Sunday, November 13, 2011

Geek Girl - by Cindy Bennett (with guest post by author!)

Geek Girl is a book I read with a smile on my face.  Not just any smile either.  I read this book with one of those cheesy smiles that you get when you’ve seen something that just makes you say “awww” out loud no matter who might be happening to listen.  Sometimes I had that smile on my face while reading through tears.  Needless to say, I enjoyed this book.  A lot.  I would definitely recommend Geek Girl to a friend for an easy, enjoyable and quick read.
The whole book hinges on a bet.  Jen believes she can turn Trevor, the geeky but cute guy, over to the “dark side” by seducing him and making him become more like her and her friends.  The prize if she accomplishes her goal is a shiny new lip piercing to replace the one she took out to make herself look more presentable for the newest set of foster parents.  On the surface Jen and Trevor couldn’t be more different.  Jen dresses in the typical Goth manner – black and off-putting.  Trevor dresses in the typical nerd manner – button-up shirts buttoned all the way up to the very top.  But from the very beginning at the school dance where Jen makes her first move, sparks fly and as we get to know these characters we are reminded that sometimes people are not what they seem.  Sometimes there is a whole lot more to the story than meets the eye.
Although Geek Girl is a lot of fun and a fairly easy read, it does touch on some tough subject matter with the subject of Jen’s parents.  Jen’s father was abusive and Jen’s mother is in prison.  I don’t want to give away too much of the story line or any spoilers, but I have to say that I was impressed that Bennett handled the voice of a character in the foster system with such care.  After being shuffled around from family to family and getting her hopes built up only to be dashed, Jen is not able to let herself dream of having a stable life. 
 Here’s what the author had to say about her heroine and the subject of foster children ……………
Real Heroes by Cindy C Bennett

In Geek Girl, my heroine Jen is a 17-year-old girl who’s been bounced around in the foster care system, to the point that she’s become bitter and cynical. As she approaches her 18th birthday, she has to start seriously considering what she wants to do with her life. It’s a genuine concern for kids in foster care everywhere, when they approach the age where they will no longer be able to depend on—at minimum—having a roof over their heads and food in their bellies.

What do I know about teens in foster care? The truth is, not much. I can spout off all the statistics: about 25% never graduate, approximately20% wind up homeless, nearly a quarter are incarcerated within two years (around half for men), nearly half become pregnant or impregnate someone, around 30% use illegal drugs, many end up going back “home” only to be kicked out and wind up homeless on the streets again. Grim statistics, to be sure. But what does it really mean?

I am fortunate enough to have been born to parents who love me, and to have only had to move and change schools once during my growing up years. When I began writing Geek Girl I had to step out of that life, and imagine what it must be like for a teen who is on the precipice of life. How insecure must these kids feel when they are being rejected time after time, when they aren’t in one school long enough to really make friends. What kinds of walls would one erect in order to protect themselves and their hearts from hurt?

To me, the statistics are extremely sad and alarming, but hardly set in stone. I am of the firm belief that people can choose what they do with whatever it is that life has thrown at you. I’m a huge fan and admirer of people who live lives of horror, and then rise above. A prime example is Dave Pelzer, who writes about his life of severe abuse at the hands of his own mother in A Child Called “It”, and his experiences as a teen in the foster care system in The Lost Boy. His battle didn’t end when he was removed from the violence of his home; a new battle began as he entered foster care.
I think most people feel that when an abused child is removed from their home, then yay! They can begin their life of rainbows and unicorns. Abused kids come with their own set of baggage, and are thrown into what can be the unforgiving world of foster care. By no means am I saying foster care is a bad thing. There are many fantastic foster families. I personally know of a family who took in many foster kids, and kept them all as long as possible, even finding adoptive families for a few of them. I do think that some foster parents get these wounded kids, and don’t really understand how to deal with their specific issues. And that’s where kids like Jen get lost as they pass from one family to another for any number of reasons.

I gave Jen the chance to rise above her own circumstances. She could have rejected everything she was offered with her feelings of suspicion and distrust. But she didn’t. She took hold of what was offered, and found herself in the process. She is only a reflection of people who have come before her who have done the same thing, all of the unsung heroes of our world who have done so themselves.

How did I get into the head of a teen who has lived in foster care for so many years? I began by writing about a heroine I could be passionate about, someone who is willing to allow others into her wounded heart and at least try to imagine what could be hers if she let it. Then I tried to imagine how I would feel if it were me in the same situation. Angry and bitter? Absolutely. Wary and suspicious of anyone saying they want to help? Of course. Scared to death that if I dared to hope I would only be crushed once again? Yes. And then I tried to imagine how strong she could become if she let herself.

Superman and Spiderman are great fantasies, but the real heroes are all of you out there in the world who have survived, and who have become who you were meant to be, who didn’t let life drag you down. I wrote Jen as the type of person who I admire greatly. My fictional story of Jen can’t begin to compare to the reality of you who have done this in your life. You are my personal heroes.

