category of childhood books that changed my life and that book would have to be Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I was presented with this book by the church as my reward for attending each and every Sunday School class for the entire year. I loathed and despised this story! Unfortunately for me every man and his dog felt obliged to tell me how lucky I was to be given such a classic book therefore making me feel obliged to fib and agree that yes I was indeed lucky and yes it was a great book.
So every birthday and Christmas for the next two years I was bestowed with a Louisa May Alcott book until I had the entire rotten series.
So, what did my childhood books teach me? Life’s too short to read books you don’t enjoy. If the first chapter doesn’t grab at least one of your senses, toss it and find a book that does.
Oh, and all that pent up childhood imagination that lingers into adulthood…channel it into writing children’s books, so growing generations can immerse themselves in your fantasy and get to know your characters so they feel like trusted friends.

About Little Women:  Follow the adventures of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, in this lively retelling of a much-loved classic tale. The sisters fall into one scrape after another, as tempers flare, illness strikes and their lives are filled with new experiences and loves.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at IndieBound

About The Pizza Gang Facing the Witch:  When the neighborhood witch is out to get you, you'll do just about anything to avoid her! That's how twin brothers Joe and Ben, along with their best friend Katie, wound up volunteering to sort through the lost property at the police station. When they uncover a beautiful hat sent to a bride-to-be during a war decades ago, they find themselves in the middle of a mystery that needs solving. Determined to re-unite the hat with its owner, Joe, Ben and Katie come up with a plan involving their eccentric friend, Major Pain In The Butt and his turbo-charged wheelchair. But a series of disasters involving the witch, a cardboard cut-out of Brad Pitt, a bottle of nerve-calming sherry, a moldy theatre curtain and the theft of the hat bring a sudden end to the children's quest. Will they ever find the hat's owner?

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at IndieBound


Monday, January 11, 2010

Why Worry

So, I haven't posted since Thursday.  That worries me.  Good bloggers schedule posts for times such as these, so that when life happens or gets in the way, blog posts go as scheduled.  Not for me apparently and that worries me.  These of course are minor in the grand scheme of things, but I think I worry too much and that worries me.  See...a little obsessive right?

They say, "don't worry, be happy."  If only it worked that way.  I worry about things that don't happen, things that could happen, might happen, what name it. Did I remember to turn the stove off, did I unplug the iron, did I turn off the water outside?

This weekend it froze in Conroe, TX; 15 degrees to be exact.  It stayed below freezing until about noon on Friday, then back down to 15 Friday night, 17 Saturday night, and then 21 last night.  I worried about the pipes freezing.  Should we leave water dripping, why didn't we wrap the pipes, will the horses be okay, why won't the dog come in out of the cold, etc?  My husband didn't seem to be bothered by any of it at all.  Of course, I worry in silence.  Just like the worrying I did at the deer lease that caused me to have the anxiety attack and end up in the emergency room New Year's Eve, but that's another story.

Well, this is a busy week for me with testing at school, our buyer's group's auction on Wednesday, that I'm in charge of, meetings, and the like.  I've worried about being able to get it all done, to give 100% to everything.  I didn't need what happened this evening, but life has a way of making you stop.

When we drove the truck on Friday night, it was making some weird noises and acting a little funny, but we chalked it up to the cold weather.  My truck didn't move for the rest of the weekend, until this morning.  I made it to work, no problem.  So, on to my meeting in Houston I went after school.  Needless to say, I didn't make it to my meeting.  Less than halfway there, the engine started making strange noises and the oil light came on with an obsessive beeping.  Enter hubby to the rescue.  It just needs oil, he thinks, so we drive the short distance to the auto parts.  Oil's in, so we head home.  I didn't make it very far before the light and beeping begin again.  I tell you the beeping is annoying, so hubby and I switched trucks.  Long story short, we were able to get the truck home, but now I have a whole new set of worries.  What's wrong with the truck, what's it going to cost to fix it, how am I going to get everything done with us sharing a truck, how long will it be down, etc.?

