Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Thingers: Banned Books Week

From The Boston Bibliophile - For this week's Tuesday Thingers, I've copied the list of the most-challenged books of the 1990s straight from the ALA website. Highlight what you've read, and italicize what you have in your LT library.

This week is Banned Books Week. I have bolded what I've read and put comments to the right of some. I am very amazed at some of the books on this list. And have been planning on reading some of these with my kids even (marked with Kids list )!

Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Kids list
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giver by Lois Lowry
It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker On my list to read
Sex by Madonna
Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle Kids list
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
The Goats by Brock Cole
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Blubber by Judy Blume Loved this book!
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
Final Exit by Derek Humphry
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
Deenie by Judy Blume
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
Cujo by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume We own this!
Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
Fade by Robert Cormier
Guess What? by Mem Fox
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Native Son by Richard Wright
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Jack by A.M. Homes
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
Carrie by Stephen King
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
Family Secrets by Norma Klein
Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain Kids list
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
Private Parts by Howard Stern
Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
Sex Education by Jenny Davis
The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Which ones have you read? Which ones on the list surprise you? What does seeing this list and knowing it's Banned Book Week mean to you? Click here to see what others have to say.

Weekly Geeks #19: Top 2008 Published Books

I am joining the Weekly Geeks! I've always considered myself a geek so this fits right with me! Each week there will be a different 'theme'. One week might be “catch up on your library books” week and the next might be “redecorate your blog week” or “organize your challenges” week or “catch up on your reviews” week. It’ll be fairly bookblogocentric, but not exclusively.

I am joining in on the 19th theme, thus the #19 in the header. The challenge this week is to list my top books published in 2008.

To figure this out, I had to sort through my Library Thing listing. I sorted on 2008, then on the rating. Anything that received 5 stars and was published in 2008 according to LT is listed below. My review, if completed on this blog, is linked to the title.

Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb
The Appeal by John Grisham
Takeover by Lisa Black
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
The Accident Man by Tom Cain
Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner
Fractured by Karin Slaughter
YA: Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Non-Fiction: Mistaken Identity by Don & Susie Van Ryn

I'm excited to see what other geeks have in their top published books in 2008.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Book to Movie: Secret Life of Bees

I read Sue Monk Kidd's book, Secret Life of Bees, back in 2004 with my book club. My book memory being poor, I don't remember many details of the book. However I do remember the emotion the book brought forth - it's still a strong memory today. I thoroughly loved the characters, worried about them, laughed and rejoiced with them. I was invested!

I just found out (yes, been living under a rock) that The Secret Life of Bees movie is coming out in October in the theatre. It stars Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning, Alicia Keys and many others. You can see the trailer and a bunch of other information on the movie here.

I don't usually like watching movies of books I've loved. Most either disappoint me or have me comparing the movie to the book throughout, which really ruins the movie for me. However, with the distance between the reading and the movie, and the emotion that even thinking about this book brings me, I think I want to go see this one. It also helps that I love Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson and who doesn't think Dakota Fanning is a marvelous actor?

Have you read The Secret Life of Bees? (If not, I highly recommend you do as well as all her other books which I enjoyed just as much!) What did you think of The Secret Life of Bees? Will you be seeing the movie?

Mailbox Monday

The doorbell just rang upstairs which means the UPS man has left me a package! Woohoo!!!

I ran upstairs, tore open the package and found One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling from Hachette Books! A big thanks to Hachette for sending me this book to read and review!

From the back of the book:
Nora Peterson is determined to make this Christmas perfect. Next year her twin teenagers will be off at college, and their lives will never be quite the same. With her husband delayed on a business trip abroad, Nora's nerves are already frazzled when she gets the news of a car accident that will not only change the Petersons' lives forever, but also those of another family whom they've never met.

As a nurse, Jenna Montgomery has always struggled with balancing her personal and professional life. Her daughter, Heather, has suffered from a heart defect for most of her life. Now that Heather is twenty years old and still on the organ transplant waiting list, Jenna must find a way to accept that this is likely their last Christmas together. Then the miracle that Jenna has desperately prayed for becomes a reality in an instant, and Heather's health is restored.

While Nora struggles with depression and grief, Jenna discovers that miracles aren't always easy to receive.

I've also received two other books in the past week that I want to share.

Red Sea by E.A. Benedek is a book I will be hosting for TLC Book Tours in October. I am excited to read this book! Thanks to St. Martins Press for sending the book.

From the back of the book:
Four airplanes are blown out of the sky…hundreds of civilians are dead, and the world is gripped by fear. As young American reporter Marie Peterssen investigates the attacks, she meets Julian Granot, a mysterious Israeli operative who offers her an enticing lead—one that points them to maverick FBI agent Morgan Ensley and the ravages of war-torn Iraq.

Soon Marie, Julian, and Morgan discover a connection between the crashes and a devastating plot to detonate a nuclear bomb in a New York City port—and time is running out. As Marie races to stop a sophisticated network of terrorists, she stumbles upon a shocking revelation: she may have a deep personal connection to the Islamic mastermind behind the attacks. Now she will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. But it could cost Marie and her team the mission…and their lives.

I received Live a Little by Kim Green recently from Hachette Books! .

From the back of the book:
Two bratty teenagers.
One disenchanted husband.
Twenty extra pounds.
This is the daily existence of Raquel Rose, a California housewife whose life is much less than she thought it would be. Until she receives the shocking news that she's dying and her world rocks sideways. Her kids stop taking her for granted. Her husband is attentive. And her picture-perfect sister - who has her own talk show - puts Raquel on TV where her story raises truckloads of money for breast cancer research.
And One Big Lie.
When her doctor tells Raquel that she's not sick after all (clerical error, what are the odds?) she's reluctant to trade in her shiny new life for the jalopy it was before the (mis)diagnosis. Soon, as everything flies out of control from the force of this massive whopper, she has to wonder: After forty-two years of existing for everyone else, what's so bad about finally living for herself?

I will be posting when I receive books in the mail. This serves to thank those who send them to me along with the review. And also shares my excitement with receiving the books.

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

I was very excited to read Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. I read her first book, Love Walked In, a few months ago all in one day and loved it! See my review.

Unknown to me ahead of time (I really should rethink my ban against reading summaries and book jackets), Belong to Me actually contains the same main characters as Love Walked In. We meet up with Cornelia, Clare and Teo a few years after the end of the first book. They have moved to the suburbs from the city and are trying to fit in. Cornelia meets the 'Queen Bee' suburban mom, Piper, and does not pass the social 'tests' of suburbia and struggles to fit in. However, she does make friends with the waitress, Lake, at the local Italian restaurant.

Belong to Me, as in Love Walked In, is written from different points of view. There is Cornelia's story of trying to fit in with the suburban women, working to have a baby and defining herself. In other chapters, we witness Piper's struggle with a failing marriage at the same time that her best friend is dying from cancer. The third point of view in the book is of Dev, Lake's thirteen year old genius son, who has always been an object of classmate ridicule due to his brains and curiosity about how things work.