Cindy Bennett's Website:
Cindy Bennett's Blog:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-year-old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny - by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

Imagine yourself walking somewhere in Manhattan when suddenly a young boy, perhaps around the age of eleven, asks you for some money.  What would you do?  Would you stop and give the panhandler some cash to use for God knows what?  Would you not hesitate for a moment and just keep right on walking?  Back in 1986, Laura Schroff chose to keep on walking.  But then something inside her told her to turn around and go back.  To this day, Schroff is grateful she heard that little voice and listened.
Laura Schroff and Maurice Maczyk couldn’t have been living more different lives.  Laura was a successful  single businesswoman.  Maurice was a kid just trying to get by.  Laura was living alone in a luxury apartment, proud of her accomplishments.  Maurice was living in chaos, surrounded by family members doing drugs and coming in and out of his life.  That day in Manhattan their lives would converge and neither would be the same after.
"An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break."   -  Ancient Chinese Proverb
An Invisible Thread shows that one small act of kindness can lead to monumental changes in people’s lives.  Laura Schroff didn’t just give Maurice a meal.  She showed him trust.  She believed in him.  She demonstrated that some people will stay in your life no matter what.  She became his family without ever trying to replace his biological family.  She offered him an alternative view of the world.  Maurice offered Laura many things as well.  Never having her own biological child, Maurice showed up in her life and allowed her to love him.  He taught her the true value of money and the real meaning of lunch in a brown paper bag.  To this day, their relationship endures.
I enjoyed this book immensely.  It is rare to find a book that leaves you feeling like you’re a better person for having read it, but An Invisible Thread was that type of a book for me.  It gave me hope and it put a smile on my face.  I’m grateful that I received this book complimentarily from Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday Book Quote

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.  ~Charles W. Eliot

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Moonlight on Linoleum: A Daughter's Memoir - by Terry Helwig

In Moonlight on Linoleum, Terry Hilwig has written an emotionally charged story of a daughter forced to grow up before her time and become responsible for an entire family when she couldn’t count on her own mother to do so.  Rather than writing her story with self-indulgence and a heavy dose of blame, she manages to tell her story, her mother’s story and her family’s story with love and acceptance.  This combined with excellent writing made the book a joy to read. 
Carola Jean married young in an attempt to escape her unhappy life.  Shortly after, she had Terry.  Eventually she left her first husband and searched for a better life with Terry.  More husbands, more children and lots more destructive behavior later, Carola never seems to find her happy ending. 
Because of Carola’s shortcomings as a mother, Terry is forced to grow up very quickly.  She becomes a mother figure to her many sisters and the love she has for them is amazing to read about.  It’s also heartwarming to read of the love she has for the man she calls “daddy”.  “Daddy” is not her biological father, but the stepfather who she adores and who cares for her and her sisters as if they were his own.  Unfortunately “daddy” is a seismographic driller for oil and his work takes him away most of the time, leaving Terry to deal with the troubles at home by herself. 
Although Moonlight on Linoleum deals with a great deal of painful subjects, the amount of love that Helwig has for her family shines through and this book never once felt like a "woe is me" journey.  It was refreshing to read a memoir that was straightforward and honest but not self-indulgent.  I never expected to feel uplifted after reading this book, but I truly did.  I’m honestly glad that Moonlight on Linoleum was written and I would recommend it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam,
May luck be yours on Halloween.
 Author Unknown

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Book Quote

O Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book, either without the other is naught.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson -

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sketch Monsters Book 1: Escape of the Scribbles – by Joshua Williamson & Vinny Navarrete

Mandy is not an emotional child. In fact, Mandy has a problem with showing any emotion of any kind at any time. Then one day her big sister gives her a blank sketch book as a gift with the instructions to sketch something whenever she feels like she needs to express herself. Mandy fills the sketchbook with colorful monsters, the thing she enjoys drawing the most. That night, something magical happens that will forever change Mandy. Through these monsters, Mandy learns that she can express herself in real life and not just on the pages of a sketch book.

I very much enjoyed this short comic book. The pictures were colorful and cute and the story expressed an important message. Sometimes it’s easy to hide behind our art – whether it’s words or music or pictures – but that isn’t really living. Life becomes much more colorful and enjoyable when we embrace our feelings and learn to express them. I would recommend this book for anyone aged 8 and up, but I think children will especially enjoy and learn from it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kathryn the Grape's Colorful Adventure - by Kathryn Cloward with Ginny Hornby, Illustrated by Christine Winscott

Kathryn the Grape is not having a good evening. She has stories to tell at the dinner table, but nobody seems to be paying any attention to her. Her parents are only listening to what her brothers have to say. Then, on top of everything else, she gets sent to her room because she complains about not liking dinner! Kathryn feels unloved, alone and invisible. Kathryn’s not alone in her room, however, and she’s about to go on a very special adventure with a very special magical butterfly friend, Maggie. With the help of Maggie and a colorful charm bracelet, Kathryn learns to trust herself and to use words to voice what she’s feeling inside. She also learns to apologize when she’s done something wrong.

