Saturday, August 30, 2008

Book Review: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells

Synopsis from Sarah Addison Allen website: Welcome to Bascom, North Carolina, where everyone has a story to tell about the Waverleys. There's the house that’s been in the family for generations, the walled garden that mysteriously blooms year round, and the wild rumors of dangerous loves and tragic passions. Claire has always clung to the Waverleys’ roots, tending the enchanted soil in the family garden from which she makes her sought-after delicacies. She has everything she thinks she needs, until one day she wakes to find a stranger has moved in next door and a vine of ivy has crept into her garden... and Claire’s carefully tended life is about to run gloriously out of control.

I truly found this novel to be enchanting and whimsical. It was very pleasantly engrossing and enjoyable. I loved the wonderfully unusual characters, the small town charm, the herbal wisdom from the garden and how Claire used the herbs in food. I liked the magical realism and the way it was entwined throughout the story. To me, it wasn't over the top and hocus pocus but done in a magical fairy tale sort of way. I found myself looking for the recipes that Claire had made at the end of the book but sadly, they were not there! The author does have them listed on her website, you can find recipes for Lavender Bread, Rose Petal Scones, Stuffed Pork Tenderloin and more here. I was thrilled to read on the authors website when she was asked if there would be a sequel to Garden Spells, she answered: "....there’s a possibility of a Garden Spells sequel (or maybe a prequel) in the future." I will definitely be keeping my eye on that and will be reading the authors newest book The Sugar Queen very soon! I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Garden Spells and prepare yourself to be whisked away into an enjoyable and magical story!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm a Guest Reviewer at Words to Mouth!!!

I'm SO excited to be the first Guest Book Review Blogger on the Words to Mouth website! I was thrilled when Carrie contacted me to be a guest reviewer on her site. I had just read and reviewed Kristy Kiernan’s new book Matters of Faith on my blog. We agreed that would be the best first review as it was an outstanding book to feature and, personally, it is a favorite of mine. Please check out the review on Words to Mouth here. Also, Carrie will be interviewing Kristy Kiernan, the author of Matters of Faith, next week so check that out as well! I hope that you pick up a copy of Matters of Faith to read. I would love to hear you comments so post them here!

If you are interested in being a guest reviewer on Words to Mouth check out the information Carrie posted in the review here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beautiful Essay and a Giveaway!!

Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters is hosting a giveaway of an autographed copy of Harriet Scott Chessman's novel Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper. If you win, she's also throwing in a copy of The Wednesday Sisters, too, if you help spread the word. So, please head on over to Meg's blog 1st BOOKS: STORIES OF HOW WRITERS GET STARTED here to find out all the details, feel free to mention my name in your comment as the one who sent you! Both of these books are on my wishlist of books to read!

Harriet Scott Chessman is this week’s guest poster on Meg's blog and wrote a lovely essay titled
Walking Through the Hedge . Click here to read the essay, I highly recommend it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Book Buzz Meme!!

Another first for me here in blogging world....I was tagged by Dar at Peeking between the pages for a meme. It looks like fun so here it goes....

Book Buzz Meme:

I am going to list three categories of books: 3 MUST Read Books, 3 Keep Your Eyes on These, and 3 Look for These Soon. Keeping with the theme, I am going to tag at least 3 bloggers. They should put these same lists on their blog but SUBTRACT one book from each list and ADD one of their own. Then they should tag at least 3 more bloggers. It will be fun to see how the lists change as it goes around the blogosphere. Since this is Book Buzz...please keep your lists to titles released in 2007-2009.

3 MUST Read Books:

  • Somebody Else's Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage

  • Sweetsmoke by David Fuller

  • Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan (Check out my review here)

3 Keep Your Eyes on These:

  • Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway

  • WhiteBroken by Daniel Clay

  • The Vanishing Act Of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

3 Look for These Soon:

  • Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

  • The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory

  • The Hour I first Believed by Wally Lamb

I subtracted The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff, The Memory of Water by Karen WhiteTime of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch.

I'm tagging:

It's just luck...I won another book!

