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Teresa's Reading Corner: June 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Author Spotlight: Michael Ruddy

Today's Author Spotlight is shining on Michael Ruddy who wrote Conflicts with Interest.  Please welcome him as he tells us about inspiration.
Make Me Write It

An inspiration that not only creates a plot line, but a novel and writing vocation as well——the best way to explain it? Let’s say you experience something in life that you know is not legitimate. You’re not completely sure though, because you’re still thinking naively that most of the world is trustworthy. But after a few more coincidences it’s obvious, the probability of events proves highly improbable. Now you are focused.

You begin to suspect and question——everything that has one dollar of interest in conflict with your genuine belief of fair and just. It’s the same from any viewpoint. The answers become an unbelievable convergence of conflict from many different directions, even related parties with different interests.

You become party to a lawsuit that unfolds slowly as you learn the legal process. “Can it be true?” you ask yourself——then start examining each detail of conflict for a better understanding and possible explanation. Instead, only validating the corruption laced into the present day system. More disappointment.

Why didn’t anyone teach you about this? Why has nothing been published on the topic; or the possibility, if nothing else?

It has been said that anger and frustration equal motivation. Call it inspirational anger, perhaps, but there was a need to tell the story of frustration for others. And, once I started processing the frustration, it acted in a therapeutic way … giving way to exposing more stories to come … wanting the reader to derive a real-life benefit from each story.

——Michael Ruddy, Author of Conflicts with Interest.

Michael Ruddy is a graduate of the University of Denver with a degree in engineering administration. He has spent the last forty years associated with both the commercial and residential disciplines of the construction industry, which inspired many of the events in his novel, Conflicts with Interest. Currently, he resides in Boulder, CO with his wife, five children, dog and cutting horses. While the author has been published in short-story format, Conflicts with Interest is his debut novel.

You can find Michael online at

Thank you Michael!


Literary Road Trip: Conflicts with Interest by Michael Ruddy

Synopsis from Goodreads:   T.R. Morgan, a seasoned building professional, finds himself entangled in the combined corruption of the high profile law firm that is attacking him and the insurance companies that are supposed to defend him. Still enduring the painful memories brought on by the tragic death of his wife, he soon finds out, nothing involving lawyers and insurance companies happens quickly. Instead of resolution, T.R., unwittingly enters a world of human trafficking, drugs, and illicit sex taking place behind the scenes. And his story comes forward to an explosive climax that no one could possibly foresee, least of all T.R. himself. This suspenseful tale of contemporary fiction is packed with enlightenment and high-stakes characters; provoking thought on a new subject in a new light.

My thoughts:  I am constantly in search of Colorado based authors for my participation in the literary road trip hosted by Jenn's Bookshelves.  When I saw the description for Conflicts with Interest as part of a Pump Up Your Book promotion I knew I had to read it.   Michael Ruddy lives in Boulder, CO and was a perfect addition to my Literary Road Trip lineup.  He also writes about real estate, which is a subject that I have a bit of background in.

I'll admit it, I'm a fan of legal novels.  I have read and enjoyed many of John Grisham's novels.  The big difference with this one is that the story you are following is that of the clients and not the lawyers.  The story centers around a single transaction that occurred years before but has been brought to the forefront of the characters lives by a potential lawsuit. 

Having spent time working with both Real Estate and the law I was drawn into the story.  There was a lot of legal jargon, but not so much that a layperson would not be able to follow what was happening. 

It might just be a personal thing that I've developed since spending so much time reading books in a series, but I would have liked to get to know the main characters a little better.  You learned just enough to get through the story.  We are introduced to T.R.'s love interest and we get glimpses of the personal relationships outside the father/son dynamic, but not much more. The story does take some twists and turns that I wasn't expecting, but I don't want to say much more than that because I don't want to spoil it for you. 

This is Michael Ruddy's first novel and I enjoyed it immensely.  I do recommend it to readers who enjoy suspense and intrigue in a more business setting without a lot of fluff. 

Disclosure:  I received a copy of Conflicts with Interest from the author through his publicist in exchange for my honest review.  Receipt of this book did not affect my opinion in any way.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Want some Great Beach Reads...

