Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review: A Thread of Truth by Marie Bostwick

Description: At twenty-seven, having fled an abusive marriage with little more than her kids and the clothes on her back, Ivy Peterman figures she has nowhere to go but up. Quaint, historic New Bern, Connecticut, seems as good a place as any to start fresh. With a part-time job at the Cobbled Court Quilt Shop and budding friendships, Ivy feels hopeful for the first time in ages. But when a popular quilting TV show is taped at the quilt shop, Ivy's unwitting appearance in an on-air promo alerts her ex-husband to her whereabouts. Suddenly, Ivy is facing the fight of her life - one that forces her to face her deepest fears as a woman and a mother. This time, however, she's got a sisterhood behind her: companions as complex, strong, and lasting as the quilts they stitch...

~From Goodreads

I read and reviewed A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick, earlier this year. I was thrilled to see that Marie had written a second book, A Thread of Truth, in the the Cobbled Court series which she was kind enough to send me one of her last copies, inscribed and signed. As I had mentioned in my review of A Single Thread (the first book in the series) I enjoyed the gentleness and focus on friendships of the Cobbled Court women. A Thread of Truth, continues the story of Evelyn who owns and runs the Cobbled Court Quilt shop and her friends Abigail, Margot, Liza. We also learn about other people who live in New Bern, including Ivy Peterman. We learn the beginning of Ivy's story in the first book, A Single Thread. Ivy has two young children and a secret she was running from, an abusive husband. She ends up in New Bern and gets a job at the Cobbled Court Quilt shop after finding refuge at a women's domestic violence shelter and apartment community. She has created a story to protect herself and tells everyone that she was a widow.

Ivy's husband finds out where she is hiding and she must face her past and stand strong against her husband who has been abusing her. She learns from the support of her friendships and counseling that she can stand strong on her own. Domestic violence is not pleasant to read about but Marie Bostwick showed the strength in the domestic violence communities and the benefits that they can provide women and children in these situations. It takes a village to make change and I believe that a village such as the center Ivy was supported by and her friends she found in New Bern helped her to change and stand strong. There is so much more to this story that I don't want to tell you anymore to spoil it.

Quilting is center stage in the story as a craft that can connect women and give meaning and purpose to those who quilt and create beautiful things. There's something about books related to crafts such as quilting and knitting that relate to the core of women's friendship that I enjoy reading about. A Thread of Truth has that connection with quilting, community and friendship. I am not a quilter and enjoyed reading this book and imagine that a quilter would enjoy it that much more.

I wanted to just jump into this story and be swept back to Cobbled Court right away, I did get swept away but it took awhile to get there. I found the beginning of the story to be a bit repetitive and lengthy in describing the back story from the first book. As I had read it this year, it was all fairly fresh in my mind and I didn't feel the need for great detail. After the first 100 pages or so, the story was fresh and new and I had trouble putting it down as I wanted to see what would happen next. With that said, A Thread of Truth is a book that can stand alone and be read without having read the first book in the series. I am definitely looking forward to the third book in the Cobbled Court series (which is to be released in the summer of 2010)and would highly recommend this series.

This would definitely make a great book club discussion book as there are so many themes to discuss related to women, women's friendship, motherhood, marriage, dating, domestic violence, quilting etc. There is also an excellent Reading group guide at the back of the book.

Make sure to visit Marie Bostwick's website where you can read more about Marie, the books she has written and other features. You can sign up to be a Reading Friend and get access to special content on the website, access message boards and live chats with Marie and get quilt patterns.

A THREAD OF TRUTH was an IndieNext Notable title for June 2009.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday...A Day Late

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. Here's what I received:

I also won a custom card contest at ...DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW?.

