Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Winner of The Recipe Club

This has to be quick since I am working on the Reference Desk right now and students need my help

The Winner of The Recipe Club is

Linda H.

Linda I will email you from my work address in a few seconds


You will have 48 hrs to get back to me, or I will have to pick another winner

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week

Right now I am a little overwhelmed with lots of stuff, so I really don't have the time right now to do this. But this is something that I feel extremely passionate about, so I thought I would just do a quick little post.

Censoring and banning books is just plain wrong - Don't do it. If you object to a book or don't want your children to read it -- that is your prerogative. Don't force your ideals on someone else.  Also from a jaded point of view -- it just hurts your cause, because as soon as you even mention censoring or banning -- the book sales are going to jump. History has proven it.

My Favorite Banned/Challenged Books

The Giant: or Waiting for the Thursday Boat
by Robert Munsch

Picture Book

Description: Upset with St. Patrick for chasing the other giants out of Ireland, McKeon throws church bells into the sea, until St. Patrick tells him God will come on the Thursday boat.
More Info:

The Butter Battle Book
by Dr Seuss
Picture Book

Description: Dr. Seuss chronicles the feud between the Yooks and the Zooks from slingshots through sophisticated weaponry, until each side has the capacity to destroy the world.

To Kill a Mockingbird
 by Harper Lee

Description:  "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel-a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice-but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

List of 20 of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 (From Chick With Books) (I've highlighted the ones I have read)

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Native Son by Richard Wright
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Dead Zone by Stephen King

A Light in the Attiby Shel Silverstein
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Banned Book  Misc.

Stacey's Books is having a Quiz:
The Power of Speaking Loudly:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dracula My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker: Book Review

Dracula My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker
by Syrie James
Avon (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-192303-6

Description: Many have read and loved Bram Stokers Dracula. But questions remain. What is the true story of Draculas origin? What if Mina could not bring herself to record the true story of their scandalous affairuntil now?  In Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker, Syrie James explores these questions and more. A vibrant dramatization, told from Minas point of view, brings to life the crucial parts of Stokers story while showcasing Minas sexual awakening and evolution as a woman, and revealing a secret that could destroy her life. Torn between two mena loving husband and a dangerous loverMina struggles to hang on to the deep love shes found within her marriage, even as she is inexorably drawn to Dracula himselfthe vampire that everyone she knows is determined to destroy

The Good Stuff
  • Finally,  we get what I always thought of the central character of Dracula, Mina Harker's story
  • A good retelling of the Dracula story from a more feminine prospective  
  • Dracula is an actual character with thoughts and emotions, not the stereotypical monster he is portrayed as in the Bram Stoker Novel (Which I still love though!)
  • Author does a brilliant job of keeping to the original era of the story while at the same time, making it easier for the modern reader to enjoy (Hope that makes sense, really had a hard time trying to express this).  I know many readers are turned off by Dracula as it is written in  the often overly flowery prose of the era
  • The romance between Dracula and Mina rings very true and you find yourself hoping that she will choose him over the wimp Jonathan
  • Loved the backstory they created for Mina and for Dracula
  • Beautifully written, really makes the story come alive
  • Think I am going to be checking out some of her other workds
The Not so Good Stuff

  • I didn't like what the author did to the character of Van Helsing
  • At times the story didn't ring true or jive with the orignal Dracula
  • Not much mention of one of my favorite characters Quincy Morris
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I was fortunate to attend a school with an excellent library"

"I had felt more excited, more alive, and more intellectually stimulated, than in any dialogue I had shared with Jonathan in years."

"Just because we are engaged, it does not mean we are dead.  We can still look and appreciate other men, can we not?"  (Jen's Note: Damn Skippy I'm married and I look ALL THE TIME -- my hubby doesn't mind -- I'm just not allowed to touch -- sorry Ryan and Nathan)

What I Learned
  • Jonathan Harker was even more of a pussy than I already thought -- ok he gets better near the end of this book, but still - can you say MISOGYNISTIC WIMP!
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Dracula purists probably would not enjoy (Meaning those who dislike when author's play around with classic novels)
  • Pretty much anyone else will enjoy
  • Also those who like a lot of excitement and suspense probably wouldn't enjoy this either
  • Good read for those who have no interest in reading the original but still want the story of Dracula
4 Dewey's

I won my copy from Good Reads

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Black Tie Affair: Sherrill Bodine: Mini Book Review

A Black Tie Affair
by Sherrill Bodine
Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-0-446-61859-5

Description: As the curator of the costume collection at the Fashion Institute of Chicago, Athena Smith lives and breathes couture dresses. They're her entire life. And while she's in a vast underground bunker where the Insitute houses their private collection of vintage couture clothing, examining the dresses, she falls desperately ill and is rushed to the hospital. Word around town is that Athena has been poisoned. Dr. Drew Montgomery, a physician at Northwestern Hospital, knows all about Athena's gal-about-town reputation. He's seen her picture in the society rags and he can barely contain his disdain. But he's perplexed by her illness. As they together unravel the secrets behind her illness to figure out who might have poisoned her and why, an attraction blooms between this society gal and this no-nonsense doctor. But is love enough to keep them together

Mini-Review: This really wasn't my thing, as I am not much of a fan of contemporary romance books.  For those who enjoy contemporary romances, you will probably like this. It is a quick lite read, with an interesting storyline involving toxin laced gowns.  A good beach read. 2.5/5 Dewey's (Remember that the rating is based on MY enjoyment of the story, not on the ability of the author)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Literary Tasty Treat Tuesdays: Paprika Hendl (Dracula My Love by Syrie James)

