Showing posts from October, 2009

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Although I love the cover of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush (2009), I wouldn't have bought the book without reading Violet Crush's review because there are just too many Twilight-style books right now. And most of them leave a lot to be desired, including, frankly, the Twilight series.

Nora is a high school sophomore coping with the murder of her father a year earlier and being basically on her own while her mom commutes and works long hours to keep them in the family home. With the story told in first-person by her, I learned enough to really like and identify with Nora.

Enter Patch, the transfer senior and now Nora's partner in biology, who is dark, mysterious, and very much an Alpha male. Just as Nora couldn't decide whether he was interesting or dangerous, neither could I. And I liked the way his interest in Nora seemed to develop as he learned more about her.

Heavy on the mystery because someone is trying to hurt Nora, I could have used more romance in the bo…

Notes Left Behind by Brooke and Keith Desserich

I cried the entire way through Notes Left Behind by Brooke and Keith Desserich (orginally 2008, republished 2009).

Originally written as a private journal to chronicle the last days of their daughter Elena's life, a family member suggested they post the journal entries online instead of making lengthy nightly calls to various loved ones with updates.

Thinking no one besides family and friends would find them at a site address based on their unusual last name, they went ahead--only to find that they had a following of strangers, too.

Here's a clip from an article and interview from AOL Living that you can read in full here:

Now the book has been republished, this time by publishing giant Harper Collins, and is filled with greater detail. A journal of Elena's last days -- written for her younger sister, Gracie -- the book brings two parents' love for their child from the abstract, unconditional love we all feel, to the simple joy of reading bedtime stories and singing lullab…

This and That

Amazon decided to release a free application in November to allow for downloading and reading books on a PC (Mac or Windows, though the Windows version will be released before the Mac version) instead of having to use their Kindle. Learn more at newser here.

Here's a clip from Crain's New York Business about why e-books are actually bad for bookstores:

"As the math currently works, each sale through a Nook is not just unprofitable but potentially replaces a higher-margin sale at stores," Mr. Balter wrote in a client note Friday. One obvious risk is that downloading books reduces the need to go into stores, he said.

Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Fassler wrote to clients Friday that the move to digital formats "clearly challenges Barnes & Noble's store-based model."

See the full text of Analysts Warn Booksellers of E-book Peril here.

Personally, I agree in the sense that I do spend more money by going to a physical Barnes & Noble store and browsing th…

Sealed and Delivered by Jill Monroe

[Full disclaimer: I'm a participant in the Harlequin Ambassadors program, where I receive free books to share with others, respond to surveys, and receive e-mails with samples of books or full books. This is a program open to every resident of the United States. I also often read the free online books available to all at Harlequin's site. My review of the following book isn't influenced by my participation in the Harlequin Ambassadors program or the free items available on Harlequin's site.]

Oh, the irony of needing to give this disclosure so soon after saying that I would as needed! One of the reasons I noted "if" I ever give a review of a Harlequin is that most of them are exactly the same. If you like, say, one Harlequin Presents, you'll like 80% of them. There isn't usually enough different about an individual title worth generating a review, in my opinion.

Then I read Sealed and Delivered by Jill Monroe (2009), which is a saucy, spirited Harl…

Storytime at Barnes & Noble

Maya and I went to storytime at one of our local Barnes & Noble stores on Saturday at 5 p.m. They advertised having a special Halloween storytime.

A lovely witch read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak while her co-worker, dressed as Max, said his lines from the story.

Maya didn't wear a Halloween costume, though quite a few kids did. She accepted her paper crown, like the one Max has in the book, quite happily, though she didn't participate in the "rumpus" (think musical chairs with pieces of paper on the floor in place of chairs) or the parade through the story.

Maya hadn't been to a bookstore in a long time, so, of course, I just had to buy her three books and a couple of bookmarks!

We had fun, and I'm glad Maya is feeling better.

I'm sure we'll be at The Polar Express storytime in December, too. . . .

Winner of Dinner with Anna Karenina

holdenj is the winner of my copy of Dinner with Anna Karenina--and a few other suprises that will be going into the package as soon as I have a mailing address.

This and That

I think I've made the official switch from Google to Bing for my general search needs. My favorite parts of the "decision engine" are the pop-up bullets with more information by individual items as you look at search results and (yes, I admit this) the gorgeous daily photos of interesting places. I have yet to see a photo that didn't make me want to immediately visit the place in question!

Think you want to be a librarian because you're an American who likes to read? Well, no surprise to those of us in the trenches--there are no jobs. And, according to Library Journal's Placement & Salaries 2009, starting salaries fell from $42,361 in 2007 to $41,579 in 2008, the most recent reporting period. (I would expect another drop when the 2009 data comes in next year with the worsened economic conditions here.)

