Sunday, October 31, 2010

Getting into the spirit of Halloween.

Romeo and Juliet and Vampires  by Claudia Galbel
Adapted from William Shakespeare

You are deluded, Romeo. Vampires do not have the capability to love. They are heartless."

The Capulets and the Montagues have some deep and essential differences. Blood differences. Of course, the Capulets can escape their vampire fate, and the Montagues can try not to kill their undead enemies. But at the end of the day, their blood feud is unstoppable. So it's really quite a problem when Juliet, a vampire-to-be, and Romeo, the human who should be hunting her, fall desperately in love. What they don't realize is how deadly their love will turn out to be—or what it will mean for their afterlives. . . .

This riotous twist on the ultimate tale of forbidden romance is simply to die for.

I was browsing the book section at Walmart and found this book.  I laughed. My wondered, what will they make into vampires next? Nothing was sacred.  I picked it up, remembered that I was participating in the Spooktacular blog hop and thought it would make an interesting giveaway. Now, I will turn to read "Little Vampire Women".  Another one that made me laugh, I'm interested to see how it turns out.

Of course, I couldn't resist the temptation of reading it.  I made another trip to Walmart and bought another copy.  Sheesh! I advertised that I was giving away a new copy, and so my  conscience wouldn't let me give away a copy that I read.

Despite my cynical nature, this worked.  The Capulets are Vampires and the Montagues are vampire hunters.  The prose is contemporary, I missed "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo." The balcony scene is there, but kids will understand the dialogue a little easier. I am not opposed to the trend to make classic works into works with a paranormal theme.  My hope is that if young adults (or older people like me who like YA lit.) read the knock-offs, they will become interested in the original work.

Claudia Gable does change the ending a little. It works.  Not so much of a tragedy.  I'm giving this work 3 stars.  Good, not close to being a favorite.

family traditions

My family has a tradition that the Monday night before Halloween we carve pumpkins that we have grown in our garden in the backyard.  Then we have treats and look at the artwork we have created with a pumpkin.

I've tried everything I know how, even had my 15 year old son help me, and I cannot turn these pictures around.  My kids carving the pumpkins.  In case you are wondering what is on the back door?  I collect magnets from the family trips that we go on. 

Little Vampire Women
By Louisa May Alcott and Lynn Messina
"Christmas won't be Christmas without any corpses."

The dear, sweet March sisters are back, and Marmee has told them to be good little women. Good little vampire women, that is. That's right: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy have grown up since you last read their tale, and now they have (much) longer lives and (much) more ravenous appetites

For me, this is a book that is hard to review.  The reason?  I didn't particularly like it.

Shifting this classic into a paranormal knock-off just didn't  work.  I found the references to their state of vampirism very tedious.  There were umpteen references to the differences between them and their human counterparts.  Their desire for "corpses for Christmas" was gross.   They would bring cute little critters into their home and suck them dry.

The funny thing is, that as a general rule, I like vampire books.  I read them all of the time and many are on my to-read list.  I practically drool when a new one comes out.
The positive spin:  it does closely follow the events of the original, just with the vampire twist.  Lynn Messina is not a bad author, this book just didn't work for me.  2 stars

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Four Summers Waiting

I just finished reading Four Summers Waiting by Mary Schoenecker.  I found this book in the clean romance group on Goodreads.  Mary Schoenecker was recommending her book to another blogger who was looking for clean romance books to review.

Four Summers Waiting is set during the Civil War period of the United States of America.  The main character, Maria, accompanies her friend Carolyn to an Underground Railroad meeting.  Carolyn is to take a young black boy to a safe place.  Maria is unaware of  Carolyn's true intentions .  However, at the meeting she meets a handsome young man, who is attending school to become a Doctor.  He has beautiful green eyes that immediately catch her attention.  His name is Henry Simms.

Henry and Maria begin a romance that is conducted mainly through letters and a few meetings.  They are separated by the war.  Henry feels that it is his duty to enlist his services as a Dr. the North. Maria feels helpless and useless at her home, until she is able to visit Washington DC with and spend time with Henry's sisters.  She begins to help in the teaching of young black children to read and write.