This weeks recipe is a homage to Dracula.  Growing up,  Dracula was my favorite book (now it is tied with The Stand) and I always remember Jonathan Harker talking about a dish called "paprika hendl".  It really sounded yummy and thought it would be a good tie in to the book I am reading right now.   In celebration of my upcoming review for Dracula my Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James, Jake and I scoured the internet for a simple version of the recipe to make.  This is what we came up with (recipe follows book description)

Dracula My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker
by Syrie James
Avon A (HarperCollins)

Description: Many have read and loved Bram Stokers Dracula. But questions remain. What is the true story of Draculas origin? What if Mina could not bring herself to record the true story of their scandalous affairuntil now?  In Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker, Syrie James explores these questions and more. A vibrant dramatization, told from Minas point of view, brings to life the crucial parts of Stokers story while showcasing Minas sexual awakening and evolution as a woman, and revealing a secret that could destroy her life. Torn between two mena loving husband and a dangerous loverMina struggles to hang on to the deep love shes found within her marriage, even as she is inexorably drawn to Dracula himselfthe vampire that everyone she knows is determined to destroy

My Review of the Book should be posted on Friday (as long as the family stops bothering me for a few minutes so I can finish reading the book -- I am a quarter way through right now and am really enjoying it)

I found this recipe at the blog Cook on a Shoestring

Draculas Paprika Hendl Recipe


    * 1 lb. chicken
    * 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
    * 2 Chopped onions
    * 1-2 cloves of garlic (optional)
    * 2 Tablespoons paprika (sweet Hungarian Paprika
      is best, but much more difficult to come by in parts of the U.S.)
    * 1/2 Cup of tomato juice
    * 2 Tablespoons of flour
    * 1/2 Cup of sour cream

The Process:

   1. Defrost and cut chicken into serving-size pieces.
   2. In a large pot, lightly saute chopped onions in oil until brown.
   3. Blend half of your paprika with your onions.
   4. Add tomato juice, garlic, and raw chicken to the mix.
   5. Cover the pot, and let it simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
   6. Now at this point, some people like to remove the chicken from the stew so that they can spend the next step or two working specifically on thickening the sauce a little; I dont do this, because it takes extra time (and we just spent an hour waiting on this thing to simmer); if you want to be a traditionalist, however, carefully remove the cooked chicken from the stew, and perform the next step on just the sauce.
   7. Thoroughly blend in remaining paprika, flour and sour cream; use a mixer of some kind, if necessary.
   8. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
   9. Ladle sauce over chicken, and enjoy.

This recipe goes great with rice or noodles.

Here are some other websites you can visit to get an idea for how other chefs are preparing their paprika hendl recipes:


Review: Jake and I found this recipe easy to make and Jake thought it tasted OK. Jeff and I both agree that we prefer it a little more spicier, so next time I would add either lots of cracked pepper or try a different kind of paprika.  Also, like Jonathan Harker mentions in Dracula, this dish will make you thirsty. Make sure to have plenty of Red Wine or Beer handy (especially if you have had a hard night with Jesse trying to help Jake and I in the kitchen)   By the time we completed the recipe last night, it was too late to make a meal out of the dish, so we are having it tonight over some egg noodles. I would love to have it with Spaetzle (a german noodle dish my next door neighbor used to make for me) but I don't have time to make it, so egg noodles will have to do.

Onions YUCK!
Finished Product - Serve over noodles and pour yourself some wine (Ok I was drinking it while I was making it)

If you are interested you can read Dracula at Project Gutenberg

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel: Book Review PLUS a CONTEST

The Recipe Club
by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel
Harper Paperbacks
ISBN: 9780061992292

Description: Loyalty, loss, and the ties that bind. These are the ingredients of The Recipe Club, a "novel cookbook" that combines an authentic story of friendship with more than 80 delicious recipes. Lilly and Val are lifelong friends, united as much by their differences as by their similarities. Lilly, dramatic and confident, lives in the shadow of her beautiful, wayward mother and craves the attention of her distant, disapproving father. Val, shy and idealisticand surprisingly ambitious struggles with her desire to break free from her demanding housebound mother and a father whose dreams never seem to come true.

In childhood, "LillyPad" and "ValPal" form an exclusive two-person club, writing intimate letters in which they share hopes, fears, deepest secretsand recipes, from Lilly's "Lovelorn Lasagna" to Valerie's "Forgiveness Tapenade." Readers can cook along as the friends travel through time facing the challenges of independence, the joys and heartbreaks of first love, and the emotional complexities of family relationships, identity, mortality, and goals deferred. The Recipe Club sustains Lilly and Val's bond through the decades, regardless of what different paths they take or what misunderstandings threaten to break them apart . . . until the fateful day when an act of kindness becomes an unforgivable betrayal.

Now, years later, while trying to recapture the trust they've lost, Lilly and Val reunite once moreonly to uncover a shocking secret. Will it destroy their friendship, or bring them ever closer?

The Good Stuff

  • Very satisyfing and realistic ending
  • Love the recipe index at the end, really appeals to my anal librarian ways
  • The main characters are so realistic that you are sure you know one of them
  • Plot is wonderful and very true to life.  We have all been in a similar situation with friends, so you can understand the emotions
  • Love the little illustrations and how the format of the recipes change as the main characters age. Gives it a very authentic touch
  • The recipes are simple and easy to make and I will be doing a post with Jake on one of the recipes. I'm thinking of making that a regular meme. Literary Meals with Mom and Jake
  • The titles of the recipes are adorable and really fit in with the story
  • Full of hope and forgiveness and of letting go of negativity

The Not so Good Stuff

  • The parents of the main characters are so imperfect that I cannot understand how anyone could love them.  But than again they are family and you have to love your family, no matter how imperfect they are
  • Really, Really disliked the parents!!!!
  • More of a good thing than bad, but dammit I have responsibilities, the storyline was so wonderful that I didn't want to put the book down. 
Favorite Quotes/Passages

" Look, I know I'm high-strung and a bit of a diva, but there's something I need to get off my 36 DD chest - the one you've always wished you had."

