"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Friday, November 30, 2012

New York Times Announces This Year's Most Notable Children's Books

As selected by the children's book editor of The New York Times Book Review, here are the top children's books of 2012: 
Teen/Young Adult
BITTERBLUEBy Kristin Cashore. (Dial, $19.99.) 
CODE NAME VERITYBy Elizabeth Wein. (Hyperion, $16.99.)

THE FAULT IN OUR STARSBy John Green. (Dutton, $17.99.) 
JEPP, WHO DEFIED THE STARSBy Katherine Marsh. (Hyperion, $16.99.) 
NEVER FALL DOWNBy Patricia McCormick. (Balzer & Bray/Harper­Collins, $17.99.) 
SONBy Lois Lowry. (Houghton Mifflin, $17.99.) 
THE FALSE PRINCEBy Jennifer A. Nielsen. (Scholastic, $17.99.)
HAND IN HAND: Ten Black Men Who Changed AmericaBy Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney. (Disney-Jump at the Sun, $19.99.) 
THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOMBy Christopher Healy. Illustrated by Todd Harris. (Walden Pond/HarperCollins, $16.99.) 
THE LAST DRAGONSLAYERBy Jasper Fforde. (Harcourt/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99.) 
LIAR & SPYBy Rebecca Stead. (Wendy Lamb, $15.99.) 
THE SECRET TREEBy Natalie Standiford. (Scholastic, $16.99.)Two children, a summer and a tree that tells secrets in this story about neighborhood kids.
SEE YOU AT HARRY’SBy Jo Knowles. (Candlewick, $16.99.)
SPLENDORS AND GLOOMSBy Laura Amy Schlitz. (Candlewick, $17.99.) 
“WHO COULD THAT BE AT THIS HOUR?” By Lemony Snicket. Illustrated by Seth. (Little Brown, $15.99.) 
WONDERBy R. J. Palacio. (Knopf, $15.99.) 
BROTHERS AT BAT: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball TeamBy Audrey Vernick. Illustrated by Steven Salerno. (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99.) 
THE DAY LOUIS GOT EATENWritten and illustrated by John Fardell. (Andersen Press, $16.95.) 
DRAGONS LOVE TACOSBy Adam Rubin. Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. (Dial, $16.99.) 
A GOLD STAR FOR ZOGBy Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Axel Scheffler. (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $16.99.) 
HELLO! HELLO! Written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell. (Disney-­Hyperion, $16.99.) 
I’M BOREDBy Michael Ian Black. Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. (Simon & Schuster, $16.99.) 
KING ARTHUR’S VERY GREAT GRANDSONWritten and illustrated by Kenneth Kraegel. (Candlewick, $15.99.) 
THIS IS NOT MY HATWritten and illustrated by Jon Klassen. (Candlewick, $15.99.) 

**My Bookshelf's current contest:  Enter to win a copy of Saving Each Other here.
.  Contest ends December 10, 2012**

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bookstores Strike Back


In this article (see link below) author Ann Patchet, of State of Wonder and Bel Canto to name only a couple, talks to the Atlantic about opening an independent bookstore in Nashville.  Ann has determined that the independent bookstore is on the way back into vogue.  The circle has come full around and it's time for the independents to rise again.  

'Amazon doesn’t get to make all the decisions; the people can make them, by choosing how and where they spend their money. If what a bookstore offers matters to you, then shop at a bookstore. If you feel that the experience of reading a book is valuable, then read a book. This is how we change the world: We grab hold of it. We change ourselves."

The Bookstore Strikes Back - The Atlantic

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play Tour

Buy Links:


"Boardwalk Empire" meets "The Great Gatsby" in this soft-boiled historical mystery, inspired by actual events. Rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the "Sin City of the Southwest." Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at the Oasis--a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz but, despite her mixed feelings, she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life Galveston gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. Jazz must risk her life and career to find the killer, exposing the dark side of Galveston's glittering society.


Why in the world was Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don't usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story's really hot, then they'll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing. What did he want from me? 

Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. My boss stared with unabashed interest. 

"To what do I owe this disturbance?" I adjusted my cloche, acting nonchalant. 

He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. "I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?" 

"What do you want?" I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn't see me sweat. 

Burton scanned the hushed room. "You really want to discuss it here, out in public?" 

He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to discuss Sammy, who was no one else's business. 

"Let's go outside," I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal's office. 

Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. "Jazz, is everything jake?" 

"Everything's berries." I smiled to pacify him but, I admit, I had the jitters. 

"I remember him. Your boyfriend?" Burton seemed amused. 

"He's the staff photographer." I ignored his crack. "And a good friend." 

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, our resident stray cat, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps. 

"How was lunch?" In broad daylight, Burton didn't seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Besides, a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us. 

"Fine." I covered my growling stomach. "What brings you here?" 

"Sorry to barge in that way." He smiled, tugging on his hat. "But I had to get your attention. You wouldn't give me the time of day the other night." 

"Can you blame me? A raid isn't exactly the best way to meet new people." 

"I think we got off on the wrong foot." He stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. "Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?" 

"Dinner?" Was he serious? "Just like that?" I snapped my fingers. "You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You've got a lot of nerve, mister." 

"I wouldn't be a Prohibition agent if I didn't." He looked smug. "How about tonight?" 

"Tonight? I usually work late." I admit, I was curious. What did he really want? 

"Every night?" He raised his brows. "Don't they let you off for good behavior?" 

"For starters, I don't even know you and what I do know, I don't like at all." I squinted in the sun. "And I don't appreciate the way you bullied us at the Oasis. I thought people were innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around." I wasn't usually so bold and blunt with strangers, especially lawmen. Maybe it was his youth, or maybe I'd finally found my moxie. 

"You must mean Sammy. Fair enough." He held up his hands. "If it makes you feel any better, my gun wasn't loaded that night." 

"Small comfort now, after you scared everyone half to death." So it was all an act? 

Burton looked down at his boots, as if reconsidering his options. "I hoped you could get to know me over dinner, but how about a quick bite now? I haven't eaten." 

"Why not?" I nodded, not wanting to let on that I was famished.

Burton stopped at a sandwich vendor on the corner, and tried to pay for my lunch and Nehi, but I pulled out a quarter before he did. It wasn't a date! 

"Where can we talk, in private?" He motioned towards the newsroom. "Away from prying eyes and ears." 

Anxious, I led him towards a city park and we sat on opposite ends of a bench, my clutch bag like a barricade, keeping my distance.

"So what's the emergency? Why did you come by today, out of the blue? I hope I'm not under arrest!" I half-joked. 

Buy Links:

Author Bio:

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMOPOLITAN, COUNTRY ACCENTS, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories (both mystery and romance) have appeared in WOMAN'S WORLD.   

A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items (www.art-decodame.com). Formerly she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising sales and public relations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism.  During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. Flappers, Flasks and Foul Playis her first novel, inspired by real people and places.  Currently, she’s working on the sequel. 

"When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. I love the glamour and excitment of The Jazz Age, but Prohibition was also such a dark and dangerous time in American history. Jazz isn’t a debutante or socialite, she’s a reporter caught in between the two halves of Galveston society, struggling to do the right thing despite all the temptations and decadence of the era."

Q&A with Robin Desser, the Editor Behind Cheryl Strayed’s Bestselling “Wild” | Featured | Biographile

Q&A with Robin Desser, the Editor Behind Cheryl Strayed’s Bestselling “Wild” | Featured | Biographile

I've often read author interviews. even interviewed authors, but have never read an editor interview regarding the history of how a book came into being.  Here Biographile interviews Robin Desser, the editor who "discovered" Cheryl Strayed's bestseller "Wild."  It is fascinating to read as the interviewer and interviewee compare favourite scenes and circumstances.  Cheryl Strayed was fortunate to have an accomplished agent with a terrific reputation who put the partial manuscript into Robin's hands.  The rest, as they say, is history... history worth reading about!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

For Your Listening Pleasure...