The reason this book is called four summers waiting, is that it takes four years for Henry and Maria to be able to marry.  I don't think that it is spoiling the story to say that they come together in the end.  It is a love story and there is plenty of material to get there.

I gave this work 3 stars.  I found it confusing and slow in some places.  Mary does a fantastic job in describing the time period and the conflict between neighbors and family.  She did research for this book and it shows in her writing.

On a personal note, I am happy to say that steroid shots for carpel tunnel work.  Yesterday I went to a Hand Surgeon to discuss my options.  I would like to be able to get through the holidays without surgery, six weeks recovery will not work for me at this time.  I went with the shots, it is a temporary fix and I may need surgery at a later time.  I hated the feeling of the shots, the numbness in my hands and the loss of strength.  Today I am pain free and have full use of my hands.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Spooktacular Book Blog Hop is ON!!

What to give away?  Hmmmm.... My first giveaway as a blogger.  Lots of wonderful books came to mind, but then it is Halloween!  Of course, I needed to choose books have a theme consistent with Halloween.

  I am giving away three books.  The first two are Young Adult and the third is my favorite Halloween picture book.

  So, I was walking through Walmart and saw the first book in my giveaway.  I haven't read it, so I can't review it, but the title made me laugh.  I couldn't resist. (if you win, let me know if it's good :-) )

Romeo & Juliet & Vampires
"You are deluded, Romeo. Vampires do not have the capability to love. They are heartless."
The Capulets and the Montagues have some deep and essential differences. Blood differences. Of course, the Capulets can escape their vampire fate, and the Montagues can try not to kill their undead enemies. But at the end of the day, their blood feud is unstoppable. So it's really quite a problem when Juliet, a vampire-to-be, and Romeo, the human who should be hunting her, fall desperately in love. What they don't realize is how deadly their love will turn out to be—or what it will mean for their afterlives. . . .
This riotous twist on the ultimate tale of forbidden romance is simply to die for.
Picture and Product description taken from Amazon.

My second choice is from a fellow blogger, it is her first publication and the editing leaves a bit to be desired.  I did enjoy the story.  It is worth reading.
The Thirteenth Chime by Emma Michaels
  In a beautiful house that overlooks the sea, an antique clock has the power to change the course of their lives.

The power the clock resonates will not only force Destiny and ex-boyfriend David on a journey into the depths of one man's mind long dead, but into the mind of a man filled with hatred and bent on revenge.

With the only clues to the nature of the clock having disappeared into the sea, Destiny and David must retrace the steps the man had taken into the darkness, before they fall prey to the trap he had set in motion over half a century ago.

Hatred never dies.

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
Once there was a witch who longed for pumpkin pie. Unfortunately, the pumpkin she had grown from a seed became so big she simply couldn't get it off the vine. Although 'she pulled and she tugged and she pulled...that pumpkin just sat.' Along came a ghost. 'I am bigger than you and stronger, too, ' said he. 'Let me try.' Well, the witch wanted that whole pumpkin for herself. But she needed help-Halloween was just hours away.... 

I loved reading this book to my kids.  We would do different voices for the characters.  It is a fun book!  I purchased this copy fromAmazon, and thought I was getting a new copy.  This copy is used, it has a name that has been scribbled out in the cover and the ends are a little worn.  Sorry!  ( I will now hide my head in shame.)

A BIG thanks to kathy at  I am a Reader, Not a Writer for putting this together.
To Enter:
1. Leave me a comment with a name & with your email address:  Use a format that makes it hard for spammers, such as: ke7ycaATgmailDOTcom.

2. Let me know which book you would prefer to win, or all three.  There will be one winner for each book.

3.If you want  extra points, let me know if you signed up to follow my blog.  It will be 2 extra entries if you do. (Hint: there is a tab on the top left that you can click on to follow.)

4. Become my friend on Goodreads.  There is a link on the upper left side of this blog. 1 extra entry.  If you are already my friend, you get a point .

