Monday, November 30, 2009

Winner of The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Secret  Congrats, Toni!

You have won yourself a copy of  The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Since I only had 11 entries I put all your names in a cup and pulled one out the old fashion way. :) Toni- please email me your mailing information to marireadsATyahooDOTcom.

 Thanks to everyone who entered and those of you who are new followers. 2 more to go and I will reach 100 Followers. When that happens I am planning on a big giveaway.  Be sure to check back soon!

Also, if you would like to buy yourself a copy of The Christmas Secret, click on the link above. I recently started an Amazon store. Thought I would try it out and see how it goes. :)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge Completed

I have had a great time participating in The Everything Austen Challenge hosted by Stephanie of The Written Word. I am a big fan of all things Austen so this was an absolutely perfect challenge for me to take part in. Thanks Stephanie for hosting!

Heres my Completed List:

1. Read Northanger Abbey
2. Visit the Jane Austen Center in Bath! (lots of pics)
3. Watch Lost in Austen
4. Read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
5. Watch Sense and Sensibility
6. Went to play of Pride & Prejudice

I really wanted to knit the Mrs. Darcy Cardigan for the challenge but I just don't have the time with all my Christmas knitting that needs to get done. Perhaps next year will see me knitting this great sweater.

The Challenge began on the 1st of July and ends on the 1st of January.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What is it about the name David?

So, I am reading Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and come to a part where Julie is explaining her friend Sally's weird obsession with Davids. She dates a lot of guys named David, and this little tidbit just got me laughing. 

Do you remember the episode of Friends when they discuss their "freebie lists"? The one with Isabella Rossillini? Well, my "list", if I made one, would include all Davids! No kidding. I hadn't realized my like of so many David's until the hubby pointed it out a couple days ago. My absolute favorite male celebrities:

David Borreanaz (Angel/Bones)
David Duchovny (X Files)
David Tennant (Doctor Who)
Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode)

Okay, back to enjoying my book. :)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holiday Books in the mail

It has been quiet around here. Not many books showing up, which is actually a good thing. I have a stack of books here all waiting and needing to be read. I have been going through them, trying to decide which ones will be accompanying me to CA over the holidays. There are a lot to choose from.

There were a couple new books in the mail in the last couple weeks that I can share with all of you and both are perfect reads for the holidays.

The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere arrived last weekend for review. I have already read and reviewed this one and am having a giveaway for an extra copy. Go and enter before next Sunday!

Also in the mail, Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs. A win during Dewey's 24hr Read-a-Thon in October. Thanks to the lovely folks who hosted and to Lydia at Putnam Books for sending it my way.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

Are there any holiday books you can recommend? I am feeling more and more in the mood for the holidays.

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page


Book Giveaway: The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

When a struggling young single mother saves the life of an elderly woman, she sets into motion a series of events that will test her strength, loyalty, and determination, all the while setting her on the path to finding true love. Christine Eisley is the mother of seven-year-old Zach and five-year-old Haley. Her ex-husband provides little, if any, child support and makes life difficult for Christine by using the children as pawns. She works long hours as a waitress to make ends meet, but her job is in jeopardy because she’s often late to work due to the unreliable teenaged sitters she’s forced to use. When Christine saves the life of a woman who works in Wilson’s department store, the owner of Wilson’s wants to find her, to thank her, but Christine has disappeared, losing another job once again. He sets his grandson, Jason, to the task of finding the mysterious “Christy.” Jason, an accountant by trade who has lost his job to downsizing, thinks he is “above” working at Wilson’s. Soon, he discovers that this new task gives him more than he bargains for. The Christmas Secret is a novel for anyone who wants to see how love is a gift that keeps giving back; that hope is a treasure that never runs dry, and that faith is a miracle that is reborn with each new day.

I have a copy of The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere to giveaway thanks to Anne and St. Martin's Press. You can check out my review here. A wonderful read for the holidays.

To enter, leave a comment on this post and an email address where you can be contacted. You have until midnight CST on Sunday, November 29th. Giveaway is open internationally.


Book Review- The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Secret The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

What a sweet, warm-hearted story for this time of the year. This is the first book I have read by Donna VanLiere and quite different from the books I usually read.The Christmas Secret was a pleasant surprise.