The fun part is seeing how these different characters interact with each other and the rest of their families. It's also the emotional part. I easily empathized with different aspects of all three main characters. I was drawn in to Cornelia's desire to fit in without being someone she's not. I wanted to take Piper's pain away as she deals with all the negativity. And I remembered how hard it was to be a teenager without all the extra issues Dev has and worried for him.

With Love Walked In, I was hooked and read it in a day, getting so emotional along with the characters in the story. In Belong to Me, I did not get the same amazing draw and emotion but that could have been expectation management and not the book. Even without the level of intensity I expected, I still thoroughly loved reading and caring about these characters. If I had read Belong to Me first, I believe it would be a top read for 2008, but since it was second, I can only give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Still one of the best books I've read so far this year and I highly recommend it to all.

If you've read Belong to Me or Love Walked In, let me know and I will link to your reviews. If you read either of these in the future, please let me know your thoughts. I'd love to discuss it further.

To read a Q&A session with author Marisa de los Santos, go to her website - it's quite interesting. You can also read the first chapter of Belong to Me there.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Where did this week go?

I had plans for the blog this past week. I was going to start doing the Tuesday Teasers meme, answer the Tuesday Thingers question, review some books and generally talk about books. On Thursday I realized it was no longer Tuesday but I figured I would do the Tuesday items anyway and just be late. Well, as it's now Sunday and they never went up, what I want to know is where did the week go?

I don't even have a good answer. I did read a few books this week, watched excitedly as some of my favorite shows started back up on tv, but nothing was really accomplished that kept me from writing and reading blogs (and man! after adding all those new blogs after BBAW, I have LOTS to read now!). And, no, we've had no offers on our house so we are still a dual-state family.

But today is Sunday and I am joining the ongoing Sunday Salon meme of writing about what I've been reading and what I plan to read. And, obviously, to babble a bit!

I finished quite a few books this past week that I will be reviewing in the next few days. One, Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, I listened to as an audio book. We will be discussing that at the LOLAs book club on Wednesday. Not sure if I will post my review on it before book club, but will write it so my thoughts aren't clouded by the other members. My goal would be to add their thoughts as well afterward, but we'll see how organized I am.

Other books I've finished this week are Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos, Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz, and an ARC, Hell Bent by William Tapply. I enjoyed all of these books and am looking forward to writing the reviews.

Not sure what I'll be reading next for sure, but in the pile are The Good Thief by Hannah Tintl, Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein and another ARC, Any Given Doomsday, by Lori Handeland. I'm sure one of them will grab my interest this evening to start.

I am also investigating the whole audio book on the MP3 player thing. I know alot of folks do that, especially when walking or working out. As I don't own an MP3 player and just started exercising again, I am trying to figure out what works for me. I am not into listening to music much so have never had a reason for a player but can easily see getting more books completed this way. If anyone has any tips for me on this, I'd love to hear them. My library uses NetLibrary for the audio books so I am starting there on what models to research.

I'd love to hear what your reading plans are for the week. Hope you have a good one!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall into Reading Challenge

Besides taking pictures to celebrate fall, I am also joining the Fall into Reading Challenge hosted by Callapidder Days.

The challenge is simple - set a goal of what books you want to read this fall and then do it. So simple, even I should be able to complete it.

Since I normally just read whatever is next in the queue, I am putting the list here of all the ARCs and other books I've got to read. I am also including the books on hold at the library and the ones I've requested as my assumption is that I'll get all of those sometime this fall.

Hell Bent by William G. Tapply
Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall
The Beach House by Jane Green
Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland
Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein
The Good Thief by Hannah Tintl
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
The Condition by Jennifer Haigh
Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
The Killer's Life by Bill Floyd
Left to Die by Lisa Jackson
Redemption by Karen Kingsbury
The Space Between Before and After by Jean Reynolds Page
Midwives by Christopher Bohjalian

Click here to see what other people are planning on reading this fall.

Welcome Fall!

Today, Monday September 22nd, is the first day of Fall. But it sure doesn't feel like it! The high will be about 85 degrees today, I could not fathom wearing long sleeves today - even a blouse, and the kids are still in shorts! But, the calendar says the cooler weather is coming and I am excited!

As fall is now here, lots of my friends - both blogging friends and rl friends - will be celebrating in their kitchens. Pumpkin bread, spice cookies, apple crisp, soups all will be made by these women. Flashback: Fall 97I wish I was one of them. I dream of my kitchen smelling all spice-y, bringing forth memories of crunching leaves, drinking warm cider around a bonfire, or cuddling next to a fireplace in warm sweaters. Alas, the best I can do is buy the cider and warm it in the microwave. Or wear the sweaters. Suzy Homemaker I am not.

So, how do I celebrate fall each year? With pictures of course! Since all my photo albums are boxed up (gasp!) for the house showings, I had to dig for pictures of previous falls. Of course the ones I really wanted are not here but these are some of the non-scrapbooked pictures. To the left, there's my girl, just one year old, our first fall photo shoot.

Flashback: Fall 2000Next in our walk down memory lane via fall photos, we have my boy entering into the fun in the fall of 2000. He was not at all sure that day of the straw or the grass (the picture I really want to show you is of him in the grass and his rosy red excema cheeks - I'll have to dig it out next fall).

Flashback: Fall 2002Flashback: Maybe Fall 02Jump ahead to the fall of 2002 - getting into some more candids because realizing a two-year old boy doesn't do posed unless his sister is squeezing him by the middle.

Now, fall of 2008, I know more about photography, more about scrapbooking, and more about the fact that this is how I celebrate fall. But I would love to come to your house and celebrate fall with your apple crisp and cider if you want to invite me.

M collage 1 Family right side

C collage 1 Family left side

Go to Polka Dot Cottage and see how other folks are celebrating stepping into fall. And be sure to comment and tell me how you are celebrating!

Guest review: Drinking Problems at the Fountain of Youth

You may recall I posted that I couldn't finish the book Drinking Problems at the Fountain of Youth by Beth Teitell. I received this book as an Early Reviewer ARC from Library Thing and thought it was a novel - it wasn't. Thus, with my aversion to non-fiction (and fashion!) I couldn't finish it.

My close friend and fellow LOLA (one of my book clubs) member, Amy, offered to read it instead. She claimed she wasn't great at writing a review so we did a little question and answer session.

What did you think of the book?
It was good for that type of book...sometimes I think she was trying too hard to be funny; some of it sounded like how Carrie writes in Sex in the City. It looks like she has a summary - but most of the book has been around - "You're aging and there's nothing you can do about it"...we'll see what the summary says. First chapter was hard but it did get better in the later chapters - would switch it around or something, because some readers wouldn't trudge on through it. (M: Like ME!)

Did you find anything helpful in it?
Something helpful - more expensive doesn't mean it helps better.

