Dec 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009 - Hello 2010

So we've come to the end of another year already. Where does the time go? Before I get into this post, I would like to apologize for being so out of touch lately on my blog. And I'd like to thank those of you who left me comments and messages in the time I've been absent. I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. The entire month of December has been a complete blur to me. I've had some things going on that have taken my time away from not only my daily postings but also from my books. Things are beginning to slow down a bit now and I will be getting back to my normal routine next week, just in time for the new year. Again, thank you to all of you who have kept up with me over these last several weeks.

This past year has been one that has broadened my reading horizons. Last January I mentioned that I wanted to read more mysteries and discover new mystery writers and I have done just that. I've really enjoyed the mysteries that I've read and I have so many more that I've added to my TBR pile. There are so many great mystery series out there!

Probably the biggest change in my reading this year is that I've delved into a genre that I had never considered before and I'm so glad I did. I finally took the big jump into the world of vampires. I've only just begun to explore their world, but so far I'm really enjoying it. Being a southerner, I decided to start out with Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Series. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Sookie and all of her interesting friends. These books have opened my eyes to a whole new world and I find it completely entertaining. I'm hoping to read the Twilight books this year as well.

With this new year, I'm looking forward to continuing my discovery of debut authors as well as reacquainting myself with some writers that I've gotten away from. John Grisham's recently released FORD COUNTY and Pat Conroy's SOUTH OF BROAD are just two that come to mind. I haven't read either of those authors in many years and their new releases have me intrigued.

I hope the coming year brings many wonderful books to all of you as well. I look forward to sharing my love of books and visiting you on your blogs. Happy New Year everyone!

Nov 22, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Being thankful

It's so hard to believe that Thanksgiving is this week! Since I was a kid, this has always been one of my favorite holidays, obviously partly because I look forward to our family getting together, which we don't do a lot throughout the year, and partly because of the food! Who doesn't love the food? I love to help prepare the meal and share it with my family. It is so nice to sit around the same table and be thankful we have one another. My family is quite small anymore so it just makes it all the more important to me to spend time with my extended family on Thanksgiving.

Another reason I'm looking forward to this particular holiday weekend is that I'm taking part in my very first Read-A-Thon! As you can see by the badge on the sidebar to the right, I've entered Thankfully Reading Weekend. This is an informal read-a-thon with no rules. It begins Friday, November 27 and runs thru Sunday, the 29th. If you're like me and you don't go anywhere near the stores this weekend, think about joining me and the other participants in this fun event. All the details can be found at Book Blog Social Club. I hope to see you there!

This is going to be a busy week for everyone, so I want to take the opportunity now to wish all of my book friends in the U.S. a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 20, 2009

Friday Finds 11.20.09

Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. It's a place where we can share books that we've discovered this week that interest us.

I discovered my find this week while visiting Marce's blog, Tea Time With Marce. The book is THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE by Heather Gudenkauf. It was released in July and as soon as she mentioned it in the same sentence as Jayne Pupek's TOMATO GIRL, I knew I would probably like this book. Here's a description from Publishers Weekly:

Gudenkauf's tightly plotted debut packs a lot of unsavory doings into a few unfortunate summer days in Willow Creek, Iowa. Seven-year-old Calli Clark hasn't spoken a word in the three years since a particularly nasty run-in with her violent, wife-beating father, Griff. During a bender, Griff suddenly decides to haul his mute daughter into the nearby forest, where they get lost. At the same time, Calli's best friend Petra goes missing, and a manhunt is launched, led by deputy sheriff Loras Louis, who still carries a torch for Calli's mother. Gudenkauf moves the story forward at a fast clip and is adept at building tension. There's a particular darkness to her heartland, rife as it is with predators and the walking wounded, and her unsentimental take on the milieu manages to find some hope without being maudlin.

What books captured your attention this week?

Nov 19, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Posterity

Today's question was suggested by Barbara
Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?

This is a tough one! I'll do my best to answer, however, I don't think I'm the best person to ask as there are many classics (Dickens, for example) that I have not read myself. But here is my opinion on this interesting question.

The first thought that comes to mind is that the world is such a different place than it used to be during the time of Dickens et al. It's kind of like comparing apples to oranges. The number of books published during Bronte's era was minuscule compared to today's world. That said, I'm sure there will be authors from this era who will be remembered with the highest regard, but I don't think that necessarily makes their book(s) a classic.

That brings another question - does a book's popularity constitute its classification as a classic? I think not. There are many books out there written by non-formally trained authors that have soared to the top of the bestseller lists solely based on book sales, not content or literal ability. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that or that they shouldn't have their accolades, but lets not confuse them with a classic author.

On the other hand, I've read books by current authors who have been formally trained and are considered to be great authors of literature, and I couldn't get through the book for one reason or another. I think the labeling of books in our era is a very difficult thing to do. I think a book's classification is relative to the time in which the book was written. By that I mean, there are labels such as a 'new classic' and to me, that's just another way of saying a book is popular. IN MY OPINION. As for the question, Are there any books I would consider to be classics from our era? I would say if there are any, there are very few. I understand people may not agree with that, so let me just say in closing that there are many current authors who have written great books that have made their mark on the world and they do deserve to be remembered, but for me, the classic authors are etched in stone.

I hope I made sense of what I was thinking in my head and answered the question clearly. This is a topic that could go on and on! What's your take on this question? I'm quite sure there are many differing opinions of this one, so be sure to visit Booking Through Thursday to find out what other readers think.

Nov 18, 2009

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse Mystery Book 1) by Charlaine Harris

So many of you have already been reading the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery Series, but as usual, it has taken me awhile longer to warm up to the whole vampire-loving themed books that are so popular these days. I've heard so much about these books and I was drawn to this particular series because of the southern influence. I've never seen the television show on HBO, True Blood, which is based on the books and I think I'll wait until I've read more of the books before I watch it. I don't want to spoil the characters images I have formed in my head.

