Friday, November 28, 2008

Children's Book Review - South



South
Author: Patrick McDonnell
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers

In a story without words, just pictures, one reads the story of a sleeping bird whose friends fly off leaving it behind all alone and crying. Mooch the cat, comes across this pitiable creature and undertakes the task of leading it to where its friends are. Together they make their way across suburbia, a city, a forest, through night and day, even as the snow starts falling. Mooch is tired, but his newfound friend's sorrow motivates him to keeping moving and ultimately find the other birds.

This is a simple yet very moving story. I read it out aloud to my toddler, describing the actions and putting in sound effects where ever needed. As a result, he was thoroughly entertained and neither of us felt the lack of words on the pages at all. Even the images are subtle, soft and very pleasing. The story they tell is one which, like all good stories, has a moral hidden inside. That of helping others in need.

A feel-good story just in time for the Holidays!

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Book Review - Poisoned Profits


PhotobucketPoisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children
Author: Philip and Alice Shabecoff
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Random House

In this shocking and sobering book, two fearless journalists directly and definitively link industrial toxins to the current rise in childhood disease and death. In the tradition of Silent Spring, Poisoned Profits is a landmark investigation, an eye-opening account of a country that prizes money over children’s health.

If you read one book this year, then make it this one.

I do not say this just as a parent, but as a human being whose world is being polluted around her beyond belief! Frankly speaking, reading this book was like having all my personal nightmares as a parent come true. This is the reason why I buy organic food even though it's expensive, try natural remedies and struggle to live as "green" a lifestyle as possible in today's economy.

The authors are 2 journalists who've not only uncovered the link between toxic pollution and diseases rampant in society today, but which also particularly affects children, our future, to whom we're bequeathing this poisoned planet. The book not only covers actual incidents, but gives voice to viewpoints on either side of the argument. Like they say, one man's meat is another man's poison, sometimes literally!

Lest you think the book is all doom and gloom, it is NOT! No, the writers spend most of the book making their point, but end it with a ray of hope. Now that people are waking up to the wrongdoing around them, that very awareness is the start of a new beginning. The more we know, the better we're able to fight and try to right a terrible wrong. Greener is the way to the future, a better one than what's currently in store for generations to come.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Book Review - The Fire Kimono by Laura Joh Rowland

Author : Laura Joh Rowland
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur; 1st edition (November 11, 2008)
Synopsis: The strife between Sano Ichiro, the samurai detective who has risen to power in the shogun's court, and his enemies has escalated to the brink of war. Called away from the crisis by the shogun's orders to investigate a mysterious skeleton Sano and his wife, Reiko, must confront dangerous, long buried secrets. What was Sano's own mother doing on the night when a burning kimono ignited a blaze that destroyed the city of Edo? The shogun gives Sano and Reiko just three days to find out—or risk losing not only their position at court but their families lives as well.
Review

I have been following the Sano Ichiro series for a long time now, if not from the first. While I love this samurai/historical detective series itself, the individual stories comprising the series have been more of a hit-or-miss kind. The novel preceding this one, The Snow Empress, was more on the miss side, seeing as it was full of supernatural elements and taking place far from the place intrigue of Edo which is the traditional setting of this series.

This story, however, more than makes up for its disappointing predecessor. It's filled to the brim, indeed overflowing, with the palace intrigue, political and military maneuvering that fans of this series have come to love and expect. Rowland is in her element stirring up the boiling cauldron of resentment and ambition that a weak Shogun's vascillations have resulted in the Edo region of Japan. The intrigue, the history, the characters, the machinations - they're all beautifully and cleverly brought together through Rowland's slick plotting. It's not just totally political. As always, personal relationships, conflicts and romance are at the heart of the 43-year old mystery that Sano has to race against time to solve before his own family is destroyed, along with perhaps the entire regime itself.

Cons

Not many cons with this story. Although my favorite character, Sano's wife Reiko, doesn't actively participate in the actual detection part of the story (as she did in some of the earlier novels), she's still an integral part of the story. The one thing I did find a little disappointing was the mystery itself which, in my opinion, turned out to be a damp squib towards the end.

In Short

It's thrilling, it's expertly crafted, and it's good! Probably one of the best in this series.

