Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mailbox Monday-06/01/09

With my 40% off coupon from Borders I went and bought the first book in the Jessica Darling series of books by Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts. I have heard such great things about them that I thought I would give them a try.

One book came in the mail this past week for review. Two Brothers - One North, One South by David H. Jones. 

Summary: Walt Whitman feared that the real war would never get in the books: the true stories that depicted the courage and humanity of soldiers who fought, bled, and died in the American Civil War. Exceptionally researched and keenly accurate to actual events, along with the personages that forged them, David H. Jones's novel spans four years in the midst of America s costliest and most commemorated war. The journey is navigated by the poet, Walt Whitman, whose documented compassion for the wounded and dying soldiers of the war takes him to Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C., and finds him at the bedside of William Prentiss, a Rebel soldier, just after fighting has ended. As fate has it, William's brother, Clifton, a Union officer, is being treated in another ward of the same hospital, and Whitman becomes the sole link not just between the two, but with the rest of their family as well. The reader is taken seamlessly from Medfield Academy in Baltimore, where the Prentiss family makes its home, to the many battlefields where North and South collide, and even through the drawing rooms of wartime Richmond, where Hetty, Jenny, and Constance Cary are the reigning belles.
Sounds good! Thanks, Paula.

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page

Sunday Salon (5/31/09)

It is hard to believe May has come to an end. Well, almost. The day is not quite over yet. May has been a good month. Busy, yes, but overall a good one. The end of May, to me, is the end of the year. The school year, that is. After Wednesday, I will be on Summer Break. My days will be filled with books, knitting and hopefully some outdoor fun. I will be traveling quite a bit as well. 

EOY craziness may keep off the computer this coming week but I will back with lots of extra time soon after.

Books read this month:

41. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (may)
40. The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (may)
39. Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich (may)
38. All I Want Is Everything by Cecily von Zeigesar (may)
37. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson (may)
36. The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (may)
35. Afraid by Jack Kilborn (may)
34. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (may)
33. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (may)
32. Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton (may)
31. An Obsolete Honor by Helena P. Schrader (may)

Most of these satisfied required reading for all those Challenges over there.-->
You will also find the links to all the books reviewed just below them. Forgive my lack of links on the post. I am still recovering from my weekend activities. After this post it is back to the comfort of my bed with no glaring glow of the computer.

June reviews you can look forward to:

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
Royal Blood by Rona Sharon
Handle With Care by Jodi Piccoult

and hopefully a book for the Classics Challenge. I am dreadfully behind on that one.

Happy Sunday.

The Sunday

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Review- The Bermudez Triangle By Maureen Johnson

The Bermudez Triangle The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

This was a very refreshing change in the YA books I have been reading lately. I have been reading a lot of Fantasy (which I love) but this was a complete 180 from those books that I didn't know I would like so much. There was a good mix of romance, coming of age story and controversial issue to really grab my interest.

 It tells the story of young girls falling in love for the first time, the changing dynamics between friends and the usual fear of what others think of them. The difference that I liked was that the romance develops between two of a trio of best friends. Mel, who is completely sure that she prefers girls to boys and falls completely in love and Avery, who is confused about her feelings and doesn't want anyone to know about her "relationship". The third friend, Nina, who is away for the summer when this all comes about, is surprised but supportive and yet feels a bit left out.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were believable and likable, very sympathetic. The story line was refreshingly new to me and quite interesting. I really liked the way Maureen Johnson addressed the girls' discovery of their sexuality. The book showed a teen coming to terms with being gay in a very real and sensitive way. Definitely a must read.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Wii has taken over

I am having a very hard time getting my books read or any knitting done. 


Well, the hubby and I broke down this weekend and bought ourselves a Wii. Yup, we are now completely addicted to it and we only have one game! Guitar Hero. We can't stop ourselves from turning it on anytime we have a few minutes (ok, hours) to spare. We also have the Wii Fit so we have been using that as well. 

30 minutes (at least) of Wii Fit each day since we got it on Friday and I won't mention how much time has been spent on Guitar Hero. It is just too much fun. I can't stop playing Knights of Cydonia! Love me my Muse.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday Salon ... on Monday

I have been a bit lazy the past two weeks about posting. I missed last weeks Sunday Salon and missed yesterday's! You get it a day late this week. 

