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.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Great Opportunity for Young Adult Writers

Get in Front of Top YA Editors and Agents with
ONLY the First 250 Words of Your YA Novel!

Have a young adult novel—or a YA novel idea—tucked away for a rainy day? Are you putting off pitching your idea simply because you’re not sure how to pitch an agent? No problem! All you have to do is submit the first 250 words of your novel and you can win both exposure to editors, and a one-on-one chat with one of New York’s TOP literary agents Regina Brooks.

Regina Brooks is the founder of Serendipity Literary Agency and the author of Writing Great Books for Young Adults. Brooks has been instrumental at establishing and building the careers of many YA writers, including three-time National Book Award Honoree and Michael Printz Honoree Marilyn Nelson, as well as Sundee Frazier—a Coretta Scott King Award winner, an Oprah Book Pick and an Al Roker book club selection. As an agent, she is known for her ability to turn raw talent into successful authors.

ADDITIONALLY: The top 20 submissions will all be read by a panel of five judges comprised of top YA editors at Random House, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Sourcebooks and Penguin. All 20 will receive free autographed copies of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks. Of the 20, they will pick the top five submissions and provide each author with commentary. ONE Grand Prize Winner will win a free 10-week writing course courtesy of the Gotham Writer’s Workshop.

Please submit all entries via the contest website at One entry per person; anyone age 13+ can apply. Open to the U.S. & Canada (void where prohibited). Entries for the YA Novel Discovery Contest will be accepted from 12:01am (ET) November 1 until 11:59pm (ET),

In honor of National Novel Writing Month (—an international event where aspiring novelists are encouraged to write an entire novel in 30 days—this contest is meant to encourage the aspiring YA author to get started on that novel by offering an incentive for completing the first 250 words.

So apply now!

YA literary agent Regina Brooks, along with editors at Sourcebooks, will read all of the entries and determine the top 20 submissions. These submissions will then be read by Dan Ehrenhaft, head Acquisitions Editor at Soucebooks Fire; Alisha Niehaus, Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin); David Linker, Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books; Michele Burke, Editor at Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House); and Evette Porter, Editor at Harlequin. These judges will whittle the top 20 down to four winners and a grand prize winner—all five will be provided commentary on their submissions.

Drake's Comprehensive Compendium of Dragonology

**Please note - this book will not be released until October 27, 2009**

Drake's Comprehensive Compendium of Dragonology by Dr. Ernest Drake

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763646237
ISBN-13: 978-0763646233
Call it an encyclopedia of dragonology — an authorized resource so definitive that dragon lovers everywhere are fired up with excitement. From the esteemed Dr. Drake comes a beautifully illustrated, lovingly assembled tribute to all things dragonological, featuring:
— A guide to dragon species, with entries on everything from the well-known European dragon to the lesser-known hydra — as well as pseudo-species such as the phoenix and the incognito
— Insight into dragon biology, from flight to reproduction (with tips on how to tell the males from the females)
— An in-depth look at dragons’ habits, including migration, communication, camouflage, and notorious hoarding practices
— A section on humans and dragons, offering secrets of tracking and taming, deciphering riddles, and becoming a dragon master
— Practical essentials such as how to keep records, use spells, keep specimens, and care for sick dragons
— A comprehensive glossary, index, and much more!

From an asthestic point of view, this book is beautiful! An oversized hardcover edition, this book is full of gorgeous illustrations and helpful "tips" and information for recognizing the dragons of the world. This Compendium would make the perfect gift for any dragon-lover in your family.

Divided into five sections, the book provides information on dragon species, dragon biology, dragon habits and habitats, dragons and humans, and dragonology. One of the very first sketches in this 182 page book is a drawing of "The Vitruvian Dragon" which reminds you of Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man."

There are European Dragons, Frost Dragons, Dwarf Dragons, and Marsupial Dragons, just to name a few. Dragons have excellent night vision and this, along with their keen sense of smell, make them the perfect predator.

I found this to be a fun "niche" book that will appeal to children and adults alike, especially for those who have a love of fantastical creatures. Dragons hold a special place in mythical lore and this book will make a wonderful addition to such research libraries.