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.
Read Excerpt

Don't forget to enter my KELLEY ARMSTRONG BOOK GIVEAWAY
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Nature Discovery In My Backyard - Review & Giveaway



Author:  Rebecca Mattano
Paperback: 16 pages
Publisher: The Little Environmentalists LLC; 1st edition (2008)
Synopsis: Children will use their senses to explore nature. They will smell, hear, feel, and see their way through their own backyard nature discovery. Each page offers a unique look into nature with colorful pictures that will challenge your children to find all that nature has to offer. In the back of the book parents and educators will find amazing tips for going on a nature discovery with their children and students anytime of the year! The Nature Notes in the back of the book provide exciting information about the plants and animals in our nature discovery. This book also links to the Model Early Learning Standards so educators can use this book a a teaching tool.
As a kid, the home I lived in had a huge backyard and an even bigger front garden. One of my earliest pleasures was to sit in the velvety grass and watch the butterflies and wonder at the shapes the clouds made. As I grew older, I began to climb trees and collecting the feathers of the various birds that flocked to our trees was a joyous activity. Nature was around me and I was in my element, enjoying it to the full. It's something I want for my own kids. But that's not easy these days what with the lure of Television and Xbox that hold the kids indoors. Which is why I was happy to accept when given an opportunity to review this book, which is something that seems to have come out of my own childhood!

Nature Discovery In My Backyard is the first book in a series of children's books by The Little Environmentalists, LLC. It's a book that educates adults and children alike about the wonders of nature. You don't have to go far - just into the backyard will do. With simple words and illustrative photographs, the author explains how children can use their sense of smell, sight, touch and hearing to explore the greenery around them and be enchanted with the marvels of nature that permeates every part of it. There's a surprise waiting to be discovered on a tree, in the air, under a log, everywhere you look.

To help parents and educators enhance their "green" lessons, the book offers tips on nature for every season of the year. Interesting educational facts on plants and animals are described in the back of the book. In My Backyard retails for $6.95 and is available online at the publisher's website and at Amazon.com. Beyond the children's books, environment lessons continue online at their website with a nature discovery sheet and links to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instructor's Model Early Learning Standards which utilizes this book as a tool in the state's classrooms.

The Little Environmentalists proudly print their books on 100% recycled paper with 100% post consumer waste that is chlorine free and non-toxic toner.

Photobucket
GIVEAWAY

The Prize

A copy of "Nature Discovery In My Backyard"

To Enter
  • Just leave a comment with your email address telling me : How you and your children find ways to experience nature?
  • Only comments containing both pieces of info (answer to the question asked and your email address) will be considered.
For Extra Entries

You may do one or all of the following. Each counts as one extra entry.
Please leave a NEW comment for each extra entry you do.
Deadline   Midnight CST of "December 8th".

Eligibility  US only.

Note:
  • Winner must respond with their full name and address to the notifying email within 3 days of it being sent or a new winner will be chosen.
  • The Sponsor will take care of the actual mailing of the prize.
  • Disclaimer
Good luck!
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Book Review - Romeo, Romeo by Robin Kaye



Author: Robin Kaye
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Rosalie Ronaldi doesn't have a domestic bone in her body. All she cares about is her career, so she survives on take-out and dirty martinis, keeps her shoes under the dining room table, her bras on the shower curtain rod, and her clothes on the couch. Nick Romeo is every woman's fantasy - tall, dark, handsome, rich, really good in bed, AND he loves to cook and clean. He says he wants an independent woman, but when he meets Rosalie, all he wants to do is take care of her. Before too long, he's cleaned up her apartment, stocked her refrigerator, and adopted her dog.

So what's the problem? Just a little matter of mistaken identity, corporate theft, a hidden past in juvenile detention and one big nosy Italian family too close for comfort.
Review

If you're in the market for a light-hearted romantic romp, then Romeo, Romeo is the book for you. I enjoyed reading this debut novel by Robin Kaye. The author writes in a warm, friendly and realistic way that's akin to speaking with your best friend.

The dynamics of growing up in an Italian-American household in Brooklyn are brought sharply to life in this story where the protagonists play a cat-and-mouse game of hidden identity, hidden agendas and lots of relationship rules.

Both Multi-millionaire Nick Romeo and corporate-turnaround expert Rosalie Ronaldi are commitment-phobics. While Nick is that way because women hound him for his wealth and status, Rosalie has some serious personal issues about marriage that have made her relationship-shy. Nick and Lee are typical of modern couples as in they like to indulge in casual sex with no strings attached. Or so they both like to think! It's hilarious to watch as tables are soon turned and die-hard bachelor Nick comes to realize independent Lee is the love of his life, even as she's determined to keep him at a safe distance.

He's is just about the perfect hero if only for his ability to cook, tidy up and stress-vacuum. Rosalie, on the other hand, is as real as can be and I loved her for her messiness, her ability to stand up for herself and for her, frankly, ability to eat and enjoy her food. It's so refreshing to see that this is one duo who bonds over food!

With interfering and gossipy relatives and friends alternately aiding and hindering their budding romance, Nick and Lee try to find out what is more important in life, love or other things.