Thanks to A Bookworm's World's review of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, I just had the pleasure of listening to an audio excerpt from the same.  The voice of Ari Fliakos is perfect for the role and very easy to listen to.  His tone is clear and his inflection suits the wording and dialogue very well.  I could definitely listen to him for the duration of the book! This might be a deciding factor of audio vs paper.  Listen for yourself and see.

Follow this link to listen to an excerpt from Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and read by Ari Fliakos, courtesy of Mac Audio.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Saving Each Other by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy (book review)

Saving Each Other
A Mystery Illness ~ A Search for a Cure
A Mother Daughter Love Story
Authors: Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy
Published: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Vanguard Press, A member of the Perseus Books Group
Pages: 253
Category:  Memoir
ISBN 978593157333
Source: A complimentary copy was provided by FSB Associates to facilitate this review.  The views expressed here are my own unbiased thoughts.

My Thoughts:

Saving Each Other is a story of the bonds of family, the unconditional love and the lengths a parent will go to to save a child.  What began as a search for a cure became a foundation to fund and facilitate research into defining, identifying and looking for the cure for an "orphan" disease, NMO, which struck Ali Guthy, Victoria's daughter, in her teen years.  It all began one day with what Ali called an "eyeball headache" in her left eye.  "Really inconvenient" were Ali's terms.  (This gives you a hint as to Ali's nature.)  This optic neuritis progressed to some loss of sight in that eye but with treatment and the administration of some steroids, her eyesight soon returned to normal.  That was just the beginning, however, as the disease went on to turn her body against itself, attacking the spinal chord with lesions up the length of it, causing excruciating pain, numbness and prickling sensations.

NMO (Neuromyelitis optica) is explained in some depth near the end of the book so I won't go into detail here.  Needless to say this family had one enormous battle on their hands.  Victoria Jackson, queen of the Shopping Network "no make-up" make-up and her husband Bill, king of the Pro-active spots on the Shopping Network, facilitated a research foundation, funding research and operating a once yearly symposium with specialists the world over.  Included in this symposium were patients and their families with a special patients' day.  

This incredible story is told from the points of view of both Ali Guthy and her mother Victoria Jackson, which is likely the best approach, allowing the reader to become acquainted with the fighter that is Ali and her biggest champion, her mother.  The insights into their fears, cares, struggles, and progress are revealed over a timeline of three years.  Saving Each Other not only is an eye opener, but a work of hope for all out there who may be fighting their own battles as patients or loved ones.  Whether it's NMO or any other disorder or disease, reading Saving Each Other just may be the vision of hope to enable you to climb another mountain ... cross another sea, in your own challenges in life.

From 2008 to 2012, much progress has been made thanks to the unification of the efforts of a variety of specialists and some very determined individuals.  As of the writing of this book, Ali Guthy is symptom free.  The lesions along her spine are no longer visible on MRIs.  Ali now attends university and continues playing tennis, her one great love.  Together they have conquered much and together they will continue to serve the cause.

Saving Each Other is a heartwarming and hopeful insight into what a family can accomplish and what it means to be a fighter. 


Every Day Is a Miracle
By Victoria Jackson,
Author of Saving Each Other: A Mystery Illness, A Search for the Cure, A Mother-Daughter Love Story
Every day is a miracle. That I do know, even though I forget it sometimes.

Isn't that kind of the point of 2%? It's like by throwing a rare light show or random nightmare storm in our direction, the universe is just trying to get our attention so we don't take anything for granted and just appreciate our days and the hours and minutes that make them up.

That's what's on my mind as I talk to a mom who has just lost her son, my daugher Ali's age, to Neuromyeltis Optica (NMO). She sounds so strong. For all these years I've been waging war with the image of Ali having to be wheeled across the stage at her graduation, maybe not even getting there. Maybe that's why I'm looking for ways to delay the ceremony. And here is a mother whose son didn't make it. Not only that, incredibly, she's calling not to talk about her loss but to thank us for the work of the foundation that gave him longer than they had expected. She lets me know that friends and family have sent in donations for our Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation to be used in his memory. Her voice is clear and resolute as she tells me to call on her for anything she can do to help raise awareness in the ongoing search for a cure.

