Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: Legend of the White Wolf by Terry Spear

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402219059
ISBN-13: 978-1402219054

From the Publisher:

In this fourth in Spear's series, Private Eye Cameron MacPherson and Faith O'Mallery are both on quests that lead them into the world of magical wolves…

Cameron arrives in the Canadian Arctic to search for his partners in his P.I. business who are late returning from a hunting trip. Faith is there to discover what her father had seen in the same area years earlier that had made him lose touch with reality—man-wolves, he called them.

The two tumble into an icy world of enemies bent on destroying the lupus garou kind. As they turn into lupus garou themselves, and bond with the pack that only they can rescue from destruction, Cameron and Faith find their soul mates in each other.

First, to set the record straight, the book takes place just outside of Millinocket, Maine, a town not far from Bangor (though the Canadian Arctic does get mentioned several times as the summer home of the wolves.) Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about the book:

We meet Cameron and Faith as a strange "accident" leaves the two of them in the same hotel room. With even more accidents involving keys locked in rooms, etc., Cameron and Faith seem to be becoming friends. When they both end up at the same place to investigate their individual mysteries and they find a dead man. It appears that what they were looking into separately may have things in common, after all.

The book focuses more on the wolf element than the mystery of the dead man, though everything is truly intertwined. I found it to be a bit repetitive at times, going over the transformations from man to wolf many times, as well as both Cameron's and Faith's inner thoughts and their resistance to each other.

The author, Terry Spear, tended to make the bad guys appear tougher then they really ended up being, in attempts to gradually make for happy endings all around (except for a select few who had to suffer the consequences of their actions.) There were also a few too many points of view involved but not to the confusing point. It was clear whose perpective we were getting at any given point.

There was alot of talk about snow, so it's a good read for winter time when we're already feeling the effects of the cold weather. Legend of the White Wolf is a cute adult version of the werewolf tales so popular in young adult novels.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

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.

I know, I know, you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but from the moment I saw The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink, it nagged at me to buy it. It just seemed mysterious, maybe a little creepy, definitely dark. I hadn't picked it up yet but Mel @ He Followed Me Home asked if I could give her some input on it, so I borrowed hers and, well, devoured it. On my way back from returning it to her, I immediately stopped to purchase my own copy.

Prophecy of the Sisters takes place in a small town New York in the late 1800's. The twin girls live in a large manor house, set a distance from the town, and surrounded by woods, a river and cliffs. As we start the book, the girls are at the funeral of their father. (See what I mean? Perfect setting for dark themes!)

Lia is the narrator, so we get to see her inner workings very well. Her twin sister Alice, is another story, having been involved in some sinister actions. Lia is unaware of the Prophecy mentioned but gradually comes to the realization of its effect on her and her twin's life.

We get a taste of scary nightmarish-realms, a strange bond between the sisters that transcends the love/hate relationship, and find out about what their father was working on before his death, that could potentially put an end to the Prophecy or see it to its ultimate, disastrous fruition.

There are some parts of the story that left me wanting more; the relationship between Lia and James is only touched on but I can see where he may play a larger role in the future. Also, the Prophecy itself is multifaceted and left me with some confusion. But I am confident that anything that was unclear or untouched will become known throughout the future book(s).

I have done nothing but rave about this book since reading it, though I can't really pinpoint why it effected me so much. Perhaps its the dark imagery invoked or the multiple myths/legends/folklore that are blended into the story. I know for sure that I'm very much looking forward to continuing this story when Guardian of the Gate gets released in August of this year.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago

Phew, I'm not sure where to start with this one. Ok, let me begin with the writing style. I don't recall reading a book that has forced me to look up so many words, ever, and what is weird with this is that it is a translated book! From page one, I was researching "matutinal", then on to terms like "bactrachian" and "lucubrations"...but wait a minute, there was also "joe schmoe". Seriously, is there a Portugese equivalent to joe schmoe? I haven't even learned these words in English yet (except for joe schmoe, I've heard that one before) nevermind what their equivalents would be elsewhere in the world. I was fascinated! Then there were the "paragraphs", and I use quotations here because some of them ran on for four or more pages, quite often only including only 3 or so sentences. The author completely puts my comma usage to shame! There are also no quotations used in the book. Most sentences were the largest of run-ons I've ever come across but also containing the dialogue only separated by the commas and the change of speaker only indicated by a capital letter....God help us if a statement of dialogue began with "I", then all was almost lost. I have never experienced anything like Death with Interruptions before but I feel infinitely smarter for having read it.

Jose Saramago touches on all facets imaginable and unimaginable, if, for some reason, death (the small "d" in the name is important) just didn't work anymore. From the effects on the insurance and mortuary businesses to the precarious border situations with neighbouring countries (when it has been realized that death will still occur if the sick that can't die in one country are taken across the border to another country to finalize the deed.) He even gives an arguement, by mathematical calculations (not the actual math, but the common sense to the numbers approach) that shows in certain cases, euthanasia is more than acceptable, it's a necessary solution. My mind reels (and probably will for some time) with the implications as described by the author.

Mr. Saramago leaves no stone unturned, from the government's constant attempts to cover its ass (including dealings with the maphia ("with a distiguish...from the original mafia...") to the Catholic church working on new dogma to explain why something (eternal life) that "was once bestowed as a favor to one individual...had been replaced by a depersonalized, global gift..." . We see the micro and macro (potential) effects from responsibilities at home to those in nursing homes and hospitals (there are so many old people now that they're being put in attics) and finally, to the overall fiscal damage involved.

But this book is not all thinly veiled accusations at these establishments. It also includes some harsh, sad realities, as, early in the story, a mere infant is on the verge of death but is unable to succumb to it. It's a heartbreaking tale yet sarcastically, ironically witty. So much thought appears to have gone into this work that I'm amazed it didn't span several volumes. Our constant ventures to search for fountains of youth or eternal life are systematically criticized and contradicted by common sense.

Death begins a new routine to notify people, giving them a weeks notice prior to their death. Then the author points out the absurdity of it all describing how she gets out of sealing envelopes by licking them (because death has no lips, only bone, right?) with the new "technology" of self-seal envelopes. Death then begins to ponder email as a more reliable source of delivery. There is a timeless feel that is contradicted by these elements, in weird. anachronistic twists. The spin involved is often humorous yet all too true (in the nonsensical sense.)

Mr Saramago also delights in the breaking down of certain common turns-of-phrase, demonstrating how misleading they can be. I think the only statement he didn't tear down was that of "The only sure things in life are death and taxes", but what he did was virtually eliminate one of these certainties.

By the end, I felt sorry for death, poor thing that she is. This was the power of the writing in this book. I was confused about the timing of the story, though, as the letters mentioned above were implimented many months after her original work stoppage yet the stoppage occurred by an undeliverable letter and her follow-up investigation into why. The whole of it seems to contradict itself. My only conclusion is that it's Mr. Saramago's final attempt to mess with the reader, which he seems to have done fairly well through the book's entirety.

Death with Interruptions is an adventure in thought, life and the English language (and many other languages, too) but most definitely not a light-weight read. While at times it was a bit draining, overall I very much enjoyed it.

Waiting on Wednesday - Feb. 24, 2010

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we get to share which upcoming reads/new releases that we just can't wait to get our hands on.

I read Lamb by Christopher Moore (click on the title to read the review which posted on my old blog) last year and since then have been collecting his books. Sadly, I haven't been able to read any of the ones I've picked up, with all of my other commitments recently, but the works of Mr. Moore are never far out of reach for me. I have every intention of gathering all of his books for my personal library; he is a wickedly funny writer! To this end , my WoW for this week is Bite Me (published by Harper Collins) which releases on March 23, 2010. Check it out:

While some young lovers were born to run, Jody and Tommy were born to bite. Well, reborn, that is, now that they're vampires. Good thing theirs is an undying love since their Goth Gal Friday, Abby Normal, imprisoned them in a bronze statue in her living room.

Abby still wants to be a bloodsucking fiend, but right now she's really busy trying to break in a pair of red vinyl thigh-high Skankenstein platform boots and wrangle her manga-love monkey Foo Dog (a.k.a. Steve the bio-chem Ph.D. candidate). And then there's Chet, the shaved vampire cat (and his recently turned meowing minions) stalking the streets of San Francisco. Abby thought she and Steve could stop the ravenous pussycat, oh mais non, they need Jody and Tommy.

Chet, it seems, has a weird reaction to vampirism. He's getting bigger and smarter, and starting to think and act human. Just as Tommy, Jody, Abby, and Steve, along with the turkey-bowling Safeway crew, the Emperor of San Francisco and his trusty dogs Lazarus and Bummer, Abby's gay goth friend Jared, and Tommy's nemeses, SF's finest Cavuto and Rivera, get locked and loaded to hunt big cat, three very old vampires show up--and suddenly everyone's fair game.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Point (Jan 1 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545140315
ISBN-13: 978-0545140317


Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating, so she vows: No more. She’s had one too many bad dates, and has been hurt by one too many bad boys. It’s a personal choice... and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. It’s about much more than romance gone awry--it’s also about the way girls bend over backward to get guys, and how they end up prioritizing boyfriends over real friends. Penny thinks she might be crazy for saying these things--but soon a few other girls are inspired, and a movement is born. Girls are soon thronging to The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the Sgt. Pepper’s band) and Penny finds herself near legendary for her nondating ways--which is too bad, since the leader of The Lonely Hearts Club has found a certain boy she can’t help but like...

In the beginning, Penny is recounting to the reader the story of her summer and why she has decided to start her Lonely Hearts Club, with a membership of one person. As a mom, I wanted to wring her neck for her actions. But as I was discussing this part with my best friend, we got on to the topic of when we were that age which brought a sudden (and very scary) understanding (and maybe a need to lock my daughter away in a high tower when she hits the puberty years.)

From a broken-hearted perspective, though, I totally got what Penny was saying. Girls are very silly when it comes to boys, no matter the age. It is a sad, almost universal truth. But she has a strong mind and isn't going to let herself get carried away again. The club soon becomes about supporting each other, not only to deal with the heartaches, but also, and maybe more importantly in achieving individual goals.

The chapter titles come from Beatles' songs (titles and/or lyrics) and as such, make you want to sing the songs as you read. It's a great way to remind people of how great these songs are but also sharing with the younger generation some awesome musical history, too.

The Lonely Hearts Club is a cute book with a strong message to teenage girls: to stay true to themselves first. What a fun read!

Teaser Tuesday - Feb.23, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here is how it works:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser comes from Chantel Simmons' Love Struck (pg. 78 of ARC):

"Like a free lip implant!" she exclaimed. In fact, I'd always thought her fuller lips explained her impressive dating career in the two years between university and meeting Terrence."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale

Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (Jan 26 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402237014
ISBN-13: 978-1402237010

From the Publisher:

Laura Kinsale's unique and powerfully written love stories transcend the romance genre. In this, her first new book in five years, she delivers a poignant, funny, sexy, Regency romance sure to delight her many fans and attract a whole new readership.

Trevelyan and Callie are childhood sweethearts with a taste for adventure, until the fateful day her father discovers them embracing in the carriage house and, in a furious frenzy, drives Trevelyan away in disgrace. Nine long, lonely years later, Trevelyan returns. Callie discovers that he can still make her blood race and fill her life with excitement, but he can't give her the one thing she wants more than anything—himself.

For Trevelyan, Callie is a spark of light in a world of darkness and deceit. Before he can bear to say his last goodbyes, he's determined to sweep her into one last, fateful adventure, just for the two of them.

Poor Callie is down in the dumps, having been engaged then left hanging three times. She now has quite the self-esteem problem. Along comes Trevelyan, with whom Callie has some interesting history, just in time to liven things up in her life. But Trevelyan has had his own issues recently, making him a wanted man.

There are elements throughout where you just want to shake the two of them and get them discuss things. But, we have to endure some of the characters' stupidity in the name of suspense and fun. The two of them do seem well paired with Callie, the shy one and Trev, the bold, brash one. Sadly, it seems that the society of those times will erect every barrier possible to keep them from being together.

The book goes from extremes of proper English court (while the story takes place in a country town, the rules of society still apply) to the mischief that happens behind closed doors. We see some sadness as we learn Trev fought with Napoleon only to be captured by the English, though his loyalties always remained true. He was just a victim of circumstance while trying to stay alive to recapture a lost dream.

From the cover, I was immediately expecting Lessons in French to be a cheesy romance novel. What I wasn't prepared for was the quick wit in Laura Kinsale's writing. I very much enjoyed this book, with its crazy cow in a kitchen scenario and the main characters resorting to disguising themselves to make things happen. I have never as much cared about the outcome for a fictional animal as I did for Herbert (when you read it you'll see what I mean.)

Lessons in French is a fun romp through Regency Romance, for sure!

In My Mailbox Monday: Feb. 22, 2010

In My Mailbox, hosted by The Story Siren and Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page, are weekly memes where we get to share what awesome books we've received in the mail over the last week. I've participated in both before but thought that, being so similar, I'd combine them here this week.

Sophie Miller is a totally average third grade girl. She's a middle child, lives in a town called Ordinary, and has finished third in every race she's ever run. Boring! But Sophie is determined to find a name that proves just how special she really is. It doesn't take long before she comes across the perfect title--Sophie the Awesome! But living up to a name like that takes more than just determination, especially if super-annoying Toby Myers has anything to say about it. Can Sophie prove her awesomeness...and prove everyone wrong?

Trackers by Patrick Carman (no cover art available):

In the 21st century landscape of bits and bytes, everyone leaves a digital footprint--even the most advanced cyber criminals. And that's where the Trackers come in. Four tech-savvy kids armed with high-tech video cameras and esoteric coding skills, the trackers can find almost anyone, anywhere. Through a collage of videos, text, and websites, Trackers #1 follows Adam, Finn, Lewis and Emily as they become entangled in a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat and mouse with Shantorian, the world's most dangerous hacker. At least, that's who they think they're tracking... As the four dig deeper into the shadowy world of online crime, they soon learn that things aren't always as they seem.

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan (no cover art available):

Seventeen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She's really Phoebe, the lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That's the only way to explain her cold, manipulative mother, distant stepfather, and good-for-nothing brother; Bronwen must have been switched at birth, and she can't wait to get back to her real family. Then she meets Jared. He's sweet, funny, everything she wants-and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted too. When he proposes four months after they meet, she says yes. But as the wedding day approaches, Bronwen begins to wonder if Jared is truly what she needs. And if he's not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lillywhite do?

The Deadlies are like any other family with a loving mother and bright, rambunctious children. Except they're spiders. Really, really poisonous ones. Still, Edith and her children are cultured and kind. In fact, they're music lovers and had been living in a Boston symphony hall until Edith's son, Felix, had a...misunderstanding with the maestro. Now they have to outwit overzealous arachnologists and evil exterminators as they hunt for a new home. Will they ever find a place to live in peace? A funny, easy-to-read book with gentle illustrations, The Deadlies is sure to be a hit with the chapter book set!

Whenever Jem meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such an awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. But while they’re waiting to ride the Eye Ferris wheel, Jem notices that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today’s number. Today’s date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem’s world is about to explode!

Rumors of ruined maidens, coldblooded duels, swindles, and murder swirl around the impoverished 'Devil Earl.' But Faelan Savigar hides an even darker secret. Roderica Delamore longs for a normal life but fears she'll end up mad or suicidal like the forebears from whom she inherited her "gift" of sensing others thoughts and emotions. As the two find their way to each other against all odds, Roddy's growing love for Faelen may end up saving him or destroying her…

A breathtaking historical romance filled with poignancy, darkness, love, and an unexpected twist of Gaelic magic…

All the romance of the beautiful Cornish coast and a wealth of local color add richness to a story that crosses the centuries.

When a Hollywood scandal leaves her life and her marriage in ruins, Blythe Stowe escapes to the wild coast of Cornwall and a cottage by the sea. There she finds herself both physically drawn to her handsome neighbor, Lucas Teague, and literally drawn into a haunting 200-yearold love story as an elaborate family tree on his study wall sends her rushing back into the past. As Blythe struggles to make sense of what is happening and discovers family secrets that have been long concealed, she realizes Lucas holds the key to both her past and her future…

A voyage of discoveries, a meeting of two remarkable women, and extraordinary time and place enrich bestselling author Tracy Chevalier's enthralling new novel

From the moment she's struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear that Mary Anning is marked for greatness. On the windswept, fossil-strewn beaches of the English coast, she learns that she has "the eye"—and finds what no one else can see. When Mary uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious fathers on edge, the townspeople to vicious gossip, and the scientific world alight. In an arena dominated by men, however, Mary is barred from the academic community; as a young woman with unusual interests she is suspected of sinful behavior. Nature is a threat, throwing bitter, cold storms and landslips at her. And when she falls in love, it is with an impossible man.

Luckily, Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a recent exile from London, who also loves scouring the beaches. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty, mutual appreciation, and barely suppressed envy. Ultimately, in the struggle to be recognized in the wider world, Mary and Elizabeth discover that friendship is their greatest ally.

Remarkable Creatures is a stunning novel of how one woman's gift transcends class and social prejudice to lead to some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century. Above all, is it a revealing portrait of the intricate and resilient nature of female friendship.

A stunning historical novel, 'The Book of Fires' is the unforgettable story of Agnes Trussel -- and love, fireworks and redemption. Brought up in rural Sussex, seventeen-year-old Agnes Trussel is carrying an unwanted child. Taking advantage of the death of her elderly neighbour, Agnes steals her savings and runs away to London. On her way she encounters the intriguing Lettice Talbot who promises that she will help Agnes upon their arrival. But Agnes soon becomes lost in the dark, labyrinthine city. She ends up at the household of John Blacklock, laconic firework-maker, becoming his first female assistant. The months pass and it becomes increasingly difficult for Agnes to conceal her secret. Soon she meets Cornelius Soul, seller of gunpowder, and hatches a plan which could save her from ruin. Yet why does John Blacklock so vehemently disapprove of Mr Soul? And what exactly is he keeping from her? Could the housekeeper, Mrs Blight, with her thirst for accounts of hangings, suspect her crime or condition? Historical fiction at its very best, 'The Book of Fires' is utterly intriguing, completely compelling and impossible to put down.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Feb. 22, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

So, I skipped this meme (and all the others) last week. We had a holiday on Monday and it just threw me for the week, lol. I hate when that happens :-p

Over the last week, here's what I accomplished:

I finished reading Legend of the White Wolf by Terry Spear

I read chapters 3 and 4 of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver and have started on chapter 5

And (this is a big one for me) I finally, finally, finally finished Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago.

I've also started reading Love Struck by Chantel Simmons

For this week, my plan is to finish Before I Fall and Love Struck, and get started on Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer. I'm excited about this one, I've heard so much about Heyer through many bloggers but this is my first experience reading her work.

I will also be working on The Wrecker by Clive Cussler. I had started it a while ago and enjoyed the imagery in the first part of the story but set it aside. I'm going to start again and see how it goes.

I have finally caught up on all pending reviews, which will be posting throughout this week as well as all of my meme's. I'm feeling a bit like Wonder Woman at the moment, though I know this will quickly dissipate as I read more books and try to stay on top of everything. I will trudge on though!

What does your week have in store for you?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: The Clone Codes by The McKissacks

The Clone Codes
By Patricia C. McKissack, Frederick L. McKissack, and John McKissack

From the Publisher:

The Cyborg Wars are over and Earth has peacefully prospered for more than one hundred years. Yet sometimes history must repeat itself until humanity learns from its mistakes. In the year 2170, cyborgs and clones are treated no better than slaves, and an underground abolitionist movement is fighting for freedom. Thirteen-year-old Leanna’s entire life is thrown into chaos when the World Federation discovers her mom is part of the radical Liberty Bell Movement. As startling family secrets are revealed, Leanna must face truths about self-identity and freedom. Through time travel, advanced technologies, and artificial intelligence, this exhilarating adventure asks what it means to be human and explores the sacrifices an entire society will make to find out.

The Clone Codes is set in a futuristic world where Earth now has the technology to clone humans and create cyborgs (humans with mechanical/electronic parts). The clones' skin is shaded certain colours to distinguish their purpose and cyborgs are stamped/tattooed to indicate there difference from "humans". Both of these new life forms, though, are deemed as less than human and are restricted from some parts of society.

Leanna attends a virtual school and as we start the book, she is running with slaves, attempting to escape to the underground railroad. This actually blends in beautifully with the story as we see more about The Liberty Bell Movement and what the restrictions placed on the cyborgs and the clones truly means.

I think this is an excellent story for kids around the 9-12 age range, when they are learning alot about history, especially slavery. We see many tie-ins between America's past and this fictional future world. There is an awesome summary at the back that reinforces the historical facts while differentiating the fictional parts that are woven through the book.

The Clone Codes is a book I probably wouldn't have picked up while looking around a bookstore. It does have a cute cover but I'm not sure the premise made it as appealing as it actually is. I'm very glad now that I've read it and will be passing it on to my daughter in a year or two, when she's a bit more involved in chapter books (this is something she's just beginning with in school.) I very much enjoyed the story and actually felt an open-endedness to it that could evolve into more from Leanna's world.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review: Gone by Lisa McMann (Wake, book 3)

From the publisher:

Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she’d made her peace with it. But she can’t handle dragging Cabel down with her.

She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He’s amazing. And she’s a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves—she has to disappear. And it’s going to kill them both.

Then a stranger enters her life--and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she’d ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out....

Gone is the third book in the Wake series by Lisa McMann (I've previously reviewed the first two books in the series: Wake and Fade). I was anxious to see where things were headed, how they would conclude in this YA set. I have to say, Gone left me a bit disappointed. Some of the elements of the story did not wrap as nicely as I would have liked or they just didn't wrap up at all which actually leaves me hopeful. I think there is room for more from the main characters, Janie and Cabel, and have my fingers crossed the Lisa McMann may continure their story in the future.

In fact, all three of the books were quite small. I feel they could have been made in to a single, three sectioned book and that would have made book one in a series that might have delved into things like MRI's for Janie or continuing the sleep lab experiment, while adding in some trickier, more entertaining cases with the Captain. Perhaps there will be a fourth book, in the popular trend of four book trilogies.

Overall, I found Gone much better than Fade though I don't know that it lived up to the potential I felt in Wake. In saying that, Gone did reduce me to tears through one facet of the storyline. The entirety of the Wake series is still, in my opinion, well worth reading and I will continue to remain hopeful that we haven't seen the last of these characters.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Recipe: Squash and Spinach Soup

As promised, here is the second article I have from Mary Ann Esposito. I would like to thank Julie at FSB Media for allowing me to share these articles on my blog.

January through March are cold, snowy, dark times in our Northern hemisphere. Speaking personally, going home to a healthy, hearty soup can definitely take the chill out and gives lots of comfort. I hope you enjoy this second offering from the author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen!

3 Tips for Choosing Quality Produce in the Winter

By Mary Ann Esposito,

Author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen

Ah winter! Fun in the snow making snow angels with the kids, ice skating and snowshoeing. If only all that joy and satisfaction could be found at your local grocery store come January. And unless you live in warmer climes, most of us along with warding off colds, the flu, and grouchiness at the thought of a looming long winter, are at a loss as to what to buy and eat when the choices are almost as bleak as the weather.

Sure, lots of us will crave warmth reaching for cans of soup, full of sodium and other stuff too difficult to try and pronounce. We'll scavenge the produce aisles in hopes of finding some lively looking salad greens from California and fruit from Florida, instead of some foreign country. We'll console ourselves with grapefruit, navel oranges, apples and pears while dreaming of fresh local strawberries not due until June.

January, February and March can be tricky if you are picky about where your food comes from. Chilean plums, Mexican grapes, blueberries from Uruguay, anyone? Even in the winter months, it's important to choose foods that are as local as possible.

Here are three suggestions for choosing foods that can sustain you from January until the first bunch of locally grown asparagus makes its lovely anticipated appearance in spring.

1) Dried beans such as garbanzo, kidney, split pea and pinto beans are readily found on grocer's shelves. They can be turned into delicious, high fiber, high protein dishes that will power you through the cold. For instance, how about a hearty sausage, lentil and ditalini soup from my latest cookbook: Ciao Italia, Five Ingredient Favorites from an Italian Kitchen? Easy to make and you won't believe how good just a five ingredient soup can be.

2) Winter squashes of every color and description are in my opinion, the workhorse vegetables of winter along with onions, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. Creamy and velvety squash soup is a favorite as is a rich risotto made with diced squash, and spaghetti squash does a great stand-in for spaghetti and meatballs. If you have some eggs, an onion and mushrooms, a tart is a nice change of pace as is a steaming bowl of onion soup with a blanket of melted cheese over the top.
3) Don't overlook leafy Swiss chard, kale, carrots and beets. Swiss chard and kale can be steamed for use as a side dish, incorporated into crustless quiche or stuffed and baked. Combine cooked beets and carrots for a nice winter salad; add some feta cheese, and a handful of walnuts or pine nuts and you have a perky salad that can banish winter blues with one taste.

Yes, January can be a challenge on many levels but sacrificing good food does not have to be one of them if you think, choose wisely, and cook in season.

Squash and Spinach Soup

Zuppa di Zucca e Spinaci


Now, this soup uses real ingenuity. A vibrant green, the soup is beautiful to look at as well as eat. I call this a kitchen-sink soup because it uses vegetables, milk, and pasta, and was created just by having the ingredients on hand.


1 10-ounce bag fresh spinach, washed, drained, and stemmed
4 tablespoon (½ stick) butter
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 pound yellow summer squash (about 3 small), cubed
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cups water
1 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ditalini or other soup pasta
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving


Place the spinach in a 3-quart soup pot, cover, and cook without any additional water until limp, about 3 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander and let cool. Press out the excess water with a wooden spoon, then coarsely chop the spinach. Set aside.

Wipe out the soup pot, return it to the heat, and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until soft. Add the squash and potatoes, and cook the vegetables together, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the water, milk, salt, and pepper. Stir, combining ingredients well, cover the pot, and boil gently for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Turn off the heat.

In a skillet, heat the remaining butter. Add the spinach and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the spinach to the soup and stir well to blend.

In a food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Return the soup to the soup pot and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and add to the soup.

To serve, reheat the soup and serve in individual bowls. Pass the cheese for sprinkling on top.

Variation: Use thin slices of uncooked yellow squash as a garnish.

This recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1993. © Mary Ann Esposito

©2009 Mary Ann Esposito, author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen

Author Bio:

Mary Ann Esposito, author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen, is the creator and host of the long-running PBS series Ciao Italia, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010. She is the author of eleven successful cookbooks, including Ciao Italia Slow and Easy and Ciao Italia Pronto! She lives in Durham, New Hampshire.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: Fade by Lisa McMann (Wake, book 2)

Simon Pulse, February 2009
Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1416953582
ISBN-13: 9781416953586
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Fade is the second book in the Wake Series by Lisa McMann (for my review of Wake, click here). I must admit, I didn't love this book as much as the first. The "case" that Janie and Cabel were put on this time just seemed a little on the lame side to me.

I did not let this deter me though. I still very much liked the way the book is written, in short, time-stamped entries. It makes things flow faster without a whole lot of fluff filler.

The part in this story that kept me interested in the series is the personal struggle of Janie and the potential effects her "talent" will have on her future. It's a topic that hits close to home for me, so I may have been more open and sympathetic to her plight than the "average reader". (Her vision issues, I mean, not her ability to jump into peoples dreams....I can't do that, lol.)

Overall, I felt this book was more of a bridge between the first and third novels, so it lacked a bit of the "wow factor" that I got from Wake. It is still a must read, if you plan on reading the third in the series, Gone, and I do still recommend Lisa McMann's books wholeheartedly.

Waiting on Wednesday- Feb. 10, 2010

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we get to share which upcoming reads/new releases that we just can't wait to get our hands on.

I'm usually all over the board with my choice of books and this week proves no different. I haven't read much in the quirky humour type books that I love to get into to & shake things up. My WoW pick this week will definitely fit the quirky category! (The trailer below, while having not much to do with the premise, I think, feels like a good reflection of the tone this book will take.)

The Bird Room by Chris Killen

From Harper Perennial:

A story of obsessive love among young Brits, The Bird Room follows Will, a painfully average and introverted guy who finally manages to find himself a girlfriend, Alice. She’s smart and sexy and she loves him, but Will can’t seem to believe it. Lots of us have been there—but have we spent hours online, searching for amateur porn videos of our significant others? Unexpectedly funny, The Bird Room explores how love can lift us up . . . and drag us way, way down. I tore through this one in a few hours, and you will, too. For an extra added bonus, check out the book trailer for this one, one of my favorites of all time (it features cats!):


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Help me reach 100 Contest!

I have been struggling for a while to reach the 100 follower mark on my blog. So, I'm putting it out there to the book blogging world to help me reach this elusive number. What do you think? Can we do this together?

As I'm not above bribery, here's what I've got to offer:

For reaching 100 followers, I've got an ARC of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick up for grabs. (This should be an easy one as I'm starting at 93!)

If I get to 150 followers, I will throw in a hardcover copy of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. (Ok, trickier, but still should be do-able, right?)

And if, for some crazy reason, I reach 200 followers, I will offer up the book of your choice from Book Depository (to a maximum value of $25 CDN). (Yeah, this maybe ambitious but I have faith :-)

To enter, fill out the form here. This contest is open to anyone and everyone where mail goes! Oops, forgot to mention that the contest will end Mar.3, 2010 (unless I get to 198 on that day, then I may extend for a day or two, lol)

Well, did I make you an offer you can't refuse? Show me some following love :-D

Teaser Tuesday: Feb. 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here is how it works:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago:

"The prime minister picked up the letter again, glanced over it without reading it and said, It's odd, the initial letter of the signature should be a capital, but it's not, Yes, I found that odd too, starting a name with a lowercase letter isn't normal, Can you see anything normal in this whole affair, Not really, no..."

And I'll leave the teaser at that, as the sentence continues on for quite some time, but more on that in my upcoming review!

Monday, February 8, 2010

In My Mailbox: Feb. 8, 2010

This weekly meme, hosted by The Story Siren , is where we get to share what awesome books we've received in the mail over the last week.

This past week turned out to be a very exciting one for me. Here's why:

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Cinderella retold

In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life's questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family's fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of one of Aesop's most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.

Family Huddle by Archie Manning, Eli Manning and Peyton Manning

Peyton and Eli Manning are now NFL superstars, but they are still kids in Family Huddle. Readers of all ages will follow along as Eli and Petyon pile into the car with older brother Cooper for a trip to visit their grandparents. Their dad, former NFL star Archie Manning, is at the wheel. The boys joke around and play football at every opportunity. Readers learn about the famous family and football too, as the boys run fun plays like the buttonhook, quarterback sneak, and hook and ladder. Family and football have always been a big deal in the Manning family. Family Huddle is based on some of the Mannings memories from their days in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Inspired by the glory of Tang Dynasty China in the eighth century, Guy Gavriel Kay melds history and the fantastic into something both powerful and emotionally compelling. Under Heaven is a novel on the grandest narrative scale, encompassing the intimate details of individual lives in an unforgettable time and place.

Shen Tai is the son of a general who led the forces of imperial Kitai in that empire's last war against their western enemies from Tagur, twenty years before. Forty thousand men on both sides were slain beside a remote mountain lake. General Shen Gao himself has died recently. To honour his father's memory, Tai has spent two years of official mourning alone at the battle site among the ghosts of the dead, laying to rest their unburied bones.

One spring morning, he learns that others have taken note of his vigil. The White Jade Princess in Tagur is pleased to present him with two hundred and fifty Sardian horses, given, she writes, in recognition of his courage, and honour done to the dead.

You gave a man one of the famed Sardians to reward him greatly. You gave him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.

Tai starts east towards the glittering, dangerous imperial capital and gathers his wits for a return from solitude by a mountain lake to his own forever-altered life.
So, as you can see, I received some award winning books and some books that have created quite a buzz recently, as well as the latest works from one of my favourite authors, Guy Gavriel Kay. I can't wait to delve into these!

It's Monday! What are you reading? Feb. 8th, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme originated at J. Kaye's Book Blog. This week the torch has been passed on this awesome meme to Sheila at Book Journey , who I'm sure will do a wonderful job with it. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

Well, my plan to get on track last week mostly failed, lol. I posted only 1 review, though I have a growing list to do :-o

I finished reading The Clone Codes by The McKissacks

I read Gone by Lisa McMann

I am continuing with Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago - this one is a tricky read but worth getting through, for sure. It's heavy, so I've split up my time reading this along with:

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg and

Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale.

This week, I will complete The Lonely Hearts Club, Lessons in French and, if I'm lucky, Death with Interruptions. Here's hoping :-)

I will also be starting Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver and Legend of the White Wolf by Terry Spear

Phew! Busy week ahead, looks like...

Review: U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

416 pages
ISBN 9780399155970
01 Dec 2009
Putnam Adult
18 - AND UP

From the Publisher:

It’s April, 1988, a month before Kinsey Millhone’s thirty-eighth birthday, and she’s alone in her office doing paperwork when a young man arrives unannounced. He has a preppy air about him and looks as if he’d be carded if he tried to buy booze, but Michael Sutton is twenty-seven, an unemployed college dropout. Twenty-one years earlier, a four-year-old girl disappeared. A recent reference to her kidnapping has triggered a flood of memories. Sutton now believes he stumbled on her lonely burial when he was six years old. He wants Kinsey’s help in locating the child’s remains and finding the men who killed her. It’s a long shot but he’s willing to pay cash up front, and Kinsey agrees to give him one day. As her investigation unfolds, she discovers Michael Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth. In essence, he’s the boy who cried wolf. Is his current story true or simply one more in a long line of fabrications?

I've said it before, and once again it totally applies here: I can be a bit backwards when it comes to reading books in a series. This is the first Sue Grafton book that I've read, and let's face it, U is for Undertow is getting pretty close to the end of the series (unless Sue starts with numbers next, lol.)

So the pitfalls of doing things "my way" are perhaps missing out on some of the previous references and experiences that our main character, Kinsey, has made/had. For the most part, I felt that this wasn't the case here. There was enough background throughout the story that I wasn't left feeling confused or out of the loop. It could definitely be read as a stand alone story.

The book bounces back and forth in time and I was a bit concerned about how/if it would all fit together in the end, but fit it did. The mystery wove around many characters; we get to see their points of view and how each came to be involved. It was never over the top gritty but had a generous amount of reality, like drug overdose, child abandonment, psychological problems and family drama.

I'm still not sure about my feelings regarding Kinsey. I didn't get a sense of her appearance, but this may have more to do with my reading order than anything else. What I could easily see is that she's a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman. I learned some new terms from Kinsey, like "choners". I'm not sure if this a regional thing, but there were a few others that I'd never read anywhere else. So kudos to Ms. Grafton for expanding my slang vocabulary!

All in all, I enjoyed reading U is for Undertow and am very likely at some point in the future to start at A is for Alibi and work from there. I think this series would be a great fit if you like JD Robb, Kathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell, with its strong female lead.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Excerpt/Recipe: Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favourites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen by Mary Ann Esposito

Thanks to Julie at FSB, I am happy to present a book excerpt (which in this case is actually a recipe) from Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favourites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen to share with everyone. I love homemade Mac and cheese and these look awesome, especially for those of us cooking for kids. So give them a try and come back to let me know the results. Stayed tuned for another article from Mary Ann Esposito next week, too!
Macaroni and Cheese Reinvented

By Mary Ann Esposito,
Author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen

We are only half way through winter and that tells me that more comfort food is necessary. I'm craving good ol' macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is an all-American comfort food that even Thomas Jefferson loved and served frequently to his guests. I'm putting a new twist on it though by making this beloved casserole in a cupcake pan. That way I can get twelve individual mini macaroni and cheese "casserolettes". It is a good way to gauge portion control -- something we all need -- and the recipe will not leave you feeling guilty because I use non-fat evaporated milk and low-fat cheese; the texture is velvety and moist. Use a standard, non-stick cupcake pan. Mini macs can also be individually wrapped and frozen for future use. There are so many ways to present them as well; how about at your next ladies bridge lunch, a bridal luncheon, or as a starter to a casual dinner party? The kids will love them too. Mini macs are comfort food indeed.

Mini Macaroni and Cheese


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 ½ cups fat-free evaporated milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
Grinding black pepper
2 cups grated reduced fat cheddar cheese
½ pound elbow or other small macaroni

Preheat the oven to 350F°.

In a medium size sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and stir in the onion. Cook until the onion is very soft but not brown. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir to combine the ingredients well. Slowly pour in the milk and stir over medium heat to combine the ingredients. Add the mustard, salt and pepper and continue to stir until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not make the sauce too thick. Stir in 1½ cups of the cheese and set the sauce aside off the heat and covered.

Cook the elbow macaroni in 6 cups of boiling salted water just until the macaroni is not hard. Do not overcook the macaroni because it will also be baked.

Drain the macaroni in a colander and transfer it to a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the macaroni to combine well. Use a ¼ cup measure to scoop and fill the cupcake pan with the macaroni mixture. Be sure to evenly fill the pan right to the rim.

Place the cupcake pan on a larger baking sheet to catch any spills.

Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese evenly over the macaroni and cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or just until the macaroni and cheese is set.

Turn on the broiler and broil the macaroni and cheese just until the tops are crusty brown.

Let the macaroni and cheese cool slightly in the pan before removing them individually with a butter knife. Serve.

For variation add minced carrot or celery to the onions when making the sauce or throw in some peas when mixing the macaroni with the sauce.

©2010 Mary Ann Esposito, author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen

Author Bio

Mary Ann Esposito, author of Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen, is the creator and host of the long-running PBS series Ciao Italia, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010. She is the author of eleven successful cookbooks, including Ciao Italia Slow and Easy and Ciao Italia Pronto! She lives in Durham, New Hampshire.

For more information, please visit

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Word Verification Balderdash - Feb. 4, 2010

This is a weekly meme hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia where you take the verification characters you have to input when commenting on other blogs and make up definitions for them.(Keeping in mind that real words would take the fun out of this).

Here's my list of this weeks "words" and don't be surprised if one day you find them in a dictionary somewhere...ok probably not, but here goes:

chenvi - The psycological term for someone wishing they had Jay Leno's chin. Of late, these diagnoses have been on the decline while there's been a marked increase in the ailment known as conanitis.

nogilist - The job title of the person responsible for disposal of all expired Egg Nog at the end of the holiday season. Nogilists usually end up seeking rehabilitative care come February, as the normal method employed involves mass consumption of the Egg Nog (with no shortage of rum in the mix).

mugnega - The gigantic mug used by the nogilist, an essential tool of their trade. It features a built in straw and miniature refrigeration unit.

swwcalet - The Kenyan equivalent of the skiing chalet. While resembling the Swiss version in form, the function is very different as it is used to store the massive palm nuts for the championship Jackstones tournament. Smaller swwcalet are built around the larger building to house the thousands of International spectors this popular Kenyan game draws.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Scholastic Inc.
ISBN 978-0-545-12326-6
HC 400 pages
Ages 12 and up

From the Publisher:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf - her wolf - is a haunting presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human -- until the cold makes him shift back again. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears and the temperature drops, Sam must fight to stay human or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

As a child, Grace was attacked by a pack of wolves, which in itself was weird, but she survived the attack when one of the wolves stepped in to stop it, which was even weirder. Now, after all these years, Grace still feels a certain affinity with the wolves, the yellow-eyed one in particular.

When a unpleasant boy at school, Jack, is attacked by wolves, and apparently killed, the people of the town step in to take matters into their own hands. Then Grace finds Sam, a boy with yellow eyes, on her back deck, injured. It doesn't take long for her to make all of the connections.

Sam and Grace, with precious little time left, find themselves simultaneously searching for Jack, who has disappeared from the morgue, and trying to find a way for Sam to remain human, all while learning about each other and falling in love.

There were so many elements in the story at play that it was never boring, for sure. And for the most part, I very much enjoyed reading Shiver. The only thing that really nagged at me was a scene involving Sam and Grace's mom. I really felt the dialogue was reaching, as he says to her, "I think the mother doth protest too much." This irked me as an unrealistic dialogue between a seventeen year old and an adult. (Yes, this is a repetition of my previous nit-picking about the role of parents in teen-lit!)

That aside, the love story between Grace and Sam is definitely the best part of the book for me though all of the other action just serves to enhance this, making the potential for loss that much greater for both of them.

In Shiver, Stiefvater gives us an interesting twist on the werewolf theme, showing the heart ache it can cause, particularly in the area of Sam's past. She has given Sam and Grace, both, the aura of "old souls", while keeping a teen feel throughout. I actually felt that the book finished very neatly and was surprised to learn there would be another book to follow. To this end, I'm anxious to see what Maggie Stiefvater has in store for us next, as she releases Linger this summer.

Shiver is a meaty, paranormal teen romance worth reading, if this is a genre you enjoy.

Click here to read an excerpt or to see the book trailer:

Waiting on Wednesday - Feb. 3, 2010

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we get to share which upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

You may have noticed in previous posts, I'm a proud Canadian/Torontonian. When I find (fiction) books that have local content, it's a major boon for me. This brings me to my choice for this week's Waiting on Wednesday.

I picked up Stuck in Downward Dog by Chantel Simmons last year. Being a fan of Yoga (but not a regular participant :-p), the title intrigued me. Not to be confused with a Yoga instruction manual, it's a story about a woman struggling with a break-up and her future, done with humour. I had read it before I began blogging, so I don't have a review to offer up but I found it was a cute, enjoyable book. I'm very happy to see Chantel Simmons has her sophomore effort, Love Struck, due to be released this month and it's my choice for Waiting on Wednesday.

Format:Trade Paperback
Dimensions:272 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.8 in
Published:February 15, 2010
Publisher:Key Porter Books Ltd
ISBN - 10:1554702585

ISBN - 13:9781554702589

From the Publisher:

In the vein of her popular debut novel, Stuck in Downward Dog, author Chantel Simmons brings us a funny, heartfelt story about losing the perfect life-and finding a real one. When twenty-eight-year-old image consultant Poppy Ross discovers her beloved husband Parker is having an affair, she is dumbfounded. Before she has a chance to confront him, however, he is struck by lightning. When he regains consciousness, he has lost his short-term memory-including that of the affair. Given this unlikely chance to erase history, Poppy decides to remake herself in the mistress''s image, so that Parker might never be tempted to stray again. Her quest to become the perfect woman has disastrous and hilarious results, however, and just might turn out to be the worst thing possible for her marriage.

Is there a book you just can't wait to read? Let me know! And remember to pop over to Jill's blog and share your WoW.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book trailer: Wake by Lisa McMann

I recently reviewed Wake by Lisa McMann and have since read Fade (book 2) and am currently reading Gone (book 3). I have come to love the fact the authors, publishers, etc. are making trailers for books and discovered this one, for Wake, on today. Enjoy!

Teaser Tuesdays - Feb. 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly event hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here is how it works:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from a YA book called The Clone Codes by Patricia McKissack, Frederick McKissack, and John McKissack:

"Suddenly, an older woman dressed in twentieth-century clothing enters the room and sits opposite Professor Pages. I don't need to be introduced.

I stand up sharply, and all I can think to do is something very corny. I curtsy! "Hello, Mrs. Roosevelt."

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? Feb. 1, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog where we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

Last week I completed U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton. Being the first of this series that I've read, I'm still mulling this one over in my head. I'm trying to think if there's anything else I read but, nope, that was it. I had fallen behind in my reviews and badly needed the time to catch up.

For this week, the plan is to get back on track completely! So in addition to posting my reviews that haven't been posted yet, I plan to read these books:

Gone by Lisa McMann
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
The Clone Codes by The McKissacks (this one is currently in progress :-)
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (reading at least the first 2 chapters)

These are all YA books this week and look like they'll be pretty quick, so I might just continue on with Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago. For me, this is a pretty steep attempt, but we'll see what happens...
What's on your list this week?
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