Of course, my starting job out of library school in early 1995 was a temp job with no benefits for $8.25/hour. . . . Not sure there is such a thing as …

Reading with Maya

My five-year-old daughter, Maya, is sick. We've been enjoying reading the following books over and over and over and over again during the past couple of days. I'm hoping to switch to a few other children's books for the weekend!

Maya does a lot of the reading on this one. Dr. Seuss is the king of the children's book rhymes.

Fancy Nancy rules. . . .

I admit that Skippyjon Jones doesn't appeal to me, something about reading these books aloud is stressful for my tongue, but all that matters is that Maya loves him! And the idea of a cute little cat wanting to be a chihuahua appeals to me, a dog person.

We're actually reading a collection of four Scooby-Doo stories in one volume. This is just one of the stories. Who doesn't love Scooby-Doo??

My Wicked Vampire by Nina Bangs

My Wicked Vampire (2009) is the latest in Nina Bangs' Castle of Dark Dreams series. If you've enjoyed previous entries in the series, this one won't disappoint, and, if you haven't read anything else in the series, you won't feel confused if you start with this book.

Here's the synopsis from Barnes &

The Castle of Dark Dreams is just part of an adult theme park, right? The most decadent attraction in a place where people go to play out their wildest erotic fantasies. Holgarth isn't really a wacky wizard, and Sparkle Stardust doesn't actually create cosmic chaos by hooking up completely mismatched couples. And that naked guy chained up in the dungeon? No way he's a vampire.

Wrong…dead wrong, as botanist Cinn Airmid is about to find out. It's up to her to save the night feeder's sanity, but to do that she'll have to get close to the most dangerously sexy male she's ever encountered. And one look in Dacian's haunted bla…

This and That

Only a couple more days to comment on my Dinner with Anna Karenina post in order to possibly win my copy. Only one person has commented so far, leaving pretty good chances if you decide to comment!

I thought this was an intriguing article in The New York Times. When Parents are Too Toxic to Tolerate includes this:

The topic gets little, if any, attention in standard textbooks or in the psychiatric literature, perhaps reflecting the common and mistaken notion that adults, unlike children and the elderly, are not vulnerable to such emotional abuse.

All too often, I think, therapists have a bias to salvage relationships, even those that might be harmful to a patient. Instead, it is crucial to be open-minded and to consider whether maintaining the relationship is really healthy and desirable.

Interesting point about therapists being geared to saving relationships, I thought.

Or maybe the article just appeals to me because I'm miffed with my own mom right now--or because we went through h…

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

I followed the controversy regarding Alice Hoffman's Twitter response to what she considered a spoiler review of her novel The Story Sisters (2009) with interest. Read my blog entry on that topic here.

Then I let the book sit for a while before doing my own reading. I like to form my own opinions, and I knew I was running a 50/50 with this book because when Hoffman is "on," she's the best. When she's not, she's awful.

I put The Story Sisters in the awful category. And I would suggest a different editor for future books because, not only was the story all over the place in a most distracting manner, paragraphs also routinely changed focus at random. So, I can't even say "well-written," not even close. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this was someone's first novel, even, instead of the product of a very successful veteran author.

From the publisher, as per Barnes &

Her new novel, The Story Sisters, charts the lives o…

Most Romantic Hero?

Who is your favorite romantic hero from a novel? I've always liked Mr. Darcy (who doesn't, right?), but I'm also rather fond of Wrath and Phury from J.R. Ward's novels.

Mills & Boon, part of Harlequin Enterprises, ran a survey of their British readers. You can see the coverage of the survey from the Telegraph here.

The title of the article is Romantic Heroes: Here's to You, Mr. Rochester. Yup, Rochester won. Interesting. I think Harlequin needs to run an American survey because I don't think he would win here. What do you think?

Here's the top five (and, yes, I admit that I don't even know who number two is!!):

1. Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

2. Richard Sharpe of the Sharpe series by Richard Cornwell

3. Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

4. Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

5. Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Mercenary by Cherry Adair

[Remember to leave a comment on my blog entry about Dinner with Anna Karenina by October 23 for a chance to win my copy of the book!]

Here's the synopsis for The Mercenary by Cherry Adair (2008) from Barnes &

Victoria Jones was a lousy liar. Not that the sensible bookkeeper was accustomed to lying--or anything else that would have disrupted her safe, dull existence. But her world took a terrifying turn when her twin brother, Alex, an agent for T-FLAC, the elite antiterrorist task force, went missing.

Now she'll do anything to find him...lie, cheat, even subject herself to the predatory advances of Alex's T-FLAC partner, Marc Savin, if it will help get her brother home safe.

