Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Nook

This is my Book Nook Column from July 2010 in "The Harrodsburg Herald" - highlighting "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Steig Larsson and "The Red Pyramid" (the Kane Chronicles) by Rick Riordan.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Radiance by Alyson Noël

Radiance by Alyson Noël is a spin-off from "The Immortals Series" and features Riley, Ever's little sister, who just happens to be a ghost. The Immortal series includes:
  • Evermore
  • Blue Moon
  • Shadowland
  • Dark Flame
  • Night Star (coming in November 2010)
Check out the book trailer below:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Care and Feeding of Nightmares

Okay, so I'm shamelessly promoting my own chapbook of poetry. It's my blog and I'll pimp If I want to ...

For anyone who would like to purchase my 2nd chapbook of poetry, "Care and Feeding of Nightmares" - you can email me at:

with your snail-mail address. The books are $5 each plus $2 for shipping and handling. I hope to have PayPal set up on my blog in a few weeks for payments, but currently I can only accept checks or money orders. I will mail out the book on the day I receive your order. You can also buy the books at J. Sampson Antiques on Main Street in Harrodsburg. Thanks to everyone who buys a book!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

With Purpose and Promise

With Purpose and Promise
A Novel by K. Melissa Burton

This book will not be released until August 31, 2010. In full disclosure, this is a review copy from the author; I already love reading her children's books.

Perfect Paperback: 240 pages; $14.99
Publisher: Tate Publishing (August 31, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616634340
ISBN-13: 978-1616634346
"She seemed like your average country girl on a farm in rural Kentucky...

But she had purpose...

She had promise...

And she had an opportunity.

Inspired by real-life local events in her hometown of Lawrenceburg, author K. Melissa Burton introduces Lilly Kate Overstreet, a resourceful young lady of the early 1900s. As Lilly Kate nears the end of eighth grade, she assumes her years of education are coming to a close. But when a family tragedy opens the door for her to attend the local high school, Lilly Kate takes up the mantle to be the first in her family to receive a high school diploma.

But the task is far from easy. Not only is the school's founder, Mrs. Kavanaugh, a formidable taskmaster, Lilly Kate is nearly overwhelmed by the changes taking place in her life and in the world around her. Yet, when the girls of Kavanaugh High are introduced to a new game called basketball, it proves to be a catalyst for moving them all forward."
Melissa Burton's grandparents met at Kavanaugh High School in the late 1940s, so it was easy to settle on a research paper while she was in college. As she was going through old newspaper clippings, she found an article with two pictures from 1912. The pictures contained five girls and a basketball. This photo opened Burton's imagination and took her on a journey that would become "With Purpose and Promise."

I normally read Burton's children's books, so I was apprehensive when I began her first novel. After the first few pages, I put my fears to rest and enjoyed one of the best stories I read in a long time.

From the time Lilly Kate was a small child, she dreamed of going to the small school in Fox Creek. When Lillian Katherine Street finally got to announce her name to her first grade teacher she did it with authority and pride. When the teacher told her that was a big name for a little girl, Lilly Kate answered, "My poppa says it's a name filled with purpose and promise." From that line, I was in love with Lilly Kate.

Life in the early 1900s was still extremely hard for most farm families. Most farms still did not have running water or electricity, but they maintained large gardens to feed and support their families. This was also a time of tragedies and serious changes in family life.

Without giving spoilers, on Lilly Kate's 13th birthday tragedy entered the Overstreet family, she and her mother were forced to move to town. One mother, one daughter, but two strong women. Even though life was hard, all things happen for a reason. When the new home in town was refurnished, Momma used money from the sale of the farm to buy a new Singer sewing machine in order to take in sewing work. Lilly Kate, who loved to bake, was able to make spending money of her own.

When she graduated eighth grade, Lilly Kate was able to begin attending Kavanaugh High School, something she thought would never happen. Keeping her nose to the grindstone and showed respect to others which opened doors for her she never thought would happen. I was proud of Lilly Kate when she stood up for women's right to vote and when she kept a private secret for a girl who had treated her badly for three years of high school.

This book made me cry and it made me laugh out loud. It made me reevaluate my life and realize that my life is easy compared to what it would have been like in 1912, the year Lilly Kate graduated high school.

The two phrases I enjoyed the most were:
"...but maybe God's just shutting this door so you'll go through a door of his choosing."
"...Daughter I'm not sure what the future holds, but I'm quite confident that it will be fantastic. Pray about it. Listen to that still small, voice, and you can't go wrong."

