Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reviews and Summer Reading Lists (May 31)

I posted a variety of book reviews this week and I hope that you had a chance to read them and leave comments, I definitely appreciate your comments. My husband, Greg, wrote a review of The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Ramos, a non fiction book in the publishers category of History and Political Science. You can read the review here. I wrote several reviews on YA (Young Adult) books. Obama-The Historic Journey, Young Reader's Edition , published by The New York Times, a beautiful book filled with 200 photographs. You can read the review and see some examples of the photographs, here. I also reviewed another YA book, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. A powerful book, read my review here.

Summer Reading?

Summer is around the corner and my son will be out of school soon. I am hoping that he'll be reading a lot over the summer as he does love to read. The warm weather, swimming, camps and fun will definitely be competition for his attention. We are going to sign up for the summer reading programs with Barnes & Noble and Half Price Books, that I posted about in my Summer Reading and Free books post, here.

I don't usually make a list of what books I'll read for the summer. After reading Ti's post about Summer Reading lists,here at Book Chatter and Other Stuff it got me thinking. I will be spending more time reading at the pool when my son has swimming lessons and anytime I can squeeze in more reading time! I am going to give it some serious thought and come up with a list of summer reads. Do you use a summer reading list?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Giveaway: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See was released this week. I understand that Lisa See is busy traveling on book tour this week and many stops are standing room only. This was one of my favorite books that I have read this month and I am thrilled that I have one extra brand new, Advanced Readers Edition to give away. I can't wait for Lisa See's next book and I'm hoping for a sequel to Shanghai Girls.

I'm reposting my original review below. Make sure to add this book to your must read list this year!

My Original Review:

Lisa See's newest novel, Shanghai Girls sweeps you away to a world unknown to most Americans. To me, while reading Shanghai Girls I felt drawn in and immersed in the culture and setting of this wonderful novel. Shanghai Girls follows two sisters, Pearl and May, during the 1930's as young women who live a life of glamour and high life in Shanghai. When drastic changes occur in their country they must learn how to survive and fight to protect themselves and they unite as sisters to do so. They do not realize how much has changed until their father informs them that he has lost all of their wealth and has arranged their marriages to two sons who live in Los Angeles.

The story takes you through their struggles and challenges to get to Los Angeles and all they must endure during the process. Once in San Francisco, more struggles and challenges ensue with some unexpected joy and happiness as they learn to make the best of things in their new lives. Shanghai Girls is a testament to the bond and power of the sisters relationship. Pearl and May have a deep sisterly love and are desperate to help each other survive in their new lives. Although, they don't let go of their own jealousies, hurts and rivalries. This is definitely shown in a dramatic way at the end of the book and left me speechless turning the page and expecting more. Ms. See's writing is a true gift of storytelling at it's best. It pulled me in, hooked me and didn't let me go until the last page. If you want to read a historical novel that is rich in history, details and culture, pick up a copy of Shanghai Girls. You won't regret it and it will leave you wanting more as you turn that last page.

To read more about Lisa See, check out her official website here.


Giveaway Details:

I am giving away one Advanced Readers Edition of Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. For each entry, 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 let me know , What you think is the difference between a friendship that’s “just like sisters” and real sisters?
  • For a Second Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, let me know if you have Blogged about this giveaway and share a link(posting in your sidebar is fine), Tweet it, Facebook, whatever.
  • For a Third 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. and Canada. I'll use to draw a winner and the contest will end on June 12th, 2009 at Midnight EST. Good Luck!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Amish Love

What’s all the hubbub about Amish fiction? Major media outlets like Time and ABC Nightline are covering it, and authors like Cindy Woodsmall are making the New York Times bestseller list regularly. What makes these books so interesting?

Check out the recent ABC Nightline piece here ( about Cindy and her titles When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. It’s an intriguing look at Amish culture and the time Cindy has spent with Amish friends.

And don’t forget that Cindy’s new book The Hope of Refuge hits store shelves August 11, and is available for preorder now.

Information from: WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

My thoughts: I haven't read Cindy Woodsmall's books but plan to add them to my wish list! If you've read Ms. Woodsmall's books ,I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.

“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.

I am that girl. I am the space between my thighs, daylight

shining through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

~Quoted from Wintergirls

Wintergirls is a haunting and powerful book that takes you into the world of eating disorders. The story is emotional and raw and is a powerful and gripping story. I found that I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, I was enthralled. This is not a book that I would typically read. I have read wonderful reviews about this book and Ms. Anderson's powerful writing skills. I have wanted to expand my reading into the Young Adult (YA) genre and this is an amazing book to start with. It's hard to put into words how this book touches a reader. Ms. Anderson takes a difficult subject and allows the reader to understand that world through her characters and her amazing style of writing.

The story is told through the voice of Lia, who is 18 and a senior in high school and struggling with anorexia. Her best friend Cassie, who she has known since third grade , has ended their friendship 6 months prior and then a tragic turn of events occur. Lia must deal with so much, the loss of a friend, her family issues and her own struggles with anorexia.

