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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

J by Howard Jacobson - Steer Clear, Oh Fearless Readers!

I can honestly say that this was the absolute weirdest work of fiction that I have ever read in my 32 years. The only reason that I continued until the final page is because part of me was hoping that I could figure out what in the heck was going on with the plot. However, sadly, this never happened. Alas, I wasted my time reading a book that made absolutely no sense to me. The title J doesn't even make sense. Part of the story is that the people are not allowed to utter words with the letter "j" in them so the letter j has two lines crossing it out in the actual text wherever it appears. Very strange, indeed. I wanted to find out what the big deal was with the letter "j", but that never happened either. There was quite a bit of misplaced use of very inappropriate words, extremely strange sexual acts or talk of such, as well as a few murders. If you happen to be a glutton for punishment or want to try to decipher this strange work of fiction for yourself and let me know if you can figure out what in the heck is going on, please let me know. But, I wouldn't advise it. Thumbs down.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Blogging For Books.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

This was a wonderfully written novel. The author himself is narrating the story of his own childhood, growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The vivid details and descriptive writing throughout the entire book provide the reader with the sense of being there witnessing all of the events as they unfolded. The story provides a little bit of mystery, and the narrator gives away only tiny pieces of the puzzle at a time, before finally in the final few pages the pieces all fit together. I hope the author writes more novels, because his writing style is beautiful. I plowed through this book in a day and a half because I wanted to find out where all of the characters ended up after their childhood is sweltering hot Baton Rouge in the early 90's. Great, great book!

The book will be published on February 5, 2015.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Accident by Chris Pavone

This was the perfect suspenseful mystery read for a librarian like myself. The suspense is attributed to an anonymously written manuscript called The Accident, which is sent to a literary agent and then shared purposefully and inadvertently with many other agents, book editors, and publishers. The manuscript contains incriminating material about a top media mogul, so incriminating that the holders of the manuscript begin to disappear. The book was well written, as it jumped back and forth between the different characters and their situations, as related to the reading and receiving the manuscript. The pace increases substantially as the characters' paths begin to cross in more ways than one, and not always in positive ways. I really enjoyed the book, especially learning more about the inside world of book editing and publishing. That is my other dream job. Great book!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Mistletoe Promise - by Richard Paul Evans (Why Did This Story Have to End?!)

Front Cover

Wow! This is a powerful little book by one of the greats, Richard Paul Evans. I read the book in one evening, because I couldn't put it down. At times, I laughed out loud at the arrangement (the Christmas season promise) that was set up by two lonely individuals, Elise and Nicholas. And, of course, I cried during much of it. Richard Paul Evans has a knack for writing stories that you could imagine happening in any family, especially in this story as both Elise and Nick's tragedies could easily be found on the evening news. The beauty of this book is that no matter how terrible the tragedy, an individual can overcome grief with love and companionship of another with a similar set of circumstances. This book doesn't include any negative language or steamy scenes. The romance is hinted at, but not explicit. Make sure you are prepared for crying, because I can almost guarantee you it will happen. However, I didn't say the crying was because of bad things. Much of the book is very touching and heartwarming. Your favorite librarian says: Read It!!

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy reading these fabulous book as much as I do.

Merry Christmas to you and your families.

Monday, December 8, 2014

If We Survive by Andrew Klavan

I normally do not read much YA (even though I am a K-12 Librarian and should read much more of it). However, I heard about this book at the last library conference that I attended. This book is on the 2015 Elliot Rosewater Award nominee list (which is an Indiana state book award). After reading the blurb, I decided to give it a try. I am really glad I did. The book was action packed from beginning to end. It reminded me of a younger version of a James Rollins (my fav author) adventure novel. There weren't any adult themes, and the language was very mild. However, the author did a great job of keeping readers on the edge of their toes with building suspense. I can certainly see why this book was chosen as a nominee for the Rosie awards. The short synopsis is that a group of 4 missionary kids and a young pastor are in Central American ready to fly back home when a revolution begins and they are captured by rebel leaders. The group, along with their pilot (who happens to be an ex Marine) are on the run from the rebels, as well as the government. They go through many trials and near death misses in order to get out of Santiago and closer to safety and civilization. This is a page turner! I would highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Someone is Watching by Joy Fielding

This was a good mystery read. I wouldn't say that I loved it, because at times the writing was a little lackluster. However, for a quick read with cheap thrills, this one fits the bill. Much of the plot in the beginning was more of the same thing over and over with recurring bad dreams and such. The subject matter is a little rough, as the main character is raped in the very beginning of the book. The story line becomes interesting as she starts to let people back into her world, after she has become extremely reclusive. There are two major twists at the end, one right after another. I had to finish it in order to see who turned out to be her rapist, because she had a feeling it was someone close to her. The author did a great job of building suspense. The surprise ending packs a punch. Not a read for the faint of heart. I gave myself a few nightmares. But it was worth it!

