Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I'm quite simply turning off the lights for a few days, so I can get through the next few days of 'holiday cheer'.  Thank you everyone for following my blog, commenting on my reviews, and offering even more book titles for me to read!  I can't wait to be back next week, when I'll have my 2011 Book Challenge ready to roll!

Have a wonderful, very Merry Christmas wherever you are.  Here's to a Christmas tree with many, many, delightful books nestled under the branches.  

Hugs and Kisses!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Top Picks of 2010

I have read so many enjoyable books this year.  I look at my list, and I happily revisit each and every story.  It makes me look forward to 2011, and what I'll be reading all year.  Here's my list of favorite reads for 2010:

Best All Around Fiction Book:

Best Book Recommendation from a Co-worker:

Best Non-Fiction Book:

Best Kid's Book:

Best Teen Book:

Best New Author:

Best Book I Read That I Didn't Want to Read, But Ended Up Loving!

The Book I Predict Will Be A Huge Hit in 2011 (and it was fantastic!):

As you may have guessed, I tend to lean towards historical fiction; fiction that has an element of the supernatural, and historical non-fiction.  I also love to read books that have some element of food or cooking in them.  I cannot wait to read the latest novels from some of my favorite authors:  Sandra Dallas, Kate Mosse, Karen White, Sarah Addison Allen, Geraldine Brooks, and Donna Ball.  Oh, the months stretching ahead will be filled with so many wonderful tales, I will have no trouble reaching my book challenge of 110 books for 2011!  

Here's to a wonderful literary year gone by, and another coming up.  Whether you read books from a library, ebooks, used books, or brand spanking new books (my favorite kind), keep reading and share your favorites with others.  Yes, love makes the world go round, but reading keeps us sane.  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time To Put On Your Boots!

We've been selling the heck out of this book at our store.  Not only does the cover sparkle, but the outdoor crafts you can make with your family and friends take building a snow fort to a whole other level.  Fun for all!  Here's the review from BN.com:

DIY goes outdoors, giving winter enthusiasts more than 25 new ways to play in the snow!
Calling all snow lovers—young and old alike! When you’re surrounded by the white stuff, it’s time for Snow Play!
With crazy creatures to build, challenging games to play, and outrageous spaces to sculpt, author Birgitta Ralston, a Europe-based designer, has imagined the most creative ways to play in the snow. From a looming Loch Ness monster to a slippery Ice Slide, from a Snowball Lantern to brighten a yard to Curious Footprints to mark freshly fallen snow, the book includes 25 projects and games to draw you outdoors on a snow-filled day. Celebrate a winter birthday by building a giant Frosted Cake (and use food coloring to dye the snow!), or light your walkway with the flickering flames from a set of snowy Glow Cones. You’ll find hours of entertainment to brighten even the coldest winter days and nights.
Snow Play is filled with projects and games for any age, ability, and number of people. Each entry includes complete step-by-step text instructions, plus explanatory line drawings. The full-color photographs show how each project is finished in all its frozen glory.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

I used precise scientific rules to pick the winner:  wrote everyone's names down on slips of paper, put them in a bowl, and pulled one out.  The winner of The Bag Lady Papers is......


Congratulations--I will send this out pronto.

Honestly, if I could send a book to everyone who commented, I would.  Just gotta win the lottery :)

Thanks to everyone for their comments--here's to another year full of exciting, nail-biting, edge of your seat reading.  Or, if you can't take the stress, a peaceful, sweet, aw-shucks read.  They're all good!

Monday, December 13, 2010

What to do Next Year?

Just a reminder that there are only a few days left if you want to enter to win my giveaway! See the previous post for directions.

Besides that, I've been pondering what I'm going to do for next year.  My goal for reading books will probably be 110--I'd like to achieve more, but I think 125 may be stretching it a bit.  I am taking C-Joy's suggestion for a 100 Book Challenge into consideration, and must figure out the how and what of that fantastic idea.  

The last two weeks were our employee appreciation days at work.  We always get a great discount on books, music, and DVD's at our store, but twice a year the company tacks on an extra 10% to our regular discount.  So, my torment at work is ramped up a bit during those times, because I want to buy all the books I've been putting off for weeks.  I am proud of myself, though.  This year I didn't spend quite so much as I usually spend, conscious once again of my lack of space for more books at home.  My added bookcases from Ikea lasted about 9 months before I ran out of space.  And even though I have my Nookcolor, my employee discount was so much better than e-book prices that I just had to buy the hard copies.  

Next year I will endeavor to read more on my Nookcolor and take advantage of free reading opportunities.  I will still buy regular books, of course, but be more particular in what I put on my shelves.  

I'm going to put some thought into reorganizing my blog, too.  Somehow put tabs for my 2010 books, and sections for teen, adult, and non-fiction titles.  I think that will make it a bit easier for me and my followers to find stuff!  And I'll maybe add a section for upcoming new releases that I'm excited about.

My first goal of the new year is to spend January and February reading what I've got at home.  I'm making a list, and I will check off each title as I read it.  Perhaps a week's vacation in February will speed things along.  Nothing to do but read, take naps, and go for a bike ride or run at the gym.  Toss in a blizzard and coffee supplies,  and I'm a happy camper.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My 100th Book For The Year--And a Giveaway to Celebrate!

