Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in review and what's in store for 2012

When I started keeping track of my reading last January, I never thought I would make it this far!  I am so glad I did--looking back on my list keeps things fresh in my mind, and I can remember where and what I was doing when I was reading particular books.  

The year has flown by, and now it's almost 2012.  I achieved my goal of 100 books and topped it by another 25, and I can't believe it.  I've read some great books, and some not-so-great books, but I am a firm believer in books popping up in my life when they are supposed to, and reading them for a reason.  They are magic, after all.  

Friends have been asking me, "Are you going to challenge yourself again in 2012?"  The answer is, of course, yes.  The challenge for me wasn't whether I would be able to read, but how much I could read in one year--and keep track of it.  The keeping track part was tough.  I have great intentions, then just get lazy and forget to write things down.  Having it posted on my blog made me more attentive to it.  

I'm looking forward to 2012 and all the books I'll be reading and discovering.  I will continue my podcasts (on iTunes go to podcasts and search "bookaliciousbabe"), hope to build my blog audience, and maybe with a little hard work learn more about blogging and become more creative in it!  I have gotten so many wonderful book suggestions from Goodreads  and other blogs that my cup overfloweth with so many genres, titles, and authors.  

So will you join me in my 2012 Reading Challenge?  Set a goal, grab a notebook (or computer) and begin keeping track of what you read.  You will be amazed at how much you read, and how many different types of books you read.  You may find yourself a true sci-i/fantasy fan and never knew it.  You may realize historical fiction is what you love most, or perusing kid's fiction is the way to happiness.  

What did I discover in 2011 about my reading habits?  I know I can't read too many dark and "serious" novels in a row; they really do begin to depress me a bit.  After that, I have to read some fun stuff.  I do still love a good romance, but my favorite is historical fiction.  I need to read more non-fiction, as that was sorely lacking in 2011. I really, really really like diving into a good fantasy novel.  I need to read more kids fiction, and plan on doing just that this year.  Reading classics I missed in my youth is also something I'd like to do in 2012.  My plate is already full, as you can tell!  But it's full of all my favorite foods, so I just have to 'eat' slowly, and digest each mouthful.  

Spread the news, and ask your friends to join you on this new reading challenge.  Again, the only goal is what you set for yourself.  If you can manage 20 books in 2012, bravo you!  If you are more ambitious, go for it!  Let me know what you hope to accomplish this year.  

Happy New Year everyone!  

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Christmas Wish For You

get it here
My Christmas wish for you is this:

Books!  Lots and Lots of Books!  Hope you have a moment to sit under the tree, open a freshly gifted book, and forget your worries for awhile.  

Merry Christmas from Bookalicious Babe.  May 2012 be a year filled with lots of great stories, exciting ideas, and new discoveries.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Top Ten Books of 2011

Here it is!  After much dithering, these are my 10 favorite books that I've read for 2011.  Starting with #10....

10:  Bloodroot

9.:  The Wilder Life
8.  The Dead

7.  The Bride's House

6.  The Restorer
5.  Magyk

4.  The Winter Sea

3.  The Red Pyramid

2.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

1.  The Dovekeepers 

If you haven't had a chance to read The Dovekeepers, grab a copy.  It is such a wonderfully written historical novel that it will grab your heart and take you on a ride that will leave you breathless.  And take some tissues, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top Ten Teen and Young Adult Picks for 2011: Podcast

Here's my first Top Ten list; this one is for my favorite teen and young adult/kid books for the year that I have read.  It's my podcast!  Next one up:  Top Ten Adult Reads of 2011.  Hope to have that one up within the week.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Book I Wish Existed When I Was A Kid: The Red Pyramid

What J.K. Rowling has done for the classic world of wizards and magic the English way, Rick Riordan has done for the world of mythology--both Greek and Egyptian.  

I think most people forget that every major culture has it's own set of Gods and Goddesses, and the myths to go with them.  I must admit to my Greek mythology phase during my early teens--found Edith Hamilton's book on mythology and was never the same since.  

Now Rick Riordan has taken one of my college interests--Egyptian history--and written a series for kids called The Kane Chronicles.  I've had this book on my shelf for over a year, and finally decided it was time to dig in and enjoy!

