Saturday, February 28, 2009

Snapshot Saturday #6

It's time for the weekly snapshot!  This week I'm sharing a picture from my wedding day.  My husband and I were lucky enough to get married in the Bahamas, 2 1/2 years ago.  We won the whole entire package from a radio program here in town.  It was amazing, to say the least!  Considering that we could never have done any of it on our own, we were very thankful.  We spent 7 days in Nassau and fell in love all over again!  This picture is from our reception.  The beautiful lady standing with us is country music singer, Danielle Peck.  Part of the package was that she sang at our wedding.

What's your snapshot this week?  Share the link in the comments so others can stop by and comment.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins 2/27/09

1. I'm sleepy, I'm tired, I just want to lay down.

2. Why do I have so many books and not enough time.

3. How does this network server work, anyway?

4. Every morning, I put my glasses on my face before I ever get out of bed.

5. I consider myself lucky because I have a wonderful husband who loves and takes care of me.

6. One day we’ll see the sunset in Mexico.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing with my husband, tomorrow my plans include 4th grade writing camp and working rodeo cook-off and Sunday, I want to read while I do laundry!

Review: Drood

Title:  Drood
Author:  Dan Simmons
Review Copy Provided by:  Hachette

About the Book:  On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.
Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?

My Review:  Let me start by saying that this book intimidated me from the very beginning, because of it's size.  It is a whopping 771 pages long!  I know, but don't let that stop you.  Don't even let the fact that it starts slow stop you.  Once you get into it, you will be stuck!  I enjoyed this book, even though it started out slow for me.  Dan Simmons writes very eloquently and sometimes I felt like it was over my head, but I got it.  This story is set in another country and time period that I am not real familiar with, so I had to wrap my head around those differences in order to understand the story.  It is creepy at times.  Drood is a mysterious character.  I never knew there was such a dark side to Dickens, but now it explains the slight creepiness of A Christmas Carol and others that he wrote.  My favorite character in the story though, was Wilkie.  I just fell in love with and rooted for him.  Yes, he's odd.  Yes, he takes medicine, laudanum, just to function through the day, but he was a lovable character, I thought.  Wilkie is a dear friend to Dickens, thank goodness, because he sure needed one.  I had never read any of Simmons' writing before this, but I know that I will be picking up more in the future.  He hooked me, scared me, mesmerized me, and made me dig dipper into a man that I didn't know much about.  Drood is a must read, just don't expect to read it quickly.  It needs to be absorbed to be understood.

Be sure to visit the other stops on the Drood blog tour!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Author Interview: Elisa Kleven

Yesterday I reviewed a sweet picture book, A Carousel Tale, by Elisa Kleven.  Today, I have the honor and privilege of sitting down with the author/illustrator for an interview.  Allow me to introduce you to Elisa Kleven! 

Write For A Reader (WFAR):  Please start by sharing a little about yourself.

Elisa Kleven (EK):  I am an author-illustrator of picture books and the mother of a seventeen year old daughter and a twelve year old son. I've been happily married to my husband Paul for almost 25 (yikes!) years; we live in the San Francisco Area; and, in addition to my family, and my work, I love spending time in nature, and with my friends.

WFAR:  When did you know that you wanted to be an author and illustrator?

EK:  When I was a child I loved to paint and draw and create tiny, make believe characters and stories, and when this passion refused to go away as I grew up , I realized that I had better pay attention to it and try to become an author and an illustrator. (for views of the little worlds I created as a child please see my web site;

WFAR:  What else have you written and/or illustrated besides this picture book?

EK:  I have written and/or illustrated almost thirty picture books to date.  Some of my favorites are THE LION AND THE LITTLE RED BIRD, SUN BREAD, THE PUDDLE PAIL, THE PAPER PRINCESS, and ABUELA, by Arthur Dorros.

WFAR:  What was the inspiration for A Carousel Tale?

EK:  It's hard to narrow down the exact source of inspiration, but I have always enjoyed transforming materials into new shapes , much as Ernst transforms the tail into a bird. And I have a memory of my grandmother, who was a sculptor, holding up a long necked yellow squash at the dinner table and imagining that it was a swan.

WFAR:  Was there a reason for making the main character a blue crocodile?

EK:  Ernst the blue crocodile appears in a few of my other books, such as ERNST, THE PUDDLE PAIL and THE WISHING BALL. I suppose he is my alter ego, an artistic younger sibling who refuses to let go of his dreams. Also, I love crocodiles' expressive jaggedy smiles, which can look happy and sad at the same time, much like life itself.

WFAR:  Did you take art classes as a child or college student, or does drawing come natural for you?