Yeah!  I am completely gobsmacked that I read 100 books this year!  This is the first time EVER that I've attempted to keep track of what I've read, and thanks to this blog, I can look back over the year and see who and what I read.  If I was left with just my brain to remember, I'd be lost.  Going through my list is like visiting old friends again.  Sometimes when a person asks me "what have you read?"  my mind goes completely blank.  I think it's just overwhelmed with the stories floating around in there, and can't make heads or tails of them.

So my 100th book is The Bag Lady Papers by Alexandra Penney.  It's about a middle aged woman who finds that all of her carefully saved and invested money has been stolen by Bernie Madoff; aka "MF" in the book.  Yes, I think you can guess what MF stands for--and it's not 'my friend'.  Alexandra lives a comfortable life as a single woman in New York City who's stepped away from editing Shape Magazine to focus on her passion, art and photography.  She enjoys the finer things in life, but is by no means a snob.  She learned very early in life to appreciate quality over quantity, and had carefully saved since college for retirement.

This book follows the months after she receives the phone call that turns her world upside down.  What I found very interesting was her fear of turning into a bag lady.  This phenomenon apparently is fairly common in women of all ages and monetary levels.  It's a fear of losing everything and becoming homeless.  It did get me thinking that I have had those thoughts, too.  As a single woman, you realize that there is no one else there as a "net",  you are the net.  As Alexandra struggles through anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress, she looks back on how she managed to make money as a wife, mother, and then single woman in the 80's.  She's pretty darn smart, and very creative.  

Alexandra does not feel sorry for herself; she realizes so many other people have it worse than she does.  This keeps her story from becoming an annoying tale of a woman who lost it all and just whined about it.  Alexandra is surrounded by loving friends who help her in big and small ways to get through her experience.  I learned a lot from this book, and enjoyed it very much.  It have me the  inspiration to keep plugging away, and think out of the box when I don't know what to do in any situation.  

To celebrate my 100th book for 2010, I'm giving away a copy of The Bag Lady Papers.  All you need to do is post what your favorite book was this year, and what book is on your list for 2011.  Oh, and it would be great if those who don't follow already follow my blog now!

I'll pick a winner Wednesday, December 15th and notify you!  Good luck!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Stella, Queen of the Snow

What a delightful winter picture book!  Marie-Louise Gay's Stella Queen of the Snow reminds me of the joys of snow.  As an adult, we only know the headaches of getting around town, shoveling the walk, and forgetting about the magic of snowfall.  Stella and Sam are here to remind us of the fun we had as children when the powdery stuff fell from the sky.  Stella and Sam make a snowman, go ice skating,  sledding, and finally, make snow angels.

Last night, we had our first snowfall of the season.  Just enough to make it slick and have everyone groaning.  But looking out my front door, at the sleepy street I live on, it's very peaceful and the untouched snow makes it look like a magical place.  By this afternoon, it will all be messy, and the magic will be gone.  But for now, I will enjoy the snow like Stella does.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

Every year at Christmastime, we carry this book in our Kid's Department, and it's always on the big display of Christmas books for kids.  And every year, I stop, stare, pick it up, and glance through it.  I have always loved the story of the young couple who are so poor that she cuts off her locks to buy him a present, and he sells his watch to buy her combs for her hair.  The illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger for this particular edition are just breathtaking:

They are simply done, but so elegant in their simplicity, that the story shines through.  This book sells every Christmas, as a testament to the tale of true love, and the stunning illustrations.  If you have not seen this classic Christmas tale as a picture book, look for it in your local library, or at your local bookstore.  It's a keeper.  Fortunately for me, I cut my hair off years ago, and Bud doesn't wear a pocket watch.  But I know I would sell my last book if it was all I had to buy a gift for him.  And I suspect he would do the same for me.  That's the magic of this tale and a reminder of the wonder of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One Amazing Book! A Reminder To Read This One

I read an ARC of this book way back in November, and I've been babbling on about it since.  Yesterday, it finally went on sale at bookstores across the US.  I'm reposting my review from November to remind you to read it!

Here's my review from BarnesandNoble.com.  I can't wait for this to be released  in February, so I can tell everyone about it!  Go to Deborah's website for more information on  Discovery of Witches.

Posted 11/23/10: This book is just flat out awesome. Sometimes when you pick up a book, within the first few pages you know you're holding something special in your hands. This is one of those books. It is unlike any paranormal novel I've ever read. It's a smart, sophisticated tale of Diana Bishop, the last in a long line of powerful Bishop witches, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire who has lived 1500 years. It takes place in Oxford, England. Diana is an American professor who's in Oxford researching ancient alchemy books when she calls up Ashmole 782, a manuscript that possibly holds the secrets to the origins of four species: humans, daemons, vampires, and witches. Diana's magical abilities unlock the spell keeping Ashmole 782 from all of those who desperately want it. She quickly sends it away, and the race is on between witches, daemons, and vampires to control Diana and find the manuscript again. Matthew is also after the manuscript, but his growing feelings for Diana soon begin to eclipse his need for the ancient manuscript. And he is the only one who can protect Diana. This book is written for an adult audience--wine, alchemy, genetics, and the world of the supernatural all combine to put you on the edge of your seat. The novel is long--almost 600 pages, but the story flows along quite nicely, building into an incredible ending. Can Diana tap into her powerful magical abilities in time to save herself and Matthew? Can a vampire and witch break an ancient taboo and be together? Will Ashmole 782 give the answers everyone has been waiting centuries to find? You must grab this, sit down, and begin reading this immediately when it comes out in February 2011. It is amazing! And, best of all, it's the first in a trilogy.

