Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blog Tour - The Perfect Family

Title:  The Perfect Family 
Author:  Kathryn Shay 
Review Copy Provided by: Pump Up Your Book Promotions

 About the Book:  What happens to the "perfect family" when the future suddenly changes in the most unexpected way?

Seventeen-year old Jamie Davidson doesn't think being gay should be such a big deal...until he comes out to his parents and friends. Even as Jamie celebrates no longer needing to hide his true self and looks forward to the excitement of openly dating another boy, the entire Davidson family is thrown into turmoil. Jamie's father Mike can't reconcile his religious beliefs with his son's sexuality. His brother Brian is harassed by his jock buddies and angry at Jamie for complicating all their lives. Maggie, his mother, fears being able to protect her son while struggling to save her crumbling marriage. And Jamie feels guilty for the unhappiness his disclosure has caused. Every member of their “perfect family” must search their hearts and souls to reconnect with each other in this honest, heartwarming, and hopeful look at the redemptive power of love and family. 

My Review:  I really enjoyed this one!  I think what this family is going through, is difficult, and is an issue that many families have to deal with.  The appearance of "the perfect family" is just that, an appearance.  You never know what is going on "behind closed doors" with those families.

I really felt for all of the characters, as each one was dealing with the situation in their own way, and with their own set of issues because of it.  It is an endearing story of how one catalyst can change the dynamics of a family.  Each member of this family grows and changes because of Jamie's "coming out."  Maybe Jamie wishes he'd never told them, maybe they wish he'd told them sooner, but it is what it is and they have to deal with it. 

This is a great story about love and acceptance!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Because of A Book with Joanne Kennedy

Today I am pleased to welcome author, Joanne Kennedy to the blog.

Joanne Kennedy has worked in bookstores all her life in positions from bookseller to buyer. A member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, she won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second in the Heart of the Rockies contest. Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For more information, please visit

Joanne Kennedy Guest Blog, Author of One Fine Cowboy
Write for a Reader Because of a Book Feature

As a child, I loved to go to my grandparent’s farm and read the books my mother read as a child. The most battered and beloved of these were two books by Gene Stratton-Porter: Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost.

Gene Stratton-Porter is a perfect example of the ephemeral nature of fame. Her books were enormous bestsellers in her day, with over 50 million readers—and this was in the nineteen-teens and twenties. Today, I wonder how many readers have even heard of her.

Ms. Stratton-Porter was a naturalist, novelist, photographer, conservationist, and one of the first women to start a film studio. She accomplished all these things around the turn of the century, when women didn’t necessarily have careers.

And she did it to save a swamp.

When she moved to the 13,000-acre Limberlost Swamp in Indiana, it was 1888 and the wetlands were in the process of being drained and logged. An oil and gas boom sparked drilling and more draining. This all sounds very familiar and modern, but it was 1913 when Stratton-Porter finally was forced to move away. She continued to sing the praises of the Limberlost in her bestselling novels, and her cabin there is now a state historic site.

After almost a century, her books have faded into obscurity. I’ve worked in bookselling for twenty years, and for a while I owned a used and rare bookstore. Stratton-Porter’s books turned up often, but except for her rare nature books, nobody seemed to be interested. It’s incredible how the bestselling authors of one era can be totally unknown to readers of another.

But discovering these books when I was a child changed me, sparking my interest in birds and butterflies and my belief that nature feeds the mind and restores the soul. They also introduced me to some strong and stalwart heroines that inspired the heroines of my own books. Stratton-Porter’s women have little in the way of creature comforts in their woodland cabins, but their appreciation of the natural world and their dogged determination to better themselves makes them compelling characters.

I read her books over and over. When I was ten, I was the “Girl of the Limberlost.” I’d never been to Indiana, but my childhood home boasted a brook and an actual, no-kiddin’, mushy, gushy swamp populated with all kinds of birds and frogs and slimy salamanders.