Is it good for our age (late 30's) or would it be better for someone a bit older?
No, it's probably good for our age too.

What do you think the purpose of the book was? Just to commiserate on the aging issues in a humorous manner?
It sounded like she jumped from product to product and never gave any of them time to work....so it's more like "light/comical reading" rather than a "self-help" book.

What else do we need to know about the book?
There's a summary at the end that was excellent and maybe should have been at the front of the book. #3 Put on your face. #4 Do something about your hair. #6 Don't leave the house in that. You know Michele, you should read the book so you'd do those things and others. Ah, but Amy, you've been telling me these things for years and I still don't do them. What makes you think reading this book will change that for me???

Thanks Amy for the guest review! It's wonderful to get another viewpoint on a book, especially one that is new. If anyone else reads this book, I'd love to include here. If you blog about it, let me know and I'll link to it. If you don't blog and want to write something up, I'll post it here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I rousted the kids and tried to get some fall pictures like I promised! I will share some more but here are a few of the outtakes.

More outtakes!

More outtakes!



Thursday, September 18, 2008

Welcome Autumn?

It is 80 degrees this afternoon. My kids stayed after school for a running club to get ready for a fun run in two weeks and they are complaining it is hot. And it is, especially compared to the last week or so.

So why are we talking about Autumn? Well, it starts on Monday. And Lisa at Polka Dot Cottage is planning on celebrating. And I am going to join her. Why?

Because Autumn (or Fall as I say more often) is my favorite season. I love all the colors. I love the crisp air. I love sweater weather where we don't have to wear jackets over top.

Take all that together and I love Fall because it makes GREAT pictures!!!!! Everyone looks great in sweaters with the colorful leaves and green grass behind them. They have fun hanging out in the parks without the bugs and without being too hot. And having fun makes for GREAT pictures!!!!!

Lisa is planning on celebrating Autumn by posting how everyone is ushering in the new season. We'll all post about how we are celebrating on Monday.

So, to me, celebrating fall means I need to get out there this weekend and take some pictures of my kids! I feel some color coordinated, long sleeve, blues/golds/greens shopping coming on! Woohoo! (Well, woohoo on the pictures, not on the shopping...not into shopping.)

So, who wants to join me? How are you celebrating the beginning of Autumn? Stop over at Lisa's and join in the celebrating!

Interview: Eva Etzioni-Halevy

I got the opportunity to interview author Eva Etzioni-Halevy after reading her latest book, The Triumph of Deborah. You can read my review of the book here but know that I thoroughly enjoyed it! She has also written two other books - The Song of Hannah and The Garden of Ruth.

After reading the interview below, be sure to check out her website and all of her books.

About the author - Eva Etzioni-Halevy (from her website):
I was born in Vienna, Austria, but was fortunate to escape as a small child with my parents in 1939. We spent the war years in Italy, partly in an Italian concentration camp, and after the Germans conquered the northern part of Italy, in hiding.

Having survived the holocaust in this manner, we reached what was then Palestine after the war. I grew up in a religious boarding school, after which I studied Sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and later at Tel-Aviv University, where I was awarded my Ph.D.

I lived most of my life in Israel, but spent two lengthy stretches of time in other countries, one in the U.S. and one in Australia. Eventually, some fifteen years ago, I decided to return to Israel to seek my roots there.

I wrote many books and articles in political Sociology, both in English and in Hebrew. Following a lengthy academic career in various universities, I was appointed Professor of Sociology at Bar-Ilan University, where I am now Professor emeritus.

As part of searching for my roots, I returned to the religious orientation I had previously abandoned. It is this roots-seeking process that also led me to the discovery of the rich world of the Bible, and to the intention of bringing it to life for contemporary readers through the writing of biblical novels.

I have three grown up children: two sons and a daughter. I live with my husband in Tel-Aviv.

Michele: Why did you choose to write the story of Deborah?

Eva: The story is about the adored leader, judge and prophetess Deborah, arguably the most eminent woman in the Old Testament of the Bible. She was sort of a president or prime minister, chief justice and chief rabbi, all wrapped in one. This in itself, of course, is enough of a reason to write about her.

In addition, I found leader Deborah, and warrior Barak and their personal tale, as described in the Bible, particularly intriguing. The scripture tells us that when Deborah sent Barak to go out to war against the Canaanites, he did something rather unusual: he demanded that she accompany him to the battlefield. Three thousand years ago--a woman in the battlefield?

Very strange. I asked myself: why did he want her there?

Moreover, the scripture further recounts that she ended up going with him to his hometown as well. Yet she was a married woman, and there is nothing to indicate that husband Lapidoth accompanied her.

Long before deciding to write my novel THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH, as I read the story, I began asking myself: what did her husband have to say to that excursion?

What would ANY husband say if his wife suddenly went off to distant parts with another man, leaving him to do the babysitting? It makes good sense that this created marital problems between them. Would they be able to overcome those problems?

Further, I asked myself, what transpired between Deborah and Barak when they were together with no husband in sight?

These were the aspects of Deborah and Barak and their story that I found most compelling, and they prompted me to write the novel, in which I used my imagination to answer these questions.

Why did you choose to have Asherah and Nogah both be daughters of the king?

The Scripture also says: "Barak bring in your captives." This, too, started the wheels of my mind turning. At that time there were many wars and many captives, yet the Bible does not mention them. So I said to myself that there must have been something very special about Barak's captives, and in my novel I made them princesses.

Also, through them I wanted to show the meeting of cultures and religions, and that right was not purely on one side or the other.

How much of the story is based on the information in the Bible or historical documents and how much is pure fiction?

It is a story for light entertainment, written first and foremost for reading pleasure, and not merely for people who have an affinity of one type or another to the Bible.

Still, the novel is totally faithful to the Bible. Nothing that is in the biblical text has been changed. At the same time, the biblical account is brief and leaves many gaps. My novel fills them, and in this way fleshes out the story.

In addition, I did much research, and being so fortunate as to live in the country (Israel) where the plot of the story took place, I visited those locations twice and derived much inspiration from them, especially from Mount Tabor and the king's castle in Hazor, which is now in ruins, but still most inspiring!

How does The Triumph of Deborah compare to your two other books, The Song of Hannah and The Garden of Ruth?

All three are stories with twisting plots and suspense, "page turners" as they have often been referred to. All three are about strong biblical women, who lived in a male dominated society, where women were downtrodden: they had few legal rights and their position in the family was deplorable. Yet they managed to shape their lives in their own way.

What is special about THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH is, that, based both on the account in the Bible and on my novel, the heroine Deborah may serve as a splendid role model for women of all times and also for modern women.

Despite the difficult conditions under which she lived, she succeeded in "breaking the glass ceiling" and attaining an outstanding position as an exalted leader, who was highly revered by both men and women.

Much has changed since then, but the circumstances for women are still difficult, although in a different way. Legally, the situation of women has improved out of all recognition since then. Also, women have more options and possibilities open to them today, than they had then.