Loved it.  Just fantastic.  Rick Riordan is a rock star.  The Red Pyramid centers around Carter and Sadie Kane, two siblings who live apart.  Carter travels the world with his father, an archeologist, and Sadie lives in London with her grandparents.  She sees her father twice a year, and feels left out of his life.  What begins as a routine two day visit over Christmas quickly escalates into an action adventure novel pitting two young teens against the world of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, as they travel the world through magic portals trying to find a way to rescue their father from the evil God Set.  Set is determined to create a red pyramid in Phoenix that will absorb the power of all Gods and Goddesses and unleash Chaos across the world.  
Heady stuff for a couple of kids who are just realizing they have connections to Ancient Egypt that are going to change their lives forever.  

There is so much action in this novel, it keeps you glued to the pages.  I can see why kids are so obsessed with this book, and keep coming back for more.  It's a great story, chock full of history, myths, magic, and the dynamics of family.  It's like eating a delicious meal that blows your mind.

So I am a little late to the party, as the second book in the series is out:  The Throne of Fire.  I was a witness to eager kids gobbling up this book when it came out a few months ago.  If I had read this as a child, I can guarantee I would still remember it fondly as an adult.  It's definitely one of those books that will keep firm in your memory of all time favorite books!

If you are looking for good, quality storytelling for your kids, Rick Riordan has it.  He is the author of the Percy Jackson series, which behind Harry Potter is pretty much the most popular series for kids.  He may also spark a new interest in your kids for mythology and Egyptian history.  You may find yourself traveling to a history museum to check out the Egyptian exhibits.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

I loved Sarah's first novel, Violets of March so I've been eagerly awaiting her follow up novel The Bungalow.  Lucky for me, I managed to get an ARC from Netgalley.  

The Bungalow is about two friends, Anne and Kitty.  It's 1942, they've both just finished nursing school, and live in Seattle, waiting for life to happen.  Anne is engaged to Gerard, a wealthy young man that Anne's know all her life, and loves, but not in that all encompassing passionate way we all hope to find.  She's content to marry him, but feels like she's missing out on life.  Kitty decides to sign up for a nursing position on a military base in Bora Bora, and convinces Anne to come, too.  Anne postpones her wedding, and  soon both are on Bora Bora, surrounded by soldiers waiting for action in the Pacific to accelerate.  

Kitty's transformation once she gets off the plane was a bit startling to me.  She immediately becomes a "man hungry" party girl, only interested in having a good time when she's not on nursing duty.  Soon her behavior starts to alienate Anne, who's struggling to find her place on the island, and wondering if she made a mistake.  Enter Westry, a soldier stationed on the island.  Soon Anne and Westry form a friendship tinged with attraction, and find an abandoned bungalow in the jungle that the natives feel is cursed.  Anne and Westry's attraction builds, and the bungalow becomes their meeting place.  Meanwhile, someone on the island is causing trouble, and soon a murder takes place right in front of Anne.  Westry convinces Anne to keep it quiet but won't tell her why.  

This story is told from Anne's memories as a woman in her 80's.  A letter brings back those days on Bora Bora, and she tells her granddaughter about what happened.  But what did happen?  Where's Westry and Kitty after all this time?  

I enjoyed this novel.  The mystery wasn't much of a mystery--it's easy to figure out.  But I did like Anne, and her story about living on Bora Bora, and all the heartache that followed. It's a novel about living with regret, making choices, and friendship.  If you can't get away to a tropical island anytime soon, grab The Bungalow and imagine yourself on Bora Bora.  

It's available at the end of December in paperback and ebook format.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Titanic Podcast

This podcast is about the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, which is coming up in April 2012.  I talk about two titles I've read:  101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic But Didn't and
Explore Titanic, which comes with a CD so you can take 360 degree tours of the Titanic.