"Sometimes people we love can't love us in ways that we wish to be loved.  Not because we aren't worthy of love, but for other reasons, beyond our control."

"When we're arguing with each other nothing in my life feels right."

"It made me realize I've never really had a mom. I've had someone who wanted to be my friend. But she's not even that."

What I Learned

  • Some great recipes that I am now dying to try
  • That I really enjoy books written in letter form 
  • That Forgiveness is attainable and worthwhile
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Pretty much everyone will enjoy this one
  • Anyone who has ever had a fight with a close friend
  • Great book for a crisp cool fall night or sitting on the dock by the water (Recommend having a  nice Merlot at the same time)
4 Dewey's

I received this book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.  No bribes were given or money  exchanged.  Which is such a shame since I really would like to have no debt and the cash to buy me an Ipad (Shiny!)

Literary Tasty Treat Tuesdays


I loved this one so much I contacted my contact at HarperCollins and asked if I could giveaway a copy. So here is the deal.  I like to keep things simple so all I ask is that you be a follower and tell me why you would really like this book.  Contest ends September 28th and open to US and Canada.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mom and Me Mondays: Splinters by Kevin Sylvester

This book led to a great discussion between Jake and I over books that really aren't our thing.  He took one look at the book and said -- Mom -- this book is for girls and I am NOT A GIRL.  We talked about him reading it and rating it based on the merit of the book and not on the subject matter or who the book is directed towards. I told him to pretend he was his friend Brianna (that led to an entirely different discussion, which I will  not print here) and to review it based on her perspective.  Anyway -- here is our review. Please take into consideration that I had no sleep last night while reading my part of the review : )

by Kevin Sylvester
Tundra Books
ISBN: 978-0-88776-944-3

Suggested Reading: FOR GIRLS (and Mom says boys too - LOL) Ages 6 - 9

Description: Cindy Winters loves to play hockey. When her family's basement apartment is flooded and the floor freezes, she's even happy to skate on the concrete. Her parents are too poor to enroll her in a league, but she's resourceful and does odd jobs until she has earned enough money to play. Armed with her mother's old equipment, she is thrilled to join a team. But her happiness doesn't last long. Among her teammates are the horrible Blister Sisters. They make her life miserable. And worse, Cindy's sidelined by the coach, who just happens to be Mrs. Blister. It looks like she'll be spending the season cleaning equipment, instead of playing on the ice. Cindy's luck changes when her Fairy Goaltender appears and saves the day. With its great good humor and hilarious illustrations, Kevin Sylvester's Splinters is bound to become a favorite.

Jake's Review:  Mom this is a girls book (mom's note: read note at beginning of post) Ok I am going to pretend I am Brianna and tell you what I think that she would think about it.  It's a funny story that is like the author was telling Cinderella using a girl hockey player.  I love the pictures and want to read some BOYS books with the same pictures.  The story was sort of sad, because Cindy really was a good hockey player and the mean coach and her daughters wouldn't let her play. (Mom's note: this again led to a great discussion about parents coaching and showing preferences for their own kids).  I think girls Brianna's (8.5) age and younger would really like it. It's cool that girls get to play hockey. I thought (and so would Brianna I think) that the Fairy Goaltender and the Zamboni parts were really funny. I didn't like the coach who was also the mom of the two bully hockey players, she was really mean and the picture of her was scary. 

Jake's Rating:  9/10 (But only if it was a girl reading it, cuz it's a girls book you know)

Mom's Review: Can I tell you how much I loved this book. I LOVED this book. It was a delightfully  fun modern twist on the Cinderella story. I loved the fact that the coach was the mom of the two Blister Sisters.  Trust me if you are a parent you will or have already dealt with parents who coach and show preferential treatment to their own kids. I loved the character of Cindy, a smart and resourceful girl  who saves up her own money to play, because her parents cannot afford it.   Slight dry humor and the authors' fabulous illustrations also really add to the story. I am a fan of Kevin Sylvester's books and met him at the OLA conference last year.  He just really knows how to write/illustrate books that kids will love. We will keep this book in our collection and pass it around to some young girls who I know will adore this book as much as I did.

Mom's Rating:  10/10

We won this from Talking with Tundra and we didn't have to review it, we just wanted to -- well Jake wasn't really into it this time around, but you know what I mean : )

Friday, September 17, 2010

Another Interview with "my boyfriend" Nathan Fillion

The interviewer is a dufus but worth a look anyway

To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott: Mini Book Review

 To Surrender to a Rogue (Circles of Sin series)
by Cara Elliott
Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-0-446-54131-2

Description: An expert in antiquities, Lady Alessandra della Giamatti arrives in Bath to excavate newly discovered Roman ruins-only to find herself caught in a web of evil intrigue by a blackmailer threatening to expose her scandalous past. The one man who can help her is Lord James "Black Jack" Pierson, a fellow member of the expedition and a sinfully handsome rogue whose tempting presence ignites a different sort of danger.  Jack has clashed with Alessandra in the past, so when she suddenly surrenders her body he can't help being suspicious. Is she a scheming temptress? Or is she truly a lady in trouble? As desire and deceptions swirl around them, Alessandra and Jack must find a way to win each other's trust. For if they don't work together to uncover a shocking truth, their enemy-and their own simmering passions-may destroy them and everything they cherish.

