Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Blogger Hop- 7/30

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word!  This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read!  So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list below!!

This week's question:
Who is your favorite new to you author so far this year?

I would say Beth Hoffman, author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.  I just finished this book and it was really good.  I had seen this book all over other book blogs and I am glad I read it.  Through her descriptions, you feel like you are really in Savannah. 

Books for Sale

I have a bunch of books I need to get rid of.  All are priced as listed.  All are in very good condition and most have been read only once.  I am willing to trade, or to haggle, especially if you buy more than one book.  Prices do not include shipping.  I will give you a very good deal if you buy more than one Nicholas Sparks book.  I am just trying to get rid of books (and maybe be able to host more giveaways!)

501 Must Read Books $2
I am America (and So Can You)- Stephen Colbert- Hardback $5
Portrait of an Unknown Woman- Vanora Bennett- hardback $5
The Heretic's Daughter- Kathleen Kent   $2
Little Giant of Aberdeen County- Tiffany Baker   $2
Gemma Doyle trilogy (Great & Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far     Thing)- Libba Bray   $5 for all 3/ $2 each
Wherever Nina Lies- Lynn Weingarten   $2
When She Flew- Jennie Shortridge  $2
Percy Jackson series #1-4  $6 for all 4/$2 each
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson #1)  $2
Outlander series (#1-3)- Diana Gabaldon   $5 for all 3/$2 each
The Help- Kathryn Stockett  $5
Wolf Hall- Hilary Mantel  $5
Hunger Games/ Catching Fire   $8 for both/ $5 each
The White Queen- Phiippa Gregory   $5
Cleopatra's Daughter- Michelle Moran   $5
Year of the Flood- Margaret Atwood   $5
The Lost City of Z-  David Grann   $5
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo   $2
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- Jonathan Safran Foer   $2
Ruined- Paula Morris   $5
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet- Jamie Ford   $2
I Am the Messenger- Markus Zusak   $2
3 Weeks with my brother- Nicholas Sparks  $5
Bend in the Road- Nicholas Sparks  $2
The Rescue- Nicholas Sparks  $2
True Believer- Nicholas Sparks   $2
The Guardian- Nicholas Sparks  $2
At First Sight- Nicholas Sparks  $2
The Choice- Nicholas Sparks  $2
Summer Sisters- Judy Blume  $2
Last Summer of You and Me- Ann Brashares- water damaged; free w/any book
Year of Wonders- Geraldine Brooks  $2
She's Come Undone- Wally Lamb  $2
Art of Racing in the Rain- Garth Stein   $2
Chuck Norris vs. Mr. T- Ian Spector   $2
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt-   $5
The Virgin Suicides   $2

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Read a thon

The Bibliophilic Book Blog is hosting a read your own books read a thon.  It will run from 9am Friday August 13th and go until 9am Monday the 16th of August.  I love doing read a thons.  They are a good way to connect with other bloggers. For all of the information, head over to her website. 

Review: Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In: A Novel

Synopsis from Amazon:
Swedish author Lindqvist's debut, a horror novel, offers few twists that won't already be familiar to readers of modern vampire fiction. Oskar, a much bullied 12-year-old schoolboy living in a Stockholm suburb, notices that his next-door neighbor, Eli, has some peculiar traits: Eli only comes out at night, smells like death warmed over and is of ambiguous gender. Eventually, Eli reveals he's a vampire who survives by feeding off the neighborhood lowlifes. Occasionally, his bite accidentally turns victims into undeads who, unaware of their vampirization, go on rampages that end in spectacularly gruesome fates. As sweet as the pure and wholesome friendship between Oskar and Eli may be, it's the gory set pieces that propel the predictable plot.

My review:
I do not like scary books or movies.  I just get way to freaked out by them and have nightmares for weeks.  I also don't really like books about vampires and other supernatural beings.  I saw this book recommended by several people online and ordered it off of  It is supposed to be scary, but I did not find it scary at all, although it did scare me a little bit to read at night (but I'm a wimp.)  The main character Oscar was a little bit annoying (mostly because he was a young boy), but I also felt sorry for him.  I got a little bit confused when the author described what happened to Eli.  This was one of those books that I could not put down.  It was long, but it was a fairly fast read.  I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

All Time Favorite Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started by The Broke and the Bookish.  This is my first week participating.  I am very indecisive, so I find it hard to decide on favorites of anything.  For me, a book is in eligible for my "favorites" if it is one of the few books that I decide to keep and will perhaps re-read.  Here is my list in no particular order.