I just found out about a fantastic giveaway being hosted by Christine Lemmon.  In honor of the release of Sand in My Eyes she is giving away the ultimate beach bag.  Check out the announcement...

Between today and July 1 when Sand in my Eyes releases, I am giving away some of the best beach books of summer!
Pre-order Christine Lemmon's new book, Sand in my Eyes, from Amazon now, email your receipt to with subject line Beach Bag Giveaway, and you'll be entered to win a beach bag full of 7 fabulous new summer beach reads including Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook, The Island by Elin Hilderbrand, Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner, The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch, The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen, The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst and Thin Rich Pretty by Beth Harbison.

Added bonus: I'm throwing in a sweet pair of women's Oakley sunglasses and a $50 Amazon gift card for even more reading fun.

I've heard some great things about all of these books.  I've even got a few of them in my pile of books to read.  Look for my review of Sand in My Eyes soon!  If you enter and win, you must come back and tell me about it.  Good Luck!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

First Impressions: Shoulder Bags and Shootings by Dorothy Howell

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
Fashionista and amateur sleuth Haley Randolph is in hot pursuit of the season's newest must-have handbag. But soon she's also in hot pursuit of a killer--when she discovers the corpse of none other than her designer purse party rival. . .

Life is beyond fabulous at the moment for Haley Randolph. She just spent two amazing weeks in Europe with her boyfriend Ty Cameron, owner of Holt's Department Store where Haley works. And now Ty's grandmother, Ada, is letting Haley drive her way-cool Mercedes. Things would be perfect if she could just get her hands on her latest fashion obsession: the new Sinful handbag.

Every store in town is out of stock, and Haley would rather die than buy a knockoff. But when she finds the body of her nemesis, Tiffany Markham, in the trunk of Ada's Mercedes, she's not so sure she wants to trade places after all. . .

Topping the list of suspects, Haley doesn't deny seeing red when Tiffany and her business partner not only stole her purse party idea, but also made more money. But Haley wasn't jealous enough to commit murder. Now she'll have to solve this mystery quickly--and find that Sinful bag--before she becomes a killer's next fashion fatality. . .

My thoughts:  I'm not one of those women who has a different handbag for every occasion.  I'm more of a grab and go kind of girl, but I can certainly understand the appeal.   I am certainly looking forward to reading this one.  This is the third installment in what is becoming known as the Haley Randolph series.  I haven't read the first two which are Handbags and Homicide and Purses and Poison.

Shoulder Bags and Shootings is coming out on June 29th.  Grab a copy and lets talk about it.  


Friday, June 25, 2010

The Friday Blog Hop!

Happy Friday Everyone!  I am so excited for this weekend.  I'm ready for some downtime. 

The Friday Blog hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books.  It is a simple but fantastic idea.  All you do is link up your blog and then visit others who have done the same.  Its a great way to connect with other book bloggers.

Visit Crazy for Books and add your link.  Make sure that you blog about it as well so that those that visit you have a place to say hello.

If you've come to Teresa's Reading Corner from the hop, welcome!  I read and review a variety of books including contemporary fiction, classics, historical fiction, and children's books.  I've got some great reviews coming up and several giveaways scheduled.  It's going to be a busy summer at Teresa's Reading corner.  I hope that you will become a follower and stick around to participate.

Speaking of giveaways, I've got one going on right now.  One lucky reader will win a copy of The Castaways by Elin Hildebrand.  Fill out the form for your chance.

Make sure you say hello so that I can do the same.

Hoping everyone has a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's Giveaway Time... The Castaways by Elin Hildebrand

Synopsis from Goodreads: Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy's closest friends for what will be revealed.

Thanks to the generous folks at Hachette, I am excited to have the opportunity to offer one of my lucky readers a copy of this book that was just released in paperback on June 8, 2010.

This contest will run through 12:00 PM Mountain Time on July 9th.

All you have to do is follow Teresa's Reading Corner and fill out the form.
Open to US and Canada Only, No PO Boxes

Good Luck!