I am not one that has the best luck at winning contests so I am pretty excited that I have won another book! I have won the giveaway of One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell from Dar at Peeking between the pages. Thanks Dar!!! Check out Dar's great blog and her review of this book on her blog here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Won a Book!!

I won the book What Happened to Anna K. by Irina Reyn from Bree's giveaway on her blog The things we read. Thanks Bree!! I can't wait to read this book as I've heard great things about it. Check out Bree's blog here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pokemon Collecting!

Pokemon Card Collecting

If you have a young child or family member you most likely have heard of Pokemon card collecting! My son is a HUGE fan of, card collecting and Books as well. He asked me to write about it on my blog because he loves Pokemon and wants everyone to know that. I asked him a few questions and here is our conversation:

How would you describe what Pokemon is?

Answer: Pokemon is about these little characters that don't really exist. They sometimes take names off of real animals like wailord from the whale. Also, in any video game you start off with a kid and then he goes to a patch of grass and hears someone screaming "help". Then you run up to him and he tells you to go into his sack and then you have a choice of picking three pokemon. Because, there is a pokemon chasing him and the three pokemon are always different in different games. Then, you have to battle the pokemon chasing him. After you beat the pokemon he brings you to his lab. Then, he says "Thanks for helping me" and the pokemon that you used is going to be yours and you can name the pokemon but it is better not to and keep the original name. The pokemon is used for battling and catching other pokemon and battling other peoples pokemon.

What is the difference between the games and the pokemon cards?

Answer: There is really no difference between the pokemon game and pokemon cards. On the cards, you can open up a pack of pokemon cards and get a really strong pokemon that you can't get on the game or it will take you a long time to get the pokemon. The cards are used for battling and trading that is why it is called Pokemon trading card game.
What is your favorite Pokemon?

Answer: My favorite pokemon are Palkia, Torterra, Blissey, Charizard, Magmortar, Blastoise, Regigigas because they are really strong.

Why do you like collecting Pokemon cards?
Answer: They're really cool, they're strong , they look awesome and some are worth a lot.

Do you like reading the Pokemon books and what are your favorites?

Answer: Yes, I really like to read the pokemon books. My favorite pokemon book is Attack of the Prehistoric Pokemon (Pokemon Chapter Book #3) by Tracey West.

Book Review: Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki

Book Review:

Bitter Sweets

Description: With this spellbinding first novel about the destructive lies three immigrant generations of a Pakistani/Bangladeshi family tell each other, Roopa Farooki adds a fresh new voice to the company of Zadie Smith, Jhumpa Lahiri and Arudhati Roy. Henna Rub is a precocious teenager whose wheeler-dealer father never misses a business opportunity and whose sumptuous Calcutta marriage to wealthy romantic Ricky-Rashid Karim is achieved by an audacious network of lies. Ricky will learn the truth about his seductive bride, but the way is already paved for a future of double lives and deception--family traits that will filter naturally through the generations, forming an instinctive and unspoken tradition. Even as a child, their daughter Shona, herself conceived on a lie and born in a liar's house, finds telling fibs as easy as ABC. But years later, living above a sweatshop in South London's Tooting Bec, it is Shona who is forced to discover unspeakable truths about her loved ones and come to terms with what superficially holds her family together--and also keeps them apart--across geographical, emotional and cultural distance.

This book is already out in publication in Hardback. I received a copy of this book as part of the Early Reviewer group at Library Thing and from St. Martin's Griffin Publishers. My copy is an Advanced Readers' Edition Trade Paperback that will be published in October 2008. The book also includes a Reading Group Gold Section in the back of the book that includes:

  • An Interview with the author Roopa Farooki

  • Food For Thought

  • Reading Group Questions

Roopa Farooki's debut novel is a richly woven tale of three generations of a family with Indian, Pakistani and English backgrounds. The author was able to tell the story through the viewpoints of many characters in the book very smoothly. The main character that stood out for me in the story was Shona, the daughter of Henna and Ricky-Rashid who were brought together through an arranged marriage filled with deception. Shona, their only child, married Parvez a young man of Pakistani descent that her parents did not approve of as they were of Bangladeshi descent. They had twin boys who grew up to be very different in nature and personality. The main theme of the book is on the impact that lies and deception can have on a family. At one point, near the end of the story, Shona comes across a quote in a book that makes her question if deception is something she could change. She made a decision that would change the dynamics of her family. I liked Shona's character in the story and how her character along with other characters grew and matured. I disliked Henna, as she appeared to be a very selfish woman who rarely showed love or attention to her husband or daughter unless it was for her own personal gain. The author commented in an interview in the back of the book that explains much about the characters " Bitter Sweets the moral conflicts of the characters which lead them to deceive are not a result of religious dilemmas or culture clashes, but rather due to their very personal and ambiguous emotions." Forbidden love as well as faith and fidelity are other strong themes in the book. There were surprises and twists and turns all through the story. I enjoyed reading each creative chapter title as it was a glimpse ahead to the next storyline and it made me want to keep on reading. I was pleased with the ending of the book and where each character ended up in their stage of life. I can imagine a sequel to this book as it would be very interesting to see what happens to the characters next and how their choices may efffect the next generation.

I look forward to reading more books by this author and from information on the authors website and blog a new book will be out in the US next year in 2009.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Giveaways to check out!

Here are some more Giveaway contests to check out!

Bree at The Things we read is having a giveaway for an ARC hardback copy of
What happened to Anna K. by Irina Reyn. This ends August 22nd. Go here to enter and get the details.

Dar at Peeking Between the pages is having a giveaway for an ARC copy of One Fifth Avenue
by Candace Bushnell. This ends August 24th. Click here to enter and get the details.

Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelf is having a contest for an ARC copy of Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy. This ends August 23rd. Go here to enter and get the details.

Julie P. at Booking Mama is giving away a copy of SWEET LOVE by Sarah Strohmeyer. The
contest ends August 24th. You can read her review of the book and get the details for the contest here.

Good Luck and let me know if you win!

Sweet Life Book Giveway: Books & Chocolate

Sweet Life Book and Chocolate Basket Giveaway!

I had to post about this great giveaway given by Bookroomreviews and author Mia King so be sure to check out this link and enter! The author is willing to give out up to 3 prize baskets based on 1 basket for every 50 entries so head on over there and enter! It sounds like a great women's fiction book about self discovery, friendship, parenting/marriage, food and more plus, it's based in Hawaii....this is a book that I would love to read. To read the review of Sweet Life by Mia King just click here. Who can pass up such a sweet giveaway....Free books AND chocolate?!!!

Here's what you can win:

Valued at over $80, our “Life is Sweet” Hawaiian gift basket includes:

  • one small gold box of Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread Cookies

  • one gold box of Kohala Brownie Assortment

  • one petite box of Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Rocky Road

  • one petite box of Combination (Dark and Milk) Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts

  • three Dark Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread cookies

  • one Original Biscotti with Milk Chocolate waves

  • one Original Biscotti with Dark Chocolate Waves

  • one signed copy of GOOD THINGS

  • one signed copy of SWEET LIFE

  • an assortment of temporary hibiscus tattoos, tropical key chains, monogrammed GOOD THINGS and SWEET LIFE pens, inspiring quote cards (you know I love quotes!), bookmarks, and more!

All of this comes in a lovely keepsake woven basket for you to store your favorite Mia King books.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Review: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (No spoilers)

Book Review:

Breaking Dawn

Book Jacket Description: To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life-first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse-seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed... forever?

I had read all 3 prior books in The Twilight Series this summer. You can read my review of Eclipse here. I have decided not to post spoilers here as I did not read any before I read the book and I believe that makes it a better reading experience. I was able to read the book without any idea of what would happen and without any preconceived notions or opinions from others. That was my choice, others may choose differently and there are plenty of reviews out there with spoilers that you can find.