-Pretty much anything by Margaret Atwood.  I have only read 3 or 4 books by her, but they were all amazing.  I am trying to get my hands on the rest.  My favorite of her books is probably The Blind Assassin.
-  The Harry Potter series.
- Nefertiti by Michelle Moran.  I am fascinated by ancient Egypt, and the writing on her books is so good.
- Jane Eyre
-Night by Elie Wiesel.  For a story as horrific as his is, Wiesel tells it in a beautiful way.
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- 1984
- The Time Traveler's Wife
- Girl with the Pearl Earring- Tracy Chevalier.  The rest of her books are really good too, but this one is the best.
- Brave New World

Recipe: Caprese Salad (sorta)

The other day while I was grocery shopping I found these bocconcini cheese.  I had never heard of them, but I thought they sounded good. I came up with this salad.

2 tomatoes, chopped
3-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped fine (I cut mine with scissors)
1 pkg bocconcini cheese

Mix all ingredients together.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Let stand for a bit for the flavors to merge.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In My Mailbox

IMM is a weekly meme from Kristi from The Story Siren.

I haven't gotten these books yet, but here's what I ordered this week:

The Handmaid's Tale (Everyman's Library)Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors.  This is her most famous and popular book, but I haven't read it yet.

The Queen's Fool: A Novel (Boleyn)

The PassageI am really excited to read this book.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Review: Ruined

Ruined: A Novel

 Synopsis from Amazon:

Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans. She's staying in a creepy house with her aunt, who reads tarot cards. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey gives Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda.
Then one night, among the oak trees in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to show Rebecca the nooks and crannies of New Orleans. There's just one catch.
Lisette is a ghost.

A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.

As Rebecca is drawn deeper into a web of old curses and cryptic customs, she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

My review:
I don't usually read YA, but I won this book in a contest and it sounded good.  It was light and fluffy and entertaining.  I read this during a read a thon, and it was the perfect book to read between heavier books.  Rebecca, the main character, was mostly likable and very different from the rest of the girls in New Orleans.  After the mystery curse was revealed about halfway through the book, it was fairly obvious how it involved Rebecca, but that didn't detract from the story.  The fact that whenever Rebecca touched Lisette, she couldn't be seen was a little weird, but it worked in the story.   I liked how the ending tied everything up.  I really enjoyed this book, and will probably read more by this author.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel

Synopsis from Amazon:
Oskar Schell, hero of this brilliant follow-up to Foer's bestselling Everything Is Illuminated, is a nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist. Like the second-language narrator of Illuminated, Oskar turns his naïvely precocious vocabulary to the understanding of historical tragedy, as he searches New York for the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father when he was killed in the September 11 attacks, a quest that intertwines with the story of his grandparents, whose lives were blighted by the firebombing of Dresden.

My review:
When I started to read this book, I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  It took a little while to get into it.  But, once I got into it, it was a quick read.  The main character Oscar was very likable.  He is 9 years old, but he seemed so much older and more mature, but he still had the innocence of a little boy.  It was really touching to follow Oscar through his search for clues about his father.  I liked the underlying story about his grandparents and how it tied into Oscar's story.  Throughout the book there are pictures and drawings that relate to the story.  I thought this added some interest to the book.  I really liked this book and would definitely read more by this author.

Links I love

I wanted to share some of the links I've come across this week.

As a future librarian, I love this article:  Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries. 

My husband and I dream of starting our own used bookstore some day.  This article about independent bookstores is full of inspiration.

Bookstore Bingo: this article and twitter trend makes me shake my head.

Brimful Curiosities is giving away a book of your choice.

Knitting and Sundries is giving away books of your choice. 
Viva la Fashion is giving away a Target gift card.
Confessions of a Bookaholic is giving away a Sarah Dessen book pack. 
Lovely Rita Ann is giving away a gift card. 
My World.. in words and pages is giving away several prizes.
Bless Their Hearts Mom is giving away Her Fearful Symmetry

Review: The Daughters of Juarez

The Daughters of Juarez: A True Story of Serial Murder South of the Border

Synopsis from Amazon:
For more than twelve years, the city of Juárez, Mexico -- just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas -- has been the center of a horrific crime wave against women and girls. Consisting of kidnappings, rape, mutilation, and murder, most of the atrocities have involved young, slender, and poor victims -- fueling the premise that the murders are not random. As for who is behind the crimes themselves, the answer remains unknown -- though many have speculated that the killers are American citizens, and others have argued that the killings have become a sort of blood sport due to the lawlessness of the city itself. And despite numerous arrests over the last ten years, the murders continue to occur, with the killers growing bolder, dumping bodies in the city itself rather than on the outskirts of town, as was initially the case, indicating a possible growing and most alarming alliance of silence and cover-up by Mexican politicians.