A Note from an Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker

Synopsis from Goodreads: Brian Weller is a haunted man. It's been two years since the tragic accident that left his three-year-old son dead and his wife in an irreversible coma. A popular author of mega-selling thrillers, Brian's life has reached a crossroads: his new book is stalled, his wife's prognosis is dire, and he teeters on the brink of despair.Everything changes the morning an e-mail arrives from Boston artist Joanna Richman. Her heartfelt note brings back all the poignant memories: the night their eyes met, the fiery passion of their short-lived affair, and the agonizing moment he was forced to leave Joanna forever. Now, fifteen years later, the guilt and anger threaten to overwhelm him. Vowing to make things right, Brian arranges a book-signing tour that will take him back to Boston. He is eager to see Joanna again, but remains unsure where their reunion will lead. One thing is certain: the forces that tore their love asunder will stop at nothing to keep them apart.
Filled with tender romance and taut suspense, A Note from an Old Acquaintance is an unforgettable story about fate, honor, and the power of true love.

My thoughts:  
From Merriam-Webster
Main Entry: soul mate
Function: noun
Date: 1822
1 : a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament
2 : a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs soul mates>

We hear a lot about soul mates in romance novels and on television.  How many of us truly believe in them?  I can tell you that I do, and an informal survey of friends and family reveals that I'm not the only one.  The difference between fiction in reality is in how those relationships are portrayed.  Most fiction leads us to believe that soul mates are perfect beings and these relationships are without issue.  While it is a work of fiction,  A Note from an Old Acquaintance portrays the idea of a soul mate much closer to those of reality.  It tells the story of a man and woman who meet and immediately "click".  They understand and complement one another.  This is what soul mates are to me, two people who complement each other.  Is it possible that we have more than one?  I'm not sure, but I firmly believe that each of us has one out there, we just have to be patient while we find them.  

I enjoyed this story.  I liked the characters that you were supposed to like and disliked those that you were supposed to dislike.  The pace was perfect.  Walker didn't really linger in any spot for too long.  I noticed on his website that he has written several other books and states that this one was a bit of a departure for him.  I hope he departs again as I would pick up another book like this in a heartbeat.  

Visit Bill's website to find out more about his other work.  I think I might have to check out Titanic, 2012.

Disclosure:  I was provided a copy of this book by the publicist in exchange for my honest review.  Receipt of this book did not affect my opinion in any way.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

First Impressions: Shadow of the Swords by Kamran Pasha

Synopsis from Goodreads:   An epic saga of love and war, Shadow of the Swords tells the story of the Crusades—from the Muslim perspective.Saladin, a Muslim sultan, finds himself pitted against King Richard the Lionheart as Islam and Christianity clash against each other, launching a conflict that still echoes today.
      In the midst of a brutal and unforgiving war, Saladin finds forbidden love in the arms of Miriam, a beautiful Jewish girl with a tragic past. But when King Richard captures Miriam, the two most powerful men on Earth must face each other in a personal battle that will determine the future of the woman they both love—and of all civilization.
      Richly imagined, deftly plotted, and highly entertaining, Shadow of the Swords is a remarkable story that will stay with readers long after the final page has been turned.

My thoughts:  I am on a real historical kick lately so when I was given the opportunity to read and review this one, I jumped on it.  Not only am I interested in the different time periods, I am interested in reading about different perspectives.  This one covers new territory for me so I'm really looking forward to reading it soon.  Stay tuned for a review.

I had to do a First Impressions Post to tell you about this one because it is releasing today, June 22, 2010.  If you get a chance to pick it up, stop back by and let me know what you think. I look forward to discussing it.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publicist for review. 


Monday, June 21, 2010

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

Synopsis from Goodreads:  The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.

So reveals Catherine de Medici in this brilliantly imagined novel about one of history’s most powerful and controversial women. To some she was the ruthless queen who led France into an era of savage violence. To others she was the passionate savior of the French monarchy. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner brings Catherine to life in her own voice, allowing us to enter into the intimate world of a woman whose determination to protect her family’s throne and realm plunged her into a lethal struggle for power.