If you are a fan of all things Titanic like I am, you may enjoy these books!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Getting Through the List and I've Decided On January's Challenge

Well, I've managed to finish The Candymakers, The Christmas Blizzard, and London Under in the past week.  All very different, but enjoyable reads.  Garrison Keillor always makes me laugh out loud, and reading his take on rediscovering Christmas was very enlightening in between laughs.  Makes me long for those days when shopping and hurrying around was not the focus of the season.  Driving around looking at lights, hearing beautiful Christmas concerts, and just being quiet and still with only the twinkling lights on at home.  I miss that.  

Anyway, I have figured out what my January Challenge will be for me, and maybe you can join in, too.  Since I have too many books bought and not read, I am having a Clear the Damn Bookshelves & Floor Challenge for the month of January.  Starting January 1st, I am only reading what I've got at home, with a goal of reading 10-15 books for the month.  I'm going to grab a book off the floor (or bookshelves) and read.  No dithering, pondering, or aimlessly looking at what I've got.  Just grab and read.  A new year to clear out the old shelves, give away what I have read and want to share, and keeping all those books I love and want to keep at home.  Then February will be a new month to read new books.

How is your Reading Challenge coming along?  Only 31 days left, people.  Can't believe it's gone so fast.  I have met my goal and am continuing to read, but this month I will slow down a bit.  Yes, I will keep on my challenge for next year, and maybe up it a bit.  I talked to Bud about this, and we both agreed that pushing myself to 150 books just isn't possible.  Well--it's possible if I just read all day and night, and do absolutely nothing else.  But, I do other things--work, exercise, cook, and spend time with friends and my Bud.  As much as I love to read, there has to be a balance or my social skills will disappear and I will not be able to hold a conversation with anyone that doesn't start with "What are you reading?"

Along with my podcasts, I will continue to review books on this blog, and plan on reviewing at least 2-3 times a week to keep things fresh and keep people in the loop!

So meanwhile, read some fun Christmas tales.  Revisit A Christmas Carol, or look at some wonderful kid's picture books like Snowmen at Night and The Gift of the Magi.  Or read a ooshy gushy Christmas romance.  I love reading them!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Latest Podcast!

It's been awhile, but I finally had some time for a new podcast.  You can find me on iTunes under podcasts, then search under "bookalicious babe".  Please leave comments, so I know what to improve!

Monday, November 21, 2011

What I'm (Trying) To Read Now

It's the time of year when suddenly I am reminded once again how old I'm getting.  Working retail at Christmas (this is my 21st year at it) gets harder every year.  After a two weekend stint where the crowds aren't even frantic yet, I am exhausted.  Yesterday I could pinpoint the exact time when my mind and body both pooped out:  3:55 pm.  Yep.  Standing at the cash registers, ringing up another customer, I suddenly just got really tired.  Not a sugar crash.  Just pooped.  Ready to go home and veg.

This all means that my reading is cut back.  Not because I have nothing to read (do you really think that would ever happen to me?!), but because I can't stay awake long enough to do some major inroads into a novel.  I've decided for now to give you a taste of what's on my reading radar:

A few pages in and I'm already snickering!

A fascinating look at what's under London

A local author writes about a local legend

I have an ARC!  Lots of buzz about this one

Recommended by a fellow book lover--
kids in a candy factory--yum
It's a pretty good mix, and only a handful of the books I have at home.  I'll probably be reading a few more Christmas titles but I haven't picked them out just yet--although this one does look very intriguing:

An elf framed for murder?  Looks like fun!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White

I love this series by Karen White.  The Strangers on Montagu Street is the latest book based in Charleston, SC.  Melanie is a 39 year old realtor who specializes in historic homes.  She can also see and hear the dead, but keeps it a secret so her business doesn't suffer and her reputation as a very highly organized, well dressed professional woman doesn't take a hit.

This new book in the series involves a haunted dollhouse, an elderly music teacher with family secrets, and the spirit of a young woman who stays around to protect her daughter and Melanie from an evil presence that will do whatever it takes to save the family name--even years after he has died.  But not passed on--oh no, he's still around.

You do need to read the first two books in this series, as there are developing relationships and situations that grow with each book.  I love Melanie.  She's so together, but really a mess; getting close to 40 has her trying to figure out what's missing in her life.  And there's Jack Trenholm, a devastatingly hot local author who Melanie is attracted to--but of course it's complicated!