My review:
I picked this book up from a book store because it was on sale. (I'm a sucker for cheap books!)   This book really shocked me.  For years young women have been disappearing from Juarez Mexico, and some of them have been showing up murdered.  I was astounded when I read the number of murders: about 400 in ten years.  Despite the number, officials weren't doing anything about it.  The families of the missing women would go to the police to report them missing and most (if not all) were told that their daughters probably took off with a boyfriend.  What really got to me most about this book is how corrupt the officials in Mexico were.  They arrested several suspects, and tried them for some of the murders, despite having no solid evidence.  This book was well researched and put together.  The author is a journalist and did many interviews with the people of Juarez, including family members of murdered girls and some of the suspects in prison.  If you like true crime, you would like this book.  I really liked that it didn't go into a lot of detail regarding the murders.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Product Review: CSN Stores

I got the chance to review something from CSN Stores.  I have seen lots of these reviews and giveaway around the blogosphere and thought I would give it a try.
CSN Stores have over 200 websites that you can shop from.  They have everything from dining room furniture to pet beds.  Here are just a few of the things from their sites that I found.

CSN has a large selection of bookcases.
How pretty is this? Nothing is better than a wall of books.

I really like the color of this one.

I love to spoil my cat and I would love to get him some of their pet beds.

This one would be perfect for the princess pet.
Check out CSN Stores for a wide selection of products and look for my upcoming review of a product.

Cheescake Stuffed Strawberries

I have seen this recipe posted on a number of blogs.  Cheesecake is my favorite dessert, so I decided that I would make these.  I don't have a picture, because I cannot find my camera cord (also mine were not very pretty).

I saw them most recently on Indigo's Sugar Spectrum.

1-2 Packages of Strawberries (depending on your stuffing)
1 8oz package of Cream Cheese
1 1/4 tsp of Vanilla Extract (add more depending on your taste)
¾ cup Powdered Sugar
6-8 Graham Crackers, lightly crushed

Wash your berries and then dry. When ready hold the berry and cut a thin piece off of the side.
Next take a small spoon and remove the white inside portion of the strawberry, leave a nice void in the center in order to fill with our cream cheese mixture.
Now for the cream cheese filling. Mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. This can be made ahead of time if needed. Once ready take a spoon and fill each strawberry with the mixture.
Now take your crushed grahams and place them on a plate, take each strawberry and *smoosh* it down into the crumbs – cream cheese side down.

When I made mine, I cut a cross in the bottom of the berry and piped the cream cheese in.  When I make them again, I am going to make them the way listed on Indigo's Sugar Spectrum.   They are pretty and I think the graham crackers would really add something to them.

Review: The Art Thief

The Art Thief: A Novel

Synopsis from Amazon:
Rome: In the small Baroque church of Santa Giuliana, a magnificent Caravaggio altarpiece disappears without a trace in the middle of the night. Paris: In the basement vault of the Malevich Society, curator Geneviéve Delacloche is shocked to discover the disappearance of the Society's greatest treasure, White-on-White by Suprematist painter Kasimir Malevich.
London: At the National Gallery of Modern Art, the museum's latest acquisition is stolen just hours after it was purchased for more than six million pounds.
In The Art Thief, three thefts are simultaneously investigated in three cities, but these apparently isolated crimes have much more in common than anyone imagines. In Rome, the police enlist the help of renowned art investigator Gabriel Coffin when tracking down the stolen masterpiece. In Paris, Geneviéve Delacloche is aided by Police Inspector Jean-Jacques Bizot, who finds a trail of bizarre clues and puzzles that leads him ever deeper into a baffling conspiracy. In London, Inspector Harry Wickenden of Scotland Yard oversees the museum's attempts to ransom back its stolen painting, only to have the masterpiece's recovery deepen the mystery even further.

My review:
I bought this book on sale at a bookstore.  I picked it up because I am really interested in art and museums.  Most of the book felt like it was trying to hard to be "The DaVinci Code."  The story kept switching back and forth between places and story lines, and it was a little hard to follow at times.  I liked how the story lines came together in the end, but it was a little clumsy getting there.  Also, I felt that there were too many things going on at once, which made it difficult for me to remember what was happening in each story line.  The book was well written and not predictable, which I liked.  I like how the author wrapped up all the story lines and tied them together.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Atonement


Synopsis from Amazon:
We meet 13-year-old Briony Tallis in the summer of 1935, as she attempts to stage a production of her new drama "The Trials of Arabella" to welcome home her older, idolized brother Leon. But she soon discovers that her cousins, the glamorous Lola and the twin boys Jackson and Pierrot, aren't up to the task, and directorial ambitions are abandoned as more interesting prospects of preoccupation come onto the scene. The charlady's son, Robbie Turner, appears to be forcing Briony's sister Cecilia to strip in the fountain and sends her obscene letters; Leon has brought home a dim chocolate magnate keen for a war to promote his new "Army Ammo" chocolate bar; and upstairs, Briony's migraine-stricken mother Emily keeps tabs on the house from her bed. Soon, secrets emerge that change the lives of everyone present....

