Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Way Back Wednesday - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

For the last few months, I have been featuring Trixie Belden Mysteries on my Way Back Wednesdays. These were my favorite books as a child.

After receiving the Annotated Wizard of Oz for Christmas, I have decided to feature a few of the Oz sequels during these posts. Many people are not aware that there are 14 Oz novels written by L. Frank Baum. There are several dozen other Oz books written by authors after Baum's death.

So, welcome to Way Back Wednesday - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum has always been one of my favorite books. Most people are familiar with the MGM movie starring Judy Garland, but the fascination started for me the first time I read the book.

There are several things that were changed for the movie so there are many facts people get mixed up.

1.)There is no Ms. Gulch in the book. As a matter of fact, there is very little mentioned of the Kansas farm in the book - this was added for the film.

2.)We know the house dropped on the Wicked Witch of the East, the Wicked Witch of the West was melted, and Glinda is the Good Witch of the North, but the movie tells us nothing of the Good Witch of the South.

3.)In the book, Dorothy is protected from harm by the golden kiss the Good Witch of the North places upon her forehead.

4.)The origins of the Tin Woodman are glossed over in the movie, so we don't know that he actually a human who cut off his on arms and legs, and then tinsmith made replacements.

5.)There is no mention of the Golden Cap, the Hammer-heads, or the Kalidahs in the movie. Want to know what they are? You need to read the book!

6.)And the most significant difference between the book and the movie - Dorothy's slippers are silver, not red! They were changed for the movie to take advantage of the new technocolor.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Can't wait until March 24, 2009 - this is the date that Fablehaven #4 - Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary is supposed to be released. If you have not read the first 3 books in this series, I highly recommend them. Brandon Mull is a wonderful new young adult author. Here's a cool trailer for the new book:

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas one and all!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa's Elves

Santa's book elves have been very good to me!!


Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Annotated Wizard of Oz

Lost: the Companion Book

And just think, this is only Christmas Eve! Wonder what's to come on Christmas Day??!!

Way Back Wednesday - 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

I am again interrupting Trixie Belden Mysteries on Way Back Wednesday for another favorite Christmas book. This one should be familiar to everyone, because it has been around since 1823.

A Visit from St. Nicholas (also known as The Night Before Christmas and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas from its first line) is a poem first published anonymously in 1823. Authorship was later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore and the poem was included in an 1844 anthology of his works. There is still controversay in the literary world as to whether Moore is the actual author of this classic poem.

A Visit from St. Nicholas is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, and that he brings toys to children. Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors varied considerably. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus beyond the United States to the rest of the Anglosphere and the world.

There are so many versions of this wonderful book on the market, it would be too hard to list them all. This cover is the closest one I could find to the actual book my family owns. This classic story is a "must have" for families with small children or grandchildren, or for adults who are still young at heart.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Fairy Chronicles - Marigold and Dragonfly

One of the book blogs I visit weekly recommended a series of children's books I was not familiar with, The Fairy Chronicles. Being a lover of fairies and fantasy, in addition to loving children and young adult books, I thought I would give these a try. Paul Samuelson from Source Books was kind enough to send me several review copies from The Fairy Chronicles collection. Thank you, Paul!

Marigold and the Feather of Hope, the Journey Begins (The Fairy Chronicles) by J. H. Sweet

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (April 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402208723
ISBN-13: 978-1402208720

Beth (aka Marigold) is a 9 year old girls sent to stay with her eccentric Aunt for a 2 week summer vacation. It is during this vacation Beth learns she is a Fairy - a Marigold Fairy to be percise. Her aunt is also a Fairy - a Monarch Butterfly Fairy - and she will be Beth's mentor in the Fairy World.

We also get to meet some other Fairies: Jennifer the Dragonfly Fairy, Grace the Thistle Fairy and Lenox the Firefly Fairy. In this first book, the Fairies must retrieve the Feather of Hope, which has gone missing. The Feather of Hope ...
"is the means by which all hope on Earth is replenished and distributed".
The Brownies are the keepers of the Feather of Hope, but they were careless and the Feather was accidentally picked up by a human. It is up to the Fairies to retrieve the Feather of Hope from the humans and Beth and her Fairy friends come up with a plan.

All my life, I have had a love of fairy tales, but as an adult I realized there were very few new fairy tales being written today. J. H. Sweet has written a wonderful introduction into the realm of fairy tales and her Fairy Chronicles are sure to be favorite books for the children in your life.

Dragonfly and the Web of Dreams (The Fairy Chronicles) by J. H. Sweet

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (May 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402208731

In this second book in the series, Beth and her Fairy friends meet the Sandman and begin the search for the missing Dream Spider. Some of the Fairies have started to have nightmares and they soon learn that the Web of Dreams has been destroyed. The Web of Dreams is spun by the Dream Spider and normally catches all bad dreams from sleep.

The Fairies will again have the assistance of the Brownies and several flying birds. We also meet a Troll, who manages to capture several Fairies in glass bell jar. Will the Fairies escape the Troll? Will they be able to find the Dream Spider to replace the Web of Dreams? This book is just as captivating as the first.