This is the first book that I've read by Laurie Halse Anderson and it packs a powerful punch in her prose and unique style of writing. Each word and sentence has strength and power to deliver that depth of emotion and feeling that accompanies this story. It's sad, it's touching, it's takes you to the depth of a girls struggling soul. It is written in such a way that it helps you understand, as an outsider looking in ,what this experience may be like for the person going through it as well as those it effects in such emotional ways. I haven't experienced this personally so I am not an expert. I do believe that this would be a helpful book for teachers, professionals working with teens who have eating disorders and high school students. If you have a daughter who reads this, I would suggest that you read it yourself as well as this book lends itself to discussion.

I will definitely be reading Laurie Halse Anderson's other books. Speak is at the top of the list. If you haven't read any of Ms. Anderson's books, I highly recommend Wintergirls.

About the author Laurie Halse Anderson:

From Goodreads:

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes.

You can follow her adventures on Twitter, and on her blog,

Check out the Wintergirls site,

For more information, visit Laurie Halse Anderson's website, WriterLady, here.

To buy the book, here is one option.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review: Obama-The Historic Journey, Young Reader's Edition

Regardless of which candidate you voted for, as Americans, we all know that the journey of the election of our 44th President has definitely been a historic one. I am proud to be part of this history and to have my son, who is just 10 years old witness this historic event. Obama: The Historic Journey, Young Readers Edition is a beautiful book that chronicles the life of Barack Obama and his rise to presidency. I love that this book, published by The New York Times, tells this story through words and 200 beautiful color photographs. This book does an amazing job of sharing this journey from the start of Barack Obama's early childhood all the way up to the election process, inaugaration and first few weeks into office.

This book is a Young Readers Edition, geared to inspire the 8-12 year old age group. I loved it, it was inspiring to me and I learned quite a few things along the way that I had not known. The writing and style of the book will definitely appeal to the younger and older age groups. It's written in short chapters, with quotes and anecdotes that complement the content. Did I mention the gorgeous photographs?! I must emphasize this again that the photographs are wonderful and make the book outstanding. The strength of the book is in the way it presents the information in a journalistic style that presents itself in an interesting and welcoming manner for young readers.

My son enjoyed flipping through the book and looking at the photographs and was especially interested in reading about Barack Obama's background and his daughters. He hasn't read the book completely yet, but has told me he will read the book "soon". Summer is around the corner and this would be a fun and educational book to read, it's full of pictures and is only 96 pages.

I highly recommend this beautiful and educationally informative book to both young and adult readers. Thanks to MotherTalk for inviting me to participate in this book blog tour.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Review: The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Cooper Ramo

The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It

by Joshua Cooper Ramo

Description :

(From Publisher, Hachette Books)

Format: AUDIO BOOK (CD, unabridged)

Today the very ideas that made America great imperil its future. Our plans go awry and policies fail. History's grandest war against terrorism creates more terrorists. Global capitalism, intended to improve lives, increases the gap between rich and poor. Decisions made to stem a financial crisis guarantee its worsening. Environmental strategies to protect species lead to their extinction.

The traditional physics of power has been replaced by something radically different. In The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Cooper Ramo puts forth a revelatory new model for understanding our dangerously unpredictable world. Drawing upon history, economics, complexity theory, psychology, immunology, and the science of networks, he describes a new landscape of inherent unpredictability--and remarkable, wonderful possibility.

Here is another review from my husband Greg:
Just because something is too terrible too contemplate doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It seems rather obvious, but rings especially true of late, wouldn’t you say? Take for example the collapse of Bear Stearns or perhaps climate change. We now in an age of accelerated change and everything around us is becoming increasingly complex. A funny thing about complexities is that just like enemies, they accumulate and that progressively lessons our ability to understand our world. Our social, economic, and political systems are heavily linked, much like the grains of sand in a sand pile. Did I just say a sand pile? It turns out that a sand pile confounds our most sophisticated analysis. The most advanced physics and mathematics fail to predict its behavior. Here we learn of a laboratory experiment where uniform grains of sand are systematically dropped from a pepper mill to form a pile. It doesn’t take long for the pile to self-organize into the shape of a cone, but wait long enough and avalanches will inevitably occur, yet it is impossible to predict when. Will it be the next grain of sand or the 100th that triggers it? Each grain of sand is affected by every other grain in the pile which means that even our most advanced computers are incapable of modeling it, and therefore fail to predict its behavior. Over time, the sand pile has organized itself into a state of unpredictable instability. The moral of the story is that financial systems, the climate, geopolitics, diseases, and so on, are all examples of “sand pile systems".

In these sand pile systems, there is no simple input output relationship, and to complicate matters further, there are combined effects when we link, or "mashup", systems in novel ways. Two pills taken together are lethal, but otherwise perfectly safe when taken independently. Combine home mortgages with mortgage backed securities, and we unknowingly have a recipe for financial disaster. That’s one reason why simplistic ideas such as “Soldiers in, Democracy out” don’t work. There’s a tragic paradox here. The policies designed to make us safer, in effect make the world more perilous. Measures aimed to fight terrorists end up creating more terrorists. Measures enacted to stem a financial crisis seem to guarantee its arrival. We can declare that a war has been won when in fact it has just begun, or observe a recognized expert such as Alan Greenspan admit that he got it all wrong. Indeed, we are living in a disruptive age.