Kathryn the Grape’s Colorful Adventure is a vividly colorful picture book that delights the eyes and the heart with its positive message that teaches children how colorful and special they are. I would especially recommend this book for independent female readers up to age 8, although some older readers will certainly enjoy this book as well. This self-esteem building book would make a wonderful addition to any child’s library and this would be a great book to read together as a family.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption - by Katie Davis with Beth Clark

Katie Davis was an 18-year-old senior class president and a homecoming queen living in Nashville Tennessee when she decided she wanted to become a missionary and put her plans for college (and pleasing her parents) on hold. She left over Christmas break during her senior year and headed to Uganda. What was supposed to be a short-term mission turned into a life-long passion for this young lady who once admitted to wanting to be Mother Theresa when she grew up. Katie fell in love with the people of Uganda, especially the children, and realized that she could make a change. She established a ministry called Amazima which feeds hundreds of children and sends them to school. She also is working on adopting thirteen Ugandan children. Katie Davis shows us in Kisses From Katie that sometimes following Jesus will lead you down unexpected, but extremely joyful paths.

What I Liked About the Book: Katie Davis is definitely an inspiration. She had a luxurious life in an upper-class neighborhood and could have simply taken advantage of all that had to offer. Rather, she forged her own path, leaving luxuries behind but finding true happiness in the meantime. I am always impressed by people with such devout faith, who are so sure of the path they are following.

What I Didn’t Like About the Book: Truthfully, this book wasn’t my cup of tea. I am impressed with Katie Davis and the wonderful things she is doing in Uganda, but I found the writing to be a bit heavy handed and overly laden with religion. I was expecting a fair amount of religious jargon, but it truly was overwhelming to me. I had to put the book down several times and come back to it because it was so off-putting. I think I would have enjoyed the book a great deal more if the author simply would have told her story without so many biblical references.

I'm giving away a copy of Kisses From Katie! Click on tab above.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Daughters of Iraq - Revital Shiri-Horowitz

Life, Death, Love, Loss, Growth. In Daughters of Iraq, author Revital Shiri-Horowitz tackles these issues and does it with astonishing grace and skill. Told in the alternating narratives of three different women from the same family, Shiri-Horowitz takes us from Iraq to Israel, from Loss to Living and from merely coping to truly existing.

Noa Rosen has lost her mother and is still reeling from that loss. A twenty-something student in Israel, she is seeking meaning and understanding. When she is given the diary that her mother kept during her illness she discovers that there was much about her mother that she never knew.

Violet Rosen has come to the end of her life. As she struggles with leaving her beloved husband and children behind, she finds a way to share her story with them after she’s gone. Through the pages of her diary we learn of her immigration from Iraq to Israel. The diary is a Godsend for her daughter, Noa, after her loss, but it is also healing to Violet.

Farida Sasson is also dealing with loss. She is a widow and is having a hard time coping with an emptiness that has enveloped her since her children have left home and her husband has passed away. She finds strength in her family and in food and she loves to indulge in both. When she sees her niece struggling to cope with life after her sister’s death, she decides she is ready to give her the diary. Through the pages of this diary she hopes that Noa will also learn the importance of family.

I greatly enjoyed Daughters of Iraq. I was very impressed with the author’s ability to alternate voice and completely jump around between time periods and locations with ease. The pace of the book was wonderful and I found it hard to put down. I found the story to be very touching. The pages of Violet’s diary were especially memorable to me. I found myself turning pages faster and faster during her stories of a privileged existence in Iraq to a much more challenging life in Israel. I was deeply moved by the descriptions of her withering body and her coming to terms with it. I also found this book to be educational. While it is a novel, it is based in historical fact and much of this history I never gave much consideration to. I would strongly recommend this book and I’m very glad that I read it.

Q&A with Revital Shiri-Horowitz 

Pages of Gold: I'm very interested in how you came up with the plot for this story.   Is it any reflection on your personal story or the story or someone you know?
Revital: Thanks for asking that question, Heidi! The reason I started writing this book was out of anger. I was a student at the time at Tel-Aviv University, studying for my Masters degree in Hebrew Literature. As the daughter of Iraqi-Jewish immigrants to Israel, I was so tired of hearing about Jewish women from Arab countries who were and still are being placed on a lower rung of the ladder in Israeli society. At that time I thought that the story of these Iraqi-Jewish women immigrants went unspoken. The women in my family have the right to be heard. The women in my family were strong and powerful. They saved their children’s' lives once or twice. They weren't afraid of what people would have thought about them and just did the right thing to survive. I thought that someone should tell their story. Since I had no one in mind that was able to do so, I wrote their story myself... 
My novel, Daughters of Iraq, is based on my family's story. Everything that had to do with Iraq is true. So are all the traditions and holiday celebrations and recipes I share in the book. I did have to build a story that would be attractive, human and touching, so I used fictional characters and built them around the facts on my family's emigration story from Iraq to Israel in the 1950s, and also on my life as a university student. 