In addition to learning about plants, flowers, animals and insects, one of the best things I like about The Fairy Chronicles is the environmental issues each book tackles. Dragonfly and the Web of Dreams focuses on reducing, reusing and recycling. These environmental lessons are perfect for teaching children to be environmentally responsible.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Way Back Wednesday - A Christmas Carol

I am interrupting Trixie Belden Mysteries on Way Back Wednesday for another favorite Christmas Classic.

Originally entitled A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, the book commonly known as A Christmas Carol is what Charles Dickens described as his "little Christmas Book" and was first published on December 19, 1843 with illustrations by John Leech.

A Christmas Carol is a Victorian morality tale of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of one night, which if it doesn't change his ways he will end up like his friend Jacob Marley, walking the Earth forever, being nothing but invisible and lonely. Mr. Scrooge is a financier/money-changer who has devoted his life to the accumulation of wealth. He holds anything other than money in contempt, including friendship, love and the Christmas season.

Through the medium of movies and television, A Christmas Carol is a common holiday theme with numerous versions. There are also unabridged and abridged versions of the book, in addition to annotated versions.

This is a book I used to read to my children every Christmas. We would start a week before Christmas and I would read a few chapters every night. This is still one of my favorite books. As a college student in the late 1980s, I wrote a dissertation on Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tomato Girl

Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek

Hardcover: 298 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books (August 26, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1565124723
ISBN-13: 978-1565124721

Tomato Girl deals with difficult subject matter - mental illness, abuse, racial issues and criminal activity - but Pupek weaves a beautifully written story. The characters are so real you quickly become absorbed with their world and their story.

Written from the point of view of 11 year old Ellie Sanders, you instantly fall in love with the heart-wrenching tale of this poor little girl. You feel her pain, as well as her hopes and dreams.

The story takes place during the early 1960s in a rural town in Virginia. Julia Sanders is a beautiful, but troubled, wife to Rupert and mother to Ellie. All of Ellie's life, her mother has suffered from some sort of mental illness, many times requiring sedation. While pregnant with a second child, Julia suffers a deplitating fall, resulting in the need for someone to help around the house.

Rupert brings home Tess Reed, the teenage farm girl who supplies home-grown tomatoes to be sold in his general store, as a caretaker for his wife and daughter. It soon becomes clear Rupert is having an affair with Tess. Almost from the instant Tess comes to live in the Sanders' home, a cascade of horrible events changes the family forever.

Throughout the book we watch Julia deteriorate further into a delusional world of her own. We see Rupert transfer all his love and attention away from his daughter and wife, and onto the teenage tomato girl. And most saddly of all, we watch Ellie deparately trying to hold her family together, all the while holding on to deep, dark family secrets. Ellie is forced to bare burdens that would cripple most adults. I felt so much love and empathy for this poor little girl, praying she would finally have the happy life she deserved.

Although Pupek has written a truly dark story, Ellie is full of hope and unconditional love for her family. The tangled lives of all the characters is truly complex, but Ellie's voice keeps the story from becoming too difficult to read.

I have read over 100 books this year, and Tomato Girl is in the top 5. This is an unforgettable book from a first time author, and I look forward to reading more of Pupek's work in the future. She has a talent I'm sure we will all be hearing more about.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Way Back Wednesday - The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree

This week I'm preempting Trixie Belden to share with you my favorite Christmas book.

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston; illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Dial; 1st edition (September 30, 1988)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080370299X
ISBN-13: 978-0803702998

Although this book was published in 1988, I didn't discover it until 1995, when my youngest was 3 years old. We first read it from the Mercer Public Library, but we checked it out so many times, I finally had a local bookstore order it for us. The library was kind enough to laminate the dust jacket for us.

Ruthie has been waiting patiently for her father to return from the war. As Christmas approaches, Ruthie's mother begins to worry about the Christmas tree tradition in their small Appalachian town of Pine Grove. The Pine Grove Church chooses one family each year to supply the Christmas tree. Ruthie and her father were so excited, because their family had been chosen to provide this year's tree.

During the spring before Papa left for the war, he and Ruthie climbed to the top of the rocky ridge to pick out the perfect tree. To mark this tree from all the rest, Papa takes one of Ruthie's hair ribbons and ties it to the top of the tree. Ruthie is so happy, because as the provider for the traditional tree, she will also get to portray the "heavenly angel" in the Christmas pagent.

When Mama realizes her husband may not make it home for Christmas, she and Ruthie set out in the wee morning hours of Christmas Eve in search of the marked tree. The trip is long and hard, but Ruthie and her Mama stick together and after many hours of hard work, they are able to deliver the tree to the church.

Back at home, Mama settles Ruthie in for a long winter's nap. Exhausted herself, Mama can't sleep because she is determined to make Ruthie's wishes come true. Because her husband had not returned, there was no money to buy Ruthie a new dress for the Christmas pagent or to buy her the doll she asked for from Santa. But Mama has a plan.

All day as Ruthie slept, Mama was at work on a new dress. Taking her beloved wedding dress, Mama cuts it down to make Ruthie an angel costume. Then she takes her last pair of stockings and fashions an angel doll, using the rest of the wedding dress to cloth the angel just like Ruthie.

