Sunday, October 31, 2010

And the winners are....

You're just holding your breath, aren't you?
Deep, cleansing breath...
Warrior Pose...
Sun Salutation...
Okay, already.
The Unnamed
Carrie and Anita!

The Wave
Teresa and Dawn!

Room: a Novel (audiobook)
Debora and Alejandra!

Winners have either been notified (Teresa) or info is already in New York right now (everybody else).

Sad?  Child's Pose...
Down dog...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Torment by Lauren Kate

I wasn't going to read this one because I was rather tired of Luce being such a victim of her destiny. She and Daniel were destined to be together because it is love, true and eternal love. Total acceptance, all feeling, no brain. I also expected the second book to be a place holder - kind of like Jacob was while Edward went and hid or whatever.

Turns out, I liked this one better than the first one. First of all, the author takes us to a different setting - completely different which keeps up the interest. She also introduces us to new and interesting characters; Jasmine, Dawn, Shelby and Miles along with Francesca and Steven who are in background but not very far. All add something to the story. Except for Jasmine. She's just there. Shelby grew on me, Miles is the underdog I'm rooting for, Dawn is a small distraction, Phil is a strange introduction to what the Outcasts want (Luce), and Steven and Francesca intrigue me.

I loved the ending. Without giving anything away, I loved that Luce FINALLY used her brain, made an independent choice, and took control of her own life. This one, anyway.

Can't wait for #3.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

My Take:  I like Sarah Dessen.  This is the second book of hers I've read and the second time I have completely enjoyed the experience.  She has a way of describing not only visual experiences, but also emotional experiences that are difficult to peg.  I also enjoy the way she tells a story.  And I like the story.

This book's cover is misleading.  It looks rather cute and sweet.  Which it is but it is also deeper than the usual teen read.  There is no love triangle or typical teenage angst.  The story explores feelings of a child whose parents have divorced, adapting to a new family situation, detaching from parents and individuating, death, surviving, success, failure, redefining yourself and your past and getting up to do it all again tomorrow.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ecstasy in Darkness

Title:  Ecstasy in Darkness (Alien Huntress, Book 5)
Publisher:  Pocket Star
Pages:    512
Source:  Gallery for review

From Publisher:  New York Times bestselling sensation Gena Showalter enthralls with a dark, tantalizing world of humans, otherworlders, powers beyond imagining, and a seductive vampire undone by his insatiable hunger for one woman. . . .Growing up poor on New Chicago’s meanest streets, Ava Sans had two options: be the predator or be the prey. No contest. Now, working for Alien Investigation and Removal, she’s been ordered to capture the biggest, baddest warrior of all—a vampire too beautiful to be real, with the abilityto manipulate time. Once the leader of the entire vampire army, McKell has been deemed savage and unstable, spurned even by his own kind.To McKell, humans should be nothing more than sustenance. Yet the petite, golden-skinned Ava is a fascinating contradiction—vicious yet witty, strong yet vulnerable, lethal but fiercely loyal. Against his better judgment, McKell craves that loyalty, and much more. When the chase leads to seduction, McKell and Ava will race to discover the truth about his past. But the answers will come at a price, even for a woman who thought she had nothing left to lose. . . .

My Take:  This is my first Gena Showalter novel and I have mixed feelings about it. I'm pulled between categorizing it as a highly amped and sexualized Twilight with intimate detail of what McKell and Ava did and fantasized about doing to each other and applauding the dialogue which was incredibly entertaining.

First of all, the book is sexually explicit. There is no sexual innuendo. The sexual tension which leads to sex scenes are spelled out. It was a little much for me. I don't mind a little sex talk in books that make me want to go wake up my husband, but this was over the top for my tastes.

Second of all, this book is part of a series. There are back stories for each character that is briefly explained in this book. Gena does a good job of giving enough information to stay with this book but not more than is needed. If curiosity is piqued, the reader will read a previous book. I really liked that I could jump right in without feeling lost but I felt like the characters had greater depth than just this story.