So what should we do about it? For starters, new systems require new ways of thinking about them. Our government institutions are old and inflexible and designed to solve problems that are centuries old and nations are no longer the sole concentrations of power. What we need now is new and radical thinking about these problems, the kind of radical thinking and action we see in novel, highly adaptable, responsive groups such those we find at Google, the brains behind the Wii, or heaven forbid, Hezbollah. A better model for dealing with the sand pile is an immune system. Just as there are decentralized forces for evil in the world (e.g. Hezbollah), there needs to be decentralized forces for good, “T cells” to further the analogy. Thus when a disruption occurs, there are positive local forces available to respond in order to bring the system back into stability. It’s a thought provoking idea, but will we be able to collectively institute such a radical shift in thought? Perhaps there’s a chance if Ramo’s book were to somehow become required reading for those in power, and decidedly not just for those in power, but for the rest of us “T cells” as well. Unfortunately, I found the execution part of Ramo's proposed renaissance to be lacking, so I'll propose the following: instead of dropping bombs, drop copies of this book!

Clarification: After receiving some comments about my review, I realize that I may have inadvertently given the wrong impression about the book. Actually, I found "Unthinkable" to be one of the most insightful and refreshing books I've ever read (I would give it a five star Amazon rating). As I mentioned in my review, I do believe this book is essential and should be "required reading". In fact, I plan on listening to it a second time. Perhaps it was my last statement "instead of dropping bombs, drop copies of this book!" that threw people off. My only criticism of the book is that Ramo doesn't exactly spell out how to institute his excellent ideas (fodder for a follow on book?) so my remark was a somewhat tongue in cheek suggestion that drew upon an analogy of dropping wartime leaflets (as opposed to dropping bombs). In no way did I mean to denigrate the value of the book by suggesting that it be dropped from an airplane! I regret any misunderstanding that may have turned people away from the book. That is the opposite effect of what I intended. Wait a second... This just helps further Ramo's point as I now suspect that the book review system itself is also a "sand pile system" :)


About the author:

Joshua Cooper Ramo is Managing Director and a partner at Kissinger Associates, one of the world's leading strategic advisory firms. Prior to joining Kissinger Associates, he was Assistant Managing Editor of Time and worked in the advisory and banking business in China.

For more information, visit Josua Cooper Ramo's website, here.

Thanks to Hachette for providing this audiobook for review.

Mailbox Monday- May 25th

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

The Unhealthy Truth: How Food Is Making Us Sick-and What We Can Do About it by Robyn O'Brien (#Food Allergy Twitter Party Win from Food Allergy Buzz)

The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer (Penguin)

The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha (Broadway Books)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Sunday Salon-May 24th

This past week I had some problems with blogger and I wasn't able to get into my blog. I had to delete my followers widget to get it to work. I posted about it here and you can read some of the comments. I still have my followers through blogger but I don't have the gadget visible on my blog anymore. I've realized that it is mainly for show and I know that most of my followers follow my blog through google reader. I also had problems viewing some blogs as there were Internet Explorer issues as well. So, if I didn't visit and comment on your blogs as much this week that is why...I tried but it wasn't working. It appears that the problems have been fixed and hopefully things will stay calm in blogger land!



I reviewed Reunion by Therese Fowler, which is a nice summer read, you can read the review here.

I also reviewed The Rest of Your Life by Laura Moriarty and met with my book club to discuss this wonderful novel, read my review here.

Currently Reading:

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I've just started reading this and I can tell that I will be swept away with Ms. Anderson's writing style. I've read several reviews praising this book and I have been drawn to read it. I also want to expand my reading into more YA fiction and this was the perfect one to start with.



I received the "You Don't Say" award -- with the most adorable Panda Bear button! This award acknowledges those who frequently comment on the others' blogs. Molly from The Cozy Book Nook honored me with this fabulous award. As bloggers, we all appreciate comments. Thanks Molly! Please make sure to stop by and visit Molly's blog if you haven't already. She reads a variety of books and posts fabulous and well thought out reviews. Her blog is one of my favorites to visit.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review: The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty

The Rest of Her Life takes the reader into the life of a family whose lives are turned upside down in an instant. The book opens with Kara, a teenager who is about to graduate from high school and while driving makes a terrible mistake that changes the course of her life and those around her. This mistake also affects another teenager, Bethany and her family. I don't want to share all of the details of the story as it would give too much away.

The story is actually told through the eyes of Leigh, Kara's mother. Leigh was a complicated character but one that you got to know intimately as the story unfolds. I found the character development of this book outstanding. Leigh, grew up with her sister Pam and a narcissistic single mother who did her best which was truly not good enough for Leigh and Pam. As the story unfolds, we realize that as a mother, you may want what you "think" is best for your children and in reality you just may be repeating your own mothers mistakes. Leigh chose to go down a different path than her mother and made choices to go to college and married a respectable man, Gary who is a college professor. Leigh is a high school teacher and has a daughter, Kara and son, Justin who is twelve.