When Ruthie awakens on Christmas Eve night, she is overjoyed with her angel costume. When they arrive at the church, Mama and Ruthie are so proud of the beautiful Christmas tree. After the Christmas service and pagent, Santa arrives to hand out presents to the children. Santa hands Ruthie the beautiful angel from the top of the tree (Ruthie had no idea her mother made the angel).

But the best present was yet to come. Leaving the church happy and joyful from the pagent and the present, Ruthie sees her father waiting outside the church door.

No matter how many times I read this book - and I still read it yearly, even though my children are grown - I still cry. This book has such a good morale and it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough - it is the perfect Christmas story.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Swallowing Darkness

Swallowing Darkness (Merry Gentry series #7) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (November 4, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345495934
ISBN-13: 978-0345495938

I have totally quit reading reading reviews of Hamilton's work because I don't think some people are actually reading the same books I am. I have enjoyed Hamilton's work since Kiss of Shadows - the first Merry Gentry book. Up until this time, I hadn't read anything by her, but his quickly changed. Although Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter is my favorite series, Merry runs a close second!

Swallowing Darkness picks up right where A Lick of Frost ended. Merry has been raped by her uncle, King Taranis, and her beloved Frost has been turned into a stag. I was shocked with the opening scene because my joy at having "Gran" reenter the picture was quickly changed to horror because of a vengeance spell.

I was not expecting the Wild Hunt so soon after the last, but with Merry's kin plotting her murder and her uncles sadistic actions, I guess it was an obvious conclusion.

I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around Merry's pregnancy with twins and the huge number of men who share paternity. This is my problem, not Hamilton's problem - her writing is up to snuff, I'm just having trouble with several issues. I am happy to see the "mother bear" instincts rise up in Merry - after spending 6 books trying to get pregnant, I was wondering how she would react to the pregnancy.

For me, Swallowing Darkness answered some major plot points, but there are so many more questions to be answered. This is NOT the last Merry Gentry book, as so many other reviewers have claimed. According to Hamilton's website and blog (which I read faithfully every day), Merry's story is not finished, so the series goes on. Yeah for us die-hard Hamilton fans!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Zig Zagging Down a Wild Trail

Zig Zagging Down a Wild Trail by Bobbie Ann Mason

I love Kentucky authors and Bobbie Ann Mason is one of my very favorites. She is the award winning author of Feather Crowns, Shiloh and Other Stories and In Country, to name a few. Her short story collection, Zigzagging Down A Wild Trail, contains 11 stories that will thrill readers of her works, as well as draw in new readers to her unusual writing style. Many of the stories are set in Eastern Kentucky, Mason’s native homeland.

In Tobrah, a single childless woman - Jackie - inherits her five-year-old half sister she didn’t know existed. Through the Tobrah, Jackie reconnects with her inner child and discovers a part of the father she never knew before.

In With Jazz, twice-divorced Chrissy is dealing with her adult children’s problems and the failures of her past relationships. Yet, Jazz offers an uncomplicated love with no ties and a lot of heart.

Three-Wheeler proves that freedom comes to people in many different forms. Mary inherits her uncle’s Kentucky home and works on her pottery. Two young boys in need of money offer to move a pile of dirt for her. The small chore grows and grows, till they discover the three-wheeler, which would make their job easier. Battling nosey neighbors and little boys, Mary takes the three-wheeler on the trail and dreams of her days in New Mexico.

In Charger a young man is in love with Tiffany, a girl in snake pants. Charger is battling depression, afraid that he and Tiffany will end up like his parents, who married young then grew apart. Charger’s father abandoned his family in Kentucky to run off to Texas. Believing he will only find happiness in Texas, Charger turns a short road trip into a journey of the spirit to Texas – only to become grounded in Tiffany’s love.

The Funeral Side has Sandra McCain returning to care for her father after he suffers a stroke. The family lived on the second floor, above a furniture store and the funeral home. The funeral side is closed until the death of a family friend. This event opens old wounds for Sandra of her mother’s death, but she awakens to her father’s love and the ritual of community as they celebrate death.

In Thunder Snow, Boogie, whose wife, Darlene, left home to serve in the Persian Gulf war, worries that she held herself separate from him so that there was an essential part of her he could never reach.

In Rolling into Atlanta, a young woman searches for the kind of authenticity she remembers from her rural childhood. In Proper Gypsies, Nancy deals with the shock of being robbed in London.

Mason's stories are not about unusual events, but she takes a different perspective on the normal everyday life. Her characters are generally people many will know some version of, and yet her descriptive prose makes you feel as though each character is new.

Bobbie Ann Mason won the PEN/ Hemingway Award for Shiloh and Other Stories, and the Southern Book Award for Feather Crowns (one of my favorite books) which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Zig Zagging is a good read and one I would recommend if you have a desire to read stories of a rural nature.

Post Script: This book was released in hardback in 2001, and I was fortunate enough to meet Bobbie Ann Mason at a book signing in Lexington, Kentucky. In addition to autographing my book with a personal message, she was also kind enough to autograph a rock for my rock collection. For regular readers of my blog, you know I'm a rock collector and I love getting rocks autographed.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Purpose of Christmas

The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren

Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (November 4, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416559000
ISBN-13: 978-1416559009

From the author who brought us The Purpose Driven Life, this holiday season Warren calls us to
“remember the reason for the season.”