But trusting the sexy, brooding operative might just be the risk of a lifetime.

The Mercenary is back, and better than ever!

I wouldn't say there was anything terribly unique about this book--quiet, introspective heroine approaches strong-willed, burned-out hero to shame/guilt him into help…

Helping the Children of Africa Blog

I'm featuring Tiffany's blog, Helping the Children of Africa, today because she has a couple of special donation opportunities available right now.

She's running a drive to buy bunk beds for the Good Samaritan Kids in Uganda. Bunk beds cost $35 (U.S. dollars), though you can donate in any amount through the Chip In button on her blog.

She's also running a Christmas gift drive for the Annamani Children in India. For $29.50 (U.S. dollars) a child receives two pairs of socks, two pairs of underwear, two banians, pants and a shirt or a dress, and shoes. Again, you can donate in any amount through the Chip In button on the side of her blog.

Tiffany also gives nice background information about Durga and how she became started in her quest to take in children, aka the Annamani Children.

Would you consider donating to one or both drives in honor of a friend or loved one's birthday, Christmas, Hannukah, or whatever you have to look forward to celebrating? Or ask someone to …

Dinner with Anna Karenina by Gloria Goldreich

[If you're interested in reading this book, leave a comment by Friday, October 23, at midnight CST, with a way to reach you. I'll mail my copy to a random commenter.]

Dinner with Anna Karenina by Gloria Goldreich (2006) covers the lives of five women over the course of a year, a year of major changes for all of them, during which they meet regularly for book discussions.

Here's a short section from p.395:

They were silent, remembering that first meeting, the crispness of the autumn air, their pleasure at coming together in this beautiful room after the long summer hiatus, and then their pleasure was shattered, their ease destroyed, by Cynthia's words, so unexpected and devastating. Her perfect world, so beautifully and expensively constructed, so generously and carefully maintained, had mysteriously erupted, and in the aftershocks of that eruption the fragile structures of their own relationships, their own lives, had been rendered newly vulnerable.

In the rush of the cha…

The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson & Martin Dugard

I'll just confess right away that The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King--A Nonfiction Thriller by James Patterson and Martin Dugard (2009) is my first reading of anything by James Patterson. Nope, I haven't read any of his Alex Cross novels, so I can't comment on how this book compares to anything else he has written.

I admit that subject matter was the big draw for me. I love anything to do with Ancient Egypt. One of my favorite term papers from college days was on the female pharaohs, and, at one point, I dreamed of being an archaeologist. I still read every issue of Archaeology magazine cover-to-cover.

Synopsis from Barnes &

A secret buried for centuries

Thrust onto Egypt's most powerful throne at the age of nine, King Tut's reign was fiercely debated from the outset. Behind the palace's veil of prosperity, bitter rivalries and jealousy flourished among the Boy King's most trusted advisors, and after only nine years, King…

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James (2008) is a fun contemporary romance.

Taylor Donovan is a hotshot sexual harassment attorney from Chicago working a case in Los Angeles and also assigned by her firm to coach actor and current People's "Sexiest Man Alive" Jason Andrews for his upcoming role as an attorney.

Taylor was hurt recently by an unfaithful lover, and Jason has a long string of women left quickly, hinted at more than fully developed in the book, fortunately. His character definitely comes across as someone who has become a better person by being around Taylor, and his sixteen years as a hot Hollywood actor probably don't reflect well on him.

Regardless, the more Taylor treats him as a regular person instead of a sex symbol and possible love interest, the more interested in her Jason becomes.

The friendships between Jason and his best friend since college and Taylor and her two best girl friends in Chicago, shown via calls and one vist by them to LA, a…

This and That

Anyone interested in a snail mail pen pal? I'm not a fan of e-mail, so I really do mean traditional letters sent through the mail. If you might be interested in exchanging letters, drop me a line or two at, and we can exchange addresses.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel won this year's Man Booker Prize. The award was announced just in time to increase sales of the U.S. release, coming October 13.

Here's the synopsis, as found here on Barnes &

In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power…

Dark Thirst by Sara Reinke

Dark Thirst, the first book in the Brethren Series from Sara Reinke (2007), just didn't hold my interest.

From the publisher:

When Brandon Noble and Angelina Jones first met, he was an awkward teenager harboring a crush on his tutor's sister. Five years later, Angelina is a streetwise cop who's sure she's seen it all, until Brandon comes back into her life—lean, handsome, possessing a strange, powerful allure. and a terrifying secret.