 The last legitimate descendant of the illustrious Medici line, Catherine suffers the expulsion of her family from her native Florence and narrowly escapes death at the hands of an enraged mob. While still a teenager, she is betrothed to Henri, son of François I of France, and sent from Italy to an unfamiliar realm where she is overshadowed and humiliated by her husband’s lifelong mistress. Ever resilient, Catherine strives to create a role for herself through her patronage of the famous clairvoyant Nostradamus and her own innate gift as a seer. But in her fortieth year, Catherine is widowed, left alone with six young children as regent of a kingdom torn apart by religious discord and the ambitions of a treacherous nobility.

Relying on her tenacity, wit, and uncanny gift for compromise, Catherine seizes power, intent on securing the throne for her sons. She allies herself with the enigmatic Protestant leader Coligny, with whom she shares an intimate secret, and implacably carves a path toward peace, unaware that her own dark fate looms before her—a fate that, if she is to save France, will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, her reputation, and the passion of her embattled heart.

From the fairy-tale châteaux of the Loire Valley to the battlefields of the wars of religion to the mob-filled streets of Paris, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is the extraordinary untold journey of one of the most maligned and misunderstood women ever to be queen.

My thoughts:  "The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.From that very first line I was hooked. Upon starting the book I was ignorant as to who Catherine de Medici was.   I was never one for history class, but if the information had been presented like this story, I might have been a history major in college.  I was fascinated by the characters and the story from beginning to end.

We meet Catherine as a child, experiencing a lifetime of joy and sorrow right along with her.   Since finishing the book I've found myself searching for more information on Catherine and her family. I was intrigued by the customs described and the idea of the "political" marriages that were arranged when the children were barely out of the womb.  As a mother,  I understood the fierceness of Catherine's emotions when it came to her children. As a wife I understood how she could love her husband despite his numerous faults.  As a woman, I understood how she was able to do what was needed just to get the job done.

This is one of those books that makes your think about it again and again.   It is a book worthy of passing on to your friends and family. I've already passed it on to my mother in law who plans on passing it on to her friends as well. I absolutely recommend that anyone who enjoys historical fiction pick this one up. 

Other Works by C.W. Gortner:

The Last Queen:Released May 5, 2009
The Tudor Secret Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles: Tentative release date of January 2011.

Disclosure:  I received this book from the publicist in exchange for my honest review.  


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blog Hop on Saturday

So I had a crazy day yesterday and didn't get a chance to link up to the The Friday Blog Hop until today.  The blog hop  is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. It is so simple, you link up your blog and then visit others who have done the say. It is a great way to connect with other book bloggers.

I can't tell you how many fantastic blogs I've found this way. I can tell you that my TBR list has EXPLODED because of the hop.

Visit Crazy For Books and add your link. Make sure that you blog about it as well so those that visit you have a place to say hello!

If you've come to my blog from the hop, welcome! I read and review a variety of books including contemporary fiction, classics, and historical fiction. I've got some great reviews coming up and a few giveaways scheduled.  This summer is going to be a busy one at Teresa's Reading Corner.  I hope that you will become a follower and stick around to participate.

Let me know you were here so that I can visit you as well!
Thanks for visiting!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Discovering Inner Peace: A psychological, philosophical and spiritual perspective by Christina Samycia, PsyD

Synopsis from Author's Website:   Imagine feeling free—free from all those things that create your suffering: your thoughts, your feelings, external stressors, and so many other things.  Imagine living a life where you are in control:  creating the life that you want, not bound by fear, sadness, or guilt.  Imagine feeling strong and powerful; that no matter what may come your way, you can conquer it.  Imagine trusting that the universe will lead you where you need to go.  Imagine believing that you already have everything you ever needed.  This is inner peace.  This book will be your guide in your journey of discovering inner peace.  You will discover that life is not merely the pursuit of happiness, but the discovery of inner peace.  And we search for inner peace precisely because each of us suffers.  You will learn how to heal from your past and how to apply philosophical and spiritual wisdom into your daily life to help you live more consciously.  Transform your life today!   

About the Author:  Christina Samycia, PsyD is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, life coach, author and speaker

Christina holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and a master's degree in Kinesiology. She is also the author of Discovering Inner Peace. She seeks to inspire and challenge individuals to discover their authentic selves and lead a more meaningful life. She works with individuals who are interested in personal growth, looking to enhance their lives and are ready to make life-altering changes.