This little book explains the birth of Jesus and offers inspiration regarding the salvation of man through the word of God. It also gives hope for the reconciliation of past deeds or dysfunctional lifestyles.

Although deeply religious in context, it does not delve too deep into Christian ideology. If you are caught up in the rat race that is life, this book will help to slow you down and refocus your energy on the things in life that are important.

The Christmas Purpose is a wonderful book to share with family and friends over the upcoming holiday season.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

O the Clear Moment

O the Clear Moment by Ed McClanahan

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Counterpoint (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1582434301
ISBN-13: 978-1582434308

This Kentucky authored book contains 9 short stories of autobiography from McClanahan’s past. Raised in Bracken County in the 1940s, we get a humorous look at life in a small town. These quirky, eccentric tales are reminiscent of stories I heard from my parents and grandparents.

“Hey Shoobie!” is one of my favorites because it reminds me of growing up with my best friend in a small rural subdivision. Although we never climbed the water tower, we did have some similar adventures.

Other favorite story titles include: “Another Great Moment in Sports”; “Dog Loves Ellie,” which reminds me of awkward high school dances; and “Fondelle or, The Whore with a Heart of Gold”, which chronicles his adventures while hitchhiking one summer on college break.

Coming from a small town I appreciate the rural humor McClanahan brings to his stories - his characters seem like friends because they are the same types of people I meet in my everyday life. I recommend this fun read as an insightful look into the mind of an eccentric author.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #12

Trixie Belden #12 - The Mystery of the Blinking Eye - 1963

While on vacation, theBob-Whites are staying at the Wheelers' deluxe apartment in New York City, where they will meet their friends from Iowa - Ned, Barbara and Bob. When the gang goes to the Kennedy Airport to pick up their friends, Trixie helps out a mysterious traveler who hands her a strange written fortune. Leave it to Trixie to stumble into a mystery!

Later, while window shopping with Honey, Trixie finds an ugly wooden statue she just has to have. Soon after buying the curious little statue, Trixie is followed by menacing strangers. Do the fortune and the statue have anything in common? Read The Mystery of the Blinking Eye and find out!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Journal of Curious Letters (Book One of the 13th Reality)

The Journal of Curious Letters (Book One of The 13th Reality Series) by James Dashner

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (March 3, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590388313

I recently received an email from Brandon Mull, author of the wonderful Fablehaven series, recommending The 13th Reality books while we wait on the the spring release of Fablehaven #4. I imediately requested a review copy and received it in less than a week. From the moment I started reading The Journal of Curious Letters (#1 of The 13th Relity), I could not put it down!

The story is about 13 year old Atticus Higgenbottom (who prefers to be called Tick), an intelligent boy who who lives with his parents and two sisters in the state of Washington. Tick enjoys chess, science, math and going to the library, but as a result he is often the target of teasing and bullying at school.

Tick starts to receive mysterious letters from all over the world - the first one is postmarked from Alaska - with clues in them. According to the first letter, Tick will be receiving 12 clues which will enable him to save many people. He is warned that the clues will be challenging and the mission "deathly dangerous" to the current reality. Each clue contains a riddle which must be solved by a certain date in order to complete this dangerous mission.

During the time he is receiving the clues, Tick befriends internet pals Sophia - from Italy - and Paul - from California - who are also receiving the clues. We also get to meet two of the strangest characters I've read in a long time: Mothball - a tall, lanky lady who is almost 8 feet tall - and Rutger - a man who is extremely short and squatty.

Will the children figure out the clues sent from the mysterious Master George? Will they be able to save many lives? What will happen if the children fail? Will they learn the meaning of the 13th Reality?

I loved the idea of this book and it allows young readers to work along with Tick in solving the mysterious 12 clues. I also enjoyed the fact that Tick has a great relationship with his family, and in the middle of his investigation, he finally tells his father about the clues and they work together to solve them.

I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this wonderful new series. I think middle school age children will love this book, and even younger children will love having parents read this book to them. This is not only a book for enjoyment reading, but it helps children use their thinking skills while trying to solve the clues. I think James Dashner has a hit series on his hands and I hope children are clamoring for his books for a long time to come.

**This is a book series I will be recommending to the children's library at the Mercer County Public Library in Kentucky.**

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #11

Trixie Belden #11 - The Mystery at Bob-White Cave - 1963

The gang heads to Uncle Andrew's fishing lodge in the Ozarks. Trixie gets everyone to go spelunking in hopes of finding some cave fish and winning $500 for charity. But it looks like there's competition from an Englishman, plus Trixie doesn't quite trust their guide. Throw in a "ghost" cabin and you've got another mystery for Trixie to solve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Emily the Chickadee

Emily the Chickadee: Emily Waits For Her Family by Carol Zelaya; illustrated by Kristin Metcalf

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Richlee Publishing (April 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0979626501
ISBN-13: 978-0979626500

The Emily the Chickadee series is based on a true experience of author Carol Zelaya. She became fascinated by a chickadee in her backyard who built nests in the most interesting places. I related to this story because my youngest daughter and I had similar experiences with a little wren in our yard.