The book will be published March 24, 2015.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

I'm a huge fan of Tess Gerritsen and have read all of her novels so far. Die Again is the latest in the Rizzoli & Isles series. This was certainly one of my favorites. I really enjoyed how the story went back and forth between present day Boston and Botswana, Africa 7 years prior, when a group of campers disappeared. Like all of her novels, it is clear that Tess puts in a lot of hours on research to make the setting and back story realistic. In this case, the research on tigers, leopards, and cougars was very helpful to the story line. The suspense and thrills build as the story develops, and it will keep you turning pages until the very end. Great story!

This book will be published on December 30, 2014.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Furry Logic by Jane Seabrook - A Great Gift Book

Furry Logic: A Guide to Life's Little Challenges by Jane Seabrook is a hilarious, light-hearted gift book. It would be perfect for someone who loves animals, or for anyone that needs a little daily humor. I plan to keep my copy in my office, in case I need to read something funny from time to time. The quotations are funny, and the animal pictures to correspond with them are adorable. My favorite one (pictured above), which will give you a free sneak peak into the book is a picture of a really crazy bird and it says "I never made Who's Who, but I'm featured in What's That." Another favorite is a picture of a meerkat with a crazy look on his face and it says, "I am NOT tense. Just terribly, terribly alert." I laughed out loud while flipping through the book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Fifth Gospel - Ian Caldwell

Fans of Dan Brown, Steve Berry, or James Rollins? This is the perfect novel for you. The novel is quite long, but it is clear that the author did extensive research of the Vatican, Catholicism, and the Shroud of Turin. The story is fast-paced and full of suspense, religious controversy, and a bit of mystery to keep the reader guessing. For a novel with young single priests as the two main characters, one of which was once married and has a young son, the story is not dry or lacking in flavor. If you would like to borrow it, please let me know. It will be published in March 2015.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The 13th Gift - A Truly Moving Holiday Story

The 13th Gift is a true story of one family's difficult Holiday season after the untimely and sudden death of their husband/father. The story is interesting, as it includes a bit of mystery which builds as Christmas day approaches. The book had me laughing out loud as well as crying at times. This is a wonderful story for those that love Holiday novels, but also for anyone who has lost a loved one and had a hard time going through the Holiday season without their loved one present. The author writes exactly how she and her children are feeling in the wake of the loss of their husband/father. The Christmas "miracle" the family experiences is really quite moving and humbling. The greatest message is that anyone can be giving and any day can be like Christmas. What a great book!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gray Mountain - John Grisham's New Hit

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Gray Mountain is mostly what I would expect from reading most of John Grisham's previous novels. The main difference is that this is the first novel with a female in the lead character role. And, Samantha, the main character actually is perfect for this story.

Though it is considered a legal thriller, there is not too much legal jargon. The layperson shouldn't be worried about getting lost in all the legalese and not following the story line. The story is very believable, centered around strip coal mining in Appalachia where small town folk with barely a dime are up against huge wealthy coal mining companies denying any benefits the miners and their families should be receiving. This is where the lawyers come in. Samantha, once a well-paid, overworked New York City lawyer that had never been in a courtroom is laid off and moved to rural Virginia to intern at a legal aid clinic. The story picks up and becomes fast paced once she arrives in Virginia. There are a few subtle hints of romance, but nothing mushy. Because we all know the laws and love do not usually mix, right?

It's clear that Grisham researched the topic and the area of Appalachia well, which makes for a great novel. I would highly recommend checking this one out - if you can get your name on what will probably be a long hold list at your local library.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd

This is a wonderful book for kids. The author has designed the guide so that it is easy to read, appealing, and interesting for children. Not knowing much about graphic design myself, I learned quite a bit and enjoyed it as well. I find that it would also be a useful book to have in the art room, because of the creative design projects in the latter portion of the book. Both the front and back cover are eye-catching and appealing, as well. 