Here's a review from NPR.  I have to say, I didn't find Diana quite as annoying as this review did, but I agree wholeheartedly on the rest of it:

The Surprising Charms Of 'A Discovery Of Witches'
February 9, 2011 ShareShare
View and comment on NPR.org
"Not enough cackling."
That's what I tweeted about 25 pages into A Discovery of Witches, the fantasy romance that became the number one bestseller in hardcover fiction yesterday before it was even officially released, thanks to terrific buzz and humongous presales.
Not only did the cackle shortage suggest a certain humorlessness, but something about A Discovery of Witches seemed contrived. Even cynical. For Pete's sake, it's a book about a witch who falls in love with a vampire ... while uncovering radical secrets that a small, conservative cabal is determined to protect. What, other than cynicism, could draw such a book out of a respected academic who studies the history of science and medicine?
I darkly suspected author Deborah Harkness of just following through on the dinner-party game of ginning up ideas for zeitgeist-button pushing bestsellers. "Let's see ... a unicorn in a Depression-era traveling circus run by a vampire!" "Oooh, how about a vampire who's chased by members of a secret Catholic cult through Italy, India and Bali, learning valuable life lessons along the way?" "Nooo, a politically incorrect vampire who was horribly abused as a child rescues a lovable vegan Labrador from Swedish Nazi sympathizers!") This book seemed like that.
That the witch and vampire are really into doing yoga? Did not help.
A Discovery Of Witches is certainly annoying at the beginning. "What got me away from Madison was my intellect," heroine Diana Bishop smugly pronounces. Her amazing intellect is aided by "a prodigious, photographic memory." That's not all she has going for her, either: Bishop is a Yale professor spending a year at Oxford. She's described as an "extraordinary" actress and a disciplined athlete, and she's constantly rowing or jogging.
You sort of want to kick her.
But against all odds, A Discovery of Witches becomes increasingly charming as it goes along. There's a fine story here, centered on Bishop's discovery of a manuscript that promises to unleash all sorts of magical mayhem. Harkness tucks in bright plot twists and details based on her studies of the history of science and of really, really good wine. It's a shrewdly written romp and a satisfying snow-day read for those of us who heartily enjoyed the likes of Anne Rice and Marion Zimmer Bradley. By the book's rousing end, I didn't even miss the cackling. In fact, I was impatient for the sequel. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A War Time Christmas

David McCullough is a well known historian who has written a very simple, yet touching book about the Christmas Eve visit of Winston Churchill to Washington, D.C. in 1941, just a short time after Pearl Harbor.  In the Dark Streets Shineth tells the tale of how  Churchill traveled under very dangerous conditions to meet with Roosevelt during the dark beginnings of World War 2 in the United States.  He left his family and country to share a  message with Roosevelt during the National Tree Lighting Service, which took place on Christmas Eve at the White House.  No one knew he was coming to the United States until he was introduced by Roosevelt and gave a heartfelt speech about each home being a place of light and peace for this one night while the war waged on around the world.

This book is a slim little hardcover, but perfect for gift giving.  It contains photos of Churchill's visit, pictures of Christmas in the United States during the 1940's, and of soldiers fighting the war during Christmastime.  It also includes the full texts of Roosevelt's and Churchill's speeches on Christmas Eve.

And one final gift:  The stories of how "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" and "I'll be Home for Christmas" became famous songs we still love to hear today.

There is a DVD included of David McCullough narrating  and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing during a televised holiday event courtesy of PBS.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger is about Sally, an English maid to Lady Duff Gordon, who suffers from consumption.  Lady Duff Gordon's health is rapidly failing in the damp weather of England, and after years of traveling around the world in hopes of a cure, it soon becomes clear living for an extended period of time in a warm, dry climate is the only way Lady Duff Gordon will survive.  Off to Egypt the two travel, and Sally's life as a lady's maid slowly changes under the hot sun of Egypt.

Settling in Luxor, in the "French House", Lady Duff Gordon hires Omar to teach them Arabic and help them navigate the foreign world of Egypt.  He cooks, negotiates with locals,  and takes care of the household.  Soon Sally and Omar fall in love, and Sally finds herself pregnant.  What she chooses to do about her pregnancy sets the tone for the majority of the novel, and changes her life forever.  

Let's just say Lady Duff Gordon is a woman who is very conscious of the fact that she is a middle aged woman who has had to leave her husband and children in order to regain her health.  She expects those who work for her to live for her, and they can't have any kind of life that doesn't revolve around her.  You understand her frustrations and sorrow, being so far away from her family, but at the same time, she's not very nice.  Very demanding and oblivious to those who serve her--they have feelings, hopes, and desires, too. 

Lady Duff Gordon was an actual person; you can download her letters home from Egypt as an e-book for free.  
The story of Sally actually happened, too.  It's pretty interesting to read a novel about actual people, and Kate Pullinger does a great job of describing the beauty and harshness of Egypt in the 1860's.  The slow paced life of those with money in Egypt lulls you, much like swinging in a hammock; then the story explodes, and you're shaken awake and rooting for Sally.  