My (quick) review:
I had started this book a couple of times and just couldn't get into it.  I had heard such great things about it that I decided to give it another shot and really try to get through it.  I really did not like the main character Briony.  She is spoiled and bossy.  Some parts, especially at the beginning, confused me.  When the main plot is introduced, it is evident right away that Briony is lying, although her motive is not clear.  I had read a couple of other books by this author and loved them, but I did not enjoy Atonement as much.  I definitely don't think that it is worthy of being nominated for the Booker Prize.

Review: City of Beasts

City of the Beasts (P.S.)

Synopsis from Amazon:
When 15-year-old Alexander Cold is sent to stay with his eccentric, gruff grandmother, Kate, while his mother is being treated for cancer, he is more than a little reluctant to accompany Kate on a writing assignment in South America to search for a legendary nine-foot-tall "Beast." However, once the expedition down the Amazon begins, Alexander's doubts are pushed out of his mind by more immediate concerns, such as keeping an eye on two suspicious members of the party: a native named Karakawe and Mauro Cari as, a wealthy entrepreneur. After Alexander's mysterious encounter with a caged jaguar, another teen, Nadia, explains its importance to him, and begins calling Alexander "Jaguar." This marks the beginning of their somewhat surreal journey: the two teens are kidnapped by the "People of the Mist," a tribe possessing the power of turning invisible, and enter a mountain to discover the mythical city of El Dorado and the enigmatic "Beasts." Reluctant readers may be intimidated by the thickness of this volume, but the plot moves at a rapid pace, laced with surprises and ironic twists.

My Review:
This is the first book by Isabel Allende I have read.  I have several of her other books, but I decided to read this one first, not realizing that it was young adult.  Overall I thought this book was just okay.  The main character, Alex seemed younger than fifteen.  I thought the premise of his grandmother taking him to the middle of the Amazon a little bit far-fetched.  Most of the adults in the book were portrayed as dumb and like they did not have a clue what was going on.  Most of the book was very predictable and a bit far fetched.  If I had not heard such great things about her other books, based on just this one, I would not read any other books by this author.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Giveaway Winner

The winner of my 50 followers giveaway is:
Andrea Mason

Thanks to everybody who entered!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Review: The Sheltering Sky

The Sheltering Sky (P.S.)

Synopsis from Amazon:
American novelist and short-story writer, poet, translator, classical music composer, and filmscorer Paul Bowles has lived as an expatriate for more than 40 years in the North African nation of Morocco, a country that reaches into the vast and inhospitable Sahara Desert. The desert is itself a character in The Sheltering Sky, the most famous of Bowles' books, which is about three young Americans of the postwar generation who go on a walkabout into Northern Africa's own arid heart of darkness. In the process, the veneer of their lives is peeled back under the author's psychological inquiry.

My Review:
I read this book because it is on several best books lists that I am working on completing.  The book follows three people traveling in the dessert of Africa (they never really specify the exact country).  This book never really pulled me in, but it was just interesting enough that I didn't really want to give up on it.  I kind of wish that I had.  I found the characters, a husband and wife and their friend, to be boring and spoiled.  Each new place they traveled to, they complained about.  Most of all, the husband and wife complained about the "friend" they were traveling with and hatched ways to get rid of him.  Towards the end something mildly interesting happened to the characters, but honestly, I just didn't care.  The ending was confusing, and I did not know what was happening to the wife.  I also felt like the author just stopped writing, and didn't really wrap up the book.

2 stars 

Review: First They Killed My Father

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (P.S.)

Synopsis from Amazon:
Written in the present tense, First They Killed My Father will put you right in the midst of the action--action you'll wish had never happened. It's a tough read, but definitely a worthwhile one, and the author's personality and strength shine through on every page. Covering the years from 1975 to 1979, the story moves from the deaths of multiple family members to the forced separation of the survivors, leading ultimately to the reuniting of much of the family, followed by marriages and immigrations. The brutality seems unending--beatings, starvation, attempted rape, mental cruelty--and yet the narrator (a young girl) never stops fighting for escape and survival. Sad and courageous, her life and the lives of her young siblings provide quite a powerful example of how war can so deeply affect children--especially a war in which they are trained to be an integral part of the armed forces. For anyone interested in Cambodia's recent history, this book shares a valuable personal view of events.