In Short

Kaye's writing is just about perfect for this kind of story as she balances a fine line between romance, sex and family, all of which come together with ease. The result is the totally irresistible Romeo, Romeo.

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.

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Children's Book Review - The Sister's Club by Megan Mcdonald

The Sisters Club ~ Megan Mcdonald
196 pp
Reading Level 3

Review Contributor: Tanya of www.books4yourkids.com

Written in 2003 by Megan McDonald, best known for her Judy Moody and Stink series,The Sister's Club is a great book, comparable, but different from, The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. Written for a slightly older audience, Birdsall can incorporate a longer, more complex plot and her story spans a longer period of time and feels a bit timeless. McDonald's book has a much more contemporary feel to it.  However, both books employ one of my favorite devices in children's literature, one that will hopefully inspire the reader to seek out the originals - the incorporation poems, plays and snippets of other works of children's literature into the story line. 

The Reel family live in the aptly named town of Acton, Oregon. Aptly named because they are a family of actors, including their descendant Hepzibiah McNutty who, as a pioneer traveling on the Oregon Trail, settled in Acton. There she built the 100+ year old Raven Theater, which the Reel family lives next to.  Mom and Dad Reel both act and Mr Reel also works as a set designer for the Raven. One of Mr Reel's greatest roles was that of King Lear and, having three daughters, Alex, almost 13, Stevie, 10 and Joey, 8, he has cast them in the roles of Goneril, Regan and Cordelia for family theatricals so often that, despite knowing it is a tragedy, the girls usually end up laughing, or fighting by the time it's over.

Sisters and how they love and hate each other, is the main focus of McDonald's book and she manages to work in other sisterly references beyond Shakespeare, my favorite being the legend of the Three Sisters Mountain range in Oregon which is told by Alex as a ghost story at the end of the book. In addition to working in a reference to I Am the Cheese, by Robert Cormier and a great bit from  The Joy of Cooking, McDonald has a wonderful, genuine passage that involves a very famous William Carlos Williams poem. This is also my favorite part of the book because I feel like McDonald portrays a very real thought (or lack of thought) process that we have all experienced as children and probably still do as adults. Tired of being the glue that holds together Alex, the slightly self-absorbed actress consumed by her newest role, and Joey, the pioneer obsessed, Jell-O loving, antagonizer, as well as parents who are pretty absorbed by their jobs, Stevie makes a decision she knows is a bad one, and things snowball from there. 

One of the great creative devices in this book, and way to change narrative voices, is the intermittent use of notebook entries and drawings by Joey, who longs to have real homework like her older sisters and makes up her own assignments, occasional notes from Stevie, and, best of all, short one-act scenes written by Alex that dramatize her life and sometimes employ her sock monkey doll as a character. These passages appear "handwritten" on lined paper, or typed, and the drawings look like they were done by kids. This reminds me a bit of the hugely popular Diary of A Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, which is entirely "hand written" diary entries and drawings by the main character. These keep the story moving, lighten up serious parts and make the experiences and voices of the main characters seem more realistic and entertaining. They also help to illustrate the age and personality differences between the three sisters, which is difficult at times since they are relatively close in age. However, McDonald has no difficulty keeping Joey a real (young and immature) eight year old and Alex a maturing almost teenager, as she points out at one point in the book.

The "sister's club" of the title is started by Stevie as a way to keep her sisters connected. But, in the first few pages of the book, Olivia, Stevie's friend who is not a sister and not allowed to join the club, predicts a rift in the making, foreshadowing the events that follow. It serves to keep the sisters connected, but also ends up emphasizing the ways in which they are individuals trying to be themselves within a tightly knit family unit, as well as the difficulties of doing so. There are no "precocious girl" characters here, just real creative girls with hobbies, interests and interior lives that make them both introspective and interesting, not the loudest voice in the room.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book Review - Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer



Author: Georgette Heyer
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Synopsis - After their father's death, Miss Judith Taverner and her brother Peregrine travel to London to meet their guardian, Lord Worth, expecting an elderly gentleman. To their surprise and utter disgust, their guardian is not much older than they are, doesn't want the office of guardian any more than they want him, and is determined to thwart all their interests and return them to the country. But when Miss Taverner and Peregrine begin to move in the highest social circles, Lord Worth cannot help but entangle himself with his adventuresome wards.
Review

Out of all Heyer novels, Friday's Child has long been my favorite. But that was before I read, Regency Buck. Now this intriguing and tempestuous story has taken my fancy and I firmly declare it to be one of the best Heyers ever!

Both characters and circumstances alike keep this story ever-moving which is chock-full of descriptions of authentic events, places and people of that era. And not just descriptions! Beau Brummel, that real-life paragon of fashion, is a bona-fide character in this story and plays a small but important role in the events. However the heart of this story lies in the intense and blazing interactions between the beautiful Judith and her guardian, Lord Worth.