Mini Book Review: Delightfully sinful read full of beautiful strong women and handsome rogues.   The perfect read for a day at the beach, a cold Canadian night or just while sitting in your office and reading it instead of doing your boring job -- not mine of course ; )  The characters were intriguing and not stereotypical like in many novels of this genre.  Lady Alessandra and Jack have an intense chemistry,  but there are also many light moments between them. Also Lady Alessandra's daughter is a delightful character and would have liked more scenes with her.  The story flows nicely and it keeps you interested. I was quite ticked off one day that my bus was on time and had to put the book down. I look forward to picking up more books in Cara Elliott's "Circle of Sin" series.

3.5/5 Dewey's

I won this from a blog (sorry cannot find in my notes anywhere, what blog I won it from) and didn't HAVE to review it, I just felt like it -- so there.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Everything is Going to be Great by Rachel Shukert: Book Review

Everything is Going to be Great: An underfunded and overexposed European Grand Tour
by Rachel Shukert

Description: When she lands a coveted nonpaying, nonspeaking role in a play going on a European tour, Rachel Shukertwith a brand-new degree in acting from NYU and no moneyfinally scores her big break. And, after a fluke at customs in Vienna, she gets her golden ticket: an unstamped passport, giving her free rein to find herself on a grand tour of Europe. Traveling from Vienna to Zurich to Amsterdam, Rachel bounces through complicated relationships, drunken mishaps, miscommunication, and the reality-adjusting culture shock that every twenty-something faces when sent off to negotiate "the real world"whatever that may be.

The Good Stuff
  • Book is written by a wonderfully funny self-deprecating and honest women
  • So funny at times you will snort wine out your nose -- true story (Hmm, maybe should put that under not so good stuff)
  • The How to Use this Book at the beginning is worth the price of the book alone
  • Love her relationships and conversations between Rachel and her parents and between her and her  two gay roommates
  • Refreshingly honest, definitely the kinda person you want to hang around with  
  • Oh come on, just go but the book, you know you wanna - you won't be disappointed
  • She mentioned eating spaetzle, which reminded me of the yummy spaetzle my  neighbor used to make me as a kid -- it was heavenly yummy stuff
  • It may not sound like it, but the Are You About to be Sex-Trafficked bit is quite funny
  • I will definitely be looking for a copy of her other book "Have you no shame"
  • Why are you still reading this -- Go Buy the Book, the author is far more wittier than I am : )
The Not so Good Stuff
  • She can be quite vulgar and some of her imagery is a little nasty (not complaining, but just a warning) at times
  • Certain chapters just sort of jump and you get a little lost for a moment or two -- or that just could be because I am a mom and the brain doesn't work all that fast these days
  • Had Phil Collins lyrics in my head while reading -- not that that is a completely bad thing -- but it lasted all day

Favorite Quotes/Passages (There are so many, I had to cut myself off from putting them all!)

"I am uncomfortable explicitly endorsing this product for bodily insertion, uncertain as I am of the safety of any chemical additives in the paper, dyes, or inks. Should you contact the customer service line at HarperCollins, I am sure they will be able to advise you."

"In the olden days, when wealthy young English gentlemen stormed the immoral European continent in order to shake off the last libidinous and homosexual vestiges of boarding school before settling down to the business of siring heirs and murdering wildlife..."

"It didn't seem fair to force someone to confront their family's Nazi past until you'd been dating for at least six weeks."

"I believe you have me mixed up with a gay man --- Gay men are supposed to bring over ice cream and tell you how thin you look and show you where to get tested for STD's, Lesbians give tough love and tell you what to put in the cat's food to keep it from shedding."

What I Learned
  • I really, really enjoy memoir's written by self-deprecating Jewish women!!!!
  • I so need to travel to Europe one of these days 
  • I like Phil Collins songs ; )
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Not for the prudish or easily offended
  • Good for anyone who has a sense of humor -- if you don't why the heck are you reading my blog anyway
  • Fans of Ariel Leve should enjoy as well
  • Anyone who likes memoirs by frank and funny Jewish chicks!
4.5 Dewey's

I received this from Harper Perennial in exchange for an honest review -- honestly ; )

Nathan Fillion on Jimmy Kimmel

For those regular readers of my blog -- Hi Natasha - you know I have a huge crush on Nathan Fillion.   Just thought I would post this for all those other wonderful people who also have amazing taste and have the love for "my man"  Don't forget if you have the cash -- and DAMN I wish I did -- you can bid for him to follow you and something special at Twitchange - Currently going for $2,175 US - Click HERE to bid

Part 2 (Make sure you Pause Part 1 before you watch Part 2)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Heart of Valor by L.J. Smith: Book Review

 Heart of Valor (Solstice #2)
(Sequel to The Night of the Solstice) 
by L.J. Smith
Aladdin (Simon and Schuster)
ISBN: 978-1-4169-9841-9
Suggested Ages: 8-12 (Some Violence)

Description: When an earthquake shakes California, Alys, Janie, Charles and Claudia suspect it isn't just a typical earthquake. A year and a half after their journey into the Wildworld, they believe that the Passage between their world, the Stillworld, and that parallel universe of legend and danger may no longer be stable.

With their parents overseas and the great sorceress Morgana Shee traveling north to find the epicenter of the quake, the siblings are left on their own. But peril lurks around every corner. A magical attack sends the Hodges-Bradley kids' on a journey that will test all of their skills, including Janie's sorcery and Claudia's ability to communicate with animals.

Morgana's arch-rival, Thia Pendriel, is waiting. With Heart of Valor, the Forgotten Gem she has stolen, Thia's power is almost limitlessand she is ready to spring her trap.