My Thoughts:  Wow, what an amazing book full of gentle reminders on how to obtain the peace that we have all glimpsed at one point or another.  That calm peaceful feeling that you get when you aren't worried about all of the things that you think are wrong in your life or you aren't counting down all of the things left on your "to do" list.  That feeling that you get when you are truly living in the moment. 

The information is presented in a friendly, easy to understand format.  Dr. Samycia also explains the background as to why you need to take these steps to achieve the level of peace that you desire.  I found this to be especially enlightening.  While exploring this book, I felt informed, but never inundated with information that didn't mean anything to me.  I think it is a great book to keep around to remind yourself how easy it is to take care of yourself and to be truly happy. 


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When I Remember Love by Trish Silver

From the back cover:
 In the romance novel When I Remember Love, a beautiful young woman grieving the sudden death of her mother is invited to stay with her favorite aunt in California. As she arrives in Los Angeles, Jenna Holden has no idea that her life is about to change forever.
Jenna's aunt, Vanessa, a music agent, has just signed Aidan Price, a gifted and promising new performer who bears a striking resemblance to a young Johnny Depp. Aidan has come to Hollywood to compete on American Star, a very popular televised singing competition. Vanessa arranges for Jenna to meet Aidan at lunch, and their connection is instantaneous and electric. From there they begin a sizzling courtship that leads them on a whirlwind journey through the demanding music business and media scrutiny that accompanies Aidan's new found fame. Despite all the intrusions which result inevitably from success in the entertainment world, Aidan and Jenna create a passionate and loving life together-a life, though, that is soon to become much more complicated than the "easy" life we so often assume comes with fame and fortune.
As they are forced to deal with the pressures of international fame, a devastating illness, and an unspeakable traumatic event, Aidan and Jenna's relationship and commitment to each other are tested in many unpredictable ways as they attempt to prevail over the seemingly insurmountable challenges that come with their own personal and intimate experience of stardom.

About the Author:  Visit her website

My thoughts: I have to admit, I'm not a fan of American Idol.  I think I might have seen a few episodes in the first season so I know the basic premise of the program.   I think that this book was written with the American Idol fan in mind so if you are a fan of romance novels and follow American Idol then this book is definitely something you should pick up. 

If you've been reading my reviews you know that I've only recently taken the plunge back into reading romance novels.  My first experience with one was not what I'd bargained for and didn't make it through.   A few of the others I've read have been very sweet romances that I was comfortable enough with to forward them to my grandmother.  This one fell sort of in the middle of the range.  It was certainly steamy with some fairly graphic portions, but nothing you wouldn't see in any movie in the theater today. 

The story moved pretty fast in places, so much that it was a little unbelievable at times.  I don't feel like this detracted from the story in any way.  When I Remember Love allows you to escape from the hum drum of every day life into the magical world of fame and fortune through the lives of characters that you can easily like. 

This is the first novel by Trish Silver. 

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review.  


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First Impressions: Wind Warrior by Cynthia Roberts

Description from the Publisher: 
"Leslie Michaels is a visionary, and only those close to her know of her special gift and the visions that come when her mind and body surrender to sleep. Fate has a way of righting many wrongs, and for Leslie it is a destiny that changes her life dramatically. But not before she is forced to flee into the wilderness to escape a murderous trapper bent on claiming her for his very own. Faith and a strong will to survive are her only companions, until she encounters Winnokin, the handsome Seneca war chief who first came to her in her dreams. Not only does he prove to be her rescuer and protector, he teaches her that tragedy can breed happiness and the passion to live and love deeply once again.

Wind Warrior plunges readers into the intimate depths of a relationship that unfolds like a live drama before their eyes while painting an insightful and intriguing portrait of Native Indian life in the 1800s. It is a story of longing, of a wanton need to survive all odds, and a love so strong it conquers human evil. Wind Warrior expresses with cunning words the simple, raw human emotions that hold readers spellbound and captivate their hearts."