In Emily Waits for Her Family, a little girls meets a little chickadee in her backyard and names her Emily. Emily is not only a chickadee, she is a mommy-to-be. The story follows Emily through building a nest, laying eggs, and babies learning to fly.

This easy to read book is written in rhyme and illustrates how birds make nests, how eggs are hatched and how mommy birds care for their young. Children will read this story over and over again. There is even a chickadee log record in the back of the book for children to describe chickadees who visit them.

Other Emily the Chickadee books include: Caring for Emily's Family and Emily's New Home.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Matter of Faith

A Matter of Faith by Kristy Kiernan

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (August 5, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425221792
ISBN-13: 978-0425221792

This was the book club selection for the November Lunch Bunch Book Club at the Mercer Public Library. The author is a cousin to on of the librarians.

This book starts out simple enough, but soon the characters come face to face with a horrifying tragedy that will change the course of their lives. The Tobias family appears to be the typically American family on the outside, but underneath all the show, Cal and Chloe are struggling with a stagnated marriage, 18 year old Marshall is off at college dealing with aspects of his past, and 12 year old Meghan is coping with life-threatening allergies.

As the book starts out, Marshall is coming home for spring break and he is bringing his new girlfriend - Ada - with him. Although Marshal has been searching for the "right" religion since the death of a friend years earlier, Ada is on the opposite end of the spectrum, almost to the point of being a zealot. Her family lives in a communion and they do not believe in medical treatments for illness or injuries.

On a simple day trip out into the Gulf of Mexico, Ada decides to "cure" Meghan of her allergies by exposing her to peanut butter mixed into a cookie. As you can imagine, the results were disastrous and devastating.

While Meghan is fighting for her life while in a coma, Cal is raging at his son and the girlfriend, while Chloe tries to hold the family together. When Marshal and Ada are arrested and charged with child abuse, they make a life altering decision. While out on bail, they flee to the home of Cal's mother - the mother Cal has been running from all his adult life.

This story is raw and heartwrenching and gives an accurate picture of a family dealing with crisis. You can feel the pain each family member is going through. It is a powerful book and one that will make you look at your life differently. I highly recommend A Matter of Faith, and I will be checking out Kiernan's first book, Catching Genius.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Heretic's Daughter

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company;
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316024481
ISBN-13: 978-0316024488

To write this work of historical fiction, Kathleen Kent had to draw from the ancestors of her past. She is a descendant of Martha Carrier, a lady hung as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. The narrator of this story is Sarah - Martha's daughter - and at age eight, she had to proclaim her mother a witch and testify against her in court.

Kent's imagery is beautiful and powerful:
"The passage of time ... had only worked to stiffen the fabric of her being."

Sarah was raised in the harsh environment of the New World and lived a hard life working with her three older brothers and parents on the family farm. As the oldest daughter, Sarah must take over the care of her one-year old sister when the two must go live with an aunt and uncle during a smallpox outbreak. The aunt and uncle showed Sarah and her sister more love than their own parents, so much so that when Sarah had to return home, she had hard feelings toward her parents, especially her mother.

This has set the stage for the witchcraft trials to come. Kent is great at pointing out suspicious activities and the paranoid feelings of the neighbors. She also describes in accurate detail the conditions of the horrific jail were the accused were held.

The Heretic's Daughter covers a vast array of emotions from hardship and suffering to hatred and loathing to the understanding of a deep unconditional love. I have read many books on the Salem Witch Trials, but this is the first story I've read from a child's point of view. I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Teen FIRST Blog Tour for Infidel by Ted Dekker‏

It's time for another peek at a Teen First Blog Tour - this time a graphic novel by Ted Dekker.

Here are some of his latest titles:

Chosen (The Lost Books, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles)


Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)


Product Details

List Price:$15.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595546049
ISBN-13: 978-1595546043


(Click Pictures to Zoom!)

Ranger's Apprentice

I've just discovered another Young Adult series and I wanted to share: Ranger's Apprentice series by John (Anthony) Flanagan

Book Publishing Order and Date Chronological Order:

The Ruins of Gorlan 1 -- (Australia) 2004
The Burning Bridge 2 -- 2005
The Icebound Land 3 -- 2005
Oakleaf Bearers (called The Battle for Skandia for US) 4 -- 2006
The Sorcerer in the North 5 -- 2006
The Siege of Macindaw 6 -- Spring 2009
Erak's Ransom 7 -- Only in Australia
The Kings of Clonmel 8 -- November 2008 (only in Australia)
Halt's Peril

The Meg Mackintosh Mysteries

The Meg Mackintosh Mysteries are by Lucinda Landon (drawing from the official website.)

I have just discovered the solve-it-yourself mysteries of Meg Mackintosh, by writer and illustrator Lucinda Landon.

Meg is a modern day, albeit younger version, of my childhood favorite Trixie Belden. Her ability to track and solve mysteries will keep young readers turning the pages and clamoring for more.

In the near future, I will be bringing you reviews of this darling sleuth.