EK:  I wish I had drawn MORE as a child, and though my mother encouraged me to, I preferred to while away the hours making three dimensional objects: clay people, wooden carousel animals, apple dolls and bread sculptures and tapestries.  Drawing doesn't come as naturally to me as sculpting, but I try to practice and I admire great craftsmanship.  I was lucky to be surrounded by art as a child.  My grandmother, as I said, was a sculptor, and I used to find it fascinating to watch her take a lump of clay and turn it into an old woman, or a kangaroo, or a little boy.  My mother also worked her own magic with art .  She was a printmaker and an etcher, who would assemble bits and pieces of broken down cars and machines and turn them into amazing creatures. (I am sure that my mom and grandmother also influenced my creation of A CAROUSEL TALE.)

WFAR:  What is your favorite piece or book that you have written and/or illustrated?

EK:  I am not sure; I put a lot of energy into all of them. Maybe THE PAPER PRINCESS, though. I like her fragile but enduring paper self. 

WFAR:  What do you like to do when you are not writing or illustrating?

EK:  I love to read, and to be around my family ,animals, trees, and water. I also like exploring neighborhoods and cities.

WFAR:  Would you ever let one of your books be illustrated by someone else?  Why or why not?

EK:  Yes, as long as it was an illustrator whose work I like, I think that would be interesting. I would enjoy seeing how another creator might interpret or expand upon my story.

WFAR:  Do you have writing or illustrating mentors?

EK:  Well, I mentioned my mom and grandmother (both of whom are, alas, long gone.) And I have many inspiring friends who are also illustrators/authors, and whose various styles and approaches inspire me.

WFAR:  Would you describe your writing/illustrating atmosphere to the readers?  Where do you work, when, music, snacks, etc?

EK:  I work in my garage, which my husband and his father , a carpenter, transformed into a comfortable work space with a skylight and windows. I listen to music when I'm illustrating (classical and rock/blues/folk, usually), and sometimes NPR. I am a frequent snacker (chocolate and veggies are my two favorite food groups) and a coffee drinker!

WFAR:   What are some of your favorites? Author, illustrator, book, color, etc.

EK:  Favorite authors are Shakespeare and E.B. White; favorite illustrator - so many many I love, but maybe Garth Williams; favorite color - almost all, except for slime green.

WFAR:  What do you think about having your book reviewed by book bloggers?

EK:  I appreciate their interest!

WFAR:  Anything else that you want readers to know?

EK:  For more about me, myself, and I, readers can see my web site, which has links to other interviews I've done for other terrific web sites and bloggers.

WFAR:  Thank you for allowing me to interview you!

EK:  Thanks so much for your thoughtful and fun questions.

Don't forget to check out Elisa Kleven's website.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review: A Carousel Tale

Author/Illustrator: Elisa Kleven
Review Copy Provided by: Caroline at CKL Publicity

About the Book:  Ernst loves the carousel near his house, and his favorite animal is the dog.  When the dog's wooden tail comes loose just before winter, Ernst is given the important job of keeping it safe until springtime.  But the tail looks sad sitting on Ernst's shelf without its dog, and Ernst can't help but try to cheer it up.  It isn't long before he has transformed the lonely tail into something wonderful!  As spring approaches, Ernst wonders if he will have to give up his special creation.  And if he doesn't, what will the poor dog have to wag?

My Review:  This is one of the sweetest books I've read in a long time.  Children will fall in love with Ernst, the blue crocodile, who reminds me of a 4 or 5 year old child.  Ernst also has a big brother and they have a typical relationship with the big brother telling the little brother what to do.  Ernst is such a gentle, caring character.  He feels bad when the carousel dog loses it's tail, but he feels worse to just see the lonely tail. This story really plays to the imagination, which I think is lost these days with so many video games and tv watching.  Children need to be able to imagine, and this book helps them to see how wonderful make believe can be.  How many children have seen a carousel?  They were common place when I was young, but not so much anymore, at least not in abundance.  What a great way to expose children to the carousel and the vocabulary that goes along with it.  Elisa Kleven not only writes a beautiful story for young children, but she illustrates it beautifully as well.  She used watercolors, ink, pastels, and colored pencils to create the pictures in the book.  The use of the pastels allows the colors to be muted yet still bold enough to capture children's attention.  Children will enjoy this story and learn the magic of imagination.  I recommend this story for teachers and parents of young children.  This could well become a read-aloud favorite at bedtime.
Come back tomorrow because I'll have an interview with author/illustrator, Elisa Kleven.

Wednesday Wanderings - 2/24/09

I wander around the blogosphere and bring you what I find.
This week's post is all about giveaways, so get out there and get entered.

I mentioned this giveaway in my Blog Link-Up post on Sunday, but it's worth mentioning again.  Over at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?, Trish is giving away a Slanket.  You've seen them on infomercials, now own one for yourself.  She is giving away 2 and the contest will run until March 3.