At the same time, today's women face great difficulties in their lives, which are not negligible. One of them is that of combining partnership with a man and motherhood with a career.

If Deborah could assert herself then, there is no reason why modern women should not be able to do it now.

The lesson that women today can learn from Deborah is: I can do it. No matter how difficult and limiting the circumstances, I can overcome them.

That does not mean that all women must become political leaders, or judges. Rather, the message in the Bible and in my novel, which is based on it, is that the limiting circumstances did not deter her from asserting herself and doing what SHE wanted to do.

So that present day women seeking to build lives of their own, may derive inspiration from her in whatever THEY want to do, in whatever field they choose to do so.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a novel about Tamar, the daughter of King David, she who was the victim of incestuous rape by her brother. But the novel is still far from completion, so there is no point in talking much about it.

Let's hope I will have the opportunity to tell you about it when it comes out.

Many blessings,


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Review: The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

I was blessed to receive a copy of Eva Etzioni-Halevy's latest book, The Triumph of Deborah, directly from the author. This book is fiction, but it is based on the bible story of Deborah, one of the more prominent Israelite judges in the Old Testament.

The book doesn't just talk about Deborah, though. Barak, the commander of the Israelite forces, worked with Deborah in battles against the Canaanites. And from one of those battles, two Canaanite princesses - Asherah and Nogah - along with many other freed Israelite slaves, are brought into Barak's household. The stories of each of these very fascinating characters are woven together in this delightful novel.

While I grew up in the church and have heard of Deborah, I did not know what information the Bible gives on her life. And I did not need it. Ms. Etzioni-Halevy gives great details and description on the culture and the laws in place during those times. When she described the times, there weren't lengthy, flowing descriptions of the land, the individual people, etc. Which is wonderful as I tend to get glassy-eyed with that type of writing and just skip over those parts. Rather, the information she included was weaved expertly in little bits within the story so that I didn't even realize I was getting a good historical picture of the times.

I feel like I know Deborah, Barak, Asherah and Nogah and could relate to the thoughts, actions, and feelings of all of them. I felt like I wanted to spend time with them (except for the fact that I am very happy with all the modern conveniences!).

I highly recommend this book. It has romance, war, women's friendship, and history all rolled up into one great novel. I think it would also be a great book for book clubs as there are lots of different paths and choices made that would make for great discussion.

Click here for an interview with author Eva Etzioni-Halevy! And check out her website for information on her other two books, The Garden of Ruth, and The Song of Hannah. There are also discussion questions for each book on the website.

A big thanks to Ms. Etzioni-Halevy for sending me the book!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Winners! Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts

It's time to announce the winners of Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts giveaway.

A big thanks to Valerie at Hachette Books for sponsoring this great giveaway!

Without further ado (I just love that word - ado), the winners are:

Congratulations! You should have an email from me asking for your snail mail address. If you didn't receive that email, please send it to me. Hachette Books will be sending you the books directly.

Thanks to everyone for entering! My goal is to visit all the blogs and I've already found some great new blogs to subscribe to!

Wordless Wednesday: Remembering Hawaii March 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

BBAW - My interview with Ana of Things Mean A Lot

One of the elements of BBAW that I've enjoyed already is being paired up with Ana who blogs at Things Mean a Lot. I had not read her blog before but I am thoroughly enjoying it. Plus, we interviewed each other about our blogs and I got to know her even better. You will too! We both answered the same questions, so after you are done getting to know Ana here, then click over to her blog and read what I had to say. I'm sure you'll find it quite profound! LOL

What are your two favorite genres of books to read? Do the two relate or are they completely different? How do they relate? Are your favorite to read also your favorite to review?

Ana: My absolute favourite is by far fantasy. My second favourite is perhaps historical fiction, although I haven't read it much in the past few years.

I actually do think they relate. Nobody has access to the past, so whenever someone writes about the past, they are recreating something that isn't quite what once was, but what could have been. And it's the exact same thing with fantasy. No matter how far-fetched a fantasy world is, it's an answer to the question "What if?". And a well-written fantasy novel is, in a way, something that could have been, because it portrays how people would have thought, felt and behaved if they lived in a world with certain characteristics. The world may not be real, but the people and their emotions have to be if the book is to be a good one.

Fantasy is also my favourite genre to review. It's still a marginalized genre in some ways, and when I post about my favourite fantasy books I try to show that they aren't quite as silly as some people might have assumed. Nothing makes me happier than having someone tell me that they don't normally read fantasy, but I convinced them to give it a try and they were surprised by how much they enjoyed it.

What made you decide to start a book blog? Did you stumble on one and liked an idea, or were you introduced to it by a friend, or--?

Ana: I started blogging more or less by accident. I had never thought to look for book blogs, but then I came across the first Once Upon a Challenge hosted at Stainless Steel Droppings, and I decided to join. What could be better than reading my favourite genre along with other book lovers and exchanging ideas about what we were reading? I already had a blogger account that I used for comments, so I created a blog and started posting my thoughts on the books I read for the challenge there. By the time the challenge was over, I had discovered a great community of fellow book addicts and belonging to it had become such a joy that I couldn't see myself leaving anytime soon. So a year and a half later here I am, still blogging almost every other day.

Have you had any books that were hard to review? Either you didn't like them and didn't know how to say that in a nice manner or just didn't know what to say about the book even if you liked it.

Ana: Oh yes. For example, I always have a hard time posting about classics. I'm not quite sure why that is. There's the fact that so much has already been said about them, but it isn't just that. I think it also might be because these tend to be books I've been hearing about for years before I read them, and I suspect that all those preconceived notions make their way into my mind and influence how I react to them – even if it is by making me surprised to realize that everything I thought I knew about the books was wrong. So sometimes I have a hard time balancing what was actually in the books and what I thought I knew before. I hope I'm making sense here.

Enjoying a book but having no idea what to say about it happens to me too. For example, it happened with Calvino's The Nonexistent Knight, which I read a few months ago. I ended up blabbing about Calvino's other novels in my post because I had no idea what else to say.

I often see bloggers talk about how enriching book blogging has turned out to be, and I think that all of us who have been blogging for some time feel similarly about it. So I'm not going to ask you how blogging has enriched our life, but rather what the most unexpected consequence of blogging has been. What surprised you the most about the whole experience?

Ana: Being approached by publishers and authors was definitely surprising. I know it happens very often, and I actually don't get many review requests compared with most bloggers, but at first I had no idea that this ever happened at all. It seems that more and more publishers are beginning to understand the potential of the internet, which is a great thing for readers and writers alike.

There was something else that surprised me. I thought I already bought a lot of books as it was, but after one year of blogging the amount pretty much doubled! I blame it on all those irresistible reviews by fellow bloggers.

Do you blog about things other than books? Why or why not? If you do, what other things do you blog about?

Ana: For the most part I don't, but sometimes I do mention things that aren't related to books. Actually, there are 52 posts under my "Random" tag, so perhaps it's more often than I realize.