Character development was adequate but I didn't love any of the characters. Sure, I felt some lust for Mckell, but who wouldn't? Besides that, I could take them or leave them. I think if I had read a previous novel regarding Ava and Noelle, I'd enjoy them more.

Speaking of Ava and Noelle (add McKell), the dialogue is hysterical. The interactions between these particular characters made me snort out a laugh. Very clever.

I like it fine. I just didn't have any strong feelings one way or the other.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ansel Adams In the National Parks

Title: Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America'Wild Places 
Authors: Edited by Andrea G. Stillman
Pages:  344
Source: Hatchette Book Groups

Description:  With more than two hundred photographs - many rarely seen and some never before published - this is the most comprehensive collection of Ansel Adams' photographs of America's national parks and wilderness areas. For many people, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, and other iconic American wildlands exist in the mind's eye as Ansel Adams photographs. The legendary photographer explored more than forty national parks in his lifetime, producing some of the most indelible images of the natural world ever made. One of the twentieth century's most ardent champions of the park and wilderness systems, Adams also helped preserve additional natural areas and protect existing ones through his photographs, essays, and letter-writing campaigns.

Edited and with commentary by Andrea G. Stillman, the foremost expert on Adams' work, this landmark publication includes quotations by Adams on the making of numerous photographs and essays by Wallace Stegner, William A. Turnage of The Ansel Adams Trust, and journalist and critic Richard B. Woodward. This is a must-own for Ansel Adams fans and all those who, like Adams, treasure America's wilderness.

My Take:  In a world without photoshop, Ansel Adams knew how to make a good photograph by peering through the lens of a camera.  With a background as an emerging concert pianist, Ansel could compose a breathtaking picture by capitalizing on content, perfect exposure, composition of background, foreground and everything in between.

Adams' photographs in black and white provide beautiful contrasts and balance before the shutter button is ever pushed. A well known environmentalist, Adams was as poetic in speech and written word as behind the camera:
"The dawn wind in the High Sierra is not just a passage of cool air through the forest conifers, but within the labyrinth of human consciousness becomes a stirring of some world-magic of most delicate persuasion.  The grand lift of the Tetons is more than a mechanistic fold and faulting of the earth's crust; it becomes a primal gesture of the earth beneath a greater sky.  And on the ancient Acadian coast an even more ancient Atlantic surge disputes the granite headlands with more than the slow, crumbling erosion of the sea.  Here are the forces familiar with the aeons of creation, and with the aeons of the ending of the world."  - Ansel Adams, from The Meaning of the National Parks,1950.
 In breathtaking clarity, Adams describes the wilderness.  Through his photographs, he uses f/64 to capture even the smallest detail of the landscape before him.


A copy of this book was provided to me by Hatchette Book Groups in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Edge of Sight Twitter Party

Just wanted you to be aware that tomorrow you can win all kinds of of great stuff in the Twitter promo for Roxanne St. Claire's new book, "Edge of Sight."

Can't make it?  Don't despair.  Review and giveaway coming right HERE (throw confetti) on November 5th.

The Love Goddess' Cooking School Review and GIVEAWAY

 Camilla’s Cucinotta: Italian Cooking Classes. Fresh take-home pastas & sauces dailyBenvenuti! (Welcome!)

Holly Maguire’s grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine—a Milanese fortune-teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can’t make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that’s why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla’s Cucinotta, she’s determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother’s legacy.

But Holly’s four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla’s chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter’s heart. Juliet, Holly’s childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can’t find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad, Liam, from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend. As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla’s essential ingredients of wishes and memories in every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed—and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness.

My Take: This is a pleasant read; like chicken soup.  Holly, the protagonist, is a likeable woman who steps into her grandmother's big shoes to try to save her grandmother's legacy.  She enters a small community complete with cliques, secrets, and histories.  So Holly attempts to take over her grandmother's kitchen, selling Italian sauces and cooking classes.  Of course, Holly can't cook.