For those who have yet to read these books, let me just quickly give you a rundown. In the first installment, DEAD UNTIL DARK, we meet Sookie Stackhouse, a twenty-something waitress at a bar in Bon Temps, Louisana. Sookie lives with her grandmother and has a pretty close relationship with her brother, Jason, who is a ladies man around town. Sookie isn't your average single white female. She has what she refers to as a 'disability'. She can read peoples thoughts. Sometimes they're clear, other times they can be jumbled up, which makes Sookie crave peace and quiet and is also the reason she has never had a real boyfriend. We also meet Bill Compton, local vampire. He has come back to Bon Temps to live in his family home and try to live peacefully and quietly among humans. This proves to be more difficult when young human waitresses start showing up dead and the locals are quick to accuse the vampires. This also complicates Sookie's life when she starts a relationship with Bill.

As I mentioned before, I'm not usually into books about vampires, but I must say that I really enjoyed DEAD UNTIL DARK. I found the characters to be interesting and likable and the story, although not an edge-of-your-seat thriller, was completely entertaining. I had my ideas of who the killer might be and there were times that I'd change my mind, only to change it back again. I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS to see what Sookie is up to next. I plan to continue to read all of the books or until I feel like I've had enough, but honestly, I don't think I'll get tired or bored of this series. It has the right mix of mystery, drama and romance that is needed to keep me entertained. I believe I'll be reading them all. I do have a ways to go since there are nine books in all and another new installment coming in October 2010. I'd better get busy!

Publisher: Ace Books
Published: 2001
Pages: 336
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Nov 17, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: When She Flew

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for another teaser! This fun, weekly event is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading and anyone can play along. Here are the rules:

  • Grab your current read
  • Let if fall open to a random page
  • Choose two teaser sentences to share
  • Avoid using spoiler sentences
  • Share the title and page of the book you're choosing your teasers from
This week, my teasers are from Jennie Shortridge's new novel WHEN SHE FLEW:

Somehow this man had maintained his dignity in front of his daughter through all of this. He'd been screamed at, held at gunpoint, threatened, searched, interrogated - things that might make another man feel powerless or broken. ~ page 105

You May Be Interested In This Recent Review:

Nov 12, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Too Short?

This week's BTT asks . .

"Life is too short to read bad books" I've always heard that. Do you read books all the way through to the end no matter how bad they are out of some sense of obligation? Or will you abandon a book if it just isn't working for you?

My response:

Obviously, no one expects to not finish a book when they begin reading, so it's always disappointing when one just lacks something. I, personally, don't have a definitive answer either way. Although I have abandoned books, I don't do it often. That said, I'm more apt to stop reading a book now more than before, because I'm reading more than ever and there are just so many I want to get my hands on. I really do try to give the book all the benefit possible and I'll go as far as 100 pages in before I finally decide I've had enough and just can't go on. There have been a few that I did finish and then afterwards, just shook my head and say Why did I waste my time? But that just makes me appreciate the next great book even more!

How do you feel about abandoning books? Do you do it or do you keep trudging on? Visit Booking Through Thursday for more responses to this question.

Nov 11, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday: 11.11.09

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where we share what yet-to-be-released book(s) we are excited about. It's a great way to keep up with all the newest titles!

I'm especially excited about my pick this week. It's from an author I thoroughly enjoy reading. Here it is:

Author: Nancy Martin
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: March 2, 2010
Genre: Mystery

Nancy Martin is the author of The Blackbird Sisters Mystery Series, a well-crafted mix of mystery, wit and mob-family drama and this is the start of her new series. It's a spin-off of The Blackbird Sisters and features Roxy Abruzzo, the half sister of up and coming Philly mob boss, Mick Abruzzo, the lover of Nora Blackbird from the previous series. I have no doubt that Roxy will be every bit as entertaining as Nora and I am so looking forward to meeting her. Click on the title to learn more about Roxy.

Nov 9, 2009

What Are You Reading This Week?

I had a decent reading week last week and managed to finis two books and get the reviews posted as well. One of the books was an audio version, which I don't normally do, but in this case, I was happy I did.

I finished and reviewed: (click on title for review)
  • TIME OF MY LIFE by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi - This audiobook was narrated by Patrick himself, which made the experience all the better.
  • LOOT THE MOON by Mark Arsenault - This is an author I only recently discovered and one that I will read more of in the future.
Book(s) I plan to finish this week:
  • DEAD UNTIL DARK by Charlaine Harris - My first foray into the vampire genre and I must say, I'm enjoying this one so far.
Book(s) I plan to start reading this week:
  • WHEN SHE FLEW by Jennie Shortridge - courtesy of LibraryThing Early Reviewers
  • FROZEN TEARS by Mary Ann MacAfee - I've had this on my shelf to read for several months and I'm hoping to at least get started this week.
Visit J.Kaye's Book Blog for more responses to the question 'It's Monday! What Are You Reading?'

Nov 8, 2009

[TSS] Loot The Moon by Mark Arsenault

I had never read any books by Mark Arsenault, so when I received a copy of this book from St. Martins Minotaur unexpectedly, I was curious. I did some research and discovered that LOOT THE MOON is Arsenault's second in a mystery series featuring Billy Povich, a down on his luck ex-investigative journalist now working the night shift writing obituaries for a Providence, Rhode Island newspaper. When he's not there, he can sometimes be found at the local dog track betting money he doesn't have.

The first book in this fast-paced mystery series is GRAVEWRITER, which was released in late 2006. Some early reviews I read about this second installment indicated that LOOT THE MOON could also be considered a stand alone novel. I was glad to hear that as this was my first Arsenault book.

