Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winner Announced: The Survivors Club

I finally have the winners for The Survivors Club, my apologies for the delay. Using's random integer generator, the winners are:

Alyce, Lissa, malleycc, Jessica, and m@t.

Thanks to all who participated!

*Edited to add: Alyce has already won an audio version of this book, so a new winner has been chosen: literary feline.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

(Hosted by MizB at Should be Reading .)
TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

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

My Teaser: From the uncorrected advance copy of The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick (coming in March 2009), page 128.

Cunedda crumpled to his knees. slammed his fist into the surf and raged at the bird.

'By all the power I hold, and all the gods that ever were or will be, I shall see to it that the claws of the dragon rake deep for this, Vortigern!'


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review: My Little Red Book

Author/Editor: Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
Genre: non-fiction, menstruation
Rating: 5/5
Publication Date: February 26, 2009

My Little Red Book is an exceptional book for a number of reasons. First, of course, is the subject matter: the book is made up, entirely, of stories of women (girls) getting their first period. Which is something that, even in our rather open and liberated society, is usually hushed up and considered embarrassing. The author's purpose in writing the book is to end the awkwardness usually associated with menstruation, and to help women and girls embrace this part of who they are, "if Napoleon Dynamite can be cool, so can periods."

Second, is the editor herself, Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, who is only eighteen years old. Having an extremely embarrassing first period story, she began talking to others, and compiling their stories, starting at age thirteen. For her, at such a young age, to realize the importance of these stories being told and shared is really quite amazing.

Third, are the stories themselves, written by such a diverse sampling of women. Ranging in decades from the 1910's to the 2000's, and crossing the barriers of country and culture, some are written by well known writers such as Meg Cabot, others by unassuming grandmothers, but they all ring true.

Fourth, the advance and all proceeds of this book are being donated, by the author, to women's health charities. Which are involved in causes such as providing sanitary supplies to those unable to afford them in places such as Africa, so the girls do not have to miss school during their period.

To learn more, or to contribute your own story, visit:

Also check back soon for a giveaway of this book!


Review: Sundays at Tiffany's

Rating: 2.5/5
Grade: C = 14 and up (sexual content)

One of the most difficult things about reviewing every book I read is the fact that sometimes I really don't care for a book, and I am dedicated to giving honest reviews. The story of Sundays at Tiffany's had some great potential, I was hoping to really enjoy the book. Unfortunately I don't feel that the potential was realized. The writing seemed rushed and rough, also very cliched. But even more cliched than the writing was the story line--every sentimental New York minute from film and novel of the last seventy-five years seems to have been woven into this book. Character development was very shallow, as was the depth of exploration of relationships.

This is actually the first of Patterson's books that I have read, and I will not judge his writing based on this one novel, especially as it is really outside his normal genre. If he were not an extremely successful and famous writer, I might also have been a bit more open to poor writing, but I guess I was expecting more.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Author Interview: Robert J. McCarty

(Pictured: Robert J. McCarty, and wife Stella Mustanoja McCarty)

I have recently had the pleasure of interviewing Robert J. McCarty, author of the Planet of the Dogs Series. The series includes:

Castle in the Mist ; (review coming soon)

These delightful children's chapter books tell the story of the world before dogs, how they first came to the earth from the planet of the dogs, and how they save humankind and teach them many important things such as love and loyalty. The books are beautifully illustrated by Robert's wife, Stella, who graduated from the art academy in Helsinki, and currently teaches painting and drawing at the Vantaa, Finland, Art School.


Lisa: Hello Robert, Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for my readers.

I understand that the Planet of the Dogs series was inspired by stories that you made up to tell your children and grandchildren. About how long ago do you think you told the first story that involved the Planet of the Dogs?

Robert:My children are adults, many of them with children, I started making up stories and songs a generation ago.

Lisa: Was there something in particular that inspired these stories: an event, desire to teach something to your children, or a certain beloved canine friend?

Robert: There was one dog in particular, who inspired the stories. She was a rescued toy poodle, who had struggled for many years to survive in a cramped house with 12 other poodles -- most of them bigger. We named her Miss Merrie. There were so many problems and so much cruelty in the world that people had created. We thought that people could learn a lot from Miss Merrie, who was so loving, loyal and courageous -- and the world would be a better place.

Lisa: When you sat down to write the books did you already have most of the material ready from your oral story-telling, or where they more vague ideas that you had to flesh out for the books?

Robert: Certain ideas were clear: dogs and children could communicate, the dogs would find non-violent solutions to problems, the dogs would be examples of unconditional loyalty and love, and the dogs would help people to heal. Most of the stories had to be worked out.

Lisa: Did you have encouragement from your children to write down the stories that they knew and make them into a book for others to enjoy?

Robert: I was encouraged to tell their children stories, but not to write them down.