Burton's words were like lyrical prose on each and every page. I could smell the firewood or the food that was cooking. I could smell the flowers or the pages of brand-new books. I could she the latest fashions in the clothes Lilly Kate's Momma made. And I think the thing I love the most was Burton spelling Momma the way I always spelled Momma. I know this is a book my Momma would have enjoyed reading - it is definitely one I will be passing around to my family and recommending to family, friends and my neighborhood librarians.

I look forward to Burton's next novel.

Available from Tate Publishing and Amazon on August 31, 2010.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


FIRE (A companion to Graceling) by Kristin Cashore

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Dial; First Edition edition
trong>Language: English
ISBN-10: 0803734611
ISBN-13: 978-0803734616
From Amazon for readers Grade 9 Up — This fantasy, shot through with romance and suspense, is set in the same world as GRACELING, but on the far side of the mountain barrier in the kingdom of the DellS, are monsters, enhanced and exceptionally beautiful versions of various animal species. Fire is a human monster, so beautiful that she has to hide her hair for fear of attack by both raptor monsters and human men. She is able to enter other people's minds and exert power over them. It is a tumultuous time in the kingdom, as various lords are preparing to overthrow the king, and Fire is drawn into the fray. With a larger cast and a more complex canvas than Graceling, the story begins slowly and takes its time establishing itself. Fire's path is not immediately clear, and although full of action, her quest is largely internal. While the plotting is well done, there are a few quibbles about Cashore's world-building and about the role of a major character from GRACELING, Leck. But, this is Fire's story, and readers will fall in love with her as she struggles with her pivotal role in the war effort as well as her complex relationships with her oldest friend and lover, Archer; with Prince Brigan, whose mind is closed to her and who becomes central to her life; and with her monster father's fearsome legacy. More adult in tone than GRACELING, this marvelous prequel will appeal to older teens, who will not only devour it, but will also love talking about it.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
FIRE takes place in the same world as GRACELING, but with very little crossover. It is supposed to be a prequel, set at least a decade before GRACELING, and only one character appears in both books. These two books don't have to be read in order for you to understand Fire, but once you have read FIRE, you will want to immediately read GRACELING.

The Gracelings live over the mountains in kingdoms that are relatively peaceful, living on what the Gods have offered them. But over the mountains live the the kingdoms of the Dells, where many unusually monsters live among the people. The nobels of the Dell work with some of these animals to plan rebellious plot against the young king . In this country, the are monsters, brightly colored, beautiful, and often dangerous from normal animals.

Fire is a human monster, the last of her kind. Fire is an outcast in her society, with her vibrant and unnatural red hair color - a clear indicator she is a monster - and status as a powerful mind controller. She resists using her ability, remembering the terrible example of her brilliant, twisted father. When the king's brother Brigan arrives to ask for her help against the rebel lords, she is pulled against her will into the turmoil enveloping the kingdom.

King Nash is struggling to hold on to his kingdom as enemies from the north and south threaten to overthrow him. Both Nash and his brother, Brigan, distrust Fire at first because of the damage her father did to the kingdom before his death. Brigan would like nothing more than to kill Fire, but they manage to find a way to resolve their differences and work together.

Fire is a strong heroine - tough and fiercely independent - but loyal and kind to others. She is thoughtful, and concerned for the other people she has befriended. She especially struggles to reconcile her own nature and her father's actions, to become the person she wishes to be. Katsa's was a stong heroine in GRACELING, but I think Fire has developed into an even stronger character in the book, FIRE.

Although FIRE is not a happy, warm and fuzzy book all of the time, after all it does deal with death and violence and the cruelties of life. Cashore has a talent with writing optimistic and sensitive material, and inserting rare scenes of romance and humor to keep the story moving along at a fever-pitch. She is definitely a YA fantasy writer to be watching because her writing style and subject matter will attract not only the young adult population, but the adult population (like myself) who enjoy an excellent fantasy story. If readers weren't already in love with Cashore after reading GRACELING, they will be after reading Fire

This complicated and layered story made for the perfect summer read. The characters are amazing and complex, intense and believable and written with great prose and feeling. FIRE (and GRACELING) are excellent books. The characters will satisfy readers who like adventure, intrigue, and romance even the villains are interesting, intelligent people. The twists and turns of the plot are unpredictable and keep you turning the page until the wee hours of the morning.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

With Purpose and Promise

With Purpose and Promise
A Novel
by K. Melissa Burton
"She seemed like your average country girl on a farm in rural Kentucky...

But she had purpose...

She had promise...

And she had an opportunity.

