Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Waiting on Wednesday" - The Tension of Opposites

"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 Tension of Opposites
by:  Kristina McBride
Publication Date:  May 25th 2010 by EgmontUSA 

It’s been two years since Noelle disappeared. Two years since her bike was discovered, sprawled on a sidewalk. Two years of silence, of worry, of fear.

For those two long years, her best friend Tessa has waited, living her own life in a state of suspended animation. Because how can she allow herself to enjoy a normal high school life if Noelle can’t? How dare she have other friends, go to dances, date boys, without knowing what happened to the girl she thought she would share everything with?

And then one day, someone calls Noelle’s house. She’s alive.

A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath of a kidnapping on the victim, and on the people she left behind.

This one just sounds interesting to me!  I enjoy mysteries and I love to see it in a YA novel.  High school is hard enough for teenagers, then couple it with the loss of your best friend and it's that much more difficult.  I am anxious for May to see how this one turns out.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Because of A Book with Bonnie Hearn Hill

It's been a while since I've posted a Because of A Book, but it's because I haven't had participants.  So, if you are a blogger, author, illustrator, publicist, librarian, bookish person, please contact me so that I can feature you here, on a Tuesday.

Today, I am pleased to bring you a WOW author, Bonnie Hearn Hill, who has written Aries Rising.  You can thank Coca-Cola for Bonnie Hearn Hill’s long lived writing career. They were the ones who sponsored the writing contest she won in the fourth grade that gave her writing fever. She’s been writing ever since.

Bonnie spent 22 years as a newspaper editor and wrote six thrillers, as well as several non-fiction books. An interest in astrology and a friendship with Cosmo Magazine Astrologer Hazel Dixon-Cooper led to the development of her new Star Crossed Series for the YA market.

And in case you’re wondering…Bonnie is a double Gemini, saved by an Aquarius Moon. Air and Fire with very little Earth.

Bonnie has two more books in the Star Crossed Series coming out later this year: Taurus Eyes and Gemini Nights.

You can find Bonnie at her website.


I've heard that writers begin as lonely children. Our love of reading leads us to a love of words and ultimately to creating our own stories.

When I was very young, my mother told me that when I learned to read, she would give me her set of old fairytale books. These were the unsanitized tales of the yellow dwarf and the witch cooking kids in the oven. Although I had some wild nightmares, I learned to read in no time.

I went through Edgar Allen Poe faster than you can brick a dead body into a wall. I loved Poe's voice and the sound of his language. "The Telltale Heart." "The Black Cat." Chills to this day.

Then came Saki (H.H. Munro). I can still feel the terror of, "Wolves," the single word that ends his short story, "The Interlopers."

"Sredni Vashtar" told of a sickly little boy and his evil guardian who unsuccessfully tries to stop the boy from worshipping the great ferret for whom the tale is named.

Back then, my cousin frequently spent weekends with us. We would tell each other these and other stories as we lay in pitch blackness in my twin bed.

Late one night she said, "Just roll over and give me a normal look so I can get some sleep."

I made a snarling werewolf face, rolled over, and realized she had done the same. When we saw each other, we both screamed.

Later, I found that what frightened me most wasn't supernatural monsters but the evil that lurks closer to home. "Silence of the Lambs" terrified me because I could imagine people such as these actually existing. I read the scary parts of that book the way I cover my eyes in a horror film, with my finger hiding the rest of a sentence as I read just one word and then the next.

There are times with my own writing that I wish I could do the same thing. Only I can't of course. If I don't write the next word, the next sentence, it won't exist. So that's what I do, sitting here at my desk, often late at night. I carve out stories from the images in my head and shape dialogue from the voices I hear. From the time I read that first fairytale, some part of me knew I would do this one day. It is what I love, and it began because of a book. A lot of books.

About The Telltale Heart - Suspense, fear and the supernatural provide the center for these tales by the master prose writer.

