Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Swift Pure Cry

Siobhan Dowd's book, A Swift Pure Cry is a Young Adult Fiction book that just did not sit well with me - I barely even wanted to review it - but since I try to keep track of all that I read - I will at least mention it. The main crux of the story is quite sad - three children left very unattended after their mother dies and their father resorts to drinking as a form of forgetting. But the oldest child, Shell, also turns to a boy to spend her time and becomes pregnant. The ending turns into a crime scene as a baby is found dead so Shell has to prove her innocence. Sad, far-fetched maybe - I felt it was just not a great read.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How Do You Say That???

Just what I've always wanted - a way to find out how to say all of those tough author names!!! And HERE it is!!!

Oh and one more tidbit - I have been selected as a Judge on the CYBILS site for the Non-Fiction category - to see my name in lights - go HERE!!! How fun is that - so here I go, off to read, read, read!!! (What's new?!?!?)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pay It Forward

I used the Random Generator and here is the lucky winner - #5!!!!!

So Paige, send me your snail mail address and I will get it right out to you!!!
Congrats and Enjoy!!


I'm a WINNER - well, for a book, at least!!! Yes, Jenn - choose me to win one of her fabulous books. If you want to be a winner too - go HERE and see her fabulous website!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Me & Emma

I literally JUST FINISHED Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock and I am saying, "I just can't believe it!!!" At first I was totally taken in by the story - a VERY dysfunctional family - a mother that remarries a total jerk - he abuses the two daughters - the abuse is horrible - physical, verbal, and sexual - you come to almost hate the mom and her new husband. But, in the telling, you come to love Carrie and Emma. Carrie lives just trying to protect Emma - life is not easy for them, but they stick together and protect one another. They eventually meet Mr. Wilson - a kind, elderly neighbor - who teaches them how to use a gun - yes, you know where this is going - I thought so too - BUT - NO YOU DON'T!!!! There is an absolutlely amazing turn right at the end - I was stunned - that is all I will say - SOMEONE please read this so we can chat!!!!!!

I loved the storyline - it was quite a touching story - but yes, it was tough to read - I just HATE it when adults abuse children - enough said!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Robert's Snow

This is such a great cause - and you all know how much I love Grace Lin - well, her husband has recently passed away from cancer and this fundraiser will help raise money for cancer research. I am glad to be a part of it for more information coming soon!!! If you'd like more information - go here. And another great informational link is here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monk and Neagle

It's OUT!!! It's official - Monk and Neagle's new CD is out!!! I can not even tell you how much I loved this CD - it is WONDERFUL!!! I was sent an early "blogger" copy and have been listening ever since. I would encourage you to go check it out! You will be glad you did!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


The Cybils are back and ready to begin for another round!! If you blog about children's or teen's books and want to participate - stop by their blog and see how to get on board - I am looking forward to it!!! Hope to see you there!!

Go to Bed, Monster!

Go to Bed, Monster! by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz is a new book that crossed my desk that I just had to blog about! We have all had (or know children who have) a fear of monsters. That is why I am so excited about this book - a little girl draws a monster and then spends much of the night entertaining him until it's time to go to bed. This monster doesn't WANT to go to bed - so she must get creative to get him to fall asleep - you will love what she ends up doing!!! This is a super book an the illustrations just add to the appeal!

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See?

If you love THIS or THIS or THIS as much as I do - then you will be thrilled to see this - Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle. All new animals - I can't wait to use it in story hour!!!

What Kinds of Seeds are These?

What Kinds of Seeds are These? by Heidi Bee Roemer and illustrated by Olena Kassian is a wonderful non-fiction children's book on Seeds and Plants. It is very well done - it shows you the seeds on one page and then shows you the plant it comes from on the next - what a great way to visualize the two and how they go together. It would be a great tie-in with THIS!!

Fish, Swish! Splash, Dash!