I love this series because it's smart and combines history and the paranormal without being cheesy--and a bit of romance that is not over the top.  You'll be riding the roller coaster of emotions Melanie experiences as she tries to figure out just what she feels for Jack.    It's well written, and as I've read many of Karen White's novels, I know when I pick it up I'm in for a story that captures my attention and keeps me glued to the pages.  This book kept me occupied while waiting in airports over the weekend and made my flights go quickly.

So before you read The Strangers on Montagu Street, read the first two in this ongoing series; you're in for a treat!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Magyk by Angie Sage: A Fun Start To A Young Reader Series

This was a Free Friday pick on my Nook a few months ago, and I finally had a reason to read it this past week--a book club for young readers at our store.  I was hurriedly reading it when I found out I didn't have to lead the group, but I was enjoying this book so much I woke up extra early yesterday and finished it.  

Septimus Heap is the 7th son of the 7th son, which is a huge deal in the magical world.  It means they have the ability to work magic like no one else.  But Septimus Heap is thought by his family to have died as a baby. But is he really gone?   His father finds an infant girl in the woods, and takes her home to raise.  That girl, Jenna, is raised by the Heaps until her 10th birthday, when we find out who she really is, and why her life is in danger.  This begins the adventures of Jenna, Boy 412, Marcia, the Extraordinary Wizard of the Castle, and the Heap family.   

 I loved this book!  It was entertaining, moved along quickly, and has lots of characters--both good and bad.  All sorts of creatures pop up, and the storyline keeps you rooting for the wizards to overcome the Darknesse  that is trying to take over the Castle.  

I would highly recommend this to any young reader who enjoys magic and fantasy.  And it's going to be a movie!  Check out this website for more fun with Septimus Heap.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Podcast: Winter Sea and The Night Strangers

Here's my latest podcast!  I am now on iTunes--if you want to subscribe, go to iTunes podcasts, then type in "bookaliciousbabe" as a search word, and you should go directly to my podcast.  Now that I've done this a few times, I'm getting a bit more comfortable with the process and hope to have a regular podcast every week or so.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Pub Across the Pond by Mary Carter

The Pub Across the Pond is a fun read and will keep you entertained for hours.  Carlene is an American who wins a pub in the small village of Balleybeog.  Once there, she quickly falls in love with Ireland and the people of the small village, but the people aren't too fond of her.  And someone is trying to sabotage her pub--stealing kegs, nailing plywood over the bathrooms, and leaving a goat in the pub.  And then there's Ronan, the previous owner of the pub, who's gambling problems caused him to lose the family pub to Carlene.  Their attraction is instant and red hot, but can they make it work?  

I enjoyed this book a lot.  Perfect for anyone who wants to read about Ireland and wants a fun read that is not strictly romance.  The characters are well written and lively, and Carlene's journey from Ohio to happiness in Balleybeog makes this book hard to put down until the very last page.  

Perfect for Moms, Grandmas, and you! This was a nice break from my October reads so far--they're full of dark, dangerous people.  This book is like a warm hug and a cup of hot tea--or a pint :P

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

First Podcast!

I've decided to try my hand/voice at podcasting, and here is my first effort. Thanks to my friend Ty for helping me navigate the bizarre world of uploads, ftp, and pod bean!

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Friday, October 7, 2011

100th Book: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

I stumbled on this book while reading some other great reading blogs, and it looked like fun.  Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an egalley!  This is a book that I will probably buy, though.  It is chock full of simple ideas to take what looks like a hopeless dinner to something tasty and delicious with just a few simple staples from your cupboard.

The author, Kathleen Flinn, begins her 'cooking school' idea from an experience she has during grocery shopping.  Do you ever look in other people's baskets and carts, to see what they're buying?  I do, and so does Kathleen.  She sees a woman and her daughter carting around lots of boxes of prepackaged meals full of salt and unrecognizable ingredients.  She boldly steps up to this woman and gives her some tips on how to make healthy meals, and even takes her to the meat counter to have the butcher show the woman how to cut up a chicken.  So begins Kathleen's journey to teaching a group of women some simple kitchen techniques that will transform their eating habits. 