About Aries Rising - When Logan McRae discovers a magical book called Fearless Astrology, all she wants is to change her sucky life. In order to get into the summer writing camp of her dreams, she needs the recommendation of her stubborn and irritable English teacher Mr. Franklin. Logan also has her eye on Nathan, the hottest guy in class. Unfortunately, so does popular, beyond-gorgeous Geneva, editor of the high school paper.

Logan's two best friends, Chili and Paige, are always there to give her the advice she needs. But now that she has Fearless Astrology, Logan discovers a whole new way to overcome her dilemmas-while helping the three of them land the guys they're crushing on.

When the Gears, a group of boys, starts causing trouble in school and out, she decides to identify them using astrology. Her goal: to impress Mr. Franklin, Nathan, and the kids who believe she is faking her newfound
knowledge. The answers are in the stars, all right, but can Logan decipher them before it is too late?

Buy it at IndieBound

Bonnie has graciously offered a copy of Aries Rising to one of my readers.  So, for a chance to win, comment about Bonnie's post or ask her a question.  Be sure to leave your email address so that I can contact you should you win.  You have until midnight, Thursday, April 1 to enter.  The winner will be chosen at random and posted here on the blog on Friday, April 2.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 3/26/2010

1. The right word always seems to escape me.

2. Just go and shut the door quietly, please.

3. Up and at 'em.

4. Usually, home is where you'll find me.

5. Ooh! What is that thing?

6. Enjoying the beautiful weather is a good idea.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing with my hubby, tomorrow my plans include the teacher job fair and building fence and Sunday, I want to have it all done so I can rest!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blog Tour - Letter to My Daughter

Author:  George Bishop
Review Copy Provided by:  Ballantine Books for a Pump Up Your Book Promotions blog tour

About the Book:  Dear Elizabeth,

It's early morning and I'm sitting here wondering where you are, hoping you're all right.

A fight, ended by a slap, sends Elizabeth out the door of her Baton Rouge home on the eve of her fifteenth birthday. Her mother, Laura, is left to fret and worry--and remember. Wracked with guilt as she awaits Liz's return, Laura begins a letter to her daughter, hoping to convey everything I've always meant to tell you but never have.

In her painfully candid confession, Laura shares memories of her own troubled adolescence in rural Louisiana, growing up in an intensely conservative household. She recounts her relationship with a boy she loved despite her parents' disapproval, the fateful events that led to her being sent away to a strict Catholic boarding school, the personal tragedy brought upon her by the Vietnam War, and, finally, the meaning of the enigmatic tattoo below her right hip.

My Review:  It's been a while since I've read a short story.  This is one I'll read again, pass on to my friends to read and recommend to others.  

What's surprising about this little book, is that it's the story of a mother and daughter, written by a man!  Yes, a man, and he does it very well.  It also has a different format than your normal short story or novel.  This story is written in the form of a letter from the mother to the daughter after the daughter leaves.  To me, someone who conveys her thoughts better in writing, this mother was a character I could relate to.  I don't have any children, but would like to think that when I do, I could tell her important things in this way.  I really like the way Bishop chose to write this story.

The mother tells her daughter about her life as a teenager, and in doing so, comes to realize that she (mother) had some of the same feelings that her daughter has now.  Which may be part of the reason for her leaving.  Teenagers don't think that their parents understand, but what's funny is that the parent usually went through a similar situation with many of the same feelings.  It takes us growing up to realize that though.  George Bishop has crafted a great story about mother/daughter relationships that many will be able to relate to.

"Waiting on Wednesday" - Inconvenient

"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 Margie Gelbwasser
Publication Date: November 2010 by Flux

Alyssa Bondar’s world is falling apart. She has just entered her sophomore year at Glenfair High, the only place to hang out is behind the CVS, Keith her cross-country crush keeps sending her mixed signals, and her best friend Lana has started the school year with large breasts and a sexy attitude–-attracting the attention of the most popular kids in the school, a group Alyssa clearly doesn’t fit into.