Starting from an unguarded incident at the beginning of the story, the red-hot nature of their relationship seems set. Time and again Judith tries to do something and Lord Worth comes along and thwarts it with contemptuous ease. This naturally irks the heiress immensely and neither she nor Worth see any reason to not make clear to the other, their mutual feelings of repugnance and intolerance. Spicy conversations are the norm between this duo. And yet the genius of Heyer lies in showing the audience how despite his (or maybe because of) these spirited exchanges, their romance continues to progress in the background, without the protagonists themselves realizing it. There is also a secondary romance brewing, but not much is made of it

However, contrary to the other Heyer novels, here Romance takes a subtle backseat to the more important Mystery element. Judith and her brother are the unwitting victims of a deadly conspiracy growing around them. Time and again, lives are put in danger and Heyer skilfully develops the plot so that it becomes difficult to distinguish between the red herrings and the actual culprits.

As always, Heyer manages to convey the fashion, the social dos and don'ts, and the various restrictions placed upon women of that generation. And again, as always, somehow Heyer's heroine manages to time and again smash those pre-conceived notions and blaze a unique trail of her own. This is, by far, my favorite part of her books. Judith's character is one of the best representations of this Heyer trait.

In Short
There's everything to like and very little to dislike about Regency Buck, a compelling and provocative novel

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.
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Thursday Thirteen - Edition Eight

Thirteen Books in the Stephanie Plum Series by Author Janet Evanovich
  1. One for the Money
  2. Two for the Dough
  3. Three to Get Deadly
  4. Four to Score
  5. High Five
  6. Hot Six
  7. Seven Up
  8. Hard Eight
  9. To the Nines
  10. Ten Big Ones
  11. Eleven on Top
  12. Twelve Sharp
  13. Lean Mean Thirteen
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In the Mailbox (19 Nov 08)

Enter my KELLEY ARMSTRONG BOOK GIVEAWAY



This week, in my mailbox, arrived these reads:

  


The Thirteenth (Vampire Huntress Legends) ~ L. A. Banks
The entire Neteru Guardian team is on the run, having now been labeled as America's most-wanted terrorists following the gruesome demon battle that felled the Washington Monument and crashed the front doors of the White House. The Anti-Christ is positioned for emergence, the powers of darkness have released the pale horse of the apocalypse, and half the Neteru team is pregnant. Plagues from hell that ravage the country are being cited as stemming from bio-terrorism. The nation is under martial law. The Neterus and their team are underground. If things weren't bad enough... the Dark Realm breaks the sixth Biblical seal, which plunges the world into perpetual darkness and irrevocably into the Armageddon.

Blood Dreams (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit) ~ Kay Hooper
Dani Justice knows all about monsters. They haunt her dreams—and her life. But she never expected to find herself on the trail of a real flesh-and-blood predator so cunning, he’s eluded the best law enforcement could send against him; so deadly, he doesn’t hesitate to kill even a senator’s daughter. Or a cop. Dani doesn’t want to hunt this killer. But she doesn’t have a choice. She alone commands a weapon powerful enough to stop him. And she knows something even Bishop of the FBI’s Special Crimes Unit doesn’t know. Dani knows how the hunt ends. It ends in fire. And blood. And death. What she doesn’t know is who will survive.

Queen of Dragons ~ Shana Abe
They are the stuff of glittering legend, supersensual creatures able to shape-shift from human to smoke to dragon. Now they face an enemy determined to destroy their dazzling world of magic and passion. Queen of Dragons It’s a stunning claim: the existence of a lost drákon tribe. And it comes from an intriguing source: a woman calling herself Princess Maricara of Transylvania. Alpha lord Kimber Langford, Earl of Chasen, can’t ignore the possibility. For whoever this unknown princess may be, she’s dangerous enough to know about his existence—and where to find him. And indeed, it isn’t long before Maricara breaches the defenses of Darkfrith and the walls around Kimber’s heart. Yet the princess arrives with urgent news: a mysterious serial killer is targeting the entire drákon race. To save their kind, Kimber and Mari must ally themselves body and soul in a battle that can spell their salvation, their extinction…or both.

Succubus Takes Manhattan ~ Nina Harper
The sexy heroine of "Succubus in the City," who doubles as a New York fashionista and soul-collector for Satan, returns for the second hot and hilarious adventure in a series tailor-made for fans of paranormal passion.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Review - Talk of the Town

Talk of the Town
Author: Karen Hawkins
Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Pocket (November 18, 2008)

Synopsis

Newly divorced Roxie Treymayne is dying to find out. After years of being the perfect Southern lady, all she ended up with was a cheating husband. So she goes bombshell blond, gets a provocatively placed tattoo, and prepares to live it up as a Bad Girl. But then her mother falls ill, Roxie is forced to return to Glory, North Carolina where, no matter how she dresses now, she’s known by one and all as ‘that nice Treymayne girl.