In LOOT THE MOON, Billy Povich is approached by his friend Martin Sommers, a lawyer he used to do some investigative work for. Martin's mentor and a Superior Court Judge has been murdered and though the police have wrapped the case up, Martin feels there is more to the story and asks Povich to see what he can dig up. The man police say killed the judge, a low level thief, was also killed during the murder and it all seems just a little too convenient to Martin. There are facts that come to light that just don't add up. A few weeks before the judge was killed, he sentenced a local mob boss's son to life in prison and a public threat was made against his life. There's also the fact that the judge apparently was living a double life that his wife and son didn't know about. Then there is the judges brother, who is also a judge, but not as successful, who is sick and tired of living in his brother's shadow and is contesting the will. There's too many unanswered questions and Billy agrees to help his friend and soon finds his own life in danger, which tells him he must be getting close to the truth.

One of the things I liked about LOOT THE MOON is that it didn't matter that I hadn't read the first book in the series. The characters were easy to get to know and there weren't so many that it was hard to keep up with. I find that some mysteries have so many characters I get lost trying to keep them straight. That didn't happen here. Another reason I liked it is Mark Arsenault gets right into the meat of the story and you're off! It was fast-paced, kept my attention and was not unrealistic. The writing was smart and even had me chuckling at times at the wit. There's a personal story happening in Billy's life at the same time he's trying to figure out the mystery, and that balances out the book nicely.

The story is told from a few character's perspectives, which helps to get to know them, but is mostly told through Billy's eyes. The plot was very well thought out and kept me guessing until the end. All in all, I found this to be a very satisfying and entertaining mystery that I look forward to continiuing.

I will definitely be reading GRAVEWRITER very soon and I will be keeping up with this series. I like that the mystery was wrapped up in the end, but still allows Billy's story to continue. I think there will be many more interesting stories for Billy Povich to write.

Visit Mark Arsenault's website to learn more about his books and to read the first chapter of LOOT THE MOON.

Author: Mark Arsenault
Publisher: St. Martins Minotaur
Published: October 2009
Pages: 288
Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Nov 5, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: It's All About Me

This week's BTT question is . . .

Which do you prefer - Biographies written about someone? Or autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?

This is an easy one for me. Autobiographies. Here's why: When I read about a real person's life, I want accuracy, not speculation. Although I'm not discrediting them, biographies are not first-hand accounts. In fact, some biographers don't even have the subjects permission to write their story. That is a big deciding factor for me when considering to read a biography. This may sound a bit harsh, but some biographies, especially the celebrity or even political type are a step above tabloid gossip in my opinion.

That said, historical biographies are a different matter. Obviously, if the person is deceased and the book is written after their death, it is impossible to have an autobiography. In that case, I simply keep in mind that not everything written may be factual.

As a rule, if I choose to read about a person's life, I always opt for the autobiography. If one is not available, I look to see if the person gave permission or contributed in some way to the biography.

Visit Booking Through Thursday for more responses on this subject or to participate.


Recent Reviews:

Nov 3, 2009

The Time of My Life by Patrick Swayze & Lisa Niemi (Audiobook)

In 1984 I watched a movie called Red Dawn starring Patrick Swayze and I developed an instant crush. Three years later came Dirty Dancing and my crush turned to full on LUST! Patrick Swayze was the sexiest man alive as far as I was concerned. I've lost count as to how many times I've seen that movie, not to mention how many times I wished I could be Jennifer Grey for five minutes! When I heard about his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, I was heartbroken. Having lost a friend to this brutal form of cancer very quickly, I understood immediately how bad this was.

I knew he and wife, Lisa Niemi were in the process of writing a book about his life and I decided when I discovered Patrick himself would be narrating the audio version, that's what I wanted. I'm not a big audiobook user, but in this case, for me, it was the only way to experience this book. And I'm so glad I did. Having Patrick narrate this book makes it a more intimate and personal experience because you feel like he's talking directly to you. Obviously, you lose the benefit of any photos in the book, but that isn't a big deal for me. Even during some really bad days while recording this book, his voice is even, strong and sexy as ever.

The start of The Time of My Life is Patrick explaining how he came to realize something was not right with his health and how it changed his life. Then, it's Lisa's turn to explain how that realization effected her. I believe, in the printed version, that is the prologue.

Patrick then starts telling his story from 1970 when he was a high school athlete, dancer and gymnast. He chronicles his career and personal accomplishments he and Lisa shared along with some really tough times in his personal life. It becomes obvious pretty early on how fierce his competitive nature was and how much he loved striving to be the best at whatever he put his mind to. But it was also clear that dancing was his first love. With a mother like Patsy Swayze, a very respected dancer, choreographer and teacher, it was inevitable he become an accomplished dancer in his own rite.

Although I've read a few reviews that felt the book is more of a rundown of his movie career than the story of his life, I feel differently. It's quite clear that for Patrick and Lisa, their movies and dancing were their life. They worked hard as a team on every endeavor they attempted and they gave each project 110 percent. This book shows that Patrick lived an extremely full life doing exactly the things he loved to do. He did have passions other than acting and dancing as well. He also loved horses and flying airplanes and therefore became an accomplished rider and pilot.

If there is one message that I will take away from this book, it is to live life to the fullest each and every day. That's what Patrick did. He wasn't afraid to tackle anything. He had incredible drive and it's that drive that enabled him to fight pancreatic cancer as hard as he did.

This book was very inspirational and interesting and I recommend it for fans of Patrick Swayze. In fact, if you get the chance to listen to the audio book, it will be even better, hearing Patrick in his own words and voice.

Author: Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: September 29, 2009
Discs: 5
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Oct 26, 2009

Musing Mondays: Take Note

Today's Musing Mondays post is about note taking.

Do you take notes while reading - either for reviews or for yourself? Howe/wehre do you make these notes (on the page, post-its, scrap paper, notebooks, etc.)?