What I found so interesting about this book was how so many of the women she taught in her class had definite confidence issues from a lack of cooking skills.  Many of these issues stemmed from either a youth where they did not have mothers teaching them to cook, or relationships with men who did not support their efforts in cooking.  I was really taken aback by the effect this had on how these women saw themselves and food.  Kathleen's cooking school each week showed these women simple skills:  how to cut up a chicken, make soup, cook fish, and make simple loaves of bread at home.  As each class finished, the women's confidence grew by leaps and bounds, and they began to have a different relationship with their cooking and their kitchens.  

This book was fun, informative, and made me eager to clean out my cupboards and freezer.  It's all about putting together simple meals with what you have, and buying quality over quantity so you don't end up tossing food in the garbage.  I learned a lot from this book, and am excited to try some of the simple recipes in my own kitchen.  As someone who cooks every week, I will admit to having nights where it's just easier to order a pizza.  With Kathleen's book, now I know I can make some simple, healthy dishes with what I have at home.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Teen Ghost Story: Dark Souls by Paula Morris

There is nothing like a good ghost story!  Paula Morris has written a tale about Miranda, a young teenager who can see ghosts.  She travels to York, England with her brother Rob and her parents as a family getaway following a tragic car accident involving Rob and Miranda.  Rob has become painfully afraid of enclosed spaces after being trapped in a crushed car, while Miranda saw her friend's spirit walk away from the crash and disappear.  She has since kept the secret of seeing ghosts to herself, afraid others would think her odd.  

York is full of ghosts--from Roman soldiers, to victims of Elizabeth I's war against Catholics, to a night watchman continuing to do his duty every night .  Miranda sees and hears them all-and soon meets Nick, a mysterious young man who can see them, too.

What secret does Nick keep from Miranda?  Who is the ghost she sees every night in the attic across the street?  This is a teen read, and it's a fascinating mix of history, detective work, and the paranormal.  Loved it! 

The author also wrote Ruined, another great ghost story that takes place in New Orleans.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Children of Paranoia by Trevor Shane

I received a review copy of Children of Paranoia from Penguin, and have heard a lot of buzz about this novel.  It's certainly not my usual ghosty/garden/food book.  It's the exact opposite, which was a refreshing change from my usual reads!

Joe is a young man who kills people.  Why?  Because he's on the side of good, and they are evil.  His father and sister were both murdered by the "other side", and he became an assassin at age 18.  Who are the bad guys?  Well, both you and Joe don't really know.  You just know they're evil, and they spend their lives hunting and killing the people on the good side.  So Joe's side spend their lives taking out the other side.  Tit for Tat.  An endless battle that has gone on for centuries.

But as Joe travels the country, and accepts his assignments by phone from the mysterious Intelligence, he begins to question what exactly he's fighting for:  how did this begin, and who can answer his questions?  When he meets Maria, and falls in love, he begins a dangerous journey to be free of his life and live peacefully with Maria.  Can he do it?

This book is full of random killings between two factions.  The rest of the world has no idea this is going on--they're the innocents.  There are a few simple rules to follow:  Don't kill anyone under 18, no killing innocent bystanders, and if you have a child before you are 18, it is taken away from you and raised by the other side--yep--it becomes the 'enemy'.  

You take the journey along with Joe as he struggles to do what he has been taught is right, but all the while he is questioning just what is right.  Can Maria understand his life?  Can they find happiness and escape his birthright?  

This is a good, edge of your seat book.  It would make a pretty effective action movie.  And it makes you stop and think--how many things do you just accept, without questioning.  And once you do question, how would it change your view?  