Once the town bad boy, Nick Sheppard is now Glory’s highly respected sheriff. When the hot blonde he stops for speeding turns out to be formerly prim Homecoming Queen Roxanne Treymayne, Nick doesn’t quite know where to look – though he’d like a much closer one at the tattoo peeking from her shorts.

Review

It's been quite some time since I've had the chance to read a contemporary romance without the influx of paranormal characters or an overabundance of sex. Needless to say, I found Karen Hawkins' first contemporary romantic comedy to a breath of fresh air.

It's easy to sympathize with Roxie, once you know where she's coming from. She was once the good girl, who married a good boy and had a good but albeit boring life. Until the day her husband decided he wanted out. The descriptions of Roxie's crazy antics after she finds out about her cheating husband (as spilled by Roxie's irrepressible former maid) will put a smile on the reader's face for sure. As will the shenanigans she's willy nilly dragged into by the irascible senior citizens she's supposed to taking out for much needed exercise. The result - a murder investigation into a murder that seems anything but.

Readers can also see where Nick is coming from. He's the former bad boy turned good. And now he doesn't want to jeopardize all that he's worked so hard to rebuild, for the sake of an ex-love no matter how gorgeous she's become, not to mention wicked! It's entertaining to see how all his noble-minded ways fly out the window every time he has an encounter with newly-turned-blonde sexy siren Roxie whose sole aim seems to aggravate him while becoming the cynosure of the entire scandalized town and gaining beaus left and right.

The citizens of Glory add to the general chaos what with the randy Mayor, his bimbo secretary, senior citizens who aspire to become like their idol, Gil Grissom of CSI, and other upstanding citizens who think nothing of concealing illegal activities and the like. The resultant hilarity is bound to keep the smile right on the reader's face, even as everything comes to a boil.

There were 2 other side stories going on that I particularly liked. One was the combative/manipulative relationship between two equally strong-minded women - Tundy, Roxie's former maid and Roxie's overbearing mother. This one ended in a way that I quite liked, for it seemed very natural. The other relationship is one that I feel will be getting a story of its own and I was surprised to see it sidelined, instead of being developed parallely in the background.

Cons

I generally liked the whole story, even the whole murder mystery bit which was surprisingly good for something that was not central to the whole story. But there were some things I didn't like.

The conflicting relationship that Roxie and her brother have with their domineering mother was an interesting and serious facet to this story. I felt it was resolved hurriedly, and not all that convincingly, in order to get achieve happy ending. Another thing I found objectionable was the sudden growing romance between their Mom and another guy. Again, I could see no reason for this deviation except for a need to provide every character with a happy ending. And perhaps to provide an excuse for the lady's softened mood which in turn made her less combative with her children.

In Short


If you're looking for a fun, light-hearted way to while away a winter afternoon, then you won't go wrong by picking up Talk of the Town by Karen Hawkins.

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Innovative Monday - Edition 19

Enter my KELLEY ARMSTRONG BOOK GIVEAWAY

Check out Linky Dinky's Magical Bookshelf!


The MAGIC SHELF floats your books in the air, docking to any wall you wish and is ideal for areas with limited space. I quite like it, although it's inadequate for my colleciton. What appeals to me is the idea of storage without visible shelves.

What do you think?
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Book Review - Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer


Author: Georgette Heyer
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
To help support her spoiled younger brother and a widowed aunt, beautiful but poor Deborah Grantham becomes the attractive hostess at her aunt's nightly card games. Soon she has a string of admirers including a callow under-age youth who wants to marry her and a jaded older man who has less honorable intentions, and none of whom Deb is interested in. And in this volatile mix enters Mr. Max Ravenscar, London's richest and most-tightfisted man. Cousin to the titled young gentleman who wants Deb for his wife, Ravenscar is determined in his efforts to buy off Debroah, believing her to be a scheming hussy, a Faro's daughter, a gambling addict. This infuriates the noble-hearted Deborah who then plots her outrageous revenge on Max. What results next is Heyer at her sparkling best - a exciting and highly entertaining Regency story of hidden love, outrageous plots and silly capers.
I have long been a fan of Regencies. Georgette Heyer in particular, excels in this genre and is always a delight to read. Faro's Daughter reminded me of yet another fave of mine, Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". The story of a strong-willed rich man and a spirited young woman of unsuitable antecedents is the point in common between these two lovely stories. But that's where the similarity ends.