Why am I telling you this?  It is what makes me me.  I worry.  It's just who I am.  Yes, I'm a book blogger, but who am I?  Do you want to know more about me?  Well, now you know a little more.  Will my stats go down because I don't post every day?  Will you keep coming back to read what little ol' me has to say?  I worry about that.  I shouldn't be so obsessive about my stats, but I am.  I quit letting it bother me that I'm not on Twitter ALL the time like I was before I started this job.  I should quit letting some of the rest of it bother me.  Go ahead, tell me. You know you want to.

If you're still reading, thank you.  Thank you for caring about me enough to stick with my rambling.  I know it's a break from bookish posts, but some times, such posts are necessary.  Back to the bookishness tomorrow.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Penguin's 52 Books for 2010

I subscribe to Penguin's newsletters and thought you would enjoy what was in it today.  They are listing 52 books to make you Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise in 2010.  I won't be reading all of them, as they don't all appeal to me, but there are some choices that I am going to take a look at.  Hopefully you will find one or two that are to your liking as well!


Must Read – And Another Thing…by Eoin Colfer
Healthy - The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson
Wealthy - The Thrift Book by India Knight
Wise - The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton

Must Read - Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
Healthy - Doctoring the Mind by Richard Bentall
Wealthy - Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin
Wise - The English Rebel by David Horspool

Must Read - Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Healthy - Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Wealthy - Keynes by Robert Skidelsky
Wise - The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

Must Read - The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Healthy - On Kindness by Adam Phillips & Barbara Taylor
Wealthy - Economy Gastronomy by Allegra McEvedy & Paul Merrett
Wise - Storm of War by Andrew Roberts

Must Read - The Defence of the Realm by Christopher Andrew
Healthy - The Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson
Wealthy - Nudge by Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein
Wise - Bluestockings by Jane Robinson

Must Read – The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman
Healthy – Remember, Remember by Ed Cooke
Wealthy - All Consuming by Neal Lawson
Wise - A Mess of Iguanas, A Whoop of Gorillas by Alon Shulman


Must Read – In Praise of Older Women by Stephen Vizinczey
Healthy - Why do people get ill? By Darian Leader & David Corfield
Wealthy - Bad Money by Kevin Phillips
Wise - The Uses of Literacy by Richard Hoggart

Must Read - Ant & Dec – ooh, What a lovely pair! by Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly
Healthy - The Divided Self by R.D. Laing
Wealthy - Binge Trading by Seth Freedman
Wise - Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono

Must Read – The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes
Healthy - Not on the Label by Felicity Lawrence
Wealthy - Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Wise – The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett

Must Read – Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Healthy - Don't Swallow Your Gum by Dr Aaron Carroll and Dr Rachel Vreeman
Wealthy – Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz
Wise – How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

Must Read - The Prophecy by Chris Kuzneski
Healthy - Blood and Guts by Roy Porter
Wealthy - The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Wise - What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

Must Read - Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Healthy - The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
Wealthy – Power Presentation by Patsy Rodenburg
Wise - Driven to Distraction by Jeremy Clarkson

Bonus titles
Must Read - The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov
Healthy - The River Café Classic Italian Cookbook by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
Wealthy - Good Value by Stephen Green
Wise – The Rough Guide to Happiness by Nick Baylis

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday - The Beautiful Between

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Beautiful Between
By Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publication Date: May 11th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

If high school were a fairy-tale kingdom, Connelly Sternin would be Rapunzel, locked not in a tower by a wicked witch but in a high-rise apartment building by the SATs and college applications—and by the secrets she keeps. Connelly's few friends think that her parents are divorced—but they're not. Connelly's father died when she was two, and she doesn't know how.

If Connelly is the Rapunzel of her school, Jeremy Cole is the crown prince, son of a great and rich New York City family. So when he sits down next to her at lunch one day, Connelly couldn't be more surprised. But Jeremy has a tragic secret of his own, and Connelly is the only one he can turn to for help. Together they form a council of two, helping each other with their homework and sharing secrets. As the pair's friendship grows, Connelly learns that it's the truth, not the secrets, that one must guard and protect. And that between friends, the truth, however harsh, is also beautiful.

I like a good story, and this sounds like a good story.  What I mean is, that there are no vampires, verewolves, etc. in this one.  It's just the story of 2 characters who become friends, share secrets, and learn the truth.  I also like the fact that the cover is black and white...not usually done.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Because of A Book with Chynna Laird

I'm proud to have another WOW! author visiting the blog for the first Because of A Book post of the new year.  Please help me welcome, Chynna Laird, author of Not Just Spirited: One Mom's Sensational Journey with Sensory Perception Disorder (SPD).

