Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - The Secret of the Mansion

When I was a little girl, Trixie Belden was my hero. I loved reading these books over and over again. My babysitter's daughter was the one who got me hooked on Trixie Belden and I could lose myself for hours in the adventures of Trixie and the Bob-Whites (a club formed by Trixie, her brothers, and her friends). I owned the original 16 books, the Whitman 1970s hardcover editions, and these were my pride and joy as a youngster.

After I married, my collection of Trixie books was given to a neighbor girl. I had reservations about giving them away, but my neighbor was so excited to read them. When I had girls of my own, I really missed those books, so I started to buy the new paperback versions of the books.

As a surprise to me, my wonderful hubby found me the first 16 books, in the original hardback covers I had as a child. I was so exited to have these books in my possession again. Now, I can't wait to read them to my grandchildren.

Because of my love for Trixie, I've decided to start a new segment here on Bobbi's Book Nook and I'm calling it Way Back Wednesday. I'm going to do reviews of the Trixie Belden books from my past. Today I'm starting with the very first book in the series, The Secret of the Mansion.

The Secret of the Mansion - 1948
by Julie Campbell

The book opens with thirteen-year-old Trixie begging her mother for a horse. Her two older brothers - Brian and Mart - are away at camp for the summer and Trixie is stuck on the family farm with her younger brother Bobby. The Belden family - who live on Crabapple Farm - can't afford a horse, so Trixie is trying to save all her money. I could relate to Trixie because I wanted a horse so badly when I was younger, but never had the opportunity to go riding.

Trixie is excited when people start moving into the mansion on the hill - and a horse trailer is seen unloading horses! The Wheelers, a wealthy family from New York City, are moving into the mansion with their teenaged daughter, Honey.

At first, tomboy Trixie thinks Honey is a stuckup sissy, but they soon become fast friends. Trixie realizes that Honey really is a "poor little rich girl." Honey's parents are never home, and she has grown up in boarding schools, camps and with governesses. Trixie helps her new friend overcome these things.

Later in the book, we learn another of Trixie's neighbors has been taken to the hospital. Trixie uses this chance to explore the old man's rundown old mansion. Trixie and Honey climb inside an unlocked window to look around. They are shocked to find a tall, redheaded boy asleep on a mattress!

The boy turns out to be Jim Frayne, the old man's grand-nephew, and he is running away from his abusive stepfather. The three become friends, and the girls start smuggling food up to the mansion for Jim. Local rumors say the old man hid his money somewhere in the house. Honey and Jim are doubtful, but Trixie is sure the money is there somewhere, if only they could find it before Jim's evil stepfather comes looking for him. I can remember having strong feelings of dislike for this evil stepfather. Up until this point, I had only read about wicked step-mothers.

Eventually, the stepfather does come looking for Jim after a newspaper article appeared, telling of a jet crashing near Sleepyside-on-Hudson (Trixie's home town); the newspaper also features the legend of the old man's fortune.

The very night the article appears in the newspaper, Jim's stepfather shows up. Mysteriously, the mansion catches fire and burns to the ground. When Trixie and Honey go to the old house the next morning to visit Jim, they find him gone.

Jim has run away again ... this time with a half million dollars! The money had been hidden in the mattress Jim had been sleeping on all the time! Trixie and Honey are confronted by the stepfather's lawyer who asks them to track Jim down for him. This story is continued in The Red Trailer Mystery.

Full of thrills, chills and mystery, The Secret of the Mansion is the book that started my fascination with the world of Trixie Belden.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Raising Arizona

Raising Arizona is a 1987 comedy directed by the Coen Brothers. Now, before I start, I must say I'm not a fan of the Coem Brothers - mainly because of all the "potty humor" - but I do enjoy this movie and it always makes me laugh.

The movie stars Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, William Forsythe, John Goodman, Frances McDormand and Randall "Tex" Cobb. Although Raising Arizona was not a blockbuster at the time of its release, it has gone on to a cult following. The movie is ranked number 31 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.

Cage plays criminal Herbert I. "Hi" McDunnough who meets a policewoman Edwina "Ed" (Hunter) - the eventually get married, making a hilarious "odd couple." They soon learn Ed is infertile and find they are unable to adopt because of Hi's criminal record.

While watching the news one night, they learn about the "Arizona Quints," sons of locally famous furniture tycoon, Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson). Between Hi's criminal techniques and Ed's knowledge of the law, they kidnap one of the five babies - Nathan Junior.

From here on, the story is one funny ride. When ex-convict friends of Hi's decide to steal the baby from Hi and Ed and hold him for ransom from Arizona, the couple decides to return the baby to his family, where they hope he will be safe.

Favorite quotes:

[During Hi's mug shot]
Hi: What kind of name is Ed for a pretty thing like you?
Ed: Short for Edwina. Turn to the right.
Hi: You're a flower, you are. Just a little desert flower.

Hi: Biology and the prejudices of others conspired to keep us childless.

Hi: Need a beer, Glen?
Glen: Does the Pope wear a funny hat?