Although I don't take notes with every single book I read, I do when there is a subject that I want to learn more about. For instance, I am a huge coffee and tea fan, so when reading NO ONE YOU KNOW by Michelle Richmond, (the protagonist was a coffee buyer), I jotted down terms and bean types mentioned in the book so that I could learn more about them.

Other times I take notes for reviews if the book has a complicated plot or storyline, if it's a long book and I don't want to forget certain points when writing my review or if there's something that jumps out at me and makes a big impression. I usually always make notes when reading audiobooks. This may be partly because I'm still new to that format and I don't entirely trust my memory. Paper formats allow you to flip around and re-read, while audios rely on your memory.

I keep a notebook that originally started as a reading journal and that is where I keep my notes for books I read. I would never write on the page! If there are certain passages I want to remember, I'll fold the tip of the page down - but I feel weird doing that! I think Post-It's area a great idea too.

Do you keep notes while reading? For more musings or to participate in this weekly meme, visit Just One More Page.

Oct 19, 2009

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

The past few weeks have not provided me much reading time, but this week is going to be different! Here are my plans for the week . . .

I plan to finish LOOT THE MOON by Mark Arsenault in the next day or two with a review following shortly thereafter. This book has really captured my attention and I am enjoying it very much. The plot is interesting as well as the characters. I love a good crime novel with twists and turns and this definitely fits the bill!

I'm also looking forward to starting an audiobook this week. It is THE TIME OF MY LIFE by Patrick Swayze. I've always been a fan of his and was so saddened by his passing. This book is also narrated by Patrick, which will make it even better, I presume. I'm thinking I may need the Kleenex box close by for that one.

So, that is what I have planned for the week. Not a whole lot, but an enjoyable one for sure. To see what other bloggers are reading this week or to participate, visit J. Kaye's Book Blog.

Oct 6, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Loot The Moon

Today is one of my favorite days of the week because it's time for Teaser Tuesday! This is where we. . .
  • Grab our current read
  • Let it fall open to a random page
  • Choose two sentences to share, without including any spoilers
  • Be sure to include the name of the book and the page number your teasers are taken from.
This is such a great way to get a taste of all the different books out there - as if my TBR pile wasn't bad enough! Oh well, I can think of much worse things!

My teasers this week are from a book that I just started reading today, so I have little insight as to what is going on really. The book is LOOT THE MOON, a new mystery by Mark Arsenault and I'd like to thank St. Martin's Press for sending it to me for review. This book will be released October 13. Here goes . . .

He took measure of his situation. After binding his feet with rope, taping his wrists together with duct tape - and choking what little fight had remained in Billy - they had bandaged the scrape on his palm with tape and an old T-shirt. That was probably so he wouldn't bleed in the car, Billy figured. ~ page 131

This is Mark Arsenault's second novel featuring the character of Billy Povich, a former journalist and 'beaten down gambler', who is trying to find the truth about a case involving a murdered superior court judge and the dead car-jacker who has been labeled the killer. As a favor to a friend, Billy noses around and he finds that things just don't add up. The closer Billy gets to the truth, the more his own life is in danger.

As I mentioned, I've just started reading this book today, but it feels like a book I'm going to enjoy. Just in glancing at the writing, I believe it's going to be a smart, swiftly paced mystery.

For more teasers and to participate in this weekly meme, visit MizB at Should Be Reading.


Recent Reviews:

The Summer Kitchen by Karen Weinreb

The Banks family has a very comfortable life with few worries. They live in the ultra affluent neighborhood of Bedford, New York, one hamlet over from where Martha Stewart lives. Nora and Evan Banks have three young children that attend private school, a nanny, fancy cars, and a large, beautiful estate with all of the luxuries that entails. It's very easy to get caught up in the lifestyle her husband's Wall Street job provides. Nora never questions Evan about finances and such, she simply allows him to have total control over that aspect of their life.

Nora seems to have the perfect life until one November morning when the Feds show up at their door before dawn to arrest Evan for various white collar crimes. Nora is caught completely off guard, having put all of her trust in Evan without question. Now, with Evan facing serious jail time and their finances frozen, Nora is left to not only come to terms with having a husband who broke the law, but she also has to find a way to provide for her boys and try to keep them in the lifestyle they are accustomed to. She decides to fall back on her love of baking and with the help of Beatriz, her nanny, and a few friends, she is soon baking her way out of her problems. But Nora soon learns what it's like to be on 'the outside' of Bedford society. She begins a journey that will teach her what is truly important in life and she learns some things about herself along the way.

My thoughts:

When I started reading THE SUMMER KITCHEN, Karen Weinreb's debut novel, I immediately felt I was going to like Nora. She seemed different than the other Bedford wives in that she didn't seem to be as . . . snobby, for lack of a better word. And though I kept that feeling for her throughout the book, I can't say that I related to her at all. Obviously, I don't live in that kind of lifestyle and I don't know any women who do, for that matter, so it was hard to put myself in her shoes. I liked the premise of the story about a woman trying to put her life back together after her husband's arrest, and the inner strength she discovers, however, I was expecting something with a little more depth. The story just didn't move me like I thought it would. I don't want to say too much for those who have yet to read it, but for me, the plot fell a little flat. I found parts of the story just weren't realistic for me. For instance, after her husband is arrested, Nora suffers another devastating loss and I was disappointed that this event was hardly addressed at all. I felt such an incident should've had more of an impact on Nora, which might have given me a more emotional connection to her. However, there was more focus on her sexual fantasies with one of the other husbands, than of the losses she endured. I also felt the story was forced at times -like the author was trying to make certain points before the end of the book. Speaking of the ending, although it was satisfying for the most part, it all just seemed a bit unbelievable to me.

THE SUMMER KITCHEN is light women's fiction, that unfortunately, didn't leave any lasting impression on me. I'd like to thank Nicole at Authors On The Web for sending me this book to review. If you've read this book please post a link in the comment section and I'll add it to this review. I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts.