I have to say that I liked the book and where the author went with the story. I read it quickly as I couldn't put it down and felt pulled into the story. For me, I found this the best book of the series as this was the only time I felt that I couldn't put the book down. I found the story well written, easy to follow and gripping to the end. I liked where the author took Bella and Edward as well as the other characters and the way the story was told all the way to the end. I am a Jacob fan and was happy to see where she took his character and the balance in the book she gave to him and his story. Of course, there were questionable and unbelieveable ideas in the story...there were in the other books as well. Those things didn't deter me from enjoying the book. I had heard that there was controversy brewing and fans that didn't like the book. I am surprised that some people chose to not finish the book and I believe that for them, that is a can you judge a book without finishing it? For me, it is a fictional story about vampires and werewolves so why be surprised where that storyline takes you?

In other Twilight news....The Twilight Movie will be released in theaters November 21st! It was recently moved up 3 weeks as the release of the sixth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, has been moved from this Thanksgiving to next summer. Stephenie Meyer is also currently at work on Midnight Sun the Twilight story from Edward's perspective. You can read the first chapter here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Book Review:The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Book Review:

The Last Lecture

About The Book:
The Last Lecture goes beyond the now-famous lecture to inspire us all to live each day of our lives with purpose and joy.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

—Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy? When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave—“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”—wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living. In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

I had first heard of Randy Pausch when I saw an interview he did on the Oprah show. I was very touched and inspired by his message, outlook on his life and approach to handling his cancer diagnosis. When I heard that this book was out, I knew that I had to read it. I found it full of wisdom, although many of the sentiments I've heard before. The author was able to apply them to his own life and share how he did this. My husband listened to the book on CD and we both felt that this book was one that made us stop and think about how short life can be and how important it is to appreciate each day that you are given. Sadly, Randy died last month and left behind a wife and 3 children who will be blessed by the choices he has made in preserving his legacy through this book and his You Tube video titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Social Network Book Cataloging Sites?

Social Networks are common on the internet but most people think of social networks that focus on discussions of their love life or interests in music. I have found a different kind of social network focused on the shared interest in books and reading. I have also connected with friends, met new friends as well as authors. I can post book reviews, read others reviews and see what my friends are reading or have read. I have discovered new authors and books that have broadened my reading experience. There are many to choose from and I have 3 favorites that I wanted to recommend.

  • LibraryThing : This is a site that lets people create detailed online book catalogs, learn about the collections of other members, discover shared favorites and swap recommendations.

  • Good Reads: Most book recommendation websites work by listing random people’s reviews. On Goodreads, when a person adds a book to the site, all their friends can see what they thought of it. The premise is that people are more likely to get excited about a book their friend recommends than a suggestion from a stranger.

  • Shelfari: Members of this social media site can build virtual bookshelves, discover, rate and discuss books, and participate in online groups.

It's wonderful to be able to connect to other people who share the same passion , love and addiction for books! If you aren't part of one of these great sites, check them out and considering joining.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Book Review: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
(The Twilight Series, Book 3)

Summary:As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob—knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

I've stuck with this series from the beginning starting with Twilight and enjoyed reading the first two books. This one, I had trouble with...the story dragged out for me and I think the story could have been told in less pages as some things seemed drawn out to me. I actually put the book down halfway through as the continual descriptions and details of the vampires lives started to bother me. I also was tiring of Bella's emotional meltdowns. I picked it up again about a month later and did finish it. I think it may have been my mood at the time..sometimes, I find myself tiring of a book or it is not holding my interest and later go back and don't feel the same. Personally, I am rooting for Jacob...he seems so much more real and authentic to me than Edward. I am probably in the minority here though as from what I've read, most people adore Edward! This series is addicting, even though I liked the first two books more I will definitely be reading the next book in the series Breaking Dawn.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees Movie

The Secret Life of Bees will be in theaters October 17th 2008.This is one of my favorite books and I am looking forward to the movie
version. Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees is a powerful coming-of-age story about the ability of love to transform our lives. Kidd's cherished novel has been adapted into one of the most anticipated movies of the Fall starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys, and you can watch a world-premiere clip on this link to Borders. Also, you can watch a video here where Sue Monk Kidd talks about the movie.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Book Review: Matters of Faith


Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan

Summary: At age twelve, Marshall Tobias saw his best friend killed by a train. It was then that he began his search for faith; delving into one tradition, then discarding it for another. While his parents were at odds over his behavior, they found common ground with his little sister Meghan, whose severe food allergies required careful attention.