[Evelle is buying diapers]
Evelle: You know how to put these things on?
Grocer: Well, around the butt and up over the groin area.
Evelle: I know WHERE they go, old timer. I just want to know if I need pins or fasteners.
Grocer: Well, no, they got them tape-ettes already on there. It's self-contained and fairly explanatory.

Reporter: Mr. Arizona, do you have any messages for the kidnappers?
Nathan Arizona Sr.: Yeah: Watch your butts.

Ed: We finally go out with decent people and you break his nose. That ain't too funny, Hi.
Hi: His kids seemed to think it was funny.
Ed: Well they're just kids.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


CROWNED by Ellen Hagan

Publication Date: January 2010
Publisher: Sawyer House Press
Format: Paperback, 110pp
ISBN-13: 9780982156025
ISBN: 0982156022

I was first introduced to the work of Kentucky writer, Ellen Hagan, when my daughter had her as a creative writing teacher during the Governor's School of the Arts 2009. Hagan's words bleed off the pages and each one has a deliberate bite that makes you stand up and take notice.

Born and raised in Bardstown, Kentucky, this talented poet now resides in New York City. CROWNED is her debut collection of poetry and will be available January 28, 2009.

This slim volume is a powerful collection of poems spanning Hagan's life from birth to the present. One of my favorites is "Baby" - it is a painful look at the range of emotions a daughter can put a mother through. Being the mother of three grown daughters, this one struck me square in the heart.
"At one I made my mom exquisite ..."
In "Reign" she also gives the reader a raw look at a little girl becoming a woman - again, something I have copious experience with.
"A new luxury of woman, a new thing to own."
"IV" details how a life can change in an instance.
"I am different than I was five months ago."
Heartbreak can lead to an alien range of emotions you never thought you would feel.

Not all of her poems take on a personal tone, several actually touch on pop culture as in "Dear Chris Brown" and "Dis-Missle" (dedicated to Sarah Palin). She uses powerful words to sharpen her point and drive the meaning home.

Hagan is passionate when writing about the loves of her life, especially when writing about her mom. Many of the entries revolve around her maternal parent and the love oozes off the pages.

Hagan's writing is fearless and clear, truthful to a fault. She has done what many writers can never achieve in a lifetime - taken an imperfect life full of splinters and defects and turned it into a life changing experience. If you love raw, candid poetry, CROWNED is a book you should not miss.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree

This week, I am reviewing my very favorite Christmas book. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Favorites of 2009

As 2009 draws to a close, I've been looking back on the books I have read this year - so far 141 books and counting!

But it's not the number of books I've read this year that has caught my attention, it is the type of book and the subject matter. For some reason, 2009 has turned into the year of escapism reading for me - nothing too in depth, with the bulk of my reading in the Young Adult category.

Here are my top 12 books of 2009:

  1. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

  2. Under the Dome by Stephen King

  3. **Graceling by Kristin Cashore

  4. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

  5. The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano

  6. **Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

  7. **Prophecy of the Sisters (Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, book #1) by Michelle Zink

  8. **Eli the Good by Silas House

  9. **The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

  10. **The Ruby Key (The Sun and Moon series) by Holly Lisle
  11. **Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven #4) by Brandon Mull

  12. **Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

As you can see, **8** of my 12 favorite books are Young Adults. Of the other 4, one is about magic, one is about vampires, one is about the witness relocation program and one is about the alien takeover of a small town. Just a little "light" reading to take my mind off my problems.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

KINDLE Giveaway


This is the last week to participate in Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday before his big giveaway of a KINDLE. Get your book reviews linked up for a chance to win!

Way Back Wednesday - A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol (full title, A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being A Ghost Story of Christmas) is a novella by English author Charles Dickens

This book was first published in December 1843 and quickly became a commercial success and won critical acclaim. The story has been credited with returning the holiday to one of merriment and festivity throughout Britain and America. A Christmas Carol remains popular, has never been out of print - it has been adapted to film, opera, and other media.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly, cold, unfeeling, old man who denounces Christmas. In one last attempt to redeem his soul, Scrooge is visited by four ghosts on Christmas Eve seven years after the death of his business partner, Jacob Marley. The ghost of Marley is the first to appear before Scrooge and warns him that his soul will be bearing heavy chains for eternity if he does not change his greedy ways. Marley tells Scrooge he will be visited by 3 more ghosts.

The first, The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to the scenes of his boyhood and youth which stir the old skinflint's gentle and tender side. The Ghost of Christmas Present, takes Scrooge to the market with people buying the makings of Christmas dinner and to the family feast of Scrooge's near-impoverished clerk Bob Crachit. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge his impending death.

I'm sure most of you have watched some version of A Christmas Carol on television or at the movies, but you are missing a treat if you have never read the book. Why not check it out this year with your family? It could be the start of a new Christmas tradition for your family.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Courtship of Reason

Sheri L Wright's new book by Finishing Line Press is available for pre-order - THE COURTSHIP OF REASON. According to Sheri,
"This is my quirkiest book yet, lots of fun and unusual characters."
You need to check out this wonderful Kentucky poet. The book will be available March 26, 2010.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Horrid Henry's Christmas

Horrid Henry's Christmas by Francesca Simon; illustrated by Tony Ross

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Language: English
ISBN-10: 140221782X
ISBN-13: 978-1402217821

If you have elementary aged children, I'm sure you have heard of Horrid Henry. This best selling chapter book series comes from the UK and debuted in the USA earlier this year. The books each contain 4 short stories, all centered around a mischievous little boy named Horrid Henry.