This book is available in paperback in January.  It's an interesting read about the choices women have to make  in a restricted society; in this book, Victorian England is much more restrictive than Egypt.  Brew up a pot of mint tea, shut off the phone, and settle in for Sally's story.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Present From Bud-Yippee!~

My sweetie got me a great birthday present that I had to wait about a week to get:  The NOOKcolor.  Woohoo!  We just got some into our store today, and by golly, my name was in first batch of reservations.  I finally got smart and reserved mine right away, after Bud surprised me with the news that was my birthday gift.  

What a lucky lucky woman I am.  But, here's the rub, of course:  I'm too damn tired to play with it tonight! Yep, that's right.  It was a very busy day at work--Newt Gingrich is at our store tonight, promoting his latest historical fiction novel  Valley Forge   and as you can imagine, the phones were a'ringing all day with the usual questions.  Plus, it was just plain busy--people are holiday shopping now.  Getting home was a welcome relief.

So, I managed to get home, make a pizza, sip a beer, and plugged in my NOOKcolor to charge.  I got it registered, which synced all my books from my ebook library on my BN Account, and my other NOOK.  It comes with Pandora, which I had never heard of, so I played with that awhile.  Now I'm tired.  I just want to drink  some  chamomile tea and fall asleep.   Tomorrow I will attempt to play with it again and get comfortable with it.  But can I say it's neater than sh*t!!  Wow!  

I don't know how this will interfere with my: 1)NaNoWriMo writing extravaganza, and 2) Reading!  I'm in the middle of two books that are taking their sweet time speeding along.  They're both great reads, I just can't read for long before I journey to the Land of Nod.  

I'll post more information about the NOOKcolor when I get more of a chance to play with mine.  I've named it Hazel, just because that's what it feels like--Hazel.  My cover is on it's way, and then I'll have my complete NOOK experience.  Can't wait to show Bud all the gizmos and whatnots on it.  

My new toy/bookcase/radio/internet thingy

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christmas Cookie Club

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman is about a group of women who get together in early December every year for one night of cookie swaps, food, drink, and talking about the past year.  The main character, Marnie, is a middle-aged woman who has two daughters--both pregnant.  One is 18, the other is in a high-risk pregnancy and is awaiting test results that could determine the health of her baby.  The party takes place at Marnie's house every year, and each woman brings 13 dozen cookies--one dozen for each woman, and one dozen for a hospice.

As each chapter begins, there is a short history about a main ingredient in cookies:  chocolate, flour, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, butter.  It's a great little history lesson and a nice way to break up the stories of each character.  There is also a cookie recipe included in each chapter, too.

I have to say, this is not really my kind of book.  I usually avoid novels where a group of women gather together to talk.  It seems like no one can have a "normal" life; someone is ill, someone is having an affair ( or their husband is), someone has lost their job or home, and someone desperately wants a child.  Now I understand that these things happen every day, sometimes many things to one person, and no one has a "normal" life.  We all have garbage happen to us.  But at the same time, we have a lot of good times  and sometimes major life issues just aren't happening.  Marriages are great, people are all employed, cupboards are full, and no one is sick.  I'm blessed to have friends where none are experiencing any of those issues.  Maybe some day one or more of us will, but for now, if we had a cookie club, it would be full of food, drinking, and laughing about absurd things.

This is definitely a book group book, and it would make a wonderful discussion/book party around this time of year.  And the cookies all sound marvelous.  Fans of Kate Jacobs and Kristin Hannah should grab this one.  It's now in paperback.  I got my copy at Barnes and Noble in the bargain department for $5.98.  I will pass it onto someone else.  Maybe it will inspire you to start your own  holiday tradition with your girlfriends.

It's not a bad story--don't get me wrong on this.  The characters are all likeable, I just got a bit tired of the undertone of unhappiness amidst the cookies.  I read some reviews online, and I'm definitely in the minority on this one; people raved about it.  I spent yesterday afternoon at my friend's house, making cookie dough, eating soup, and drinking wine.  We had our own little cookie party and enjoyed ourselves (and her new stove) tremendously. Not a tear was shed, even by little Turtle, and she was coasting on apple cider and no afternoon nap!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Few Months Of Reading Material

Just a few books

Wow.  I know I've said before that I have a lot of books piled up at home for my "to read" list, but I decided to gather some of them together and see just what I was up against for the next few months.  I was also curious as to my reading choices.  I've noticed that I'm reading much more historical fiction and paranormal that I used to. My non-fiction reading has been noticeably missing, and I can only figure out that it's because I've been focusing so  darn much on  fiction and teen reads!  But I am eyeing the new history book on Cleopatra, and a few biographies that look like fun.  We'll see where the whims of my reading appetite take me.

Right now, I've started A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness:  

This will be out in a few months, and it promises to be a huge hit.  I can say I am completely intrigued by the story of a modern witch, a vampire scientist, and an ancient manuscript that has secrets only the witch can decipher.  It's completely different than the usual paranormal book and I am eagerly turning the pages!  I'll post a review as soon as I've finished.  I have a very good feeling about this one!  And curiously enough, it's categorized as fiction to appeal to a broad range of people who like a good adventure with mystery thrown in.