The Good Stuff
  • Excellent continuation and completion of the series
  • Lots of sorcery, flying serpents, King Arthur and talking animals, how can you not like that
  • Like I mentioned in my review of the 1st book in the series, a great epic fantasy story for the younger set
  • Realistic relationships between the siblings -- trust me I'm the little sister in my family
  • Some light humour
  •  A far more detailed back story for Morgana
  • Interesting twist on the tale of Merlin and Arthur
  • Excellent 1st chapter brings you right back into the story of the Hodges-Bradley children
  • Really enjoyed how the characters developed from the first book to now
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Could have used the Vixen more
  • A little predictable -- but hey I am a 40 yr old women, these stories were not written for me
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"They understand NOW," agreed Charles pointedly. "But what happens in a little while when the effects wear off and they remember everything except the reasons why they did it? They're going to be telling their parents they gave their car away to some kids who made them smell a leaf. And what do they say then?"

"In the meantime, how about us doing some more sister things together?" Alys snorted. "Like what?" Oh, I don't know. Slay a few monsters, outwit a few magicians, drain a few Chaotic Zones, negotiate a few treaties..." And after lunch?" Janie returned the wry grin sweetly. "I'll let you know."

What I Learned
  • That I am a much better parent than any other parent portrayed in YA fiction 
  • I can handle fiction about the Fae, but only in YA books
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Younger YA will enjoy, especially if they love fantasy - but even if they aren't fans of fantasy, they will enjoy
  • Older YA may be a little too mature for this
4/5 Dewey's

I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Literary Treat Tuesday: Jennifer Estep's Venom and Chocolate Chip Poundcake

One of the books I am most looking forward to reading this month is Venom (Book #3 Elemental Assassins) by Jennifer Estep, so Jake and I decided to bake one of "Gin's" recipes for Literary Treat Tuesday.

Venom (Elemental Assassin #3)
by Jennifer Estep
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-439-1-4801-3
Release Date: September 28, 2010

Description: What kind of assassin works pro bono? It's hard to be a bad-ass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I'm Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland's best barbecue joint. To my friends, I'm the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalkerMab's right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I'll take my chances. Then there's Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland's finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I'm a cold-blooded killer . . . who is about to save her life

Below is the actual recipe from Jennifer Estep (You can find more at her website)

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 (12 ounce) package mini chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 10-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding, and sugar. Add water, oil, and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Stir in sour cream and mini chocolate morsels. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 1 hour (check at 50 minutes) or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
It takes five minutes to make, then you just have to let it bake -- and it turns out perfect every single time.

Sorry about the pictures, had to use the crappy camera in my crappy phone

Of course I will not put this back in the bowl mom -- sheesh who do you think I am - Jesse

Recipe is easy and quick to make and it tastes yummy -- I cooked it a little too long because I was putting Jesse to bed and lost track of time -- but it still tasted yummy

Venom by Joan Brady: Book Review

by Joan Brady
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-0-7432-7011-3

Description: A gripping tale of international corporate intrigue from the award-winning author of Bleedout . EASTERN EUROPE . . . Thirty years after Chernobyl, nuclear fallout is still claiming victims. ILLINOIS . . . Fresh out of prison, David Marion doesn't expect a hit man at his door. But when one appears, their meeting is lethalfor the hit man. Who sent him? David has no idea. But warned that a powerful secret organization is after him, he is forced to disappear until he can strike back. ALABAMA . . . Devastated by the death of her lover, physicist Helen Freyl escapes to her bee farm to care for a colony carrying a unique strain of venom. But when an unexpected job offer from a giant drug corporation arrives, it proves to be a much more intriguing diversion. LONDON, ENGLAND . . . Helen's new company is close to a cure for radiation poisoning, but the sudden death of a colleague is followed by another, and Helen begins to doubt the organization's motives. When she realizes her own life is in danger, what can she do and who can she call on for help?

Venom brings David Marion and Helen Freyl together as they fight for their lives against a backdrop of industrial espionage, corporate greed, and human tragedy in an exhilarating and fast-paced follow-up to the bestselling Bleedout.

FYI - I wasn't thinking when I sent my request to Simon and Shuster to review the latest Jennifer Estep novel Venom, and totally forgot to put the authors name in the request. That is why I got a copy of this particular book to review. This is not my type of book, so I just want you readers to know that before I do the review.  Anybody willing to come to Humber College or pay for shipping, this book is yours.

The Good Stuff
  • Author builds up a convincing back story and keeps you guessing on what is going on
  • Intelligent thriller with a timely topic
  • The grandma is a feisty one
  • You should probably read Bleedout first, as to understand some of the motivations of the characters
The Not so Good Stuff
  • I really didn't like most of the characters
  • Way too many characters and backgrounds, very hard to keep straight
  • Story took a long time to get your attention, I honestly had a hard time trying not to put the book down, because I was lost.  Quite a few times I was just going to put this down as DNF, but I am a stubborn one
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"And the more he thought about it,  the more it seemed to him that Christ was an ill-tempered white man."

"It's employee joke that the letters NSA stand for "No Such Agency" and "Never Say Anything."