My First Impression:  Having read an excerpt of this novel it seems like it is going to be a fantastic read.  It contains all of the elements that I enjoy in a novel.  It is a historical romance (I seem to be a sucker for them lately) with a strong heroine.  I might even learn a thing or two about Native Indian life.

This is the first in a the Iroquois Series.  Book Two titled Captive Heart is expected to be released sometime in the Winter of 2010. Visit her website to read an excerpt of Captive Heart.

You can view the trailer for Wind Warrior:

Wind Warrior is releasing today.  Check it out.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

The WINNER of Love in Mid Air is...

Felicia of Geeky Bloggers Book Blog  if you haven't already checked out her blog I highly recommend it. 

A Big thank you to everyone who has helped me to get this far!  This giveaway has been fun.  Look for more coming up.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Author Spotlight: Stephen V. Masse

Yesterday I introduced you to Stephen V. Masse who wrote Short Circus.  Today he has been kind enough to drop by Teresa's Reading Corner with a Guest Post. 

For a kid who grew up in a house full of books and music, I must admit I was a reluctant reader. I loved stories, but preferred them to be read to me. My mother must still remember word-for-word many stories she read to me dozens of times. My father often made up stories to tell me. When I was six, (first grade) I learned to read for myself. My older brother was a quick study and learned to read when he was four. But I was somewhat hyperactive, and preferred playing outdoors to reading. Stories that were short and highly illustrated were okay, chapter books were punishment pretty much right through grammar school. One of the books I remember best was THE BOXCAR CHILDREN, read to the class by our fourth grade teacher. I loved that book, even though I didn’t read it for myself.

My mother had an uphill battle on her hands. It was part of the job description of being a kid in our family to go to the library every 2 weeks, and get 2 books to read. I mostly wimped out and got short illustrated books from Doctor Seuss and the like. Most of the books I got from the library ended up on top of a bureau or under the bed until they were overdue. Unread. I did start to enjoy the Danny Dunn series in fifth or sixth grade, and got my imagination so fired up that I would go off and write my own Danny Dunn stories. Filling 3 pages in those days took about as much of me as filling 300 now. My parents were highly amused that I would write so vigorously and read so . . . not.

On Saturdays we would go to the Charlestown Boys Club, where my father had a part-time job. Weekdays he taught English at a junior high school, nights he was a bartender, and Saturdays he worked the “games room” at the boys club, where a hundred boys played pool, checkers, chess, watched “Fury” and “Casper the Friendly Ghost” on TV, and had fistfights. The games room could also be set up as an auditorium, and each Saturday afternoon the room would be darkened for a movie. We got into the movie free if we helped set up the folding chairs. Upstairs was the Boys Club Library, where “Miss D” presided at her old oak desk. “Miss D” was actually Mrs. DeSimone, who cleverly got us to read by starting a reading club. If you read five books, you would get a prize. After reading each book, you had to go to her desk, where she would go through the book with you and ask a few questions, and then she would record it on your record. I don’t remember how many books I read there, nor do I remember the prizes, but I clearly remember “Miss D.”

The big change came in eighth grade. One evening my parents discovered that “To Kill a Mockingbird” was on TV, and I watched it with them. When my father told me that there was also a book, and he could get it for me at his school, I jumped at the chance. I devoured the book and decided that reading was an open door to an incredible world that I wanted to be a part of, and it’s been that way since.

What a great story.  I remember the summer reading program that I was involved in like it was yesterday.  It was sponsored by Pizza Hut.  For every 10 books you read you could get a free personal pan pizza.  I ate A LOT  of pizza that summer!

Thanks for dropping by Stephen.  I look forward to picking up some more of your work.  If you would like to learn more about Stephen, please stop by his website.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Friday Blog Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. It is so simple, you link up your blog and then visit others who have done the say. It is a great way to connect with other book bloggers.

I can't tell you how many fantastic blogs I've found this way. I can tell you that my TBR list has EXPLODED because of the hop.

Visit Crazy For Books and add your link. Make sure that you blog about it as well so those that visit you have a place to say hello!