As far as Christmas titles; well, I must admit I love to read romances at this time of year.  There's something to be said for the lure of  a love story that revolves around the holidays.  Not only is there a happy ending, but Christmas as a bonus, too.  If you're feeling a bit blue, check out the rather large selection of Christmas themed books at your local bookstore or library today.  And if you want to laugh hysterically, then read David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice:

Just don't drink anything while you're reading, cause you'll probably spit it out when you laugh.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

This is not your usual "foodie" novel.  Most of the novels I've read involving food usually revolve around Italian, Greek , or the world of desserts.  This was very different for me, and was a very charming book.  Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran takes place in the sleepy little town of Ballinacroagh in Ireland.  The three Aminpour sisters, Marjan, Bahar and Layla arrive and after renting a shop from Estelle Delmonico, they open The Babylon Cafe, serving Middle Eastern cuisine made by hand.  After a slow start, a visit from the local priest spurs the interest of the townspeople, and their business takes off.  It also helps that Marjan has a bit of magic in her fingertips, and creates dishes that will soothe the customer's appetite and their problems.  

There is trouble, of course, in the shape of Thomas McGuire, who's the unofficial town bully and a successful  businessman.  He owns three pubs and a hotel and dreams of opening a disco--his hidden passion.  He is fiercely angry that someone, especially a foreigner, has dared to buck the system and become a success.  He has half the town against the Aminpour sisters, and they are oblivious to it.  The sisters  fled Iran during the Revolution, and after many years of struggling in England, they hoped to make Ireland their home.  Each sister has a gift of her own, and haunting memories that have followed them to Ballinacroagh.  

Can they keep their cafe open and win over the town?  Will they find happiness in a sleepy little Irish village?  
Well, there's a sequel:  Rosewater and Soda Bread continues the story one year after the sisters arrive and open their cafe.  A mysterious woman washes up on shore, and she may be a link to their past in Iran.  

I throughly enjoyed Pomegranate Soup and have started on Rosewater and Soda Bread.  Marjan is captivating as the cook who works out her problems through her dishes;  Layla's forbidden romance with a local boy, and Bahar's struggle to overcome her past are all what make this novel a treat.  Each chapter has a recipe included, and a book discussion guide at the back of the book makes this ideal for a book club.  Or, just for your enjoyment.

Can I say how happy I am that pomegranate season is upon us?  I've been waiting for months, and now can enjoy those little bursts of flavor through the chilly months ahead.  If you're ambitious, you can try some of the recipes in the book that use pomegranates.  I prefer a pomegranate martini!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rediscover Magic with Faery Tale

I loved this book.  Signe Pike is feeling disconnected from the world, and still deeply grieving the death of her father.  She decides to take a three month trip to England, Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man to find out if faeries really do exist.  Starting out with wanting to believe, but feeling skeptical and blocked by fear, she connects with people along her journey who, with the guidance of faeries, help her  slowly begin to experience the joy and magic of believing, and trusting her intuition to guide her where she needs to be.  If you're feeling a bit lost, and out of touch with nature, read this book. 

Signe visits with Brian and Wendy Froud; it is one of many eye-opening experiences she has during her journey.  Brian is world famous, of course, for his faery paintings.  One book that's mentioned is Brian Froud's World of Faery.  Signe asks him, does he see faeries when he paints?  And he says, he can picture them in his mind, but whenever he tries to focus on what they really look like, their images remain slightly out of view.  It's like seeing something out of the corner of your eye, but when you turn to look at it, it's not there.  I am certainly going to take a look at his paintings and illustrations with a closer eye. 

If you remember, as a child, being fascinated with faeries and the magical realm, rediscover that fascination.  I myself feel lighter and happier after reading this book.  I can't wait to revisit my flower gardens next spring; if I'm lucky enough, maybe I'll experience some magic!  I admit--I'm hooked.  I went to bed last night reading this book, and fell asleep thinking about Signe's journey.  I woke up in the middle of the night, and for a brief moment, felt complete and utter stillness in my house that felt "otherworldly".  I promptly went back to sleep.  Strange occurance?  Maybe.  I'll take it as I felt it.  

Signe has a blog, Faery Tale that you should check out.  Her experiences haven't stopped, which is what we can all hope for--wherever you go, you see magic in the world.  Be still, be quiet, and listen.  Respect Mother Nature, and take care of her, and connect with her.  Faeries like chocolate, so stock up!

Jean Baptiste Faery

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trying Not To Hyperventilate

19 Librarians.  Not 5, not 10, but 19.  That was the magical number I heard yesterday from our CRM, Judy.  She's organizing the Librarian Tea we are having next Wednesday.  Kirk and I swallowed heavily, then met in a huddle.  "I haven't read enough books!  Panic, Panic!"  After a few minutes, we both calmed down.  Yes, we have read enough books. We've read tons of teen books.  We're still reading teen books, and have a week to go.  

I still cringe whenever I have to speak in front of people.  My job has required me to do this, and I can't wait til the other kids in class all give their speeches, before I finally head to the front of the class. But--gulp-- I am the only kid that has to get up and speak!  But I have learned to do it, and I have also learned that it can be a bit of a nerve shaker when you look out at a crowd, and they're all sitting quietly, staring at you.  No reaction.  No facial expression.  Just staring.