Anyone who likes action/adventure, or a fiction novel that has elements of science fiction in it, or wants to read something that will keep you thinking long after you've finished the last page--pick this up.  I would say it's suitable for high school kids and up.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Books on the Floor Next to My Bed

*Sigh*.  Once again, too many good books surrounding me.  Here's what I've got on my Nook (courtesy of Netgalley), and what's sitting on the floor next to my bed.  My nightstand is too small to hold any books--and it would have to be the size of a small country to hold them all anyway! As you can see, it's another mixed bag.  I've been reading so many serious novels, I needed something fun, so I'm going to lighten things up with a book about a gardener and her garden, and a young reader book that combines archaeology and adventure.  Hope to get these all read in the next few weeks; some are a holdover from last week:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman

This is the kind of book that keeps you reading, even when you are creeped out and want to put it down.  Yep.  It's a horror novel that's disguised until it's too darn late to put it down. 

But, it's darn good writing, and a clever original story about Frank and Dora, a history professor from Chicago and his wife, who travel to the small town of Whitbrow, Georgia, to escape a scandal. Frank plans to  write a novel based on his great-grandfather,  a horribly cruel plantation owner who was murdered by his slaves after the Civil War.  

Those Across the River is atmospheric, creepy, and has that tale of innocent people getting caught up in something old and evil.  Frank and Dora soon find that something strange is in the woods across the river, and it's pretty angry when the townsfolk stop an old ritual of sending a pig out into the woods every month as a "sacrifice" to keep their town safe in troubled times.  This novel takes place during the Great Depression, and Frank's nightmares of fighting in World War I are part of the gloomy, steamy southern summer atmosphere.  I think placing this tale in a time when there was no easy way to communicate, where people still believed in old folk ways, and "don't go into the woods" still carried some weight around kids makes this story so good!

  Oh, the ending leaves you desperate to know what happens next.  But, alas, no sequel to this one.  The author leaves you to decide what comes after you've finished that last page.  A satisfying ending to a thrilling, edge of your seat story.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this for review. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quick Reviews From The Past Week

I'm up to 90 books, and I have so many good titles lined up to reach 100 I may just up my goal this year to 110.  Here are some quick reviews of three books I've read in the past week--all very different, but I liked each one of them:

Ashfall by Mike Mullin is a teen book that is quite good.  A volcano in Yellowstone has erupted, sending an ash cloud east across the country, creating chaos in Iowa.  A teen boy--Alex, is left home alone while his parents travel to Illinois to visit his uncle.  Alex is determined to get to his parents, and begins to travel from Cedar Falls to a small town in Illinois, not knowing if he will survive a trip that normally only takes a few hours, but will take him weeks to accomplish.  Meeting both kind and criminal people on his journey, Alex's story is tense, action-packed, and keeps you reading.  This was a great story, and perfect for teen boys who are looking for a novel with a male central character.  This is first in a series.  Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy.

Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz was a fun read about a family of witches--the Beauchamps--who live in North Hampton, and have for hundreds of years been banned from practicing magic.  They've followed the rules, but now find themselves itching to help their fellow townsfolk find true love, get pregnant, and feel better when they're sick.  But something malignant is starting to show up--great pools of grey ick are killing the ocean life around North Hampton, people are falling ill with mysterious illnesses, and Joanna Beauchamp knows that "something wicked this way comes."  Can Freya, Ingrid, and Joanna save the town and figure out what's going on?  I really enjoyed this quick read.  It's a different take on witches--their history, and the ties to old myths and legends I found fascinating.  This is the first in a series, and I can't wait to read more!

And finally, a yummy book about cooking and France.  The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais tells the journey of one young Indian boy--Haji--from his early years hanging out at the family restaurant in Mumbai, to his rise as a famous chef in Paris.  But in between lies family tragedy, a relocation to a small town in France, and the battle to be accepted by the locals.  And then there is Madam Mallory--a renowned chef who runs an exclusive restaurant across the street from Haji's family home.  It is distaste at first sight for her--but oh, what happens between Madam Mallory and Haji is what makes this novel so wonderful.  For anyone who loves to read novels about food--read this one.  It makes you want to travel to France pronto!

So as you can see, I've been reading some very different novels.  I'll be posting a review for each of my last 10 novels--from 90 to 100 during the next few weeks as a countdown to reaching my goal.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wonderstruck: An Amazing Reading Experience

Brian Selznick does it again:  for an evening, I became a child again, rediscovering the wonder of a book full of amazing illustrations and a story that kept me glued to the pages.