It is the story of Christine, a single mother struggling to keep her head above water enough to give her kids a nice Christmas. Things just don't seen to be going her way until an unexpected emergency changes everything. And it is also about Jason, who has decided to work at his grandfather's store over the holidays to make some much needed money since being laid of from his accounting job. He feels the job is beneath him but with the influence of his grandfather's goodness and the people he meets he finds something better than making lots of money.

The way the lives of these two characters and the others intertwine was believable and completely engaging. This was a hard book to put down. It was a quick, light read that made for perfect weekend reading.


Source: Publisher (St. Martin's Press) and Anne (Thanks)


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Play Review- Pride & Prejudice (UT Drama Department)

On Thursday, I went to see the student production of James Maxwell's Pride & Prejudice at the B. Iden Payne Theatre on the University of Texas campus. A friend of mine has been reading and seeing all things Jane Austen lately and invited me to go along with her. It was the perfect way to end my Everything Austen Challenge with.

The students did an amazing job. First, the set design and the costumes were quite good. The creative use of the set pieces and costumes during scene changes was really fun to see. I can't tell you how many times I saw Lizzy put on and take off her bonnet and coat but that one simple change of costume during her monologues worked well to set up the next scene.

The play itself was also quite enjoyable. Austen's words and wit were all present and the actors did a great job of portraying these very familiar characters. I wasn't a fan of the monologues between scenes but I understand why they were needed. The play would have been much longer than the two hours had they not been there to move the story along. The actors who played Bingley, Mr. Bennett, and Mr. Collins were very memorable- very funny and completely in character. We felt the actor that played Mr. Darcy wasn't serious enough. There was some interesting silliness and faces made with Mr. Bingley during one of the dances. Cute, but not in the true character of Mr. Darcy.

All in all, I was quite impressed and was thoroughly entertained. I would be interested in seeing more of the productions put on by UT.

Eveything Austen Challenge


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Classics Challenge 2009 Wrap Up Post

Well, here it is. My first failed challenge. I began the Classics Challenge for 2009 with high hopes and came to the end of the challenge with only two books read. I really enjoyed this challenge last year and hoped to finish as I did. Unfortunately, this was not my year for Classics.

Here is what I did read:

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Congrats to all of you who finished and thanks to Trish for hosting. I had some good books on my reading list. I hope to get to them soon.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review- The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

The Lacuna: A Novel The Lacuna: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

I have not read all of Barbara Kingsolver's books but the ones I have read have all been amazing. The Lacuna is no exception. I enjoyed picking it up every night for my daily reading before bed these past couple weeks and it has been the perfect read for me here in Lajitas, TX down near Big Bend National Park. This was a book I enjoyed reading slowly, being sure to take it all in and not miss anything by trying to get it finished quickly.

The Lacuna is a novel written as journal entries by Harrison Shepherd from the time he was a young teenager into adulthood. They recount his adventures through Mexico in the 30's and 40's and into his adult life in America. I felt like I was there experiencing his encounter with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and the life he led working for them in Mexico City. Harrison and everyone he meets throughout the book are so fleshed out and real that I kept forgetting that this was a novel and not a memoir.

Beautiful prose, epic storytelling, and intriguing characters. I couldn't ask for anything more. Loved it. It has become a new favorite.


AtoZ Challenge

Source: Publisher (Harper Collins), Palley Promotes (Thanks, Lisa!)

Barbara Kingsolver is one of the many great authors taking part in the Miami Book Fair this week. It comes to an end this Sunday so get out there while you still can.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

YA Quick Reviews- Artemis Fowl #5 and Morganville Vampires #4

Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl, #5) Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer

Another really great book in this series. I love the character arc that Artemis has had throughout the books. He has gone from a ruthless, criminal mastermind to a trustworthy ally of the People. In this installment, Artemis is on the hunt of some time skipping demons that need help. Working with Section 8 of the LEPrecon, Artemis, Holly, Foaly and Mulch are reunited to save the demons. One surprise- another young human genius is trying to get a hold of the demon, and it just so happens to be a very attractive young lady.


Serial Readers Challenge

Source: purchased

Feast of Fools (The Morganville Vampires, #4) Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine

Claire is finally acting a bit more grown up. She is finally using her intelligence, or rather it is being used for the greater good of the vampires. I actually really like this part of the story. Claire graduating from high school early and being sent to a JC instead of Harvard never really made sense to me. So, her smarts being used to help the vamps made up for it. I enjoyed the story, the characters and the pace of Feast of Fools. One little thing I didn't understand... why the need to move Claire's parents to Morganville? Seemed an unneeded addition to the plot. Perhaps it will make more sense in the next book.