Current Meg Mackintosh books available:

Meg Mackintosh (#1) and
The Case of the
Missing Babe Ruth Baseball


Meg Mackintosh (#2) and
The Case of the
Curious Whale Watch


Meg Mackintosh (#3) and
The Mystery at the
Medieval Castle


Meg Mackintosh (#4) and
The Mystery at
Camp Creepy


Meg Mackintosh (#5) and
The Mystery in the
Locked Library


Meg Mackintosh (#6) and
The Mystery at the
Soccer Match


Meg Mackintosh (#7) and
The Mystery on Main Street


Meg Mackintosh (#8) and
The Stage Fright Secret


Meg Mackintosh (#9)
Solves Seven
American History Mysteries


I Got Tagged

I was tagged for this meme by Stephanie:

Share seven random and/or weird book facts about yourself.

1.) I love books and this love affair has been going on most of my life (I'm 46). I am partial to hardcover books, but I will read paperbacks in a pinch. I will never get used to e-books or Kindles because I love the way books feel in my hands - the weight of them, the texture, the smell.

2.) I own many 1st edition hardbacks and these are my pride and joy: Stephen King (even the first 4 Dark Tower books which were orginally published in paperback), Laurell K. Hamilton (even the 1st Anita Blake books which were orginaly published in paperback), and all 7 of the Harry Potter books (even a 1st edition British verison)

3.) I'm an insomniac, so I spent a lot of time reading in the middle of the night. I typically have one or two cats in my lap at the same time I'm reading.

4.) I NEVER read books out of order - I always have to start with the first in a series. That being said, when a favorite author has a book coming out, I will usually re-read the entire series in preparation. Case in point, Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton was released on November 4th, and I re-read all the Merry Gentry books before starting the newest. Crazy, I know!

5.) My youngest daughter and I love reading together. We may be reading different books and have different tastes, but it is enjoyable to just be in the same room together sharing our love of books and reading.

6.) I'm a total vampire freak - even at age 46 - so I try to read all the newest vampire books. However, Stephen King's Salem's Lot will always be my favorite because it is the book that started the craze for me.

7.) I just recently started doing book reviews for my local public library (Mercer Public Library) and now I have a weekly column that appears in the local paper (Harrodsburg Herald) called The Book Nook.

Archibald's Swiss Cheese Mountain

Archibald's Swiss Cheese Mountain by Sylvia Lieberman; illustrated by Jeremy Wendell

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Seven Locks Press (October 19, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0979585252
ISBN-13: 978-0979585258

Forget Mickey Mouse, welcome to the world of Archibald, an adorable mouse with a big heart and a grand sense of adventure. Archibald is finally big enough to go into the world alone and find his own food. Mother has taught him to never enter a opening unless his whiskers fit, "If your whiskers fit, so will the rest of you, my son."

Archibald soon learns that being on his own can be scary. When he discovers Swiss Cheese Mountain, he knows this will feed him for a very long time. But tackling Swiss Cheese Mountain is just the beginning of his troubles!

Archibald is so cute and curious, children will enjoy reading of his adventures. The illustrations are wonderful and they really depict the true nature of this special little mouse.

I love the dedication in this book:
Archibald's Swiss Cheese Mountain is dedicated to children all over the world who have ever felt hungry for food, love or adventure.

This book was the winner of the Best Children's Book Hollywood Book Festival Competition 2008 - congratulations!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #10

Trixie Belden #10 - The Marshland Mystery - 1962

When a child prodigy and her mean old aunt come to stay with the Wheelers, you can guarantee a mystery will follow. The child will be performing as a guest artist with the symphony, and believe it or not, she is so spoiled, she puts Bobby to shame!

After accidently running their botony teacher's herb collection, Trixie and Honey venture into Martin's Marsh to collect flowers and herbs to make her a new one.

While Trixie and Honey are exploring, they come across a burned out house near the marsh. Trixie tells Honey about the legend of Captain Kidd's hidden pirate treasure, which is supposed to be buried near the Marsh.

But when the child prodigy disappears, it's all hands on deck!

Although this is not one of my favorites, it does have an interesting, but full, storyline.

Monday, November 17, 2008

America Unraveling

America Unraveling: A Politically Incorrect Analysis of Public Faith and Culture by L. Scott Smith

Hardcover: 267 pages
Publisher: Father's Press; 1st. edition (June 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0977940780
ISBN-13: 978-0977940783

This book tackles the problems the USA is facing today from a Christian point of view. Smith feels that our country's departure of a true religious faith has lead our country into the decline and chaos we are currently experiencing. This book is his recipe for making the USA great again.

Shortening the divide between the separation of church and state seems to be the main theme of this book, and although I am a life-long Christian, I feel this separation must remain. Who really knows what a true religion is? I believe in God and his son Jesus Christ, but I also don't demean the faith or religous figures of others.

Although I don't agree with all the opinions and views of the author, this book is very informative on cultural history and the influence religion has on our society. America Unraveling is well researched and documented, and it is written in an easy to read fashion. Smith has obviously done his homework in preparing this manuscript. Even though I don't agree with much of the content, I still feel this is an important book to read, especially if you are concerned with a lack of faith in our society.