Bookingmama has 5 copies of The Italian Lover to give away.

Bookroomreviews Weblog is giving one lucky person a set of Psi Bands.  To quote the site, "Psi Bands (pronounced “Sigh Bands”) are drug-free wrist bands for the relief of nausea due to morning sickness (pregnancy), motion sickness/travel, chemotherapy, and anesthesia."  You can enter until March 6 and there are multiple ways to earn entries.

J. Kaye's Book Blog has 2 giveaways going on right now.  You can enter to win an ARC of Nine Lives or, for those of you who write book reviews, she has an ebook of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

Finally, Dar at Peeking Between the Pages, also has 2 giveaways going on right now.  The Mighty Queens of Freeville is being given away on March 2, so enter before then.  Today, she had a guest post by Bruce Skye, author of Grayrider.  One person will win her gently read hardcover copy of this book.  This contest ends on March 9.

That's the list for this week.  What have your wanderings found?  Leave your links in the comments.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays - Drood

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

Here is mine for this week:

"I had to settle for this, even though I was far less than convinced that there had been any meeting of Drood, Dickens, and the Other Wilkie.  It seemed far more likely that Dickens was taking advantage of my laudanum dream for his own inscrutable purposes."  (Drood, by Dan Simmons, p. 400)

What's your teaser this week?  If you'd like to read more, visit Should Be Reading

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mailbox Monday - 2/23/09

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.  If you'd like to see what others got last week, click over there.  Here is what came into my house last week, via the Mailbox.

What is Your Self-Worth?: A Woman's Guide to Validation by Cheryl Saban, Ph.D. - from Bostick Communications

Everyone is Beautiful (ARC) by Katherine Center - from Pump Up Your Book Promotions

The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer - from FSB Associates

The Strain (ARC) by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan - from Shelf Awareness

The I Love You Book by Todd Parr - from Little, Brown

Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life (ARC) by Gail Blanke - from Hatchette

Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson - from The Picnic Basket

Secrets Unveiled by Sheshena Pledger - from the author

The Bouncing Boy by ILIA - from Bostick Communications

Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet by Kimberly Hutmacher - from Sylvan Dell Publishing

Ocean Hide and Seek by Jennifer Evans Kramer - from Sylan Dell Publishing

Revelations by Melissa De La Cruz - from The Picnic Basket

Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson - from Random House Children's Books

Fortune's Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors - from Little, Brown

Everything is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis - from Little, Brown

Suddenly Supernatural: Scaredy Cat (ARC) by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel - from Little, Brown

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley - from Little, Brown

Grandmother, Have the Angels Come? by Denise Vega - from Little, Brown

What did you get in your mailbox?

Blog Link Up # 5 - 2/22/09

It's time to give you the Weekly Link Round-Up.  The blog group has picked out some good posts for you this week - Enjoy!

Have you seen the Slanket?  Well, if you've been coveting this robe/blanket combo, then this is the post for you!  Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? has 2 to giveaway.  There are many ways to earn extra entries, so get over there and check it out.
Now for the reviews:
Devourer of Books got her hands on LibraryThing Early Reviewer's copy of The Sonnets by Warwick Collins.  She says, "What was the inspiration behind Shakespeare’s sonnets?"  The book addresses that question.  She confesses that the book was just not for her though.
Beth of Beth Fish Reads has reviewed More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin.  More Home Cooking is a collection of 45 food - focused essays compiled after Colwin's death.  This is not a new book; it was first published in 1993, but copies are still available.
Over at My Friend Amy's, she has what she calls, a "heavy read."  Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom is one to pick up if you are into historical fiction.
While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky, was reviewed at Marta's Meanderings this week.  It is a Random House book that is out this month.  Marta absolutely loved it!  She said it is going on her list of all time favorites!
Bermudaonion has a review of Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani for you.  This is the first book in a new trilogy, and although it's not Kathy's favorite by Trigiani, she enjoyed it.  Make sure you watch the video she has posted of the author talking about the book.
Finally, over at Wendi's Book Corner, you will be amazed at the cakes!  Yes, she has reviewed Confetti Cakes for Kids by Elisa Strauss with Christi Matheson.  She says, "This book contains everything you need to know to complete an entire cake that will be both fun and tasty!"  She tried the frosting making a Cars cake for her son.  You can see a picture of it on her site.
That's the round-up for this week; what did you think?  Each week it just seems to get better and better.  Come back next week to see what we've rounded up for you!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snapshot Saturday #5

If you follow my blog, you know that my husband and I spend time in Angleton with our best friends, the vet and his wife.  Well, they have a boat and most of the time when we visit, we make a trip to the coast and go offshore fishing.  Well, we haven't been since October because off the weather.  It's either been rainy or too darn windy on our available weekends.  So, I thought I would share a picture from those fun times because we are really missing it and hoping to get back in the water soon.  Sorry I don't have one of all of us.  This one is my husband, who finds such relaxation on the boat, whether he's fishing or not!