Chynna T. Laird is a mother of three beautiful girls Jaimie (six), Jordhan (four) and baby Sophie (ten months) and a gorgeous baby boy Xander (two). In addition to living her dream building up her at-home freelance writing business (Lily Wolf Words), she's also studying to obtain her B.A. in Psychology, specializing in Early Childhood Development.

In her spare time(!) Chynna plays piano and violin, reads, and writes--often about her adventures as a Mom. Last year she released a children's picture book she's written called, I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD where she describes--through the voice and perspective of four-year old Alexandra--what it's like to live with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (Sensory Processing Disorder). Chynna's third book, The Sensory Diet: Setting Your SPD Child Up for Success will be released in January 2011. 

Because of a Book…
by Chynna Laird

When I was a little girl, writing and reading were my forms of escape—my ways of coping with the chaos around me. My mother suffered with bipolar disorder, which she refused to acknowledge or treat, and often self-medicated with alcohol and drugs. Despite her struggles, however, my mother was a brilliant and creative musician, poet and writer. I learned very early on that tapping into her creative genius was the primary way to get close to her…to “reach” her. So, I wrote, took up piano and read—as much and as often as I could.

It was wonderful getting her attention when her mind was able to focus on me. As I grew up, and those close times grew less frequent, I wrote more to cleanse myself, to talk about things I couldn’t to anyone else or created people and places far away from where I was. I was also very lucky because my favorite uncle, Uncle Craig, was a distributor with Golden Books so I got a lot of book samples and my shelves overflowed with wonderful children’s stories.

“Books are amazing things,” Uncle Craig used to say. “They can take you away, inspire you, teach you or just make you feel good. The best books are those ‘real life ones’ that teach others about the things most of us don’t want to discuss. Those are the books get us talking and that’s important.”

And that’s why I started writing professionally. I never had any intention of becoming a freelance writer, let alone an author. But my mom’s gift of creativity, my Uncle’s wise words and my own passion for raising awareness for important issues inspired me to send out my first story. I still remember it: It was about an elderly man who sat beside me on the bus every morning during one of the toughest years of my young life.

We never even knew each other’s names but he cared enough just to listen to me. Then one day, he didn’t get on the bus and I never saw him again. The underlying message in the story was that we shouldn’t judge others because of age, gender or heritage. And that the main thing teenagers need is that one person who will listen to them.

Now, I write stories about issues that others don’t always like talking about: mental illness, eating disorders, alcohol abuse and other important topics, like my daughter, Jaimie’s struggle with an “invisible” disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). I don’t rage on about them; I simply teach by showing how I, or others I know, dealt with them. Or I create characters going through such issues who find positive ways to go on.

Through wonderful authors like Brian Doyle, I’ve learned that you can talk about these important issues without being preachy—it’s not what you talk about, it’s how you talk about it. And also remembering that people may not always like what I’m saying but it “gets them talking.”

And that’s so important.

About Not Just Spirited:  What would you do if your child suffered with something so severe it affected every aspect of her life?

And what if your cries for help fell on deaf ears at every turn? You'd follow your gut and fight until someone listened. And that's what Chynna Laird did. When she was just three months old, her daughter Jaimie's reactions to people and situations seemed odd. She refused any form of touch, she gagged at smells, she was clutzy and threw herself around and spent most of her day screaming with her hands over her ears and eyes.

By the time she turned two, Jaimie was so fearful of her world they spent most days inside. What was wrong with Chynna's miracle girl? Why wouldn't anyone help her figure it out? Jaimie wasn't "just spirited" as her physician suggested nor did she lack discipline at home. When Jaimie was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) at two-and-a-half, Chynna thought she had "the answer," but that was just the jumping off point for years of questions. Chynna embarked on a three-year quest for the right treatments to reveal the Jaimie she loved so much. With the right diagnosis and treatment suited to Jaimie, her family finally felt hope. Not Just Spirited is an insider’s peek at one family dealing with an “invisible” disorder and fighting to find peace for their daughter.

Buy it a Amazon
Buy it at Powell's

site designed by aerin at