Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday Teaser is hosted by Should Be Reading and asks you to...

1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page. 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!
4. Please avoid spoilers!

The light overhead flickered once; otherwise the only movement in the room came from the blinking camera light and his own periodic shifting to keep blood flowing to his extremities.
An hour went by.

--BoneMan's Daughters by Ted Dekker

This teaser is from an ARC so the final version may be different.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Author Guest Post: The Truth Lies in the Dark by Kristin Callender

Today we are joined by Kristin Callender as a part of the blog tour for The Truth Lies in the Dark.


Hi to all of you Shhh I'm Reading fans. Thanks for stopping by and a big thanks to Melissa for having me as a guest on her blog. I am Kristin Callender, author of newly released mystery/romance The Truth Lies in the Dark.

By now you may already know what The Truth Lies in the Dark is basically about. The main character, Amanda finds out that she was raised with a dead girl's identity and everyone in her life knew. Initially the only clues she had that something wasn't right were the reoccurring nightmares of an unknown girl. She has to decipher these dreams as she continues to unlock the secrets of her true identity.

In this story the nightmares and dreams play a big part. As much as they terrify Amanda at times, they also become a source of comfort to her. As she gets closer to finding out the truth, and the danger that comes with it, the nightmares transform into glimpses. She is comforted to know that within the dark secret there may be some bright spots, some happy memories to unlock as well.

A recent comment made me think about how the dreams were important in this book and also for me. I had said that I dreamed about a part of the story and couldn't wait to get up and write it. The commenter said that it was interesting that I was inspired by a dream and The Truth Lies in the Dark begins in one. I think that our dreams do tell us a lot. Not as a predictor of the future, but as an organizer of all of our thoughts and memories. I don't believe our dreams can tell us anything we don't already know, but they certainly can help clarify things you are thinking about and remind you of things you have forgotten.

It is not uncommon for me to dream about what I am writing. I have a very active imagination and when I am writing the story comes alive in my mind. I can walk away from the computer and pause it for awhile but can not completely stop it until it is all on paper. So I know that my dreams are a result of that unfinished story still swirling around in my thoughts and a reminder to get it finished.

I hope that I have inspired you to listen to your dreams; which will usually lead you to follow your heart. If anyone is interested in learning more about me, my book, or the Book Blog Tour please go to my website: http://sites.google.com/site/kristincallenderbooks .

Thanks again for stopping by,

Kristin Callender

The Truth Lies in the Dark by Kristin Callender is available on www.amazon.com/Truth-Lies-Dark-Kristin-Callender/dp/1604520140 and also on http://www.bluewaterpress.com/ .


A special thank you to Kristin for stopping by here today! I hope you all enjoyed the guest post and will check out the other blogs on the tour for The Truth Lies in the Dark.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

This Week in Books...

Even though my bookshelves are overflowing, I was feeling a little sorry for myself and made a couple of trips to the bookstore. Both online and in person!

--The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. I mentioned this book in my Friday Finds post and the author so kindly sent me a copy as no US publishers has picked up this book yet. She also signed it and included a wonderful note card! That also reminds me that I need to do another Friday Finds post...
--Still Alice by Lisa Genova from Borders
--French Milk by Lucy Knisley from Borders

--North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley from Borders
--The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins from Borders. This is for my classics challenge on Sandy's recommendation.
--Wake by Lisa McMann from Borders.

--Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This was a contest win at Presenting Lenore.

--Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times by Amy Goodman and David Goodman from Hyperion.

I got so many great books that I'm having a hard time picking one to feature, but I'm very excited to have received The Winter Sea since it's only available in the UK or Canada!
What did you receive this week?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Award Time!

Becky at My Thoughts...Your Thoughts? has bestowed the Proximidade Award on me! Thanks so much for this honor!

"This blog invests and believes in the Proximity - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award."

I am passing this award on to:

Fresh Ink Books
You've GOTTA Read This!
Kiss My Book
Books and Cooks

Review: Secret Daughter by June Cross

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin (April 24, 2007)
ISBN-13: 9780143112112
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4/5 stars

June Cross was born in 1954 to Norma Booth, a glamorous, aspiring white actress, and James "Stump" Cross, a well-known black comedian. Sent by her mother to be raised by black friends when she was four years old and could no longer pass as white, June was plunged into the pain and confusion of a family divided by race. Secret Daughter tells her story of survival. It traces June's astonishing discoveries about her mother and about her own fierce determination to thrive. This is an inspiring testimony to the endurance of love between mother and daughter, a child and her adoptive parents, and the power of community.