In Wonderstruck, Brian tells the dual stories of Ben and Rose.  Ben's story is told in words, while Roses' story--set in 1927, is told in drawings and no words.  We soon find out why:  Rose is deaf.  Ben lives in a small town in Minnesota in 1977, mourning the death of his mother, and feeling lost living with his Aunt, Uncle, and cousins.  One night, he sneaks over to his old home, and discovers a book hidden by his mother called Wonderstruck.  It's about curiosity cabinets--which were the beginning of museums--and soon has Ben absorbed in figuring out the origin of this book, and what secrets his mother was hiding from him.  What happens next?!  

I can't tell you anymore.  Seriously.  It would give too much of the story away.  You can read this book in about an hour, since so much of Roses' story is told in full page black and white pencil drawings.  The two stories weave in and out of each other, until you reach the end and, sadly, finish the last page.  This is a wonderful book to read with your kids, or savor for  yourself.  If you haven't read Selznick's first book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, well, get thee to a bookstore!  It is just as wonderful as his second novel (and it won the Caldecott).  

Magical, emotional, full of wonder--this book will turn you back into a young child again, if just for awhile.  It reminded me of that sense I had as a child of the world being HUGE, and full of so many amazing things.  It's a sense of wonder that we lose as adults.  Thank you, Brian Selznick, for bringing that feeling back to this adult on a late summer night with a cool night breeze and the sounds of crickets flitting through my windows. A night where a person can be wonderstruck.   

This book will be available nationwide on September 13th.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

September Reads

My favorite time of the year is fast approaching--Fall.  Although with the steamy weather the past few days, it's hard to imagine a crisp Fall day.  When I think of Fall, I think of cool nights, hearty warm meals, and having more time to read.  

This may look ambitious, but all of these books are on my reading list for September.  It's a goofy mix, but that's the beauty of reading--you can travel anywhere at anytime, and read about anything.  So from an Indian boy who becomes a chef in Paris, to a creepy horror novel about a small town, to a young adult novel about friendship and adventure, here are some of the books I'll be gobbling up this month:

A futuristic novel about good vs evil

Creepy horror that reads like a thriller

Romance and mystery "Rebecca" style

Liesl's adventures with Po, a ghost

A volcano in Yellowstone blows, creating chaos

Food and Paris!

Talking Leaf Bookclub read

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Taker by Alma Katsu: An Intriguing Tale of Immortality

I first saw this book mentioned in a newsletter, where it was recommended for fans of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  Since that book wowed me last year, this little hook got my attention pretty quickly.  Thanks to Samantha at Simon and Schuster, I received a copy of The Taker by Alma Katsu a few weeks ago and eagerly dove into it.  

First of all, this is a book about immortal beings that aren't vampires.  The mix of magic, alchemy, and the unknown are intriguing and kept me  glued to the pages.  The story of Lanore McIlvrae was fascinating.  Lanore is brought into a small town hospital late one night, covered in blood.  She has said she murdered a man in the woods.  While in the emergency room, she begins to tell her tale to Dr. Luke Findley, a man struggling to comes to terms with the recent loss of his mother and the break up of his marriage.  

Lanore's story is a bit hard for Luke to believe; yet he is quickly pulled into her web.  She claims to have lived in this same small town 200 years before, and as the book progresses, shares her story with Luke as they are on the run from the authorities.  Lanore's story is about her life-long love for Jonathan St. Andrew, and how that love brings about cataclysmic changes to both of their lives.  Lanore's story is also intertwined with the mysterious tale of Adair, a young man who takes Lanore's life into his hands and weaves a world around her that she cannot escape.  

I don't want to give anything away in this book!  It is well written and a refreshing change from tales of vampires.  This is a tale of immortality that has a twist.  It's the first in a trilogy, and while there are many unanswered questions, the end of the book is done very well and does not leave you hanging.  It's a perfect read to get you into the mood for Halloween, dark nights, and cool weather.  Lanore's relationship with Jonathan certainly is a great beginning for book club discussions; this is a book you will want to talk about with your friends.  

This book will be available September 6th at your local bookstores.