Thursday, April 30, 2009


Thank you all who entered my 2 recent giveaways. I appreciate you all stopping by.

And now for the winners:

The Siam Nights winner is Kaye

The 3 winners of Girls in Trucks are nhertel85, nfmgirl, & Rachel. ***Update*** One of my winners already has a copy, so I've drawn for a new winner. And that is Sue W. Sue, and email is on its way to you.

Congrats to everyone! I will be sending you all emails shortly. Please have your mailing info back to me by May 3 or I will draw for another winner.

Check back next week for my giveaway of Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland.

Booking Through Thursday...Worse?

Which is worse?

Finding a book you love and then hating everything else you try by that author, or
Reading a completely disappointing book by an author that you love?

I would definitely say finding a book you love and then hating everything else you try by that author. If you don't like a book or two by a favorite author at least you have the hope that their next book might be great, and the reassurance that you have liked more than one of their books.

If an author only has one book that you love, it's disappointing to keep reading their work and not find anything else that measures up...

Which is worse for you?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review: Breakneck by Erica Spindler

Book Info:
Breakneck by Erica Spindler
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (January 20, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780312363901
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 3/5

Hot on the heels of their last case, partners Mary Catherine (M.C.) Riggio and Kitt Lundgren, detectives in the police department's Violent Crimes Bureau in industrial, blue-collar Rockford, Illinois, are called out to a college student’s apartment where a young man with no criminal record, not even a noise complaint from his neighbors, appears to have been murdered in his sleep.

The trail seems cold, until another victim turns up, and then another… each one striking closer to home for M.C. The growing list of seemingly emotionless kills leaves M.C. and Kitt little to follow—like the first victim, all the targets are young adults, kid-next-door types who’ve never taken a step outside the law. Meanwhile, the case starts to take its toll on M.C.’s personal life, setting her on edge with her partner and putting their hard-earned friendship in jeopardy. As M.C. and Kitt hunt a faceless killer, they are led deep into the cyberuniverse, where no one is who he seems and you never know who's watching. At the heart of this mesmerizing thriller is the relationship between two headstrong women as they struggle to balance their dual roles, to learn to trust, and to walk the fine line between upholding the law—and taking it into their own hands.

Mysteries are the hardest genre for me to review. Unless there is a crazy twist, or characters I love, they tend to run together for me. Most mysteries contain such similar elements that it takes something special to set it apart from the pack. Breakneck didn't have that.

Breakneck is enjoyable, and it's a fast read with short, exciting chapters, but there wasn't anything amazing about it. Maybe if I was more invested in the characters, as the are part of a series, I would have liked it better. Some of the victims are close to one of the detectives and this helped me get a better feel for her as you see her emotional response to the killings. But, overall it was a pretty standard mystery. 3 stars
Thank you LibraryThing for my review copy

Waiting On Wednesday

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

I am fascinated by tattoos, so I can't resist a memoir about a tattoo parlor!

Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink by Jeff Johnson
Will be released July 14, 2009

In this sharp, funny, and fascinating memoir, Johnson takes readers backstage at the Sea Tramp, Portland Oregon’s oldest tattoo parlor, where art, drama, and commerce come together in highly entertaining theater. Founded by the legendary Bert Grimm, tattoo artist to Buffalo Bill and Bonnie and Clyde, it’s an old-school street shop with a rich and colorful past.

Tuesday, April 28, 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!

Annie felt carefully around the lining of the jacket; then picking up a letter opener from the table, she ripped apart its frayed silk. Long expired credit cards, drivers' licenses, passports, all with her father's photo but with different names, fell out onto the hall carpet.

--The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone

Please note this preview comes from an uncorrected copy and the final version may be different.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Review: A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

Book Info:
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Puffin (May 10, 2007)
ISBN-13: 9780142408650
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3/5

After the Russian revolution turns her world topsy-turvy, Anna, a young Russian countess, has no choice but to flee to England. Penniless, Anna hides her aristocratic background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination.

Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly overwhelmed by her new duties—not to mention her instant attraction to Rupert, the handsome Earl of Westerholme. To make matters worse, Rupert appears to be falling for her as well. As their attraction grows stronger, Anna finds it more and more difficult to keep her most dearly held secrets from unraveling. And then there’s the small matter of Rupert’s beautiful and nasty fiancee. . . .

A Countess Below Stairs has a fairly typical fairy-tale plot and while I should have been expecting this, I wasn't. I don't often read the backs of books. I like to know just enough about them before I read them to interest me, but I still like to be surprised. If I had read the back of this one I may have skipped it. It wasn't bad, and I enjoyed it, but the fairy-tale, happily ever after stories aren't my favorite.