Pages of Gold: What are your thoughts on the book being published in both Hebrew and English?  
Revital: Daughters of Iraq was written in Hebrew and published in Israel in 2007. I managed to find a wonderful translator named Shira Atik, and then I gave the book to an editor, who did a fantastic job. The book was self-published in English in the beginning of April 2011.  

Pages of Gold: Where can we learn more about you? 
Revital: What would you like to know? I was born and raised in Israel. As a kid, I wrote poetry and short stories, and wrote in my journal up until I met my husband. I never imagined that one day I’d be a published author in multiple languages, and in so many countries, and even continents. Wow! 
I earned a BA in Hebrew Literature and Geography from Tel Aviv University, an MA in Geography from Haifa University and an MA in Hebrew Literature from Tel Aviv University. 
I was an assistant professor of Geography in Haifa and Tel Aviv Universities, and have been an editor for Hebrew-language books.  
Currently based in Seattle, Washington, and in Israel, I'm the mother of four boys, married to Amnon for twenty years, write poetry, keep a blog in “Haaretz,” an Israeli newspaper, and run a blog in English at, a site in English and Hebrew at and am a member of and 
I love hearing from my readers and enjoy giving presentations to readers groups and book clubs and other groups. And yes, I am working on a second novel. 

GIVEAWAY of Daughters of Iraq!

Please comment below on what creative act you took perhaps out of anger or frustration... and enter to win a copy of Daughters of Iraq. 

In one week, Revital will pick one winner of this book!

Available in any ebook format or as a paper copy. Also available in English or in Hebrew. Let us know the format and language when we contact you about winning. We will ship a copy anywhere in the world!

For the Giveaway Grand Prize: Everyone who comments is eligible to win a lovely book by Mama Nazima, Jewish Iraqi Cuisine ( Revital will pick a lucky winner at the end of November 2011. She will ship the book anywhere in the world. Good luck! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

BANNED BOOKS WEEK, September 24 - October 1

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week. The annual event was started in 1982 by the Director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom and librarian, Judith Krug.

Banned Books Week was established by Krug to celebrate the freedom to read and write what one chooses. Since 1982, more than 11,000 books have been challenged in schools, libraries and bookstores. According to the American Library Association, there were 343 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2010.

And Tango Makes Three - by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language, racism, religious viewpoint, sex education, sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group
Brave New World - by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
Crank - by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
The Hunger Games (Series) - by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group
Lush - by Natasha Friend
Reasons: drugs, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group
What My Mother Doesn't Know - by Sonya Sones
Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America - by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint
Revolutionary Voices - edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit
Twilight (Series) - by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence, unsuited to age group

How many of these titles have you read? How many do you own? Are these titles in your local library? If not, why not?

Click HERE for more information about Banned Books Week.
Sources:1. and 2.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nowhere Hair - by Sue Glader

Having cancer must be terrifying. Having to explain all of the effects that go along with treating cancer to your children must be terrifying as well. Sue Glader, a breast cancer survivor, has made that task much, much easier with this picture book geared toward children aged 3-10. The story, told in rhyme, helps the daughter of a hip mom undergoing treatment for her cancer to understand why her mom has lost her hair. Nowhere Hair uses delightful illustrations to help convey to children the important messages that cancer isn’t their fault and that it’s what’s inside that counts. Sensitive, sweet, and at times silly, this book truly touched me. I very highly recommend it.

Nowhere Hair is recommended by the Livestrong Foundation, has the blessings of the Lymphoma and Leukemia Foundation and is offered by and used in 93 cancer centers around the country and in Canada to date.

Book Trailer for Nowhere Hair

Monday, September 19, 2011

125 Follower Giveaway of TWO great books!

Thanks to all my great supporters out there who have followed my blog, I am all set to do my first official giveaway! I will be giving away the following books:
Just click here to enter. Good Luck!
Contest begins on 9/20/11 at 12:00 am and ends on 10/4/11 at 12:00 am.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Young Wife - by Pam Lewis

Minke is just fifteen years old when she is hired to care for Elisabeth van Aisma, a wealthy woman who is dying. The arrangement is made between her parents, who live in a small town in the Netherlands, and Elisabeth's husband Sander. Once naive Minke meets Sander her life will never be the same.