If you would like to join in Snapshot Saturday, just leave your link in the comments.  I will stop by and see what you have to share this week, and hopefully others will too.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Computer Woes!

I apologize for not having but 1 review this week.  I am in the middle of reading DROOD and it is taking all of my time.  My goal this weekend is to read many of the children's books I have so that I can schedule some reviews.

I also wanted to let you know why I may be away from the computer for a little while.  Yesterday, my plug on my laptop finally gave up on me.  Therefore, I can not charge the battery, so I can not use it.  I do have access at work, but limited time online, so it makes it hard and hurried.  I can check email and Twitter from my phone, but that's all.  We are not in a position right now to replace the adapter, which isn't that much, but in reality after everything else, just isn't money we have right now.  I have been dealing with this issue for awhile now, and thought it was the laptop itself, but I think it's just the adapter, which isn't great, but it's better than getting a new laptop.

That being said, I have a wonderful blogging buddy, Gwynne, who blogs at Connecting2Give and Less Than A Dime.  She posts about people's needs and also gives from herself, other bloggers and companies.  It's all about connecting people, and I've made some great connections by knowing her.  She has posted about this on her site.  I ask you to stop by and see what she's doing, and if you feel compelled to help me or others, thank you!  You never know how much you can do until you just reach out!

Thank you for stopping by today.  I truly appreciate each and every one of you that chooses to read this blog. 

Friday Fill-Ins 2/20/09

1. Give me a minute and I'll get it done.

2. Whenever I need to vent, I call my best friend.

3. I wish it was the end of the work day already.

4. Dove chocolate was the last thing I ate that was utterly delicious.

5. To live in this world you have to be strong.

6. Other than this one, J.Kaye's Book Blog is the last blog I commented on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to my husband feeling better, tomorrow my plans include Rodeo tent set-up, a baby shower, and dinner for a friend's birthday and Sunday, I want to relax in Angleton!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm Addicted and an Interview!

Ok, so J. Kaye made me do this first one! She blogged about being addicted and I just had to see how addicted I was. I thought it would be higher, but here are the results.

58%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Then, when I was visiting Great Books and Fresh Coffee, I saw this great interview.  Holly had been interviewed by another blogger, my buddy Beth of Beth Fish Reads!  What a great way to get to know each other, so I thought, what the heck, I'll play!  I commented and she sent me some interview questions to answer, that she made up herself.  Here goes:

1.) What subject do you teach? Do you love it?
I am currently teaching reading to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  This year I am a small group teacher, who pulls kids out of class and does extra reading work with them.  I have taught 2nd grade math/science, kindergarten and 3rd grade Language Arts and Social Studies.  No idea what I'll be doing next year.  I have my Masters in Educational Leadership so I am inquiring about Assistant Principal jobs.  My job right now is funded with extra money, so if that runs out, I will be back in the classroom next year. 

2.) What is your favorite Mexican Food dish?
Oh, that's an easy one - chicken flautas.  I am a creature of habit, so when I find something I like, I stick with it.  If I'm trying a new Mexican restaurant though I will have enchiladas because they don't usually mess those up.

3.) How long have you had your book blog?
I have had my blog since October '08, but I've only been at my current site since January.  I use to blog under the same name at a different host site.

4.) I see you're in TX! Me too! I live in Dallas. Were you affected at all by Hurricane Ike?
How great to know you are so close!  Many of the bloggers I talk to are up north.  We were not really affected by the storm because we are north of Houston.  We did have wind damage though and it caused us to lose a lot of our pretty oak trees.  Luckily none of them fell on anything.

5.) What is your favorite song on the radio right now?
Oh, I like so many songs.  My husband and I are music people!  I would have to say that it is a tie between 3 songs right now, all by female country singers.  Last Call - LeeAnn Womack, I Told You So - Carrie Underwood, and More Like Her - Miranda Lambert.

This was so much fun!  Thanks, Holly!  If you want to play, leave a comment asking me for questions and I'll send you your very own mini-interview.

Wednesday Wanderings - 2/18/09

I wander around the blogosphere and bring you what I find.
This week's edition of Wednesday Wanderings is all about giveaways.  I have found a lot of good ones, from friends, other book bloggers, and some new to me, mommy bloggers.  I hope you enjoy what I've found for you this week.

Mudpies and Mary Janes has a Clifford gift pack for you.  It includes 5 books, a frame, and a plush rattle.  Contest ends 2/23.