Visit Karen Weinreb's website here.

Author: Karen Weinreb
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Published: July 2009
Pages: 336
Rating: 3 Stars out of 5 (It was just OK)

Oct 1, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Liar, Liar!

Suggested by Monibo -
Saw this article (from March) and thought it would make a good BTT confessional question:

Two-thirds of Brits have lied about reading books they haven't. Have you? Why? What book(s)?

In a word, NO. Although I have started some books that I never finished, I don't count those as books I've read. The main reason is that I'm a terrible liar and what if someone asks you something specific about a book that you've lied about reading? I'd rather focus on books I've actually read. I enjoy discussions with people who've read the same book as I have and lying about it wouldn't serve any purpose and in the end, it would become obvious that I hadn't actually read the book. There are many 'popular' books that the masses are reading that I do not, but I wouldn't lie just to fit in. Besides, the conversation could take a more interesting turn if asked why I'm not reading such a popular book (i.e. Harry Potter series or the Twilight series).

I find it interesting that the article lists George Orwell's 1984 as the most lied about book! I've never read that book and now I'm curious as to why so many have lied about it!

Have you ever lied about what books you've read? For more answers to this BTT question or to participate click here.

Sep 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page where we share what books we received (or bought) the previous week.

Here's what I found in my mailbox last week . . .

STAINED GLASS (Father Dowling Mystery) byRalph McInerny. Sent to me from St. Martins Press. This is the latest in this very well established series. Although I haven't read any of the previous books, they sound very good and I will probablyback track and read some of the others as well. This book will be released on October 13th.

LOOT THE MOON by Mark Arsenault. This was also sent from St. Martins Press. Here's what Amazon says about this very promising thriller.

In this next electifying thriller from up-and-coming author Mark Arsenault, former journalist and beaten-down gambler Billy Povich returns to aid Martin Smothers, the Patron Lawyer of Hopeless Causes. Martin’s old law partner, the well-respected superior court judge Gilbert Harmony, has been shot by a thief who dies in a car crash. The cops close the case, but Martin doesn’t believe a two-bit shoplifter would suddenly kill a judge---somebody must have paid him to do it. The suspects range from a vengeful mobster to a jealous brother to the judge's widow, and---oops---his mistress and her son. And as Billy comes closer to the truth, it isn't long before the killer takes aim at him.

That sounds to me like a great story! This book will also be released October 13th.

JULIE AND JULIA by Julie Powell. I won this book in a giveaway hosted by Bonnie at Redlady's Reading Room! Thanks again Bonnie! I've read mixed reviews on this one so I'm anxious to see where it falls with me. I also want to read it before I see the movie.

What great books did you find in your mailbox last week?

Sep 24, 2009

BTT: Recent Sad

Continuing on with the 'most recent' theme, this week's Booking Through Thursday question is . . .

What's the saddest book you've read recently?

Well, a few come to mind, but the most sad book was TOMATO GIRL by Jayne Pupek that I read last year. I was literally in tears by the end. Even though it was a sad story about a little girl being forced to grow up way too fast because her parents were not able to take proper care of her for differing reasons, it is one of my all-time favorite books. It sounds strange that such a sad book could be a 'favorite', but this book really moved me, mainly because of Jayne Pupek's extraordinary writing. [Review here]

More recently I read THE LAST BRIDGE by Teri Coyne, another debut novel that blew my socks off! That book grabbed a hold of me and didn't let go. [Review here]

Lastly, DIRTY LITTLE ANGELS by Chris Tusa is a book I just read a few weeks ago. The circumstances of this story about a teenager living in the slums of New Orleans was very sad and shocking at times. This is a great example of contemporary fiction that doesn't hold back. [Review here]
For more BTT responses or to participate in this weekly meme, click here.

Sep 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Summer Kitchen

It's time for another teaser! Here are the rules...
  • Grab your current read
  • Let it fall open to a random page
  • Share two sentences without any spoilers
  • Name the title and page of the book your teasers are from
Today my teasers are from Karen Weinreb's novel THE SUMMER KITCHEN . . .

As she pushed past him to take her pocketbook from the leather chair and leave, he grabbed her hand roughly and spun her to face him. She tried pulling her hand free. "Let me go or I'll scream." ~ page 224

To read more fun teasers or to participate in this weekly meme, visit Should Be Reading.

Sep 21, 2009

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This week I'm planning to finish THE SUMMER KITCHEN by Karen Weinreb, a book I'm beginning to really get in to. It's the perfect book for end of summer. The author and protagonist both love baking and cooking which comes out in the story and as the summer winds into fall, the seasonal baking begins. I also love that time of year, so I'm thoroughly enjoying the backdrop of this novel. I plan to be finished by week's end, with my review coming thereafter.

The other book I've just started and hope to make a good dent in is Charlaine Harris' DEAD UNTIL DARK. As so many of you know, it's the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse Mystery Series. There was a two month wait at my local library for this book, so I'm more than anxious to finally be able to get started. Vampires aren't typically something I read about, but I'm willing to try something new!

Last week I finished and reviewed Chris Tusa's DIRTY LITTLE ANGELS. This was an incredible story and one that I won't soon forget. You can read my review here. Definitely a book to read should you have the opportunity.

To see what other bloggers are reading this week or to participate in this weekly meme, visit J. Kaye's Blog.

Sep 19, 2009

Favorite Food Find of the Week: Say Queso!!

Have you ever ordered a dish from a Mexican restaurant and wondered about that smooth, creamy cheese on top? It's almost white and it's so creamy - much creamier than the store-bought shredded cheese you buy in the bag. I love to eat Mexican food so I tend to incorporate a lot of Mexican flavors into many of the dishes I make. This week I found two great cheeses that add great finishing touches to any meal.