While the plot was predictable, there were some fun characters to help keep things interesting. Anna, our heroine, is feisty and outspoken. She added a bit of sunshine to otherwise mundane days in the household. Muriel, Rupert's fiancee, was wonderfully nasty. She is one of those great characters who I love to hate. Her nastiness was a nice balance to Anna's sweetness.

I'm a bit past my happily ever after stage, and think I would have enjoyed this one much more in my younger days. (That makes me sound old, doesn't it?) It's an ok story, but didn't have the extra something to make it stand out. 3 stars

Saturday, April 25, 2009

This Week in Books...

This week brought me books from a variety of sources. I received review books, a contest win and a few from swap sites as well.

--The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman from Paperback Swap
--The Everything Slow Cooker Cookbook: 300 Delicious, Healthy Meals That You Can Toss in Your Crockery and Prepare in a Snap by Margaret Kaeter from Paperback Swap
--Mother of the Believers: A Novel of the Birth of Islam by Kamran Pasha from FSB Associates

--Best Intentions by Emily Listfield from Simon & Schuster

--Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: Insanely Annoying Modern Things by Steve Lowe, Alan McArthur, and Brendan Hay from a contest win

--Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber from Bookmooch

I love the cover for Origin. This is one of those books that I picked up solely for the cover, but I was happy to find the description looked interesting too. I don't know what it is about this cover that I like so much...maybe it's the simplicity, maybe the warm colors.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Book Info:
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Paperback: 688 pages
Publisher: McElderry (May 20, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9781416903574
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4.5/5

Sometimes you don't wake up. But if you happen to, you know things will never be the same.
Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide.
Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.
Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills.
And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.
In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun -- and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life -- but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.

Not too long after Impulse was released I noticed it on a bookstore shelf. It looked interesting and was formatted differently than anything I'd ever read before. So I bought it, and then it sat on my shelf at home for almost a year. If I'd known then how powerful this book was I would have started reading it right away.

Vanessa, Tony and Conner are all normal kids. They have problems with parents, school and friends just like anyone else. And that is part of what makes this book stick with you. These kids could be anyone. Maybe you know someone who cuts themselves, or takes pills to make things feel better.

Impulse is very honest. The book alternates point of view, so each of the characters has a chance to tell their story. You really get a glimpse into their heads, to see why things seemed bad enough to try to commit suicide.

When I posted my Tuesday Teaser on this book I had more than one comment saying the verse style was intimidating. If this is what is holding you back from reading this book, please don't let it stop you any longer. The verse style is really easy to read once you get into the rhythm of it, and almost 700 pages flew by before I knew it. I wish I hadn't mailed this book out to someone else already, or else I would post a quote from it for another example of the style.

While this was the first Ellen Hopkins book I read, it won't be the last. I already have Crank and will be working on accumulating the others. 4.5 stars

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thank you!

Thank you so much for the wonderful awards that have been bestowed upon me recently! I truly appreciate them and love all my readers.

I received the One Lovely Blog award from Merry Weather and Sandy from You GOTTA Read This and Allison from Allison's Attic

The Let's Be Friends award was given to me by Socrates' Book Reviews

The You Don't Say award was given to me by Desert Rose Booklogue

I'm not going to pass the first 2 on as they have been making their rounds, but I do want to pass on the You Don't Say award as I love comments! (as do all bloggers)

A very big thank you to:

Lenore from Presenting Lenore

Thank you all so much for your comments! I love them all, no matter how big or small.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Review: Siam Nights by by J.F. Gump & Giveaway

Book Info:
Siam Nights: A Love Story by J.F. Gump
Paperback: 296 pages
Publisher: Sabai Books (November 9, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9780971485525
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5

Bad Luck Lady...She calls herself that sometimes. Tippawan is her given name but everyone knows her as Math. She doesn't know where her nickname came from, she just accepts it without question as a proper Thai lady should.

Math is a beautiful young woman in a mad dash to find herself. Her search takes her from the resort town of Pattaya on the Gulf of Siam to the beautiful city of Chiang Mai in the north. From the bed of her American lover to the arms of her dying father, she lives each day as if it might be her last. Join Math as she passes through one year of her incredible life.

I loved this book's setting in Thailand. Thailand isn't a country I know too much about, and what I have heard is mostly rave reviews for the beautiful beaches. Siam Nights introduces you to a different side of Thailand, one that most tourists don't see as it is populated with locals and their customs. I found this authentic view of Thailand fascinating.