There is a Dapple Giveaway going on at Mommy Works.  Dapple makes child-friendly cleaning products.  If you have children, you might want to enter this one.

Abby (the) Librarian has an ARC to giveaway.  She just reviewed Something Maybe and is offering up one for a lucky reader!

Blogging Basics 101 helps me out a lot when I need tips and quick fixes.  This week they have a book to giveaway - Blog Blazers.  Check it out!

My book buddy, Kathy, over at Bermudaonion's Weblog has 3 giveaways going right now.  2 audio books - Little Pink House and Long Stone's Throw.  She is also giving away The Terror.  These are all good!  Just look in her right sidebar for the links to each contest.

I have been wanting to read Things I Want My Daughters to Know, so I entered to win it at Books on the Brain.  You can enter too, until 2/21.

5 copies of The Red Leather Diary are up for grabs from Caribousmom.   She also has a signed copy of Matrimony for someone.  Just click on the pictures of the books in her sidebar to enter.

Finally, I have a biggie for you.  Yes, it's that time again.  Time for the Book Giveaway Carnival hosted by Book Room Reviews.  This is a week's worth of book giveaways by a great number of bloggers.  I participated last time, getting a lot of new traffic to my blog, as well as winning some great books.  I will have many to give away this time too.  Won't you join in by hosting some giveaways and entering some contests?

Bookroom Reviews

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays - Return to Sender

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

Yes, I'm still in the same book as last week.  I wish I could read faster, but I read children's books in between, so I guess it's okay.  Here is my teaser:
"Well, dear, that's not something you normally ask ladies to disclose.  But I'm your grandma so you can ask me." - Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez, p. 208

Monday, February 16, 2009

New Blogger on the Block

Hey y'all!  I have to tell you about a new blog I found tonight, thanks to Laura.  You have to check out Melange's Book Reviews.  It's a brand new blog with tons of good things going on.  Right now, she's looking for blog love.  In exchange, she's giving away books.  I know that got your attention!  Now head on over there and check it out!

Review: My Penguin Osbert in Love

Title: My Penguin Osbert in Love
Author:  Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Illustrator:  H.B. Lewis
Review Copy Provided by:  Curled Up With a Good Book

About the Book:  Joe couldn't be more surprised to find his friend Osbert knocking at his front door — AWOL from the zoo — with an invitation to a South Pole extravaganza under his wing. Since penguins can't fly, and Joe has a helicopter from Santa, the boy is soon piloting a bunch of penguins on a long journey south. But when Osbert ignores the southern lights and only has eyes for a penguin named Aurora, Joe starts to worry. Will he ever get back in time for his own family's midwinter bash?

My Review:  I read My Penguin Osbert in December to my reading groups and they loved it!  Imagine my surprise when I found out that there was another Osbert book coming out just in time for Valentine's Day!  Elizabeth Cody Kimmel has once again taken this cute lovable penguin Osbert and his buddy Joe on an unforgettable adventure.  Joe is always asking Santa for elaborate gifts for Christmas.  That's how he got Osbert and his new helicopter.  Osbert has been at the zoo, but he comes to Joe for help in getting he and his friends to the South Pole for an Extravaganza. Joe can't possibly say no to Osbert.  Kimmel uses some form of this quote throughout the book, and it helps to tie everything together: "But Osbert was my friend.  And he wanted me to help him get to the South Pole."  Joe had to help, as long as he was back in time for his mom's midwinter bash.  Will he make it?  You have to read to find out. 
Joe and Osbert both are lovable characters.  Joe shows children that you always try to help your friends, no matter what.  He is loyal to Osbert.  Kimmel writes a story for 4-8 year olds that they will ask to read again and again because of the friendship theme.  Yes, Osbert falls in love, which is sometimes a taboo word for young children; it makes them go "ew!"  But, kids will see past that and enjoy this story for what it is, a good story.  Older children will enjoy it as well, as I've experienced with My Penguin Osbert. 
The illustrations, by H.B.White, really add to the story.  Lewis' use of watercolors, pastels, and digital renderings really bring Osbert and the rest of the characters in the story to life.  The colors are somewhat muted to depict the cold, but children will be attracted to them just the same as they are still vivid and rich.  My favorite illustration is when Joe and the penguins are set to land in the South Pole.  Lewis uses blue and pinks to create a magical picture.
I am sure that children will love this story, not only at Valentine's time, but throughout the year.  It is one for teachers to add to a collection of friendship or Valentine's themed books. 

Books reviewed for Curled Up with a Good Book require a rating of 1 to 5 stars.  This book earns 4 stars from me.  Copyright 2009 by Shelly Burns for Curled Up with a Good Book.  Originally published at

Mailbox Monday - 2/16/09

Mailbox Monday is hosted by The Printed Page. Stop by to see what others got in their mailboxes last week. Here is what showed up in mine.