What I Learned

  • Always to put the author's name in when requesting books for review
  • Pharmaceutical companies are evil 
  • How to create an explosion -- read the first chapter and you will understand
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Fans of Intrigue and mystery and industrial espionage
  • I think John Grisham lovers would enjoy
  • Not for those looking for a light read, you need to pay attention with this one (Hence why my Mommy brain had such a hard time)
2.5/5 Dewey's -- Please remember that this is based on MY enjoyment of the book and nothing against the author or their talent-- this is not my type of book so that affects the review -- if you see this Joan, nothing personal : )

I received this from Simon and Shuster in return for an honest review -- sorry guys, just didn't love this one

Monday, September 13, 2010

BlogFest Winners


This was such an amazing event! I discovered some really amazing blogs, obtained a crapload of new followers (Which works to your advantage, since I have a much better chance of getting books to give away from authors and publishers).  Just also found out I won a free book from the Book Depository from
At Home with Books  (Think I will use it to get the other book for my niece for xmas)

I hope all you new followers stick around and comment. I have lots more reviews -- and even better CONTESTS to come. Hope all the winners enjoy their prizes, these are some great authors and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

All prizes were chosen by -- must learn how to post the results, it never works for me

Winner of JK Beck prize Pack is 
Judi L (#119 of 600)

Winner of Jennifer Estep Pack is

Violet (#202 of 600)

Winner of Marta Acosta Prize Pack is
Shannon (#227 of 600)

Winner of 2 Choices from Jen's list of Reviews is

Natasha A (#161 of 600)

I am off to email all the winners and you all have 48 hours to respond or I choose new winners

Congrats and thank you Cinnamon Brown for hosting this awesome event!

Friday, September 10, 2010

BlogFest 2010 September - STOP 141 Ends Midnight Sept 12 (International)

Sorry this is so late guys, but my parenting duties always have to come first.

I am very excited about taking part in this event and thought it would be fun to promote my favorite authors

Prizes are as follows

Prize #1 JK Beck Prize Pack

Signed ARC of When Blood Calls and Preorder of  When Pleasure Rules

Prize #2 Jennifer Estep Prize Pack
Spider's Bite, Web of Lies and Preorder of Venom

Prize Pack #3 Marta Acosta Prize Pack
Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, Midnight Brunch at Casa Dracula

Prize Pack #4 Jen's Reviewed Books
Your Choice of Any 2 Books (Ordered from Book Depository) from the list of books I have reviewed so far

Don't forget about the massive BlogFest 2010 grand giveaway!  Head on over to and click on the Tracking Site link to head to our own exclusive tracking site.  Once there you can register with a valid email address (to be used solely for the purpose of contacting the winner).  This site will allow you to track your progress through BlogFest 2010!  You can log on from anywhere at any time and continue where you left off.  The best part is that every blog that you visit and mark off through this tracking site will give you one entry into the massive giveaway!  We have a great collection of books, goodies and other swag that is looking for a new home!

Ok That's it Please Fill Out Form
(Extra Entries if you are a Follower or Tweet about my Blog)

And  Next Stop on the BlogFest List is  Pure Information

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The BEST backpack EVER - Thanks CSN

If you guys remember a couple of weeks ago I was given the opportunity to review an item from CSN Stores. I have worked with them in the past, and have been very impressed.

This time I am even more impressed. The item I chose this time was the Sumdex MT-3 Series Dynamic Laptop Backpack in Black.

The back pack is beautifully compact and comfy. It is sleek, has tons of pockets (for anal librarians like myself) and most of all, it is grown up looking (Much better than the kiddie bag I have been carrying the past couple of months)

The delivery time was extremely quick and I am very impressed with the packaging this time -- not over packaged as with previous purchases. Excellent work CSN. If you get a chance I highly recommend shopping with them. My only complaint, as with most online stores based in the U.S, is the extremely high international fee.   But than again, the shipping service is excellent,  so I guess you get what you pay for.

In front of my Fav movie poster (Nathan Fillion)

Sumdex MT-3 Series Dynamic Laptop Backpack in Black (Sorry my pic didn't turn out)

The Back (Nice and Comfy)
Inside Front Pocket

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Gentleman Poet: By Kathryn Johnson: Book Review (And link to CONTEST)

The Gentleman Poet: A Novel of Love, Danger, and Shakespeare's The Tempest

by Kathryn Johnson
Avon A (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0061965319

Description: En route to the Americas in 1609, Elizabeth Persons, a young servant girl, sees her blinding headache as an ominous sign. Sure enough, a hurricane during the final leg of their journey tosses the ill-fated Sea Venture and its one hundred and fifty passengers and crew onto the dreaded shores of the Bermudas, the rumored home of evil spirits and dangerous natives. In the months that passtime marked by grave hardship, mutiny, adventure, danger . . . and a blossoming love between Elizabeth and the wrecked ship's young cookshe despairs of their ever being rescued. But she finds hope and strength in a remarkable new friendship, forming a fast bond with the Sea Venture's historian, a poet traveling under the name of William Strachey. But Will is more than he seems. To many back home in England, he is known by a different name: Shakespeare. And he sees in their great shared travails the makings of a magical, truly transcendent work of theater.

The Good Stuff
  • Extremely well researched!!
  • Fresh and entertaining
  • Absorbing, it took me a few reads of the first few pages, but after that I did not want to put it down
  • It makes me want to read The Tempest by Shakespeare
  • Wonderfully descriptive without being too flowery or polite.
  • The description of the storm is fantastically real you almost feel seasick
  • Loved the metamorphosis of the main character -- brilliantly done
  • Wonderful ending
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Would have liked a bit stronger of an opener, but again that is due more to my lack of focus than to the authors talents (Ok, I started reading it while Jesse was still awake and screaming -- probably not a good idea)
  • Makes me want to read The Tempest -- hmm better see if they are doing it at Stratford this year

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Despite my dislike for the old crow, I felt sorry  for the terror I saw in her eyes'"

"For myself, I wished for a quick end, the sooner to join my dear father and mother, cruelly taken  from me by queen and plague - one fate no more merciful than the other."

"The same woman whose name I'd been given, no doubt in the hope of protecting us.  A daughter christened, even if in the wrong church, after her, Elizabeth the queen, might be a talisman: You see, we named our child after our beloved queen! Is this not proof enough of our loyalty."