The past two weeks have been pretty busy with the end of school coming quickly and the finishing up of books to read and review. I got all of them done and posted and am now reading books that have been on my night stand for years! I am reading a Douglas Preston book that I bought probably 2 years ago on sale at B&N. I am half way through it and wondering why I put it off for so long. It is the perfect book to get in the mood for fun summer reading.

Recent reviews (in case you missed):

Afraid by Jack Kilborne
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich

Nothing! No books this week. I am off to Borders right now, though, to go and use my 40% coupon. What to get?


Yvonne of Socrates Book Reviews and Jennifer of Just Jennifer Reading have given me the Lemonade Award. 

Thank you ladies! I will try to pass this one at a later time when I am not rushing to get out the door.

Hope everyone enjoys their Monday!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Book Review- Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich

Plum Spooky (A Stephanie Plum Between the Numbers/Holiday Novel, #4) Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie is on the hunt for Martin Munch who has stolen some sort of technology from his company. He is hiding out in the Pine Barrens with a guy named Wolf that everyone calls the Vampire. With the help of the usual suspects and the return of Diesel, Stephanie goes in search of her prey through the woods that are home to the Jersey Devil and quite a number of odd characters.

It had its moments. Lula is as funny and crazy as ever. Stephanie's men all make appearances. It is supposed to have a supernatural feel to it but it just didn't work. There was nothing "spooky" about the book. I just kept waiting and waiting for something to happen but nothing ever did. The "supernatural" aspects were a bit weak and felt out of place in this world that Janet Evanovich has created.

It definitely had its funny moments and I actually thought the monkey bit was cute. Yup, there is a monkey. Many monkeys actually. I tell you, strange stuff but nothing scary. I am starting to think these books have run their course. Time for new characters and story lines. I love Janet Evanovich's use of humour and her stories are always entertaining but I am starting to lose interest in Stephanie Plum and co.


AtoZ Challenge

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Book Review- The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I don't usually do this, but I am going to use the blurb from the back of the book for the summary, just because I don't want to give anything away...

"They have always been here. Vampires.
Nesting and feeding.
In secret and in darkness. Waiting.
Now their time has come.
In one week, Manhattan will be gone.
In three months, the country. In six months-the world.
I was really excited about getting this book and had been anxiously waiting to find time to read it. When I finally opened it up and got started I became a bit worried that I had built it up a little too much in my head. My expectations were a bit high. I was expecting something similar in style to Pan's Labyrinth but didn't get it.

Now, I did enjoy it, but the beginning was a bit slow. Nothing really captured my interest until page 125 and that was quite a way in. The events leading up to the characters' realization of what they are up against were dragged out, minute by minute. A trip to the medical examiner finally speeds things up and the book gets much more interesting, creepy and fun.

This is a slightly different take on the vampire invasion story. A bit similar to I Am Legend... but, before Will Smith is left all on his own.  (I have only seen the movie, haven't read the book yet). The vampires were different than the norm and quite scary which I liked. 

This is the first book of a trilogy so I suspect now that characters have been introduced and story begun, the next two books should be much quicker to get started and full of vampire fun.

The book comes out June 2nd.


Monday, May 18, 2009

I need a new project.

I need something new to knit.

I have managed to finish a few WIPs I had laying around the house which means I give myself permission to start something new. But what? I have no idea what to knit next and I know it is not the other three projects I have yet to finish.

Something for baby is what I am thinking. My sister is pregnant, due in August and I need to get started on some baby stuff. Thankfully, I know that it is a girl so that makes deciding on yarn and colors a little easier. But I need a really great pattern to start on. Garment, is what I am thinking. I really don't think a blanket will hold my interest right now.

So, what should I knit? Any ideas?

A few more books on my shelf

This week I had a hard time staying away from the bookstores. I blame the hubby. He needed a book last weekend and today, well, he wasn't here to stop me from going. :)

I picked up the fourth book in The Artemis Fowl series, The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer and I found Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill on sale last Sunday.

There was also an audiobook of Max by James Patterson in the mail. A giveaway win from Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelf.

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page

Friday, May 15, 2009

Book Review- Afraid by Jack Kilborn

Afraid Afraid by Jack Kilborn

Safe Haven, Wisconsin turns out to not be so safe when a military helicopter crashes in town and unleashes unimaginable horrors on the residents. Five government Super Soldiers are unleashed on the unsuspecting populous of the small community. Is it a terrible government accident or a planned operation?