After Elisabeth's death, Sander proposes marriage to Minke. Despite their age difference and the questionable circumstances of Elisabeth's death, Minke agrees. Very shortly thereafter, the two set sail for Comodoro Rivadavia. Although she loves Sander, Minke learns eventually that her husband has many secrets. These secrets ultimately tear her life apart, causing her to lose her first-born son Zef in a mysterious kidnapping and uproot their lives.

I don't want to reveal any spoilers and the plot contains a lot of twists and turns which will keep you guessing at which characters can be trusted and where the story will take you. I couldn't stop turning the pages, wanting to find out what happens next.

Minke is an endearing character who you will want to root for. When we are first introduced to her she is quite naive, but she has great spirit and a quiet strength which develops even more as she moves from one adventure to the next. As we read of Minke's adventures, from Amsterdam to Comodoro Rivadavia to New York City, we are there with her - breathing in the crisp sea air on the Frisia as it crosses the ocean, feeling the ground shake beneath our feet as the gauchos gallop across the pampas, fearing the watchers at Ellis Island will turn you away and your long journey will have been for naught. I found A Young Wife to be a very enjoyable read, one that I could barely put down. This is a book that I definitely recommend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science - by Lucia Greenhouse

Lucia Greenhouse tells her story of being raised in Christian Science and how it impacted her life and the life of her family. One of three children raised in an affluent family, Lucia was not allowed to receive immunizations, antibiotics, or even to take pain relievers such as Tylenol because it went against her religious beliefs. When Lucia reached her teenage years, as is common with so many of us, she began to seriously question her religion and have doubts. She struggled with her father’s strict adherence to Christian Science and his dictating all of their lives. She decided Christian Science was not for her, despite the fact that her father had become a practitioner and her mother a “nurse” in the religion. The divide between her and her parents grew as she became more and more frustrated with Christian Science.

In 1985, Lucia realizes her mother is sick. Because of the tenets of their faith, her mother and father decide not to seek the help of medical professionals but to rely on Christian Science to heal her. They completely refuse the concept of going to a hospital. Her illness worsens. Eventually she is taken to a Christian Science nursing home called Tenacre. Lucia and her sister and brother are increasingly concerned for her welfare. Lucia’s father tells them not to inform other members of the family who are not Christian Science members as they would not be supportive. The siblings fear the worst for their mother, but also fear the wrath of their father. Their mother continues to becoming increasingly ill.

What would you do if your faith required you to shun medical treatment when you knew your parent, child, or spouse would likely get better if he/she received it?

I found this book to be incredibly frustrating. I wanted to scream at the author, the father, the mother, her siblings and family members – “DO SOMETHING!” “HELP HER!” I was frustrated by the fact that the author seemed to recognize that her mother was likely dying and that she could possibly (probably?) be saved with traditional medicine, yet was too afraid to do anything to about it. I wanted somebody, anybody, to rescue this poor woman before it was too late.

The book was well written, but it did tend to be a bit whiny and it could have been shorter. I think a short story would have sufficed, perhaps without quite so much complaining.

Just Fine the Way They Are: From Dirt Roads to Interstates - by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Sometimes change is hard. Sometimes people believe that things don’t need to change because things are just fine the way they are!

Just Fine the Way They Are tells the story of how the dirt roads in the 1800’s became the U.S. highway system of today. Beautiful illustrations are provided by Richard Walz. Wooldridge includes a timeline in the back of the book that highlights relevant points such as the construction of the National Road in 1811 and Henry Ford’s first Model T in 1908. Also included is a list of Web Sites which are all currently active and quite relevant to the book as well as a list of Places to Visit (such as national railroad museums).

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to parents, teachers and young independent readers. I think it would be an appropriate read-aloud book for younger children who have an interest in trains, automobiles, etc. For independent readers, I believe 7-12 would be the perfect ages for this book. I think it would be a great learning tool in the classroom as well. It is a perfect blend of information and humor mixed with lively illustrations.

Friday, September 2, 2011

SAVE ME - by Lisa Scottoline

The Premise:
Rose decides to volunteer in her daughter's cafeteria as a "lunch mom" when she learns that Melly is being bullied.  Melly, a Harry Potter fan and gifted student, carries the burden of a birthmark on her face.  This birthmark makes Melly an obvious target in the third grade - an age where kids seem to naturally hone in on any little difference they may find.  When Rose catches Amanda and her close friends harassing her daughter, she decides to give her a stern talking to.  In a moment, all of her decisions up to that moment are called in to question when all of their lives hang in the balance as a result.

My Thoughts:
I loved the idea of this book.  As the parent of an elementary student with medical issues, I am very aware of the issue of bullying in schools.  When I began reading this story I initially was captivated and couldn't put the book down.  For the first 100 pages of so, I was thrilled with Save Me.  However, the magic didn't last.  The story Scottoline tries to weave becomes a tangled, far-fetched mess when Rose goes into Nancy Drew mode and the twists and turns become so frequent that I literally had to force myself to finish the book.