Note: I received this complimentary review copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Foxcatcher - A Gripping Memoir by Mark Schultz

Foxcatcher by Mark Schultz , according to the cover is "the true story of my brother's murder, John du Pont's madness, and the quest for Olympic gold." I received an advanced reader's edition of this book in exchange for a review. The book will be published on 11/18/14 by Dutton. Additionally, the movie will be released in November 2014, as well. Steve Carell stars in the movie as John du Pont and Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz. As always, I would recommend reading the book prior to seeing the film!

The story is interesting, and ultimately has a very sad ending, with the loss of Dave Schultz, multiple time Olympic and World champion wrestler. The author, Mark Schultz, gives great play by play detail into each and ever wrestling match he competed in during his own journey for Olympic gold and World championships. If a reader doesn't really like sports, they may find the wrestling a bit too heavy on the description. However, I am not a sports lover and I felt the book was very well written. The relationship between Mark and his brother Dave is an example of the unbreakable bond of brotherhood. For fans of memoir, true crime, or even fiction, I would recommend this book.

Bread Revolution - An Abundance of Delicious Recipes

Bread Revolution by Peter Reinhart is a beautiful book filled with baking instructions and recipes for many different types of breads. The recipes are a mix of sweet and savory. Many are gluten-free and/or diabetic friendly. The book is sturdy because it is hard-bound, which would help it to hold up longer in the kitchen. The recipes include crackers, biscuits, rolls, pancakes, ciabattas, bagels, croissants, pizza dough, focaccias, cookies, biscotti, and even pretzels. For anyone wanting to bake healthy options, this would be a great guidebook. Chapter 1 includes a step-by-step learning tutorial for the bread baking process. Overall, this is a well put-together book. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Flour + Water Pasta : A beautiful pasta book with extremely fancy recipes.

Flour + Water Pasta by Thomas McNaughton is a beautiful book. Not only is it a cookbook with many sophisticated recipes divided into seasonal groupings, it also includes detailed instructions for making pasta dough to create beautiful fresh pasta of all shapes and sizes. Much like the cover design, the photography within the book is wonderful. Near the back of the book is a two page spread of photos of multi-colored handmade pasta created with the directions in this book. The recipes are certainly a bit on the fancy side, however, for those looking to simply cook a family meal (like myself). However, to the reader interested in cooking technique, this is a fabulous book. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Forgetting Place by John Burley

This book was well written and I enjoyed reading it. The ending totally threw me for a loop. After reading it, I can say that the plot reminded me quite a bit of the book and then movie adaptation Shutter Island. I would have never foreseen this outcome in the early stages of the novel. The author did a great job keeping up the suspense and mystery.

Winter Street - A Heartwarming and Charming Holiday Read

Winter Street was wonderful. I picked it up and read it cover to cover in one marathon reading session because it was so good. Elin Hilderbrand has a knack for hooking the reader with real family drama that the reader must keep reading to find out the outcomes. In years past, Starbucks lattes have been known to throw me into the Holiday spirit. However, this year, I can say for certain that it was Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand. After finishing the book, I just want to make a Christmas dinner and decorate cookies with my mother. The book had many humorous moments that left me laughing out loud. Also included was some romance, but not over the top romance. I love the way Elin weaves in a little romance without being too "Fifty Shades"-ish. Even though the plot weaves back and forth between family members, the story is seamless and intriguing the whole way through. The ending leaves us hanging quite a bit, but that simply means there is hope for a forthcoming series. That makes me happy and excited. Thank you, Elin, for writing such wonderful stories.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis (Similar, but Much Better than Gone Girl!)