This book was quite an experience. It started off with the creep factor right from the start and was never ending gore and violence to the very end. I hadn't read a book like this in so long. It was fun to get back to the kind of books I used to read. This was a little more gory than Dean Koontz and Stephen King but still very much in that genre. The beginning chapter was the most terrifying for me. No gore just psychologically scary and made me get up and lock the doors. Less gore and more psychological thrills and this book would have been even better. It was fun reading some of those parts to the hubby, though.

If you like being scared and don't have a problem with gory details, this is a lot of fun.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book review- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

The discovery of personal belongings of Japanese-American families sent to internment camps during WWII in the basement of the Panama Hotel in Seattle triggers Henry Lee's memories of childhood and his long-lost childhood friend and sweetheart. His best friend at the American school was Keiko Okabe, the only other nonwhite kid that attended. Henry is forever a loyal and dedicated friend despite numerous obstacles, including separation, discrimination and family disapproval.

The novel jumps from the time of the war to 1986. Which usually I don't like, but here it works well in setting the tone of the book. You get to see him as a young kid and experience his life in Chinatown and around Japantown of Seattle during this difficult and sad time in American history. You then see how different his life is as an adult and parent as he searches for items that once belonged to Keiko. I loved seeing the relationship between Henry and his son Marty change during this time of discovery and searching. It just shows how many misunderstandings and assumptions kids make about their parents. Marty comes to see his dad in a whole new way and Henry finds he is not over losing his friend so long ago thanks to his son.

So many emotions were brought out in me while reading this book. Anger at the kids who terrorized Henry and Keiko at their school and at the cruelty of adults towards Americans who were very much loyal citizens. Sadness when reading about the loss of so many personal belongings, memories and heirlooms. Hope that future generations of these families will never have to experience such prejudices and hatred in their lifetimes. Happiness in young love and finding lost loves.  A beautiful story I recommend to everyone. 

"He'd do what he always did, find the sweet among the bitter." Page 265.


WWII Challenge

About the Author:

Career-wise, Jamie went to art school in Seattle to become an illustrator, and ended up an art director/copywriter. He's won an embarrassingly large amount of meaningless awards including 400+ Addys, 7 Best-of-Shows, and his work has appeared in Adweek, Advertising Age, Graphis and Communication Arts. He also had a commercial appear on an episode of The U.K.'s Funniest Commercials inspired by an embarrassing incident with a bidet that he'd rather not go into right now.

On the writerly side, he won the 2006 Clarity of Night Short Fiction Contest, was First Runner-Up in the 2006 Midnight Road Reader's Choice Awards and was a Top-25 finalist in Glimmer Train's Fall 2006 Short Story Award For New Writers. He's been published in The Picolata Review, and his fiction is online at Flashing in the Gutters and Fictional Musings. He's also an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a survivor of Orson Scott Card's Literary Bootcamp.

Jamie's debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was released by Ballantine--January 27, 2009.

On the personal side, he's the proud father of two boys and two girls. Yep, it's chaos, but the good kind of chaos.

For more information about the author or his work, please visit

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday Thingers- Reviews

Questions: Do you add your reviews to the books you add to your library? If so, do you put your full review on there, or a quick review (one - two paragraphs)? Do you find other people's reviews helpful? Do you know of any other ways to enter your reviews (Other than Edit Book, or Quick Edit)?

Since I started the book blog I have been posting my reviews on LT and Goodreads as well as here. I post the entire review using the Edit Book feature. (I have no idea on any other way to post them but it isn't that hard.) I don't post there to boost traffic here, so I don't bother shortening or linking to MariReads. The books that I don't review here will usually get a short review or just a rating on LT when I list them.  I have been known to forget a couple every now and then, though.

If there is a book I am interested in I will read some reviews. I am very careful, though, because so many have too much plot and spoilers mentioned in their reviews sometimes. I usually wait to read reviews of books until after I have read the book and written my own so as not to be influenced by them. I do like reading them then. 

Where else do you all post your reviews?

Tuesday Thingers is hosted my Wendi of Wendi's Book Corner.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Books Galore

It must have been my lucky week. So many great books came into my house.

First, from Marcia at The Printed Page via Read it Forward  I received Royal Blood by Rona Sharon. Thanks, Marcia!

Through BookMooch I got the first book, The Bad Beginning, in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. 