Bottom Line:  
Interesting and promising premise, but ultimately a disappointing read.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HORSE SAYINGS: wit and wisdom straight from the horses mouth - by Bradford G. Wheler

Horse lovers have a reason to celebrate!  Bradford Wheler has joined together beautiful works of art and quotations about horses in a book that every horse lover will want to own.  Over 60 professional and nonprofessional artists from 11 countries express their appreciation of horses through art forms such as painting, drawing, photography and sculpture throughout the book.  The quotations are paired with this artwork through 8 chapters of the book.  The chapters  include:  The Bond, Humor, The Starting Gate, Horse Sense, Cholla (dedicated to Cholla Chambers, an actual horse artist whose artwork is featured in the book), Competing, Ancient Wisdom, and Training & Handling.  This book would make a fabulous gift for the horse fanatic in your life, but you certainly don’t need to be a horse fanatic to appreciate this lovely book.  

Monday, August 29, 2011


I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for helping me reach 100 followers!  I feel like that's quite an accomplishment in just a few short months and I'm so happy and proud to have each and every one of you supporting me.  Hopefully you're enjoying the reviews I've posted so far and will continue to enjoy reviews (I've got 3 coming up this week!) well into the future.

I realize that many blogs have giveaways to celebrate their 100 follower mark.  I did intend to do that, but honestly with the move that we just completed and all the boxes still left to unpack, I feel that it's a little too much to undertake right at this particular moment in time.  But don't worry!  I'm not going to dismiss a giveaway altogether... that would be no fun!  So I decided that when I reach 125 followers I will be doing a giveaway to express my gratitude to all of you.  More details will be coming in the near future.  Spread the word and help me hit that 125 mark and maybe it will be YOU who is the lucky winner!

Thanks again for your continued support.  I appreciate it more than you can possibly know.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Why am I tossing confetti on my blog?  I'm in a bit of a party mood because I have received my very first Blog Award!  WooHoo!!  Thanks to nominations from Lex Write and Aparajita Basu for The Liebster Blog Award.  I'm very honored to receive it.

The Liebster Blog Award was reputedly started in Germany.  The award was created to give recognition to hard-working bloggers with less than 200 followers.  You receive this award from a fellow blogger that feels your blog is both worthy & important to them.  Once you receive the award, you should follow these rules of acceptance:

1. Thank the giver and link back to their blog giving them credit.

2. Leave your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.  They must have less than 200 followers to receive the award.

3. Copy and paste the award to your blog if I picked you.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to the other bloggers.

5. Most of all: support each other and have lots of fun!

My Five Picks to Receive the Liebster Blog Award:

1.. Charlotte at Charlotte's Web of Books

2. Christine at Dixie's Mom's Book Blog

3. Asche at Kawaii Delights

4. Kate at Nomalicious Reads

Check out these blogs!  You'll be happy you did.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Moving Out and Moving On.....

Even my cat is asking, "Are We Really Moving Again!?"

Moving isn't my idea of fun. It's exhausting. There are about a million things I'd rather do than place all of my belongings in boxes only to have to unpack them and find places for them all again! I'm groaning just typing this.

There is a plus side to moving. It is a good time to "purge". I have a 10-year-old daughter who has outgrown clothes, outgrown styles and outgrown toys. It's been a good learning opportunity to place those outgrown items in bags for our local thrift stores. Some other child can now appreciate them. It's also a great time for me to look through all my piles of paperwork and figure out what really needs to be saved and what can be tossed. If only if wasn't so exhausting! and time-consuming! and did I mention exhausting?!

In case you're checking out my blog for new reviews and wondering why I'm not posting frequently...this is why. In a little over a week, this will all be over (I'm repeating this mantra minute-by-minute to maintain my sanity!) and things will be back to reading and reviewing as normal.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz – by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri

Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz is adapted from Eva Mozes Kor's self-published memoir, Echoes From Auschwitz: Dr. Mengele's Twins, The Story Of Eva And Miriam Mozes. This first-person account is intended for readers in grade six and up. Currently available in hardcover, the paperback edition will be released in October 2011

On January 31, 1934, Eva and Miriam Mozes entered the world as identical twin sisters. The twin girls, along with their parents and older sisters Edit and Aliz, lived in the village of Portz in Transylvania, Romania. As the only Jewish family in the community, they increasingly became more and more aware of the growing anti-Semitism pervading the culture. When Eva and her sister began school in 1940, two new teachers were brought into the city by the Nazis. With them, they brought books containing caricatures of Jews and propaganda films. Their classmates began to see them as “Dirty Jews” and turned against them. Things progressively got worse until finally, in 1943, their father decided it was time to try to leave their home and escape to the safety of Romania. Unfortunately, they were too late. The Hungarian Nazi youth had been stationed outside their home to make sure they did not escape.