Suse Macdonald has done it again!! I just loved her latest book, Fish, Swish! Splash, Dash! This is an adorable counting book that never ends - BECAUSE, when you get done, you just flip it over and keep going! The cutout fish are gorgeous - the colors are bright and fun - it would be a great tie-in with a fish unit as well. Make sure not to miss this one - it's a winner!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Blue Nowhere

I go to our local public High School every month and join in on a book discussion group. This month's book was The Blue Nowhere by Jeffrey Deaver. I wasn't excited when they told me the book choice - I had never read this author and he didn't seem to be my regular type of reading, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is fast-paced page turner from page one!! I am telling you even when we discussed it today at the high school, the kids all agreed - just when you thought it couldn't get any worse - it just keeps on throwing you for turns!! The whole book is based on computer/hacking crimes but isn't so technical that you get lost. However, it is guaranteed to make you think twice before you get on the internet next time - for a minute, I almost considered giving up my blogs (ok, only a milli-second and then I gave up that idea!!).

To find out where Deaver's idea for The Blue Nowhere came from - click HERE to read the author interview.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nicole Baart's Blog Tour

I am officially the second stop on Nicole Baart's blog tour - how fun is that?!!? Nicole's first book, After the Leaves Fall, is due out SOON!!! I received a copy and devoured it, and I can't say enough good about it. I did not want it to end and now I can't wait for the sequel!! So, I was thrilled to interview her as a stop on her blog tour. So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy chatting with Nicole:

When did you realize you wanted to write a book?
My earliest memories include wanting to be an author, so I can’t really pinpoint when it all began. I’ve practically been a bookworm since birth and a wannabe author for nearly as long.

How long have you been working on your books?
I wrote After the Leaves Fall in just under six months in my spare time. The book more of less flowed out of me, which is kind of funny because the story was very new in my mind. I have some stories that have been rattling around in there for years, but for some reason I struggle to finish them. Then along comes this character of Julia De Smit, and suddenly I’m writing over 700 pages of her story in no time. Summer Snow, the sequel, came out equally as fast as the first one. I guess together they took me a year to write. Who knows, maybe my next book will be like pulling teeth--it could take years to finish! (Though I kind of doubt it, the story is mostly written in my head already.)

I’ve heard it is a trilogy that you are writing. Can you give us some background? Will they all be about the same characters, what is the main storyline, etc?
Honestly, I don’t know if these books about Julia will become a trilogy or not. Summer Snow is definitely a sequel; it picks up only weeks after the conclusion of After the Leaves Fall. But I’m not sure if there will be a third book or not. I’m not sure if Tyndale would even want a third book in this series! I guess we’ll have to see what happens.

However, I can tell you that Summer Snow contains most of the same characters that readers will hopefully have grown to love in After the Leaves Fall. Plus, there are a few new characters that I am particularly fond of! I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m just crazy about these new additions to Julia’s already complicated life.

As far as a main storyline goes, in both books Julia continues the journey to understanding herself and her place in this world. It’s a simple concept, but something that I think we all struggle with. I think in some ways I wrote After the Leaves Fall because I’ve seen so many people (including myself) stumble through life struggling with those big, existential questions: Who am I? What am I here for? Am I valuable/loved/needed? And often our culture tries to convince us that if we can’t answer those questions with something brilliant and wonderful we are worthless. Our story isn’t worth telling. Instead we focus on the glamour stories, the happily ever after endings, the impossible unrealities we view from our couches. I wanted to tell the story of a normal young woman and show how her life can be, and is, very beautiful even though it is nothing extraordinary in the eyes of the world. In fact, in many ways Julia is a failure in the eyes of the world. That’s the best part about her--her brokenness is exactly where her beauty takes root.

Is it all fictional or does something from your past play into the storylines?
Julia and I don’t have a lot in common. But in some ways I suppose she embodies some of my deepest fears--I think a psychologist would probably be able to show me how I used her to role-play my own reactions to some ugly situations that life could have thrown at me. Or maybe I’m overanalyzing! Anyway, there is very little in her character that is drawn from me.