*Publisher's Note: In recent years the publisher has been fortunate enough to become custodian of the life's work of a certain Dr. Ernest Drake, Victorian dragonologist extraordinaire, and has republished many volumes for today's readers to great acclaim. This compendium appears to have been first published for a limited audience in 1912, and contains a summation of Drake's many years of research into the lives of dragons. Whilst every effort has been made to reproduce the book in its original form, it must be noted, albeit with considerable regret, that the publisher has been unable to find any dragons still in existence and therefore cannot verify the many interesting facts about them contain herein.

Here is a YouTube video about Drake's Comprehensive Compendium of Dragonology:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Voice
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401340903
ISBN-13: 978-1401340902
A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American History - the Salem witch trials.
This enchanting book is like 2 books in one - it is the story of a New England grad-student in 1991 and it is also a story of the Salem witch trials in 1692. In 1991, Connie Goodwin is an American Colonial History graduate student at Harvard. She has just passed her oral examination for her doctorate degree and now she begins the search for a suitable dissertation topic.

Because it is summer break, Connie's mother, Grace, sets Connie to the task of clearing out her grandmother's house in the town of Marblehead, Massachusetts. The house turns out to be off the beaten path and totally overrun with shrubbery - it also has no electricity or telephone. There is an overgrown garden with old herbs and roots.

During the initial cleaning of the house, Connie comes upon a Bible that has a key hidden in its pates. The key holds a secret scrap of paper rolled up inside of it with the name, DELIVERANCE DANE written in tiny script. Connie eventually figures out Deliverance Dane is the name of a woman who lived in the late 1600s, and she concludes Dane must have been a witch. Eager to find Dane's "book of shadows" - or book of spells - Connie is sure this book with be just the primary source she need to complete her dissertation.

While on the search for this elusive book, Connie meets Sam, a young "steeplejack" from the town of Salem and the become friends. Things take a turn for the worse when Connie's academic advisor, Prof. Chilton, becomes obsessed with Connie finding the book of shadows - suddenly, Sam has a freak accident and then comes down with a mystifying illness.

It is obvious that Howe has done her research - the characters are well developed and the historical facts are accurate. According to her bio, she is supposedly a descendant of two women who endured the Salem panic of 1692, one of whom survived, one who didn't.

I enjoyed this book very much - I have always had a curiosity about witches and the Salem Witch trials. I enjoyed the way the book skipped back and forth between generation - it was fun to see Deliverance and her daughter Mercy, and it was helpful to know what was going on in Connie's life. There have been many mixed reviews on this book, but I am firmly in the category of liking this book and I look forward to more of Howe's work.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Danse Macabre

Dance Macabre is the 14th book in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton (2006)

Danse Macabre is the first book where Anita's job as a Federal Marshal or her job as a zombie animator plays no part of the story. This story has Anita juggling a series of problems arising from her own increasing power, Jean-Claude's vampire politics and her own personal life.

And then real-life seems to catch up with Anita as it becomes apparent that she may be pregnant. Oh what a tangled web we weave - because of Anita's increased need to feed the ardeur with sexual energy, the line-up of "baby daddies" starts to grow: Richard (here on again/off again boyfriend), Nathaniel (her own little snack cart), Jean-Claude (her number one main squeeze), Asher (still trying to find a definition for Asher), and Damian (her vampire servant). Of course, I have conveniently left out Micah, her new live-in love, but then again, Micah is sterile. One less man to worry about!

I don't want to give away any details, but this books involves a few of the major players of this series: Belle Morte and The Mother of All Darkness being the most prominent. We also get some background on Stephen and Gregory's past lives, see Regina rear her metaphorical head and meet an actual vampire named Merlin. All in all, this book is great fun!