This book has elements of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever as Henry tries to become the star of the school Christmas play. Outraged because his younger brother, Perfect Peter, was given the star role in the play - Joseph - Henry is unhappy with his one-word role of the Inn Keeper. He tries every way in the world to get Mrs. Battle Axe - his teacher - to expand his role, but she is not budging from her decision. Hilarity ensues on opening night, when Henry can't remember his one-word line and starts to improv by inviting Joseph and Mary into the Inn!

The other 3 stories in the book build off this first one, and they are just as cleverly written. In true Henry fashion, he works very hard to do all his Christmas without spending any money, because what is Christmas if you have to spend all your allowance? Henry also conceives a plan make Santa Claus give him more presents for Christmas, and then he has to live through the worst Christmas dinner in history. Oh, and did I mention, Henry manages to destroy the Christmas tree?

Although these stories of Horrid Henry may make some parents cringe, his actions are so over-the-top you can't help but be intrigued by his naughtiness. The stories are short, so they make perfect bedtime reading, and your children may actually be proud of themselves because they could never be as Horrid as Henry!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

TIME's Top 10 Everything

TIME Magazine has announced its Top 10 Everything for 2009 list:

Top 10 Fiction Books

  1. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  2. The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
  3. Swimming by Nicola Keegan
  4. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins ***
  5. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
  6. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer
  7. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
  8. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
  9. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  10. The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell

Top 10 Children's Books

  1. Duck Rabbit by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
  2. Guess Again by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Adam Rex
  3. Dogs Don't Brush Their Teeth by Diane deGroat and Shelley Rotner
  4. Crow Call by Lois Lowry; illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
  5. Elephants Cannot Dance! by Mo Willems
  6. Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman
  7. How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
  8. Pick a Pumpkin, Mrs. Millie! by Judy Cox, illustrated by Joe Mathieu
  9. The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket; illustrated by Carson Ellis; music (accompanying CD) by Nathaniel Stookey
  10. The Snow Day by Komako Sakai

Top 10 Nonfiction Books

  1. The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
  2. D-Day by Antony Beevor
  3. Lit by Mary Karr
  4. Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
  5. The Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed
  6. Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna
  7. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
  8. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
  9. Cooking Dirty by Jason Sheehan
  10. John Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey

***One of my favorite books of the year.

I will be compiling a list of my favorite books of 2009, so be looking for that in the near future.

Way Back Wednesday - Snowbound with Betsy

Snowbound With Betsy by Carolyn Haywood, was the first book in the Betsy series I read as a child and it has remained one of my favorite children's books.
The week before Christmas, a terrific snowstorm hits, and Betsy, Star, and their parents are snowbound, much to the girls' delight. There are snowmen to be built, Christmas presents to be made, and a tree to be decorated.
Not only was Betsy's family snowbound, but they also took in a mother and her little boy who became stranded in the neighborhood.

I can remember making birdfeeding cups out of orange rinds and peanut butter just like Betsy and her little sister, Star. I laughed so hard reading about the popcorn they tried to "dry out" in the oven, only to have popped corn all over the kitchen. I also remember making snow angels for the first time after reading how Betsy and her friends made them.

And when Christmas finally arrived, everyone received homemade gifts because it was impossible to get to the store to buy gifts. The children made new objects out of old objects they found in the attic. This has always been my inspiration for making homemade gifts every year for the holidays.

Snowbound with Betsy was written the year I was born 1962. When my older girls were little, I bought the newer "paperback" version of this book, but I really missed the original cover. When my youngest daughter was four, I was able to find a vintage copy of Snowbound on eBay - with the cover I remembered and loved.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hunger Games Ending in Sight

Hunger Games fans have just 8 more months to wait: the as yet untitled third and final book in Suzanne Collins’s dystopian fantasy trilogy will be released in English worldwide on August 24, 2010. Read the entire press release at Publisher's Weekly.

If you have not read the first 2 books in the Hunger Games trilogy, I highly recommend them both. Check out my reviews on The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.


Ardeur: Unauthorized Essays on Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series edited by Leah Wilson

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books (April 6, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193377147X
ISBN-13: 978-1933771472

I am a daily reader of Hamilton's blog, but this is the first time I've heard about this book. Hamilton blogged today that she is working on intros for the book, so I talked to my friend Google and found it is already listed on Amazon. Something good to look for this spring!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book #4) by J. K. Rowling

Believe it or not, I have a love-hate relationship with this book. I think the part I didn't like was the other 2 schools of magic - I thought it was too long and drawn out. And I missed the Quiddich matches! But the graveyard scene with Lord Voldemort - purely awesome!