And so Holly spends all of her time teaching herself to cook through her grandmother's old recipes that always include a special ingredient; a secret wish, a happy or sad memory, a truth.  As her small class begins their culinary lessons, new friendships are forged and Holly discovers there is much of her grandmother in, after all.  And not just the cooking part.

I liked the story.  I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and writing style.  It's a solid read and I came away feeling uplifted and relaxed.  Like chicken soup or after a nice walk in the woods.

3 and half

Thanks to Mary at Simon and Schuster, I have 2 copies up for grabs. Entry is easy as always.

Fill out the form HERE.
U.S. Only
No P.O. Boxes
Leave me a comment letting me know your comfort food.  I need ideas.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spooktacular Blog Hop

It's time for a Halloween Blog Hop!  Contests and excellent content all week long!  Check my right sidebar for contests!  Blog Hop ends on Halloween!  Send the kids out to trick-or-treat and do your grown up trick-or-treating right here!


Season of Seduction
Ends October 25th

The Unnamed

The Wave
Ends Halloween

Room Audiobook
Ends Halloween

Ends November 5th

Don't Blink Audiobook
Ends November 12th

{more to come...}

List of all participants here.

Now let's have some FUN!

Velocity by Alan Jacobson.

Title:  Velocity 

Genre:  Suspense/Thriller
Pages: 400
Source: FSB Publicity

FBI profiler Karen Vail returns in Velocity, national bestselling author Alan Jacobson’s most explosive thriller to date. Vail’s boyfriend, Detective Robby Hernandez, has seemingly disappeared into the dense air of a Napa Valley evening. There are no clues to his whereabouts, other than a blood stain and potential connections to a serial killer operating in the wine country.

Despite using all means at her disposal to find out what happened to Robby, Vail is thwarted—until her colleague, Detective Paul Bledsoe, hooks her up with Hector DeSantos, a covert Defense Department operative who has a knack for finding di0cult to locate information. But DeSantos is an unwilling partner, and other than superficial cooperation to pay back the debt he owes Bledsoe, he is reluctant to work his valuable informants for what he views as Vail’s personal crusade to find her lover.
That is, until Vail pries loose long-buried secrets, lies, and deceptions on the part of her own task force members. It’s information that even DeSantos can’t ignore, a discovery of great magnitude that reveals larger forces at play forces that propel Vail and DeSantos into a frantic search that takes them from the wineries of Napa Valley to the monuments of Washington, D.C., the wealthy beach enclaves of San Diego, and the bright excesses of Las Vegas.

My Take: When I started this book I felt like I'd walked into a movie midway through and was trying to catch up.  Apparently, the previous book, Crush, provides the reader with a background that is nearly completely necessary to catch on to what is happening in Velocity.  The problem is, I didn't have anybody to bother during the action scenes so I could get caught up.  Why the action scenes?  Because it was ALL action scenes.  From the first page to the last, there is not a moment to take a breath.

I said that the story was nearly impossible to grasp walking into the story, but not completely.  The author spends some time recapping the comings and goings while allowing the characters to run to the hospital and make threats to the serial killer while covered in somebody else's blood, then jump right back into the action.

When I caught up to the story, the book was compelling and difficult to put down.  The irony, humor, dialogue, and spilling of secrets keeps the reader bug-eyed and up far too late into the wee hours.

I would suggest reading the previous book before jumping into this one.  I enjoyed it but found myself frustrated for the first 50-75 pages.  Like I said, the author does fill in the blanks, but I prefer to start a story at the beginning.