I loved this book. It was packed full of suspense and kept me guessing until the end. The reader can't help but feel for the main character, despite her many flaws and turns in the wrong direction. Often compared to Gone Girl, the book does have some similarity, but I felt it was much better written with more plot twists than Gone Girl. The chapters switch back and forth between different character viewpoints, which help keep the suspense momentum going until the very last page. The story is well written and engaging. I would recommend this book without a doubt to fans of any type of novel.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Awesome Idea Book & Stencils for DIY

DIY Type by Dana Tanamachi is a great book for crafters, hobbyists, or anyone who likes to experiment with DIY projects. There are both uppercase and lowercase sets of letter stencils, as well as a few decorative stencils at the end of the book. The book is sturdy so that the stencils will not fall apart after the first usage. The cover is attractive and appealing. This would be a great book to give as a gift. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, October 3, 2014

James Rollins' Newest Sigma Adventure - The 6th Extinction

A fabulous fast-paced action/adventure. James Rollins never disappoints, as his novels always keep you reading furiously until the final pages. He does extensive research into all of the topics covered and provides author's notes at the end of the novel. This is really informative and helps the reader to decipher what is or isn't true in the story. This book hooks the reader from the very beginning and provides thrills the whole way through. I LOVE IT!

Night Blindness by Susan Strecker

Night Blindness is an emotionally gripping and at times tragic novel of lost love and family in the midst of one heartbreak after another. The main character keeps the reader guessing as to which path she will eventually choose with the ending of the story. I was up all night (literally) with my bedside lamp burning bright while my husband slept. I could not put it down. After finishing the book, I couldn't stop thinking about the story. I absolutely loved this book.

Don't Look Back by Gregg Hurwitz

This book was excellent. The reader will find everything they hope for in a suspense novel. I was biting my nails until the finish. Great job, Gregg Hurwitz!! No wonder my absolutely favorite author James Rollins gave you a shout out and recommended this book. It's wonderful!

Mary Kubica's The Good Girl

This book was so good that I could not put it down. I was reading it while feeding my 1 year old baby food with the other hand! The surprise ending really throws the reader for a loop, but in a good way. This is one of the best fast-paced mysteries that I have read in a while. Not your average kidnapping novel, that's for sure! I highly recommend it.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult = Wonderful Read

This was a wonderful book and the ending was not at all what I was expecting. I learned quite a bit about elephants, based upon the research Picoult put into the writing of this book. This is actually one of my favorites from Jodi Picoult so far, next to The Storyteller. Highly recommend it!!!

Big Little Lies by Moriarty packs a BIG PUNCH!

This was an absolutely awesome book. I couldn't put it down. Well done, Liane. I enjoyed this even better than The Husband's Secret!

The Long and Far Away Gone by Lou Berney

This turned out to be a great suspense novel. It started out a bit slow, but once I got into it, I was hooked. I really wanted to find out what actually happened the night of the movie theater robbery and Wyatt's story, as well as what happened to Julianna's sister at the Fair. The author did a great job of weaving the two stories together just a bit so the reader wasn't lost. Well done.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Clever Drawing Guide for Dinosaur Lovers

Draw-A-Saurus is a clever, imaginative drawing guide with step-by-step diagrams for drawing various types of dinosaurs. The author does a great job of laying out the book with eye-catching photos, as well as the black and white guided line drawings. I would recommend this book for older children (middle school age and up) and even adults who love to draw. It would also be great for parents and younger children to team together learning to draw a dinosaur and then color it afterwards. My 5 year old thinks it is wonderful! The title is very clever and the cover and back cover are appealing and eye-catching.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Catch by Taylor Stevens - A Fast Paced Action Thriller

The Catch, the latest installment in the {Vanessa} Michael Monroe series by Taylor Stevens will not disappoint loyal Stevens readers and fans. The well researched plot is fast paced and offers many thrills for the reader. This was a book I couldn't put down until the last page. I'm eagerly awaiting another adventure featuring Michael Monroe. Well done, Taylor Stevens!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A great new sewing stitch handbook!

This book is fabulous for beginning to experience sewers. I'm a beginner myself, and found it to be most helpful for figuring out what all those fancy and unique stitches on my machine are best for when actually sewing. Along with very detailed information for each machine stitch type, there is a section at the back with easy to follow directions and guides for each type of hand stitch. Very well put together and easy to read; this book is a must have for anyone wanting to venture out a bit more and use some different stitches on their machine or by hand. I would highly recommend the book!

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes


Until You're Mine is a thrill ride from start to finish. Even after reading it, I still have chills thinking about some of the scenes. It reads like a movie. At first, the reader may have trouble figuring out which character is narrating the opening prologue, whether it is Zoe the nanny or Claudia the mother. The way I thought the plot would turn was in no way how it actually turned out at the end. The author weaves a complex tale and keeps the reader guessing until the very last sentence. I would most definitely recommend this to loves of mystery/suspense and even horror.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."