Tuesday saw the arrival of a huge box of books courtesy of Natasha at MawBooks. I still can't believe how lucky I was to win this giveaway. Yay!  Thanks, Natasha. :)

Here is what was in the box:

Songs of the Humpback Whale
Perfect Match
Second Glance
My Sister's Keeper
Vanishing Acts
Nineteen Minutes
Handle With Care

These were all signed by Jodi Piccoult. 

These are going to make such great reads this summer.

Through Library Thing's Early Reviewer Program I received Afraid by Jack Kilborn on Thursday. I have been very lucky these last few months to get so many great books. Not so many I am interested in this month, though, so probably not going to get the one I requested. I can't complain.

I managed to keep myself out of the bookstores this week. A very good thing when I look at my account balance so far! 

So, what did you get this week? 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hermione's Cable & Eyelet Hat

Pattern: Hermione's Cable & Eyelet Hat by Jackie Lauseng
Source: JL YarnWorks
Needles: US 6
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Oxford Grey

This was a really fun and fast knit. It came out great but just a bit big even for my large head. I did use needles bigger than called for. Once again, because of my large head, but turns out I really didn't need to. I didn't even do the extra cable round that the pattern calls for for the adult sized hat. Anyway, next time this hat is knit, it will be with a lighter weight yarn and lighter color to get it to look more like the hat in the movie. Click on the link above to go and see. Also, I think it needs to be a twisted rib to get more defined ribbing.
Click here to see more pics. (Ravelry link)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sunday Salon (5/10/09)

The Sunday Salon.comHappy Sunday! 

It was quite a week for me. I started off enjoying the fact that I had the week unexpectedly off to being called back to work on Wednesday. Kids were back in school Thursday and by Friday all was back to normal. Oh well, I still got 4 days off. Can't complain too much. However, my reading plan for the week had to be changed. 

A few books to share that I read since May began.

An Obsolete Honor by Helena P. Schrader
Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

All quite different from each other, but all enjoyed and two counted towards some challenges for the year. May is starting off quite nicely. Regarding, An Obsolete Honor- would you file it under A or O? (for the AtoZ Challenge)

My problem- I still have not finished a book for the Classics Challenge! I really need to get busy on that one. I just haven't found the time or the desire to read a classic lately. 

What is a good classic novel that I should read to get me started?

Once again Yvonne at Socrates Book Reviews has bestowed upon me another very cool award. This one started by the lovely, Naida
Isn't that little chihuahua cute? Love the little knit sweater. :)

Thanks, Yvonne!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Book Review- The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning starts the tale of the Baudelaire orphans and their sad and unfortunate lives beginning with the death of their parents. The narrator, Lemony Snicket, warns the reader of a sad story with no happy ending and that is exactly what you get. The sad tale of Violet, Klaus and Sunny and their first encounter with Count Olaf.

Finally, after years of hearing about these books, I have read the first in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Having seen the movie awhile back I did feel like I had read this before. There were many similar parts but the differences were very evident. I am aware that that the movie had elements from several books. 

For the most part, I enjoyed it. I like the way the story is narrated except for the constant defining of terms used in the book. I realize the book is for a much younger audience than me, but it still bugged me. Why not let kids go and look up the words on their own if need be? Kids are smart and should learn to figure out meaning of words by their context and/or use a dictionary when they can't. I am a teacher, though, and believe in having high expectations of kids. They don't need to have words defined for them in the narrative.

Still, I look forward to reading the second book in the series.


AtoZ Challenge

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book Review- Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

Crossed Wires Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

This is the story of Peter, a geography professor in Cambridge and Mina, the insurance agent in Sheffield that handles his claims. They discover a connection between each other that is unexpected that leads to friendship and companionship over the phone with hopes that it will develop into something more.

I am so glad I agreed to read this book. My first by Rosy Thornton but will definitely not be my last. It is such a sweet, quiet romance between two single parents who have never met but over the phone. I loved how I got sucked into their separate lives and families. I got to see how the simple act of talking to someone over the phone can lead you to discover a second chance for love. ( I hate talking on the phone)


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Change of Pace

I have been spending my afternoons reading since being off of work. It is quite nice. I could get used to it.  Currently I am reading something completely different from what I have been reading and it is quite a nice change of pace.

And, it is making me really excited to get to the UK this summer and have my own delicious, greasy fish and chips.