Math is a complex character. In some ways she is the demure, contrite, proper Thai woman, but in other situations she is outspoken and brave. I found the difference interesting and honest. I think a lot of people behave one way around their families and sometimes very differently around their friends.

I found the flow of the writing a little halting at times. I think most of this was meant to portray Math's competency, but not proficiency, with English, but sometimes it was a little distracting. One thing I loved with regards to the language was in the inclusion of Thai phrases. They added another realistic layer to the book as I think some phrases would flow better in your native tongue than a secondary language.

Math is an entertaining and memorable character, and if you enjoy books set in far-off locales this is one for you. 3 stars

The Giveaway:

Mr Gump has graciously provided an autographed copy of Siam Nights: A Love Story to be given away to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to the residents of the US and Canada. Sorry, but my postage budget only allows for international giveaways occasionally.

Now onto the rules:
--Leave a comment here for one entry
--Blog about the giveaway and link back here for a second entry
--Follow me or add me to your Google Reader for a third entry. Current subscribers are eligible for this too.

**Please leave a separate comment for each entry as I will be using the numbered comments to pick my winner. If you leave more than one entry in a comment, it won't be counted.

Please make sure you have a email address listed in your comment or on your profile. If I can't reach you, your entry won't count.

This contest will run until midnight April 29 and the winner will be chosen by random and posted on April 30.

Waiting On Wednesday

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

The Prey series has been one of my favorites for a while, and it is one series I was hoping to get caught up on this year. Looks like I have my work cut out for me as I still haven't read the last one and the next installment will be released soon.

Wicked Prey by John Sandford
Will be Released May 12, 2009

Having spent the past two years in hiding following a daring and successful heist, a big -time robber is back in Minneapolis, having spotted the opportunity for an even greater steal. It's a couple of weeks before the big Republican party convention: thousands of people spending cash, which is flowing into a relatively inadequate Brinks warehouse, protected by only three or four armed guards. The robber's plan is to distract the cops by manipulating and alerting them to a possible assassination attempt.

Lucas Davenport meanwhile has problems of his own, targeted by a psychopathic pimp, who blames Davenport for the fact he's in a wheelchair. Only it's not Davenport he's going after; it's his innocent daughter, Letty.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Giveaway: Girls With Trucks by Katie Crouch

Thanks to the wonderful people at Hachette Books I have 3 copies of Girls in Trucks to give away!

Book description:

Sarah Walters is a less-than-perfect debutante. She tries hard to follow the time-honored customs of the Charleston Camellia Society, as her mother and grandmother did, standing up straight in cotillion class and attending lectures about all the things that Camellias don't do. (Like ride with boys in pickup trucks).

But Sarah can't quite ignore the barbarism just beneath all that propriety, and as soon as she can she decamps South Carolina for a life in New York City. There, she and her fellow displaced Southern friends try to make sense of city sophistication, to understand how much of their training applies to real life, and how much to the strange and rarefied world they've left behind.

When life's complications become overwhelming, Sarah returns home to confront with matured eyes the motto "Once a Camellia, always a Camellia" -- and to see how much fuller life can be, for good and for ill, among those who know you best.

Now onto the rules:
--Leave a comment here for one entry
--Blog about the giveaway and link back here for a second entry
--Follow me or add me to your Google Reader for a third entry. Current subscribers are eligible for this too.

**Please leave a separate comment for each entry as I will be using the numbered comments to pick my winner. If you leave more than one entry in a comment, it won't be counted.

Please make sure you have a email address listed in your comment or on your profile. If I can't reach you, your entry won't count.

This contest will run until midnight April 29 and the winner will be chosen by random and posted on April 30. The books will be mailed from the publisher, so US and Canada addresses only, and no PO Boxes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Review: A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (April 20, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780316043403
Genre: Non-fiction/Memoir
Rating: 4/5

In A Lucky Child, Thomas Buergenthal, now a Judge in the International Court judge in The Hague, tells his astonishing experiences as a young boy during the Holocaust. Buergenthal arrived at Auschwitz at age ten, after surviving the Ghetto of Kielce and two labor camps, and was soon separated from his mother and then his father. He managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive until he was liberated from Sachsenhausen in 1945. From teaching himself to ride a bike belonging to an SS officer, to sneaking a heavenly sip of milk, to delighting in the pony given to him by his Polish Army comrades, he reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit. Almost two years after his liberation, Buergenthal was miraculously reunited with his mother, and in 1951 he arrived in the United States to start a new life. Poignant and inspiring, A Lucky Child is a book that demands to be read by all.