Goblet of Fire is the 4th book in the Harry Potter series and was published in July 2000. I can vividly remember waiting in line at Walmart to buy this book. Goblet won a Hugo Award in 2001 and it is the only Harry Potter book to do so.

This book shows the beginnings of teenage misery and indecision. Although Harry, Ron and Hermione remain best friends, throughout the first section of the book, Ron rages around in a jealous snit because Harry was chosen to participate in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Ron believes Harry is lying when he tells everyone he did not enter the contest. Later, Ron realizes the truth and he is once again at Harry side. Later in the book, the green-eyed monsters rears its head again as Ron becomes jealous of Victor Krum because he is Hermione's date to the Yule Ball. Poor Ron, he just can't catch a break. Rowling has a unique way of showing the teenage drama wouldn't being obvious.

The storyline with Professor Moody/Barty Crouch, Jr. was brilliant! Just as I was shocked to discover that Scabbers was actually Peter Pettigrew in the 3rd book, finding out the true relationship between these 2 men caught me totally off guard - I just didn't see it coming.

Goblet is also the book where we realize that Ron may actually have feelings for Hermione that go beyond being best friends. I think this was a little foreshadowing on Rowling's part for the last books in the series.

I was pleased with the way this movie turned out, considering this was the biggest book to date. The movie manages to capture all the major plot points of the book.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Free Kindle Giveaway

Check out what Cym Lowell is giving away through his Book Review Party Review - a Kindle from Amazon!

Here are the rules:
1. Add a permalink to your specific post, not the main page of your blog (only one review per blog).
2. List the name of your blog and then in parenthesis include a little information about your book review (title and/or author, genre etc.) Be sure to use spaces and limit characters to 75. For example, Cym Lowell (The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, Thriller).
3. Become a follower of my blog
4. Every week that you link up a blog review, you will be eligible for the monthly prize drawing (each week = 1 entry, for up to 3 entries this month). Friday, December 18th I will announce the winner of the Kindle.

Deliverance Dane May Come to TV

Katherine Howe's bestseller "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane"- a novel about a young woman who realizes she descends from a long line of witches dating back to 1692 Salem - is being written for a TV series. This is one of my favorite books from 2009 so I'm keeping my fingers crossed this will really happen!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Under the Dome

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Hardcover: 1088 pages
Publisher: Scribner
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439148503
ISBN-13: 978-1439148501
From Publisher's Weekly: King's return to supernatural horror is uncomfortably bulky, formidably complex and irresistibly compelling. When the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine, is surrounded by an invisible force field, the people inside must exert themselves to survive. The situation deteriorates rapidly due to the dome's ecological effects and the machinations of Big Jim Rennie, an obscenely sanctimonious local politician and drug lord who likes the idea of having an isolated populace to dominate. Opposing him are footloose Iraq veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbara, newspaper editor Julia Shumway, a gaggle of teen skateboarders and others who want to solve the riddle of the dome. King handles the huge cast of characters masterfully but ruthlessly, forcing them to live (or not) with the consequences of hasty decisions. Readers will recognize themes and images from King's earlier fiction, and while this novel doesn't have the moral weight of, say, The Stand, nevertheless, it's a nonstop thrill ride as well as a disturbing, moving meditation on our capacity for good and evil.

Famous for writing horror books that contain vampires, ghosts, space aliens, the devil or demonic clowns, King has now given us something that is even more scarier - the human mind. What could be more scary than to have a large group of people confined to one area and shut off from the rest of the world?

The town of Chester's Mill gave me visions of the supermarket from THE MIST, only on a larger scale. Corrupt minds, religious fanatics and a thirst for power are capable of pushing certain people beyond the grip of what is normal. For those of you who thought there could be no one as evil as Randall Flagg (THE STAND), you haven't seen anything until you see 2nd Selectman Jim Rennie. Wrapped up in a religious package with a two-sided agenda, Rennie welcomes the mysterious dome that has enslaved his town. Now he has the opportunity to do the one thing he wants most in the world - control an entire town and have the people worship him as their savior.

Full of political maneuvers and corrupt law enforcement, with a little science fiction thrown in, UNDER THE DOME is a testament to the power of story telling that only King is capable of. Although 'SALEM'S LOT, THE STAND and THE DARK TOWER series will always be my favorite books by the master of horror, this new tome will have a place of honor with my King collection. Worthy of reading more than once, although you may have to fight carpal tunnel syndrome just to hold this book up while reading.

I am, and will always remain, a Constant Reader; and I thank you Mr. King for another great read!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (book #3 of the Harry Potter series) by J. K. Rowling.

This 3rd book was published in July 1999 and won the 1999 Whitbread Book Award, the Bram Stoker Award and the 2000 Locus Award. In an interesting note, this is the only novel in the series that does not feature Lord Voldemort in some form.

Harry and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, are entering their 3rd year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the beginning, Harry runaway from the Dursleys after getting angry with Uncle Vernon's visiting sister and blowing her up like a hot air balloon; she blows away. He has his first encounter with the Knight Bus and eventually ends up at the Leaky Cauldron, where he learns that the murderous Sirrus Black has escaped from Azkaban Prison.