Faro's Daughter is a lot more passionate and filled with raging, conflicting emotions that are expressed in the form of energetic, witty and no-holds-barred form of dialogue exchange between the leads that leaves the readers exhilarated and craving more. Deb is far more peppery than Regency heroines in general and this is a very refreshing change. Even Max, the not-so-perfect hero, is energetic, infuriating and yet comes out very likable despite it all. Other characters are also well-conceived. I particularly liked poor Lady Bellingham, Deb's beleaguered aunt, who barely avoids a heart-attack from some of Deb's more adventurous antics.

All in all, there's a reason why the well-plotted, character-driven, energetic Faro's Daughter is considered one of Heyer's best. 

Thanks to Sourcebooks, who is reprinting a number of Heyer's classic historical and Regency romances in trade format and plans to have 21 of her 40-plus novels in print by mid-2009, we'll be getting to read a lot of more of this beloved author's irresistible novels.

Read some of my other Georgette Heyer book reviews:
The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer
Friday's Child

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Children's Book Review - Houndsley and Catina by James Howe

Houndsley and Catina 
by James Howe (Author), Marie-Louise Gay (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Candlewick

Review Contributor: Tanya of www.books4yourkids.com
  
Buddy books seem to be the staple genre of beginning readers. Along with Frogand Toad and George and Martha, Houndsley and Catina can be added to the list of stand-outs in their field. Above all else, these stand-out friends show kindness and consideration for each other, especially at times of conflict. 

The three books in the series are written by James Howe, of Bunnicula series fame, and have detailed, cozy watercolor illustrations by Marie-Louise Gay, author and illustrator of the Stella and Sam books as well as the chapter book, Travels With My Family that match the gentle tone of Howe's writing. Houndsley is a dog with a soft-as-a-rose-petal voice who enjoys cooking, but learns that he neither wants or needs to be the best cook. Catina is a thoughtful, enthusiastic cat who thinks she wants to be a writer but learns that writing does not make her happy. 

Each book has three chapters, as opposed to the Frog & Toad and George & Martha books which are separated into stories. For siblings of older independent readers, this might make all the difference. Some kids who see their older sibling reading a chapter book will accept nothing less. Hopefully, this will fit the bill and take up a some time during that difficult learning year or so between being an emerging reader and an independent reader.

The other books, Houndsley and Catina and the Birthday Surprise, available in paperback and Houndlsey and Catina and the Quiet Time, available in hardcover, are equally enchanting and make for good story time reading as well for the three and four year old crowd as well.

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Books in the Bunnicula Series include:
Books in the Frog and Toad Series include:

Books in the George and Martha Series include:

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Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fantastic Fall Giveaway Contest


Welcome to the 1st ever
TitleTrakk.com Blog Tour!


This week we're chatting about:

The Fantastic Fall Giveaway Contest!

Just in time for the holidays, you could win over
$335 worth of books, cds and dvds!


Sponsored by our friends at:


The Grand Prize  Winner will receive:

BOOKS:

Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark
Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff
Beach Dreams by Trish Perry
Playing God by Michelle McKinney Hammond
White Soul by Brandt Dodson
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Finding Marie by Susan Paige Davis
The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian
A Man After God's Own Heart by Jim George
Evidence for Faith 101 by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz

CDS:

Wake Up! Wake Up! by Everyday Sunday
Rock What You Got by Superchick
Sunday by Tree63
Houston We Are Go by Newsboys (Live CD/DVD)
Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney
I Am Free Worship Collection
Salvation Station by Newworldson
Not Without Love by Jimmy Needham
Pages by Shane & Shane
Colors and Sounds by Article One

MOVIES:

Love's Unfolding Dream
The Ten Commandments Animated
Between the Walls

But that's not all!
We're giving away even more!


During this blog tour (November 10th           - 16th) we'll be drawing 2 winners daily from the contest entries to           win an additional           free           book or cd!

Visit the TitleTrakk.com Contest page today to enter the contest and place yourself in the running to receive the Grand Prize, plus all the daily prizes! Deadline to enter is November 17th.

About TitleTrakk.com:
Founded in 2006 by Tracy & C.J. Darlington, TitleTrakk.com is an interactive website spotlighting Christian books, music & movies. Updated weekly, we feature author and musician interviews, album and book reviews, music videos, movie reviews and interviews, book excerpts, surveys, polls, and fun contests. Learn more: http://www.titletrakk.com/about.htm


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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Edition Eight

In Memoriam

Michael Crichton

1942 - 2008


  1. State of Fear
  2. Next
  3. Prey
  4. Timeline
  5. Jurassic Park
  6. Disclosure
  7. Congo
  8. Sphere
  9. The Andromeda Strain
  10. Rising Sun
  11. The Terminal Man
  12. Airframe
  13. Eaters of the Dead

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



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In the Mailbox (12 Nov)


This week, in my mailbox, arrived these reads:

Any Given Doomsday (The Phoenix Chronicles, Book 1)  ~ Lori Handeland

Elizabeth Phoenix once used her unique skills as a psychic to help in the Milwaukee Police Department’s fight against injustice. But when Liz’s foster mother is found viciously murdered—and Liz is discovered unconscious at the scene—her only memory of the crime comes in the form of terrifying dreams...of creatures more horrific than anything Liz has seen in real life. What do these visions mean? And what in the world do they have to do with her former lover, Jimmy Sanducci? READ MORE...