I like posting pictures of places I visit, for example, or pictures of my pets. I also like to give my readers an idea of who the person behind the blog is. I don't share anything too personal, but some of my readers are fellow bloggers that I've come to think of as friends, so I like to share some of the things that are going on in my life with them.

I don't share more because I don't want to feel too exposed, and I want the main focus of the blog to be books rather than my life, but I also think that maybe my readers want to get to know me a little bit – I know I love getting to know my favourite bloggers, and their non-book related posts are often my favourite.

Do your family and friends read your blog? How do they feel about it?

Ana: Most of my family doesn't speak English, so they can't read it. But my boyfriend does, and he says he enjoys it. I think he thinks of me as his personal "book filter" – I read dozens of books and then pass him the ones that I know will be worth his time :P

We both have a long history of belonging to internet communities of different kinds, so he doesn't think it's weird that I mention other bloggers in conversations or that I think of them as friends.

How has your reading and/or reading choices changed since you started book blogging? Or have they not changed? Are you happy about the changes?

Ana: They have definitely changed, and I'm very happy about the changes. Blogging has made me become more adventurous. It made me venture out of my safe little reading niche and try out things I know I wouldn't have picked up otherwise. This resulted in some very pleasant surprises.

I was thinking that maybe it would be fun to name three books you haven't reviewed on your blog both would really recommend to our readers. And maybe you could explain why you'd recommend them in a sentence or two.

Ana: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole – hilarious, unlikely and unforgettable.

Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice – a lovely and heartbreaking story about childhood, loss and the imagination.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – one of the saddest stories ever told, and I mean that in the best possible way.

What are your hobbies beyond reading and blogging? Do you think you'll blog about these things at some point? Do you like to read books about those hobbies?

Ana: My biggest hobby besides reading is music. I love listening to music, discovering new bands, going to shows, etc. There are a few music blogs that I follow, but I wouldn't consider starting one of my own. It's a very hostile world for the most part, and I wouldn't want to be a part of it.

I do love reading books that have to do with music. It's a joy to be able to conciliate two hobbies.

Are there any tips you'd share with any readers that might be thinking of starting a book blog themselves?

Ana: The first tip would be "Do it!" It will be fun for sure. The second would be: don't get discouraged if you don't get many readers at first. Try to get involved in the community – join a few challenges or events, comment on other blogs, be friendly and genuine and receptive. Before long you'll feel right at home.

I wanted to say something about your favourite book blogger and favourite non-book blogger but not sure I want to include – might be hard to limit and does it really tell about us?

Ana: I can't pick a single favourite book blogs, but one of my favourite non-book blogs is Fabulist. It's great for music, art and just random cute and joyous things.

A BIG Thanks to Ana for taking the time to answer all these questions. It was fun to learn so much about a fellow book blogger! Thanks as well to My Friend Amy for putting this together!

Okay, now go read about me! And when you get done with that, go here to find links to other blogger interviews. It's so fun!

Tuesday Thingers: Common Knowledge Quotes

From The Boston Bibliophile - today's question: Have you ever added a quote to the quotation field in common knowledge? What's a quote you particularly like from a book, one that you know by heart?

Having just discovered the Common Knowledge information with last week's question, I have not really explored it fully. And that means I didn't even know you could add a quote! So I just explored that area - which was not easy to find. And the browsing is inactive right now. Sigh... I will have to play with it later.

As for a favorite book quote - nothing comes to mind. Granted I don't have a stellar memory, but I don't know that I note the lines when I read a book. I tend to take books and characters more as a whole than to see a tag line or even a fun quote. Wonder what I'm missing by not paying attention to that?

To see more answers to this question, and probably lots of folks who think differently than me, click here. Enjoy your Tuesday!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Book Bloggers that I love!

There are many book blogs that I love to read that made the list for the awards (given away Wednesday and Thursday - click to see the schedule and where to find the awards). And there are many book blogs that I love to read that didn't make the finals for the awards. For this first day of BBAW, I want to highlight a few of my favorite book blogs.

Booking Mama - Julie P. at Booking Mama reads many books that appeal to me. Every week I get numerous suggestions for my tbr list from her. I always enjoy her insights on books, including ones that she reads with her kids.

J.Kaye's Book Blog - J. Kaye is quite funny. She reads SO many books and in all sorts of genre's, I am sure she has read and reviewed one that everyone would like. She posts reviews by her children, guest readers, and spotlights others blogs. Not only is she a prolific reader but she is blogging all the time! I just love seeing what she'll talk about next.

Bermudaonion's Weblog - This is a blog I've just started reading recently and I so enjoy it. She reads such interesting books and adds just the right amount of extra stuff to her blog to make it personal. I am waiting for the post on how she came by the name!

Sheistoofondofbooks - 'and it has addled her brain' - Dawn's tag line here just cracks me up. Being too fond of books doesn't addle my brain, but lots of other things do. Dawn reads awesome books, has lots of guest posters and author interviews. It's always an interesting and fun read.

There are SO many more book blogs that I subscribe to (63 in all) that I could go on and on. And I am constantly finding new ones that interest me. Check out the other great blogs that people love by clicking here for the BBAW link!

Reminder - One more day in the Shoot the Moon Giveaway!

Tomorrow is the last day to sign up to win Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts. Thanks to Hachette Books for providing the books! Get all the details and sign up here.

BBAW Giveaway List

It's here!!!!!

Book Blogger Appreciation Weeks is here! It is going to be such an exciting week! Here's a list of all the giveaways happening this week. You are not going to believe the list! Be sure to check out all the giveaways!

Daily Raffles:
Monday--Books and Chocolate sponsored by My Friend Amy and Hey Lady! Whatcha' Readin?
Tuesday--Books and Going Green sponsored by My Friend Amy
Wednesday--Books and Coffee sponsored by My Friend Amy
Thursday--Books and Charity sponsored by My Friend Amy and Fashionista Piranha
Friday--Books and Movies sponsored by My Friend Amy

Win a Book Club Girl Hostess Survival Kit!
Do you find it's your turn to host book club and not only do you not know what to serve but you don't know what books to offer up for the next month's selection?! Let Book Club Girl come to your rescue with the Book Club Girl Hostess Survival Kit.

One lucky winner of the kit will receive:

* A basket of cheese, crackers, cookies and wine for up to 12 people
* 5 great book group books to vote on for your group's next pick. And Book Club Girl will then donate 12 copies whichever book is chosen for your entire group to read.
* 12 Book Club Girl mousepads to give out as party favors that night
* 12 Book Club Girl bookmarks to mark everyone's favorite passages
* 12 Book Club Girl coasters to protect your coffee table from all those wine glasses!

TWO SORMAG Goody Bags containing books and more!