Lisa: The dogs in your series have very distinct personalities. Are the dog characters in your books taken from dogs you have known or owned in real life?

Robert: In most cases, they are based on dogs we have had, or dogs of family and friends. In addition to Miss Merrie, Lucy is based on a specific dog who came into our lives after Miss Merrie passed on. Buddy is based on Dafi, our current family dog.

Lisa: The setting for the villages and forests in the books are beautiful, both the descriptions of them, and the drawings by Stella, they sound like somewhere I would like to live. Is there a particular place that has inspired the scenery, or do you have a certain place in mind when you are writing?

Robert: Much of the background world comes from books relating to the history of early peoples, and the settlement and development of Europe. Much of Castle In The Mist takes place in a setting much like early Finland, a country of forests and lakes. The setting for Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, has many similarities with Lapland, in northern Finland. Stella is a Finn and teaches drawing and oil painting in a Finnish art school. We are currently living in Helsinki during the school year.

Lisa: Why do you feel that this is such an important message for children to hear today--the love, peace, and loyalty which dogs can teach us?

Robert: Wherever there is literacy in the world, there are TV, film, computer games and the Internet. These media are filled with dramatic violence. The world has always had a great deal of violence, but now the scale and repetition of violence is far out of balance. Hopefully, the Planet of the Dogs series will reach many children at an impressionable age, offering non-violent solutions to fearful situations. It is our hope that the books will one day serve as a basis for an animated film, like the Lion King, and reach children throughout the world.

Lisa: I know that you are working with dog therapy reading programs, how can people who are interested learn more about this?

Robert: Libraries in many locations around the country have these programs. The Internet will take you to programs. And there are organizations like (the R.E.A.D. program);, and Therapy Dogs International, use Google Alerts to learn more daily about ongoing therapy dog reading activities.

Lisa: Before you began writing, what did your professional life entail?

Robert: I produced, wrote and directed film and video -- primarily documentary, training and education, and marketing. A short film, Rooftops Of New York, was nominated for an Academy Award.

Lisa: And, finally, are there any more Planet of the Dogs books in the works?

Robert: Yes. As you know, dogs are always ready for adventure and they love children.

Lisa: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I appreciate the opportunity for readers to learn more about you and your books.

Robert: Thank you, Lisa. We appreciate your interest and your warm and insightful reviews.

(Illustration from Snow Valley Heroes: A Christmas Tale)
(Illustration from Planet of the Dogs)

To find out more visit: and


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Booking Through Thursday Question of the week

Since “Inspiration” is (or should) the theme this week … what is your reading inspired by?
I think that this question could be interpreted a number of different ways, but I will answer a couple of the ways I take it.
What inspires me to read: Seeking truth is what inspires me to read. Truth which can be found in reading non-fiction and learning new things and new ways to think about old known things; truth which can be found in fiction, learning the reality of the human soul and condition; and truth which can be found in the feelings the things that I read bring up in my own life and being.
What do I read that inspires me: I am inspired first and foremost by beautiful writing. For me reading is not necessarily about the story, it is about the way it is presented. Skillful writers inspire me with the way they know, almost instinctively, how to marry the right words together. Out of the millions of possible words, that it is possible to string a few together and make me feel amazed and awed--that is inspiring.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winners Announced: Sundays at Tiffany's

Winners have been picked for 5 copies of Sundays at Tiffany's using And the winners are:


Monday, January 19, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Mondays is hosted by The Printed Page

(Sorry I am not going to do anything fancy like add links or pictures or italics, as I am holding a sleeping baby and typing with one hand)

Books I recieved in the mail this past week:

The Silent Man by Alex Berenson
A Child's Journey out of Autism by Leeann Whiffen
The Survivor's Club by Ben Sherwood
Little Skinks Tail by Janet Halfmann
Wild Things: The Art of Nuurturing Boys by Steven James and David Thomas
Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Review: Little Skink's Tail

Author: Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by: Laurie Allen Klein
Genre: Children's Picture Book; Nature
Rating: 5/5
Grade: A = All ages
Thank you to the author, Janet Halfmann, for contacting me and requesting this book for me to review. And also to Sara Dobie with Sylvan Dell Publishing for sending me the book.

Little Skink is sunning herself on a rock when she is suddenly attacked by a large crow. She gets away with her life, but loses her tail. As she looks at all of the animals around her, she imagines what it would be like to have tails like theirs. But none of the other tails seem to fit. One is, "so short and stubby", another, "Too stickly-prickly" a third, "Too pointy". How will Skink fix her problem, and find the perfect tail?

The text in this book is really wonderful. Short and to the point, great for young readers and listeners, but also containing well chosen descriptive words. The story is very fun--engaging the imagination, educating, and entertaining.

The watercolor illustrations have a textured and natural look. The animals are realistically drawn, but with humanising touches in facial expression and eyes. Wonderful little details can be found throughout the book. The first time I read the book, I didn't even notice some of them: such as the little caterpillar which grows a cocoon, emerges from it, and can be seen as a beautiful butterfly by the end of the book; also, the animal which will have it's tail tried on next can be seen hiding somewhere on the page before it's turn.

This book not only teaches about animals, and their physiology, but has a great lesson to be learned about being happy and comfortable with who you are. Further extending the fun learning opportunities is the 'For Creative Minds' section in the back of the book, where there is a footprint map, and a tail matching activity. Both which were thoroughly enjoyed by my three year old.

Sylvan Dell Publishing describes its books as "science and math through literature". A worthy goal, which they have managed to accomplish very well. The Sylvan Dell website has some great information and further activities and resources to go along with each book, such as quizzes and teaching activities. I will definitely keep my eyes out for more books by this publisher.


The Sunday Salon

The Sunday

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake.... That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.

I have not accomplished much reading this week as I have had strep throat, and four kids with strep, and three with ear infections. Giving out medicine to five kids has pretty much taken up my free time. As for today, I have not decided what I shall read. I have nine books waiting to be read and reviewed, but as I will be home from church, and am feeling lazy and self indulgent, I think I want to read something comforting. Something familiar. Austen, a Bronte, L.M. Montegomery. What I would really like is something by a beloved author which I have not read yet, but I don't know if I have anything of the sort on my shelves. This much I know, today's book will not be ambitious, nor will it be meaningless. I need something that says, "life is beautiful, and this is why." Any suggestions?


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Giveaway: Planet of the Dogs

Thanks to the author, Robert J. McCarty, I have an extra copy of this book to give to one of my readers. Read my review .

Book Description:
Far out in the sky, on the other side of the sun, is the Planet of the Dogs. Dogs have always lived there in peace and happiness.
There are country dogs and city dogs. They live in places like Shepherd Hills, Poodletown, Muttville, Biscuit Town, and Shaggy Corners.
The most special thing about dogs is their ability to love. They do this better than any other creature.
One day, many years ago, the council of the elder dogs learned that there were problems on Earth, the Planet of the People. Many people had forgotten how to love. They had become cruel and greedy.
This is the story of the first time that dogs came down to Planet Earth to teach people about love and to bring peace to Green Valley.

To Enter:
1. Leave a comment telling me about your favorite dog. (Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you) If you have trouble leaving a comment, e-mail me your entry.
2. For an extra entry become a follower or this blog, subscribe, or blog about this comment.
3. Since I am the one mailing this I am opening this up worldwide.
4. Contest ends 1/31/2009

Good Luck


Review: Planet of The Dogs

Thank you to the author, Robert J. McCarty, for sending this book for my review.
Author: Robert J. McCarty
Illustrator: Stella Mustanoja McCarty
Genre: Children's Chapter Book; Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Grade: A = All ages

Planet of the Dogs is the first book in the Planet of the Dogs series. Castle in the Mist is the second installment (my review soon to come), and Snow Valley Heroes: A Christmas Tale is the third. (Read my review )

In Planet of the Dogs we are introduced to the world long, long, ago, before there were dogs on earth. The dogs have their own planet, where they live in a healthy and helpful society which is presided over by the dog council. When they find out that the people in the peaceful villages of the earth are under threat of attack from the warriors of Stone City, the dogs all agree it is time to act. They have observed enough about the planet earth to know that the adults will not accept them very readily; but the children, who are more open, and can even understand the language of the dogs, should be approached first. Can the dogs win over the people of earth so that they will trust them and let them help, or will the dogs fail in their mission, and the fierce warriors overcome the village?

This is a great story, full of adventure, fun, and fantasy. What child could help but be delighted and enthralled by the thought of dog biscuit trees, and fields of flowers which unbelievably transport you to another world, a world inhabited only by dogs. There is a perfect amount of conflict in the book to keep the story moving along, and yet the kindness and love of the dogs is always there to counteract the encroaching danger.

The book also contains very detailed and stunning drawings, which add to the overall atmosphere of the book.

I would reccomend this book for children from ages four to twelve, and all dog lovers.

To learn more about these books, visit the website: Planet of the Dogs . Also see the Barking Planet Children's Books blog.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review and Blog Tour: Love and Other Natural Disasters

I am privileged to be a part of the blog tour for Holly Shumas' book Love and Other Natural Disasters, which is being hosted by Miriam with Hatchette Book Group

Author: Holly Shumas
Genre: Women's fiction; relationships
Rating: 4.5/5
Grade: D = 18 and up (some sexual content and language)

Book Description:
Eve is eight months pregnant and in the middle of a Thanksgiving celebration when she discovers that her husband Jonathan has developed an intimate relationship with a woman over the past year. Jonathon asserts his innocence (an affair involves physical intimacy, and he didn't have any), while Eve feels deeply betrayed by the emotional connection he shared with someone else. What Jon has done seems so terrifyingly out of character that Eve finds herself questioning her entire reality. Did she ever really know Jon at all? Was their happiness together a lie? Is emotional intimacy more forgivable than sexual intimacy? And can their marriage survive

My thoughts:
Holly Shumas has managed to delve deeply and fairly into the confusing and difficult relationship of marriage in her book Love and other natural disasters. I have to admit that for the first part of the book I was slightly annoyed. The reaction of the wife to finding out that her husband had been involved in an intimate, though not physical, relationship with another women, though warranted, seemed very harsh and over reactive to me. She seemed to be placing all of the blame on him without looking at her own involvement in possible problems in their marriage, she wouldn't even listen to his side of the story. I thought that I was in for another man bashing novel, sure sometimes men deserve to be bashed, but let's at least hear their side of the story before beating them down.

Later in the book, however, I was pleased to see many aspects of the marriage and dynamics between the spouses explored. The husband's point of view was put forth well enough that I could understand and sympathize with him, maybe not condoning what he had done, but seeing the personality and motivators which had led him to where he was. It was great to see him be able to work through things, keep the blame which was his, and yet explore the issues in their relationship which effected him. Also, the wife was able to look more objectively at her own actions, and see that she was not spotless herself. Though I did have some issues with her actions toward the end of the book. She does something, that to me, would definitely need to be discussed, but doesn't even seem to be brought up with her husband. And I am not sure that this as a catalyst would bring a lasting commitment.

Without spoiling too much of the plot, let me just say that I was left with hope for marriage in general. Yes, it is the hardest relationship work you will ever do. Yes, we do horrible things which hurt each other deeply. Yes, there is often just cause for ending things. But if we take responsibility for our actions and honestly discuss our feelings, nearly any marriage can be great. It is a choice.

About the Author:

About Me
My first novel, Five Things I Can’t Live Without, was a lighthearted look at the neurotic art of self-sabotage. The central premise was that my character, Nora, was looking for problems where there really weren’t any; she was thinking herself right out of happiness. For my second book, Love and Other Natural Disasters, I decided the main character might still have a whiff of the neurotic but I’d really give her something to worry about.
When I first sat down for the as-yet untitled Book #2, I didn’t know what Eve would find out (I didn’t actually know her name was Eve), but I knew it would happen on Thanksgiving. An affair seemed obvious (too obvious) until I realized it was an emotional affair rather than a physical one. The reason I’m using language like “find out” and “realized” is because for me, the process of writing novels is like that. There’s nothing better than that moment when your character surprises you.
As a practicing marriage and family therapist, the issues of emotional intimacy and fidelity are close to my heart. I’m convinced that one of the toughest things in the world is remaining emotionally connected to another person for the long haul, and it’s a subject that I love exploring in my writing, in my practice, and in my life. It’s a subject I’ll be exploring on this site, too, in both the “FAQ” and “Musings” sections.
If you’d like me to attend your book club, please contact me directly here. For press materials, review copies, and any other publicity-related requests, please contact my publicist at Grand Central Publishing, Elly Weisenberg, at Thanks so much for visiting.'
Visit Holly at her website:

Read my review of Holly Shumas' other novel Five Things I Can't Live Without

Visit other participants of the blog tour:


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review: The Book of Night Women

I received this ARC from Christopher Nelson with Penguin Group .
Publication date: February 19, 2009 by Putnam
Author: Marlon James
Rating: I did not complete this book, and so cannot give it a rating.
Grade: D = 18 and up (excessive vulgarity and profanity, violence, rape, and generally inhuman acts involved in slavery)
This book is a very bold, no punches held back, no mincing of words, look into slavery and all of the horrors and indignities that go with it. It has been called a very daring book, and I have to agree. Not only for the startlingly, unprettied look into life and human nature, but for the very writing style itself. Told in the slave narrative, it lacks proper grammar and quotation marks, there is no omniscient story teller with prim and proper English. The language only distracted me for the first page, and then I was pulled in and couldn't imagine the story being told in any other way. Simply stunning.
Why did I not finish the book? It was too much for me. To much profanity, too descriptive scenes of violence and rape, too much pain. I guess I prefer to look at truly horrible things through shades, something to block out the blinding monstrosities.
Book Description from the publisher:
The Book of Night Women is a sweeping, startling novel—a true tour de force of both voice and storytelling—that tells the story of a young slave woman on a sugar plantation in Jamaica at the turn of the nineteenth century, revealing a world and a culture that is both familiar and entirely new. Lilith is born into slavery, and even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they—and she— will come to both revere and fear. The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been conspiring to stage a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age they see her as the key to and—as she reveals the extent of her power and begins to understand her own desires and feelings—potentially the weak link in their plans.Lilith’s story overflows with high drama and heartbreak, and life on the plantation is rife with dangerous secrets, unspoken jealousies, inhuman violence, and very human emotion— between slave and master, between slave and overseer, and among the slaves themselves. Lilith finds herself at the heart of it all. And all of it told in one of the boldest literary voices to recently grace the page—and the secret of that voice is one of the book’s most suspenseful, satisfying mysteries.The real revelation of the book—the secret to the stirring imagery and insistent prose—is Marlon James himself, a young writer at once wholly in command of his craft and breathtakingly daring, spinning his magical web of humanity, race, and love, fully inhabiting the incredibly rich nineteenth-century Jamaican patois that rings with a distinctly contemporary energy.
Passing it along:
If you would like to have my ARC copy of this book (the baby got a hold of it, so the back cover is a bit bent, and one page has the corner torn off but no words missing) please leave a comment. I will send it to the first person who leaves a comment telling me that they want it.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Review: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

Thanks to Miriam with Hatchette Book Group for providing me with this book to review.

Author: Tiffany Baker
Rating: 4.5/5
Grade: D - 18 and up (brief sexual themes, very slight language, weighty death themes)

A small town in New York, an old family legend, prejudice, cruelty, hope, an unnaturally large women, her unnaturally beautiful sister, a nearly mute friend, herbs, and love. All of these things can be found in Tiffany Baker's debut novel The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. Truly, the "giant", has guilt laid on her from the day she is born, when here huge and abnormal size costs her a mother. Her growth never does even out, and she passes up her petite and beautiful sister, two years her senior, when she is practically still an infant. Their distant and broken father dies when they are still quite young, and Truly has brought home to her the fact that she has been fighting from birth: the worth which others place on you is largely due to how you look. Serena Jane, Truly's sister, is taken in by the preacher and his wife, and given a petted life of ease. Truly, however, is only accepted by a poor and dishonest horse racer with a strange and speech reticent child. She is put to work helping out on the farm where her size and manlike form are put to good use in taking care of the horses.

Soon, however, Truly sees that great beauty does not necessarily guarantee a happy and carefree life, as her sister's dreams are snatched away in one night by the villain of the piece, Bob-bob, who is really just a weak and insecure boy, and turns into a weak and insecure man. But sometimes those are the people you have to watch out for, they have something to prove, and something to lose, and hold on as tight as they can to whatever they can grasp. Truly finds this out first hand, when she is forced into a daily relationship with her brother-in-law in order to take care of her nephew.

Will she ever be free of living with a man she detests? Can she let go of what life has taught her about her value, or lack thereof, and accept love and friendship into her life? Is there really truth to the legend of Bob-Bob's great-great-grandmother being a witch, and a missing book of spells?

This book truly amazed me with it's powerful and beautiful writing. I kept a highlighter near at all times while reading, and found myself having to restrain myself from marking too many phrases. Tiffany Baker has the ability to string words together in a way which stuns. The story is unusual, and stirring, as is the writing.

Some quotations from the book:

"his pale fingers worrying the corners of the covers like light-drunk moths."

"all anyone ever saw about me, I thought, were the parts that were

"He put his hand on my head, wishing he were better at
stories, wishing he could make up one now where the giant wasn't' bad, just
misunderstood, where the princess was huge--the bigger the better--where beauty
on the outside always matched beauty on the inside, wicked queens looked like
the hags they were, and uppity schoolteachers were locked in towers for

"A life passed amid gangsters, horse thieves, smugglers and
gamblers had granted Amelia an unerring nose for greed, vanity, and other
assorted venal characteristics, and in Miss Sparrow, she smelled rancid pride
combined with the bitter char of unrequited love. She smelled the lemon tang of
loneliness mingling with despair. Just under Priscilla Sparrow's skin, Amelia could tell, a
rosemary blast of judiciousness rippled followed by the musty decay of jealousy
and a lingering note of envy--in short...the odors of
a lifelong spinster."

"She shut the door behind her as if she were
locking a reptile in a cage."


Giveaway: The Survivors Club

Thanks to Anna with Hatchette Book Group I have 5 copies of The Survivors Club up for giveaway.

Book Description:

Which is the safest seat on an airplane? Where is the best place to have a heart attack? Why does religious observance add years to your life? How can birthdays be hazardous to your health?

Each second of the day, someone in America faces a crisis, whether it's a car accident, violent crime, serious illness, or financial trouble. Given the inevitability of adversity, we all wonder: Who beats the odds and who surrenders? Why do some people bound back and others give up? How can I become the kind of person who survives and thrives?

The fascinating, hopeful answers to these questions are found in THE SURVIVORS CLUB. In the tradition of Freakonomics and The Tipping Point, this book reveals the hidden side of survival by combining astonishing true stories, gripping scientific research, and the author's adventures inside the U.S. military's elite survival schools and the government's airplane crash evacuation course.

With THE SURVIVORS CLUB, you can also discover your own Survivor IQ through a powerful Internet-based test called the Survivor Profiler. Developed exclusively for this book, the test analyzes your personality and generates a customized report on your top survivor strengths.There is no escaping life's inevitable struggles. But THE SURVIVORS CLUB can give you an edge when adversity strikes.

Enter to Win:
1. Leave a comment letting me know that you would like to win a copy of this book
2. For an extra entry become a follower of my blog, or subscribe to my blog (if you already are or do that counts) or blog about this contest on your own blog.
3. Contest open only to U.S and Canadian mailing addresses. No P.O. Boxes.
4. Contest ends Friday 1/23/09

Good Luck


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Review: Word of Promise New Testament Dramatic Audio Bible

Reviewing a dramatic audio version of the bible is a bit outside my usual book review range, but I received this from the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program. At the time I requested it they were not offering any other book that I was interested in reading. As I do not have much experience with audio books, I have foregone rating this product.

This is a dramatic audio version of the New Testament on three MP3 CD's. Also included is a behind the scenes DVD. The cast consists of over 100 actors, including Sean Austin as the narrator, Max and Jenna Lucado, Corbin Bleu and many well known others. The text comes from the complete International Children's Bible and takes up over twenty three hours, and though I personally prefer the King James version, this text was very clear and accessible. The acting was very well done, some of the actors better than others, I especially enjoyed Sean Austin as the narrator. Though I have to say that I was not entirely pleased with the voice of Jesus, but I guess that is a difficult role to live up to. Along with voice acting, are sound affects and pleasant music which are very understated and tastefully done. I would recommend this for young adults and children, it was very easy to understand and follow, and the draw of the popular actors may help those reluctant listeners. This could also be a good product for those who may be looking for a gentle introduction to the New Testament.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fun Quiz

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


Booking Through Thursday Question of the week

This weeks Booking Through Thursday question:

It’s a week or two later than you’d expect, and it may be almost a trite question, but … what were your favorite books from 2008?

I have always had a hard time picking favorites, even when I was a little child playing with my stuffed animals. By chosing a favorite you are automatically leaving someone else out, and I have never wanted to make others feel bad. I used to sleep with about fifty toys at night because I didn't want to leave anyone out. But there are a few stand out books that I read in 2008. And I am thankful for the question, as I have been meaning to post about this topic, but the days just slip by.

I am listing a couple of exceptional reads, not that there weren't others, but these are the ones that come to mind without looking back over the year and refreshing my memory. I read many really great books in 2008, and hardly any duds. Two books that I really enjoyed:


Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. Read my review .

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Marry Ann Shafer and Annie Barrows. Read my review .


These are not new books, but up to this point my non-fiction reading has been minimal, so these are some great reads I just found this year.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. Read my review .


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Review: Thank You Power

Author: Deborah Norville
Genre: Self-help
Rating: 3/5
Grade: B - 8 and up (pretty graphic animal attack stories)

In Thank You Power Deborah Norville, of television fame, looks at the science behind the craze of gratitude power. Does saying thank you and being grateful really improve our lives, or is it just hype? According to Deborah's research into the studies being performed on this very subject, the science backs up what many self-help guru's have been claiming. Saying thank you and looking for the good in life can dramatically increase the quality of our life in many ways. Deborah takes us into the new field called positive psychology, and explores how having a positive and grateful outlook on life can affect our lives in a positive way.

I found the scientific studies in this book to be very interesting. The exercises in saying thank you were also well done, clear and easy to understand, and easy to believe they could have a positive effect. Much of the book was taken up with stories of people overcoming tragedy, and not letting their lives be ruled by the bad things that happen to them. The stories were well written, but I didn't find that they really fit in well with the point she was making in the chapters the were included with. The book started out well, but after the first quarter, it felt like filler.

Visit the author's website:


Review: Paradise Fields

Author: Katie Fforde
Genre: Romance
Rating: 4/5
Grade: D - 18 and up (sexual content)

Katie Fford is one of the few 'romance' writers I read, though I actually think of her books as more of romantic-comedy. Her characters are funny, down-to-earth, flawed, marvelous and sweet. They generally have an average life, but a huge amount of heart and spirit.

In Paradise Fields, Nel is over forty, over weight, and over-involved in saving everyone around her. Her life has been given to her three children: two sons, who are now in college, and one daughter in her last year of high school. Widowed ten years before, Nel has never had the time nor the inclination to date. Besides, she never wanted a man telling her children what to do, it was hard enough when it was their father.

Six months into a very calm and quiet relationship with a slightly irritating real estate agent, Nel's life is turned upside down by a man who kisses her as she is selling mistletoe. She finds the passion that has been buried in so many years of taking care of the world and ignoring herself. Unfortunately the man is the solicitor for the couple who have put her job and life's work at the Hospice in danger. Should life be found again after forty, or will Nel stay with the safe and familiar?