"It is a gift. Your love of food makes it delicious"

What I Learned
  • Really sucked to be a women in the early 1600's
  • Having any sort of religious conviction was a very bad thing in the 1600's
  • Shakespeare was one interesting fellow
Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Auntie Sheila is going to love this one and I think I will lend it to her
  • Lovers of Historical Fiction
  • Pretty much anyone

4.5 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in  return for an honest review --Yup people send me stuff and I get to tell them what I honestly think of them -- how frickin cool is that!


The author is running a Shakespeare contest on her website.  Links are now available on her Facebook page and her website, and the contest runs through to 9/30.  You can see info and photos located here:

Prize pack includes a Shakespeare tote bag, signed copy of The Gentleman Poet, Macbeth on DVD from Folger Shakespeare Theater performance, a Tempest T-shirt, Shakespeare-themed stationery, and some English goodies like Shakespeare-blend tea and jam.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mom and Me Mondays: How Much Does Your Head Weigh? by Marg Meikle

How Much Does Your Head Weigh? The Big Fat Book of Facts
by Marg Meikle
Illustrated by Tina Holdcroft
Scholastic Canada Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-4431-0047-2
Suggested Age: 9 - 12

Description: Why is 13 unlucky?
Why dont tattoos come off?
Do twins have the same DNA?
What did we use before toilet paper?
Do animals dream?
Why cant you tickle yourself?
Can humans spontaneously combust?
Why is it called a hat trick?

Customs . . . food . . . superstitions . . . sports . . . animals . . . inventions . . . science . . . Crammed with tons of laughs and stats, this HUGE book of facts answers more than 300 weird and wonderful questions. Amaze yourself, baffle your friends. From Silver Birch Award Winner Marg Meikle. Over 400 pages of fun!

Jake's Review:  Mom did you know that in the olden days left-handed people were considered "EVIL" (mom's note: Well that explains a lot about your father LOL)  Did you know that if you put someone's hand in warm water when they are asleep, they will Pee. I am soo doing that to Jesse tonight (mom's note: hmm, Jake you want to read something else now) This book is really good but it is way too big to read all at once.  I think we should read 5 facts a night (Mom's note: we did and this was a BRILLIANT idea) instead.  I really like the pictures and think there should be more of them. Some of the stuff was really funny and I liked that the girl author wrote things that boys would like.  I think my friend Ben would like this and probably would read it all at once.  The rest of my friends would take one look at the thickness of this book and run away.  I also wish there were less big words.

Jake's Rating: 7 3/4 / 10 (he's been working on math this summer)

Mom's Review:  What a brilliant bloody book. Lots of interesting information presented in a way that kids don't even realize they are learning something.  Jake had an brilliant idea of just reading a couple of facts each night so that he wouldn't be overwhelmed by the book. This really worked for us and it led to some lovely family time. The author also puts in lots of descriptions that will appeal to young boys (and mom's like me who basically are 9 yr old boys) and reluctant readers. I agree with Jake on the illustrations, they were fun, but I would have liked more of them. As Jake mentioned there were a lot of big words, but I liked that because he came to me and asked me what they meant, which led to lots of interesting conversations (e.g Spontaneous Human Combustion) This is a must have for every public and middle school library.  We will definitely be keeping this one -- and lending it out of course.  Also as a Library worker, I LOVED the Index at the back

Mom's Rating: 9/10

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Death's Excellent Vacation Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner: Book Review

Death's Excellent Vacation
Various Authors (Including Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost & Katie MacAlister)
Ace Books (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-0-441-01868-0

Description:The editors of Wolfsbane and Mistletoe and Many Bloody Returns deliver a new collection-including a never-before-published Sookie Stackhouse story. New York Times bestselling authors Charlaine Harris, Katie MacAlister, Jeaniene Frost-plus Lilith Saintcrow, Jeff Abbott, and more-send postcards from the edge of the paranormal world to fans who devoured Wolfsbane and Mistletoe and Many Bloody Returns.

With an all-new Sookie Stackhouse story and twelve other original tales, editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner bring together a stellar collection of tour guides who offer vacations that are frightening, funny, and touching for the fanged, the furry, the demonic, and the grotesque. Learn why it really can be an endless summer-for immortals

Have to review this one a little different since there are so many different authors and stories.

Two Blondes by Charlaine Harris -4/5: Fun story with Sookie and my favorite character Pam.  As soon as I knew Pam was going to be in story, knew I would like it.  One character that is awesome in both the books and the TV show.

"Somehow, I got the feeling you really didn't think enough of humans to want to claim one as a friend." (Sookie)
"You're not as intolerable as most," Pam said Lightly

The Boys Go Fishing by Sarah Smith - 3/5: This one didn't do it for me.  Found myself confused with what was going on.  Good writer, really can set a mood, but the story was so so

"Robin grew up, came out, moved to San Fransico, he's in politics now. The Bat retreated into "scientific experiments."

One for the Money by Jeaniene Frost -5/5 Frickin awesome as usual. Outstanding, especially for a short story. I adore Cat and Bones. Loved the scenes between Bones and Cat's Mom. 

"Of course, Bones always looked good enough to eat. Whoever said don't play with your food sure hadn't been a vampire."

Meanwhile, Far Across the Caspian Sea... by Daniel Stashower -5/5 I absolutely loved this story and was extremely disappointed when it ended, because I just wanted to know more.  Must go find out more about this author. This one grabbed your attention from the first line and never let go. This story alone is worth the price of the book

"he radiated a sense of wary befuddlement, as though someone kept hiding his stapler."

The Innsmouth Nook by A Lee Martinez - 4/5 Delightful story, reminded me a little of some of Stephen King's short fiction (the good stuff). Awesome beginning and nice light dry humor. Loved the two main mail characters and the dialogue between the two.

"It was just a tentacle, reaching out from the great unknown, from that horrible place where credit card bills, junk mail and despair were spawned."