Inspired by real-life local events in her hometown of Lawrenceburg, author K. Melissa Burton introduces Lilly Kate Overstreet, a resourceful young lady of the early 1900s. As Lilly Kate nears the end of eighth grade, she assumes her years of education are coming to a close. But when a family tragedy opens the door for her to attend the local high school, Lilly Kate takes up the mantle to be the first in her family to receive a high school diploma.

But the task is far from easy. Not only is the school's founder, Mrs. Kavanaugh, a formidable taskmaster, Lilly Kate is nearly overwhelmed by the changes taking place in her life and in the world around her. Yet, when the girls of Kavanaugh High are introduced to a new game called basketball, it proves to be a catalyst for moving them all forward."
240 pages - $14.99 (paperback)

Available from Tate Publishing on August 31, 2010.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lessons From a Dead Girl

Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763632791
ISBN-13: 978-0763632793
From Amazon: Leah Greene is dead. For Laine, knowing what really happened and the awful feeling that she is, in some way, responsible set her on a journey of painful self-discovery. Yes, she wished for this. She hated Leah that much. Hated her for all the times in the closet, when Leah made her do those things. They were just practicing, Leah said. But why did Leah choose her? Was she special, or just easy to control? And why didn’t Laine make it stop sooner? In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laine is left to explore the devastating lessons Leah taught her, find some meaning in them, and decide whether she can forgive Leah and, ultimately, herself.
This slim book was so compelling that I read it in on sitting. With every turn of the page, the antagonist Leah Greene, is consistently harassing, to the point of abusing, her "so called" friend forever, Laine McCarthy.

It was so easy for me to see signs of "battered woman syndrome" in Laine, wanting to be a part of Leah's "in group," up to the point of allowing herself to be abused. Leah and Laine are like night and day, and they barely seem to meet in the middle.

The title of the book gives you a clue as to the ending of the book, but still you are not ready for the ending and you keep hoping things will turn out better. The control vs. submissive games or "practice" played out by these little girls, gives the brain food for thought on how these patterns may haunt other young children and teens. This story is definitely not one of those "feel good" teen books, but it makes you look at a different side of bullying and abuse. It is not until the end of the book that we understand the reason Leah has tormented Laine.

This is the first book I have read by Knowles and I look forward to more of her work in the future.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (#3 in the Millennium Trilogy) by Stieg Larsson

Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Knopf
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030726999X
ISBN-13: 978-0307269997
Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2010: As the finale to Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is not content to merely match the adrenaline-charged pace that made international bestsellers out of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. Instead, it roars with an explosive storyline that blows the doors off the series and announces that the very best has been saved for last. A familiar evil lies in wait for Lisbeth Salander, but this time, she must do more than confront the miscreants of her past; she must destroy them. Much to her chagrin, survival requires her to place a great deal of faith in journalist Mikael Blomkvist and trust his judgment when the stakes are highest. To reveal more of the plot would be criminal, as Larsson's mastery of the unexpected is why millions have fallen hard for his work. But rest assured that the odds are again stacked, the challenges personal, and the action fraught with neck-snapping revelations in this snarling conclusion to a thrilling triad. This closing chapter to The Girl's pursuit of justice is guaranteed to leave readers both satisfied and saddened once the final page has been turned.
I love Lisbeth Salander - she is the perfect hero. Treated violently throughout her childhood and involuntarily committed to an insane asylum at the age of 11, she has had to fight and claw her way to a somewhat "normal" existence. This last book sees Lisbeth come full circle and open herself to the few friends she truly has in her life.

I was so sad to see this book end because I know there will be not further books by Larsson (he died in 2004, shortly after turning in the manuscripts for all 3 books). There is rumor of a 1/2 finished 4th book, but I'm not sure if this is true.

Without giving away much of the plot, I can honestly say I was happy with the way the trilogy ended. I have told everyone in my life they need to read these books. Larsson had a way with words that truly sucks you right into the story.

There is currently a Swedish film for the first book - entitled "The Man Who Hated Women." They are also in pre-production for an American film and it will have the same title as the American book, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." I currently have the Swedish film in my Netflix queue waiting patiently to watch it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Bullet (#19 Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425234339
ISBN-13: 978-0425234334

From Amazon:
"Anita Blake is back in St. Louis and trying to live a normal life-as normal as possible for someone who is a legal vampire executioner and a U. S. Marshal. There are lovers, friends and their children, school programs to attend. In the midst of all the ordinary happiness a vampire from Anita's past reaches out. She was supposed to be dead, killed in an explosion, but the Mother of All Darkness is the first vampire, their dark creator. It's hard to kill a god. This dark goddess has reached out to her here-in St. Louis, home of everyone Anita loves most. The Mother of All Darkness has decided she has to act now or never, to control Anita, and all the vampires in America."
(Note to new readers: If you are just beginning the Anita Blake books, it is highly recommended you start from the beginning with Guilty Pleasures and read your way to Bullet - with this being the 19th book in the series, Hamilton doesn't waste time with rehashing who each character is. You may be lost if you don't know who is who.)