The swamp must have been a pond at one time, because the remnants of an old stone dam stood on one side. I’d sit up on the tumbled rocks and watch the birds, scribbling descriptions and renditions of birdsong in a tattered notebook just like my favorite author. I rarely went home without gathering some sort of “specimen”—a bucket of polliwogs, a caterpillar on its host plant, or a tiny red newt. Thank goodness my mother had read those Limberlost books and understood why I felt compelled to bring the outdoors in.

And thank goodness she introduced them to me. Thanks to the long-reaching influence of this turn-of-the-century writer, I can still have my day brightened and my heart lightened just by the song of a sparrow.

The publisher has offered 2 copies of One Fine Cowboy, for giveaway to 2 of my readers.  Please just leave a comment on this post if you'd like to be entered.  Entries will be taken until Tuesday, Oct. 5th at midnight.

About A Girl of the Limberlost - Set amid Indiana's Limberlost Swamp, this classic mixes astute observations on nature with the struggles of growing up in the early 20th century and the discoveries of independence and romance.

Buy it at Indiebound

About One Fine Cowboy - He’s got a way with horses…and with women...
Nate Shawcross is perfectly content to spend his days training wild horses. So when a beautiful greenhorn unexpectedly shows up for a seminar from the famous “Horse Whisperer” of Wyoming, all Nate wants to do is send her packing…

The last thing she expects is a lesson in romance…
Graduate student Charlie Banks came to the ranch to learn about horse communication, but when she meets the ruggedly handsome cowboy, she starts to fantasize about another connection entirely…

Nate needs to stay focused if he’s going to save his ranch from foreclosure, but he can’t help being distracted by the brainy and breathtakingly sexy Charlie. Could it be that after all this time Nate has finally found the one woman who can tame his wild heart?

Friday, September 24, 2010

24 Hour Read-A-Thon

It's that time again!

I am so excited to be participating in another Read-A-Thon!  I get so much reading done and have so much fun interacting with other bloggers and readers at the same time.  I have never managed to stay up the entire 24 hours, but I'm going to give it another go this time.

For all the Read-A-Thon information or to sign up yourself, head on over to Dewey's Read-a-Thon and check it out.  If you can't join us to read, then be a cheerleader or host a challenge.  Any participation is welcome and appreciated by all!

As the day gets closer, I will post my book list and other fun stuff!

So, get your books picked out, your snacks thought about, your spot settled on, and get ready to read!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Because of A Book with Ruth Hartman

Once again, I have another WOW author for you today.  Please help me welcome Ruth Hartman to the blog.

Ruth started out life as a dental hygienist but morphed into a romance writer. She has fun working the dental industry into her romances. While Pillow Talk features a dental hygienist/tooth fairy, her next romance Flossophy of Grace also follows the love life of a dental hygienist. Who knew the dental world was so romantic?

Ruth’s first book was My Life in Chains, a memoir about her struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Ruth, her husband and two very spoiled cats live in rural Indiana where Ruth dreams up new and exciting romances. And flosses regularly. Really!

Just Thought You Should Know:

Ruth is a dental hygienist but she isn’t the tooth fairy…at least that’s what she says! She’s celebrating this October—it’s National Dental Hygienist Month.

Ruth Hartman’s Blog:

I’ve always loved reading. I get that from my parents. My dad, a retired minister, is continually reading something. While he pastored our large church, his reading was mostly for sermon preparation. Now that he’s retired, though, I’m glad to say he’s reading for fun. My mom goes to the library every week or so. One of my earliest memories is going to the old library with her. It was always so quiet there, so peaceful. Even though the building has since been replaced, I can still visualize looking down at my black and white saddle shoes as I navigated my way up the steep winding staircase. I feel the smooth surface of the shiny wooden banister under my tiny fingers. And the thrill of giving my very own library card to the librarian when I checked out my book. Mom still brings home an armload each time, and will have them all finished by her next visit. She’s what I call a voracious reader. So I’ve been reading since I was tiny, and have inherited my mom’s voracity. I get a little nervous when I’ve only got one or two books waiting for me to read. My sister refers to that as a book emergency. That’s cutting it just a little too close for me. If my book stack is tall enough for my cats to knock over, then I’m calmly reassured.