A Special Pamper Me Basket from Cafe of Dreams!
From Avon Foot Works
~ Inflatable watermelon shaped foot tub
~ 3.4 FL oz Watermelon Cooling Foot Lotion
~ 3.4 FL oz Watermelon Exfoliating Foot Scrub
~ 12 count Watermelon Effervescent Foot Tablets
~ An ARC of So Long At The Fair by Christina Schwarz
~ A variety of Hot Chocolate and Tea mixes

A pre-made blog template from SNSDesign!

A Subscription to Poetry Magazine from Savvy Verse and Wit!

Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors
The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen
The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
John's Quest by Cecelia Dowdy
Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy
Acedia & Me by Kathleen Norris
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley
A Tale Out of Luck by Willie Nelson with Mike Blakely
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Exit Music by Ian Rankin
The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik
Gunmetal Black by Daniel Serrano
Isolation by Travis Thrasher
The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
Every Freaking! Day With Rachell Ray by Elizabeth Hilts
Dewey by Vicki Myron
The Shiniest Jewel by Marian Henley
Keep the Faith by Faith Evans
The Book of Calamities by Peter Trachtenberg
A is for Atticus by Lorilee Craker
After the Fire by Robin Gaby Fisher
Mike's Election Guide by Michael Moore
War as They Knew It by Michael Rosenberg
Fixing Hell By Col. (ret.) Larry C. James
Wild Boy: My Life with Duran Duran by Andy Taylor
The Last Under-Cover: The True Story of an FBI Agent's Dangerous Dance with Evil By Bob Hamer
Border Lass by Amanda Scott
Insatiable Desire by Rita Heron
Hungry for More by Diana Holquist
Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
Trespassers Will Be Baptized by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Trish Ryan
Never Surrender by General Jerry Boykin
Dream in Color by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, Congresswoman Loretta Sánchez
Beyond Belief by Josh Hamilton
Cobain Unseen by Charles R. Cross
Doing Business in 21st Century India by Gunjan Bagla
Branding Only Works on Cattle by Jonathan Salem Baskin
Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady, Orrin Woodward
How to Hear from God by Joyce Meyer
Knowing Right from Wrong by Thomas D. Williams
Pope John Paul II: An Intimate Life by Caroline Pigozzi
Pure by Rebecca St. James
He Loves Me! by Wayne Jacobson
So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobson and Dave Coleman
Move On, Move Up by Paula White
The Rosary by Gary Jansen
Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Right Livelihoods by Rick Moody
by George by Wesley Stace
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh
Dead Boys by Richard Lange
The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez
Sisterchicks Go Brit! by Robin Jones Gunn
Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky
With Endless Sight by Allison Pittman
Harlequin Titles: To Be Announced

Many other blogs are giving away books and prizes for BBAW as well! You can see the links to all of these giveaways here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Review: Fractured by Karin Slaughter

Picture it. You are on the phone with your spouse, arguing. You come home to what is supposed to be an empty house to find the door partially open and window glass all around. You look around and then go upstairs where you see your teenage daughter lying there with blood all around. And standing over here is a man with a knife in his hand! He stand up. You scream and take a step back, falling down the stairs. As he runs down the stairs, knife still in hand, you kick him where it counts. After he falls you jump on him and in an attempt to subdue him, end up strangling him.

Detectives Faith Mitchell and Leo Donnelly of the Atlanta Police Department are assigned the case. Agent Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is called in to check it out - the girl's grandfather is friends with the governor.

Is everything as it seems?

You'll have to read Fractured to find out! I thoroughly enjoyed the latest book by Karin Slaughter. I don't read the summaries before requesting books of favorite authors and assumed this was the next book in the Sara Linton/Jeffrey Tolliver series. But I quickly figured out that this book had other characters - great ones, as it turns out.

Agent Trent is quite unique - I love these type of books so it's hard to find detective types that are not familiar, but Karin Slaughter created a detective that is all his own. He has his own struggles that impede, or maybe enhance, his work as a GBI agent. Partnering him with APD Detective Mitchell brings out his unique-ness even more.

I truly loved this book and am putting it as the top read for 2008! As I am linking to Amazon, I read that this is the second in a series! The only book of Karin Slaughter that I haven't read, Triptych, is the first in the series. Ack! I am having breathing issues just thinking about reading a series out of order! But! I never knew it! It was a complete novel all it's own. There was a bit of a back story that wasn't mentioned, but as most of these detectives are not on their first case there's always something that happened in the past. So I didn't even miss it. However, I'm sure you know I will be requesting Triptych just as soon as I finish typing this review.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you?


Today is 9/11/08.

9/11/01 is a day I won't ever forget.

I was a wife of seven years. I was a mom of a four year old girl and a one year old boy.

I dropped the kids off at the daycare and went to work that morning. I said hello to my team and was working on my computer. A co-worker turned to me just before 9am and said a plane flew into a building in New York. I got a puzzled look on my face, said something about where was the pilot, shrugged it off and went back to work.

Then someone came by and said ANOTHER plane had flown into a building in New York.


We went into a conference room where there was a tv. The only channel we could get was a financial new channel. They were so confused and in shock. As I watched the first video, I was also confused and in shock. I sat there most of the morning with my hand covering my mouth in shock. And in tears. And in silence.

I never journaled or scrapbooked about that day or about the feelings, worries, changes that came with more knowledge in the coming months. I regret that. Because my memory is now clouded with the experiences, knowledge and distance of the past seven years.

But I do remember.

I remember where I was on 9/11/01. I remember what happened. I remember the people who died or were injured that day. I remember the firefighters and police who ran toward the buildings. I remember the families.

After I remember, I pray.

I pray for the families that will never forget this day. I pray for all the people across the country who will never forget. I pray for our country. I pray for peace and community.

I pray that the issues that breed the hatred for the United States are addressed and we don't cause any more. I pray that people across the world, including here in the U.S., realize we are more alike than different. I pray that God will not let me forget that He loves all people and they are all His. I pray.

Where were you? What do you remember? What do you pray for?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blog update

I've made a couple of small changes to the look of my blog.

I updated my blog header last night. I just had a generic header before and wanted to personalize it a bit. And, of course, I can't personalize anything without pictures - pictures of my kids no doubt!

I also added a picture of me. I had to go searching through the photo archives to find one that actually had me looking at the camera and smiling! Clearly I am behind the camera WAY more than in front of it. I think it might be time to get spruced up and have the kids take my picture. And I'm sure I get some of them with me in there too!

I was very excited to figure out how to take the border off of the pictures in the posts! I didn't like it and searched for a few hours last night for someone to tell me how. I couldn't find anyone else's posts on that so I just spent some time looking through the HTML code and playing around until I figured it out. I should have just started with that idea and would have spent lots less time on this little thing.

Finally, I added my signature to my posts. I felt like I always wanted to sign my posts like I am writing a letter or something and hopefully this will help. Or I may think it looks dorky and take it off. Who knows! Now, I wish I could figure out how to change the background of the blog without having to put all my other edits back in (like I would if I just changed the template in blogger).