When it comes to reviewing books by Laurell K. Hamilton, you either LOVE her writing or you HATE her writing - there is very little in-between. I am in the category of LOVING her work. I started out with the Merry Gentry books and absolutely loved her writing - then I moved on the Anita Blake, which I think is an even better series.

For those readers who are more interested in "plot" driven books vs. "character" driven books, then this may not be the book for you. Because this is the 19th book in a series, I am all about the characters over the plot, although I do realize you have to have some type of plot to keep the story moving.

For those readers who have turned against Hamilton's work because of all the real and metaphysical sex, again this may not be the book for you because Bullet is full of both kinds of sex. Personally, the sex is entertaining and takes me away from my everyday problems. The ardeur is present in this book, but it is not as prevalent as it was in the beginning. Anita seems to have more control over the ardeur and is able to feed on the power much better. Of course, there is lots of sex in the book - after all, it is an Anita book - but the majority of the sex is present without the ardeur.

The plot of Bullet is to keep Anita and her vamps and weres safe from the Mother of all Darkness. Supposedly Marmee Noir was killed off a few books ago by a bomb exploding in the "cavern" where she had been asleep for thousands of years. It is learned in Bullet that many on the Vampire Council absorbed bits of the Mother's power and energy. Now the European vamps want to take over and stomp out the American vamps.

After being absent for the majority of the past few books, Richard and Asher are again on center stage. We learn that Richard is beginning to finally accept the fact he is one of the monsters and he starts to work with Jean Claude and Anita instead of working against them. It is a nice change of pace from the arguments and fights found in the beginning of the series. Asher is finally stepping up to the plate and making demands on Jean Claude and Anita, up to the point of taking his werehyenas at going to Narcissus, but I am getting a little tired of Asher's continued pouting - he seems to have picked up where Richard left off. Jean Claude and Anita decide they must keep Asher in their power base, so they give in to a few of his demands.

Up to this point the wereleopards have been my favorite form of weres, but I am starting to have a soft spot for the tigers - brown, red, white, golden, blue - there is just something about them that appeals to me. Saying that, I am glad Anita finally took care of the problem with Haven (Cookie Monster). Nicky is kind of growing on me as a Bride - once I wrapped my head around the idea of a reverse "bride of Dracula"- interesting concept.

The Harlequins make a repeat appearance in Bullet - or at least one of their wereanimals does. The Harlequins are leaning more toward the side of Anita and her group and away from the Vampire Council. I even saw Belle Morte in a different light, especially when she seems as scared of the Mother of all Darkness as everyone else.

I enjoyed this book very much, but as I stated earlier, I am a big fan of Hamilton's work. My only complaint would be the book was not long enough - I would love to see more books closer to the 500 to 600 page range, like Incubus Dreams (2004; 650+ pages) or Danse Macabre (2006; almost 500 pages). I hate that I will have to wait another year for the next installment, but I will be right there on the drop date to buy my copy of the 20th book. Anita rocks my world ...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Proud Graduate

Christine Nicole Rightmyer and her daddy, Keith - graduation night, May 28, 2010

It is hard for me to believe I no longer have a child in high school - where did the years go? My baby - Christine - graduated this past Friday night, with High Honors. To say we are proud of her would be an understatement.

Christine will now have the summer off before packing up to head to Berea College this fall. In case you've forgotten, Christine was awarded a full four-year academic scholarship to Berea. I'm trying very hard not to think about her leaving us, but I am going to miss her so much.

On the grandbaby front - my first grandchild is due any day now. My middle daughter - Marie - has been having some irregular contractions, so I'm hopeful it will be very soon, for her sake. Her due date is June 6th.

At this point in my life, I am still grieving the loss of my mother last week, so my blog posts may be very spotty for the next few weeks/months. In case I don't post again soon, I hope everyone has a fun, healthy, happy summer.

God bless you all ...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bad News ...

... I'm sorry for being so out of touch, but I have some bad news to pass on to all my bloggy friends.