Serial Readers Challenge
eBook Challenge

Source: purchased


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review- Ethnic Knitting Discovery: The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and The Andes by Donna Druchunas

Visit my book blog to see my review of Donna Druchunas' book Ethnic Knitting Discovery.
I am participating in Eco Libris' Green Books Campaign.

Green Books Campaign- Ethnic Knitting Discovery: The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and The Andes by Donna Druchunas

This review is part of the Green Books campaign.
Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on the Eco-Libris website.

I am very excited to be a part of Eco-Libris' Green Books Campaign-"It's Time for a Green Book": 1 Day, 100 bloggers, 100 green books, 100 reviews. My book choice, Ethnic Knitting Discovery, was printed on 50% post consumer recycled paper and processed chlorine free as part of the Green Press Initiative.

Now, on to the review.

Donna Druchunas is a well known name in the world of knitting. Her book, Arctic Lace is quite popular with knitters and is one that I have wanted to get since beginning to knit lace. Ethnic Knitting: Discovery- The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and The Andes share the patterns and techniques used in the countries and regions above. Ethnic knitting doesn't give you traditional patterns that I am used to seeing in most knitting pattern books. Instead we are given a sort of workbook. You plug in the numbers and you get yourself the number of stitches needed, gauge, and inches for length/width of the different sweaters and smaller projects.

The author states that Ethnic Knitting doesn't usually include "line-by-line instructions" so you will not find that here. This book is definitely for the more experienced knitter, one willing to leave the written patterns behind and ready to try something a little different. So, if you are that knitter pull out your circular needles and some yarn, find yourself a copy of this book and get started. It will also give you the techniques needed to help design your own sweater.


I wanted to knit something from the book to share with you all, but with the little time I had and my fear of steeks (cutting the knitting) I decided to take on one of the smaller projects, a Danish nightcap. The book gives three pattern options for knitting: Visual plan, Worksheet and Step-by-Step. I went with the worksheet. I picked my yarn, needles and picked the stitch patterns I wanted to use from the Danish pattern stitches shared. Here is what I ended up with:


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sunday Salon (October ReCap)

It's November and it is feeling like fall here. The leaves are changing colors and falling, and it is actually cool! Love it. I usually have to wait until December for some fall weather around here. November started off beautifully last Sunday. Look at this picture! So pretty.

October was a fun month. Look at all these books! So much going on as well, including the 24 hour Read-a-Thon and Carl's RIP IV Challenge.

80. Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
79. Soul Catcher by Leigh Bridger
78. Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz
77. A Northern Light by Jennifer Connelly
76. Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine
75. Airhead by Meg Cabot
74. Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney
73. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
72. School's Out- Forever by James Patterson

On the horizon for November...


Miami Book Fair Nov 8-15th
Green Books Campaign on Nov 10th.


Ethnic Knitting Discovery by Donna Druchunas
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere


WWII Challenge Completed

This was a great challenge. Thanks Serena and Anna for hosting! This challenge came right at the perfect time. I was very interested in reading books set during WWII this spring and got through 5 books in a very short amount of time. I thought I would get through more before the end of the year but my reading took a turn to YA for a bit. 

I am really glad I participated in this challenge and am interested to see what the War Through the Generations Challenge will bring in 2010.

Books read for the challenge:

1. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

3. The Reader by Bernard Schlink
4. An Obsolete Honor by Helena P. Schrader
5. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford


Thursday, November 5, 2009

In a Pickle

I am in a bit of a pickle. The same one as last year. It is November and I have yet to start on Christmas gifts yet. Last month I thought I would knit everyone hats. That would be 16 hats! I have not knit any yet. Not a one. Can I knit 16 hats in the time I have left until Christmas?


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Review- Soul Catcher by Leigh Bridger

Soul Catcher (The Outsider Series) Soul Catcher by Leigh Bridger

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with this book by Leigh Bridger. I didn't have very good luck with the last Urban Fantasy book I received through Library Thing's Early Reviewer Program. I was actually expecting more of the same. Instead, I got a fresh new story and plot, a tough as nails female protagonist and some interesting supporting characters. The demon is one awful, scary and absolutely perfectly evil for this type of story.