Ginny made me a beautiful card for my son Andrew's 11th birthday. It's not until November so I have to keep it a surprise. He doesn't check my blog too often so I'm going to post some pictures here and you can see more details here. Make sure to stop by Ginny's blog, ...DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW?. she is a very talented lady and has a beautiful blog, lots of crafty ideas on making cards, bookmarks and other goodies.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Review: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

I've had a copy of Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen by Julie Powell on my shelf for quite awhile. I love to read foodie type books and my copy is the original hardcover, First Edition, that was published in 2005. When I heard that there was a Julie & Julia movie being released (August 7, 2009) based on this book combined with the life of Julia Child's and afeaturing Meryl Streep based on a screenplay written by Nora Ephron....I knew that I had to pull my copy off of the shelf and read it. Because of course, I want to see the movie and I like to read the books before I see the movies, most of the time!

In August of 2002, Julie is a twenty nine year old wife and secretary living in a tiny apartment in New York City and unhappy. She's searching for fulfillment and isn't finding it in her office job. She comes up with the idea for a project to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child' Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year and write about her daily experiences in a blog. She isn't a chef but she likes to cook and her mother has a well worn copy of the cookbook that she borrows. Julie's husband and friends are supportive but her mother isn't too crazy about what Julie sets out to do.

What I liked about this book was that it was about a normal, everyday person who sets a goal for herself ,an experiment of sorts, and she blogs about it daily. This book is heartfelt and it is written based on the thoughts, experiences, frustrations and accomplishments that Julie goes through during this one year project that she writes about on her blog. Some people may be offended by her political comments and comments about 9/11 victims and families as she writes about working for a government agency that deals directly with this situation. Her comments are callous and insensitive at times but again, these are her thoughts and feelings written from her blog. She also swears.... a lot...the "F" word is used quite frequently. It didn't bother me that much but I can see that some readers may be offended. She talks about her it is changing eating so much high fat foods...and her sex life and her friends sex lives. So be warned, if this kind of stuff bothers may not want to read it.

I found it fascinating to read about all of the different foods that Julia Child's cookbook covers. There are a lot of recipes with eggs, butter, mayonnaise, beef, organ meats, duck, fish, shellfish, more butter....did I mention butter?! There is a lot of butter in Julia Child's recipes. Of course, it was interesting to read about how Julie tackled every new task at hand with vigor and quite a bit of frustration as well. I don't know if I could eat all of the organ meats...and prepare them, especially brains. Yuck, I dissected brains in anatomy class in college and that was hard enough for me. I don't think that I could cook them let alone eat them. I have eaten french food as I have been to France and my mother in law is of french heritage. She has cooked ox tails...I didn't eat them though. I have been to french restaurants and had frog legs...that is as risky as I've ever eaten. Julie did all of her cooking in a tiny kitchen in what she described in detail as not being very clean and in which a few stories could easily turn your stomach. Her husband Eric was a doll to put up with all of this for a year and he was actually quite supportive and helped Julie out on many occasion. He was her cheerleader and confidante and it had to be a rough year for them both. Now, they are reaping the benefits!

Julie Powell turned her Julie/Julia Project into a memoir, Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen . According to Wikipedia, Nora Ephron adapted the film Julie & Julia based on Julie Powell's memoir. What is so cool to me is this: Julie & Julia is "the first major motion picture based on a blog". I find that so amazing that there is actually a movie based on a! Julie Powell still maintains a blog...on can find her blog, called What could happen?, here. Julie & Julia is scheduled for an August 7, 2009 release. Meryl Streep stars as Julia Child and Amy Adams portrays Julie Powell.

If you are a foodie, a blogger, or you are just curious about this kind of book I would recommend reading it. Read it with an open mind. I enjoyed reading it as it took me to a place that I haven't experienced before and it was fun to read. It made me think about my own life and what I "projects" that I may want to tackle in the future.

I want to share a quote at the end of the book that Julie Powell writes that summarizes this book nicely:

"And that was it, really. A secretary in Queens risked her marriage and her sanity and her cats' welfare to cook all 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking- a book that changed the lives of thousands of servantless American cooks-all in one year. The same year she turned thirty. It was the hardest, bravest, best thing a coward like her ever did, and she wouldn't have done it without Julia."

Interesting information on the book: The paperback was retitled Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I mentioned above that I have the original hardcover, First Edition that was published in 2005. I was doing some searching and I was surprised to see that this edition appears to be out of print. It is selling for outlandish prices at Amazon...$61.34 for a very good condition copy and the lowest price for a new copy is $119.41.