When I get off the phone, sad and mad that we couldn't do more, I fight a flood of fearful thoughts and just try to be in the moment to appreciate where we are. The truth is that every worst fear that I could and did imagine for Ali -- none of it has happened. The dire prognosis that we were given hasn't come to pass.

It's true that I have lived too often with the subliminal concern that special events and usual rites of passage may be her last. The irony, of course, is that she prefers low key. But my impulse was always to give all the kids happy memories and make all the details so memorable that they'll be able to relish them long into the years to come.

Even thinking that there could be a cap on the years to come for Ali is so sacrilegious, not even something I allow myself to think about, that I compensate by making every milestone the ultimate.

Senior prom, of course, had to be the absolute best in the world because (a) it's prom, (b) there might not be another event like it and (c) I never went to prom and refuse to let her miss out on anything that life has to offer.

The logic and the love were really uppermost in my mind. But then again, finding the most amazing dress and then having it altered -- I went a little crazy, almost going so far as to tell the tailor that it has to be perfect because only God knew how much time she had left.

Evan once told me that you have to try to just have faith in the world. That's the lullaby I kept trying to sing to myself now. He has always said that to me. Still, I looked around at other moms at the pre-prom party and realized that probably no other mother was thinking of her daughter in her very special dress the same way I was thinking of Ali.

This piece is excerpted from "Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story" by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy. Available from Vanguard Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2012

Copyright © 2012 Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy, authors of Saving Each Other: A Mystery Illness, A Search for the Cure, A Mother-Daughter Love Story
Win a copy!!  Cancelled.  Due to lack of entries, (0), this contest has been cancelled.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Prequel to Scarlet by Marissa Meyer now on Tor.com

"Presenting “The Queen’s Army,” a story by Marissa Meyer that takes place in the Lunar Chronicles world of Cinder and its forthcoming sequel Scarlet, on sale February 5th. The first 1,000 people to pre-order Scarlet in hardcover or ebook will get a free Scarlet-branded lip gloss. More exclusive content on The Lunar Chronicles can also be found here on Facebook.
It is time. The boy must leave his family to serve in the Queen’s army. To be chosen is an honor. To decline is impossible. The boy is modified. He is trained for several years, and learns to fight to the death. He proves to the Queen—and to himself—that he is capable of evil. He is just the kind of soldier the Queen wants: the alpha of his pack........"


Friday, November 23, 2012

The Savvy Reader Suggest 20 Book Ideas for the Avid Reader


  1. The Hobbit
  2. Divergent and Insurgent
  3. The Imposter Bride
  4. The 100-year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
  5. The Time Keeper
  6. The Power of Why
  7. The Kind of Life It's Been 
  8. Sutton
  9. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
  10. Who Could it Be At This Hour?
  11. Startling
  12. The Paper Dolls
  13. Beauty
  14. You Gotta Eat Here
  15. Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
  16. J.R.
  17. One Direction:  The Official Annual 2013
  18. The Perfect Present
  19. Who I Am
  20. Wheat Belly Cookbook
Sadly, I've read only one of these (The Hobbit) and have one (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore) on the TBR list on my dresser.  The remaining I haven't read but of them I REALLY want to read The Power of Why, The Kind of Life It's Been, Sutton, and The 100-Year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (who wouldn't want to read a book with that title?!!).  So, if I am on your gift giving list, hint... hint, you know what I want, right?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Harry Potter vs Twilight Open Discussion: Which do you miss more?

Now that I've seen the finale in the Twilight saga, I am content.  It is done.  For me there is no desire to see a continuation of the story, especially since the ending of Breaking Dawn II was, well, an ending.  Beautifully executed too.

If I were to compare Harry Potter with the Twilight saga, not the stories, mind you because there is no comparison between the two; but more a comparison of how I felt at their ending, I have to say I missed Harry Potter more when it was over.  