One of my favorite authors is mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark. She always has a new book out every April, and Mom and I decide which one of us will go buy it, read it, and pass it on to the other. I love her books because she has a wonderful way of taking several different characters, who at first glance don’t seem to have any connections, and having them cross paths by the end of the story. I’m fascinated when it all comes together and the mystery makes more and more sense as the characters solve the crime.

I love reading mysteries, but I don’t write them. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I write sweet, quirky romances with the satisfying happily-ever-after. When I read a well-written, interesting book, but it ends badly for the main characters, I feel as if I’ve been cheated somehow. I don’t always feel better for having read the book. But if you pick up one of my novels, you have the guarantee that you will smile and feel wonderful at the end of the story.

About Pillow Talk:  Trixie Trident is much too busy to worry about her love life. Her shop Necklaces, Bracelets and Rings, Oh My! has her up to her elbows in beads; Benson the parrot is hungry; and she just chipped her tooth. Plus she’s seriously sleep deprived—that happens when a tooth fairy hits a busy stretch. That’s right, tooth fairy.

But somehow the ideal man drops into her life. Actually she drops into his office. Is it time for Trixie to give up her night job as tooth fairy? Or should she give up the handsome Dr. Graham Keebler? Of course she won’t have to worry about either if he’s stolen from her! Can a magical tooth fairy find true love with a practical dentist?

Ms. Hartman has graciously offered a copy of Pillow Talk to one of my readers.  Please leave a comment below if you'd like to be entered.  You have until next Tuesday, Sept. 21 at midnight.  Good Luck!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday - Enchanted Ivy

I haven't done a Waiting On Wednesday in a while, but I'm trying to get back into it because it is a great way to discover new books. 

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over 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:

Enchanted Ivy
By Sarah Beth Durst
Publication Date: October 12th 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry
A story about getting into college. You know, taking the campus tour, talking to the gargoyles, flirting with the were-tigers, riding the dragons...

While visiting the campus of Princeton University, 16-year-old Lily discovers a secret gate to a magical realm and must race against time to save herself, her world, and any hope she has of college admission.

To me, this sounds like a teenage version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, so I was immediately intrigued.  Can't wait to see what it truly turns out to be!

Because of A Book with Anne McCrady

Today, thanks to a post on Blogger Link Up, I have writer, Anne McCrady on the blog.  Here is a little about Anne to get you started.

Anne McCrady is a writer and inspirational speaker who lives in East Texas. Her award-winning poetry collections are Along Greathouse Road and Under a Blameless Moon. Anne's poetry and creative nonfiction have been published in literary journals, magazines, anthologies and online. She is a frequent speaker at conferences, civic groups, festivals, churches and schools, as well as the founder and principal of InSpiritry, an endeavor to Put Words to Work for the Greater Good. She welcomes readers to her blog and website at

Red Tag Comes Back

When I think about my childhood, it seems I was always a reader, always a writer and always a scientist. In my bedroom, paper, pencils and books shared space with stuffed animals and other toys. Often home sick with asthma, I let my mind live in a wider world and it took my heart with it!

While I had many favorite books, one that remains on my shelf between newer authors, is a simple story that captured my imagination in ways I only realized recently. The book was Red Tag Comes Back. It was written by Fred Phleger with line drawings by Arnold Lobel, and was a Science – I Can Read book published by Harper & Row in 1960.

The story is a factually based account of a salmon from its young life in a Northwest American river to its trip out to sea and its eventual return years later to lay its eggs and die. The salmon’s endeavors are witnessed by two Native American children, Aku and his sister, who understand and honor the cycle of its life.

From the first page, I wanted to join those two children, whose days included exploration in the woods beside a quiet river. I wondered about the difference in their lives and mine. I wanted to be the scientist who tagged the baby salmon. I wanted to follow it on its adventure down the river and beyond. I feared for its life among the bigger fish, ached for it in the struggle to return home, dreaded its death and rejoiced in the triumph of knowing it had spawned a new generation.