I found Leigh's character brutally honest and could relate to her as a mother and the depth of her honesty. She has isolated herself over the years and is not trusting of people and she has to confront all of her emotions when in one instant her daughters actions change the course of their lives completely. She must look at why her relationship with Kara is strained and why Kara instead turns to Gary, her father, for comfort instead of Leigh. Leigh must look at why her sister Pam is able to break through Kara's wall and even connect with Justin in a way that Leigh cannot. Justin is an awkward child and struggles socially and he is closer to Leigh who seems to understand him more than his father does.

This is a wonderful book about the complexities of motherhood, the relationships between mothers and daughter, mothers and sons and sisters. There is so much to this story that holds your attention as you read each page. I found the book enthralling and wanted to know what would happen next as we follow Leigh on this heartbreaking but cathartic journey. I found myself often stopping and wondering...What would I do in this situation? This is the kind of book that makes you think and assess your own choices and actions and how women grow and change from our roles as daughters to mothers.

This is an excellent book for a book club discussion. I actually got my copy several months ago from Book Club Girl when they were hosting their Book Club Girl Book Club discussion with Laura Moriarty. You can listen to the interesting BlogTalkRadio discussion with Laura Moriarty, here I was unable to get the book read to be part of the discussion and then my book club chose the book for our meeting this month. We met this week to discuss the book, and I have to share that we met on a perfect night with beautiful weather. My friend who hosted has a pool and we sat on her patio around the pool with the sun setting and the sound of her fountain going. It was a perfect night, with great friends, great appetizers and of course, wine and dessert to complement the great book discussion we had. We had a wonderful discussion about the book, the characters and who liked which ones and even which ones we didn't like...we all had different viewpoints and perspectives which made it so interesting. We talked about what we would do in the situation Kara and Leigh were in and how things change as our kids grow and especially the teenage years. We are all moms and have kids aged from preschoolers through to adulthood. The moms that have gone through the teenage years were able to share some interesting perspectives and suggestions for those of us who haven't gone through this stage yet. Oh boy, we have a lot ahead of us!! If you haven't read this book yet, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of The Rest of Her Life, here.

About the author Laura Moriarty:

Laura Moriarty earned a degree in social work before returning for her M.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Kansas. She was the recipient of the George Bennett Fellowship for Creative Writing at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. She currently lives with her daughter in Lawrence, Kansas, and is at work on her next novel.

Her next novel is While I’m Falling, set to release August 4, 2009.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blogger Problems & Followers

There have been some problems on Blogger since last night as myself and other bloggers couldn't get access to our blogs or view them. I was able to figure out a solution after getting onto the blogger help group. It seems that the Followers widget is the problem and if you delete that. your blog will work. Well, sadly, I deleted my Followers widget and I had over 100 followers. My blog works now but I lost all of my followers through blogger. If you followed me through blogger please follow me now through google reader or any other reader. Personally, I rarely if ever used the blogger following feature myself even though I had it set to follow through blogger. I mainly use google reader to follow and read blogs. Which ways do you use to follow blogs and which ones do you think are most useful? Will it be a problem for you not to be able to follow my blog through blogger? Thanks for sharing your thoughts...I appreciate your comments very much.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Review: Reunion by Therese Fowler

Reunion is the perfect book to escape the world for a few days or even a weekend, it will only take you that long to finish this wonderful novel. I was captivated by Reunion from the very first page and I was swept away right into the world of Harmony Blue and her life from the past to the present.

Harmony Blue reinvents herself into Blue Reynolds, the celebrity talk show host who appears to have everything she could ever want...or does she? We learn of choices that Blue has made in the past as a teenager and how that effects her life currently, some 20 years later.

Blue reunites with an ex boyfriend Mitch and his family, which includes Mitch's parents and son Julian. The story is then told in first person narratives between Blue, Mitch and Julian in alternating chapters. This style worked very well and smoothly for the reader and it explored the complexities and depth of the story nicely.

We travel with these inviting characters from Chicago to Key West and even to Iraq and get a feel for the climate and mood of these locations. My favorite location was Key West as the sun and mood drew me in. I am familiar with Key West from a vacation years ago and it swept me back to the beauty of this special place. While in Key West, Blue is faced with her past and she must find a way to face these hidden secrets and the consequences that will ensue. She learns about second chances and finding out who she really is.

I enjoyed Reunion and did escape into this wonderful novel over a weekend. I admit I would have much preferred to have been reading Reunion on a sandy beach instead of while taking care of a sick child but that is the life of a mom! This would make a wonderful summer beach read along with a Key West Lemonade or Mojito! Reunion would also make a great summer book club discussion book as there is so much to talk about You can even serve Key Lime Pie for dessert. For most book clubs, especially mine, it's fun to have a great drink and of course, dessert. If it complements the book, it makes it even more fun. This is the first book that I have read by Therese Fowler and it definitely will not be my last.