On the Hogwarts Express, the train is stopped and searched by the horrible Dementors, the evil creatures who guard Azkaban - they are looking for Sirrus Black. During the course of the book, Harry learns that Sirrus Black is actually his godfather and that it was he was was responsible for the death of Harry's parents.

This was my favorite book when it was released and it still rates in my top 3 favorite Potter books. There were so many new things we learned about the world of magic and I was enchanted with all the fascinating new details. However, this is probably my least favorite of the movie adaptations.

After the release of this book, buying Harry Potter books would never be the same again. By the time Azkaban circulated the USA, Harry Potter mania was in full swing. I can still remember where I was when I waited in line to by the 4th book in the series.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Bobbi's Book Nook is now featured on Check it out!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Overcoming Twilight

The Daily Beast’s Shannon Donnelly has listed the next top 6 young adult books series that may surpass the TWILIGHT sensation. To read her full story, check out The Daily Beast.

  1. 1.) Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
For those who find TWILIGHT's Bella a bit on the weak side, you will love Rose, a half-mortal/half-vampire warrior (a Dhampir). Rose is feisty and headstrong and she is sworn to protect the Moroi—mortal vampires who walk in the sun, feed without killing, and grow old and die—from the Strigoi, vampires of the traditional immortal-killing-machine variety. I have read this series and I really enjoy the stronger character of Rose.

2.) Fallen by Lauren Kate

I have not read this series, but it is on my To Be Read (TBR) list. Hedging their bets that vampires are on the way out, this new series by Delacorte Press is about fallen angels. There are currently 2 more books scheduled to be released next year.

3.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I LOVE this series - it is currently my favorite young adult series. This wonderful trilogy highlights a dystopic future where, after a failed rebellion against the fascist Capitol by the 12 districts of the fictional country Panem, the government requires each district to send two children to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event where the 24 tributes fight to the death. Can we all say Fatal Death Reality TV? The last book in the trilogy is scheduled for release next year and Collins is busy writing the screenplay for the first movie adaptation.

4.) Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

This is another series I have not read, but it is now on my TBR list. This series is a reimagining of WWI Europe and War is brewing between people divided between two distinct schools of thought. One side, the Clankers, believe machinery will be the salvation of mankind. The other side, the Darwinists, power their world with living creatures that have evolved into fantastic creations, from carriages pulled by enormous half-wolf tigers to whales-turned-airships.

5.) The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

This is a series about zombies, and after falling in love with last years "Pride, Prejudice and Zombies," I knew I had to give it a try. In a town reminiscent of living behind the Berlin Wall, zombies breach the walls surrounding a quiet village, sending the residents on the run. This series will be a trilogy with the 2nd book being released in March.

6.) The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

Already in love with Smith's writing before VAMPIRE DIARIES became a smash hit on the CW network, this series was popular before TWILIGHT was a twinkle in Stephenie Meyer's eyes. The love triangle between human Elena and two warring vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon, reminds me of a young adult version of Laurell K. Hamilton's ANITA BLAKE VAMPIRE HUNTER series. If you love TWILIGHT, you must give VAMPIRE DIARIES a try.

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer

... Katerina Stoykova-Klemer's new chapbook - THE MOST - from Finishing Line Press, is now available for pre-order. The book will be released in March 2010.

Katerina is also the author of the bilingual poetry book, THE AIR AROUND THE BUTTERFLY. She is the host of ACCENTS - a Radio Show for Literature, Art and Culture. Listen to ACCENTS every Friday @ 2pm EST on WRFL 88.1 FM Lexington or stream live from

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book #2 of the Harry Potter series) by J. K. Rowling

This book was published in the United Kingdom in July 1998 by Bloomsbury and in the United States in June 1999 by Scholastic, Inc.

The plot follows Harry's second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, during which a series of messages on the walls on the school's corridors warn that the "Chamber of Secrets" has been opened and that the "heir of Slytherin" will kill all pupils who do not come from all-magical families. These threats are followed by attacks which leave Muggle-born students of the school "petrified" (that is, frozen). Throughout the year, Harry and his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger investigate the attacks, and Harry is confronted by Lord Voldemort, who is attempting to regain full power.

In this book we get to see much more of Ron's little sister, Ginny - she plays a major role in the plot of the story. We are also introduced to Moaning Myrtle - a ghost who lives in the girl's bathroom on the third floor. Gilderoy Lockhart is the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, but he is not a character I enjoyed very much - I was happy to see him get his "just reward" in the end.

We also learn the existence of house elves in the world of wizardry when we are introduced to Dobby. Dobby is the lovable house elf who tries to warn Harry not to return to Hogwarts for his 2nd year. Dobby will go on to play important roles in future books of the series, although he has been cut out of all but one movie.

By the time this book was released in the USA, people just beginning to read this series. It wouldn't be until after the release of book #3 that Harry Potter became a raging success in the USA.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Betrayed (House of Night, Book 2) by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312596294
ISBN-13: 978-0312596293

From Amazon:
Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night. She’s come to terms with the vast powers the vampyre goddess, Nyx, has given her, and is getting a handle on being the new Leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite group. Best of all, Zoey’s made some new friends and she finally feels like she belongs--like she really fits in. She actually has a boyfriend…or two. And despite the best efforts of her mother and step-loser John to humiliate her publicly during parent visitation, she’s earned the respect of her professors and High Priestess, Neferet.