Secret Daughter is not one of those memoirs where the author chronicles their miserable childhood and then blames all the problems in adulthood on their upbringing. Instead, Secret Daughter is a story of family and love, of differences and similarities, and ultimately, understanding.

Cross had a difficult childhood, and her uncertainty about where she fit in really comes across without being terribly negative. Cross's writing is very honest throughout the book. She doesn't portray her mother as a terrible person, but she also doesn't sugarcoat the slights and criticisms she endured at her mother's hands. You can tell she loves her mother but wishes things could have been different. I love the following quote as it really portrays both the challenges and rewards of her childhood.

"Described from the ridge of adulthood, my childhood seems impossibly difficult.
Yet, no one who knew me in those years remembers a downtrodden little girl, and
I don't remember feeling like one. Indeed, my life seemed charmed."

Secret Daughter does a wonderful job of describing the feeling of the times during the 60's and 70's. Cross talks about her own experiences with relation to the relevant current events, like marches and riots, happening across the county. This was especially helpful to me as I don't have any first hand knowledge of the unrest during the Civil Rights movement.

As I was reading this book I was reminded of The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride. The stories are very different, but the theme of belonging and acceptance was central to both. If you've enjoyed The Color of Water I highly recommend Secret Daughter. 4 stars

June Cross's website
A special thank you to Paula at AME for my review copy

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Booking Through Thursday...Best Bad Book

Suggested by Janet:
The opposite of last week’s question: “What’s the best ‘worst’ book you’ve ever read — the one you like despite some negative reviews or features?”

Last weeks question was really easy for me to answer, this one I'm having to think about. I guess I'd have to say The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons. I know both of these books have lots of people who hate them, but I enjoyed them.

When I read a book like these I'm looking for a little escape, for a quick read that I can get caught up in. These kind of books provide a lot of action without a lot of thought, and sometimes that's exactly what I am looking for.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Today's Waiting on Wednesday is one that is coming out soon, but it has been on my wish list ever since I saw it mentioned at Presenting Lenore months ago. And, I love this cover!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Will be Released April 2, 2009

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeenyear- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she fi nds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday Teaser is hosted by Should Be Reading and asks you to...
1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page. 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!
4. Please avoid spoilers!

They came to a mountain town called "La Rumorosa" - named for the winds that whistled through the canyons - and stopped outside a small house of sand-colored rocks. A thread bare sofa and two living room chairs, springs sprung, sagged in the front yard, facing a fire of mesquite wood.

--Illegal by Paul Levine

Non-Fiction Five Challenge

Trish of Trish's Reading Nook is hosting the Non-Fiction Five Challenge. My non-fiction category in my 999 Challenge is over half completed, so I decided to sign up for this one as well!

The Rules:

1. Read 5 non-fiction books during the months of May - September, 2009 (please link your reviews on Mister Linky each month; Mister Linky can be found each month on this blog)

2. Read at least one non-fiction book that is different from your other choices (i.e.: 4 memoirs and 1 self-help)

My Choices:
4. Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz (review coming soon)
5. Lost Boy by Brent Jeffs (review)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Book Info:
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Audio Length: 7 hours and 11 min.
Publisher: Puffin (August 14, 2008)
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4.5/5

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole life has been one big non-event. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-butboring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into a new life, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

This is another one of those YA books that I had heard good things about, but didn't really know too much about the plot. Which, to be honest, is how I like a lot of my books. I want just enough info or recommendations to catch my attention, but I really like the story to unfold without too many preconcieved ideas.

I loved how the chapters were set up in this one. They were 121 Days Before...so you knew something was coming, and then 2 Days After...which is exactly how time is measured after something big happens.

I enjoyed Pudge's journey from a shy, uncertain kid to one who could hold his own with teachers, parents and friends. The other characters are fun, realistic, and people I could see myself being friends with. I've never been to boarding school, but some of the stuff they did seemed older than 16 or 17...or maybe it's just that I'm starting to forget what high school was really like!

I don't usually remember or write down quotes from books, but this one really spoke to me.
"If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our
smallest actions, but we can't know better, until knowing better is useless."
I really enjoyed this book and will be on the lookout for some of Green's other books. I never thought about last words before listening to this book, but if you interested in more last words, check out the John Green's Blog. 4 stars

Order Looking for Alaska

Saturday, March 21, 2009

This Week in Books...