I realize quite a few folks read my posts in a news reader and the changes I've made don't really affect you unless you stop by to comment. But I like the new look and, really, that's all that matters, right?!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

BBAW Giveaway for Readers!!!!

I know that a lot of you are book readers and not book bloggers. You readers are so important to book bloggers that you are included in the Book Blogger Appreciation Week festivities!!!!

Here are the details!

During Book Blogger Appreciation Week, we would like to take time to honor those who do not. You are so special to us and we want to recognize you for all that you do for us. If you are a loyal reader to one or many book blogs but do not blog yourself, this is the contest for you!

To enter, simply fill out the following sentence in 200 words or less and email them to Jennifer at literatehousewife (at) gmail (dot)com:

“I read book blogs because…”

It’s that simple.

All of the entries received by end of the day (EST) on Saturday, September 13 will be considered. Of those entries, the top 10. What happens to the top 10? First, they will be posted on The Literate Housewife Review on Monday, September 15 to help kick off BBAW on my blog. But it gets even better!

Those entries will also be sent to Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony! Josh has been a great supporter of book clubs and book blogs and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he was ready, willing, and able to help us honor you. He has graciously agreed to read them all and select the first, second and third place winners. The winners will be announced here at noon on Friday, September 19th.

Other than to have your writing be singled out by such a wonderful author, what what are the prizes?

The first place winner will receive a signed copy of the new paperback edition of Matrimony and a book grab bag containing 6 books!
The second place winner will receive a book grab bag containing 4 books!
The third place winner will receive a book grab bag containing 3 books!
How much fun is that? To whet your appetite even more, here is a list of the books you might find in your grab bag if your entry is selected by Josh:

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley
A Tale Out of Luck by Willie Nelson with Mike Blakely
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Exit Music by Ian Rankin
The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik
Gunmetal Black by Daniel Serrano
Isolation by Travis Thrasher
The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader

What are you waiting for? We love you and we want to hear from you. We also want the opportunity to give back to you for all that you give to us. Your views, comments, Amazon purchases, and well wishes are what keep us going.

I just know you all are able to answer that question and will be winners! I would love it if you cc'd me on your email to Jennifer, but at the very least, I want to know you've sent it in! We need some winners here! Get busy and send that email!

A big thanks to Jennifer at Literate Housewife for hosting this!

Giveaway reminder: Shoot the Moon

Don't forget to sign up for the giveaway of 5 copies of Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts! Click here for details and to sign up. The deadline is Tuesday, September 16th.

Tuesday Thingers: Awards

From The Boston Bibliophile - today's question: Awards. Do you follow any particular book awards? Do you ever choose books based on awards? What award-winning books do you have? (Off the top of your head only- no need to look this up- it would take all day!) What's your favorite award-winning book?

LibraryThing's Common Knowledge feature tracks awards; you can find it here.

Two things come to mind when I think of book awards. The first one is that I always shop the Young Hoosier Award bookshelf at the library when I am helping my kids pick out their books. Those are good books, usually quite interesting and my kids like them. The only issue is that those books normally are not in the school's AR list of tests (retention testing system our school uses) and my kids are definitely into making the most of their reading.

When talking awards, the second thought I had was of one of LOLAs (my book club) original members. She had a number of award lists that she read from and was always reading some unique books. She's quite a prolific reader so she was also able to read the more popular books as well. It made for some interesting discussions at book club.

I am sure the majority of the books I've read in the last two years (when I started cataloging on LibraryThing) are not award winners. Probably none. And since there's no easy way to check....I guess I'll never know. :)

To read other answers on award-winning books they've read, click here.

EDITED TO ADD: Based on the comments and Dawn's post at Sheistoofondofbooks, I changed my Library Thing view to include Common Knowledge:Awards and wow! I've read quite a few award winners! And, of course, quite a few that were on the bestseller list. Now I have a new toy to play with at LT!

Monday, September 8, 2008

I can't DO it!

I can't do it. I just cannot finish these books. They haven't grabbed me, haven't even looked to be interesting enough to keep trying and I am done.

I received Drinking Problems at the Fountain of Youth by Beth Teitell from the Early Reviewers Program at Library Thing. I have had wonderful books from that program and so was excited to read this one.

I thought it was a novel. Based on the description (which I cannot find now) I thought it was fiction. Kind of a laugh at the reality of aging while telling a story. However, it is not fiction. It is a collection of essays on aging.

Which is one strike against the book as I am not a non-fiction reader. However, I read a Nora Ephron book for LOLAs and told myself I could read it for LT. But it wasn't funny. I think she's trying to be funny. Maybe too much. Strike two. The third strike came as I realized there were just as many references in the text as there were words straight from the author. Maybe footnotes would have been better for me, but that was the last chance. I am done with it.

I did give it to a friend and am waiting to hear what she says. I do know there are other folks out there that liked the book so don't just go on what I say.

I have read many great reviews about Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan and was excited to find it in my library already.

Here's the summary from Amazon: In this tense, well-paced novel about belief, Kiernan explores what happens when faith and love test the limits of family fealty. In southwest Florida, college student Marshall Tobias is in search of something to believe in. He thinks he's found God and the woman he's always dreamed of when he falls in love with fundamentalist believer Ada Sparks. But Ada's against medical intervention for illness, and tragedy results when she sets out to help Marshall's 12-year-old sister, Meghan, overcome her life-threatening allergies. Switching points-of-view between Marshall and his mother, Chloe, Kiernan (Catching Genius) movingly portrays a 20-year-old marriage gone flat and torn apart by crisis, a troubled son, a daughter hovering between life and death, and the hard-to-discern boundaries between true faith and unhealthy fanaticism. She handles her difficult material respectfully. Most interesting is her portrayal of the well-meaning traps parents fall into when encouraging open-ended exploration of faith without context, or choosing to remain silent. The thoughtful themes, interesting characters and page-turning drama of this novel will likely make it a book club favorite.

I think what turned me off almost immediately about this book was that this college student just walked in, met the family, and spouted off how they are doing things wrong and need to do it her way. No ifs, ands, or buts. Maybe that's how teens are now and I'll have to figure out how to deal with it in a few years. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and keep reading but I just couldn't get past it.

Again, I know there are many folks out there that love this book as I've read multiple review of it, so it's probably just me. And I decided there are too many other books out there that I think I will like so why waste time on ones that I don't now.

I just couldn't do it. Let me know if you can and what you think of them.

Read aloud books

I always loved reading aloud to my kids when they were little. As they've gotten older (they are 11 and 8 now!) and became readers, we transitioned to reading chapter books together. Our two favorites are The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

We tend to read books together in spurts - the beginning of summer is a big time to start. We'll hunker down in the bed or on the couch, each kid taking a side. I'll read, they'll lay on me and we get some good talking and cuddling in. Unfortunately, we'll usually read one or two books and then lose the habit. We'll get interested in other things. Or our lives get busier. (Or I get wonky - maybe we've stopped a few times because I've gotten crabby and need space.)