Two specific elements of the book are very real to me though: the role of Julia’s grandmother in her life and her deep connection to and appreciation of nature. I am very attached to both of my grandmothers and the character of Nellie is an amalgamation of my sweet grandmas. And all the descriptions of the Midwest--the weather, the scenery, the hidden beauty--are from my own experiences. I love Iowa, I think it’s beautiful, and I think that sentiment definitely comes through in the book.

How do you juggle being a busy mom and an author?
It’s hard! I have not been able to write much this summer because our schedules have been so off, and I’m definitely feeling it. I’m just not myself when I’m not writing. But on the other hand, I have had times when I’m writing too much and not spending enough time with my family. It’s a tough balance to strike sometimes, but we (my husband Aaron and I) are learning as we go and willing to adjust as necessary. For now, I write a lot in my head and then scramble like a madwoman when I have time alone with a pen and paper. My mom watches the boys one morning a week and Aaron takes a morning, too, so that’s when I’m most productive. I can do about a chapter a week.

Tell us about the moment when you found out that Tyndale wanted you!
Wow, I don’t know how to describe it. It’s so silly to say this, but I guess I felt like my body no longer had room for my spirit. I wanted to crawl out of my skin because there wasn’t room for me inside of it anymore! For days I just floated around the house smiling like an idiot. Aaron would catch me grinning to myself and start laughing. We laughed a lot for a few weeks. Oh, and my family took me out to a really nice restaurant and gave me a bunch of silly “authorly” gifts: a pair of reading glasses with a long, bead chain, a ream of paper, a pretty scarf…

Who is your favorite author?
Do I have to pick just one? I’ll pretend you wrote authors… J

I love rich language (which explains my adoration for poetry) so I’m a huge fan of Annie Dillard. One of her essays is like eating a single piece of dark chocolate--I could savor it for an hour. This love of language also makes me a sucker for English authors (Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare, etc.). As for newer authors, I’m crazy about Leif Enger’s debut novel Peace Like a River. I could read it again and again.

Thanks Nicole - can't wait to see you read/speak in person soon!!! Now everyone RUN out and buy a copy!!!

If you want to visit other blogs on the tour click HERE.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Kevin and Robin Books

I feel like I have just hit the jackpot!! I found this book publishing company out of Canada and their books are WONDERFUL!! You need to go check them out - today I read Little Joy and Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? I just can not tell you how much I enjoyed them. Some have a wonderful asian flair - and as a mom to an asian daughter - I always love that!! Little Joy is the story of an adopted daugther so that one brought me to tears! Another one I am anxious to read is a new title, To Share One Moon, and this one I plan to use in our annual Moon Festival. The stories are wonderful and the illustrations add even more to the books - you MUST go see them!!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Pay It Forward

Here it is - my September Pay It Forward....

This months' book is God.Com by James Alexander Langteaux. This wonderful book helps you to be interactive and intimate with God. We thought it was a powerful book and can't wait to share it with you!!! Just leave a comment and I will draw a name on Sept. 24.

This is a great giveaway where I send the book to you and you can choose to "Pay It Forward" and send it on to someone else when you are finished!! To learn more about the Pay It Forward concept or see who else is giving away books - go HERE!!!

Weird and Gross Challenge

Chronicle Books so kindly sent me a copy of their Weird and Cross Challenge in their SmartLab Series. AND we haven't stopped playing with it since it came!! My boys are addicted and now it is breakfast, lunch and even supper fun! (I'm thinking it's good for the car too!!) This is a fun book where it gives you a number, you look it up in the book and then try to answer the question using the electronic buttons. I just want to run out and buy some more - we are LOVING it!!! I mean, hey, where else can you learn things like "About how many little pellets does a rabbit poop every day?" OR "Which of the following will hypnotize a chicken?" Ok, we probably won't win Jeopardy with these, but I am convinced that I will win the next game of Weird and Gross Trivial Pursuit!!!

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