Once you are done, please look at the links posted at the bottom of my posts.  Click on your next location. . Good luck, hope you win something good!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pieces of Paris

Annalisse and Dennis seem to be living the American dream until Annalisse's secret past threatens to destroy their family.
This skillfully crafted novel from Whitney Award winner G. G. Vandagriff explores the long-term effects of personal tragedy in haunting flashbacks of Annalisse's former life--flashbacks that are interwoven with a passionate romance to reveal a person entirely different from the woman Dennis thought he had married.
But as Annalisse struggles with long-buried memories, Dennis's investigation of a toxic waste incident ignites the wrath of a former political ally and an industrial firm that will go to any lengths to cover up a shocking crime.
Can Annalisse reconcile her turbulent past with her present life before it's too late? And can Dennis find a way to save his family and the town they've called home?

Annotation taken from Goodreads description of the book.

Annalisse and Dennis have been married for four years. They have a son and are expecting a daughter. Annalisse begins to have flashbacks of her life with Jules in Vienna and Paris. She has never told Dennis about Jules and fears that it is too late, that he will never forgive her for her deception.

Dennis has his own issues. When things get tough he runs away. He is running for political office and discovers that a local company has been dumping dioxide illegally.

Both Dennis and Annalisse must overcome their person demons, regain their faith in themselves and each other, and come together in understanding and forgiveness.

I found this book very interesting. It explores the effects of someone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Annalisse has blocked out the emotions associated with Jules, and is now, several years later working through them. It is a reminder that all bad things have to be dealt with at one time or another. Also another reminder that it is better to be open and honest with your significant other, because you never know when the past will come back to "haunt" you. (I coudn't resist adding some reference to the upcoming holiday.) 4 stars from me.

I will not post another review on this page for the upcoming week, due to the Spooktacular Blog Hop. I am not savvy enought yet to know how to do it any differently and still keep the giveaway on top of the page. I will not however, stop reading. There will be a few books to review after the 31st. Until then, happy reading and Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"How to Be a Pirate" and "Skeletons at the Feast"

Reviews of How to Be a Pirate and Skeletons at the Feast
I will start off with "How to Be a Pirate" by Cressida Cowell.  I like the stories of Hiccup and his a little less than faithful dragon, Toothless.   Hiccup is the underdog of his viking tribe, the Hairy Hooligans.  He is the scrawny boy that everyone likes to pick on.  Fortunately for Hiccup, he is a little smarter than your average viking.

In this story, the boys of the Hairy Hooligans are learning how to fight at sea.  Of course, all good vikings know how to fight at sea, and pillage and plunder.  It really isn't Hiccups thing, he is not adept at swordplay and I don't think he really wants to pillage.

Once again, Hiccup finds himself the unexpected hero of the story.  I had fun reading this to my son.

I am giving it four stars.  Now we come to Skeletons at the Feast.
In good conscience, I cannot recommend this book.  This is totally "read at your own risk!"  Chris Bohjalian weaves a great story, but it is way to explicit.  It is filled with violent depictions, sexual encounters, rape and pillage. 

Brutality occurred on so many fronts of WWII.  What "some" of the Germans did to the Jews was inexcusable, what "some" of the Russians did to the Germans was also inexcusable.  I use the word "some", because I think  that many people were in denial, did not believe that the Government/soldiers could be so inhumane.  In no means do I say this to erase facts, or excuse those responsible.  It was a horrible time in the history of mankind.

The descriptions of death, of mass graves, of the rape of children and women are a bit too much for me.  I know that they happened, I wish he would gloss over it a bit, instead of describing it in so much detail.  I only read 38% (my kindle tells me % read) of the book, I may pick it up again later.  I am undecided at this point.

I am giving it two stars.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eliza's Field of Faith by Rachelle Pace Castor

I finished Eliza's Field of Faith last night.  It is an inspiration read based on events from pioneer times.  Eliza's father has been called to serve and LDS mission to Norway, leaving his family behind in Dry Creek, Utah.  Eliza is mad, she doesn't think that her father should leave, he needs to stay home and take care of his family.  To make matters worse, they get their crops in late, because their father is not there to help.

Then come the crickets.  In Salt Lake, they had the miracle of Seagulls, who ate the crickets and saved the fields.  Eliza's communitydid not have crickets, their fields were ravaged.  Eliza learns that God hears and answers prayers, not in the way that we think He should, He answers in the right way.