My mom passed away Sunday evening about 6pm. She was only 65 yo, but she had been in poor health for at least the past 6 months. We tried a few things in CCU to try and wake up her kidneys and other organs back up, but when we realized they weren't working, daddy made the decision - the right decision and mom's wishes - to turn all the machines off. She was in no pain and thankfully went peacefully.

Please keep my family in your prayers ...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #14

Trixie Belden and The Mystery of the Emeralds (#14) - 1965

By Kathryn Kenny

After Trixie finds an old letter in her attic, she tries to solve a 100-year-old mystery She and the Bob-Whites go to Williamsburg, Virginia, to find an old plantation house - Rosewood Hall - that was the home to the Sunderland family during the Civil War. Rumor has it that a cursed emerald necklace is buried in a secret passageway there. But after all that time, Rosewood Hall is just a ruin. Is it too late for Trixie to find the missing emeralds?

What I like about this book is the fact that the trail of the mystery starts in Sleepyside and leads Trixie somewhere else. The mystery is well written and it has great scenes with a couple twists, and the suspense will keep you turning pages.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, Book 1) by Melissa De La Cruz

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786838922
ISBN-13: 978-0786838929

From School Library Journal:
De la Cruz has revamped traditional vampire lore in this story featuring a group of attractive, privileged Manhattan teens who attend a prestigious private school. Schuyler Van Alen, 15, the last of the line in a distinguished family, is being raised by her distant and forbidding grandmother. Schuyler, her friend Oliver, and their new friend Dylan are treated like outsiders by the clique of popular, athletic, and beautiful teens made up of Mimi Force, her twin brother, and her best friend. What they have in common is the fact that they are all Blue Bloods, or vampires. They don't realize that they aren't normal until they reach age 15.
Schuyler Van Alen, age 15, has always been the outcast at her upscale private school. She thinks of herself as just a normal teenager, living a normal life, and who doesn't seem to fit in, nor does she try to fit in. Oliver Hazard-Perry is Schuyler's best friend, and when a student at their school turns up dead, the two friends start to investigate.

Suddenly Schuyler learns she is a member of an elite "family" of vampires, The Blue Bloods. The Blue Bloods came to America on The Mayflower trying to escape the one thing that can kill them, the Silver Bloods. For centuries they've lived in peace, but now the danger is back.

This book is full of "Paris Hilton-like" characters - Mimi and Jack Force, the top dog socialites, and Mimi's BFF Bliss Llewellyn, who is a newcomer from Texas. This story has a "Gossip Girl" type appeal, and although I didn't much care for the obsession with fashion, but it was essential to show the different sides of these characters. I instantaneously hated Mimi, but I fell in love with Schuyler. She is very likable, cute, smart, and street smart. I look forward to seeing her character grow, and I look forward to more interactions between her and Oliver.

I realize that most "vampire" books are compared with Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight", but this book has a different take on the vampire theme. I enjoyed the story and it managed to keep my interest throughout. This book is similar to creative non-fiction, because the author inserts real historical events - like the disappearance of the original Roanoke colony - which make it an intriguing story. Consumption killed most of the original Roanoke colony and there was once a period in history where people actually did equate consumption with vampirism.

This is the first book in the Blue Blood series. The next books are: Masquerade, Revelations and The Van Alen Legacy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416989412
ISBN-13: 978-1416989417

From School Library Journal
High school sophomore Nora Grey, a dedicated student striving for a college scholarship, lives with her widowed mother in a country farmhouse outside Portland, ME. When Patch, her new biology partner, is suddenly thrust into her life, Nora is both attracted to his charm and put off by his inexplicable awareness of her thoughts. Eventually, she learns that he is a fallen angel who wants to become human. She is susceptible to his control, but other forces are at work as well, and Nora finds herself caught in the middle of dangerous situations and unexplainable events.
Hush, Hush is a new paranormal YA book that takes us away from the well-used genre of vampires. It is full of suspense and mystery with an ending that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Fitzpatrick has hit the ball out of the park with her debut novel, making me eager for the second book in the series.

Nora Grey is the typical girl next door, trying to come to grips with the death of her father, while being left alone much of the time as her mother works away from home. An excellent high school student, Nora and her BFF, Vee, love shopping and talking about boys, although neither have a current boyfriend.

Then Nora is forced to be lab partners with the gorgeous mystery boy, Patch. Patch is new to school and after partnering with Nora, sparks seems to fly between the two. Nora is uncertain of her feelings toward Patch - she gets a "bad boy" vibe from him, but can't help the growing attraction she feels toward him.

Suddenly, Nora is being followed by a stranger in a ski mask and is having "visions" of events that don't seem to be happening. Did she really hit the ski masked man with her car? Did she really fall out of a roller coaster?