The book title - "Danse Macabre" - comes from several sources. One is the name of the vampire ballet company that performs during the course of the novel's events. Two can be the general "vampire politics" that serves as the central conflict - i.e., "danse macabre", or "dance of death." And three, "Danse Macabre" is also the name of a vampire-themed nightclub owned by Jean-Claude, although the nightclub appears only briefly at the end of the book.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Miracle of Myrtle: Saint Gone Wild

The Miracle of Myrtle: Saint Gone Wild by Donna Ison

Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: Arctic Wolf Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981747280
ISBN-13: 978-0981747286
Did you know that the Virgin Mary had an evil twin? Neither did the outrageous residents of Steadfast, Kentucky until she showed up to sabotage their annual Ham Happening--a three-day celebration of all things pork. But before the opening Ham Ball even gets rolling, Myrtle swoops in and embarks upon a mission involving performing pigs, a sadistic soap star, the Miss Ham Honey pageant, same sex marriage, big hair, and genetic engineering. The fate of the town is left to young festival president Tancy Sloane, a rebel in her own right, who must decide whether to stop the renegade saint...or to join her. The Miracle of Myrtle: Saint Gone Wild is sweet tea with a big shot of bourbon and a juicy slice of the supernatural. Prepare for a party on every page.

The Miracle of Myrtle is good campy fun and I am all about campy! This book is pure entertainment of the laugh out loud, hold your gut, snot soda out of your nose, try not to pee your pants kind. If you think this is just a quaint little book about a small, rural town in Kentucky, you are sorely misinformed, because this book is funny to the tenth power, an over the top look at Steadfast, Kentucky - eternal population of 1,013. Steadfast - site of the annual Ham Happening - is home to an eclectic collection of residents that look like a combination of FRIENDS, QUEER AS FOLK, and THE FLINSTONES all mashed together on steroids.

Tancy Sloane is the first woman president of the Steadfast Ham Happening and she is determined to make a name for herself and prove she can have the best ham festival in history, but she has a quagmire of obstacles to overcome. Like Beau, her sarcastic husband, who wants to be the Best of the Best in the Barbeque Cook-Off. He stumbles across the coveted recipe of the late Barbeque Champ Critter Johnson and claims it as his own.

Then there is Miss Rosalind of Miss Rosalind's Charm School, Dance Studio and Palm Reading Emporium, a rotund psychic who is in charge of preparing the contestants for the Miss Ham Honey Contest. Contestants like Mary Sue Ann Cogburn the prettiest girl in the county and her herd of trained dancing pigs. Contestants like Little Lucy Dobbs, a grown woman who dresses and acts like Shirley Temple, but is the biggest slut in town. And then there is Floydette Clay, a bottom-heavy poser who is determined to win the crown with the help of her mother and loads of money.

Stevie de Panache - who was "...a redneck before I was a queer" - works with Roy McGuire at The Primping Palace, the place for female beautification in Steadfast. Now, before you go thinking Stevie and Roy are our token gay couple, you need to know that Roy is in love with acting legend Alexis Monroe, who, by divine intervention, comes to town during the Ham Happening.

Then there is Myrtle ... Myrtle arrives in the beginning of the book to take Tancy's grandmother, "To a place where the men are hot, the martinis are cold, and the facelifts are free." Myrtle is a saint who lives in a loft in the nicest section of Purgatory and she is on a mission from God she hopes will finally get her into heaven.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Myrtle as she is escorting another one into the light:
"To an antebellum mansion in the sky where the magnolias are always in bloom, the Republicans are never in office, and all the blushing brides wear white leather tuxedos and carry parasols."

Never in all my 47 years have I come across a book that had dancing pigs, 6-feet tall chickens and the evil twin of the Virgin Mary. If you have a problem with crude language, this book is not for you. But, if you are looking for a campy plot, colorful writing and a fun escape from mainstream fiction, this rip-roaring book may be just the ticket. I started reading Myrtle one night while my family was watching TV and I caught myself laughing out loud and giggling uncontrollably and a few times I had to stop and read passages to them. This is one of those books you just have to experience, like the first bite of a deep fried Twinkie - you know it's so bad for you, but it tastes so good.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Weeding Out Books

This will be my first entry for Booking Through Thursday
When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?

Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)

And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?