If you've come to my blog from the hop, welcome! I read and review a variety of books including contemporary fiction, classics, and historical fiction. I'm reading a great one right now by C.W. Gortner, The Confessions of Catherine De Medici. This is a fantastic book and I can't wait to share it with you.

Make sure you check out and enter my 100 follower giveaway which ends June 11th at midnight MST.

Let me know you were here so that I can visit you as well!
Thanks for visiting!

Kids Corner: Short Circus by Stephen V. Masse

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Back to school, but not so fast! Jem Lockwood's first assignment is to write a composition on what he did during the summer, and he tells the teacher he could write a book. Short Circus is Jem's own story about his remarkable adventures with his Big Brother, Jesse Standish, and a host of neighbors and friends, plus a mysterious enemy who keeps sabotaging the swimming pond. There are bike jumping contests, fistfights, motorbikes, visits to seaside towns for festivals, and swimming in a waterfall. What begins as a glorious summer is very nearly ruined when Jem discovers that his Big Brother's rented house is about to be sold, and Jesse Standish may be forced to move away.

Recommended Age Range: 9-14

My thoughts:
I could see little monkey reading this in several years. I don't see that it is "specifically" targeted at boys, but since the main characters are all young boys I have a feeling that boys would appreciate it more than girls.

As a child it seemed like we had to write the "What I did over the summer" composition every year upon returning to school. Short Circus is Jem Lockwood's description of his summer. I liked Jem Lockwood, he was curious and a bit mischievous without being overly troublesome. Jem lives with his mother and older brother Chris. It is never explained why Jem's father is not in the picture nor is it relevant to the story. Masse introduces Jem's "Big Brother" which helps to associate the younger reader with the idea of a non traditional family if they aren't already familiar with it. Jem tells us of his adventures with his friends, his brother Chris and his "Big Brother" Jesse.

The story reminded me of those long ago, carefree summers that I think we all miss once we join the adult world. That's probably why so many of us dive back into these stories meant for a younger audience, they remind us of our youth which is something we should never forget.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of Short Circus by the publicist in order to participate in this blog tour. Being provided a copy did not influence my review in any way. This is my honest opinion of Short Circus.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Art of Devotion by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin

Synopsis from the back cover:
The secluded beaches of a sun-drenched Mediterranean island are the perfect playground for young Sebastian and Adora.  Emotionally adrift from their mother, Adora shelters her sensitive older brother from the cruelties of the world.  Sophie does not question her children's intense need for one another until its too late.  Her beloved son's affections belong to Adora, and when he drowns in the sea, she has no one else to blame.

Still heartbroken years later, Adora fills her emptiness with Genevieve, the precocious young daughter of her husband's business associate and his jealous wife, Miranda.  Thrilled to be invited into the beautiful and enigmatic Adora's world, the child idolizes her during their summers together.  Yet, and the years progress, Genevieve begins to suspect their charmed existence is nothing more than a carefully crafted illusion.  Soon, she too is ensnared in a web of lies.

About the Author:
Samantha Bruce-Benjamin was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland.  She has a Master's degree in English literature from the University of Edinburgh.  She now lives in New York.  The Art of Devotion is her debut novel.  An interview on her website states that she wrote The Art of Devotion in five months working on it only one hour per day.  I did not find any information on whether or not she has a second novel in the works.

My thoughts:
This is a difficult book for me to review.  I chose it because it is being compared to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier which is one of my favorite books.  The Art of Devotion is considered to be Historical Fiction by some.  I don't feel that is an appropriate categorization for this novel.  It is set in the past but there is no mention of anything related to the period.  I never understood the comparison to Rebecca.    Initially I had a difficult time getting into the story. The presentation by the four heroines allows the reader to see the story from different perspectives.  I never found myself especially involved with one character over another. At times I felt like the story was dragging a bit and the back story was over explained, but around page 200 things started happening.  I was surprised by some of the twist that the characters and the plot took.  I have to say that I enjoyed the rest of the story.

I would like to see what the author puts together and what changes she makes to her writing style if/when she puts together a second novel.   I would recommend  The Art of Devotion to others but I would caution them that the story takes awhile to really develop so they have to give it time.   

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book to participate in the blog tour.  This is my honest opinion of the book.