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook ~ Madeline Hunter 

Only a desperate mission could bring Leona Montgomery face-to-face with the scoundrel whose dangerous sensuality once sent her fleeing from his arms. But she has under-estimated Christian, Marquess of Easterbrook. As irresistible as ever, his past swathed in mystery, Christian has his own plans for the woman he has waited seven years to claim. Yet once desire reignites, bringing a dangerous secret into the open, Leona will find herself bound to the seductive nobleman in ways she could never have imagined. Seven years have changed nothing: this man can tempt her to ruin with just one touch. With Leona’s reputation and hopes for her family’s salvation in tatters, she must follow the only course left to her…even as each step brings her closer to a shattering truth and a passion she can no longer live without. READ MORE...

Dark Magic (Magic Series, Book 5) ~ Cheyenne McCray

Jake Macgregor has his hands full. As San Francisco’s leader of the Paranormal Special Forces unit, he and his team are facing a powerful enemy that threatens to bring down the city. With the weight of the world already resting on his broad, chiseled shoulders, the last thing Jake has time for is romance. So why—after a long, hard day’s fight against evil—are his nights filled with dreams of Cassia?

Cassia is a D’Anu witch whose birthright ensures power and honor beyond her imagination. It also forbids the one thing Cassia wants the most: the love of mortal Jake Macgregor. When she intervenes in a skirmish to save his life, the consequences are inescapable—even though the magic they make together is too luscious, and potent, to resist. READ MORE...

One Silent Night (Dark-Hunter, Book 13)  ~ Sherrilyn Kenyon

While the world carries on unawares, Stryker, who leads an army of demons and vampires, is plotting an all out onslaught against his enemies—which, unfortunately for us, includes the entire human race. To avenge his sister, Stryker prepares to annihilate the Dark-Hunters. But things go awry when his oldest enemy returns. Enter his ex-wife. Zephyra. Just when he thought nothing could stop him, he’s now embroiled in a centuries old war with a shrew who gives new meaning to pain. READ MORE...

True Colors  ~ Kristin Hannah

It’s early yet—the book won’t be out until February 3rd, but here’s a little sneak peek into the story from the author's website : Set on a horse ranch in Western Washington, True Colors is about three sisters whose lives were shaped by the loss of their mother when they were young. Raised by a distant, disapproving father, they banded together and became best friends. There’s Winona, who has spent a lifetime struggling with her weight and trying desperately to gain her father’s approval…and Aurora, the middle child, who is the family peacekeeper and wants everyone to be happy, even as she hides her own secret pain…and Vivi Ann, the beautiful, romantic dreamer, for whom everything seems to come easily, her father’s love most of all, until a stranger comes to town.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Treasures : Book Giveaways (11 Nov)

I'm once again going to start posting book giveaways here every Tuesday. So, if you're having one or know of one, then just click "Submit Contest" in the top menu bar to send me the details.

Enter to win:

Don't forget to enter my giveaway - the Kelley Armstrong Book Giveaway
Ends Nov 24th.

ARC for Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn @ Bookshipper
Ends Nov 25th

Treasure at Blue Heron Lake and Dog Gone by Eileen Key @ The Road I'm Traveling
Ends Nov 30th

Passive Aggressive Notes: Painfully Polite and Hilariously Hostile Writings by Kerry Miller @ Wish List Worthy
Ends Nov 14th

What Peace There May Be by Susanna Barlow @ My Raves
Ends Nov 30th

The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips by Stephen Baldwin @ Books Movies and Chinese Food
Ends Nov 14th

Stargate Atlantis: The Official Companion Season 4 (Stargate Atlantis)  by Sharon Gosling @ TVaholic
Ends Nov 14th

Smallville: The Official Companion Season 7 by Craig Byrne @ TVaholic
Ends Nov 14th

Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin @ Camy Tang's
Ends Nov 17th

Food Fights by Laura A. Jana @ Lisa Cooking
Ends Nov 16th
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Kelley Armstrong Book Giveaway

Hardcover: 384 pages

I'm having a new book giveaway! TWO lucky readers of this blog will each win a copy of  "Living with the Dead by Kelley Armstrong". Many Thanks to Bantam Dell for generously sponsoring this giveaway!