"They've made some terrific advances in gaydar, dude."

Safe and Sound by Jeff Abbott - 3.5/5: Good story, drags a little and some of story doesn't make sense, but still enjoyed it. Great characters and author great at setting mood

"Someone went shopping at the unsolicited opinion store"

Seeing is Believing by L A Banks - 3/5: Not bad, was sorta of irritated with the manner of speaking of some of the characters and was a little confused at times on who was being discussed. Author has incredible talent with setting a scene and the mood of the setting. Loved the characters though

"Boy, I used to change your diapers, so don't sass me."

 The Perils of Effrijim by Katie MacAlister - 3.5/5: Loved this authors writing and her wit, but found myself lost in the world she was creating. I think I would have given this a higher rating if I had read one of her novels first. Natasha agrees with me on this point.  Must say I really enjoyed her dialogue though and will be checking out some of her other works. Loved the part about My Humps -- funny stuff!

"It's just not a good idea for me to take on girl form. 'Cause if I did, all I'd do is jump up and down and watch by boobs bounce."

Thin Walls by Christopher Golden - 3/5: Old fashioned horror sort of story.  Author quite exceptional at setting mood of story quite quickly. Very sexual. 

 "Honey, trust me, I'll make you forget your own name."

The Heart is Always Right by Lilith Saintcrow -4/5: Interesting and quite different. Never read a story about gargoyles before. Main character is quite sweet and the story was just really enjoyable.

 "And the shell shocked look in her swollen red-rimmed eyes was enough to make me feel as if I'd stepped on a fluffy helpless kitten."

The Demon in the Dunes by Chris Grabenstein -4/5: Good old fashioned nostalgic "horror" story, really enjoyed it and the ending was unexpected. Again another author who really knows how to set the mood and landscape for his story.

"The critics always label my impossibly busty Amazon in her tight, revealing costume as "nothing more than an adolescent sexual fantasy."

Home from America by Sharan Newman - 2/5: Just couldn't get into this one and really didn't like the ending.  Also didn't like the main character, which probably really affected my enjoyment of the story.

"What the hell..?" he said, reading the titles of the seminars. "How to keep your pot of gold in trying times." "Invisibility, the best defense." "Which end of the rainbow." "To jig or not to jig, fighting the stereotypes."

Pirate Dave's Haunted Amusement Park by Toni L P Kelner - 4/5: Delightful and fun. Excellent dialogue. Looking forward to reading some of the authors' other works.

"After all the diets I'd endured and the exercise regimens I'd abandoned, it had taken being turned into a werewolf to give me the figure I'd always wanted."

4/5 Dewey's - Worth the price, just for the Jeaniene Frost and Daniel Stashower stories!

I received this from Penguin in return for an honest review

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters
by Natalie Standiford
ISBN: 978-0-545-10710-5
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Ages: 13+ (Just a suggestion)

Description: Description: The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . .and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless.
Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year's Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it.

And so the confessions begin....

The Good Stuff
  • The style of writing is perfectly suited for the story. It sounds like it is actually being written by teenage girls
  • Delightfully eccentric and lovable characters
  • Nothing stereotypical about the characters (The rich people are not horrific like in most stories)
  • Reminded me of the books I read as a teen
  • Light, optimistic and downright funny at times
  • The sisters are delightful and would love to be friends with them
  • Absolutely wonderful ending
  • Love the relationships between the girls and their family
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Would have liked more back story on Almighty
  • Last sisters story felt a little rushed
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"..but mostly she has that thing -- I can't say exactly what it is but it's like knowing you're hot makes you even hotter."

"Lucky guess," Sassy said. "Throughout history, big changes always start with a girl meeting a boy."

"For all I know he's got a Starfleet captain's uniform hidden in there.  If he wants to wear it to a debutante party, that's up to him."

"I don't want to waste my life as a rich, spoiled girl. Who knows how long I have before some weirdo takes me hostage in a convenience store and kills me."

What I Learned

  • All rich people aren't selfish, rude and evil
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Teens will love this as well as adults looking for something to make them feel young again
  • Jaded YA readers may not enjoy as it is light with barely any sexuality, violence or severe angst
4/5 Dewey's

I received this from Scholastic in return for an honest review

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Desire Me by Robyn DeHart: Mini Book Review

Desire Me
by Robyn DeHart
Hachette Books
ISBN: 978-0-446-54197-8

Descripton: Years ago, Maxwell Barrett found a map to Atlantis and dedicated his life to the search for the mystical lost continent. But when an alluring woman makes a wager for the priceless artifact, he may have discovered an even greater treasure.

A descendant of Atlantis, Sabine Tobias needs the map to decipher an ancient prophecy. What she doesn't need are the sparks flying between her and Max. He's too devilishly charming to be trusted: The fate of her people is at stake as well as her heart. Yet a ruthless killer also covets the map. Now Max and Sabine must race to decode the prophecy's riddle before this criminal fulfills his deadly mission.

Review: Just going to do a quick review on this one, as I didn't write any notes or anything.  This was a delightful quick read that I read yesterday while off sick.  It made me forget for a while how crappy I felt while I lost myself in the authors well written story. An interesting take on the Atlantis theory with lots of unusual and interesting characters.  The Hero is an intelligent hero with a bid of a naughty streak, which is always fun to read and the heroine is strong and feisty and doesn't take crap from the hero.  A lovely story for reading at the beach, on a cold Canadian winter night or just while home sick. I will also be heading out to the library or book store to check out some of the authors other books. Fans of Amada Quick will enjoy.

3/5 Dewey's

I won this from another blog (Sorry cannot remember from which one) and I didn't have to review it, I just felt like it since it was such a delightfully light read.