4 hearts
*This book was provided by FSB in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

IMM 10/24/10

In the mail:

VixenMoondogs: A NovelThe UnidentifiedRun to Overcome: The Inspiring Story of an American Champion's Long-Distance Quest to Achieve a Big DreamAnsel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America's Wild PlacesClinton St. Baking Company Cookbook: Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond from New York's Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant

From the library:

Torment (Fallen)Hate ListAlong for the Ride
Upcoming contests:

The Family Dinner (cookbook)
Don't Blink Audio Book (2 copies)
The Love Goddess Cooking School (2 copies)

Don't Blink Audiobook GIVEAWAY

New York's Lombardo's Steak House is famous for three reasons--the menu, the clientele, and now, the gruesome murder of an infamous mob lawyer. Effortlessly, the assassin slips through the police's fingers, and his absence sparks a blaze of accusations about who ordered the hit.

Seated at a nearby table, reporter Nick Daniels is conducting a once-in-a-lifetime interview with a legendary baseball bad-boy. Shocked and shaken, he doesn't realize that he's accidentally captured a key piece of evidence. Ensnared in the city's most sensational crime in years, Nick investigates for a story of his own. Back off--or die--is the clear message as he closes in on the facts. Heedless, and perhaps in love, Nick endures humiliation, threats, violence, and worse in a thriller that overturns every expectation and finishes with the kind of flourish only James Patterson knows.

Have a CD player in your car?  Long commute?  Download it to your ipod?  Here's your chance.

3 copies available to win.
U.S. and Canada residents
No P.O. Boxes
One per household
Must love me.  I'm needy.
Contest ends November 12th.


By Pete Dexter
Hardcover, 480 pages
Grand Central Publishing
List price: $26.99

People who love to read novels know that sometimes fiction gets closer to the truth than facts ever can. And those who write novels know they can make things turn out the way they wish they had, instead of the way they really did.

Spooner, the new novel by National Book Award-winning author Pete Dexter, tells the story of a wild boy who grows up to be a wild man — not unlike the author himself. Both Dexter and his novel's eponymous character spent part of their childhood in rural Georgia; both grew up to become newspaper columnists; both almost got themselves killed in a barroom brawl; and both were nurtured and protected by an endlessly patient stepfather.

Still, Dexter insists that the book is not a thinly disguised biography: "It's in no way a memoir. It's just a novel with a lot happier ending than life was."

In the book, Spooner suffers a traumatic childhood; his twin dies during childbirth, and his father dies shortly after he is born. His mother, a neurotic woman who has asthma, doesn't lavish affection on her son. But thanks to a loving stepfather named Calmer, Spooner defies the odds and lands on the shores of adulthood in one piece, even managing to have a successful career and a happy family life.

Dexter says the character of Calmer is a tribute to his own stepfather, to whom he owes an "enormous" debt: "I am not sure [the novel] started out to be an homage to the guy, but once I got into the subject, it was something like that."

The author credits his stepfather for setting him on the right track:

"If it hadn't been for him, I'd be one of those guys out on the beach, about the color of a coconut by the sun by now," Dexter says. "I'd have found marijuana [and been] one of those guys with his hair down to his behind."

In the novel, Spooner takes care of Calmer as his stepdad grows older, but in real life, Dexter wasn't able to provide for his own stepfather.

"In real life, [my stepfather] died at 60. He got fired as superintendent of schools, he was demoted way down. ... And the day he died, he came in from teaching school, and he was gonna go to a job at a warehouse, and he lay down to take a nap, and he died," says Dexter. "If I'd only had a chance to take care of him."

Writing about Spooner and Calmer allowed Dexter to imagine the kind of relationship he may have had with his own stepfather if only he had lived longer. And, he says, he enjoyed writing this book more than any other:

"I was happier doing it than I've ever been," says Dexter. "I couldn't tell you why, but it seemed truer, and I seemed to be getting more at the heart of things."

Chosen by book groups around the nation, this one is sure to elicit discussion.  Reading Group Guide can be read here.