Harry and his friends grew up before our eyes on the big screen and the written page.  Could that be the appeal to a wide audience range? The fight between good and evil, werewolves, wicked warlocks and witches, bullying, family drama, and more was present throughout.  Some of which we could relate to.  The orphan taken in by an unloving family, a boy who never knew how special he truly was, appealed to us as humans.  The quarrels and bullying and crushes, all things we can relate to or are aware of in our own lives. The orphan boy overcomes it all and we loved it!  Throw in some magic and you have a formula for success.

Whereas Bella graduates from high school and from mortal life, embracing adulthood as a vampire, it was exciting to watch the struggles to get there and the trials conquered, not to mention the bad vampires.  The whole thing was a big toothy saga!  There were instances at school and with friends that would have drawn sympathies from the audience but they were brief.  Once Bella graduated and the last two books came to life on the big screen, the excitement escalated.  We cheered for vampires!  As unbelievable as that may be, we did!

You may compare the stories somewhat to better express how each one touched your life because it is the sum of the experience that leaves you with that feeling of loss/gain.  Now that the conclusion to both has come to pass, do you miss one more than the other?  Which one could you relate to more? Which young adult series spoke to you more and why?

Doppler by Erlend Loe (book review)

Author:  Erlend Loe
Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
Published:  2012 (this edition)
Publisher:  Anansi Press
Pages:  183
Genre:  fiction
ISBN  9781770893009
Source:  borrowed

After the death of his father, Andreas Doppler abandons his home, his family, his career, and the trappings of modern civilization to live in a makeshift tent in the forest.  There, he reluctantly adopts an orphaned moose-calf he names Bongo. Or is it Bongo who adopts him?  They soon grow to depend on each other in unusual and unexpected ways, and together they devote themselves to the art of survival with some surprising results.

Hilarious, touching, and poignant is the spirit of John Irving's best novels, Doppler is also deeply subversive and a strong criticism of modern consumer culture.

"Shamelessly charming." ~ Stavanger Aftenblad (Norway)

I chose to read Doppler as a recommendation and figured why not, it's a quick read?  Yes, it is, and an entertaining one at that.  It's like nothing I've ever read before.

A knock on the head following a cycling accident changes Andreas Doppler's view on his life.  No longer will he work for his living, abide by the social norms, pay taxes, nor even live in his house with his wife and two children.  Not for him any more, the socialization of society.  Now he hates people!  Oh, and his father died shortly before the accident and this too weighs on his mind.

Whether from a mental breakdown, or a rebellion toward the norms of society, it's hard to say, but I am sure some would admire Doppler's retraction from the world to live in a tent in the forest.  Is it unusual to want to leave the stress of life behind and live in a world where nothing is expected of you?  Where you can be bored and enjoy it?  Where your best friend is a moose calf whom you've adopted after killing the mother for food?  How odd is that?

It's a man's world of hunter-gatherer, roughing it in the wild, no niceties of civilization at hand which men will find highly entertaining.  I do understand his desire to escape.  While some do so with a vacation, Doppler doesn't do things half-way.  With humour, sometimes a bit crass, Doppler takes on his new life with relish.  As a woman, I enjoyed it.  Not just to laugh at men, which I did in Doppler,  (he has the most patient of wives!) but because I too sometimes want to escape the pressures of time and bills.  To go somewhere where no one knows me, where I am free to do my bidding as I wish, to relax and read and sleep.  That's a vacation or retirement.  Right?  The fact that Doppler takes it further than we would even imagine, playing games with a moose, building a totem pole in tribute to family, literally fighting for his right to be left alone; makes this book that much more unusual and entertaining.

Erlend Loe's Doppler is shameless, as Aftenblad said, and, in its own way unusually charming in an odd manner of speaking. Certainly good for a chuckle!  This is fiction, right?

Warning:  some language

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Hobbits Are Coming, The Hobbits Are Coming....