The second book in the House of Night series, Betrayed picks up where Marked left off - Zoey, newly Marked as a vampyre fledgling, is starting her new duties as Leader of the Dark Daughters. With the help of her good friends Stevie Rae, Erin, Shaunee, and Damien, Zoey wants to find a new direction for the group after her nemesis, Aphrodite, was dethroned as the leader.

This book sees Zoey's love life in turmoil - torn between her obsessed ex-boyfriend Heath; new squeeze and fledgling vampyre, Erik; and part time teacher and Vampyre Poet Laureate, Lornen. Zoey feels herself being torn in three totally different directions.

While trying to sort out her love life and change directions of the Dark Daughters, Zoey must also come to grips with the disappearances of several humans from her old school system. All the evidence is pointing toward a vampyre involvement, but is there something else going on?

And then the unthinkable happens - just when the dynamics of Zoey and her group of friends is beginning to work like a fine oiled machine, one of their group is lost forever. Or is she?

This story is continued in the next book of the series, The Chosen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christmas Giveaway

Check out what the Book Giveaway has this week:


Bop on over and see how to get entered to win!

Legend of Papa Noel Book Giveaway

Check out this great new Book Giveaway Blog I just found:
Book Giveaways. There are currently several books up for grabs!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cym Lowell: Book Review Party Wednesday - Live!#links#links

Cym Lowell: Book Review Party Wednesday - Live!#links#links

Way Back Wednesday - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone aka Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (in the USA) (Book #1 of the Harry Potter series) by J. K. Rowling

This is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a wizard, becomes close friends with Ron and Hermione and makes a few enemies at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With the help of his friends, Harry stops an attempted comeback by the evil wizard Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents and tried to kill Harry when he was one year old.

The book was first published as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on June 30, 1997 by Bloomsbury in London, and in the United States under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by Scholastic Corporation in 1998. It won most of the UK book awards that were judged by children, and other awards in the USA. The book reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999, and stayed near the top of that list for much of 1999 and 2000. It has been translated into several other languages and has been made into a feature-length film of the same name.

I first read this book as Philosopher's Stone in the winter of 1997 and instantly fell in love with the characters. I had read the first 3 books in the series before Sorcerer's Stone became such a huge hit with the release of the 4th book in the series. I must confess, I have probably read each book in the series at least 5 times each - more for the first 4 because I read them to my daughter. This is a book series I look forward to reading to my grandchildren.

Note: I also own a first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone as seen in the first picture.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan - author of the PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS series - announces his next series to be released next May. This is a new middle-grade fantasy series set in ancient Egypt.

In THE RED PYRAMID, Book #1 of The Kane Chronicles, kids will meet Carter Kane, 14, and his sister, Sadie, 12, descendants of Egyptian magicians who battle gods accidentally released in the present. (Watch out for the god of chaos.)

You can read the entire press release at Publishers Weekly.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Marked: A House of Night Novel

Marked: A House of Night Novel (House of Night series #1) by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312360258
ISBN-13: 978-0312360252

Originally released in paperback, this series has now been re-issued in hardcover.

By now, you would think young adult readers would be getting tired of the whole vampire genre, but the hunger continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Critics seem to compare every new vampire book to the TWILIGHT series, but I think this is selling some great books short.

MARKED is the first book in the House of Night series and I feel you need to take a look at the clever writing and interesting twist to this time-worn subject. Cast senior (mom P. C.) and Cast junior (daughter Kristin) introduce us to the world of a vampire finishing school some have described as TWILIGHT meets HARRY POTTER. The House of Night is a school for fledgling vampires-to-be - where those who have been "marked" come to go through the change and learn how to be true vampires.

Fledgling vampires are marked by a vampire tracker for the change. This is how we are introduced to the main character, Zoey Redbird. One day Zoey is a normal teenager just trying to fit in and the next moment she is marked as different from the rest. But not only is she different from her human friends, she is also different from other fledglings. All fledglings are instantly "tattooed" with the outline of a moon on their foreheads - the symbol they have been chosen. However, Zoey's mark is entirely filled in after a dream confrontation with the Goddess Nyx.

Zoey leaves behind her family - a mother who is the victim of emotional spouse abuse, a step-father who is a religious fanatic, and Grandma Redbird, her Cherokee grandmother (on her mother's side). She also leaves behind her football player boyfriend who has started to drink excessively and her best friend who talks more than she listens. Zoey's mother and step-father are narrow-minded religious nuts, but her grandmother is supportive and helps her make it to the House of Night in time. Zoey's friends at first are scared of her, but then try to reconnect to disastrous results.

And to make matters worse, on her first day at the House of Night, Zoey meets a High Priestess-in-training who immediately turns into a nemesis. But Zoey soon learns she has unusual abilities - she is able to call all 5 elements - Earth, Wind, Water, Fire and Spirit. She realizes she has been chosen by the Goddess Nyx for a specific purpose and she is determined to follow her destiny.