The year that Eva and Miriam turned ten, they, along with the rest of their family, were transported in a cattle car to Auschwitz. Dressed identically since birth, the girls were quickly identified in their matching dresses. With a flick of Dr. Mengele’s baton, they were separated from the rest of their family. Because they were identical twins, they were of particular interest to Dr. Mengele. Dr. Mengele wanted to learn how to create perfect Aryan babies and interred twins, along with giants, dwarfs, the handicapped and gypsies became his human guinea pigs. Eva, the stronger of the twins in spirit, refused to give in to the Nazis. She realized from the beginning that she must survive so that her sister is able to survive. Subjected to horrific experiments and left for dead, Eva will not let her sister down. They will survive Auschwitz together.

In the epilogue, we learn that Eva has forgiven Dr. Mengele. She explains that anger and hatred are seeds of war, while forgiveness is the seed for peace. 1n 1984, Eva and her sister Miriam founded CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors).

I feel that this book is truly remarkable. The atrocities of WWII are difficult to explain to younger individuals, but the particular atrocities of Dr. Mengele are that much more difficult. The authors did an amazing job at toning down the subject matter enough to allow a younger audience to learn from Eva’s experience. I read this book with my 10-year-old daughter and although some parts of the book brought tears of sadness to both our eyes, we also shed tears of relief and admiration for this amazing woman and her sister. Although I’ve read many other books about WWII, I still learned from this book, as did my daughter.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

THE GIRL IN THE BLUE BERET - by Bobbie Ann Mason

Marshall Stone is turning 60 and his life is in a state of upheaval. Forced to retire from being a pilot, a job he loves, he is also still dealing with the loss of his wife. With his two children grown, he feels that this is the time to return to the place where his B-17 crash-landed during World War II. He is particularly motivated to find some of the brave individuals who helped him along the way.

When I heard of this book, I was very excited to read it. I love historical fiction, particularly books set during WWII. I also was intrigued by the fact that the author, Bobbie Ann Mason, had been inspired by the experiences of her late father-in-law. Like the main character of the book, he too was a pilot that was shot down in occupied Europe.

The potential negatives of the book:
It took quite awhile for the book to really capture my interest. I was probably at least 100 pages invested before the story took hold for me and I was unwilling to set it aside.

The definite positives of the book:
This is a moving story that captures the bravery of ordinary people who were part of the French Resistance during the war. It is also a story of starting over and of second chances.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

THE MIDWIFE'S CONFESSION - by Diane Chamberlain

Tara is a woman still in mourning over the loss of her husband Sam. She teaches high school at the same school where her daughter Grace attends. Grace and Tara used to be close, but since Sam's death there is a mountain building between them.

Emerson is Tara's closest friend and the busy owner of a popular restaurant. Emerson's daughter, Jenny, happens to be Grace's best friend.

Noelle is another very close friend of Tara (and Emerson). She is a midwife who has many causes and is the head of a "babies-in-need program".

These three women have been close since they all met in college. They are family to one another. When Noelle commits suicide, she leaves them reeling. As the women go through Noelle's belongs after her death, they piece together a letter of apology. This letter ultimately helps them discover who Noelle really was, what she really did and what role she really played in all of their lives.

Told in alternating narratives, the author takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotion. It is definitely a page-turner that will keep you guessing until the very end! Ultimately this is a story about the love between mothers and daughters, the love between friends and family, and the secrets that can tear us all apart.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I received an Advance Readers Edition of this book through the publisher. Both my 10-year-old daughter and I read the book.

Journal of a Schoolyard Bully: Notes on Noogies, Wet Willies, and Wedgies is a book similar in style to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Dork Diaries. It features cartoons alongside text to tell the story of Niko Kaylor, the school bully. Niko has been asked to keep a journal by his therapist.

This book does have several amusing moments. I did find myself chuckling out loud a couple of times. However, I have to say that I was very disappointed overall in the tone of the book. Slated to be released in September 2011, the time when kids will be returning to school, I think that this book is really more of a celebration of bullying than a lesson to bullies. The author, Farley Katz, touches on issues of why Niko may bully such as an absent father and weight issues. However, I kept hoping that the bully would change his ways and become a better person and that never happens. At a time where bullying has become a serious epidemic, I fear that this book may only make matters worse.

My Daughter's Review
My daughter states that she thought that the book was going to be really funny. She thought that in the end the bully would see the error of his ways. Instead, it seemed to encourage bullying and gave bullies ideas on how to be a "better" bully. At the end of the book he didn't discover the error of his ways but decided to try to become an even better bully. She thought it was a very bad book for children - especially her age or younger. She thinks this book could cause big problems. She gives the book only 1 star on a 5 star rating system.