Here's a peek at the Julia & Julia Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen


Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters."

Title and Author of Book: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Fiction or non-fiction: Fiction
Genre: Literary Fiction , Contemporary Romance (per Random House)
Where did I get the book: Random House

What led you to pick up this book? I read the author's first book, Garden Spells and loved it. Read my review here.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending! See above Summary.....

What did you like most about this book? I liked the warmth and whimsical style of storytelling in The Sugar Queen . It is similar in style to Garden Spells yet it is very different. I adored Josey and how her character was so real and honest and as a reader you could see her mature and find her own identity. Her vulnerabilites from her childhood and family secrets kept her in a fantasy world filled with hidden stashes of candy and romance novels who became her friends. She had no real friends until Della Lee shows up in her closet and guides her along the way to following her own instincts. Josey is able to develop friendships with Chloe who has the unwitting ability to have books show up around her just when she needs them. I enjoyed this part of the story as a booklover. Josey also develops a love interest and learns more about her parents and learns to stand on her own two feet.

What did you like least? There wasn't anything in the way the story was told that I didn't like. Although, there were characters that I didn't like but I knew that they were part of the foundation of the story so were needed. I found Josey's mother very selfish and narcisistic and downright annoying. She could not extend herself a bit of empathy for her daughter unless it was for her own gain.

Have you read any other books by this author? Yes, Garden Spells and you can Read my review here.

What did you think of the main character? As I mentioned above, I adored Josey and how she was finally able to stand up to her mother and make a life of her own. She grew in strength and courage throughout the story as she learned that there was a life outside of her house and there was magic to be found inside of her closet. She learned to trust her instincts and not be tied to the past any longer.

What about the ending? I did figure out how Della Lee was able to live in her closet but I liked how the storyline wrapped up in the end for everyone. Except, I'm not sure Josey's mother deserved her share of happiness. There is a touch of romance to the novel but I wouldn't call it a romance's part of the story that is woven in perfectly. I won't tell you anymore so as not to spoil it for those who haven't read this wonderful novel.

Would you recommend this book for a book club discussion? Absolutely, there is a lot to discuss about this book as there are themes related to identitity, friendship, mother/daughter relationships, love and romance, books and more.

In the trade paperback edition of The Sugar Queen , there is a readers guide and conversation with the author. You can find a Readers Guide online here for The Sugar Queen.

Check out Sarah Addison Allen's wonderful website for more information and details about The Sugar Queen.

Share a favorite quote from the book:

" Books can be possessive, can't they? You're walking around in a bookstore and a certain one jumps out at you, like it had moved there on its own, just to get your attention. Sometimes what's inside will change your life, but sometimes you don't even have to read it. Sometimes it's a comfort just to have a book around. Many of these books haven't even had their spines cracked. 'Why do you buy books you don't even read?' our daughter asks us. That's like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat. For company, of course. "


My Thoughts & Your Opinion:

I'm trying a different review style that I saw Staci use on Life in the Thumb. Let me know what you you like this style or do you prefer the narrative review style I usually use? I'd love to hear your honest thoughts either way!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. Here's what I received:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Review: The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaeffer

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaeffer is a sweet and delightful story about friendship, family and the bittersweet reality of how life can change and bring about the sweetness in life. After reading many wonderful reviews about this Young Adult novel I knew that it was one that I had to read. First of all, I love tea and even have a collection of teacups and teapots from England and Germany. Secondly, the cover art is absolutely adorable and the young girl has red curly hair and as I am a redhead she looks like she could be my own daughter (I have a son and he doesn't have red hair!). This is definitely the kind of book that I would have loved to read if I was a young girl. I enjoyed it just as much reading it as an adult.

This is a charming story of a girl named Annie and her friends Zoe and Genna who call themselves the "Teashop Girls". They grew up hanging out at Annie's grandmothers teashop. They even set their own rules.

The Official Rules of the Teashop Girls:

1. Teashop girls are best friends forever.

2. Tea is held every week, no matter what.

3. All tea and scones must be split equally at all times.

As they get older and become teens in middle school, they become less interested in the teashop and the teashop is struggling against a local coffee shop and is losing business. Annie's grandmother has told her that she may have to close the teashop. Annie and her friends then come up with plans to save the teashop. There are many humorous encounters and challenges to their friendships as well as a few boy crushes along the way. The girls learn a lot about friendship and loyalty.

The story told in The Teashop Girls is a quaint, heartwarming story geared towards children 8-14 and I believe that it is a story that every young girl would adore. I highly recommend The Teashop Girls for young girls and adults as well, you'll be glad that you read this book. I loved the extra features and tidbits related to tea that made the book that much more special to read and enjoy. There were reproductions of ads for tea, recipes, lists, short stories, information on the history of tea, beauty tips and drawings. Each chapter had a sketch drawing of something related to tea such as a slice of cake, a tea cup, a teapot and a quote related to tea. One of the quotes that I enjoyed was this one:

"You can't get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me"

-C.S. Lewis

Make sure to check out these fun things related to The Teashop Girls:

Read a sample chapter from The Teashop Girls complete with Sujean Rim's gorgeous illustrations, here at the official website of The Teashop Girls.

Check out The Teashop Girls Website

Check out The Teashop Girls Blog

Giveaway: 5 Copies of Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons

Courtesy of Valerie at Hachette Book Group, I am hosting a giveaway of 5 copies of Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons.


Acclaimed novelist Anne Rivers Siddons's new novel is a stunning tale of love and loss.

For as long as she can remember, they were Cam and Lilly--happily married, totally in love with each other, parents of a beautiful family, and partners in life. Then, after decades of marriage, it ended as every great love story loss. After Cam's death, Lilly takes a lone road trip to her and Cam's favorite spot on the remote coast of Maine, the place where they fell in love over and over again, where their ghosts still dance. There, she looks hard to her past--to a first love that ended in tragedy; to falling in love with Cam; to a marriage filled with exuberance, sheer life, and safety-- to try to figure out her future.

It is a journey begun with tender memories and culminating in a revelation that will make Lilly re-evaluate everything she thought was true about her husband and her marriage.

Here are some fun things to explore:

You can check out an interview with Anne Rivers Siddons here.

Visit Anne Rivers Siddons website here.

Check out the Reading Group Guide here.

Read an excerpt here.

Listen to an excerpt here.

Download podcast here.


For each entry, please leave a seperate comment, this will make it easier to draw a winner as I won't be able to go back and count each entry. Also, make sure that you include your email or that your email is in your blog profile. If I have no way of contacting you by email, your entry will automatically be withdrawn.
  • For One Entry: Leave a comment and a way to contact you.
  • For a Second Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Blog about this giveaway and share a link(posting in your sidebar is fine).
  • For a Third Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Twitter about this giveaway and share a link, if you can.
  • For a Fourth Entry: In a SEPARATE comment: Follow my blog or subscribe to my blog(let me know if you are already a follower or subscriber).

This giveaway is ONLY open to US and Canada, (No PO Boxes Please)

I'll use to draw a winner and the contest will end on August 2nd , 2009at Midnight EST. Good Luck!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Perfect Summer Giveaway: KINeSYS Sunscreen & Moisturizer

Yesterday, I reviewed KINeSYS Sunscreen products and I am thrilled to be able to offer a giveaway for a 4oz Kids Sunscreen & 4oz Kids Moisturizer which KINeSYS has kindly offered to send to one lucky reader. I really loved using this product as they are easy to use, they spray on very easily and are not oily, greasy or sticky. It was a breeze to use at the pool and sprays on quick and easy without any rubbing and dries fast. I would highly recommend these products.

KINeSYS has also offered:

A 10% discount using coupon code BRC10 through their website and FREE shipping over $45 (after discount).



For each entry, please leave a seperate comment, this will make it easier to draw a winner as I won't be able to go back and count each entry. Also, make sure that you include your email or that your email is in your blog profile. If I have no way of contacting you by email, your entry will automatically be withdrawn.

  • For One Entry: Please read my review of the KINeSYS Sunscreen products and tell me why you would love to try this sunscreen.
  • For a Second Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Blog about this giveaway and share a link(posting in your sidebar is fine).
  • For a Third Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Twitter about this giveaway and share a link, if you can.
  • For a Fourth Entry: In a SEPARATE comment: Follow my blog or subscribe to my blog(let me know if you are already a follower or subscriber).

This giveaway is ONLY open to U.S.

I'll use to draw a winner and the contest will end on July 31, 2009 at Midnight EST. Good Luck!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Got Sunscreen? Try KINeSYS

We spend a lot of time outside in the summer, especially in Ohio when it's the warmest and sunniest months of the year. We have to take advantage of all that great sunshine. We are either outside playing, swimming or reading and definitely use sunscreen. I am fair skinned and have to be careful and my son is not as fair skinned but needs to protect his skin as reports are showing that most skin damage occurs in our childhood years. I was thrilled to receive full size products of KINeSYS Sunscreen to use this summer.

We received KIDS SPF 30 Alcohol free Sunscreen Spray I hadn't heard of this product before and was thrilled when I read on the KINeSYS website that their products are:

Oil-free / Alcohol-free / PABA-free / Preservative-free• Very Water-resistant / Sweat-resistant• Hypoallergenic / Non-comedogenic• Fragrance-free

My son has food allergies so this was excellent information to know as well:

Allergy Information:No parabens, preservatives, nanoparticles, nuts, nut oil, gluten, dairy, egg, soy, sulphites or colourants have been added to these products.

We were also sent a Travel Size Girl SPF 30 Alcohol free Spray Sunscreen which I used as my son would not consider using it as it was pink and had "girl" written on it. He did like the scent, the girls spray sunscreen has added Vitamin E and a Vanilla fragrance. I liked the fragrance which I found very natural and light and not overpowering at all.
What we loved about the KINeSYS Products were that they spray on very easily and are not oily, greasy or sticky. It was a breeze to use at the pool and sprays on quick and easy without any rubbing and dries fast. I would highly recommend these products. I think that they would be great for any summer activity and sports.

An added plus on the environmental side is that the KINeSYS website states:

" KINeSYS Skin Care sun block products are carbon neutral, our packaging is made of 100% recyclable materials and our products are 100% cruelty free. "

Check out the KINeSYS website for more information and to find a retailer near you or order online directly.

Thanks to KINeSYS and Family Review Network for sending me the KINeSYS products to review.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mailbox Monday- July 13th

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. I haven't had a Mailbox post for a few weeks as I haven't had any new books arrive. This has given me a much needed break and time to reorganize my reading schedule and books in my TBR piles.

I was one of the lucky winners from Lynne's 1,000th post celebration and giveaway last month at Lynne's Little Corner of the World and I won a $25 gift card to Amazon. I was SO excited and had fun shopping for books. I bought the following books:

I also received these two books:

  • Baggage Claim by Tanya Michna (From Paperbackswap)
  • Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter (This was a lucky find at the library book sale that I peeked into on Saturday and bought for a quarter. I didn't buy any other books!)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Sunday Salon-July 12th

I wrote earlier in the week that I've been going through a bit of a funk and have had a case of the summertime blues. I decided to refocus a bit and have cut back on some commitments and have focused on enjoying some things that will lift me out of the blues. Well, I've been working on a few things....


First, I've been listening to more music and found that I really LOVE Il Divo's music and style as well as they are all very handsome guys! I've been watching their Encore DVD and their new album The Promise.



Secondly, I picked up a knitting project that I had put aside awhile ago. I'm still a fairly new knitter and just know the very basics and would love to learn more and work on some other projects. So, I am going to finish the scarf I started and then pick a more challenging project for a beginner.


A very nice friend reminded me to take care of myself and suggested that I get out and walk and get some fresh air to take care of myself. I started doing this while listening to some music (Radiohead) on my husband's MP3 player. It was very helpful and will continue to do this. Note to self: I need to get an Ipod or MP3 player!


Of course, I would be remiss not to mention books! I decided to choose a light and fun book and picked The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen off of my book shelf. It's been just what I needed to read at the moment.
Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of The Local News by Miriam Gershow, which ends July 16th. Click on the picture to the left in the sidebar for details or go here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Book Review & Blog Tour: The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand definitely fits the category of summertime escape reading. It's the perfect book to take on vacation to read at the beach, poolside or sitting in your backyard soaking up the sun. This is the story about 4 couples who become dear and close friends. They become friends after they all find their way to the island of Nantucket. As they marry and have families they become inseparable, loyal and devoted friends. Then, there is a turn of events, a tragedy that rocks their world. Friendships are questioned...realities are made clear and they each find that there were many hidden secrets that they all were part of protecting. There is mystery surrounding the tragic death of one of the couples that devastates the core of their friendships. They each must decide if they will divulge their own secrets and grieve and move forward in a way to honor their friends deaths.

I liked the mystery angle to the story told in The Castaways that made you wonder where the story would go and what would be unearthed....did the couple die in an accident or where they murdered? I liked how the author chose to tell the story from the varying perspectives of the 6 remaining friends. Although, there were parts of the story that dragged for me at times. When the characters went into details about their pasts or reminiscing in details, it tended to be a bit too drawn out and slow for me. I loved reading about the details of life on the island of Nantucket, this was an added bonus for me. I have been to Martha's Vineyard, which is a beautiful island but I have not had the opportunity to visit Nantucket. Reading about the island of Nantucket in The Castaways makes me want to whisk away and jump on the Ferry to escape for a summer vacation there!

Thanks to Miriam from Hachette for organizing this book blog tour. You can check out other tour stops here and make sure and check out Elin Hilderbrand's wonderful website here.

You can read an excerpt here.

Check out The Castaways Book Club here.

Check out the Original "The Castaways" cocktail recipe here.

About the Author:

Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her five previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summertime Blues

For the past few weeks, I've slipped into a bit of a phunk. Hmm....I wonder, is it the summertime blues and is there really such a thing? Yes, I'm busy with family visiting from out of town...Yes, I have my own personal stress. I love reading...reading is one of my passions and I have had trouble focusing on reading, blogging and writing reviews lately. I have 100's of wonderful books to read and several reviews to write up. My book club meets tomorrow night..I haven't finished the book. It may be a book that I don't finish as it's been a disapointment. it my mood? That happens to me sometimes and when I go back to the book, I enjoy it. We are going out to dinner and the weather is gorgeous so sitting outside on the patio discussing a book with friends will be nice.

I don't mean to ramble on here....I just wanted to share why I haven't been blogging or commenting as much as usual. I posted this picture of reading on the beach as that is what I am dreaming of! Hmm....maybe I just need to take a vacation at the beach!

My Friend Amy recently wrote a post about the Summer Lazies and I realized that I'm not the only one feeling a bit of a phunk.

So, is anyone else going through the Summertime Blues?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Review: Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

One of the highlights of the past few summers has been reading a new book in the Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich. I've read and enjoyed them all including the newest book, Finger Lickin' Fifteen. When I got the email from my library that this book was available I had to go right to the library and pick up my copy. I had to put this book on hold many months in advance as there is always a huge wait list for them. As I posted about the state of Ohio libraries, I am a big supporter of the library along with buying books. I bumped into a friend of mine in the library this week as I was waiting for my son to finish his volunteer work with the summer reading program. I was reading Finger Lickin' Fifteen and my friend knows that I'm an avid reader and asked me to recommend some good books to read this summer that were light and fun. Of course, Stephanie Plum books were at the top of my list to recommend to her and she was so excited to go look through the library shelves for the first one in the series, One for the Money.

I am a huge fan of this series and have read all of the books including this one, Finger Lickin' Fifteen, the 15th in the series. Stephanie Plum is the main character and she lives in Trenton, New Jersey and is single and a "Bond Enforcement Officer" AKA "Bounty Hunter". Lula is an apprentice bounty hunter and former 'ho and the two of them are always getting themselves into "situations" that involve murders, fires, car bombings, being shot at etc. The other main characters are Stephanie's Grandma Mazur who is absolutely hysterical. Two love interests Morelli and Ranger make things spicy and interesting in every book.

In Finger Lickin' Fifteen Lula witnessed a murder and now the killers are after her. She has this great idea to enter this BBQ cook-off to track down the killers but she doesn't know how to cook...can you spell disaster?! Oh...of course, Grandma Mazur is helping Lula destroy...oops, create a BBQ recipe and Stephanie is trying to help her out. There are always similar story lines and hysterical antics in each of these books and they always make you laugh out loud along the way.

For me, these books are fun, escape reading that I always enjoy. I look forward to the quirky cast of characters and situations that they get themselves into. As usual, Stephanie and Lula get themselves into many throughout this book. I enjoyed the ride along with this cast of fun characters as they made me smile and laugh. I don't tire of the experience of reading these books and look forward to next summer when I can escape along with Stephanie and Lula into one of their fun adventures. I encourage you to read this series and oh, how I envy you if you are just starting out reading them. You don't have to wait until next year for the next one in the have fifteen books right at your fingertips.

You can find more information about the Stephanie Plum series including Finger Lickin' Fifteen at the Janet Evanovich website.

You can read an excerpt here.

There's a cool website devoted to this book which includes a map and tour of "The Burg" where fans can see all of the locations highlighted in the books. It was fun to click through and see where everything is, a very nice visual tour of Stephanie's stomping grounds.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Review & Giveaway: The Local News by Miriam Gershow

The Local News by Miriam Gershow is a story about the aftermath of change to a family when a young teen boy goes missing. As a reader, you follow Lydia who shares her thoughts and experiences as a 15 year old girl and then later as an adult looking back.

Lydia is torn between the grief she feels that her brother Danny is missing and the relief that he is not there to tease, harass and ignore her. These are complicated feelings of a young girl that are very well played out in this novel. She is challenged to deal with the depth of her own emotions and balance that with the attention she is receiving at school. She was once a quiet girl with few friends and then suddenly she is getting attention that has taken her to a celebrity like status among her peers and Danny's friends. Lydia grapples with the attention and overall finds it unwanted. She finds herself in situations that she would never have experienced if Danny was around.

Lydia must also deal with her parents neglect as they seem to forget about her as they focus on finding Danny. Danny was the favorite child, at least from Lydia's perspective and she is left to fend for herself in many ways. Everything changes in an instant when a family member goes missing. This novel explores this issue from the families perspective and specifically from a sibling perspective, and does so in a depth and style that is gut wrenching at times and easily relatable at others. Many of us who grew up with siblings understand the mixed emotions and love-hate relationship that you can have with a sibling.

The story ends with Lydia as an adult, 10 years later and brings a closure to the story that I found worked very well. I was glad to see how Lydia had grown as a woman and what happened to her and other family members and friends as they moved forward in their lives.

This is Miriam Gershow's first novel and I think that she has shown excellent strength in her story-telling abilities and writing style that this novel showcases. The Local News is haunting and compelling and you will find yourself drawn into the story all the way through to the end.

For more information on The Local News, including a Reading Group Guide and an excerpt, check out the author’s website HERE.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour.


Giveaway Details:

I am pleased to share with you that Miriam Gershow and her publisher, Spiegel & Grau have graciously offered to give away a copy of The Local News to one lucky winner. Here are the details, you have up to 5 chances to win:

For each entry, please leave a seperate comment, this will make it easier to draw a winner as I won't be able to go back and count each entry. Also, make sure that you include your email or that your email is in your blog profile. If I have no way of contacting you by email, your entry will automatically be withdrawn.

  • For One Entry: Leave a comment about this post.
  • For a Second Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Blog about this giveaway and share a link(posting in your sidebar is fine).
  • For a Third Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Twitter about this giveaway and share a link, if you can.
  • For a Fourth Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Facebook about this giveaway.
  • For a Fifth Entry: In a SEPARATE comment: Follow my blog or subscribe to my blog(let me know if you are already a follower or subscriber).

This giveaway is ONLY open to U.S.

I'll use to draw a winner and the contest will end on July 16th, 2009
at Midnight EST. Good Luck!!