MARKED is a fast read and I did not want it to be over - good think I already had the 2nd book - BETRAYED - waiting in the wings. It's well-written and held my interest from start to finish and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Sharing Books

I thought I'd share this from my writing blog:

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about social reading:
How much of your reading do you share with others (outside of blogging?) Do you belong to a book or library club? Do you trade books with friends? Do you tell others what you’re reading?

I love to share with others what I'm reading or have read. Besides having 2 book review blogs - Bobbi's Book Nook and MCPL Book Nook - I have a weekly book review column in THE HARRODSBURG HERALD and I do freelance book reviews for KENTUCKY MONTHLY Magazine. I also post my reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, Jacket Flap, I'm Reading (Facebook) and Shelfari. I have also started a Facebook group for my book review blog, Bobbi's Book Nook (please come join me!) and I routinely link my book reviews to Facebook and Twitter.

Yes, sometimes my friends get tired of hearing my talk about books all the time! But I also have a group of friends who love to read and hear about what I'm reading, so it is for these people (and myself) that I keep ranting on about great books.

I also belong to a local book club at the Mercer Public Library in Kentucky - the Mercer Library Lunch Bunch Book Club. We meet on the 4th Tuesday of every month and typically have from 8 to 15 participants. This month we are reading THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant (a book I read many years ago and loved!) - I am rereading the book for the second time to refresh my memory. We get together at lunch time, bring a sack lunch, and spend an hour discussing our likes and dislikes of the current book. You get a wide range of perspectives because our participants range in age from 28 to 70+, plus, we have lots of fun.

Because most of my local friends are not readers, I don't usually swap books, but occasionally I will send a book to a friend far away. I'm a huge book whore, so I usually hold on to almost all of my books!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stephen King talks about Under the Dome

The release date for Stephen King's long awaited UNDER THE DOME is inching ever closer. Here is a short video of King talking about his latest epic story.


Return to an enchanting new world where true love never dies...
SHADOWLAND: The Immortals (Book #3) by Alyson Noel will be in stores November 17, 2009!

A letter from Alyson:
Dear friends,
Your enthusiasm and support of both EVERMORE and BLUE MOON has allowed the series to succeed in a way that surpassed all of my expectations, making it a #1 New York Times Best Seller for Children's Paperbacks for a combined total of 15 weeks, and staying on that list for 38 weeks straight (and counting!), as well as landing on the USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestsellers lists—and I can't thank you enough for making it happen!

SHADOWLAND picks up right where BLUE MOON left off, where Ever, desperate to find a way to fix her mistake, turns to magick, only to have her love for Damen challenged like never before . . .
You can see the book trailer on my website.

Barnes & Noble

RT Magazine gave it 4.5 stars (out of 4.5) and chose it as one of their Top Picks, saying:
"Noël's novel is absolutely amazing! Fans of her Immortals series will not be disappointed—Ever and Damen's love is challenged like never before, and the story ends with a big, satisfying twist that will have readers begging for more. This long awaited installment is incredible."—4.5 Stars, Romantic Times (Top Pick)

And if you haven't visited the new Immortals website yet, be sure to do so at: Immortal Series.

You'll find excerpts, downloads, all sorts of fun extras, and every time you click on a red tulip you'll hear hidden audio of a scene not included in the book! Also, if you subscribe, you'll be among the first to know when new audios are added!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - The Harlequin

The Harlequin (Book #15 of the Anita Blake series) by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Harlequin has Anita and Jean Claude are in trouble with Vampire Council enforcers. Out of desparation, Anita calls Edward for assistance and he arrives the same day, bringing Olaf and Peter (now 16 yo), who we last saw in Obsidian Butterfly.

The Harlequin are the police/judge/jury for vampire leaders who violate various rules (one example is Malcolm's resistance to the blood oath). It was formed by the Mother of All Darkness, modeled in style on the Commedia dell'arte and by action on the wild hunt. It is a group of very old and powerful vampires who like to manipulate the behaviors and emotions of humans or younger vampires and wereanimals - Jean-Claude, Anita, and Richard come under their line of fire. Under this influence, Richard and Jean-Claude nearly kill each other, and Anita must also be repeatedly resuscitated. Anita keeps her guys alive by feeding on first Rafael (and through him, all the wererats in the city); Belle Morte; and later, all the swanmanes via Donovan. Anita's second triumvirate also comes online, with Nathaniel and Damien.

But if wouldn't be an Anita Blake book if something didn't go wrong, so all kinds of mayham ensues. The Harlequin are not following its own rules, so Jean Claude decides to strike back and it ends up being a free-for-all.