When was the last time I weeded out my library? I must admit, I am a book whore and I have trouble getting rid of any of my books - hence the reason books are taking over my house. Currently, my book collection is overflowing into every aspect of my life - my bookshelves (crammed full and covering the top and floor space in front), my living room (my desk and numerous little piles), the kitchen (one cupboard and encroaching on the counter space), the bathroom (an overflowing bookcase next to the toilet), the hallway (more little piles), and the bedroom (is there really supposed to be a bed in here?).

The books I have parted with in the recent past has usually been review books that I did not enjoy reading - of course, this doesn't happen often because I try to be careful of what types of books I request. Most of my give aways have been self-published books, mainly because the editing job was done poorly, making the book difficult to read. When I do give away a book, it is typically a donation to the public library. I will occasionally give children's books to the elementary school library, but I don't get as many of these any more. Of course, when I finally have grandchildren, I sure I will be holding on to my children's books!

As you can see, I am a book-o-holic and I have been my entire life. You should also take into consideration I am married to a book lover, so his collection is merging with mine. And did I mention my 17 year old daughter? With 2 parents who love books, there was no hope for her. It has been months since I was able to enter her room because her collection is actually growing faster than mine.

So many books, so little time and space ...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Micah

Micah (Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter #13) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Although technically the 13th book in the series, this is not a full-length Anita Blake book. In Hamilton's words, this is a "novel-lite" book and represents a side-adventure starring Anita and Micah.
Rather than follow up immediately on the various plotlines left open in the previous novel, Incubus Dreams, Hamilton has written a much shorter work focusing primarily on Anita's relationships with one of her lovers, the eponymous Micah Callahan. Specifically, Anita is called to Philadelphia to perform an zombie animation and takes Micah on the trip. While in Philadelphia, Micah and Anita have sex, discuss their relationships and his earlier traumas, and encounter some strange twists in Anita's assignment.
Of all the books in the series, Micah is my least favorite. Although it is a good story, I'm used to having a 500 to 600+ page book to read.

Anita travels to Philadelphia on short notice to substitute for Larry Kirkland, who must remain in St. Louis because of complications in his wife Tammy's pregnancy. Although the assignment - reanimating a recently deceased federal witness in order to testify in an organized crime investigation - initially seems routine, Anita quickly begins to suspect that there is more to the case than she and Larry have been told.

Anita also continues to deal with her personal relationship with Micah, who accompanies her on the trip. Anita must come to terms with Micah's decision to reserve a nice hotel room for the two of them without telling her. She also tries to help Micah get over the trauma of narrowly surviving a wereleopard attack that left several members of his family dead.

This is a must-read for Anita fans, but just be warned - this is a paperback book and it is not an "in depth" book like the rest of the others.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670062278
ISBN-13: 978-0670062270
From Amazon: In this Asian-inspired fantasy world, political power belongs to the emperor, but also to the Dragoneyes: men who harness the power of the 12 energy dragons named for animals from the Chinese zodiac. Each year, a new one comes to power, and the dragon itself chooses a new apprentice from a pool of 12-year-old boys. Physically lame Eon is thought least likely to be chosen and also has a secret: Eon is truly Eona, a 16-year-old girl. At the ceremony, the Rat Dragon chooses fellow trainee Dillon for the role of apprentice. Eon thinks that all is lost until she sees a dragon no one has seen in 400 years: the Dragon Dragon—also known as the Mirror Dragon.
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn is a great work of fiction in the same vein as the J.R.R. Tolkein books. It is a well written story weaving together Chinese horoscopes and dragon lores with political intrigue and gender bias. The characters are well rounded and fully developed and the plot is intricate and full of vivid visual imagery.

The main character is a 12 year old boy named Eon who is guarding a secret that could cause his death if it were to be revealed. But Eon is actually a 16-year-old girl, Eona, disguised by her master in a last-gasp attempt to regain his status as a dragon lord. Eon has a physical deformity in his hip from an "accident" during his youth. He has become the heir and last hope of his master, the Tiger Dragoneye. The story follows Eon's struggles as he faces a mixture of medieval and mystical challenges.