I've been assured, that no, it's because what you're saying is so interesting.  I doubt that.  I know when I'm in a crowd, listening to someone up front, I'm usually figuring out what to make for supper, or going over a list of things to do.  I will tune in and out.  Now perhaps I'm just unable to sit still for any length of time, but I really think most people are like this.  

So anyway, I have a week left to try and read something else for the Librarians.  I know we'll have a great time, and they love to talk about books, and really care about providing titles that their patrons want.  It's all about getting kids into the library, and into reading.  So my small moments of being freaked out in front of a crowd are a sacrifice I'm willing to make, if it means a book I talk about will be on a library shelf, and soon in a kid's backpack after a visit to their local library.  

But, oh man, I am nail-biting nervous.  I think I have to go sit down and read for a bit.  

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sometimes You've Just Got To Read A Romance

Some people scoff at reading romances.  I don't.  Did you know that the majority of women who buy romances have college degrees?  Yep.  And romances account for a large chunk of book purchases.  I can attest to this.  I regularly stock our Romance section at our store, and sometimes women are swarming the aisles, grabbing not just one book, but multiple books.  Sometimes I will put a new release out, and ten minutes later, standing at our cashwrap, a woman will come up and buy that book.  Romance readers pay attention to favorite authors, what they've got coming out, and when.  They are very loyal to an author, and are always open to trying another author that is new to them.  

In saying that, I do like to read romances.  I don't read nearly as many as I did in my teens and twenties.  I guess finding a lovely man and being happy in my relationship has slowed down my need to know that even fictional characters fall in love and have a happy ending!    I have my own romance, thank you.

I did read a fun little romance recently.  It appears to be a holiday romance, but it really isn't.  It's called
Dating Mr. December by Phillipa Ashley.  It's about Emma and Will.  Emma has fled London after being fired from her job, and losing her boyfriend to her boss.  She ends up working in a small town in the Lake District of England.  She organizes a "nude" calendar of the local rescue team to help them raise funds for a new building.  Enter Will.  He's not only on the rescue team, but is a local businessman who has a chain of outdoor gear stores.  He's also heart stoppingly gorgeous and is not happy he's attracted to Emma.  He's Mr. December in the calendar.  Can they find love together?  

This was a fun romance.  There are some fairly  hot sections, so if you like your romances with a chaste kiss, this isn't for you.  The naughty bits are typical romance reads, and not super explicit.  Both Emma and Will are characters that are fully developed, and likeable.  I read on the back cover that this has been filmed as a movie for Lifetime Television called Twelve Men of Christmas.  I'm looking forward to watching the movie, to see how closely it follows the book.  My beef with the cover is that Emma has dark hair, not blonde.  Oh, that really irritates me!  Get the look of the heroine right, will you?!

If you want to start off the holiday season with something light, yet entertaining, pick this book up.  The author has another book out in June 2011 entitled Wish You Were Here.  

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Quilt--Sheer Brilliance!

The crazy ass winds we've had the past few days not only blew all of the leaves off the trees, but ushered in a freezing dip in temperatures.  So much so that I have been cold since I got up early this morning.  I'm heading to bed just to get warm.

This lead me to think about quilts.  More specifically a book quilt.  Now, I'm not talking about being a hoarder, and having a towering pile of books fall on me, trapping me under a "quilt" of books.  Although, really, as long as there were no major paper cuts, and it happened quickly, it wouldn't be a bad way to go.  

But I digress.  I have come up with the idea, now I need someone to implement it for me.  Cause, as I know, I'm not a crafty person at all--see Wanna-Be Crafter on my other blog to fully understand my ineptness as a woman of craft.  What would keep me warm on such a chilly night?  A book quilt, that's what.  A quilt made up of all the covers of books I have loved throughout the years.  How super cool neat-o mosquito that would be!  Somehow I would transfer the cover images onto quilt squares, then create a one of a kind quilt, just for me.  Hopefully this wouldn't violate any kind of copyright laws.  I will have to consult with a lawyer.  And then, maybe write, cry, and beg the illustrators to let me make my quilt.  I think this is something that would go to the grave with me.  Or urn.  You get the picture.  

So, um, anyone want to make this for me?  :) I'll be your BFF!  As long as you're not a stalker.  Then I'd just take my quilt and run.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Teen Reads for The Librarians

Next month we are having a Librarian Tea at our bookstore for local librarians.  We've had this the last few years, and it's been very successful.   Our Children's Department Leads and I talk about some of the new teen titles that are popular with our customers--and also, what we love.  It's really hard to just talk about 3 or 4 titles, since the teen section really is offering up some quality writing and great stories.  Paranormal is still the most popular, but historical teen novels are making a comeback.  I love historical fiction, so I've been very pleased to see more appearing on the shelves.

Two books that I'm reading for not only my pleasure, but for the Librarian Tea are both novels I've been waiting rather impatiently to arrive.  Now that they're in my hands, I'm willing to forgo sleep and TV shows to gobble them up!  They are:

Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

I'm reading Cate now and should finish her tonight, after work.  Then right into the next one!  Sometimes it's hard to decide what to read next, but I will definitely read these this week.  Then, perhaps tackling the rest of my list?  This week ends with Halloween, so I think I will continue reading my spooky stuff, with maybe a romance tossed in to balance out the dark side!  Happy reading!  Reviews on both of these books to follow.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Petty Magic by Camille DeAngelis

Perusing the New Release table at the bookstore, the red of this cover caught my eye.  Oh, thank you, whomever designed this cover!  Petty Magic by Camille DeAngelis is the perfect Halloween read.  Evelyn Harbinger is a 150 year old witch, living in the small town of Blackabbey with her sisters, nieces, and extended family.  Her sister, Helena, runs the family home as a B&B, complete with ghost.  Evelyn loves to use "petty magic" to turn herself back into her younger form, go out to bars, and pick up men for sex.  