The Goliath Bone

The Goliath Bone (Mike Hammer series #14) by Mickey Spillane; co-author Max Allan Collins

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (October 13, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 015101454X
ISBN-13: 978-0151014545

Just before his death in 2006, Spillane delivered the manuscript to this 14th Mike Hammer novel and his notes to frequent collaborator Max Collins. There were also two additional manuscripts with notes, so we should be seeing at least two more Spillane books in the near future.

For long-time Spillane readers, you will know the 1947 introduction of Mike Hammer launched a variety of television shows, radio shows, movies and comic strips. Hard-boiled Private Investigator Hammer is an easy character to love. From his clich├ęd speech – calling women “dolls” and coffee “java” - and his macho attitude, he is a crime fighting PI with heart.

This book deals with Middle Eastern terrorists, anthropologists and a legendary bone thought to belong to Goliath of Biblical times. The storyline is unique and full of classic Hammer action. There is also the perpetual question: will Hammer marry his long-time Girl Friday, Velda Sterling?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Take-Us

The Take-Us by John R. Takacs

Hardcover: 303 pages
Publisher: Age Publishing Company (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981857108
ISBN-13: 978-0981857107

This book is about John Christenson, an ingenious man who was able to build a car that generates its own power and uses no gas - just what we need in this day and age! His invention - called the Take-Us - could be the next big thing for the United States and be the first big step in cutting our dependency on foreign oil.

John teams up with Leena Delaney - a TV reporter - and together they plan a nation wide promotion of this wonderful car. They plan to drive the car from New York to San Francisco without any gas, and they will televise their progress.

But, greed being what it is, this simple trip across the country turns into a life or death situation as the large oil corporations from around the world plan to destroy, not only the car, but the brilliant mind behind the invention.

This book is action packed as John and Leena try to maneuver ambushes and pitfalls around every corner. Of course, an action book would not be complete without romance and this unstoppable team of two fall in love.

I was amazed at the twists and turns this book took, and not just the expanded road trip. Futuristic in natural, but dealing with relevant issues, this is a good book for fictionalizing the problems in today's society. I recommend this book to anyone who believes, "Yes we can."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #9

Trixie Belden #9 - The Happy Valley Mystery - 1962

During this adventure, Trixie and the Bob-Whites are headed for Iowa to the Belden's Uncle Andrew's farm - Happy Valley Farm.

When they arrive, they discover Uncle Andrew's sheep have been disappearing. Being the detective that she is, Trixie is determined to find out what's going on. Her main suspect is a man with a black beard. In addition to this book's mystery, there is a flood which also endangers Uncle Andrew's sheep. These sheep end up being major trouble for the Bob-Whites.

In another storyline, Trixie impresses a boy, Ned Schulz, with her basketball skills. The gang also meets twins Barbara and Bob Hubbell and Trixie becomes jealous of a pretty girl's interest in Jim. That green-eyed monster is finally rearing its ugly head ...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Keepsake

The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (September 9, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345497627
ISBN-13: 978-0345497628

Gerritsen gives us another wonderful book featuring her favorite Boston Homicide Detective, Jane Rizzoli. This crime thriller expertly blends archeology, psycophathy and obsession into a fascinating read.

Like most of Gerritsen's books, this one starts off in an unusual way. An unknown mummy is discovered in a hidden part of the basement at a private museum in Boston and the curators just know this will drum up excitement.

However, when the mummy is examined and run through a cat scanning machine, a bullet is found lodge in the mummy's thigh, and it also appears to have modern dental work. When our favorite medical examiners, Dr. Maura Isles, is called in to examine the mummy, things do not go as expected.

This is a compelling book from the first chapter right through to the end. It is a fast read with a wonderful plot and characters I've come to know and love. As I was trying to figure out the twists and turns of the plot, I kept finding myself surprised at the direction the story took. This one will keep you guessing until the very end.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - is A National Book Award Winner

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (September 12, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316013684
ISBN-13: 978-0316013680

Although this book deals with some tough issues – poverty, alcoholism, bullies and racism – it is full of humor and laughs. The story revolves around the friendship of two teenage boys – Arnold “Junior” and Rowdy - who grew up on an Indian Reservation outside of Spokane, Washington.

At the encouragement of his math teach, Junior makes the decision to leave the reservation school and transfer to a “white” high school 22 miles away. The only time he has to spend with Rowdy is in the evenings and on weekends. When Junior becomes the star basketball player for his new high school, things come to a head when his new team must play his old team.

I enjoyed this book so much, especially in the tactful way the hard subjects were written. I also enjoyed the cartoons that were a running theme throughout the book – Junior loves to draw cartoons, so these are his depictions of life. I think this book will be enjoyed by adults, as well as children ages 9 and up.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Two Brothers

It's time for another TLC Book Tour. This month's book is TWO BROTHERS, One North, One South by David H. Jones.

Two Brothers - One North, One South by David H. Jones

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Staghorn Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0979689856
ISBN-13: 978-0979689857

This book is:
"A Civil War Novel navigated by Walt Whitman that hourneys from Baltimore before the war, to many battlefields, and to Richmond, where Hetty Cary is the reigning belle ... Walt Whitman feared that the real war would never get in the boks ... the true stories that depicted the courage and humanity of soldiers who fought, bled and died in the American Civil War ... this book helps put that fear to rest."