Campesino cheese is a Mexican artisan cheese, meaning it is made by hand the old fashioned way and has a more complex taste than other mass produced cheese. It is a cows milk cheese often used in quesedillas. It's a softer cheese than cheddar, which helps it to melt nicely. Because of its
soft texture, it's important to keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to grate it.

Another cheese I discovered this week is Tetilla cheese. This Spanish cheese is also made from cows milk and is considered to be a semi-hard cheese. It's almost white, very creamy and has a hint of sweetness to it. Tetilla cheese is also perfect
for grading.

I used the Campesino cheese this week when making my own version of grilled, stuffed burritos. The cheese melted nicely on top of the hot filling and gave it a nice mild flavor in contrast to the spiciness of the other ingrediants. Keep in mind this cheese is not limited to Mexican food, I even use it when making breakfast skillets.

Along with these great cheeses, there's a condiment that I always look for when ordering a dinner at a Mexican restaurant and that is pico de gallo. If it has pico de gallo in it, I'm all over it! This salsa-like condiment goes with just about anything and some people even use it instead of a regular salsa. I thought I'd share my recipe for a simple pico de gallo.

Pico de Gallo

4 plum or Roma tomatoes (seeded and diced)
3 Jalapeno peppers (seeded and finely chopped)
1 small red onion (finely chopped)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
3 Tbsp lime juice

Simply mix all of the ingrediant together and serve! Be sure to add the salt last because the lime juice and salt work off of one anoher and you don't want to end up with salty pico de gallo.

Now that I know how easy it is to make great pico de gallo at home, I will never have tacos or burritos without it! I always make it first to give the ingrediants time to meld. Using the Campesino cheese and my homemade pico de gallo, my Mexican dinner was restaurant quality and so yummy!

I hope these tips are helpful to you the next time you have a Mexican dinner night!

Sep 17, 2009

BTT: Recent Enjoyable

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is . . .

What's the most enjoyable, most fun, just darn entertaining book you've read recently? (Doesn't necessarily mean funny, just GOOD)

A few months back I read THE FIXER UPPER by Mary Kay Andrews [Review here] and that, for me, was just pure entertainment. I have been an MK Andrews fan since I first read SAVANNAH BLUES years ago. The thing that always draws me to her books is her ability to come up with the most interesting and fun characters - not only the main characters but the supporting characters as well. They are always original and give the story depth. They're not just created to help fill up pages, they play an intricate part of the story. With the stand-alone THE FIXER UPPER, Andrews introduced us to a new set of characters living in a small Georgia town. The protagonist, Dempsey Killibrew, a Washington D.C. lobbyist, finds herself in trouble with the FBI, thanks to her boss, and high-tails it to Georgia to escape the press and humiliation and to figure out what her next move should be. She picked this hole-in-the-wall town because her father inherited the old family home there and he convinces Dempsey to 'just go down there, clean up the place and we'll flip it and make a bundle'. The problem is, her father hasn't seen the place in decades so Dempsey has a rude awakening when she gets there.

This was a completely entertaining novel that was pure fun.

Recently Reviewed -

Sep 16, 2009

Library Loot: Sept 16

Library Loot is hosted weekly by Eva (A Striped Armchair) and Marg (Reading Adventures). It's a place for us to share the books we've borrowed from the libarary each week. I haven't borrowed any books lately so this is my first Library Loot post in a few months. However, I did take a trip yesterday and picked up a book that I'd been waiting on since early July.

With all of the wildly popular vampire-themed books out there, I thought it was time for me to jump in and get my, I mean my feet wet. This isn't typically the genre that I read, but Staci at Life in the Thumb helped to persuade me to try the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse Mystery Series. So I brought home from the library the first book, DEAD UNTIL DARK. I like the idea of this being a Southern Vampire Series, mainly because I love Southern Fiction! And I've read so many other bloggers saying how they adore Sookie! Now it's my turn to get introducedto her!

I am so excited to get started on this book. It sounds like pure fun! What great books did you bring home from the library this week?


Recently reviewed:

Sep 14, 2009

Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa (ebook)

Let me first start by saying that this book is not for everyone. This is not light reading and it's not necessarily what you'd want to take on your family vacation, in my opinion. That said, you'll notice that I gave this poweful novel by Chris Tusa a high rating and there are several reasons. But first, let me tell you a little about the book.

DIRTY LITTLE ANGELS is the edgy, haunting story of Hailey Trosclair, a 16 year old girl living with her parents and older brother, Cyrus, in the slums of New Orleans. The story is told through Hailey's eyes and with her voice. Hailey's family has had nothing but bad luck recently and she is scared that her family is falling apart. All her parents do is fight, so Hailey slips in and out with no one really keeping an eye on her. It's not that her parents don't love her, they're just so caught up in their own problems that they just don't notice Hailey half of the time. She lives in fear that her parents are going to get a divorce. And to make matters worse, the home they are living in is about to be in forceclosure. Hailey is desperate for God to answer her prayers and save her family.

Things only get worse when Cyrus starts hanging out with Moses, a self-proclaimed follower of Christ who has his own ideas of how to interpret the Scriptures. Hailey, having asked God through her prayers over and over to help her family, is vulnerable and easily influenced by this dangerous man.

At 16, Hailey is a bright girl who is trying her best to find answers to some of life's biggest questions, all while trying to survive the day to day in the slums she lives in. There's no doubt the most important thing to her is her family, but Hailey is, after all, still just a kid.

This is one of the grittiest novels I've read in awhile. While reading, I was at times uncomfortable, angry and even horrified. You get thrown into the story on page one and it moves quickly thereafter. I have to say that even though this is fiction, things like what happen in the pages of this bold book are happening right now in real life in our cities. it's not candy coated and filled with fluffy dialogue. It's real, honest contemporary fiction that packs a punch.