About Therese Fowler:

From Goodreads:

Therese always felt like a writer born, but it took her a few decades to turn her passion for books and words into her profession. During those years, she worked in U.S. Civil Service, managed a women's clothing store, played recreational softball, had two sons, sold residential real estate, went back to school for her B.A. in sociology, sold used cars part-time, went back to school for her MFA in creative writing, and taught college undergrads about literature and fiction-writing--roughly in that order.

Though Therese earned recognition for her short fiction, placing highly in national writing competitions, her debut novel, Souvenir, was her first published work of any kind. Her second novel, Reunion, was released on 3/24/09 and she's hard at work on her 2010 release, Breakaway. Midwest born and raised, she left Illinois for Texas, the Philippines, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota again, before finally settling in North Carolina in 1995.

You can visit Therese Fowler’s blog at Making it Up, here. Her website at is currently under renovation.

To purchase a copy of Reunion, go here.


Win Prizes!

REUNION VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '09 officially began on May 4 and ends on May 29. You can visit Therese's blog stops at Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours in May to find out more about this talented author!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mailbox Monday-May 18th

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

Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle by Nan Marino (Roaring Brook Press)

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory (Paperbackswap)

Espresso Shot by Cleo Coyle (My thoughtful friend Vickie at Vixen's Daily Reads)

The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano (Paperbackswap)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Sunday Salon-May 17th

This has been a busy and exciting week on my blog and in my life as it was my birthday this week. My wonderful husband, Greg, spoiled me and bought me my own laptop for my birthday. Needless to say, I am thrilled! I am still figuring things out and Greg is getting it loaded with software. I have a Compaq Presario and am very happy with it.

I joined Facebook a few weeks ago and Twitter this week! I am figuring out how to use it and even managed to make a big goof up there by posting a tweet with the wrong book tour company I was working with for an upcoming book tour. My apologies to Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for messing things up! She has a great sense of humor and was very forgiving. So, needless to say, I have some advice for new Twitter users: be careful your facts are straight before you send out a tweet! I've learned that lesson the hard way. I did participate in my first Twitter party focused on Food Allergy. As many know who read my blog regularly, my son Andrew has food allergies (peanut/tree nuts) so this is an issue near and dear to my heart. It was Food Allergy Awareness Week and the group even hit the top ten trending topics on Twitter during one of the two parties. Thanks to Food Allergy Buzz and Best Allergy Sites for hosting an awesome party! They even had prizes and I won a book, The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O'Brien .

I posted several book reviews this week. I reviewed Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and The Side-Yard Superhero by Rick Niece . I am very proud to highlight my 10 year old son Andrew's review that he wrote by himself for Herbert's Wormhole by Peter Nelson. He did a great job and I'm very proud of his work. Thanks to all who have commented, he's enjoyed reading all of the comments. If you haven't read it, I'd really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to read Andrew's review and leave Andrew a comment. It has meant a lot to him to get the positive feedback. Thanks!

I am reading Reunion by Therese Fowler for a Pump Up Your Book Promotion tour this week. I will also be reading Rest of her life by Laura Moriarty for my F2F book club. I hope to read more that I have on my must read list for next week.

Have a great week!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Review: Herbert's Wormhole by Peter Nelson & Rohitash Rao

We received an advanced reading copy of Herbert's Wormhole by Peter Nelson & Rohitash Rao from Harper Collins First Look for Children. This book was released on May 5, 2009. This is a children's book for ages 9-12.

My son, Andrew, is 10 years old and he read this book and loved it. Even though it was missing some key elements such as many of the cartoons and several chapters were missing. That says a lot if he loved the book and it was missing so much and this is "A Novel in Cartoons". Andrew wanted to write his own review and I'm very proud of the wonderful job he did. You would make him very happy if you could leave a few comments for him.

Andrew's Review:

Herbert's Wormhole is about a boy traveling to the future. I loved the book and I hope that you do too. At the beginning, a boy named Alex a wanted a video game called Alien Slayer 2. So his parents gave in and bought it for him. Unfortunately, right after his parents bought Alien Slayer 2 Alien Slayer 3-D came out. In Alien Slayer 3-D it comes with all these cool swords and suits. He promised his parents that once he's finished with the game he will play out side for the rest of the summer. When he finished the game his mom sewed him a shirt that said I Love Slaying Aliens!

So, he put on the shirt and kept it on. His parents said they had a surprise for him outside. So he went out side and saw a jungle gym. He thought it was sorta babyish because he was going into 6th grade. Then his mom said he has to play with this kid named Herbert. Herbert is Alex's age and uses all these science words. Herbert has no friends. So Alex went inside Herbert's house to see if Hebert could play with him on his new jungle gym. When Alex walked in Herbert's room Alex was mad because Hebert got Alien Slayer 3-D and Herbert was taking it apart and making adjustments to two of the suits. For some reason Herbert and Alex had the suits on. Alex was playing on the jungle gym and Herbert was trying to walk through the fence. Suddenly, Alex accidentally hit a switch on the suit and Alex was getting sucked through the slide. Herbert was shouting at him to turn it off but it was to late. After they got sucked up by the slide they somehow ended up one hundred years later where G'daliens are friends with humans because they saved earth for them. Can Herbert and Alex get back to their normal time period or will they be stuck with G'daliens & not return home? Find out what will happen to them when you buy the book! G'day mates!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Review: The Side-Yard Superhero by Rick Niece