In all the excitement for the Hobbit movie release December 14, 2012, stores everywhere are gearing up for the pandemonium about to ensue.  Here's a peak:

I like the Gandolf the Grey Plushter best.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Breaking Dawn Movie Review

I love the opening sequence of Breaking Dawn II.  Wintery scenes with splashes of red, close-ups of snow crystals, such beautiful cinematography!

I tried to take one photo of the title shot but it came out blurry but you get the idea.

Breaking Dawn II opens where BDI left off, with the awakening of the new Bella.  Before she can see her daughter though, she must hunt and she does with Edward, showing incredible restraint in her food choices.  When she (and we) meets her daughter, Renesmee, let me tell you she is the cutest baby girl, aside from my beautiful daughter of course, and everybody adores her!

The movie progresses with a threat from the Volturi which precipitates thrilling action and a scene with Jake that had all the girls in the audience audibly thrilled!  I am going to avoid any further spoilers by just saying that some things are different from the book and there is a surprise at the end which neatly ties up the entire saga.

The action is portrayed, both in effects and videography, with greater realism and the makeup is much better.  I still found Dr. Cullen to be oddly pasty looking compared to the others.  Perhaps it is his natural darker hair colouring that makes it necessary to be more liberal with the makeup?  Edward's finally looks good!  The new cast members are well chosen, actually pretty close to how I pictured them from the novel, and I am so glad to see no cast replacements to main characters!

Breaking Dawn II is action packed, with some gory scenes (nothing too graphic but parents be warned), the love scenes with Edward and Bella are more intimate (not complete nudity, mostly limbs and backs), and the overall effect is more than I even expected.  

Of all the Twilight movies, I liked this one best.  PS  My husband even stayed awake!

Considering the violence and the love scene, I would not recommend this movie to children under 14 at the youngest.  (parental discretion encouraged).

Divergent/Insurgent Preview Airs Before Breaking Dawn II in Theatres

Harper Collins has gone big in promoting Divergent and Insurgent by author Veronica Roth!  This has got to be a first!!

By the way, have you seen Twilight:  Breaking Dawn part II yet?  I went last night and I'll review it here later today.  It was exciting, cute, and even offered a "what the ...." moment or two. 
Possibly the best Twilight movie ever!!!

Death By Bourbon by Abigail Keam

 Death By Bourbon
A Josiah Reynolds Mystery
Author:  Abigail Keam
Pages:  196
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source:  A complimentary copy was provided by First Rule Publicity in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  The opinions expressed in this review are mine alone.

Available at:  abigailkeam.com, Amazon.com, Barns&Noble.com 
and abigailsoap.com.  Also Morris Bookstore, Lexington, Kentucky.

Life takes a dramatic turn for Josiah when she witnesses a death at an engagement party for Matt. Matt? Yes, Matt.

Charming socialite Addison DeWitt falls into a fit after taking a sip of bourbon. That would be upsetting enough, but Josiah is sure it is murder. However, no one will believe her except for Lady Elsmere and Meriah Caldwell, the famous mystery writer. The three of them conspire to bring the murderer to justice. It turns out the suspect is always three steps ahead of them.

To make matters worse, Josiah’s daughter, Asa decides to move to London, Franklin leaves town and Jake starts singing a different tune. Josiah doubts her ability to meet the future alone. Maybe it’s time to sell the Butterfly and move to Florida with the rest of the old folks.
My thoughts:

Death By Bourbon is a quick little mystery with a spunky protagonist, Josiah, who always finds herself in the midst of death.  She's outspoken, a quick thinker, and a bit judgemental.  All these traits, of course, serve her well when she witnesses the collapse of an acquaintance at a party where she is a guest.  Something just feels "icky" about the whole situation and when she spots the widow at the top landing, peering down at her, Josiah is immediately suspicious.  Against the warnings of a friend who is a police officer investigating the death, not yet determined a murder, Josiah begins nosing around and has a barn fire to thank for her efforts.  Bad turns to worse and Josiah must convince the police of her suspicions before it's too late.