This book has it all: the wereanimals, the vampires, the Mother of All Darkness, the Munin, and of course, the auedur. Anita also comes into a new power, almost to the point she is surpasses Jean Claude in strength.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Murder of King Tut

The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King by James Patterson and Martin Dugard
Thrust onto Egypt's most powerful throne at the age of nine, King Tut's reign was fiercely debated from the outset. Behind the palace's veil of prosperity, bitter rivalries and jealousy flourished among the Boy King's most trusted advisers, and after only nine years, King Tut suddenly perished, his name purged from Egyptian history. To this day, his death remains shrouded in controversy.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316034045
ISBN-13: 978-0316034043

Before starting I must tell you, if you are serious about historical facts, this might be a book will not appeal to you. James Patterson is a fast fiction writer and this book is what he does best. It was a fast read full of interesting facts, but if you are looking for something new in regards to King Tut or Egyptian history, you will not find it here.

That being said, I did find this an enjoyable read, although the story revolved more around Howard Carter - the Egyptologist who is credited for finding the tomb of King Tut - than the actual mystery surrounding the boy King. The short chapters jump back and forth between the early 1900s and Carter's discovery of the tomb and the long ago past of ancient Egypt. Carter's obsession with finding a "history-making" site gives us an deeper look into his drive to uncover history.

The premise behind this book is a theory Patterson and Dugard have researched surrounding the death of King Tut. They believe the Boy King was murdered and they try to lay out facts and history to prove their hypothesis.

Although I have been disappointed in the last few books by Patterson, this book was an enjoyable read because of my interest in Egypt. It is not a very good book if you are looking for research on King Tut - I would not even call this a research book. But it is a good story and there are just enough true facts to keep you interested.


How to Be a Vampire: A Fangs-On Guide for the Newly Undead

How to Be a Vampire: A Fangs-On Guide for the Newly Undead by Amy Gray

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763649155
ISBN-13: 978-0763649159

"For those who join the decadent realm of the vampire, eternal life holds juicy perks -- charm and strength, shape-shifting and flying, telepathy and super-powered senses. But then again, one becomes . . . so terribly hungry. Is there an etiquette for feeding without causing a scene? How do you set up your crypt? What supernatural foes will make your blood run colder? In this elegant, edgy resource, the newly immortal will find everything they need to know."

This campy little book is just the thing for those of you interested in the supernatural realm of vampires. Of course, vampires seem to be all the rage in books, magazines and movies these day, even breaking into weekly television series.

The myth of the vampire has been around for hundreds years and there seems to be more information gathered year after year. This book includes fun information on:

  • Determining your true vampire persona
  • Ways to turn into a vampire - or when a kiss is not just a kiss and why you should take a look at your family tree
  • a transformation checklist, including canine teeth and UV sensitivity
  • a makeup and fashion guide to looking damned good (or just damned)
  • knowing your weaknesses, from garlic, stakes, and sunlight to an obsession with counting
    * ten signs that your boyfriend is a vampire, including super coolness (body temperature-wise) and a habit of sleeping in
  • a field guide to vampiric variations around the world and through history

If you like reading about the undead - and don't want to take the subject too literally - then this comprehensive guide to the vampire lifestyle should satisfy your thirst for lore and provide you with useful tips.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

When the Bough Breaks

WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS An Anthology by Members of KaBoom Writing Collective (Kentucky Book Mafia)

This book is not only a fabulous book to read, but the attention to detail and the time and effort these ladies put into publishing this book makes it an exquisite work of art unto itself. To check out a wonderful article on the making of this book, check out Public Republic.

"Late-Blooming Daisy" by Mary H. Alexander is probably my favorite story in the book. Daisy Fiske is an elderly woman trying to come to grips with the changing roles in her life. No longer able to do somethings by herself, she is dependent on others for help going to the doctor or the grocery or any number of day-to-day tasks. When she is confronted with the loss of her long-time physician, she tries to take matters into her own hands and size up his replacement before choosing a new doctor. What Daisy doesn't expect is the sudden emergence of late onset "puppy love" when she feels an instant attraction to her new "older" doctor. Although she is no spring chicken, Daisy realizes she is not ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

"His Place in the World" by Jan Isenhour struck a cord with me as it described a new found relationship blossoming between a divorced man and his present girlfriend while both try to support the man's young son. I was a single mother with two children once, so I know how hard it is to finally trust another person with the precious bundles that are your children. This was poignant and heartwarming and I could feel the emotions right along with the characters.

Leatha Kendrick's contributions to the book came in the form of poetry instead of a short story, but they were in no way a lesser style of writing. "Second Opinion" gives you a humorous look at the often dark subject of cancer. "No Reason" is an eye-opener to a news junkie like myself when all we seem to see on the television screen is death, destruction and mayhem. Sometimes it is hard to find the reason.

The works by the other authors are equally as charming: "Heartichoke" by Lynn Pruett is that ever-present struggle of modern women - how to have a family and a life; "Everything, Changed" by Gail M. Kochler focuses on the rapidly changing world of a new mother; Pam Sexton's selections of "Poetry" work through many issues dealing with everyday life; and "Rooted in Solitude" by Susan Christerson Brown focuses on the many changing roles our lives go through.

Each of these gifted writers make you feel the emotions they are trying to invoke. Powerfully written, collectively beautiful, each section is relevant to the breaking of a bough and the subsequent rehealing of the main tree. This is a book to keep on your nightstand because you will be turning to it time after time.

For more information, you can also find KaBooM on Facebook.