There was some overuse of the F word, but after awhile I didn't even notice it anymore. Once I got to know Livia a little better, her use of swearing is very much part of her character. Livia is a soul catcher, reborn many times, and this time is living as a folk artist in Asheville, NC. She is surrounded by friends who have been by her side in every life. As Livia, she encounters a demon that has been following her throughout her lifetimes set on revenge. She gets help from her friends and from Ian, who turns out to be her soul mate.

Soul Catcher is the first book in The Outsider Series.


Read for Read a Thon. Finally reviewing the books I read. :)

Source: Library Thing's Early Reviewer Program


Monday, November 2, 2009

DNF or place on hold?

Sometimes there are books that I just don't know what to do with- give up on them completely or hold off reading it until another time. Some books are just so bad that they can't be read at any time. Others are just not what's right for the mood I am in at the time I picked it up.

So, here is where this post comes in and perhaps others.

I thought I would share some info on the books that I marked as DNF and those I have placed on hold for a better time. This will also help me. I can reference these posts and make sure I am getting back to the books I want to read.


Rumer & Qix: The Race to Terra Incognita Rumer & Qix: The Race to Terra Incognita by Kathleen S. Wilson

I gave up on it for awhile because it was just not capturing my interest. I am thinking that it has to do with the fact that the genre is not something I read usually. I don't know how to describe it. A bit of fantasy, a bit dystopian. I usually don't take books to review if they are not a genre I enjoy, but the premise sounded interesting.

Rumer, a petite apprentice reporter for the 31st century Global Quotidien with a flair for fashion, loves zipping across Nanjing with her loyal sidekick, Qix, in search of stories. But now, she’s furious with her boss for asking her to cover the exploits of Alfa, the planet’s wealthiest mega-conglomerate. Her parents died in an Alfa accident and she can’t understand how he can be so insensitive. She escapes into the indie networks and soon finds herself puzzling over an image of a bizarre nature sighting. Ever since the flora and fauna were replaced with Alfa’s Syncov™ replicas eons earlier, sightings like this have been routinely dismissed. When ethereal voices relay a message confirming Rumer’s hunch that things are terribly amiss, she slips away on a globe-trotting quest for answers. An epic battle is brewing between Dr. BigCo, the powerful Alfa CEO, and his nemesis, MoNa, the vulnerable matriarch of the cosmos. Will Rumer be able to turn things around before it’s too late?

Interesting, right?

I think this will be one I put on hold.


The Harsh Cry of the Heron (Kisah Klan Otori 4) The Harsh Cry of the Heron by Lian Hearn

I had a hard time getting into this book. I put it down awhile ago having lost interest in the story and characters. It is the fourth book in the Tales of the Otori series and takes place many years after the end of the third book. The main characters are older and dealing with political issues and taking care of their territories. There is not the suspense and excitement that was part of the first three books.



Saturday Saturday by Ian McEwan

This is going back on my to-read list of books. I got a hundred pages in, reading it off and on while on vacation. I don't think I was giving it the right amount of attention that it should be given. I had to return my library books before I was finished, which I think was a good thing. I will check it out again at another time when I am in the state of mind to give it a good read.

I was so impressed with Atonement, I was surprised at my lack of interest in this one. Will definitely have to give it another try. It has been about a year, perhaps it is time to actually give it another read.

On hold for another time.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
I would love to know your thoughts on my decisions.


R.I.P IV Challenge Wrap-Up

Carl's R.I.P Challenge is one of the most fun and enjoyable challenges out there. I love reading the books for this challenge so much that I read more than the four I signed up for!

Here is my Wrap-Up

What I read:
1. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi
2. Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman
3. Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
4. Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
5. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Graham-Smith

6. Soul Catcher by Leigh Bridger

Lots of great books and some were even a little creepy. Next year I definitely need some scarier books


Book Review- Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Cracked Up to Be Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

When I started this book I was reminded quite a bit of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Parker was a 4.0 student, head cheerleader and popular but an incident over the summer has her falling apart. She now must visit the school counselor every week, she is on academic probation and her friends have been told to keep an eye on her and report any destructive behaviors. The protagonists are very different, though, as are their experiences.

I really like the way the story is told. It is in present time but Parker has small flashes of the party over the summer. Little snippets that grow and grow as the story progresses. An interesting way to tell the story and very effective in setting the tone.

I look forward to more by Courtney Summers.


Source: Purchased from