One day, she sees Justin, who's Uncle owns a very curious and odd antiques shop, Fawkes and Ibis.  He looks just like Jonah, an American spy that Evelyn worked with, and fell in love with, during World War 2.  Can it be Jonah has been reincarnated?  

This story is very entertaining.  It's told in two parts; what's going on now, with Evelyn and Justin, and her crazy family, and Evelyn's story about working as a spy in World War 2.  Justin has no idea about Evelyn's true nature.  Can Evelyn keep up her disguise?  Will they find love together?

The characters are funny and quirky, and the world of white witchcraft is full of interesting customs, rules, and conventions.  This book worked it's magic on me--I couldn't put it down!

If you like the literary world of magical realism, this is perfect for you.  Like Alice Hoffman?  Like Sarah Addison?  You will love Camille DeAngelis.  I am eager to read whatever else she has written.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Full Steam Ahead

Now that I've finished with the Tudors until another interesting book comes along, I am in a bit of a pickle over what the heck I should tackle next.  I have so many books to read, I don't know if I should finish the few I have started, or begin a new one.  By my rough estimates, I have around 50 books at home I've purchased and haven't read yet.  I just can't believe I have so many!  Plus a few on my NOOK, too.  I don't count those, since they're not taking up any space at home.  Going on Goodreads  has given me even more books to find that are coming out in the next few months.  So I don't forget them, I just add them to my "To Be Read" Bookshelf on the website.  I have so many listed, it only shows four pages out of--gosh--I just don't know-- on my widget.  

I think that my countdown to 100 books for 2010 is going pretty well, considering the books I am reading are an average of 250-450 pages.  I am finding myself planning my day around reading.  I am still getting up a bit earlier in the morning to read before work, too.  I used to put the TV on, and catch the news, but I'm turning it on less and less and turning to my books even more.  On the bright side, I've had a few inquiries by customers at work about me having a book talk.  This year is out of the question--too much to do, and I don't need the pressure of getting prepared for it.  So, I'm thinking of maybe mid to late January.  That would be a good time for some new book goodies for everyone to relax after the holidays.  

It will be a challenge to get in my usual amount of reading in December--work will be overwhelming, and not much time off the last two weeks of December.  Plus, of course, getting ready for Christmas. 

 So, November is going to be a really busy reading month!  Stay tuned for lots of reviews.  I don't always review every book I read, just what I think others will like and what I want to share.  And who knows?  If I hit my 100th book before December 31st, I may have to have a giveaway...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wolf Hall--Yes, Professor, I've Completed My Final Essay Question

Well, I swore by all that was holy on my other blog Aeracura--A Blossoming Life that I would finish Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.  And I have.  Please, no applause.  It was a journey full of falling asleep after reading two pages, wistfully staring at other books I desperately wanted to read, and  trying not to succumb to the cloud of gloom that looms over the Tudor period in history.  Good God, these people probably all would have taken anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills along with being raging alcoholics if they had the technology in 1530.  Instead, it was hair shirts and torture in the Tower.  Not only did they have to be afraid of Henry the 8th, but watch their step with each other.  It was very much, "today you are the favorite."  Woe to the man who becomes too close to the King; the others will find a way to take you down, chop your head off, and take all your toys--ahem--I meant estates and stuff.  

And Anne Boleyn?  Well, I've always been fascinated by her.  Hilary Mantel does a great job looking at Anne through Thomas Cromwell's eyes.  First, he's wondering, "what's the big deal with her?  I just don't see it."  (I am not directly quoting; just an FYI).  But, as he draws closer into Henry's world, and with it, Anne's fascination, he begins to understand just what it is about Anne that makes her irresistible.  Oh, I would so love to meet Anne today!  I bet she would be a--word rhymes with witch--on wheels.  

This book is hard to follow if you have no clue about all the craziness that Henry's 7 year infatuation with Anne caused in England, and the world.  Religion was in an uproar, Queen Katharine and Princess Mary were shoved aside and treated horribly, and all because Henry wanted a son.  He had no clue what he created when Anne gave birth to Elizabeth.  I think he would have been very proud of her.  

So read Wolf Hall if you really really enjoy historical fiction that is accurate to the nth degree.  Stop and surf the internet for tidbits about characters in the book.  But by all means, make sure you read it with other people, so you can discuss.  I'm looking forward to discussing it in my book club tomorrow night.  I just hope I'm not the lone wolf--he he.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Am Number Four--A Surprise Favorite Teen Read

Ok, so this book has been in our Teen section at work for a looong time.  I had heard from a few people that it was slow moving, so I felt no compelling reason to read it.  