I had a book drought this week, but the postman came though for me on Thursday! I was feeling so sorry for myself on Wednesday that I placed an order at B&N.

--A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy by Thomas Buergenthal and Elie Wiesel from Hachette Books
--The Simplest of Acts: And Other Stories by Melanie Haney from the author herself
--Crank by Ellen Hopkins from Bookmooch

--Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
--True Colors by Kristin Hannah
--Illegal by Paul Levine from

Today I also got an unsolicited book on golf, but since I am not a golfer I've passed it on to a friend to help out with that review.

The last couple of weeks I've been the most excited about the WWII and Holocaust books I've been getting, but this week I was thrilled to received True Colors by Kristin Hannah. I loved Firefly Lane, it was one of my favorite reads last year, and I can't wait to get started on True Colors.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Review: Honolulu by Alan Brennert

Book Info:
Honolulu by Alan Brennert
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 3, 2009)
ISBN: 9780312360405
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

In search of a better life, Jin, a young "picture bride", leaves her native Korea and journeys to Hawai'i in 1914. Much to her dismay, Jin is married off to a poor laborer who beats her, forcing her to make her own way in a strange land. Struggling to build a business, Jin finds opportunity and prejudice, but ultimately transforms herself from a naive young girl into a resourceful woman in a great metropolis. But Jin can never forget the people she left behind in Korea and returns to make peace with her past.

Shining light on a little known time in America's history, Honolulu is a glorious novel of the triumphs and sacrifices of the human spirit.

I've heard such wonderful things about Moloka'i, which has been languishing on my shelves for quite a while, that I was excited when a friend got a review copy of Honolulu. It didn't quite live up to my expectations though.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book, when Jin was a young girl in Korea. I found the descriptions of the different customs fascinating, and could really picture the living conditions and the limitations placed on girls. This part of the book moved really fast for me, and I didn't want to set it down.

After Jin travels to Hawai'i, the book started to slow down for me. I still enjoyed the story, but often found myself having a hard time picturing the houses and plantations. Maybe this is because I've been to Honolulu, and I have a hard time picturing it any other way.

Jin is a strong character, and her strength comes through, often in striking contrast to other Asian women of the time. I enjoyed how Jin's story was intertwined with the friends she made in Hawai'i, but sometimes I felt overwhelmed by all the secondary characters.

Honolulu is well researched and I would recommend it to historical fiction fans looking for something a little different. 3.5 stars

Order Honolulu

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Booking Through Thursday...Worst Book Read

Suggested by Janet:
How about, “What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?”

I usually read hyped books, and they usually don't quite live up to my expectations, but The Memory Keeper's Daughter wasn't even close. I thought the characters were flat and completely unlikeable. The book seemed drawn out and plodding at times. I thought the premise was good, but the execution didn't work at all for me.

What is the worst 'best' book you've read?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Review: The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano

Book Info:
The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 19, 2009)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, and they went gratefully. But the program took Melody's name, her home, her innocence, and, ultimately, her family. She's been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others--everyone but the one person she longs to be: herself.

So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in another town, she's stunned when a man confronts her and calls her by her real name. Jonathan Bovaro, the mafioso sent to hunt her down, knows her, the real her, and it's a dangerous thrill that Melody can't resist. He's insistent that she's just a pawn in the government's war against the Bovaro family. But can she trust her life and her identity to this vicious stranger whose acts of violence are legendary?

I love the cover for this book. Part of it is the colors, but I also love the open feel, the possibility of anything.

The story wasn't quite what I thought it would be, though. I was expecting a serious, tense story with a mystery-like feel to it. Instead, it was lighter and almost humorous at times.
The main character, Melody, comes across as a spoiled brat at the beginning, but by the end she was more likeable. Jonathan was very likeable too, for being a Mafioso, and that is my biggest problem with the story....I found it completely unbelievable.

The story is well written, fun and fast paced. I did enjoy the book, and I don't like everything I read to be based in reality. If you are able to suspend your disbelief it's a good story. I just couldn't picture any of the characters, the Feds or the Mafia, actually behaving like they did here. 3.5 stars
David Cristofano's website, which includes the first chapter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday Teaser & Tuesday Thinger

Tuesday Teaser is hosted by Should Be Reading and asks you to...
1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page. 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!
4. Please avoid spoilers!

George was fingering the amulet beneath the cloth of his tunic as he squinted at the face of the gatekeeper.