Nora becomes convinced that Elliot - another new boy at school - is behind all her problems, while Vee is convinced Nora's problems are because of Patch. The conclusion of this mystery had me guessing to the very end and I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Although the genre of fallen angels is starting to become a staple in the YA world, Fitzpatrick seems to have a different take on the idea and created a totally believable fantasy story. Her dialogue is typical of modern day teenagers and she has tapped into their emotions with accuracy.

The next book in this series is Crescendo and will be released in November. I, for one, will be waiting anxiously for this new release. Becca Fitzpatrick has cemented herself as an up and coming figure for YA audiences.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #13

Trixie Belden and The Mystery on Cobbett's Island (#13) 1965

By Kathryn Kenny

"When the Bob-Whites arrive on Cobbett’s Island for vacation, Trixie finds a mysterious letter. Many years ago, a fortune was hidden. But the clues in the letter are hard for Trixie to understand. What does “start sailing” mean? Is this a treasure hunt on land . . . or on sea?"
Honey and Jim have invited the Bob-Whites to a vacation on Cobbett's Island. When Trixie announces she just wants to relax, none of her friends believe her - Trixie relax? Yeah, right!

The gang arrives on Cobbett's Island just as a fierce storm hits. The Bob-Whites find a letter in the library of the house they are staying in and it sends them on a treasure hunt to find some missing money.

This is one of my favorites in the series, because everyone is having fun and they come together in the end to solve the mystery. The characters are shown without some of considerable flaws being over exaggerated like in other books. Even Diana - the 'fraidy cat of the bunch - is able to contribute.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #12

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

By Kathryn Kenny

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

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

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Meeting Dad

by Brian Russell (author);
Katerina Stoykova-Klemer (editor);
Simeon Kondev (illustrator)

Paperback: 27 pages
Publisher: Accents Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984411836
ISBN-13: 978-0984411832

This slim chapbook is a heartwarming look at a son who feels abandoned by his birth father. The raw emotion of this young man as he tries to find answers in his father's actions oozes off the pages. With divorce rates almost 50% in our country, there are many boys who are faced with this same situation - Brian Russell gives a voice to these boys.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Before I Fall

"Before I Fall" by Lauren Oliver

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006172680X
ISBN-13: 978-0061726804

I'm usually picky about books when it comes to first time authors, but something about the description on the jacketflap caught the attention of my muse and I had to buy this book. And now I'm very glad I did!

This is the story of Sam(antha), a spoiled little rich girl who has never wanted for anything. We get to know Sam and her snobby, spoiled friends at the beginning of the story and you have to be patient as you are introduced to them because I instantly hated them all. Just when you think you've had enough of them, they end up being in a deadly crash. But this is not the end of the story, it is only the beginning.

Oliver's debut novel is a frank and full of teenage insights and startling candidness. At times the story gives you a brutal look at high school social circles, complete with the careless cruelties and bullying that occurs on a daily basis.

Sam is one of the mean girls - or at least, she runs with the mean crowd. They all think they are better than everyone else, but even with the complex and carefully plotted events, Oliver has peeled back the layers of these girls' lives and taught us that every little deed has a consequence. Through a series of events, like Groundhog Day, Sam will live the same day over and over until she can set events in her life to order.

Sam is in the "in-crowd" and likes it there. She's part of the group that mistreats all the other "nobodies" at her school and is proud of it. Sam is not a likable character at the beginning of the novel, but as her character is revealed and we learn a few things she has done in her life that morphs her into a true, selfless, and caring heroine, despite her many flaws. Watching this spoiled girl realize how wrong she has been is satisfying, and seeing her struggle to become a better person with only one day was spellbinding. Wondering how she is going to changed things makes you not want to put this book down (hence the reason I read it in one sitting!).

I won't spoil what occurs in the book, but I should warn you that this book is not meant for the younger crowd. Oliver paints a realistic picture of teen youth, including alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and peer pressure.

"Before I Fall" is a haunting and beautiful book and it will remain on your mind long after you turn the last page.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #11

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

By Kathryn Kenny

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

Although I enjoy most of the Trixie Belden books, this is problem my least favorite - I think because the thought of being in a cave scares the bejeezus out of me!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #10

Trixie Belden #10 - The Marshland Mystery - 1962

By Kathryn Kenny

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #9

Trixie Belden #9 - The Happy Valley Mystery - 1962

By Kathryn Kenny

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #8

Trixie Belden #8 - The Black Jacket Mystery - 1961

by Kathryn Kenny

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

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

In another storyline, a catamount (short-tailed wildcat) is loose on the Wheeler's game preserve. Is the gang safe when they go horseback riding? Just another mystery for the Bob-Whites to try and solve.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #7

Trixie Belden #7 - The Mysterious Code - 1961

By Kathryn Kenny

After a string of vandalism in the community, the Sleepyside school board targets "gangs" for extinction including the Bob-Whites of the Glen (B.W.G.) - and you thought gangs in the 21st century were a new phase.