Eon is one of 12 candidates vying to be the new ascendant of the Rat Dragon. However, during the contest, Eon is not the one chosen by the Rat Dragon. Instead she is chosen by the long-missing Mirror Dragon - the only female dragon - who is making her first appearance in 500 years. All the other dragons bow to the Mirror Dragon, making Eon, or Enoa, the most important person in the kingdom after the Emperor. But the new Rat Dragoneye, Lord Ido, is not happy about the ascension of the Mirror Dragon because it interferes with his planned take over of the empire.

I was in awe of the unusual friendships of Eon and with the strong bonds of trust for each of these. There is Rilla, his body servant; Chart, the disabled son of Rilla; Lady Dela, a transgender male living as a female; and Prince Kygo, the oldest son and heir of the Emperor.

For me, this book has it all. There is betrayal that leads to great pain and anger in the midst of sorrow. There is the recovery and heroic measures of the main character and a move toward a common goal. Then there are the dragons and the power these dragons give to the dragoneye.

The first book in this duology was originally published under the title The Two Pearls of Wisdom in Australia and the U.K. Goodman is at work on the final book of this 2-book series.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shattered Silence

Shattered Silence
The Untold Story of a Serial Killer's Daughter by Melissa G. Moore with M. Bridget Cook

Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599552388
ISBN-13: 978-1599552385

Throughout her life, Melissa Jesperson Moore had to hide her true identity. She had pretended that life was perfect after her parents divorced and she was suddenly uprooted from everything familiar and loving. She had to be silent, and to pretend not to be disturbed or upset by her father's actions. Those experiences prepared Melissa to hide the deepest, darkest secret of all. As she began making different choices, building a successful and loving life on her own, her heart began to fill with rays of hope, though she could never quite rid herself of the dark shadow of secrecy and shame. Then one day, her beautiful, innocent daughter looked into her eyes and said, "Mommy, everybody's got a daddy. Where's your daddy?" Shattered Silence is an astonishing, true narrative of personal and spiritual transformation. From her secret life as "the daughter of The Happy Face Serial Murderer" to a woman that bared her soul and inspired millions, Melissa leads the reader on the vulnerable, compelling, and sometimes very raw journey of what it took to shatter the silence, and claim her own life.

For most people who know me, I have a long list of books waiting to be read - I have books for review that have been sent to me by publishers and authors and there are public library books I just enjoy reading. With the economy in such bad shape, I haven't been buying as many books as before and I keep a separate list of books I want to add to my home library. Shattered Silence doesn't fit into any of these categories. Shattered Silence is a book that screamed at me from the rack at Wal-Mart, demanding to be taken home and read. In a moment of weakness, I plunked down my hard earned cash to buy my first book in ages, and a book by an unknown author at that. I was not disappointed.

I've long wondered about the families of men convicted of murder, especially serial murder. Shattered Silence is the story of one child who lived through the torment of a severely dysfunctional. Melissa Jesperson is a young girl of five when we meet her at the beginning of this story. She is the oldest of 3 children - stairsteps like myself with a younger brother and a still younger sister. Melissa loved her daddy and all she wanted at that point in her young life was his unconditional love.

But how to you bounce back after your father hangs your "babies" on a clothesline to die - 4 tiny kittens, vulnerable and needing constant care - senselessly killed for no reason. This was just the beginning of Melissa's life. Through the years she would learn to come to grips with her parent's traumatic separation, the constant worry over having enough food to eat or even clothes to wear, a new step-father (not much improvement) and overseeing the care of her younger siblings.

Melissa was forced to grow up sooner than most children, all the while trying to protect her brother and sister. Although they had lived in four different places the first five years of her life, Melissa was unprepared for the move to her maternal grandmothers house - a smaller house and almost instant poverty. The family survived, moved on to new phases, but with every step forward, there always seemed to be a step back. It turned into a vicious cycle that was hard to break. And through it all, Melissa still wanted the love and approval of her daddy.

I think one of the most heartbreaking parts of this book is cocoon Melissa's mother weaved around her life. She was a doormat and continually took the easy way out which continued to propel her down a path of destruction she couldn't protect her children from. I feel sorry for victims and their circumstances, but I don't feel sorry for victims who won't help themselves - the was Melissa's mother.