Although I don't normally read books about our past wars, Two Brothers: One North, One South is a different kind of war story. This books starts out in 1865 with Walt Whitman visiting wounded soilders at Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C. Lincoln had been assassinated and it looked like the Civil War had ended.

The two brothers in this book are William Scollay Prentiss - a Rebel soldier - and Major Clifton Prentiss - a Union soldier, but there are also two more brothers that play roles in the storyline - Dr. John H. Prentiss, Jr. and T. Melville Prentiss. Dr. Prentiss was a Union Army doctor.

Because Whitman had spent so much time with the dying William Prentiss, he was able to give the family an account of William's life with the Maryland's Confederate army. After William's death, the brothers gather with Whitman at the bedside of injured Clifton Prentiss, and they share stories of war and home. David Jones has expertly mingled facts and fiction and the reader starts to get a clear picture of the Prentiss family that goes from "perfect" to horrifying tragedy.

Because the two brothers were on opposing sides of the war, William and Clifford had not seen nor spoken to one another since the early months of the war. In a twist of fate, the brothers are wounded in a battle near the end of the war within 20 yards of each other and they both were taken to the hospital in the same ambulance.

Although this is a fictionalized story, it is very compelling and the historical facts of the book ring true. Mr. Jones has researched this historical time period and there are actual letters, diaries, newspaper articles and notes of Walt Whitman's.

I think Two Brothers: One North, One South is a book to be enjoyed by everyone, not just Civil War enthusists.

About the author:
David H. Jones was born and raised in West Virginia and has been a lifelong student of the Civil War. His research took him into the swamps of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, to rediscover the lost location where a pivotal event in the book took place. A graduate of Kentucky Military Institute and Babson College, former Navy officer, and entrepreneur, he currently lives and writes in Los Angeles, California.

Links for David H. Jones and his book, Two Brothers – One North, One South

David H. Jones

David's blog

Excerpt from Two Brothers – One North, One South

Reviews of the book

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lady Flatterley

Lady Flatterley by Linda Wagner; illustrated by Pearl L. Ollie

Paperback: 44 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (September 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1432732331
ISBN-13: 978-1432732332

Linda's Website

Linda's Blog

"This story takes children through the metaphorical journey of a caterpillar that eventually becomes a butterfly, and in so doing faces some of the fears that often plague children and adults alike - the fear of failure and the fear of change."

Lady Flatterley is a caterpillar who lives high in the tall oak tree and through her vision of the world and rhyming prose, children will learn about the stages of life.

Lady Flatterley has dreamed of being a beautiful butterfly her entire life. Her friends seem to love her just the way she is with a soft coat of orange and black, but Lady Flatterley wants to fly high on the breeze.

One day a butterfly lands on Lady Flatterley's branch in the oak tree. The butterfly tells her that one day she too will be a beautiful butterfly.

The gorgeous illustrations and cleaver rhymes will delight children with the story of Lady Flatterley and her transformation from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly.

In addition to being a mother of two and the grandmother of five, Linda Wagner is also a RN. Her family was her inspiration in writing this wonderful book. Lady Flatterley would make a perfect Christmas gift for that favorite child in your life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #8

Trixie Belden #8 - The Black Jacket Mystery - 1961

Dan Mangan comes to town and he appears to be a bully. He will be living and working with Mr. Maypenny. However, the Bob-Whites think the new kid is nothing but trouble.

Naturally, Trixie becomes suspicious of who Dan really is and if he's responsible for some bad things that have started happening around Sleepyside.

In another storyline, a catamount is loose on the Wheeler's game preserve. Is the gang safe when they go horseback riding? Just another mystery for the B.W.G.s to try and solve.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Demon in the Freezer

The Demon in the Freezer by by Richard Preston

Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Fawcett (August 26, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345466632
ISBN-13: 978-0345466631

I became interested in reading this book because my 16 year old daughter was assigned to read it for her Honors Science Seminar. From the first chapter, I was totally hooked - and scared silly, because this is a true book.

The Demon in the Freezer refers to the Smallpox virus, a once fatal disease that effected humans on every continent of the world. Since the early 1970s, Smallpox has been eradicated and it is no longer a threat to humans.

Or is it?

When we talk about devastation from a nuclear weapon, the area of destruction is limited to the area of the bomb. Smallpox is worse than a nuclear weapon because it has the ability to travel rapidly from person to person, anywhere in the world. Because Smallpox is an airborne pathogen, this makes it more dangerous and destructive than a nuclear weapon.

Preston deomonstrates how the Smallpox virus can, and has, spread across the globe in a matter of weeks killing hundreds of thousands of people. Because the Smallpox virus has been absent in nature for over 30 years, no one on the planet today has an immunity to this disease.

There are supposedly only two sources of the virus available for research and testing: one at the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, the other in Russia. But Preston says we are all naive if we believe this is truly the only sources available for this virus - that's the scary part! What if a terrorist were to acquire the Smallpox virus for use in a biological weapon?

The Demon in the Freezer is a must read for anyone concerned with possible biological terrorist. It is also good to be up-to-date one what are children are asked to read in school. Even though this book scared me, it was well written and full of information.