Wintergirls (ARC) by Laurie Halse Anderson - from Penguin Books.  I won this one in a contest over at Laura's Review Bookshelf.

Stuffed by Hank Cardello with Doug Garr - from Harper Collins Publishers via SJ Miller Communications

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home by Mrs. Thelma A. Meyer - from Hachette Book Group

Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins - from author through a Twitter contest

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King - from Barnes & Noble for a blog contest

Tax-Free Retirement by Patrick Kelly - from author

A Carousel Tale by Elisa Kleven - from CKL Publicity

LegsTalk by D.E.Boone - from author via Bostick Communications

The Secret World of Fairies by Angela Robinson - from Silver Dolphin Books

Sounds of the Wild Nighttime by Maurice Pledger - from Silver Dolphin Books

The Italian Lover by Robert Hellenga - from Hachette

Our Abe Lincoln adapted by Jim Aylesworth - from Scholastic via The Picnic Basket

Finding Happiness by Abbot Christopher Jamison - from Liturgical Press via SJ Miller Communications

Of Dreams and Realities by Dr. Frank L. Johnson - from author via Bostick Communications

Wow!  Didn't realize I had so many until I sat down to do this post.  I have gotten real picky about my requests because I have so many waiting to be read.  What did you get in your mailbox?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Review: Kisses and Lies

Review Copy Provided by:  publisher, Delacorte Press (Random House)

About the Book:  After discovering that someone saw what looked like Dan’s emergency EpiPen in A-lister Plum’s designer handbag, Scarlett and her tough American sidekick, Taylor, sneak into a posh London nightclub, where Plum has a private table. Scarlett is stunned to discover a piece of evidence that might implicate another girl in Plum’s exclusive circle, Lucy Raleigh. Which means Scarlett must cast a wider net in order to catch the right suspect.
Back at school, groundskeeper Jase is hoping to take Scarlett’s mind off her troubles with some heart-stopping kisses. Scarlett can’t help but feel guilty for indulging in romantic rendezvous when she should be hunting down Dan’s killer. However, once Scarlett finds out how Lucy is connected to Dan, she knows she must drop everything and travel to the McAndrew estate in Scotland to hunt for more clues. But when she arrives, Scarlett becomes the target of a dangerous hunt herself.

My Review:  This is Henderson's follow-up novel to Kiss Me, Kill Me, which I have not read.  However, that did not keep me from understanding or enjoying this book.  I thought the topic of this book was interesting.  I really liked how Henderson evolved the story line from the first book and created a whole other novel out of solving the mystery behind Dan's death.  The scenes at Castle Airlie were intense and at times I was afraid for Scarlett.  She has a fard time fitting in and doesn't seem to be liked by the family she is forced to live with, especially her aunt.  Scarlett doesn't have a choice though, as her parents are no longer alive, but I felt sorry for her because her aunt doesn't really care for her at all.  Her grandmother tries, but she and Scarlett don't really have a great relationship either.  The only person Scarlett can really count on is her friend, Taylor, who doesn't let Scarlett take on the mystery alone.  This story takes place in a boarding school, which many American girls do not know anything about, and I think this book does a great job in giving insight into that lifestyle and how tough it can be for some girls who are in that situation.  I loved the character of Jase, Scarlett's love interest and son of the boarding school's groundskeeper.  He has a level head even though his father is hard on him.  Will he and Scarlett get together?  If there is another book after this one, maybe.  Who knows?  I would like to think they do, because they make such a great couple and I would love to see their story unfold.

Blog Link Up #4 - 2/15/09

It's time for the weekly link round-up, where I share with you the favorite post of the week from a group of my book blogging buddies.  I love this post because it happens on Sunday when blog readers have time to do more reading, and it also helps me to read posts that I may have missed during the week.  Here are this week's selections:

Beth of Beth Fish Reads has reviewed a court room drama by Michael Connelly titled The Lincoln Lawyer.  This is the first book in a series and, "There is plenty of action and just the right amount of clues and red herrings along the way..." said Beth. 

Another great review can be found at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? She reviewed The Help by Kathryn Stockett, a book about 3 women in Mississippi in 1962.  The review is sure to make you want to read the book, and you can enter for a chance to do just that as she is giving one away to one lucky reader.  Go read her review and enter the contest.  I'm already entered; as if I need something else to read! :)

How about another review and giveaway?  Book bloggers are always so generous when they read a good book, to not only let others know about it, but to offer them the chance to win it.  Marta from Marta's Meanderings reviewed The Terror by Dan Simmons.  This is a book in my TBR pile that I may need to move up now.  Wow!  She has 5, yes 5 copies to giveaway.