Death By Bourbon is a self-pubished novel, the fourth Josiah Reynolds mystery written by Abigail Keam.  There are some minor but not totally distracting errors within that an editor could clean up but the story is entertaining regardless.  Not so twisted a plot as Agatha Christie or Carolyn Hart, but a decent read to warm a cool winter's night.

Meet the author:
Abigail Keam is an award-winning author who writes the Josiah Reynolds mystery series about a beekeeper turned sleuth.
Death By A HoneyBee won the 2010 Gold Medal Award for Women’s Lit from Reader’s Favorite and was a Finalist of the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011.
Death By Drowning won the 2011 Gold Medal Award for Best Mystery Sleuth and also was placed on the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011.
Ms. Keam is also an award-winning beekeeper who lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Houses Designed With Books in Mind

The above photo is the third in the sequence of thirteen homes designed especially with books, book cases and book lovers in mind.  This is my favourite of the set.  

Which is yours?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Host Official Movie Trailer

From the author of the Twilight Series and The Host comes an exciting movie adaptation of The Host.  A little sic-fi, love story, action thriller all in one with wide audience appeal.  
See for yourself with this trailer:

Coming March 29, 2013

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe is the Book You Must Read!

The End of Your Life Book Club
Author:  Will Schwalbe
Published:  October 2012
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf
Pages: 329
Includes an appendix of the books discussed within this memoir
ISBN 9780307399663
Category:  memoir
Source:  borrowed

“What are you reading?”

That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less. 

This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying. 

Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other—and rediscover their lives—through their favorite books. When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page." (from the publisher) 


"One of the many things I love about bound books is their physicality.  Electronic books live out of sight and out of mind. But printed books have body, presence.  Sure, sometimes they'll elude you by hiding in improbable places in a box full of old picture frames, say, or in the laundry basket, wrapped in a sweatshirt.  But at other times they'll confront you, and you'll literally stumble over some tomes you hadn't thought about in weeks or years.  I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me.  They make me feel, but I can't feel them.  They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight.  They can get in your head but can't whack you upside it." (page 42-43, The End of Your Life Book Club)

Will Schwalbe is a book publisher and a son to a woman dying with cancer.  Beyond the mother son bonds of love and family, they share a love of books.  It is this love that bonds them through chemotherapy, bad times and good.  It is their little book club, consisting of two members, that helps them cope with illness and loss.

As we visit the hospital with Will and his mother, Mary Ann(e), we take part in Will's reminiscing of his youth.  Books have always been a part of his life.  Books were read at bedtime by both parents, with the children being allowed to select their own story with which to fall asleep.  While Will's brother loved the Chronicles of Narnia series, Will's own obsession was the land of Tolkien.  "And most of all I remember The Hobbit, the most phantasmagorical book I could ever imagine."  I had to look up that one!  (Phantasmagoria is currently in the top 20% of look ups on Merriam-Webster.com.)  

From reminiscing to discussions about modern literature to talks of Mary Anne's travels, we get to know Mary Anne as the fascinating woman who "smiles at strangers."  She had such a giving spirit, sought to make life better in disadvantaged countries, was shot at in Afghanistan, was a university teacher, an all round incredible woman.  Two thirds of the way through the book, I still had not shed a tear.

And then....the tears came as I closed the cover and held the book in my arms.  I have grown incredibly fond of this book and the lives within.  The End of Your Life Book Club is touching, thoughtful, inspirational and most definitely my favourite book of 2012.  If you are looking for a book that will touch your heart and soul and linger in your thoughts long after you closed the cover, this is the book for you.  Better still, give a copy to your loved ones.  It's just that good!

About Will Schwalbe:

Will Schwalbe has worked in publishing (most recently as senior vice president and editor in chief of Hyperion Books); digital media, as the founder and CEO of Cookstr.com; and as a journalist, writing for various publications including The New York Times and the South China Morning Post. He is on the boards of Yale University Press and the Kingsborough Community College Foundation. He is the coauthor, with David Shipley, of Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better.


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