Click here for more information about bullying!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I was fortunate enough to be selected to receive an Advance Reader's Edition of Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel. I was thrilled to be selected because I have always found Marie Antoinette to be an interesting person in history. Many have portrayed Marie Antoinette as self-absorbed and dimwitted. I was quite intrigued to see how Juliet Grey would present her in this novel.

Maria Antonia grew up in Austria always knowing that one day she would be a "sacrifice to politics". Her mother, Maria Theresa, was the Empress of Austria and demanded great things from her daughters. By the age of 10, Antonia had been promised in marriage to Louis Charles, the dauphin of France. A complete intellectual and physical transformation had to be undergone to prepare Antonia to become the dauphine of France and eventually their Queen. Finally, at the age of 14, the marriage was ready to move forward. Antonia had to leave nearly everything behind; her family, her servants whom she loved like family, her homeland, her language, her customs, etc. She had to convince the people of France to love her, despite the fact that many had preconceived notions about Austrian women. One of the people who needed the most convincing was her new husband, Louis.

Through the pages of this book, Juliet Grey shows us what a strong and compassionate person Marie Antoinette was. Despite constant criticism from her mother, she constantly strove to make her happy. Within the corrupt world of Versailles, Antoinette worked hard to keep her morals. Antoinette struggled to learn who she could trust and who she could not and it becomes clear in this book how lonely of a life it must have truly been.

Thoroughly researched and well-written, I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone. This is the first book in a trilogy and will be released on 8/9/11. The second book in the trilogy, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow, will be released in the summer of 2012. The third and final book will be released in 2013. I look forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011



Between Shades of Gray is Incredible from start to finish. Ruta Sepetys has written a remarkable story that needed to be told, and she does it beautifully.

Under Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union occupied the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 1939. The Kremlin created lists of people they were suspicious of being "anti-Soviet". Teachers, writers, artists, lawyers, doctors, etc. were placed on these lists and rounded up and murdered, sent to prison or deported into slavery in Siberia. The first deportations took place in 1941.

Lina and her family were on the list. Without warning, the police barge into her home one night and give her family a matter of minutes to pack up their lives. Her father had already been taken away previously. Herded into cattle cars with other terrified people from all walks of life, Lina, her younger brother Jonas and their mother Elena are quickly put into survival mode. The thought of keeping their family together and reuniting with their father is what forces them to stay strong, but the challenges they have to endure will test them, tear them down and change them profoundly.

The characters in this book are so vividly portrayed, which only makes the story that much more moving. I really think this is an amazing book. We've all heard a lot about the horrors and atrocities of the Nazis during WWII, but little in comparison about what happened to the Baltic states during Stalin's reign of terror. This book is intended for young readers, but I think adults will enjoy it and learn from it as well.

THE TIGER'S WIFE - by Tea Obreht

The Tiger's Wife is a brilliantly written novel. I enjoyed it thoroughly and am really looking forward to reading more from Tea Obreht!

The only trouble I can really speak of with this novel is that when people have asked me what the book is about I am at a loss. It is difficult to succinctly describe this book. I have found it best to simply say - Just Read It!

Obreht has beautifully woven together layer upon layer of mystery, magic and beauty within the pages of The Tigers Wife. Natalia is a young doctor who is trying to find answers about her beloved grandfather's death while she is on a medical mission to inoculate orphans. In learning more about her grandfather's life, we are introduced to other characters such as The Deathless Man, The Butcher and the Tiger's Wife. The Tiger's Wife has a fairytale quality to it, but there are no cliche happily-ever-afters in this book.


Christine has suffered a traumatic brain injury. That much we know. She wakes up each morning and is not sure where she is, who she is lying in bed with, how her body got to look as old as it currently does, or why she doesn't recognize any of the photographs strategically placed around the home. Chris suffers from amnesia. Every day she begins anew - a type of perpetual Groundhog Day, for those of you familiar with that movie.

Since Christine can't remember any of the details of how she got to where she is, she also can't remember who to trust. Is the man who claims to be her husband and claims to take care of her really who he says he is? Is the doctor who is claiming that he can help her with new treatments really keeping her best interests at heart? What about her family? Her friends? What really happened to them?

This book kept me guessing from page one. I kept thinking I knew what was going on, only to discover that I knew nothing! It was an exciting page turner... one that I simply couldn't put down until I knew the whole story. I loved it!

Before I Go To Sleep is now sold in over 30 languages around the world. It has been acquired by Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, with Rowan Joffe set to direct. Filming is scheduled to begin in 2011. Make sure to read it first. You know books are always better than the films. I will definitely be checking this film out too, though!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome to My Blog!

I'm so excited to share my love of books, reading, and writing with all of you!  Look to my blog for reviews, author news, contests, and so much more.

My 10-year-old daughter is also an avid reader. She will be sharing her thoughts on different books that she reads. Check back often as we continually post reviews and make improvements on the site!