To prove the B.W.G.s are a group of peace and not vandalism, Trixie comes up with the idea of having an antique show to benefit UNICEF (how appropriate the date of this review is 2 days before Halloween - I still remember trick-or-treating for UNICEF!) While trying to find antiques to sell, Trixie discovers a key in the Wheelers' attic, leading her straight into another mystery. Attached to the key is a tag with a coded message.

While babysitting her little brother, Trixie and Bobby are robbed by three masked men as the men are stealing antiques from a neighbor. When the B.W.G.s report the robbery to policeman Spider Webster, Spider seems unconcerned. Trixie becomes convinced someone has targeted people with antiques and she is afraid the antique show collection will be the next target. Do the robberies and the mysterious code have anything to do with each other? Leave it to Trixie and the Bob-Whites to solve this mystery.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Speaking Out

Here is the cover for the newest book by Mercer County writers - SPEAKING OUT Volume 2 - edited by Roni Gilpin and Betty Dean.

I am happy to say I have several poems and one essay featured in this new collection. My poem - "See Me" - is the first poem in the book - I was told it sets the tone for the entire book.

SPEAKING OUT will be available within the next few weeks, so I'll keep everyone updated on when and where it can be purchased.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #6

Trixie Belden #6 - The Mystery in Arizona - 1958

By Julie Campbell

Trixie and the rest of the Bob-Whites are off to spend the Christmas holiday at Di's Uncle Monty's dude ranch in Arizona. At first, Trixie was afraid she would not be allowed to go because her school work wasn't up to par. But after her brothers, Brian and Mart, put in a good word for her, Trixie is allowed to go on one condition: she must work on her algebra and English theme at least one hour every day. Bummer!

After a long flight to Arizona, the gang is rearing to go, only there is a problem. Uncle Monty's hired help mysteriously packed up in the middle of the night and left. There is a ranch full of guests and no one to take care of them. It looks like the Bob-Whites will have to turn around and go home! But leave it to Trixie to come up with a plan.

Much to the chagrin of the others, Trixie volunteers the Bob-Whites to be the kitchen help and maids. The boys end up cooking and waiting tables, while the girls are left to wash dishes and make beds. Some holiday!

Even with all the work to be done, and Trixie's daily homework to complete, there is still time for some riding and picnicking, as well as a mystery to solve.

This book is the first time all the Bob-Whites have traveled out of state together, so the change of surroundings was interesting. However, I did miss the escapades of little Bobby and the interaction with Reagan and Miss Trask.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #5

Trixie Belden #5 - The Mystery Off Glen Road - 1956

By Julie Campbell

If you've read the first book in this series - The Secret Manison - you will remember that Jim left Trixie a diamond ring. Because of Trixie's "tomboy" nature, her parents are keeping the ring for her until she grows up. In The Mystery Off Glen Road, Trixie is trying to convince her parents she is grown up and feminine enough so they will give her the ring.

The real reason Trixie wants the diamond ring is so she can use it as collateral for her oldest brother, Brian - he is trying to buy his dream jalopy (car), but doesn't have the money for a downpayment. Trixie feels she and her brothers can earn the money, if they can convince the owner not to sell the car to someone else.

In another story line, the Wheeler's surly gamekeeper quits without notice. Trixie and Honey agree to take on the gamekeeper's duties - again to help Brian earn money for his car. But another mystery hits the Bob Whites, and they soon fear a poacher is loose in the Wheeler's game preserve.

This book really shows Trixie's determination in following through with a project. She cares more about helping her brother than doing things for herself. This is a lesson that siblings today could learn from.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #4

Trixie Belden #4 - The Mysterious Visitor - 1954

by Julie Campbell

In this book, we get to meet a classmate of Trixie and the Bob Whites', Diana "Di" Lynch. Di started out as a regular girl next door, just like Trixie, but her family has recently become wealthy, and she is having trouble adjusting to changes in her life.

True to form, Trixie and Honey befriend Di and before you know it another mystery unfolds. Di's Uncle Monty (her mother's brother) has reappeared after years of living in Arizona. Suspicious Trixie thinks he's a big fake and can't help wondering if the Lynch family money has anything to do with his arrival.