I have one more review for you this week.  Wendi at Wendi's Book Corner has taken on a new project: The Husband Project by Kathi Lipp.  Read her review and then stop by and check in on her progress, cheer her on, give her feedback, or join her.

My Friend Amy shares her thoughts this week on How to Spot a Christian Fiction Book.  She gives names of publishing houses that publish Christian Fiction with a bit of commentary on each one.  Check it out!

Finally, my buddy Kathy at Bermudaonion's blog has started a new meme.  I love memes and meant to participate in this one, but didn't know she was doing it on Wednesday.  I had some words ready, so I'll have to remember to join in next week.  You should to.  Her meme is Wondrous Words Wednesday and she shares, new to her, words that she discovers in the books she's reading.

Those are the links for this week.  I hope you will take the time to check them out, comment, and come back next week for more.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love to the Winners!

Today is Valentine's Day and the day that I announce the winners of The Italian Lover book giveaway, courtesy of Hatchette. Thank you to everyone that entered. I will be posting 2 more giveaways this week, one for a book, and one other, so come back and see what I have in store for you.

I want to wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day! I hope that your day was full of love, friendship, chocolate, or whatever it is that you adore. Please know that I adore each and every one of you that visit my lil' ol' blog. You show me love every time you stop by.

I put all of your entries into and the following people are winners! I will be emailing you shortly, so please email me back with your contact info so that I can pass it on to the people at Hatchette and they will get your book out to you.

Congratulations to:
Gwendolyn B.

Snapshot Saturday #4

I love Snapshot Saturday because I love taking pictures and sharing them.  This week's picture was taken last weekend as a way to document a pregnancy.  Yes, that's our horse and yes, she's pregnant.  Her name is Doc's Top Cat (we call her Cat) and she's due next month.  We bred her last April to our vet's stud horse, so I took this picture to send to our vet's wife so she could see how big the mare has gotten.  2 weeks ago you could tell she was pregnant, but nothing like this.  She seems to have ballooned over night.  You can tell she's miserable too, because she just ambles across the pasture.  Don't get me wrong, she'll run to a feed bucket, but that's about it. Don't worry, I'll post pictures when the baby gets here!

Please join me in Snapshot Saturday by posting a snapshot on your blog and then putting your link in the comments.  I can't wait to see your snapshot!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Fill-ins - 2/13/09

1. It seems like this day will never end.

2. Wake me when you're done, please?

3. If I thought you would listen I'd tell you!

4. Love is what I think of most when I think of you.

5. To me, Valentine's Day means love and friendship.

6. My husband gives me strength.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to resting after Valentine parties at school, tomorrow my plans include dinner with friends and Sunday, I want to relax and read!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Author Interview: Barbara Worton

This morning I posted a review for Too Tall Alice, a book I truly enjoyed.  After reading the book, I had the privilege of interviewing the author, Barbara Worton.  She is such a wonderful woman!  She is also the first author that I have interviewed over the phone.  We had a great, 1 hour, conversation in which we laughed and shared stories.  I could never replicate that phone call here, but I hope that I can give you some insight into the woman behind Too Tall Alice.

Write For A Reader (WFAR):  Please tell us a little about yourself.

Barbara Worton (BW):  I live in New Jersey but was born in New York and grew up on Long Island.  My husband and I met in 1977.  He is from the UK.  In 1986 we moved to New Jersey.  I wasn't sure I would like it because I come from a real NYer family.  My family's been in NY since the 1600s.  We used to live in a condo, but now we have a house and I love it!  We don't have any kids, but do have a neice that we adore and spoil rotten, and an older nephew that we also spoil rotten.  We also have 5 godchildren and lots of friends with kids, so we have kids in our lives.  We have been married for 29 years and have a happy, good life.

WFAR:  When/how did you start writing?

BW:  I have been writing since I was 10, and I knew at 12 that I wanted to write for a living.  Growing up I did lots of reading.  My mom brought books into the home, talked about stories and did creative play with us.  I was really verbal at a young age, speaking full sentences at 14 months. 

WFAR:  What else have you written?

BW:  Bedtime Stories: Short, Long, and Tall Tales of a Sleep Writer.  I would rather do other things than sleep, so I fight it.  When my head hits the pillow, my brain starts working.  So, I would get all tucked in bed with a pad and a pencil, write the first word that popped into my head and just keep going until I got to the 3rd page.  This led to many journals.  When my mom got sick in 2005, I began going through the journals and Bedtime Stories is the best of those journal entries.  Harper Collins published a collection in 2005 called Memories of John Lennon.  I had a piece in there called London Calling.  I have written lots of poetry.  I make a living writing for newsletters and business communications.