Even though my childhood was the polar opposite of Hailey's and I can't relate at all with what she went through, I still felt a connection to her. I didn't want her to give up on her faith and I cringed at so many of the things she did.. Hailey is an incredible character and Chris Tusa did an amazing job of telling her story with dialect that was spot on.

Again, this book isn't for everyone, but I promise it is worth the time in reading it. I'd like to thank Chris Tusa for graciously sending me an ebook of this gem of a novel. Born and raised in New Orleans, he is a writer and poet as well as an English Professor at LSU. This is an author I will most definitely be looking out for in the future.

Read the first chapter here

Author: Chris Tusa
Publisher: Livingston Press (AL)
Published: March 2009
Pages: 170
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5 (Highly Recommend!)

Sep 13, 2009

[TSS] Rainy Reading Day

After a pretty sluggish and hot summer, I'm looking forward to the cooler temperatures that this time of year brings, although here in Florida it takes a bit longer to actually arrive. I awoke this morning to the sound of pounding rain on my rooftop and it was a beautiful sound. We don't get many early morning showers this time of year so it was a welcome surprise. Not only has the weather been sluggish here where I live, but my reading has been as well. But with fall's arrival, my appetite for reading has returned full force!

Since I spent pretty much the whole day yesterday watching college football, today will be spent reading. I'm in the middle of THE SUMMER KITCHEN by Karen Weinreb and enjoying it a lot. But today I will be finishing Chris Tusa's debut novel DIRTY LITTLE ANGELS. This story is based in New Orleans in present time. It centers around 16 year old Hailey, a girl trying to figure out the answers to some of life's toughest questions while also trying to keep her parents from getting a divorce. Chris was kind enough to send me an ebook copy the other day and I am planning to have my review up tomorrow or the next day.

After that, it's back to the SUMMER KITCHEN and the story of Nora Banks. Her family lives in the ultra rich area of Bedford, New York where every family has a nanny and 100,000 dollar vacation homes in faraway locales. But Nora's life is turned upside down when her husband is arrested for white collar crimes. Nora learns quickly who her friends are and how strong a woman she really is. Like I said, I'm only halfway through this one, but it is keeping my attention and I'm enjoying it very much.

Well, the rain has stopped and the sun is heating up quickly. I'm off to grab a bagel and another cup of coffee and dive in to my book! Happy Reading!

Sep 12, 2009

For Readers Who Love To Cook...And Eat

This is the time of year that I start spending more time in the kitchen and I know many of you enjoy cooking (and eating) just as much as I do. So today I wanted to tell you about two great blogs I've discovered recently while looking for something different to cook. Not only do these sites share great recipes but they also have fabulous giveways!! And who doesn't love winning stuff, right?

The first blog is Real Mom Kitchen hosted by Laura. She is a mom of 3 who has loved cooking and baking her whole life. She shares so many yummy recipes that aren't complicated. She is also always on the lookout for good deals and shares them with her readers. Speaking of which, she has over 300 loyal followers. You can also find coupons and links to other great sites on her blog. Everytime I visit, I come away with some great food ideas!

Another great gem of a site I've discovered is Our Best Bites, hosted by Sara, who lives in Idaho and Kate, living in Louisiana. As their site says...they offer 'tips, tricks and tastes from two real-life kitchens'. There is so much information here including a recipe index that makes it easy if you're looking for something specific. There's also coupons and giveaways, not to mention these two women have such great personalities! I really enjoy their site. Apparently, the word is out because they have over 900 followers to their kitchens!!

So the next time you're looking for something new to make, take a few minutes and check out these two great sites. I've tried their recipes and I haven't been disappointed yet!

Sep 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Summer Kitchen

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for a Teaser! Here's how it works...
  • Grab the book you're currently reading
  • Let it fall open to a random page
  • Choose two teaser sentences to share
  • Be careful NOT to include any spoilers
  • Name the book you took your teasers from
Today, my teasers are from THE SUMMER KITCHEN by Karen Weinreb...

It had been easier to believe things would somehow right themselves. But now just knowing how different things would look when she raised her eyes was wnough to bring home the full horror of her situation. ~ page 108

For more teasers visit MizB at Should Be Reading.

Aug 29, 2009

Want To Win A New Bookcase? Here's How...

BOOKIN' WITH BINGO is having an EXTRAVEGANT BINGO BOOKCASE GIVEAWAY sponsored by CSN STORES who sell everything from fireplaces to office furniture. Stop by and enter by 6 PM, EST on September 26th.

All the details are there along with pictures of the bookcase! Don't be left out of this great giveaway!

Good Luck!

Aug 27, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Fluff

This week's BTT question is . . .

What's the lightest, most 'fluff' book you've read recently?

Although I prefer to read books with more serious content, I have read some lighter fiction recently. A few months ago, I read BEACH TRIP by Cathy Holton and THE FIXER UPPER by Mary Kay Andrews. Although I enjoyed both books and they did have very good storylines, I still consider than lighter fiction, although I hesitate to call them 'fluff'. Actually, one of the books I'm reading now, DIAL EMMY FOR MURDER by Eileen Davidson is definitely a 'fluff' mystery. Ms. Davidson, as some of you may know, is a long time actress on the daytime soap, The Young and the Restless, which I've watched for years. Since I'm a fan of the show, I was happy to accept her book for review when asked by AuthorsOnTheWeb. That said, it isn't what I typically read and maybe that's why I'm kind of slow getting through it.

Have you read any 'fluff fiction' lately? For more BTT responses or to participate, click here.

Aug 20, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Best

Today's BTT question . . .

What's the best book you've read recently?