Until two weeks ago.  I took a giant step and got a library card.  I have never had a library card in my life.  I sound like a snob, but I like to own my books, and also to support my workplace ( a bookstore, lucky me!) I buy my books.  But in order to understand the wonderfulness of our local metro library system's ebook program, I had to get a library card.  With that, I downloaded the library program to my NOOK and looked for something to check out.  I Am Number Four popped up, and it was available for check out, so I did.  For 14 days, it was free for me to read on my NOOK.  Tomorrow it disappears off my NOOK and back to the library, for another patron to enjoy.  Today was a massive reading session, to finish this book.  And I am so glad I did!  

The novel starts out kinda slow, and I think this can give people the wrong impression.  But stick with it, cause it  may start off walking, but it ends up galloping to the exciting end.  John Smith and Henri are two people who never stay very long in one place.  John  and Henri have been on the run since they landed on Earth from another planet.  John and 8 other children are the last hope for their planet to defeat their mortal enemies.  John is number four--and the first three kids have all been killed.  John is next.  Can he stay hidden from the Mogadarians who are relentlessly hunting down these kids and killing them before their powers develop?  Oh, and John meets a lovely young woman, Sarah, who captures his heart and makes him long for a normal "human" life.  

This was a great science-fiction teen read for both teens and adults.  The movie comes out in February, 2010 and I will certainly see it!  I watched the trailer and it looks pretty darn good--I just hope they follow the book.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Books! Oh Geez, More Books

Fab Poster
I can't resist a bargain book at the store when it's under $3.00 and it's a trade paperback.  So, I ended up buying 4 more books on top of a few new teen paperbacks that just came out this week.  And the new Ken Follett.  Oh lordy, I'm back in my overwhelming state of bookiness.  

I also found a few new hardcovers that I really want to read, so this week, in between assigned readings of Wolf Hall, I will attempt to get them read, too.  A few days off is just not enough!  I have managed to keep the TV off, and that keeps me reading.  I'm waking up earlier than I need to so I can read before I start my day.  When Bud's not over, I'm reading.  I think that's what I do for most of my day, when I'm not working.  

I've signed up with Good Reads so I can see pretty pictures of my books.  I've added two lists to my blog:  one of books I'm currently reading, another of books I have lined up to read next.  Of course, I will try my best to keep adding everything, but I can't promise I'll be on track.  It's a lot of work to write about all the books I read!  Reviews, ratings, blogs; it's working itself into my time to get other stuff done--like housework and exercise.  

Ah well.  You can click on my Good Reads widgets and go to my lists on their site.  I'm working on getting my lists more complete, and adding some reviews.  It's constantly under construction, so keep checking.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Point Well Made

October Print

I think this poster says it all, yes?  Cool nights, gentle breezes, and the rustling of leaves usher in a wonderful time to relax and enjoy a spooky tale or two.  October is a crazy busy month for most of us, so take a small piece of your day to escape in a good book.  

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Ladybug Farm! Yeah!

This trio of books is just wonderful.  Really.  Three friends in their 50's: Bridget, Lindsey, and Cici, decide to sell their houses and buy a farm in Virginia to retire and do what they each love best:  cook, paint, and create.  Unfortunately, the house, while beautiful and 100 years old, needs a lot of work, and the ladies find they have taken on a huge task which will take all their resources, talents, and time.  No lounging about for them!  Toss in a crochety old housekeeper named Ida Mae, a young teenager who sleeps in the woods near their house, and an eclectic group of townspeople, and you have a wonderful start to a story that I have loved from the first page.

Start with A Year on Ladybug Farm, then quickly start on At Home on Ladybug Farm, which weaves the continuing adventures of the ladies with stories of the home's previous history and owners.  I loved this one!

Now, Love Letters from Ladybug Farm is the latest.  The ladies find themselves in the wedding business, and chaos ensues!  Can romance be far behind?

Donna Ball has created a wonderful setting for three enjoyable characters.  Reading these novels gives me a nudge to take a moment to enjoy the beauty that surrounds me when I step out the door, or when I'm riding my bike or taking a walk.  They remind me that life is always full, and we never know what we are capable of until we try.  Plus, they're just great fun.  I handsell these at the bookstore whenever I can, and have had customers return to tell me how much they enjoyed the novels.

So run to your nearest bookstore, grab all three, and sit down on your porch, or patio, and tuck into these gems.  And let me know how you like them!

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Additions To The List

It's been two days and I've already added more books to my reading list--I've got a full month ahead of me, and if I read all that I have picked out, I'll be ahead of my goal to reach  100 books read by December 31st.  In between working in the yard and doing my everyday house stuff, I'm rotating 4 different books, with Wolf Hall hogging the most time.  Anne Boleyn is making her presence known!  She's looming!  

Here's what I currently have on my list--yes, I really am reading all of this stuff this month:

I've ordered 2 teen books; they'll be here sometime late next week:  Bright Young Things by Ana Godbersen, and Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Also coming out next week is Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein.

This is the stuff I have at home:

Isn't this cover just scrumptious?

Must have humor--love this man!

Saw it on the Bio table at work--I really like it!
And, I got my first ever library card, and set up the library e-read on my Nook, so I checked out a book from the library--I've only got one week left to read it, so I'd better hurry: 
Shooting the movie, we'll see how it is!
So you can see what I'll be doing for the next few weeks.  I've got some extra time off coming up, and this is how I'll be spending it!   Oh!  my copy of Love Letters from Ladybug Farm came early, so that's in the mix, too.   Ciao!