Brandon is one of the Brethren, an ancient clan of ruthless vampires. Like other Brethren families, the Nobles have accumulated great wealth and prestige, never marrying outside of their kin, never leaving the isolated Kentucky farmlands where they live, undetected, among their prey. Horrified by his birthright, Brandon shunned the ritual of the first kill, earning the Brethren's lasting wrath. But the exhilarating passion he and Angelina share rouses the primitive impulses he has tried so hard to deny. And even…

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, translated by Anne Born, (2003 in Norwegian, 2007 in English) has won so many awards and received so much critical acclaim that the mind boggles. And, amazingly enough, considering my track record, I loved this book.

My personal takeaways, which I consider connected, from the book (and don't all great books mean something different to every reader?): 1--We are shaped the most by those we love who disappoint us the most. Absence defines us. 2--There's a great, very brief exchange between the narrator and his daughter about Charles Dickens' David Copperfield along the lines of the great fear being that maybe you aren't the hero/central character in the tale of your own life.

Out Stealing Horses is filled with great descriptions and pragmatic, breathtaking insights. The location--rural Norway in winter--in which the narrator, a sixty-seven-year-old widower, is reflecting back on when he was fifteen, parallels his own stoic isolati…

This and That

October is National Information Literacy Awareness Month in the United States. See the full text of President Obama's proclamation here.

Here's my favorite portion:

“Though we may know how to find the information we need, we must also know how to evaluate it. Over the past decade, we have seen a crisis of authenticity emerge. We now live in a world where anyone can publish an opinion or perspective, whether true or not, and have that opinion amplified within the information marketplace. At the same time, Americans have unprecedented access to the diverse and independent sources of information, as well as institutions such as libraries and universities, that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise.”

German publisher Karl-Dietrich Wolff, set to speak at Vassar College and Rutgers University last month, was instead denied entry into the United States. Apparently, his visa was revoked in 2003, which he didn't realize until he was held and questioned at JFK Ai…

Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhaton

I'm probaby dating myself here (I'm currently 39), but did you ever read one of those books as a teen where you chose the path of the story? At the end of each short section, you as the reader had a decision to make, and then you turned to the next section of the book based on which decision you made.

That's the exact premise of the novel Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton. You, as the reader making the selections, have just graduated from high school at the beginning of the story. Do you head off to college with your boyfriend or do you decide to ditch college and the boyfriend to travel?

Of course, you can read the book several different times, choosing different paths along the way.

I enjoy McElhatton's take on the world and writing style, so I loved this book. And I had to laugh that the "ending" on the story path I chose first is exactly the kind of life I can imagine for myself if I didn't have the one I have now in my real life. Kin…

Porridge Papers

I had the chance to go to Porridge Papers Papermill & Letterpress Studio in Lincoln yesterday. Although this was my first, and definitely not last, visit to the store, they're actually celebrating their sixteenth anniversary this month. Good timing on my part because that meant 16% off of my purchase!

In addition to having the letterpress on-site, they have a retail store with ready-made products by them and by other small letterpress studios. Danger--fun shopping!

The next time I need invitations for some event, I'll definitely be contacting Porridge Papers.

And to those of you who are my pen pals, I'll let you know when I'm using paper or a card purchased from Porridge Papers, and whether they or another independent studio made the product.

You can see their site and blog here.

Burning Wild by Christine Feehan

Burning Wild, the third book in the Leopard Series from Christine Feehan (2009), isn't at all what I expected. The book is much deeper and more emotionally interesting than I expected from a Feehan book.

There's a nice build-up where we learn about hero Jake's abusive childhood and the intial two years that Jake and heroine Emma live together in a platonic relationship. They're raising two children together--his son from a woman who dies while pregnant in the same car crash (different car) where Emma's husband dies and her daughter from her husband. While pregnant, injured from the crash, and poor and alone, Emma goes home from the hospital with Jake, who pulled her from the car and manipulated her into trusting him, and his premature son.

Fast-forward two years to the major portion of the book, when Emma's ready to love again, and Jake is ready to love for the first time.

There's plenty about Jake learning to control his leopard self, Emma blossoming, and …

More Thoughts on Books

I'm always thinking later of something I wish I had mentioned in a blog posting, or I have something else come along that would have been nice to include. So, I'm starting a new "whenever" posting with that sort of information, always titled More Thoughts on Books.

After reading The Blue Notebook (see my review here), I kept thinking about the real girl author James Levine saw and wishing he could have found a way to help her. Yes, the fictional characters in the book are based on a composite of what he saw, plus his imagination/creative license, but there was one girl who actually had a notebook.

What could he have done? "Bought" her in order to adopt her? How would he have gotten her into the United States? And where would she have stayed if left in India?

I don't know the answers, but I'm trying to do something for someone by sponsoring an Indian orphan through the Annamani Children site. Take a look, and maybe you'll feel one or more of…