I've always been fascinated by the Holocaust. I've been amazed by how good people could treat other human beings so terribly, and how so many people were able to withstand such atrocious treatment and conditions to survive. That such a young child was able to survive is even more amazing.

Mr Buergenthal waited quite some time to write his memoir. He explains in the preface that he wanted a little distance from the experience before he wrote about it. While this is certainly understandable, I think this distance from the events did come through in the writing. The story wasn't lacking in emotion by any means, but I didn't have the sense of immediacy that I've gotten from some other Holocaust memoirs I've read.

If you are interested in the Holocaust and life in the concentration camps, this is an easy to read memoir that gives you a glimpse into some of the most notorious camps. The books also includes a map and photos. I loved the pictures! Sometimes when reading I would forget just how young Buergenthal was while living in the camps, and these pictures helped remind me. 4 stars

Saturday, April 18, 2009

This Week in Books...

This was both a good book week and a good weather week. We got a little bit of rain this week, which in farm country is always appreciated. We are still a long way from getting out of the drought, but every little bit helps. Now, on to the books!

--The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth from Paperback Swap
--Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino & Ronald Cotton from Authors on the Web

--Angels of Destruction by Keith Donohue from Random House
--Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz from Hachette Books and LibraryThing

--Precious by Sandra Novack for a book tour

--The Blue Notebook by James Levine from Random House

I received some wonderful review books this week, but I was thrilled to receive The Blue Notebook. I may have even done a little dance when I opened the envelope. :) This book covers a tough subject, but from the description sounds wonderful, the cover is beautiful, and it benefits a good cause. All of the U.S. proceeds from this novel will be donated to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children

Friday, April 17, 2009

Review: Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler

Book Info:
Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: PublicAffairs (April 13, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9781586486488
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 2.5/5

When Jessica Handler was eight years old, her younger sister Susie was diagnosed with leukemia. To any family, the diagnosis would have been upending, but to the Handlers, whose youngest daughter Sarah had been born with a rare congenital blood disorder, it was an unimaginable verdict. By the time Jessica Handler turned nine, she had begun to introduce herself as the "well sibling" and her family had begun to come apart.

Invisible Sisters is Handler's powerfully told story of coming of age - as the daughter of progressive Jewish parents who move south to participate in the social-justice movement of the 1960s; as a healthy sister living in the shadow of her siblings' illness; and as a young woman struggling to step out of the shadow of her sisters deaths, to find and redefine herself anew. With keen-eyed sensitivity, Handler's brave account explores family love and loss, and what it takes not just to survive, but to keep living.

The illnesses that struck the Handler children were terrible and I can't imagine losing two children so young, but the heartbreak and grief this caused didn't come through in this memoir.

The first part of the book tells of Jessica's memories growing up. As she kept a journal, these memories had a credibility some childhood reminisces don't. However, Jessica's telling of her childhood felt detached and almost cold. Her sister's illness didn't seem to affect her much. I got the feeling she could be the child of any busy parents who didn't have the time for her.

This memoir is not told in a linear fashion, and this random sequencing of events is not my favorite way to have a story told. I find it hard to get to know people or characters when where they are in life keeps changing.

The later part of the book is told through an adult Jessica's eyes, and I found this part to be stronger. She finally discusses the emotional impact of once being one of three sisters, and now being all alone. However, the emotion in this part of the book doesn't make up for the lack of connection in the beginning of the book. I didn't feel like I really got to know anyone in the Handler family, Jessica included. 2.5 stars

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Booking Through Thursday...Windfall

Yesterday, April 15th, was Tax Day here in the U.S., which means lots of lucky people will get refunds of over-paid taxes. Whether you’re one of them or not, what would you spend an unexpected windfall on? Say … $50? How about $500?

(And, this is a reading meme, so by rights the answer should be book-related, but hey, feel free to go wild and splurge on anything you like.)

Hmmm, there are so many things I could spend mad money on! Books are, of course, always at the top of my list, but I could also spend some on clothes. Or maybe show tickets. I love musicals and can never see enough of them.

A mini-vacation would also be nice. I could use a long weekend away right about now! We've been talking about a weekend vacation to Washington DC or Arches National Park in Utah (how's that for two totally different vacation choices!), and extra spending money would be nice.

Or I could take the boring route and add it to my new car fund. Or buy books and another bookshelf to hold them all! If only I really did have an extra $500....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for my extra copy of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. And now for what you've all been waiting for...The winner is

NotNessie from Today's Adventure

I've sent you an email. Please have mailing info to me by Saturday, or a new winner will be chosen.

Check back soon for giveaways of Siam Nights and Girls in Trucks. Both of these will be given away before the end of the month!