We should've all seen this one coming considering last week's question of recent worst! To answer, I'm considering books I've read so far this year. One immediately pops into my mind and that is THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield. To say I loved this book is an understatement. Not only did the story completely suck me in but the writing was beautiful! I loved the Gothic tone of the book and I love books about books! Add to that the unforgettable characters and you have a thoroughly entertaining read. if you'd like to read my complete review click here.

Another 'best' for me so far this year is THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. I love southern fiction and this book is a perfect example of why. This story about one privedged white woman in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi working together in secret with these black women to tell the true stories of what it is really like to work as maids and nannies for white families is gutsy, eye opening and even heartbreaking. They were putting their lives in their hands by telling these stories and the fear was real. I was glued to this book, a wonderful debut nove!. My review is here if you'd like to read it.
So those are two of the best books I've read recently. What's your recent best? For more BTT answers or to play along, click here!

Aug 16, 2009

Musing Mondays: Movies

Today's musing is about movies . . .

How do you react to movies made of your favorite books (or even not-so-favorite books)? Do you look forward to seeing them or avoid them? Do you like to have read the book before seeing the movie?

My response:

Generally, when I hear that a movie is being made of a book I've already read and loved, I'm interested and excited about it. It's the idea of the characters I know from the book being brought to life that excites me. However, I've been disappointed more times than not. I want it to be just like the book - but it seldom is. One example is John Grisham's THE FIRM. I absolutely devoured that book when it came out and when I heard it was going to be movie I was thrilled. Unfortunately, the movie was just OK for me. I felt there was so much left out that it just didn't work for me. I know it's impossible to put everything from a book on the big screen, but sometimes screen adaptations just don't work. It was a huge hit at the box office, so I realize I'm probably in the minority of people who didn't like it. That said, there is an exception to this - LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry. Back in 1990,when I heard the movie version was going to be on TV at the end of the week, I hadn't read the book yet. I was working at a nail salon at the time and had a full appointment book for the whole week, but I ran to the grocery store down the sidewalk on my break, grabbed a paperback copy (900+ pages) and read it in four days! I've never read so hard in my life! To my delight, the movie did the book justice. It didn't hurt that two of my favorite actors (Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones) starred in it. More recently, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES movie was a pleasant surprise for me. I loved that movie, too. Beyond that, not many others come to mind. For some reason, the movies come across as corny to me if I've already read the book. I don't understand why, but they just do. There is one movie-from-a-book that I will never watch and that is THE KITE RUNNER. I loved that book so much and I don't want a mediocre movie version to ruin the images and memories I have etched in my mind from that amazing book.

If I haven't yet read the book, I'm not as excited about it and if I'm planning to read the book, I will put off seeing the film version until afterwards. I'm not a big movie watcher like I used to be, so this isn't really a problem for me.

I'm sure there are other good movies made from books, but this is just my opinion and I realize I may be too critical. How do you feel about books made into movies? Do you avoid ar attend? Visit Rebecca at Just One More Page for more Mondays Musings.

The Sunday Salon: Book Brunch

I thought I'd do something a little different today. I want to share a recipe that I made the other day that is perfect for a brunch and since Sundays are great brunch days, this seemed to me the right time to introduce y'all to it. It also fits in well with the book I'm reading this week by Karen Weinreb called THE SUMMER KITCHEN.

This is the story of Nora Banks, a mother of three living in the exclusive neighborhood of Bedford, New York. When her husband is convicted of white collar crimes, Nora and her kids not only face losing everything they have, but also learn that life can be turned upside down in an instant and you learn who your friends are very quickly, especially in Bedford. Nora has always had a passion for baking and after her husband's arrest, she must do whatever it takes to support her family. So she decides to do what she knows and starts her own baking business. Along the way, Nora learns a lot about herself and what is really important in life.

I'm just starting this book, but I can already tell I'm going to like Nora. She isn't like the other Bedford wives. Another reason I like her is that she loves books! You have to appreciate that, right? I look forward to diving into this book later today. After the lull I've had in my reading, I'm happy to report this book is helping me out of it! Yay!

Now on to that recipe I promised you. I actually saw this dish being made on Ellie Krieger's show on The Food Network, but I've changed it up a bit to suit me. That's what I love about cooking - there is no right or wrong way to do it. If you like it, then you did it right! OK, here goes . . .

Cheddar Broccoli Frittata
  • 2 Tsp olive oil
  • Chopped red onion (I used half of a small onion)
  • 3 or 4 eggs depending on the size
  • Splash of milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
I use an 8" stainless skillet but you can adjust this recipe for larger servings too. (I spray my skillet with Olive Oil cooking spray to prevent sticking). Add onions to hot olive oil and saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, crack the eggs into a bowl, season well with salt and pepper and add a splash of milk for fluffy eggs. Whisk well. Add the steamed broccoli to the skillet and stir. Pour the eggs over the onions and broccoli. The eggs should almost cover the veggies. Let it cook until the eggs are firm around the edge but still a bit liquidy in the center. While that is cooking, turn your broiler on so it can heat up. Once the eggs have almost cooked through, sprinkle the cheese over the top and broil until the center is done and the cheese is completely melted.

I love using my smaller skillet for this recipe because it's perfect for one or two servings AND it fits perfectly in my toaster oven to broil. (Some of you may remember my house was struck by lightening twice last summer and I'm still without a full size oven!) My toaster oven saves the day all the time!

I found this to be such a simple and tasty recipe. I had my own little brunch when I made this and I even splurged and had a glass of chilled Moscato wine with a few peach slices with it! Yum! Like I said, you can adjust the ingredients for more servings. If you'd like to see the original recipe that Ellie Krieger made, click here. The thing about frittatas is that you can make them with so many different ingredients. And it can even be eaten at room temperature! It's the perfect brunch food!

Thanks for stopping by today and for letting me share some food ideas with you. If you try this recipe let me know how you liked it! Now I'm off to read more of THE SUMMER KITCHEN. Enjoy your Sunday!