If you want it, let me know by filling out form here
I have 2 up for grabs.
U.S. and Canada only
No P.O. Boxes.
One copy per household.
Contest ends November 5th.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hate List Review

Title: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown
Pages:  408
Genre:  Young Adult
Source:  Library

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

My Take: This is the most real Young Adult book I have ever read.  It may even be the most real book I have ever read.  The author touches on so many different aspects of Valerie which resonates with the human heart.  Valerie and her story are so multi-dimensional.  Without giving anything away, I'll recap.

Valerie is a girl who finds herself on the fringes of acceptance.  She's not alone and gravitates to a particular group, especially a boy named Nick.  Together they have inside jokes, places they go, memories that belong only to them.  One one angry day, Valerie starts writing down people and things she hates.  It's innocent enough and Nick buys into it, too.  They add to the notebook day by day.  Over the years, Nick and Valerie become closer and share some happy times together along with some hard times.

One day, Valerie, feeling like Nick was drifting from her, meets up with him before school.  She's angry because one of the bullies on the bus broke her MP3 player.  Nick says something "Nick-like" and Valerie feels validated and like he's standing by her.  He approaches the perpetrator, calls her out, then, with Valerie standing by, he opens fire.  In the process, Valerie is shot in the leg and Nick fatally shoots himself.

Valerie started the HATE LIST.  Did she know Nick was not joking when he'd talk about death, his own and those they hated?  How much culpability does she carry?  Did he do it for her?  He's gone now and she's not.  The community's belief in safety, shattered.  Will they blame her?  Is she angry at Nick for leaving her?  Can she still love the one who hated so much?  Can she love and forgive herself?  Can others love and forgive her?  Who is the media and what are they saying?  Is the media perpetrating or healing the damage?

The author adds the family dynamics and the fallout that is so plausible.  Each parent provides a different personality and perception that is also multi-dimensional.  Incredibly, the author is capable of painting each main character as neither good nor bad, complete nor devoid.  Valerie and her reality is so engaging, I immersed myself as completely as possible into this world.

I didn't find that the author had a particular agenda.  It's not about stopping bullies but telling a story.  

It's an incredibly well written novel.  I will be thinking about it and mulling it over in days to come.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blood Trinity Blog Tour

Atlanta has become the battlefield between human and demon. All her life, Evalle has walked the line between the two. Her origins unknown, she’s on a quest to learn more about her past and her future.

But when a demon claims a human and there’s no one else to blame, Evalle comes under fire. It’s no longer a question of learning about herself, it’s a question of survival. Through the underground of an alternate Atlanta where nothing is as it seems to the battleground of where her VIPER allies have become the force that is now hunting her, Evalle must prove her innocence or pay the ultimate price.

But proving her innocence is the least of her problems if she doesn’t stop the coming apocalypse. The clock is ticking and it’s about to become a lot hotter in Atlanta.

My take:
.I got this book yesterday but I'm halfway finished.  It's a cross between urban lit, fantasy, and romance.  Evalle is intriguing as she is the only one of her kind who is allowed to roam free as others have attacked her tribesman.  Only she believes herself to be part of the tribe.  Two others agree with her and will defend her at nearly any cost.  But she is not a full-blooded Belador.  She possesses other powers that frighten others and empower her. 

This is not your traditional fantasy lit.  The world of demons and Beladors is intertwined with the current day human world.  In fact, the Belador are meant to protect the human race from the demons and other worldly beings who might use them as a tasty feast. 

Because the authors are not creating a brand new world from scratch, I had a much easier time following the storyline and keeping the characters clear in my mind.  I generally struggle with fantasy literature.  I'll admit that I could not finish Lord of the Rings. 

Please.  Don't write me out of your will.

The authors introduce the reader to characters with personalities, histories, and their own baggage which will be revealed in time.  The book is action packed and provides many different directions for the next books to follow.  Like I said, I'm not finished but I'm not putting it down. 

So far, so good.

*I was provided a review copy of this book by Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Annexed by Sharon Doger Review

I look out the window into the street . . . I'm meant to be at Mr. Frank's workplace in a few hours. We're arriving separately, all of us. We'll walk into the building just like it was any other visit -- only this time we'll never walk out again.