The Side-Yard Superhero by Rick Niece is a delightful book that takes you back to small town living in simpler days when you knew your neighbors and you could leave your front door unlocked for the paper boy to deliver your newspaper. When Rick was just four, he moved with his family to the small town of DeGraff, Ohio (population of about 900). He found a sense of community and friendship there that solidified who he was and his experiences shaped his character. When Rick was 9 years old, he became a paperboy which were coveted jobs at this time as there were only 4 paper routes in DeGraff. He kept this job for 9 years until he left to go to college at The Ohio State University. During those 9 years, he got to know the neighbors along his route and made many special friendships. The most important one was with Bernie Jones, a young boy with cerebral palsy who was confined to a wheelchair. Bernie would wait for Rickie, as he called out to him in his side yard every day he delivered the newspaper. Rickie would read Dick Tracy and other comics to Bernie daily. I was impressed at how much compassion and empathy Rickie had as a young boy with Bernie. This was a true friendship and it may have been the only friendship that Bernie had ever had. Rickie became close to many customers over the years and they were all sad to see him turn over the route to his brother when he went off to college.

As a reader, you get the feel of this small town life during the 50's and 60's and Mr. Niece shares many stories and experiences from his childhood. I enjoyed the stories related to his years as a paperboy who delivered the paper 6 days a week accompanied by his faithful dalmatian dog, Lady. These were the days when you actually knew your paper boy and left the envelopes with your payment inside your screen door. One of my favorite stories was when Rickie and his friends took Bernie in his wheelchair to the town carnival. Bernie experienced the fun house, the food and had a blast with the kids as any kid would experience at a carnival. There was even a surprise in store for him that I won't give away.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It reminded me of my younger years growing up in the 60's and 70's when my older brother was a paper boy. We also grew up in Ohio and I still live there today. I would often help him fold and deliver the papers and accompany him on his route as he collected payment from his customers with his handy dandy coin changer. It made me wish that young children today and my own son would have opportunities and freedoms such as being a paper boy. Also, that they would have a greater sense of community and maybe even learn more compassion through these type of experiences.

The Side-Yard Superhero, is described by the author as "Automythography" this is defined as : A work of nonfiction that looks reflectively at what we think we remember and how we think we remember it; an iridescent memory based upon truth and fact. It is also considered book one of a trilogy. Mr Niece is currently the President of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. He lives with his wife, Sherée, and they are the proud parents of 675 students. You can read more about Rick Niece, here

Thank you to Phenix & Phenix and Family Review Network for the opportunity to read this book.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Review : Shanghai Girls

Lisa See's newest novel, Shanghai Girls sweeps you away to a world unknown to most Americans. To me, while reading Shanghai Girls I felt drawn in and immersed in the culture and setting of this wonderful novel. Shanghai Girls follows two sisters, Pearl and May, during the 1930's as young women who live a life of glamour and high life in Shanghai. When drastic changes occur in their country they must learn how to survive and fight to protect themselves and they unite as sisters to do so. They do not realize how much has changed until their father informs them that he has lost all of their wealth and has arranged their marriages to two sons who live in Los Angeles.

The story takes you through their struggles and challenges to get to Los Angeles and all they must endure during the process. Once in San Francisco, more struggles and challenges ensue with some unexpected joy and happiness as they learn to make the best of things in their new lives. Shanghai Girls is a testament to the bond and power of the sisters relationship. Pearl and May have a deep sisterly love and are desperate to help each other survive in their new lives. Although, they don't let go of their own jealousies, hurts and rivalries. This is definitely shown in a dramatic way at the end of the book and left me speechless turning the page and expecting more. Ms. See's writing is a true gift of storytelling at it's best. It pulled me in, hooked me and didn't let me go until the last page. If you want to read a historical novel that is rich in history, details and culture, pick up a copy of Shanghai Girls. You won't regret it and it will leave you wanting more as you turn that last page.

Shanghai Girls will be in bookstores on May 26,2009. Reserve your copy today, here. To read more about Lisa See, check out her official website here.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Random House for sending me this Advance Reader's Edition.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Sunday Salon: May 10th: Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! I was actually born on Mother's Day but my birthday does not always fall on a Mother's Day. This year it does not but it's coming up this week. It's always fun to celebrate both days together. Sadly, my mother lives out of state so I rarely get to spend Mother's day with her anymore. I became a mother in my mid thirties to my son who is now 10. It's been an amazing experience, wonderful blessings but it has also included many challenges and hard work as well.

The Love of a Mother
A Mother's love is something
that no one can explain,
It is made of deep devotion
and of sacrifice and pain

It is endless and unselfish
and enduring come what may
For nothing can destroy it
or take that love away

It is patient and forgiving
when all others are forsaking,
And it never fails or falters
even though the heart is breaking

It believes beyond believing
when the world around condemns,
And it glows with all the beauty
of the rarest, brightest gems

It is far beyond defining,
it defies all explanation,
And it still remains a secret
like the mysteries of creation

A many splendor miracle
man cannot understand
And another wondrous evidence
of God's tender guiding hand.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Review: iCarly DVD Season 1, Volume 2

"You asked for more, so you're getting more-more Season1 of iCarly! Join Carly, Sam and Freddie as they deal with all the craziness of school, growing up, and crankin' out the best web show out there,!"