"Was your head crushed in battle?" he asked. Sir Andrew frowned as George's impulsiveness.

--The Plague by Joanne Dahme

This week Tuesday Thinger Question: Do you visit the memes section often? Have you visited recently? Have you discovered anything that surprises you when you visit the memes for your library?

Here are the current meme's available:
You and None Other. Books shared with exactly one member.
Dead or Alive? How many of your authors are dead?
Dead or Alive Comparison How do you stack up against others?
Male or Female? What gender are your authors?
Work Duplicates. Works you have more than one of.

I have to admit, I didn't even know this section was on the site.

I glanced briefly at mine and learned that about 90% of my authors are alive, which doesn't surprise me too much as I read a lot of contemporary books. I also thought this...Zombies (?)
None yet...was a pretty funny entry under Dead or Alive.

I also looked at my male to female ratio on authors, as didn't have any idea what this figure would be, and about 2/3 of them are female. There are also about 50 of my authors that aren't set as male or female, so I will work on updating those.

What do your stats look like?

WWII Challenge

This challenge is already three months in, but it's a small fairly small requirement (5 books) and I have been getting so many WWII and Holocaust books lately that signing up seemed appropriate. This challenge is co-hosted by Anna from Diary of an Eccentric & Serena from Savvy Verse & Wit.

My tentative list to choose from:

1. The Girl in the Green Sweater
2. Briar Rose
3. A Separate Peace
4. The Madonnas of Leningrad
5. The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
6. Those Who Save Us
7. Skeletons at the Feast
8. Out Stealing Horses

I have all of these on my bookshelves already, but if you have any other recommendations, I'd love to hear them!
What I ended up reading:
1. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen (review)
2. Resistance by Anita Shreve (review)
3. Let Me Go by Helga Schneider (review), audio
4. Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas (review)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Review: Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

Book Info:
Life on the Refrigerator Door: Notes Between a Mother and Daughter by Alice Kuipers
Audio Lenth: 1 hour and 11 min.
Publisher: Harper Audio (Sept 1, 2007)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Short Stories
Rating: 4/5

Claire and her mother are running out of time, but they don't know it. Not yet. Claire is wrapped up with the difficulties of her burgeoning adulthood—boys, school, friends, identity; Claire's mother, a single mom, is rushed off her feet both at work and at home. They rarely find themselves in the same room at the same time, and it often seems that the only thing they can count on are notes to each other on the refrigerator door. When home is threatened by a crisis, their relationship experiences a momentous change. Forced to reevaluate the delicate balance between their personal lives and their bond as mother and daughter, Claire and her mother find new love and devotion for one another deeper than anything they had ever imagined.

Heartfelt, touching and unforgettable, Life on the Refrigerator Door deftly captures the impenetrable fabric that connects mothers and daughters throughout the world and delivers universal lessons about love in a wonderfully simple and poignant narrative.

This audio book is very short at just over an hour of running time, but it packs an emotional punch in that short time frame.

When I first started listening to this book it made me sad. I think it's almost normal for parents and children to spend very little time together these days, but I remember eating together as a family almost every night for dinner when I was younger. That a mother and daughter need notes on a refrigerator to communicate is a sad development.

Once I got past my initial sadness at the lack of mom and daughter time and got into the story itself, I was hooked. This story is told in broad strokes, you don't get many details, but it still worked. The emotional intensity came through and I found myself hoping right along with Claire.

This audiobook has two narrators, one for the mom and one for the daughter, Claire. I really like audiobooks with more than one narrator, and this was no exception. It's much easier to distinguish the characters when they have noticeably different voices. The daughter's narration seemed a bit overdone to me at times, but I guess drama is the norm with a teenage girl.

I do wonder, though, if I missed something by not reading the book version. I wonder what their handwriting looked like, or if they drew each other doodles on the notes...The book is 240 pages, so I am guessing there is a lot of white space, with maybe a note or two on each page. If any of you have read the book, please let me know what the notes looked like.

This is a quick story that highlights the special mother and daughter bond. 4 stars

Saturday, March 14, 2009

This Week in Books...

It's time for another peek in my mailbox to see what books arrived this week.

--My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq by Ariel Sabar. This was a contest win from Fresh Ink Books.

--Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
--Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan
--The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

--Testimony by Anita Shreve

This week I am most excited about Briar Rose. This YA book is the retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, but it's set during the Holocaust. I have heard great things about it and The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, but I don't have a copy of that one yet.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?