WFAR:  Do you have any writing mentors?

BW:  Yes I do.  In school I had a teacher, poet Armand Schwerner.  He taught me how to do automatic writing with an egg timer.  Start with the first word and continue from there.  I could show him my work and he helped me to identify if it was my best or not.  He helped me learn how to put a filter on my writing.  Then, I took a journaling course from Morty Schiff.  He worked with me on self-esteem and how to be a strong person.  He was a kind and caring man who inspired me professionally and personally.

WFAR:  Where did the idea for Too Tall Alice come from?  Is it based on personal experience?

BW:  It is based on personal experience.  I was a midget until 5th grade when I went to 5'4".  Then, by 9th grade I was 5'8".  I could understand how awkward it was for Alice.  The name of the character is personal too.  My husband and I tried for years to get pregnant, and when I did, we had picked out the name Alice.  I ended up miscarrying and from then on every character I write about is named Alice.  In 1997, I was freelancing and having a rough time.  I hated writing and was getting no pleasure from it.  I shared this with my good friend and therapist, Noelle Hannon, who told me to "write for the joy of it."  After that, I was walking along and the line just popped into my head; "Alice was tall.  Not T-Rex or Empire State Building tall."  The rest of the story pretty much came all at once and then I edited it.  It came from somewhere deep inside.  In '04 I read it during a performance evening.
I wrote Too Tall Alice because I believe that self esteem is the greatest gift you can give a child.  I see so many kids today without that gift.  If kids are strong, bullying becomes less of an issue.  If they have a strong self-esteem, then it is easier to make good decisions.

WFAR:  I love the illustrations in the book, especially Alice's bedroom.  Did you work closely with the illustrator?

BW:   Yes.  Dom, Linda and I are actually the owners of Great Little Books and Alice was our guinea pig book.  I was actually blown away by the bedroom and podium (when Alice receives the award) illustrations.  When Dom showed them to me, they made me cry.  We tried very hard to make the type part of the story.  We wanted to integrate the writing and the pictures.

WFAR:  Do you have anything in the works?

BW:  I have started on the 2nd book: Too Tall Alice and Her Too Big Ideas.  It is based on the notion of wacky ideas that aren't really wacky.  People tend to discourage children when they come up with a strange idea.  I'm not happy with the ending though, so I'm still working.  Dom and I are also wrestling with how to make Alice a little different in this book.
I'm editing a YA book with my niece and her best friend and I'm writing a murder mystery.

WFAR:  What are some of your favorite books and authors?

BW:  Well, I love the Harry Potter books.  When 9/11 happened, we lived across the river from the World Trade Center and I started reading the Harry Potter books.  They helped me to escape all that was going on.  I also like Alice in Wonderland, and Wind in the Willows.  I grew up reading the Bobsey Twins and Nancy Drew.  My favorite illustrated book is The Stinky Cheese Man.  I also enjoy Mo Willems' Muffle Bunny books.  Another book I like is How Santa Really Works.  As far a adult reading, I like John Irving, especially A Prayer for Owen Meany.  I am a big mystery reader.  I typically read one mystery a week or every other week.

WFAR:  What do you do when you are not writing?

BW:  I am a runner.  For fun, I used to ice skate, until I injured my foot.  I bike ride dance  I take dance classes when I can.  Although I'm not good, I like sports.  I like to think I'm a good cook.  I love to travel and I like to shop.

WFAR:  What is your writing atmosphere like?

BW:  I am lucky to have the option of working from home or my office in the city.  My home office is in the lower level of our house and it's painted yellow.  There are pictures all over the walls and huge windows looking out into the backyard.  It is a structured office space.  I can write anywhere, but I like to be in my own space.  I have bookshelves that hold a Minnie Mouse collection that my mom started for me, pictures of my family, greeting cards, and animals.  It is a place that makes me happy.  The rest of the house has modern furniture.

WFAR:  How do you feel about book bloggers reviewing your book?

BW:  I love it!  I love the whole internet thing and free exchange of information.  I feel it brings literature back to the people.  Publishing became a giant machine, so narrow.  This puts books back in the hands of people who love books.

WFAR:  Is there anything else you'd like to say?

BW:  I think we are a good company and our books are good.  I truly believe that everyone comes into the world with the right to love themselves and be happy.  I'd like to see that for everyone.  At night, I turn on the tv, but I can't just sit still and watch it.  If I have a book, I won't move for hours and could stay up all night.  The greatest place to be is in a book.

My favorite quote is "If I think of all the places where I could spend my spare time, reality wouldn't be one of them."

Barbara, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time to visit with me and share a part of yourself.  I am truly honored to know you!  I look forward to the next Alice story and wish you all the best with Great Little Books.
site designed by aerin at