Season 1: Volume 2 of iCarly includes 2 discs which have 12 full episodes and cool special features that include Behind the scenes extras and Behind the Slime with the cast of iCarly and more.


iCarly is a popular kids show on Nickelodeon and my son who is 10 loves to watch it and I have to admit that I enjoy watching it also. The shows are always funny and family friendly with good story lines and there is usually a simple and valuable life lesson woven into the plot. I think that the chemistry between the actors is great and like the friendship and interactions between Carly, Sam and Freddie who tape and air a fun web show for kids. Spencer, is Carly's older brother who she lives with and he is another funny guy who is an artist and is always making some type of sculpture out of strange and unusual things. He's a bit strange and unusual himself but, oh so funny! Carly is played by Miranda Cosgrove who was on the show Drake & Josh, which aired on Nickelodeon. As a parent, I like that this is a family friendly show and one that my son can watch for his age. It's the kind of show that the whole family can enjoy watching together.

My son's thoughts on iCarly: "It's one of my favorite shows on Nickelodeon. It's funny and I like the funny videos that they show. I like Spencer's art sculptures. I wish that they would show Freddie's dad, Spencer & Carly's mom and dad and Sam's parents. "(That's all that I could get out of my son who didn't want to say too much at the moment...what can I say, he's 10)

You can find more information about iCarly at the show's website, You can purchase iCarly, Season 1, Volume 2 on amazon.

Thanks to Family Review Network for sending me this DVD for review.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

TLC Book Tour & Review: Precious by Sandra Novack

Precious is a wonderful debut novel by Sandra Novack. It is the story of a family, a neighborhood, an era set in 1978 rural Pennsylvania. Ms. Novack has woven a story that pulled me in and held my interest throughout. Her lyrical prose creates an emotion and depth to the setting and characters that as a reader, felt amazingly real. The characters are so strongly drawn that you feel that you are peering into a neighborhood and truly care about these characters although at times, you don't approve of their decisions or choices.

This is the story of the Kisch family a family of four, typical of the 70's and their relationships with each other and their neighborhood and community. Natalia, the mother, is unable to find herself in the midst of her past and roles as a wife and mother and makes a choice that is devastating to her family. Her husband Frank, is left to pick up the pieces and deal with his own angst as a father and husband. He does his best but to me typifies that 70's dad who is a bit clueless as to how to deal with women, including his own wife and two daughters.
Eva, is the oldest daughter at seventeen, and is a bit lost trying to find her identity and her place in the world. She is filled with many emotions and seems to be trying to find love and acceptance. Sissy, her younger sister, is nine years old and has to deal with the changes in her family as well as the disappearance of a neighbor girl Vickie. She must deal with her own emotions and fears related to this as well as guilt over bad feelings between the girls before Vickie's disappearance.

She was a bit lost in her own dreamworld and trying to find her way without much guidance. The neighborhood itself was a character with the nosy neighbors, barking dogs, picnics and looking out for each other during some trying times.

The ending was not expected and it is not one that ties everything up neatly in a bow which is perfectly fitting for this novel. It gives you pause to think about family, love, loss, loyalty and the importance of protecting and holding on to those we love. I highly recommend reading this book, it's strength is that it's a character driven novel with a strong story line and beautifully written. Yes, there is the missing child storyline that is not the major theme of the book but it is still there as a strong component of the story. There are sexual scenes and promiscuous behavior as well but again, it is not the major theme of the book. This would be a great book to discuss with a book club to break down the characters, their dynamics and family relationships and choices.

Thank you to Lisa from TLC Book Tours, who invited me to host one of the tour stops for this wonderful debut novel, Precious. I was honored to be part of the tour.

You can read an excerpt from Precious, here. Visit Sandra Novack's website, here.

Make sure to check out the rest of the TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for Precious:

Monday, May 11th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Wednesday, May 13th: Bookworm with a View
Thursday, May 14th: Pop Culture Junkie
Monday, May 18th: Literate Housewife
Friday, May 22nd: Booking Mama
Tuesday, May 26th: Book Addiction
Friday, May 29th: Diary of an Eccentric

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mother's Day Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: Mama's Got A Fake I.D.

As a mom, many of us find that we lose a bit of our self in the process and wonder where our talents and passion are and how can we balance that in our roles of mom, wife, friend, employee etc. I have been a stay at home mom for the past 10 years, after a long career in health care, including management. I went back to work last fall in a part time, flexible position which forced me to take a look at myself and where I wanted to be and how I could balance it all. Mama's Got a Fake I.D. was offered to me to read and participate in a Mother's Day Blog Tour through Waterbrook Press, a division of Random House. I thought that it would be an interesting book to read and gain some new insights into my own identity struggles.