Aside: One issue with the reading is that when I read out loud, I get sleepy! I start yawning, want to sink down into the couch or bed and just go to sleep. It's been an issue since the kids were little and I even noticed it last weekend reading to my 2 year-old nephew! So, we tend to do the reading the half hour before bed and then I go to bed early! LOL

With all the stress of the move, waiting on the house to sell, Dad being in a different state during the week, etc. I am thinking it's time to start another book or two. I think it would be good for all three of us to spend some time together at the end of the day. Maybe this will help us all get to bed a bit earlier and more relaxed.

But I'm not sure what book to pick. Do you read with your older kids? What have been some of your favorites? Any good ideas for me to pick up at the library this week?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Shoo Fly Pie by Tim Downs

I just love what I would call 'Forensic mysteries' - authors like Patricia Cornwall (at least her early ones) or Kathy Reichs (and CSI!). I found another one - Tim Downs! The first of his 'Bug Man' series, Shoo Fly Pie is a very fun, action-filled mystery thriller.

Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak (a.k.a. the Bug Man) is hired by thirty-year-old Kathryn Guilford, who is terrified of bugs, to solve her friend's death. When Polchak stumbles into the mystery of how Kathryn's husband was killed years earlier, the action kicks into high gear -- and Polchak finds himself on the run with his client from someone who will do anything to keep a secret.

I kept chuckling at the descriptions of Nick, the Bug Man. He's got glasses as thick as two coke bottles, his eyes never are going the same direction, and he has so disconnected with human beings that he considers himself a different species. While he's a little abrupt and tactless at times, the fact that he cares about people even when he really doesn't want to comes shining through the story.

An aside: when looking up the Shoo Fly Pie on LT and Amazon, I see that it's classified as Christian fiction. I have no idea why it's classified that other than it is a pretty 'clean' murder mystery - by that I mean, there's not any sex or wildly strange parts of it. But nowhere does it even mention church or Christ or anything. I realize that the real lives of Christians don't mention church or Christ in every aspect, but it struck me as odd to label this book as such. Why not just label it as a mystery and be done with it? Anyway! Now back to the review...

I thoroughly enjoyed Shoo Fly Pie and am excited to read the second in the series, Chop Shop, soon. I don't remember where I saw the recommendation for this book, but I did just read a good review on J.Kaye's blog about the third book in the series, First the Dead. So we'll give them credit! LOL

Rating: 4/5 stars

It's time to vote! BBAW!

Being that I completely missed the nominations this past weekend, I don't want you to miss out on the voting! Amy has listed all the finalists with links to their blogs here. Go check them out. Then go to this post to vote. You can also click on the button in the sidebar to go to the voting booth.

A huge thanks to My Friend Amy for hosting this great appreciation week and awards. She has done a HUGE amount of work behind the scenes and it's turning into a wonderful event!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Super Commenter Award!

I am SO behind on my reading of other blogs, but am slowly catching up. I wish some of my favorite bloggers weren't so prolific! LOL Just kidding. Anyway, I just saw that April at Cafe of Dreams has given me an award - A Super Commenter Award!

I feel very bad that I am so far behind and she still gives me this. Thanks April! It gives me the boost I need to get caught up and see what everyone has been reading and chatting about!

Here are the rules for this award, or actually, the one and only rule: once nominated, pass the love along to seven of your favorite bloggers who you feel deserves this title! Have fun!

Since I am a little behind I don't know who has already received and commented on this award already. So I am just going to highlight the folks that are Super Commenters on my blog - go check them out!

J. Kaye at J.Kaye's Book Blog
Ruth at Bookish Ruth
Bermuda Onion
Dawn at Sheistoofondofbooks
Lenore at Presenting Lenore
Lisa at Polka Dot Cottage
Koolaidmom at In the Shadow of Mt. TBR

And thanks to everyone who comments here! I just love getting comments and am very bad at responding (how's the best way to do that anyway --- something I've been pondering recently - email, same post you commented to, your blog?).

Thanks again April!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Shoot the Moon Giveaway!!!!

Thanks to all who entered! See who won here.

Valerie at Hachette Books has an amazing offer for my readers!!!

She has offered to send Billie Letts' book, Shoot the Moon, to up to five readers! I read this book a few years ago and loved it.

Here's a summary:
In 1972, windswept DeClare, Oklahoma, was consumed by the murder of a young mother, Gaylene Harjo, and the disappearance of her baby, Nicky Jack. When the child's pajama bottoms were discovered on the banks of Willow Creek, everyone feared that he, too, had been killed, although his body was never found.

Nearly thirty years later, Nicky Jack mysteriously returns to DeClare, shocking the town and stirring up long-buried memories. But what he discovers about the night he vanished is more astonishing than he or anyone could have imagine. Piece by piece, what emerges is a story of dashed hopes, desperate love, and a secret that still cries out for justice...and redemption.

I remember really enjoying this book and know you would too. I recently read her latest book, Made in the U.S.A. and reviewed it here.

To be entered for the drawing, please comment on this post. Be sure to leave either your email address or your blog address so I can contact you if you win. If you blog about this giveaway you will get five bonus entries. If you do blog about it, be sure to leave a comment with the link to the specific post about the giveaway on your blog so I can count it.

This giveaway is only for readers in the United States and Canada (and no PO Boxes, sorry). Last day to respond is Tuesday, September 16th.

A big thank you to Valerie and Hachette Book Group for providing this giveaway!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My cutie nephew!

I have to share some pics I took of my cutie nephew over the weekend. It will be so fun to be closer to them when we move!!! (Prayers that the house sells....)



There are a few more on my flickr account. Just click one of the pictures to go there. Thanks for looking!

Review: Sail by James Patterson

The latest book by James Patterson, Sail, is another good one! As with most of the James Patterson books I've read, it is very plot driven, with some character development but not much. This formula makes for a quick, interesting read - kind of like heavy 'mind candy'. One difference in this book is that the 'whodunit' is not unknown, but rather what actually happens and how the story unfolds is the adventure.

Katherine Dunne and her three children have not been much of a family since her husband/their dad died a few years ago when sailing with his mistress. Katherine decides to go on a two month sailing trip with the children and her former brother-in-law, Jake, to bring them all together. The adventure begins with Jake checking out the boat that hasn't been used since his brother's death. While next to him at the marina, the 'accident man' is watching to be sure all goes according to plan - meaning the family all arrives and takes off. Between flooding, some fires, and sharks, the family has quite an adventure. While the family is experiencing what should be their deaths, the 'accident man' and his client are enjoying life in the city.

I think while this is a good book as are all of James Patterson's, it did leave me wanting a bit more. He's definitely a good writer who doesn't write bad books, but I think this one could have had a bit more character development, a bit more suspense and it would have been an excellent book. If you are a Patterson fan, you will enjoy it. If you've not read one of his before, I suggest you skip this one for now.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars