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Showing posts from October, 2008

Trick or Treat!

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Book Review - Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott

Dating da Vinci
Author: Malena Lott
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released: November 1, 2008

A linguist and English teacher, 36-year-old widow, and mother of two, Ramona Elise starts to fall for one of her students-a gorgeous 25-year-old Italian immigrant whose name just happens to be Leonardo da Vinci. She knows she shouldn't take him home, but he has nowhere to live and barely speaks English.

She helps him forge a new life in America, and he helps her to find joy again after grieving her beloved husband. Complications soon arise and Ramona finds her life shaken up a good deal more than she'd ever bargained for.


I rather liked this story of a woman rising above her grief and coming to terms with not just her husband's death but also re-learning how to live and be her person after being half of a whole for so long. It’s somewhat inspiring and enjoyable. There were some things I didn’t like, but more on that later. Let me focus on the main issue – the Ita…

Thursday Thirteen - Edition Six

Thirteen upcoming releases that appealed to me : Scarpetta (Kay Scarpetta) ~ Patricia CornwellYour Heart Belongs to Me  ~ Dean Koontz The Bodies Left Behind: A Novel ~ Jeffery DeaverWhere Serpents Sleep: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery  ~ C.S. Harris The Fire Kimono (Sano Ichiro Novels) ~ Laura Joh RowlandArctic Drift (A Dirk Pitt Novel, #20) ~ Clive Cussler Twilight Collector's Edition (The Twilight Saga)  ~ Stephenie MeyerThe World According to Bertie ~ Alexander Mccall Smith The House on Tradd Street  ~ Karen WhiteCalling Mr. Lonely Hearts: A Novel ~ Laura Benedict The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Standard Edition ~ J. K. RowlingPlum Spooky (A Between-the-Numbers Novel) ~ Janet Evanovich The Devil's Punchbowl: A Novel ~ Greg IlesWhat's on your upcoming list? Do share!

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 encou…

Book Review - Rubicon by Lawrence Alexander

Author: Lawrence Alexander
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: William Morrow


Bobby Hart, an idealistic young senator from California, thinks that he's escaped the political spotlight when he decides not to run for president. Then, on a secret mission to Germany, he discovers that there is going to be an assassination. He doesn't know who is the target, who is behind the plan, or where it will take place. All he knows is that it will happen before the election. And that it operates under the code name Rubicon.


Without understanding the significance of the term 'Rubicon', it's not easy to understand what this novel's about. Wikipedia says - "Crossing the Rubicon" is a popular idiom meaning to pass a point of no return. It refers to Caesar's 49 BC crossing of the river Rubicon, which was considered an act of war."

I've been meaning to read this novel for quite some time now, but only last week actually got a chance to read…

Matrimony Giveaway Winner

Thank you all for your participation in the giveaway of "Matrimony by Joshua Henkin".

One lucky reader will walk away with this book! Was it you? Don't ever miss out and subscribe to this blog's feed today. Just click here.

And now, Here's the lucky winner...

The lucky reader who won this book, and as chosen by, is none other than Commenter #10, Danielle who said...
In a world full of divorce and separations, I love to read a good book that tells how a couple makes it last for so many years. ldsmom2201 at yahoo dot comCongratulations, Danielle! You'll be getting your autographed book directly from Joshua himself!

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Book Review - Murder Packs a Suitcase

Murder Packs a Suitcase
Author : Cynthia Baxter
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
Publisher: Bantam (October 28, 2008)


Thanks to her new job as travel writer for the New York magazine The Good Life,recently widowed Mallory is zipping around Orlando, assigned to rediscover the glory days of “old Florida.” It’s the first of what she hopes will be many exciting adventures . . . but she’s about to discover that the Sunshine State has a dark side.


I'd previously read and enjoyed Cynthia Baxter's mysteries in the Reigning Cats & Dogs series, featuring vet-turned-sleuth Jessie Popper. This book marks the beginning of a new series, the Murder Packs a Suitcase mystery series, featuring travel writer Mallory Marlowe.

Baxter excels in creating a strong amateur sleuth / central female character whose inquisitiveness is only excelled by the complications she gets herself into. As usual, there's a plethora of red herrings which helps keep the investigation moving …

Innovative Monday - Edition Sixteen

This is not just a bookshelf, but a bookshelf sofa?!! Check out the amazing,


La Bibliochaise is veneered in oak tinted wengé or tinted black, with a wax finish and leather cushions with removable covers in a wide range of colours. Contains 5 metres of books. [via]

If any of you hits the multi-million lottery, buy this one for me, will ya?! It's this bibliomaniac's dream sofa :)

What about you?
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Children's Book Review - AMERICA: The Making of a Nation

AMERICA: The Making of a Nation
Author: Charlie Samuels
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Library Binding: 30 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers

AMERICA takes a fresh and compelling look at the birth of our nation, with lavish illustrations and interactive novelty spreads on every page.

Revealed through the lens of an anonymous journal, readers will take a chronological journey through watershed moments of American History. From the Founding Fathers' signing of the Declaration of Independence through current events of the 21st century, AMERICA offers an in-depth look at the making of our nation in an accessible volume that will speak to readers of every age.

Chockfull of innovative novelty components, including lift-the-flap postcards, removable song lyrics, and even a foldout replica of the Declaration of Independence, AMERICA offers readers a captivating exploration of the ideals and values our nation was built upon.Review

I have no hesitation in saying that although I…

Children's Book Review - The Penderwicks

The Penderwicks
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 272 pages

Review Contributor: Tanya of

I have wanted to read this book since it came out, and now that it is in paperback and the sequel has been published I am happy to say that I read it and loved it as much as I thought I would. This is definitely one of the best children's books published in 2005 and I don't know why it didn't win at least a Newbery Honor. Jeanne Birdsall has accomplished an amazing feat with The Penderwicks, and I believe she pulls it off because of the debt she owes to the classic children's books of her childhood, a debt that she repays by mentioning them, sometimes cryptically, throughout her wonderful book. She makes a nod to the queen of children's literature who was writing at the turn of the century, E. Nesbit, by referring to her characters from The Treasure Seekers, The Wouldbegoods and The New Treasure Seekers, The Bastables, motherless …

Easy Entertaining for Beginners

Easy Entertaining for Beginners
Author: Patricia Mendez
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Maple Heights Press


You don't have to be professional chef or nervous wreck to host great casual at-home entertaining. You will have all of your questions answered, from what to serve to what to do. Even if you have never entertained in your life, you can have a terrific time putting together a superb celebration. Included are 13 delicious complete menus with easy-to-follow recipes, full color photographs, ideas for music, activities and drinks. Checklists ease readers step-by-step through every phase of planning, preparation, and presentation. You will gain confidence and have a terrific time putting together successful celebrations. Occasions include: My First Cocktail Party, Family Fiesta, Dinner with Close Friends, Guys Night Out, My First Thanksgiving and more!

About the Author

Patricia Mendez has catered and coordinated special events for 17 years in Southern California. She cu…

Wednesday Winnings - Some Giveaways

Author Ava Rose Johnson is giving away a box of her favorite candy along with a few other little goodies. Link

Author Marie Harte is giving away a box of Godiva chocolates. To be entered, all you have to do is send her an email telling her: Name a sexy monster you'd like to see play the hero in a book, and why. Link.

Author Lauren Blades is giving away a PDF copy of Sofia's Lobo. Deadline for entry: November 15, 2008. Link.

In Author Monica Ferris' giveaway, the winner gets his/her choice of one of the five prizes – plus a
copy of Blackwork, suitably autographed. To enter, you need to create a character! More details there.

Katrina is giving away any book she's read or mentioned. Get more details and enter before next Monday when a new giveaway starts!

Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of Lydia Bennet's Story at Diary of an Eccentric. (read my review here)

Another Sarah's Key Giveaway at Booking Mama's. Enter before Oct 31st.

**Edited …

Innovative Monday - Edition Fifteen

Another Monday brings to you yet another intriguing book storage solution. This week it is -

The Rick Ivey Bookshelf

More of a fashion statement that serious storage, is my feeling about this. What do you think?
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Children's Book Review - Travels With My Family

Time for the weekly Friday Feature, a children's book review!

Travels With My Family by David Homel and Marie-Louise Gay Reading level: 3 Paperback: 119 pages

Review Contributor: Tanya of
Marie-Louise Gay is the author and illustrator of many picture books, including the "Stella" and "Sam" series. Her bright and gentle water colors, along with the quirky siblings, big sister Stella and little brother Sam, make for beautiful books  for the 2- 4 year old crowd and are also good beginning readers for older children. Gay also illustrates the "Houndsley and Catina" series of beginning reader books written by James Howe, of "Bunnicula" fame. Travels With My Family is her first chapter book, and, along with her husband (and traveling partner) David Homel, they have written a wonderful book, which I suspect is largely autobiographical as the author info notes that they have two sons and a cat named Miro.