Alyssa’s Jewish, like most of Glenfair, but since she’s also Russian, Alyssa feels even more separated from other teens. How many other Jewish families have a New Year’s tree with ornaments? On top of all this, Alyssa’s once stable home environment has become chaotic.

Alyssa is used to alcohol accompanying every meal and event in the Russian culture. But when Alyssa’s mother loses her job, the usual drink or two changes into a full-time happy hour. While Alyssa's father uses news reports of war unrest in the Middle East as his escape from reality, Alyssa is left to pick up the pieces of her shattered family alone. As her mother’s alcoholism gets worse, Alyssa must decide how much she can and should handle before she crumbles as well.

I met Margie in a Tenners (2010 authors) chat one night and we became friends.  I am so excited to see her book with cover art, finally!  She and I have been trying to work together to get the word out about her book.  It's hard to WoW a book w/out cover art, so now I can!  Margie's book, Inconvenient, doesn't fit your typical YA mold.  The main character is Jewish, which a lot of books won't deal with. Yes, it's set in a high school, like many YA books, but I think Margie will put a different spin on it, that readers will like.  November is a while to wait, but I'm sure this one will be worth it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blog Tour - Alphatudes

Author:  Michele Wahlder
Review Copy Provided by: the author for a Pump Up Your Book Promotion blog tour

About the Book:  Alphatudes reveals that gratitude is the unexpected, simple secret of living a joyful life. In a world obsessed with negativity, we must deliberately choose to focus on the positive. Alphatudes uses your earliest grade school victory the ABCs to help you achieve a sustainable shift in thinking that leads to contentment, optimism and peace of mind. An alphatude is defined as: a person, place or thing for which one alphabetically expresses gratitude. Filled with vibrant illustrations, Alphatudes takes you on an inspiring 26-step journey where you ll discover how to: heighten your awareness of life s daily gifts; attract opportunities with a positive mind-set; find blessings in difficult situations; and become free from worry, negativity and resentment.

My Review:   This is a sweet little book!  As a former kindergarten teacher, I'm a sucker for ABC books and I'm excited about this one especially, as it's for adults, and it is so motivational!  Each letter starts with a quote, then 3 or 4 paragraphs about that attribute, an affirmation and ends with a short prayer for that attribute.  The layout is the same for each letter, which I enjoyed, because I knew what to expect, and as I go back to the book, can focus on any or all parts.

An example:  O is for Obstacles - I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship. - Louisa May Alcott.  The affirmation is as follows:  I embrace the obstacles in my life with courage, integrity and strength.  I choose to see obstacles as opportunities to grow into the best person I can be.  I tap into the infinite wisdom of the universe to reveal optimal solutions.  And then the Prayer of Obstacles:  Support me as I confront my tears and move through the obstacles you have lovingly put on my path.  Help me to face these life lessons with courage, curiosity and unwavering faith.  thank you for providing me with obstacles that bring me closer to you.

Did I mention this book also has a spiritual side?  Well, if you couldn't tell, it does.  I love that!  The prayers are short, to the point, and perfect for those times when you need a prayer of specificity.  The paragraphs that Michele writes about each attribute really make you stop and think about the word, what it means, and how you can apply it to your life.  I like to read self-help or motivational books, but many times they drag on and on about topics, giving you too much information that leaves you overwhelmed.  This one does just the opposite.  It gives you just enough about each attribute, that you are able to digest it and put it to work almost immediately.  You can read it in one setting, or a letter a day.  It's your choice.  However you decide to read this one, it's one you will probably go back to again and again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blog Tour - Life Choices

Author:   Judi Moreo and 25 others
Review Copy Provided by:  Turning Point International for a Pump Up Your Book Promotions blog tour