Paradise Fields continues on in the same light-hearted yet realistic style Fforde's other novels have endeared themselves with.

Visit the author's Website:


Giveaway: Sundays at Tiffany's

Great news, thanks to Valerie at Hatchette, I have five copies of James Patterson's bestseller Sundays at Tiffany's available for giveaway! This is the recently released paperback edition.

Book Description:
As a little girl, Jane has no one. Her mother, the powerful head of a Broadway theater company, has no time for her. She does have one friend-a handsome, comforting, funny man named Michael-but only she can see him. Years later, Jane is in her thirties and just as alone as ever. Then she meets Michael again-as handsome, smart and perfect as she remembers him to be. But not even Michael knows the reason they've really been reunited.SUNDAYS AT TIFFANY'S is a love story with an irresistible twist, a novel about the child inside all of us-and the boundary-crossing power of love.

My review to appear soon.

1. Leave a comment letting me know that you would like to win a copy of this book (make sure you leave an email address or URL so that I can contact you if you win).
2. For a second entry, become a follower of my blog (if you already are that counts), or blog about this giveaway.
3. Contest is only open to the U.S. and Canada. No P.O. Boxes Please.
4. Contest will end Saturday, January, 17, 2009.

Good Luck


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Review: five things i can't live without

Author: Holly Shumas
Genre: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Grade: D - 18 and up (sexual content and some language)

Description from the publisher:

"On paper, Nora's life looks perfect. She's moving in with her boyfriend Dan, she has a stable job and a great group of friends. But she's stuck in what she refers to as "meta-life," the plight of over thinking and second guessing to the point of self-sabotage. One day at work, Nora decides to thwart her meta-life by following her instincts. In what feels like a moment of revelation, she quits her job. Immediately, her meta-life goes into overdrive: What on earth was she thinking--and what is she going to do now? Fortunately, when a friend asks Nora to rewrite her Internet dating profile, she realizes that not only is she good at it, but she really enjoys it. Billing herself as a Cyrano de Bergerac for the lovelorn, Nora finally begins to find professional success. But soon, Nora's meta-life has latched onto the question she's asked so many clients: What are the five things she can't live without? Is her flourishing business one of them? Is Dan? With each new client and each step she takes in her own relationship, she must confront her biggest demon--her self-sabotaging "meta-life." But will she be able to slay it forever?"

My Thoughts:

Just as with the other books I have read published by 5-Spot, this book was a great blend of a fun, girly read, and serious and relevant insight into being a woman. Holly Shumas really delves into relationships in her books, and in a very two-sided manner. The slight neurosis of Nora was not unpleasant to read, I actually found it encouraging. Don't we all have our own special variety of slightly crazy? Even when I wanted to hit Nora over the head with a brick to get her to stop over analyzing everything and making stupid decisions, I couldn't dislike her. Some interesting conclusions were drawn in this book, especially as the writer, Holly Shumas, is a therapist. Basically, don't rely on other people to fix you, and live life in the moment.

Vistit the author's website:


Review: The Mightly Queens of Freeville: A Mother, A Daughter, and the People Who Raised Them

Author: Amy Dickinson
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4/5
Grade: C - 14 and up (mild language)

The Mighty Queens of Freeville is the memoir of Amy Dickinson, who writes the syndicated advise column, "Ask Amy", which appears in more than 150 newspapers nationwide. She was chosen as a replacement to Ann Landers' advice column. Any followers of "Ask Amy" will surely enjoy this look into the life of the woman behind the column, and why her motto is "I make the mistakes so you don't have to".

In this memoir Amy tells about her marriage, divorce, and years of being a single parent. She focuses on her continual returns to her hometown of Freeville, New York, and how the clan of women relatives there have been her backbone and support through tough times.

This book seemed to lack a real cohesiveness, instead it flows more like a collection of slightly related essays. There are some really great points in the book. Especially touching are the chapters at the end of the book about her daughter leaving home. Less exceptional, at least to me, was the very long and detailed chapter about the finding and eventual death of their beloved cat, Pumpkin. But I am not really a cat lover, so maybe I lack understanding there.

Great title, great concept, the book was well written and interesting -- but I didn't feel that there was enough shown of those mighty women who are her inspiration and support.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Reading Challenge

I am only participating in one reading challenge this year. There are so many really great and exciting challenges out there hosted by so many great and exciting people, but there is only one area that I really feel I need to work on as far as reading goes, and that is consistently reviewing the books that I read. I intended to work on this last year, but I guess having a baby sort of kicked me out of any routine. I really only consistently reviewed for four months of the year. I read plenty of books, so I am not looking to join in a numbers challenge. At my last count this morning, of the books I can recall and recorded having read, I read 104 books in 2008. This includes 5 cookbooks and 1 audio book, I figure I spent hours on them, so they should count. It does not, however, include 20+ old (think 60's and chaste) Harlequin Romances which I read the month before my baby was born, when I couldn't read anything that made me think, or I would be up all night with my mind spinning in circles. I could stand to diversify a bit, but am not displeased with the variety of books I read last year.