My Review:
I love books like this that tell a personal story but also tell about different cultures and times.  This book is about the author's experiences in Cambodia during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, starting when she was only 5 years old.  Since she was so young during this time, she did not really know what was happening.  She was forced to grow up way too fast and experience truly awful things.  This book was really well written and I felt a connection to the author.  I was deeply touched by her devotion to her family; several times she risked her life just to go see her remaining family members who lived miles away.  Despite the terrible things that happened to her, the author overcame them and came to America with one of her brothers.  I will definitely pick up other books by this author.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Blogger Hop- 7/16

Every week I look forward to the Book Blogger Hop. It is a great way to get to know other bloggers and to get new followers.  This week's question:


There are several books that I can't wait to get and read.  But since I try not to buy books that often (especially in Canada since they are more expensive) I may have to wait awhile.  Here are the ones that are at the top of my list.

Mockingjay- I already have this one pre-ordered (I won it in a contest). 
The Passage
Backseat Saints
My Name is Memory

Current giveaways

Here are some current giveaways on other sites.  I will update this periodically.

50 Follower giveaway- Words on Paper
Win a gift pack from Cafe Press- The Giveaway Diva 
Win a gift card to Borders or Starbucks- Diary of a Fair Weather Diver 
Win an Amazon gift card- One Frugal Lady 
Win a book of your choice- Today and Everyday 
Win a book of your choice- The Subtle Chronicler 
Win a gift card of your choice- My life with rats and more 
Win Hidden Wives- Crazy for Books 
Win an Amazon gift card- Moms Focus Online 
Win a Chili's gift card- A Happy Hippy Mom 
Win an Amazon gift card- Chickolith 
Win an Amazon gift card- Postscholastica 
Win an Amazon gift card- Book Room Reviews 
Win an Amazon gift card- Wallet Genius 
Win an Amazon gift card- Robodustrial 
Win a Michael's gift card- Paper and Cake 
Win a food processor- Fashion Meets Food 
Win an Amazon gift card- Thanks, Mail Carrier 
Win an Amazon gift card- Book Room reviews 
Win an Amazon or Bath and Body Works gift card- Mother of Pearl It is

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon Wrap Up

I had a lot of fun doing this read-a-thon even though I did not get to read as much as I had hoped.  Here is what I read:

The Art Thief- finished
Ruined- finished
Black Dahlia- read 50 pgs (gave up on)
I Like You- finished
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- read 100 pgs (about 1/3 of book)
Let the Right One In- read 200 pgs (about 1/2 of book)

Let the Right One In: A Novel
I would say that Let the Right One In is my favorite book I read during the read-a-thon. 

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon Update: Day 2

I managed to get quite a bit of reading done yesterday.

The Art Thief- finished- 50 pages
Ruined- finished- 302 pgs
I Like You- finished 298 pgs

I haven't decided what I am going to read today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon Mini Challenge

This mini-challenge is sponsored by A Blog about Nothing.  Her challenge is to come up with a book you would like to see made into a movie/tv show and who you would pick to be in it.

One of my favorite books I have read this year is The Lost City of Z.  I think it would make a great movie, because it is full of action and mystery.  I think Brad Pitt would be a great choice for the adventurer Percy Fawcett, whose voyages the author follows throughout the book.

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon Update- Day #1

I got a decent amount of reading done yesterday.  Here is what I read:

The Black Dahlia- 50 pgs- gave up on
The Art Thief- 250 pages

Ruined: A Novel

My planned reading for today:
Finish The Art Thief- 50 pages left

Monday, July 12, 2010

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon Mini Challenge #1

Jenn from Book Crazy is hosting a mini-challenge for the Once Upon a Read-a-Thon.  Her mini challenge is to put a character or book to music or pictures. 

My character is Bill Compton from the Sookie Stackhouse series.  I don't know how to upload a video, but here is the link.  The song is For Another Day by Nikki Yanofsky.

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon Kick Off

Today is the start of the Once Upon a Read-a-Thon.  I will be posting updates and mini-challenges throughout the next couple of days.

The Art Thief: A Novel
Right now I am reading The Art Thief by Noah Charney.

Friday, July 9, 2010

April Showers giveaway

April Showers Blog Design is holding a giveaway for a complete Blogger or Wordpress design.  You can find the details and enter here.  Take a look at her portfolio too. She has really cute designs and even tutorials.