About the Book:  (from the Life Choices website)  If you feel “stuck” in a situation that appears to be beyond your control, these stories will show you how others have coped with crisis and uncertainty, made tough choices and positive changes in order to find deeper meaning and satisfaction in their relationships and learned to live with purpose every day. Rarely do we find a book that addresses so many different challenges. Life Choices does this in a powerful and inspiring way. This book is about experiences, the people who lived them, and how they created successful lives. From values and self-fulfillment to legacy, this book offers new resources for people who have tough choices to make every day.
Filled with wisdom and love, this book is a soothing companion for anyone searching for the courage to make a choice to change his or her circumstances. These authors and their stories prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that success belongs to everyone, no matter where they come from or what has happened to them. They are living proof that miracles can and do happen. You can be one of these people. You can navigate through difficult times and find your pathway to the life you choose to lead. Put the strength of others to work for you. Courage is not the absence of fear or pain. Courage is taking the steps to move through it.

My Review:  This is a very moving book!  If you are a fan of short stories, like those in the Chicken Soup books, then you are sure to like this one.  Because it is filled with short stories, it is one you can read through quickly, or take your time to soak up the insight of each story individually.  My preference was to read it all the way through one time, and then to go back to each story on it's own for a more in depth look.  It's hard to talk about the book without giving too much away, but I will tell you about one of my favorite short stories in the book.

Class is a Choice, by Anne Dreyer, really touched me.  Through her family's story, Anne tells the reader that you either choose to be classy or you don't.  People in her family didn't always have money, but they never let others know that.  They always lived with class.  How did they do it?  They made a choice to walk classy, read and have an inquiring mind, dress classy, speak classy, choose to improve themselves, act classy, and give more than they received.  Anne learned most of these from her father, Peter, who always walked tall, and still practices them today.  It doesn't matter who you are or what life has dealt you, you can choose to have class.

This story spoke to me because I've always admired people who acted with class.  I am, nor will I probably ever be, a person of class based on how much money I have.  But, after reading Anne's story, that doesn't matter anymore.  I can choose to be a classy person, no matter what.  It is best summed up with this quote, " people will not remember if you were rich or where you came from or your qualifications, but they will remember how you made them feel."  That is so true, and how I want to be remembered one day.

So, if you are on a difficult path or just want to read some inspiring stories of people who have journeyed through fear, pain, sorrow and challenges, then read this book.  It is sure to move you through many emotions as you go from story to story.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Two for Toddlers

I have been dying to share these books with you this week!  Board books have been on my radar this past year because of my nephew.  A year ago March 3rd, he arrived and our family was so exited!    You might remember this blog post from last year.  Well, I have been a doting aunt and try to get my hands on all kinds of books for him.  He loves them!  Thanks to Chronicle Books, I have 2 more to add to his collection.

Brayden a year ago...and Brayden today...see, he has his tub of books beside him.  My sister-in-law has to change them out periodically because he has so many.

Now, for the books...

Title:  In My Flower
Author/Illustrator:  Sara Gillingham and Lorena Siminovich
Review Copy Provided by:  Chronicle Books

About the Book:  Turn the colorful die-cut pages of this irresistible board book to discover just what makes little butterfly's flower so cozy. Bright pictures, sweet reassuring messages, unique layered pages, and an adorable finger puppet combine to create interactive reading and playtime fun!
My Review:  What a perfect springtime book!  I love the cut-outs on each page and the way that the parent or child can manipulate the butterfly as a finger puppet.  Board books are great for the little ones, but they are so much more fun when they are interactive.   The pictures are bright, which makes them very eye catching for the baby or toddler.  5 short pages that are sure to delight your little one!

Title:  High Five with Julius and Friends
Author/Illustrator:  Paul Frank Industries
Review Copy Provided by:  Chronicle Books

About the Book:  Julius and his friends offer up high fives on every page of this irresistible board book! Each spread encourages kids to celebrate amazing everyday achievements—from sharing their toys to just being themselves—and features a touch-and-feel texture that will keep little ones engaged as they strive to be and do their very best.