What was it like hiding in the Annex with Anne Frank? To be with Anne every day while she wrote so passionately in her diary? To be in a secret world within a world at war -- alive on the inside, everything dying on the outside.

Peter Van Pels and his family have lost their country, their home, and their freedom, and now they are fighting desperately to remain alive.

Look through Peter's eyes.

He has a story to tell, too.

Are you listening?

My Take: This is the fictional story of the non-fictional Peter.  Taking Anne's experiences and feelings she attributes to Peter, the author has written from his standpoint.  How does he feel about being a boy, turning into a man trapped with two teenage girls?  He is a boy/man of few words but he is not stupid.  He thinks, he feels, he experiences. 

I am one of the very few who has not read The Diary of Anne Frank. I have read Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies, the woman who helped hide the Franks and Van Pels then hid her diary after their capture.  I have been fascinated by Anne Frank and used to stare at her picture when I was young teenager and wonder how much we had in common. I have been to the Annex in Holland and walked the floors where Anne Frank lived, dreamed, and wrote. I have read many books about Anne Frank and the Holocaust but I can't quite bear to know Anne Frank then have her suffer the indignities of the Holocaust and know she died days within liberation.

Peter is a real person who experienced love and kisses with Anne Frank, until she tired of him.  She was dramatic and riddled with angst, like many girls her age.  To see her through Peter's eyes is to experience her anew.  To assign feelings to Peter is to experience him anew.  I enjoyed the interpretation given by the author.  I enjoyed another aspect of Peter than simply that of Anne, although it is through her diary we get to know Peter. 

Anne's diary survives the Holocaust.  But so does Otto Frank, Anne's father.  His writings also describe Peter and the interactions he had with him.  Otto accompanies Peter to Auschwitz.  Together they survive until Peter is transferred to another camp.  Otto was with Peter when Peter's father disappeared. 

Although the story of Peter in the Annex is compelling, it is the style of the author's writing that makes the story more real.  The sentence structure is that of a boy who is not a writer but a thinker.  Incomplete sentences that lack either noun or verb.  Like a punctuation mark. 

The last bit of the book is most poignant and painful.  Peter lays dying in the camp "hospital" and recalls his life starting with the first day of living in the Annex.  He hated it.  He was depressed and wanted to sleep all the time.  The grown-ups gave everybody chores.  There was grumbling.  They didn't always get along.  Otto had concerns regarding Margot's tender feelings with Anne and Peter growing close.  Peter recalls each of these experiences in poignant detail.

Yet, like the real experience, they are all captured and taken to camps.  It is here that Peter recalls the horrors he has seen, real or not to him, these things did happen.  He recalls the last time he sees Otto Frank.  The last few pages read like beautifully written poetry.  It hurts.

Like Schindler's list and Alicia, I can't read it again but I loved it. 
4 hearts

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just Call Me Kate Review

Coming of age amidst the seething unrest of the Civil War era, feisty fourteen-year-old Katie McCafferty infiltrates the Molly Maguires, a secret Irish organization, to rescue a lifelong friend. Under the guise of "Dominick," a draft resister, Katie volunteers for a dangerous mission in hopes of preventing bloodshed. Katie risks job, family, and ultimately her very life to intervene. A series of tragedies challenge Katie's strength and ingenuity, and she faces a crisis of conscience. Can she balance her sense of justice with the law? Call Me Kate is suitable for readers from eleven to adult. The story is dramatic and adventuresome, yet expressive of daily life in the patches of the hard coal region during the Civil War era. This novel will appeal to readers of the Dear America series, as well as more mature readers who will enjoy the story's rich context and drama.

My Take: This novel is a concisely written account of the little known events in the Irish coal mining community during the Civil War.  When I say "little known," I really mean, I didn't know.  The basic tenets of the Civil War are little disputed (except by the state of Texas, still in denial) with the southern states wanting to be separated from the Union, disagreeing on political points. Aside from Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes, who willingly joined the fight because they gave a d***, I was unaware that the Civil War was truly forced upon the indigent Irish members of the communities. 