So, my challenge for this year is the ' 2009 Read and Review Challenge' hosted by MizB. Visit the site for this challenge here .

I am already behind on this challenge, as I have read three books so far this year, and not written a review for any of them yet. I also have two books which I finished after Christmas that I need to review. See, this will be a challenge for me.


Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Mondays is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page so drop by and see what everyone else got in their box last week!

Marica has changed the question for a bit to include book related things and books recieved for christmas. I only got one book or book related item for Christmas.

From my mom: Thank You Power by Deborah Norville

Other books I have recently recieved in the mail:

From the publicist: The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick

From Miriam at Hatchette: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
From the author: Castle in the Mist: Planet of the Dogs Volume II by Robert McCarty
From the author: Planet of the Dogs by Rober McCarty


Musing Mondays

Here's today's Musing Mondays hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page. Visit her blog to Read the meme and see responses

Do you have a system for borrowing out books from the library? Do you know what you're going to borrow before you get there? How often do you borrow out books?

A system? Anyone who knows me well knows that I don't have a system for anything. Which explains why my life is pretty much utter chaos. I really do like systems, but I am not naturally an organized person, and the five kids haven't helped matters.

But, back to the library...Sometimes I have something in mind before I go to the library, if this is the case I usually check online first to see if it is there and if it is available. It is so discouraging to go to the library really wanting to read something and come away empty handed.

Since I live in a town of about 11,000, our library is relatively small, so I usually end up doing inter library loans if there is something I really want to read. I do hate waiting for them to come in, and then some libraries have an unrealistically short loan time. Once, because of when they checked the book out to me, how long it took to get there, how long it took for them to call and for me to pick up the book, I had a book that was due the day after I got it. And there was no renew option.

Much of the time I just wander the shelves looking for something to catch my eye.

As far as frequency of borrowing books from the library, it really varies. The children and I go to the library at least every other week for story time, and they always check out books. But it depends on how close I am to losing my mind, after hauling a baby and two toddlers around the library with their gigantic picture books, if I look for books or not. I generally sneak into the library on my husbands day off, childless. Sometimes I sit in the peace and quite and just breathe the anomaly in. But at that point the books are really a secondary concern.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Books Read in 2009

1. Five Things I can't live Without by Holly Shumas. Completed 1/03/2009. Read my review .

2. Paradise Fields by Katie Fford. Completed 1/04/2009. Read my review .

3. Thank You Power by Deborah Norville. Completed 1/05/2009. Read my review .

4. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker (completed 1/10/2009) Read my review .
5. Planet of the Dogs by Robert J. McCarty. Completed 1/12/2008.

6. Little Skink's Tail by Janet Halfmann. Completed 1/13/2008. (I am not going to list every picture book I read, that would be much too long of a list. Only the picture books which I receive for review will be added.)Read my review .
7. Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson. Completed 1/18, 2009. Read my review .

8. My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff. Completed 1/24/2009.Read my review .

9. The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick. Completed 2/3/2009. Read my review .

10. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. Completed 1/20/2009.
11. What's Age Got to Do with it? by Robin McGraw. Completed 2/11/2009. Read my review . 12. Drood by Dan Simmons. Completed 2/17/2009. Read my review .
13. A Child's Journey Out Of Autism by Leeann Whiffen. Completed 2/20/2009. Read my review .

14. Castle in the Mist by Robert J. McCarty. Completed 2/22/2009. Read my review .

15. Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy. Completed February 25, 2009. Read my review .

16. The Silent Man by Alex Berenson. Completed February 27, 2009. Read my review.
17. The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn. Complete 2/29/2009. Read my review . 18. Galway Bay . By Mary Pat Kelly. Completed 3/6/2009. Read my review .

19. The Ten Year Nap By Meg Wolitzer. Completed 3/12/2009.Read my review.

20. Doctor Gott's No Sugar, No Flour Diet by Peter H. Gott. Read my review.

21. Doctor Gott's No Sugar, No Flour Cook Book by Peter H. Gott

22. Spirits Rebellious by Khalil Gibran. Completed 3/19/2009.
23. The Propeht by Khalil Gibran 24. Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier. Read my review.

25. The Nonesuch by Georgetter Heyer. Read my review.

26. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

27. The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

28. Follow Me by Joanna Scott

29. Spiced by Dalia Jurgensen

30. The Lake That Stole Children by Douglas Glenn Clark.


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