As a side note, Rachelle Pace Castor, the author is the owner of the Curves that I go to.  I can hear her voice in this book, which was fun for me.  I gave this book 4 stars.  It is a picture book.  A truly inspirational story.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Amanda Helps Becky Say Farewell - Children's Picture Book

I won Amanda Helps Becky Say Farewell by Patricia Goskolwski Kubus as a first reads at Goodreads. It came out in May of this year.  I am sure that it was listed to increase publicity and readership.

I received it in the mail yesterday and decided to read it to my son as our night time reading.  Becky has a beloved dog named Max, living in a house with a dog, cat, bird and fish, I understand the emotional attachment to pets.  One day Amanda comes home from school to find that Max has been in a fatal accident.  She has a hard time accepting his death, and one evening she has a dream, in which and angel, named Amanda, comes and helps her understand the place of death in life.  Amanda tells her it is time to give her love to someone else, and that she will see Max again.

My son was very interested in this book, he wanted to look closer at the pictures and it led to a discussion on life and death.  This was a very positive learning experience for both of us.  I gave this book 5 stars.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Juliet Ashton is a writer.  She has written a series of articles for the paper about World War II.  She is looking for something new to write, something that has nothing to do with the war.

One day, she recieves an unexpected letter from Dawsy Adams,  he lives on the Island of Guernsey. He has a copy of a book that she used to own. He expressed his gratitude for the book and his love of the books author, Charles Lamb.  This letter sets of a series of letters between Juliet and Dawsey and may other residents Guernsey.  A story begins to unfold of the occupation of the Germans and how the people of Guernsey adapt and live.  It is a story of survival and heartache.

Juliet grows to love the people and desires to meet them.  She also has some decisions that need to be made in her personal life and some distance would be good to gain perspective. 

I decided to read this book because of the great reviews.  I cannot say that this book disappointed me in any way.  I loved the historical aspects, learning of life under German occupation.  The plight of the people was very interesting.  I love that the authors made it clear that not all of the German soldiers agreed with their government. I also appreciate that life doesn't always turn out to be what you expect, look for the good things where you are.

There was a quote in the book that is wonderful.  "That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and another tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book.  It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment."
This quote has led me to my next book to read - Skeletons at the Feast.  Another book dealing with the victims of World War II.

This book was very well written.  I liked this book and I am giving it a four star rating.  This is worth reading.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My aim in doing this blog

I just wanted to add a note about my thoughts on books that I recommend.  I will only recommend books that are not explicit.  There may be swearing.  There may be some violence.  (After all the "Lord of the Rings" books are some of my all time favorites.)  I am going to be working on, and adding pages where I will have books listed according to a certain genre.  These will be books that I feel comfortable reading, and that I let my kids read.  As a note, I let my 13 year old daughter read the "Twilight" books, I feel that it is better to let her read them and talk to me about them, than read them behind my back.  I know that it can be a controversial thing.  As parents we need to make decisions that we are comfortable with.   It has let to a very open relationship with my daughter that I treasure.  She brings me a book and asks to me read it first if she feels uncomfortable with the content.  Some of the books that I will post have been read, and not remembered in detail by me.  I am going to add a suggestions/feedback page.  Please feel free to let me know any thoughts that you may have on books, or ways that I can improve this blog.  Thanks!!  I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A new era for me

Here I go.... starting a blog, I'm not sure how to work this, but I have a teenage son!  I figured that is why I had children is to help me figure out this technology stuff.  This is a work in progress.  It is a new begining or era in my life.  I am a reader, I usually read between one or two books a week.  I do not like audio, my mind wanders and I miss many key elements to the story.

About me, I am a mother.  I do not work outside of my home.  I volunteer in my children's schools.  I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I sell Avon.  I have four children.  Two are teenagers and two are in grade school.  I read a variety of books, I like to know what my children are reading.  Sometimes I find books that do not fit in the "box" that I am comfortable reading.  I will let you know what I found I liked, and what I didn't like in a book.

So, here I go.  Something new