Pennsylvania was the home to a number of newly arrived Irish settlers who lacked any skill other than surviving great famines and speaking lyrically.  Many found themselves in the clutches of poorly maintained and unregulated coal mines where accidents and death became the norm.  Paid nominally, the miners barely survived starvation.  When mines collapsed (which occurred often), heads of household were maimed and killed, often forcing their wives and children into further poverty or starvation.

With the Civil War needing soldiers on both sides, the ruling came down that men were to serve their country either by fighting against the south or paying for a substitute.  The Irish immigrants had no voice as the press and community practiced bigotry against them.  Thus the Molly Maguire group was born to protest the unfair treatment of the Irish.  Kind of like draft dodging only Canada was not an option, there was no veteran pay, and, by golly, Miss Molly, he most certainly did inhale.

Katie discovers the organization and dresses as a man in order to infiltrate.  She discovers one or two men who suffer severely from impulse control and narcissism and many Irish immigrants frustrated with the state of the country.  All she wants to do is save her friend, Con, from certain death or blacklisting (the opposite of Black Lung, in this case). 

The story is easy to follow and possesses the appropriate amount of intrigue to engage the young reader.  Blood and gore are present but only in appropriate doses to illustrate the plight of the poor Irish workers in this time period.  This is war, after all. 

Clean reading and educationally minded, the story will hold the interest of a latter elementary school child as evidenced by this juvenile middle aged reviewer. 
3 hearts

Thanks to Nichole at Tribute Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Testimony by Anita Shreve WINNERS

I have some fantastic news and then some very sad news but then it could turn into fantastic news!
Great News!
Sunshine all won this fantastic book!

Sad news: Mary and Joan forgot to give me email addresses so I don't know how to contact them to let them know. When I say I don't know how to contact Joan, however, I really mean that I'm just too lazy to walk down the street and ask her for her address. Must I really pull out the ward list?

Mary, I've no idea where to find you.  So the other fantastic news is that if Joan and Mary will send me their mailing address to amusigmother at gmail dot com, they'll get the book.  If not, they will be sad and two more people will be happy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

IMM 10/15/10

I know you're dying to know what I read this week and what I will read next week.  Because I am that interesting.  In my make-believe world, I am down-right fascinating.

Speaking of fascinating, I just (like JUST closed the book) finished "Fallen" by Lauren Kate.  It completely fascinated me.  I picked it up at the school library during a red ribbon guest speaker which was 1) amazingly excellent and 2) I'm getting the credit for finding her.  Right now I'm at the top of my game at work.  Which is odd since I'm at odds with a close colleague.  Apparently, a year ago I talked to another school counselor at another school who told me about this amazing guest speaker, a former Miss U.S.A. finalist, who had the kids captivated.  I said I would love to have her come and speak at my school.  Someone sent her an email (me?) and she called the head counselor (who doesn't like me right now) in September and told her I wanted her to come for Red Ribbon Week.  Am I amazing, or what?

I just wish I remembered who, when, and where this conversation occurred.

Anyhoo, that's why I picked up this book.  I was trapped in the librarian's cubby and started being all ADHD, picking up and looking at whatever book I could find.  I'll probably skip book #2 since it doesn't tell the reader much.  But I'm hoping book #3 is the final installment and will be at least as good as book #2.
If you are still with me after my little story, please whistle or nod you head.


This week I plan to read:
Fixing DelilahCall Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires - Mom’s Choice Awards® Silver RecipientAnnexed
and I might get to (really hope I do):
The PortraitIncarceron (Incarceron, Book 1)SapphiqueThe Distant Hours: A NovelScumble
I'm also waiting books to come and some of them I'm losing hope.
Winter BloomNightingaleBlood Trinity: Book 1 in the Belador Series

That's it!  Read anything you loved?