The storyline in this book is similar to conflict between Jim and his uncle, but it is still a good mystery. We will be seeing more of Di and her family in future books.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Specter Key Cover

The readers have spoken! Here is the winning cover for the work-in-prograss by Kaleb Nation, Bran Hambric: The Specter Key!

The contest was sponsored by TeenFire, the newest networking site by Sourcebooks. If you haven't already checked out TeenFire and you love Young Adult book, then you have got to see this wonderful site.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Women of Mercer County

You are cordially invited to a

Book Release Party


“The Women of Mercer County”

Sunday, January 31, 2010
from 3 to 5pm at Beaumont Inn.

Join James Harrod Trust as we celebrate the release of
“The Women of Mercer County,”
which features more than 125 stories.

The book will be available for purchase for $20.

(A total of 400 copies of the book will be for sale. After the event, the remaining books will be available at The Harrodsburg Herald, Beaumont Inn, J. Sampson Antiques & Books, and Harrodsburg/Mercer County Tourist Commission)

The Book Release event will include several authors reading
their stories or excerpts from their stories.

All authors are encouraged to attend to be able to sign books.
Cake, punch and coffee will be served.

The public is invited.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - The Gatehouse Mystery

Trixie Belden #3 - The Gatehouse Mystery - 1951
by Julie Campbell

Jim Frayne is now officially Honey's new brother because her parents decided to adopt him. And Honey couldn't be happier; she always wanted a sibling. Jim now lives on the Wheeler estate, but he still has his own money in trust account, thanks to the fortune of his great-uncle.

The Gatehouse Mystery focuses on a mysterious new chauffeur hired by the Wheeler family. But Trixie thinks there is something funny going on with this man and she just doesn't trust him. Someone has been sneaking into the gatehouse behind the Wheeler estate and Trixie is determined to find out who. Trixie and Honey have also found a diamond, which Honey says does not belong to either of her parents.

This book is the first time we get a hint of the Bob-White Club that will be formed. The Bob-Whites include Trixie and Honey, as well as Jim and Trixie's older brothers, Brian and Mart.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - The Red Trailer Mystery

Trixie Belden #2 - The Red Trailer Mystery - 1950
by Julie Campbell

We learned at the end of The Secret of the Mansion that Jim Frayne had ran away. His great uncle's lawyer showed up, revealing that Jim had inherited half-a-million dollars and is going to finally be removed from his abusive stepfather's custody.

The Red Trailer Mystery picks up there. Trixie and Honey - along with Honey's governess, Miss Trask - set off in the Wheeler's trailer to find their missing friend. They make a plan to check several boy's camps upstate, since Jim mentioned getting a job there. The problem is, Jim always appears to be one step ahead of them.

On the trip, Trixie and Honey are faced with an interesting obstacle. At the trailer park where they are staying, there is a family living next door in a very fancy trailer. This family does not appear to be the owners of the trailer. They make friends with Mrs. Smith who is a very motherly person, and Trixie and Honey learn that her daughter is missing.

While trying to help this family and look for Jim at the same time, they become entangled in a trailer robbing ring; and there are two suspicious workers at their trailer camp who may or may not be involved. Trixie knows that the mysteries are all tied together and the answer lies somewhere in the nearby forest, if only they could find it.

This book ends on a truly happy note. Once again, Trixie saves the day - with a little help from her friends.

Friday, January 1, 2010

3 KY Authors to read at Carmichael's Bookstore

Sunday, January 31, 2010, Carmichael's Bookstore in Louisville,KY will host readings featuring three talented writers. Poet Katerina Stoykova-Klemer, a recent graduate of Spalding University’s MFA program and the author of Air Around the Butterfly, a book of poems in English and her native Bulgarian. She is the host of Accents, a radio show for literature, arts and culture that airs on Lexington’s WRFL. Katerina is the founder and leader of poetry and prose groups for writers in Lexington. Her poems and stories have appeared in literary publications in the U. S. and Europe and have been nominated for several literary awards. Angela Jackson-Brown is a poet and writer who will read from her recent work which includes a story in the newest issue of New Southerner magazine. Angela teaches English at Ball State University and is a graduate of Spalding’s MFA in Creative Writing program. She is working on a novel, a collection of short stories set during the Harlem Renaissance and a poetry collection. The third reader is local favorite Sheri Wright. Sheri is the author of four books of poetry including the forthcoming The Courtship of Reason, which will be published in March by Kentucky’s Finishing Line Press.