The book consists of nine …

Book Review - Art: The Definitive Visual Guide

Art: The Definitive Visual Guide
Hardcover: 612 pages
Publisher: DK ADULT (October 20, 2008)


ART, the ultimate visual guide to 2,000 of the world's most revered paintings and sculptures, begins with a short section on how to look at paintings and sculpture, explaining the simple steps of formal analysis that swiftly become automatic and greatly increase and inform your enjoyment of art. The main part of the book is a 540-page chronological look at more than 700 artists. This section is subdivided into the main periods of art history with introductions to each period or art movement that explain the key elements and influences of the time. With several paintings by each major artist, this section is a joy to dip into or study in more depth. Key paintings are examined in detail to help you understand the artist’s intentions, style, and method. Thematic galleries are interspersed, showing how artists from different periods and places treat the same subject matter, such as …

Book Review - The Fire by Katerine Neville

The Fire
Author: Katherine Neville
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 14, 2008)


2003, Colorado: Alexandra Solarin is summoned home to her family’s ancestral Rocky Mountain hideaway for her mother’s birthday. Thirty years ago, her parents, Cat Velis and Alexander Solarin, believed that they had scattered the pieces of the Montglane Service around the world, burying with them the secrets of the power that comes with possessing it. But Alexandra arrives to find that her mother is missing and that a series of strategically placed clues, followed swiftly by the unexpected arrival of a mysterious assortment of houseguests, indicates that something sinister is afoot.

When she inadvertently discovers from her aunt, the chess grandmaster Lily Rad, that the most powerful piece of Charlemagne’s service has suddenly resurfaced and the Game has begun again, Alexandra is swept into a journey that takes her from Colorado to the Russian wilderness and at last into the …

Weekly Books Round-up (11 Oct)

Shattered Reality
Author: Kimberly Cheryl

Description-This is my story, a mother's story, about the abuse of my daughter and my struggles to over come. I thought I could trust my family members. I thought I knew and could trust the legal system. I was wrong. As a parent, I couldn't find help for ME...what to expect on this journey with my daughter and her recovery. I didn't know how much pain I would suffer as well. This is my story and my struggle toward recovery. Some how, some way, I hope it gives you hope for your journey as well.

Bond of Darkness: A Novel of Texas Vampires
Author: Diane Whiteside

Description- For 150 years, Ethan Templeton has happily followed Don Rafael Perez, vampire patron of Texas. But now Ethan has fallen in love with Stephanie Darling—known as Steve—a Texas Ranger and mere mortal. Unfortunately, a future with Steve is impossible. Because if Ethan turns her into a vampire, the price is execution by Don Rafael—the only one allowed to create vampires …

Children's Book Review - Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant

Readers, please welcome Tanya who'll be contributing children's book reviews for my Friday feature! Below is her review of Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant.

Author: Cynthia Rylant, Mark Teague
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 56 pages
Publisher: Blue Sky Press


I always knew that Cynthia Rylant was a prolific writer, but I never realized how many books by her I had read until I began writing reviews. And, again, I get to review a book with pictures by another one of my favorite illustrators. Mark Teague, who may be best known for illustrating the "How Do Dinosaurs" books by Jane Yolen, is a wonderful picture book author/illustrator in his own right. However, my all-time favorites are the books he did with Audrey Wood, The Flying Dragon Room and Sweet Dream Pie. The stories and illustrations are brilliantly imaginative and perfectly creatively matched. Don't forget, picture books are still appealing to and great reads for 2nd and even 3rd grade readers.…

Author Guest Post - Jim Murdoch

Jim Murdoch is the author of four novels, the first of which, Living with the Truth, was published in May 2008 and has received excellent reviews, some of which can be read on his website. The sequel, Stranger than Fiction, is due out at the beginning of 2009. He also authors the popular literary blog, The Truth About Lies.