Before you go and think this book is full of horrific things this woman lived through - and yes, they were horrific - that is not the main focus of this book. This book is like a beckoning lighthouse to other families - families who contain horrible people. This is a book about hope and believing in yourself in order to keep yourself alive. My heart goes out to this family and I feel such inspiration in the progress Melissa has gone to improve the quality of her life. She brings meaning to the phrase, "You reap what you sow" - she was finally able to sow the seeds of love, compassion and empathy and her life has improved for the better. Her father is still a convicted serial killer who will spend the rest of his life in jail, but that is only a small portion of her life. She can't overlook it and she can't take the blame for it, but she must learn to live with it - and it is the way she has chosen to live her life that is the remarkable story.

As heart wrenching as this memoir was to read, reading and researching Keith Hunter Jesperson left a foul taste in my mouth. This was a truly evil and sick man, and to realize this author came out as whole as she did is a true testament of of her convictions to lead a different kind of life.

Although I enjoyed this book, my biggest complaint is it should have had a better editor. Many of the thoughts and stories were disjointed and there were numerous typos. That being said, this didn't impede me from reading this book cover to cover in one sitting.

For more information on this book, check out the Shattered Silence website.

I did not know until I started reading this book, but Melissa G. Moore has been featured on both Dr. Phil and Oprah.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The 13 Days of Halloween

The 13 Days of Halloween by Carol Greene; illustrated by Tim Raglin

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402230966
ISBN-13: 978-1402230967
Everyone knows "The Twelve Days of Christmas," but are you ready for The Thirteen Days of Halloween? In this delightfully offbeat story, a dashing ghoul tries to win his ghostly love's heart with heaps of hilarious gifts ranging from broomsticks and bats to cauldrons and cats! Carol Greene's lively verse is perfectly complemented by Tim Raglin's enchantingly erie illustrations. Children of all ages will love to sing along. The result is a frightfully funny Halloween tale you'll never forget.

The 13 Days of Halloween is hauntingly good fun and a humorous way to celebrate this spooky holiday. Little trick-or-treaters of all ages will enjoy using their imaginations as they tip-toe through this enchanting book, savoring the infectious prose and delightful illustrations.

Children can easily sing the creative lines of poetry to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas, or it can be read as a standard bedtime book. With Greene's rhyming words and Raglin's child-like drawings, children will enjoy a vulture in a dead tree, two hissing cats, three fat toads, four giggling ghosts and five cooked worms ....

The 13 Days of Halloween is a book your children will beg for over and over again and is sure to become a holiday classic. It has just enough "spook" for older children, but is not too scary for the younger ones. You and your children will never look at Halloween the same way again. This book is perfect for that special child in your life.

Eli the Good

Eli the Good by Silas House

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763643416
ISBN-13: 978-0763643416
Bicentennial fireworks burn the sky. Bob Seger growls from a transistor radio. And down by the river, girls line up on lawn chairs in pursuit of the perfect tan. Yet for ten-year-old Eli Book, the summer of 1976 is the one that threatened to tear his family apart. There is his distant mother; his traumatized Vietnam vet dad; his wild sister; his former war protester aunt; and his tough yet troubled best friend, Edie, the only person with whom he can be himself. As tempers flare and his father’s nightmares rage, Eli watches from the sidelines, but soon even he cannot escape the current of conflict. From Silas House comes a tender look at the complexities of childhood and the realities of war — a quintessentially Southern novel filled with music, nostalgic detail, a deep respect for nature, and a powerful sense of place.
Silas House is the bestselling Kentucky author of CLAY'S QUILT, PARCHMENT OF LEAVES and THE COAL TATTOO - all centering around several generations of the same family growing up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. With this book, Silas tries his hand a writing for young adults and he has ended up with an endearing look at a slice of life from the summer of 1976.

Eli Book is a ten year old boy, living like most children of the 1970s - riding his bicycle all over town, splashing in the town creek and enjoying hot summer days with his best friend Edie. This is really the coming of age story of how Eli deals with the overwhelming situations of strife in his young life.