When my childhood books were packed away, Red Tag wasn’t forgotten. I survived my asthma, grew up enjoying walks in the woods alone, went on to college where I studied Chemistry and Biology and became a storyteller and writer. I developed a deep reverence for Nature and kept my curiosity about the diversity of people and places and things. I now live on five tree shaded acres that I share with fish and woodpeckers and raccoons and squirrels. As a mother, I read Red Tag with my children and have my original copy to show my grandchildren.

Recently while reading online, I discovered that Fred Phleger was a scientist of great renown as well as a writer. Knowing that, I realize he gave me more than just a favorite book. He helped lead me to pursue a life centered on the great mystery of “how things are.” Each day as I write a poem about the play of shadow or tell a story about children who are inquisitive or publish an essay about the Greater Good, I am paying homage to Fred Phleger for his inspiration.

Best of all, just last month, I  finally traveled from my home in Texas to Seattle to view the arduous journey of the salmon, to see for myself how Red Tag Comes Back!

More about Phleger and his wife can be found at this Vintage Kids’ Books post:

Red Tag Comes Back - buy it at Amazon

About Along Greathouse Road - This reading offers new work as well as selections from Anne’s first poetry collection, Along Greathouse Road, which won the 2003 Edwin M. Eakin Book Publication Award offered by the Poetry Society of Texas. With unforgettable characters, picturesque settings and Anne’s distinctive reading voice, this program takes audiences "back home" for a while. 

Buy it at Amazon

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 9/3/10

1. Family is very important to me.

2.This conversation is just going back and forth.

3. I love a margarita after a long week at work.

4. Mexican food w/guacamole makes a good meal.

5. I've got the answer, sometimes!

6. Jumbo shrimp: wth!!!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to Chuck E Cheese with my grandchildren, tomorrow my plans include walking with friends in the morning and a funeral in the afternoon and Sunday, I want to be on the water and in the sun!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Review - Water, Weed, and Wait

Title:  Water, Weed, and Wait

Author:  Edith Hope Fine & Angela Demos Halpin
Illustrator:  Colleen Madden
Review Copy Provided by:  Random House Children's Books

About the Book:  When Miss Marigold challenges the kids at Pepper Lane Elementary to turn an unpromising patch of their schoolyard into a garden full of fruits, flowers, and vegetables, they know they'll need all the help they can get. Soon everyone in the community is lending a hand--including an unlikely neighbor with a soft spot for gardening--and it isn't long before peppers, zuccchini, sugar peas, snapdragons, zinnias, and much more are growing and blooming.

My Review:  What a beautiful picture book!  This is one that will be loved in classrooms during a unit on plants.  I should probably save this review until Spring, but it's too great not to tell you about now.

This book reminded me a little of The Magic School Bus series because the teacher, Miss Marigold, made me think of Ms. Frizzle, with her name and her outfits.  There is a grouchy neighbor that the students befriend and turn into a wonderful gardening mentor for them.  In the end, everyone is happy, which is a great way to end a picture book!

The pictures themselves are so vivid and bright.  Children are sure to love them and want to study them.  Each page has a lot going on, that they will want to revisit the book to catch every detail.  It's not too much on a page as to overstimulate the reader, but enough to hold their attention and keep them finding some new detail.  Colleen Madden did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the children and the school garden that they work together to create.

This book could be used in the classroom for many different themes: Spring, plants, teamwork, friendship, and possibly others that I may not think of.  As I was reading it, I had one of my teachers in mind.  She refers to her students as her little flowers that grow more and more with each new day and new learning.  Sometimes we see results quickly like the students did in their garden with some of the vegetables, but other times we have to wait longer for our work to "sprout."  This teacher spends many days teaching (watering), reteaching (weeding) and then watching what her children do (waiting).  In the end, she has amazing results, just like the beautiful garden that sprouts!

At the end of the book there are 2 pages dedicated to "Sprouting Your Own School Garden."  You can also learn more about this book at the Water, Weed, and Wait website. 
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