Mama's Got a Fake I.D. reminds us as readers and moms that we did have lives before we became a mom and how easy it can be for us to lose our own identities after we become a mom. Others often see us as a mom first and nothing else and their preconceived ideas effect how we are viewed. Ms. Rivadeneira spoke from her own experience as a mom and work at home mom and she also tapped into a group of mom friends that helped her to understand how other moms felt. I found it interesting that other mom's had feelings similar to my own as none of my friends appeared to share these feelings.

Ms. Rivadeneira is a Christian and draws upon these beliefs and importance that God wants us to discover who He made us to be and that we need to reclaim that person that is hiding behind that "mom" identity. As we really are more than just a "mom". I found that the author drew from her strong Christian faith and she shares scriptural and biblical references to support her ideas. At the end of each chapter, there are questions for reflection and discussion. These are hepful to reflect on yourself and would be great to discuss with a friend, book club or any other women's or mom's group. You can join an online discussion at Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira's website, here.

If you find yourself in a funk and you are not sure where your identity is as a mom and woman this may be a great book to explore and help you work through your thoughts, feelings and goals. The book is inspiring and is a practical guide that will help you examine false guilt, learn a new language or way to express your identity, tap into your own passions and interests and connect to those things that you may have lost touch with.

I just joined Facebook and a college friend sent me a flair button that said"You don't work Full Time until you're a Mom!" That says it all!!

Author Bio: The former managing editor of Marriage Partnership and Christian Parenting Today, Caryn Dahlstrand Rivedeneira has been a trusted voice writing and speaking to women for more than a decade. Today she is the managing editor of, an online community for Christian women in leadership. Rivadeneira works from home in the Chicago suburbs, where she lives with her husband and their three children.

Make sure to visit Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira's website, here. You can download a discussion guide and Bible Study based on the book, here.

For information on how to purchase the book go here.


Giveaway Details:

I am giving away two copies of Mama's Got a Fake I.D. My gently read copy as well as one Brand New copy.

To Enter:

  • For One Entry: Leave a comment and share a way that you've been able to maintain your own identity separate from being a mom. 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 a Second Entry, In a SEPARATE comment: tell me that you have Blogged about this giveaway and share a link(posting in your sidebar is fine).
  • For a Third Entry, In a SEPARATE comment: Tell me that you Follow My Blog or Subscribe in a Reader (let me know if you are already a follower or subscriber).

This giveaway is ONLY open to U.S. and Canada.I'll use to draw a winner and the contest will end on May 11th, 2009 at Midnight EST. Good Luck!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mailbox Monday (May 4th)

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

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Sunday Salon: May 3rd

It's finally starting to warm up here in the Midwest with sunshine and flowers blooming. It's amazing to think that summer is around the corner as it seems like it was just winter a few weeks ago. Summer is a fun time here with family visits and hopefully a vacation tucked in somewhere. My son is looking forward to swimming, summer camps and free time to play and read. I wrote a post about the Summer Reading Programs and Free books here , we'll be sure to participate in them this summer.

Books Reviewed this week:

Follow Me by Joanna Scott (Also a blog tour withHachette Books )

The Laws of Harmony by Judith Hendricks

I plan to squeeze in some reading time today in Precious by Sandra Novack, for an upcoming TLC Book Tour.

I also need to wrap up my last week of Bible Study in Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman by Beth Moore. It's been a wonderful first Bible Study experience with Beth Moore and I am sad to see it end. I've met some wonderful women and have learned a lot during this study.

Don't forget to enter the Giveaway for Follow Me by Joanna Scott which ends , May 7th so make sure to enter.

Sneak Peak for this coming week: I'll be hosting 2 Book blog tours and another book giveaway.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Summer Reading Programs and Free Books

"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all."
— Jacqueline Kennedy

I can't believe it is already the first day of May and summer is around the corner. Summer is a great time for kids to enjoy reading without pressure. They can also earn free books. There are two great programs for kids to explore this summer and the added bonus is a free book. My son has participated in many summer reading programs and loved keeping his reading log and earning prizes. At our local library summer reading program, he is now old enough to be a volunteer so he is looking forward to that. I'm glad that he is still young enough to take advantage of these two great reading programs.

Barnes & Noble has a wonderful Summer Reading program where kids can earn a FREE book when they read 8 books this summer. Kids use a summer reading journal sheet where they list the books and a short comment about their favorite part of the book. Children bring their completed Reading Journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 26th & September 7th, 2009 and they will get a coupon for a FREE book. The book is from a select list of books in the store. My son is 10 and has participated in this program several times and has always enjoyed being part of this program and the books that he has received. You can read all of the details and download a summer reading journal here at the Barnes & Noble website. There is a limit of one form per school-age child (grades 1-6).


This is a new one for me, we have never participated in this program through Half Price Books. It sounds great. Feed Your Brain summer reading program starts on June 1st and runs through July 31st (2 months). Kids who read for at least 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week can turn in their reading log for a $3 HPB shopping coupon. They can turn in one each week. This program is for kids 10 and under. You can read all the details, find locations and download a copy of the reading log here at the Half Price Books website. You can also pick up the reading logs at your local HPB.