My Review:  This is a touch and feel book and my nephew absolutely loves touch and feel!  High Five is a very positive book.  The monkey, Julius, gives high fives for being a superstar, sharing, looking both ways before crossing the street, eating, putting away clothes and being a rock star.  I really like the positive message that it sends to kids.  The bright, vivid colors make it very appealing to little ones and the touch and feel is a huge plus!  Each character holds up their paw, which is enlarged, and the baby/toddler gets to feel it.  Just a cute book that is sure to keep your youngster coming back for more!

Friday Fill-Ins - 3/12/2010

1. I am so looking forward to Spring Break!

2. I'll get to that later.

3. When you get there, let me know.

4. Education is a big part of my life.

5. If you need anything let me know.

6. It's definitely worth a trip.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to working at the rodeo, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in and Sunday, I want to clean out some bedrooms!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Guardian of the Dead

"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:

Guardian of the Dead
by Karen Healey
Publication Date: April 1st 2010 by Little Brown and Company

In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.

I have been seeing this title pop up around the blogosphere and the hype alone has me wanting to read it.  Plus, it's published by Little Brown, which I haven't read a book by them I didn't like, so I'm anxious to get my hands on this one!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 3/5/2010

1. Why are you making me get out of bed; I just laid down?

2. I want you to take care of me.

3. If I have to do this, then it will be on my terms.

4. Let's wait and see what happens.

5. I could use a nap right about now.

6. Every now and then I get grumpy.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to getting some sleep, tomorrow my plans include attending my cousin's wedding in Austin and Sunday, I want to rest, but I have to work at the rodeo!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blog Tour - The Believers

Title:  The Believers
Author:  Zoe Heller
Review Copy Provided by:  Harper Perennial

About the Book:  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.

My Review:  This is the first book by Heller that I have been privileged to read.  I say privileged because I enjoyed the story she had to tell in The Believers.  Her characters are realistic and complex.  I became more and more drawn into their story the more I read.  If you want a story that's juicy, true to life with all its humor, dissappointments and entertainment, then read this one.

I will admit that I had a little trouble getting started with this one, as it is a change from what I normally read, but I kept at it and I'm so glad I did!

The story begins, with a prologue, in the 60's and then moves closer to the present, 2002, to tell the story of Audrey and Joel's 40 year marriage.  Everyone is forced to reexamine their lives with Joel; Audrey their marriage, and the children their own trials.  Isn't that what we all do at one time or another in our lives?  I just enjoyed how real Heller's writing is.  I will definitely be reading more of her work!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Perchance to Dream

"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:

Perchance to Dream
by Lisa Mantchev
Publication Date: May 25th 2010 by Feiwel & Friends

The stuff that dreams are made on.

Act Two, Scene One

Growing up in the enchanted Thèâtre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn’t know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, the Teller of Tales, and determined to follow her stars. She is ready for the outside world.


But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Thèâtre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between—

Nate: Her suave and swashbuckling pirate, now in mortal peril.

Ariel: A brooding, yet seductive, air spirit whose true motives remain unclear.

When Nate is kidnapped and taken prisoner by the Sea Goddess, only Bertie can free him. She and her fairy sidekicks embark on a journey aboard the Thèâtre’s caravan, using Bertie’s word magic to guide them. Along the way, they collect a sneak-thief, who has in his possession something most valuable, and meet The Mysterious Stranger, Bertie’s father—and the creator of the scrimshaw medallion. Bertie’s dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it’s Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess’s lair?

Once again, LISA MANTCHEV has spun a tale like no other—full of romance, magic, adventure, and fairies, too—that readers won’t want to put down, even after the curtain has closed.

What can I say?  No, it's not a debut book, like I usually post for WoW, but I couldn't resist.  I love Lisa and fell in love with Bertie in Act One: Eyes Like Stars.  I have been waiting on this one and was ecstatic when an ARC was delivered a couple of weeks ago.  It is calling to me, and this weekend, I will pick it up and get lost in the theatre and Bertie's world once again.  If this act is anything like the first one, it will deserve a "bravo; encore!"
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