Now Marshall is home from college with his first real girlfriend. Meghan is thrilled to have her around, but there is more to Ada than meets the eye—including her beliefs about the evils of medical intervention. What follows is a crisis that tests not only faith, but the limits of family, forgiveness, and our need to believe.

When I read a review of this book at Booking Mama I knew that it was a book that I had to read. This book is about a family that has a child with life-threatening food allergies but it is also about so much more. You see, it is especially meaningful to me as , I too, have a child with life-threatening food allergies and know from first hand experience what it is like to raise a child with severe food allergies. My son is now 9, but we knew from the age of 1 that he had severe food allergies. Most parents who have children with food allergies like this are always on alert and cautious and our worst fear is that our child will be exposed to something that could literally take their life.

It was challenging to read parts of the book as they hit so close to home and were so realistic. This did not take away from the book for me at all. I loved the book and had trouble putting it down! I found the strength of the writing and characters extremely well done. The author alternates the narrative between the mother Chloe and the son Marshall which was very effective to delve into their deepest thoughts. After I finished the book, I felt like I knew the family. The author was able to describe their thoughts and emotions in a way that the reader felt connected to them in a personal way. It was painful at times to read about Meghan and her anaphylactic reaction and the situation that caused this. I could relate to Chloe on so many levels as a mom, as a mother of a food allergic child. The overprotectiveness I have in wanting to protect my own child but wanting to allow him the freedom to explore the world without fear. To me, Chloe's character was extremely realistic to a mother's feeling towards her children and keeping that in balance when you have to protect both children.

This book is not just a book about food allergies it is about so much more. It addresses the issues of Faith...forcing the reader to examine what the meaning of faith is to the characters in the book as well as challenge their own definition of faith as faith has many meanings and interpretations. It brought to light the theme of faith related to religion as well as medical science and healing.

It also addresses the issues of marriage and how it can change over the years for better and for worse. It also looks at how a husband and wife can handle a tragedy and what that can do to a marriage and a family.

I found that the author was very accurate in her descriptions and details of food allergies and reactions and medical issues overall. I am also a health professional so these issues were important to me to be accurate when you are dealing with a story even in a fictional way related to a very serious topic such as food allergies. Food allergies are on the rise and we are meeting more friends and adults who have or have a family member with life threatening food allergies. It is vitally important to educate yourself as so many people don't realize that ingesting or coming into contact via smell or touch with just a small amount of an allergen (Ex. Peanut) can be a life and death situation for someone with a life-threatening food allergy. We have found our friends, family, schools and community to be very supportive after they are educated and understand my son's allergies. If you want to find out more information about food allergies please visit The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network website which has a wealth of information and has been a great resource for my family. Also, seek out a food allergy support group if you have a child with a food allergy which can be a great support for parents.

Matters of Faith was just released on August 5th and was chosen as a "Hot Summer Read" by Chicago Tribune and as an IndieNext Notable Title for September 2008. Congratulations to Kristy Kiernan for a wonderful book!

I highly recommend Matters of Faith to all and especially think it would be a great book to discuss with a friend or book club. There is a lot to talk about related to the themes in the book.

Check out the author Kristy Kiernan's website here as well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Favorite Places to Read

Favorite Places to Read

One of my recent favorite places to read is under a shaded tree at a nearby pool. I can lounge in a chair with my feet up in the shade with a cool breeze and a cool drink. I can take a dip in the pool and come back to my shaded corner and pick up my book and enjoy the time reading. Please share where some of your favorite places to read are and what are you currently reading?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Broadway Revue

Broadway has distracted me away from blogging! My son is
in his first summer theatre camp/workshop which hasbeen a Broadway Revue show. It's been a busy time and this weekend are the performances. The kids have done an
amazing job and their talent, enthusiasm and spirit are truly awesome. They are having fun and working hard and we are so proud of them! I'll be back to more regular blogging soon!