Eli has undying love for his parents, Loretta and Stanton Book, but his growing curiosity of the secrets they both carry is threatening to eat him alive. Eli feels jealousy of his mother's unconditional love for his father - he wants to be the number one love of her life. Eli is filled with uncertainty and longing to understand his father's past as a Vietnam veteran and the nightmares that consume his dreams.

There is also underlying tension from Eli's sister, Josie, as she comes to grips with the fact that her mother was pregnant with her before Loretta and Stanton were married - she is not Stanton's biological daughter, but he has raised her as such. Then there is Stanton's way-ward, wildflower of a sister, Nell, who comes to live with the family for the summer. Stanton has unresolved feelings for his little sister because he feels betrayed that she was a war protester.

And then there is Edie, the sweet little girl from next door who has been Eli's best friend and confidante. Their friendship is pure and an accurate portrayal of childhood innocence of past decades. But she has family problems of her own and leans on Eli's family as her support system.

This is a book full of emotion and House's stylized lyrical prose. The words drip off the page and you want to lap them up, savoring every last drop and flavor. He has successfully written a compelling story that will not only capture the hearts of the intended young adult audience, but will hold an equal place in the hearts of adults. This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a great story and is destined to become a classic.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Incubus Dreams

Incubus Dreams is the twelfth in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton

As usual, in Incubus Dreams Anita must juggle several problems simultaneously. First, she is asked to raise a couple's murdered son to find out who killed him. Anita tries to explain this is not possible because murdered zombies only have one goal - kill their murderer. Second, Anita, Jean-Claude, Richard, and Damien are all experiencing unexpected increases in their magical power and they are trying to figure them out. Speaking of Jean-Claude, Anita is also having to deal with a problem of vampire politics regarding vampires not under a blood oath. And to top it all off, Anita is working with the police to solve a series of vampire murders.

All these problems are on top of her increasingly relationship with wereleopards Michah and Nathanel, her vampire servant Damien, her renewed relationship with Richard, and deciding what to do with two new vampire warriors Wicked and Truth. Our little necromancer has been a busy, busy girl!

Similar to most of the books in the Anita Blake series, Incubus Dreams is titled after a fictional location within the book. In this case, "Incubus Dreams" is the name of a strip club where some of the later events in the book occur.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Catching Fire

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Book #2) by Suzanne Collins

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439023491
ISBN-13: 978-0439023498

CATCHING FIRE was as much of a rollercoaster ride as THE HUNGER GAMES. Thinking she is finally free of the hold the Capital has on her and living a life of plenty as winner of the Hunger Games, Katniss thinks her life might actually be getting better.
This book delves more into the relationship between Katniss and Gale, and we start to understand more about them. We also get a glimpse of life in some of the other districts. Many reviewers were not happy with all this backstory, but I thought it added to the overall plot of the story.

Because it is the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games, it is also time for the Quarter Quell - special games that take place every 25 years. The Capital claims the rules of the Quarter Quell have been predestined by the founders of the games, but when the rules are announced, it becomes apparent these games will be used as a punishment for the residents of all the districts. This year's reaping will only consist of the winners from each district - in Katniss' case, she is the only winner from District 12. She will be heading back into the arena. Still waiting to protect Katniss, Peeta volunteers as the tribute after Haymitch's name is drawn.

Now the Capital will show the people that anyone is expendable - even the much loved winning tributes. 24 winners will go into the arena - only 1 will come out alive.

This book is more about the rising rebellions in the districts. There is a plan in place that the readers - and Katniss and Peeta - are not aware of until the end. Katniss and her mockingjay pin have become the symbol of the rebellion and are therefore a target of the Capital.

Katniss continues to be a strong character and I enjoy seeing her reactions to situations and the maturity she shows when solving problems. She is definitely not a normal 17 year old, but she does have some of the same fears and insecurities of other kids her own age. She is a polarizing character and has the ability to draw people together.