What it means to be a writer
I began writing poetry in my early teens when quite a bit of it found its way into print. I continued pottering away until I reached about thirty whereupon everything dried up and I thought that was me. With several hundred poems to my credit I resigned myself to being ordinary for the rest of my life. This is not to suggest that it's a bad thing to be ordinary, far from it, it's simply that my life up until that point had not been ordinary and I wasn't sure how to go about it. I tried – no one can accuse me of not trying – but I found I wasn't happy being ordinary; it didn't satisfy…

Book Review - Lydia Bennet's Story

Lydia Bennet's Story : A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Odiwe
Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks


Lydia Bennet is the flirtatious, wild and free-wheeling youngest daughter. Her untamed expressiveness and vulnerability make her fascinating to readers who'll love this imaginative rendering of Lydia's life after her marriage to the villainous George Wickham. Will she mature or turn bitter? Can a girl like her really find true love?

In Lydia Bennet's Story we are taken back to Jane Austen's most beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, to a Regency world seen through Lydia's eyes where pleasure and marriage are the only pursuits. But the road to matrimony is fraught with difficulties and even when she is convinced that she has met the man of her dreams, complications arise. When Lydia is reunited with the Bennets, Bingleys, and Darcys for a grand ball at Netherfield Park, the shocking truth about her husband may just cause the greatest sca…

The Missing by Shiloh Walker

ExcerptThe weird sense of deja vu exploded into something else entirely. Something that shook her to the core. His eyes narrowed and he reached up, caught her chin in his, staring at her.

She was pale and Cullen thought she looked every bit as shaken as he felt. “The dreams,” he muttered. He caught her face in his hands and forced her to look at him, staring into her pale gray eyes. The ugly, dark bruise around her left eye made her iris seem that much paler and as he watched, the pupil flared, enlarging until just a sliver of gray of visible.

Taige tried to jerk away and he wouldn’t let her. “You had the dreams, too, didn’t you?” he demanded.
Her voice shook as she reached up with one hand to jerk on his wrist, trying to break his hold. “Let go of me.”

Slowly, he shook his head. “You have,” he whispered, dismay spreading through him.

Dismay–and something else. She’d always held herself apart from him in those dreams. But through those dreams, he’d gotten to know her, gotten to kno…

Book Giveaway - Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

Author: Joshua Henkin
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Vintage


It's the fall of 1986, and Julian Wainwright, an aspiring writer, arrives at Graymont College in New England. Here he meets Carter Heinz, with whom he develops a strong but ambivalent friendship, and beautiful Mia Mendelsohn, with whom he falls in love. Spurred on by a family tragedy, Julian and Mia's love affair will carry them to graduation and beyond, taking them through several college towns, over the next fifteen years. Starting at the height of the Reagan era and ending in the new millennium, Matrimony is a stunning novel of love and friendship, money and ambition, desire and tensions of faith. It is a richly detailed portrait of what it means to share a life with someone-to do it when you're young, and to try to do it afresh on the brink of middle age.

About the Author

Joshua Henkin is the author of the novel Swimming Across the Hudson, which was selected by the Los Angeles Times as a notab…

Innovative Monday - Edition Fourteen

Another Monday and time for another unusual book storage solution. This week's feature is the Joya Shelf.
Israel-based 16:54 Design Group's Joya Shelf securely suspends books or dvd's in an upright position, creating a clean-line, visual floating effect. When clustered, the collective top surface of the books or dvd's become another usable surface.

Again, not for the serious book collector, I'm thinking. But it's an interesting concept. I wonder though, will it be able to hold fat hardcovers such as the last Harry Potter?

What do you think?
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Review - The Darker Side by Cody Mcfadyen

The Darker Side
Author: Cody Mcfadyen
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Bantam (September 30, 2008) Synopsis
A lie, a long-ago affair, a dark desire—everyone has secrets they take to the grave. No one knew that better than FBI special agent Smoky Barrett. But what secret was a very private young woman keeping that led to her very public murder? And what kind of killer was so driven and so brazenly daring that he’d take her life on a commercial airliner thirty thousand feet in midair, a killer so accomplished that he’d leave only a small souvenir behind?

These are the questions that bring Smoky and her hand-picked team of experienced manhunters from L.A. to the autumn chill of Washington, D.C., by order of the FBI director himself—and at the special request of a high-powered grieving D.C. mother.

As a mother, Smoky knows the pain of losing a child—it nearly killed her once before. As a cop with her own twisted past, she takes every murder personally, which is both her greatest strength and…