"Mina unfolded the oily paper from around her fish, fingers basking in the release of hot vapour. The batter was warm and brittly dry, but when she broke it open the fish inside was slick and steamy, scalding her fingertips." page 81. Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton.

Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Salon-April Recap

It's May and I am on an unexpected holiday. I have all of next week off to get the house in order, read and review books, knitting projects completed and to get some errands run while everyone else is working. I am sure we will be getting some work assignments that can be done at home. 

Anyway, April is over and I have some stats to share for the month.

Books read and reviewed this past month:

30. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (apr)
29. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins (apr)
28. Austenland by Shannon Hale (apr)
27. How to be Popular by Meg Cabot (apr)
26. Drawers & Booths by Ara13 (apr)
25. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (apr)
24. Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer (apr)
23. Cry of Justice by Jason Pratt (apr)
22. The Strength of a Sparrow by Tim Anders (apr)

9 books. Not bad. 3 of those were read during the Read-a-Thon. Some satisfied requirements for reading challenges I am entered in. So, yeah, not bad. That puts me at 30 books for the year. I may get to 100 despite not challenging myself to do that this year.

With this coming week off, I am hoping to get a lot of books read for May. It is usually a slow reading month for me considering how busy the last month of school is. Once this week is over, however,  I have a feeling the rest of the month will be crazy. I wouldn't expect much out of me during that time. Except for certain reviews. Keep an eye out for the following...

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford on May 13th
Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro

Thanks to everyone who entered my contest that just ended on Friday. I loved seeing everyone's beautiful bookmarks. If you missed the post yesterday, you can find the winners here.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Show Me Your Bookmarks Contest Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered. I had a lot of fun visiting everyone's blogs and seeing all your lovely bookmarks. There are some really great ones out there. 

18 lovely people participated with a total of 58 entries. I used the Random Number Generator to choose the winners for me. Here they are...

You get to choose a book from the two shown here and Austenland by Shannon Hale. You also get one of the lovely bookmarks. Be sure to let me know which book you would like me to send you out of the three choices.   

You will be getting one of these bookmarks.

I have also chosen another winner from those who posted pictures. There were 9 of you who shared. Thank you, thank you!

You will get to choose a book from the two not chosen and a handmade bookmark from me. It is not quite finished but it will be soon. 

Congratulations to all the winners!

Please email me your addresses and I will get those in the mail to you as soon as possible!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Book Review- An Obsolete Honor by Helena P. Schrader

An Obsolete Honor: A Story of the German Resistance to Hitler An Obsolete Honor: A Story of the German Resistance to Hitler by Helena P Schrader

An Obsolete Honor follows the stories of different people and families in Germany during Hitler's rise to power. It shares their fears and concerns about Hitler and the direction their country is taking under his reign. We see the lengths that many Germans went through to follow their own beliefs and morals despite being always in danger of getting caught and tried for treason. We see the simple act of putting shoes on "Polish workers" and letting them live as humans instead of slaves, forging of credentials and id's for Jewish families, and the planning behind Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler and take over the government.

It is very evident that there was a lot of research done for this book. The historical events are intertwined perfectly with the narrative and held my attention for most of the 568 pages. The drama is gripping and hard to turn away from. The only time I started to lose interest was for the few chapters that focused entirely on military tactics. It was easy to get lost and confused trying to keep track of all the regiments, officers and names of villages. However, the story continues quickly and the pace picks back up all the way to the conclusion.

I highly recommend everyone who is interested in WWII but is not a fan of reading historical texts like I am to read this. This book is perfect because it gives the history of the events with the drama of how it could have effected people's lives. It makes you feel like you are there and experiencing it as it happened.


Embossed Leaves FO

Pattern: Embossed Leaves Socks by Mona Schmidt
Source: Interweave Knits' Favorite Socks
Needles: US1
Yarn: Spinning Colors Fingering in Rustic

Look! An FO! I have finally finished a knitting project. I am so excited.

I started these in February for Dewey's KAL . Great pattern but I did do some modifications. For one, the pattern calls for you to cut the yarn after the heel flap is finished and then reattach to do the gusset. I didn't bother just made sure to remember that I started my gusset rounds in a different spot than the pattern says. The other modification wasn't really on purpose. :) Just a slight mistake on my first sock that I had to copy on the second so it is not noticeable.

Loving these even though they make my feet look huge! Maybe it is just the angle of the camera or perhaps the different toe? Who knows, but my feet look much larger than usual.