I thought this book was a great stepping stone to bridge book one and book three of the trilogy. I wasn't crazy about the cliff-hanger ending, but in all practicality, it was the obvious way to end the book. Now it makes me anxious for the final book in the trilogy. I hope Ms. Collins has pity on all us rabid fans and hurries with the writing of book three.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games Book #1) by Suzanne Collins

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439023483
ISBN-13: 978-0439023481

I resisted reading this book for such a long time, even with the great reviews. Just the idea of 24 teenagers being forced into a contest where only one will end up alive and be crowned the winner left a bad taste in my mouth. But something funny happened when I started reading - after the first few pages, I was completely hooked. Collins' narrative was compelling, even when documenting the life and death situations.

The world of Katniss and Peeta is totally different from the world we live in today. The Capital now rules the world and surviving territories have been divided up into Districts. Katniss and Peeta are from District 12, the coal mining district. Every year on "reaping day," all the children age 12 to 18 are entered for the Hunger Games, a mandatory event sponsored by the Capital. One boy and one girl are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games.

Basically, the Hunger Games pits 24 children (tributes) against each other, gathering them all in one arena to test their survival skills. This is like some messed up, futuristic reality show - the contestants are on camera 24 hours a day and people watch the games from the comfort of their homes. Bets are made on the winning tribute and sponsors are gathered by how well each tribute participates.

This book was incredibly entertaining, but very disturbing on many levels. The storyline is brutal, although much of the violence is off screen. This story is for young adults because the main characters are teenagers, but parents may want to think about the violence. In my opinion, the violence probably rates as PG-13. However, there is very little physical romance, no gratuitous foul language and no drinking or drug abuse. The characters show great depth of emotional maturity and they are people you are eager to learn more about.

Collins has given us a different kind of story that layers fantasy and fun with underlying morals and consequences. I had trouble putting this book down. From the first chapter I wanted to zoom through and find out what was happening with the strong female character of Katniss. Thankfully, this is the first book in a new series, so we will get to follow Katniss' adventures into the future.

This is a great read and deserves a permanent place in any home library. The next book in the series, CATCHING FIRE, is now available.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Prophecy of the Sisters

Prophecy of the Sisters (Prophecy of the Sisters Trilogy Book #1) by Michelle Zink

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316027421
ISBN-13: 978-0316027427
An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-
One good...
One evil...
Who will prevail?
Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.
Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust.
They just know they can't trust each other.

This book is a great return the themes of original Gothic novels. Set in the Victorian era of the late 1800s, this phophetic mystery has spellbinding characters and a breathtaking plot, with authentically written historical details.

The story centers around a set of twins - Lia and Alice Milthrope - and slowly reveals cryptic tattoos, letters, and keys all leading to a climatic prophecy that will change the girl's destiny. Lia is the "good" twin, who leads a quiet, predictable life and loves books. Alice is the "bad" twin, always setting herself apart from the other members of the family. When their father suddenly dies and leaves them and their younger brother, Henry, orphans, unusual things begin to happen and soon the phophecy is set in motion.

A mysterious tattoo-like mark appears on Lia's wrist, and she soon learns she may be the "gateway" to the end of the world. Alice begins acting secretive and it becomes apparent that the twins will be on opposing sides of the phophecy. Lia's dreams become scarily real and she realizes her soul is able to "travel" to other worlds without her body. It becomes Lia's goal to prevent Samuel (the devil) and the Souls from taking over the world, while Alice wants nothing more than for Lia to fail.

Zink has written a strong female character in Lia. Even though she is named The Gate by pure coincidence of her birth order, she only wants to do the right thing and stop the Souls from destroying the world she knows and loves. Alice is The Guardian and all her life she has prepared for the coming of the Souls and is determined to be on the winning side. Lia's relationship with Alice is vivid and conflicting and Zink shows us the dark and brooding environment of their relationship.

Zink has a talent for details and she reveals these in multiple layers and with strong supporting characters. Suspense and tension builds throughout the book and you find yourself racing to the end to see what will happen.

This is a stunning debut novel full of thrills, chills, myths, fantasy, and compelling intrigue. I think you will love the new voice this series brings and the unique point of view for an age-old end of days prophecy. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.