Photobucket
GIVEAWAY

To Enter
  1. Just leave a comment with your email address and state which Kelley Armstrong book is your favorite. If you've never read this author before, then state why you want to read this book.
  2. No email address, no entry. (Your email address will only be used to contact you in case you're the lucky winner)

For Extra Entries

You may do one or all of the following. Each counts as one extra entry.
Please leave a NEW comment for each extra entry you do.
  1. Mention this giveaway on your blog/site with a link back to this post and to the Bantam Dell website.
  2. Subscribe to my feed. (Only confirmed subscribers will be considered.)
  3. Add my button to your blog/site's sidebar and leave me a new comment saying where it can be found. (If you already have it up, mention that in your comment).
  4. Follow me on Twitter and don't forget to your twitter id here.
  5. Twitter this giveaway, and copy me on it.

Deadline   Midnight CST of November 24th.

Eligibility  US only.

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Innovative Monday - Edition Eighteen

Check out the
ASSEMBLAGE 

Assemblage is made up of ten wooden crate style boxes, each with different silkscreen prints. The boxes nest inside of each other and can be stacked and held together by straps to create a shelf, or can be used separately as small side tables or storage units. [via]

Price : £450.00

'Nuf said.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Children's Book Review - The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
122pp
Reading Level 5
1996 Newbery winner

Review Contributor: Tanya of www.books4yourkids.com
 
Books written in the fantasy genre are my favorites, however, there are a few works of historical fiction that I enjoy reading over and over again. Among them, The Midwife's Apprentice is one of my favorites. Karen Cushman is remarkably skilled at evoking the colorful, dirty, smelly aspects of life in a medieval village and equally adept at creating strong female characters who face adversity and, through true trial and error, grow to meet their challenges.

The main character of The Midwife's Apprentice is a nameless, ageless and homeless girl, found sleeping in a dung pile for warmth when the story begins. Apprenticed by Jane Sharp, the self-interested, greedy village midwife, who renames her Beetle, after a dung beetle, she learns that midwifery is as much about hard work as it is tonics and spells. Used to being an outsider, Beetle watches the movements of those around her and is caught spying on the midwife's secret tryst with the married  baker, which clues her in to the source of all the bread the midwife had been bringing home, but also lets her in for curses and punishment. When the midwife injures her leg, Beetle is sent to the St. Swithin's Day Fair to buy supplies. There, a merchant gives her a wooden comb to make her curls (curls she never knew she had) shine, the first thing she ever owned. Later that day, she acquires a proper name as well when she is mistaken for a girl named Alyce and decides that she is a person with individual qualities who should have the name of a person, not a bug.

Although it is a short book, much happens over the course of the story.  Alyce makes a friend, helps a cow birth twin calves and helps the bailiff's wife with a breech birth when the midwife abandons her to help the lady of the manor, who pays in silver, through her labor.  Alyce watches and learns from the midwife but also learns methods, such as yelling and slapping, that she does not want to adopt.  When the bailiff's sister asks specifically for Alyce to deliver her child, Alyce she faces a challenge that she cannot meet and runs away in shame and sadness. She finds a job at a nearby inn and is taught to read and write by the local Magister.  One day, Alyce overhears the midwife, who is visiting the inn, say that she didn't need an apprentice who gives up, she needs one who can try and risk and fail and try again and not give up.  Babies don't stop being born and a midwife can quit trying to help them into this world.  A well written turn of events leads Alyce back to the midwife's door, only to be turned away.  But, remembering  the words of the midwife, Alyce knocks on the door again and vows to do so until she is let in.

I am still amazed by how much content Cushman packs into this short novel. The character development of the nameless girl who becomes Alyce is amazing and, in the subtle way that I admire most, a wonderful example life's lessons is learned through her experiences. The affair between the baker and Jane Sharp takes up a few lines in the beginning of the book, and while it might concern some parents, I think it is written in a way that will go over most reader's heads. The scenes that involve childbirth are not graphic either, although Cushman does not hesitate to describe the moans and howls that (naturally) laboring women make. Understandably, this book isn't for every reader. However, it is so uniquely special and Alyce is such a strong, persevering character that she should not be missed.

If your child likes this, suggest Matilda Bone, by Karen Cushman, Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi.  For older readers (12 and up) I suggest Sea of Trolls and the sequel, The Land of Silver Apples, by Nancy Farmer and, all by Cynthia Voigt including Elske, another all-time historical fiction favorite of mine, Jackaroo, and On Fortune's Wheel.

Buy the Book - here.
Buy the Kindle Version - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.

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