Visit these blogs and see what they thought:
The Art of Devotion: Tuesday, June 8th
All About {n}:
The Book Tree:
Books Gardens & Dogs:
Arms of a Sister:
A Room Without Books Is Empty:
Literarily Speaking:
Busy Julie:
The Down Home Diva:
Me, My Book, and the Couch:
Starting Fresh:
Frugal Plus:
Avid Reader:
Marta’s Meanderings:
Eclectic Book Lover:
Not Quite Susie:
Books and Needlepoint:
Books with a Cup of Coffee:
Knitting and Sundries:
The Girl from the Ghetto:
Just Another New Blog:
Simply Stacie:
Must Read Faster:
Booksie’s Blog:
Reminder List:
My Five Monkeys:
My Book Views:
A Musing Reviews:
This Book For Free:
Chick with Books:
Taking Time For Mommy:
Lucky Rosie’s:
I Heart Book Gossip:
Book Junkie:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
Bella’s Novellas:
CuzinLogic’s Blog:

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Quick Reminder: Love in Mid Air Giveaway ends Friday!

Just a reminder that the Love in Mid Air Giveaway is ending on Friday. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kids Corner: Elmo's Mother Goose

I can't tell you how many times we've read this one recently.  Its usually several times in a row.  Basically it is a take on Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes.  Yes, they are a bit cheesy, but monkey likes them so we keep on reading.  Lots of counting and funny voices are involved in this one.  It is worth checking out.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dear Bob, Dear Betty- Love and Marriage During the Great Depression by Elizabeth Catherine Wright

In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, two young people meet and fall in love.  Llewellyn Wright (Bob), Frank Lloyd Wright's youngest child, whose adolescence was marked by the public scandals surrounding his father's private life, is struggling to begin a private law practice in Chicago.  Elizabeth Kehler (Betty), daughter of a Chicago artist who abandoned the family when she was still in the womb, is working as an intake counselor at the Milwaukee Vocational School.

Their fervent correspondence over a 10-month courtship period is witty, sassy and poignant, as they grapple with their passionate feelings and try to create a financially stable marriage in the midst of the 20th century's most serious economic crisis.

The couple's daughter, a scholar of French literature, has written an Introduction telling their story before and after the courtship.  35  illustrations, extensive footnotes and an Index illuminate the family and social history behind the letters.  - press release provided by the publicist.

My thoughts:

 I was intrigued by this story when I read the description.  I figured how could you go wrong with a book of love letters?  I wasn't disappointed either.  I will admit that it started out on the slow side.  There was a lot of background information given to the reader right up front.  I felt that this would have been more useful had the necessary information been interspersed with the letters.

The letters were fantastic giving the reader a glimpse into the long distance relationship between Bob and Betty.  I don't even think that their relationship would be considered long distance by today's standards as they were only a short train ride apart.  Bob mentions several times in his letters about them being published, I began to wonder if this was a common practice? 

Two thoughts kept running through my mind as I read the book.  The first,  I wonder what my grandchildren would think if they came across the emails that my husband and I exchanged during our courtship or even today?  The second, I really miss my grandmother and wish I would have talked to her more about her youth.  The good news is that I still have my paternal grandmother and I fully intend to talk to her about "Life in the good ol' days."

What do you think?  Is the art of writing letters lost today or has it just taken a different form?  I'd love to hear from you.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publicist in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you Paula!



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas

Synopsis from the author's website:

Whiter Than Snow, Sandra’s ninth novel,opens in 1920 on a spring afternoon in Swandyke,a small town near Colorado’s Tenmile Range. Just moments after four o’clock, a large split of snow separates from Jubilee Mountain high above the tiny hamlet and hurtles down the rocky slope, sweeping up everything in its path including nine young children who are walking home from school. But only four children survive. Whiter Than Snow takes you into the lives of each of these families. Ultimately, each story serves as an allegory to the greater theme of the novel by echoing that fate, chance, and perhaps even divine providence, are all woven into the fabric of everyday life. And it’s through each character’s defining moment in his or her past that the reader understands how each child has become its parent’s purpose for living. In the end, it’s a novel of forgiveness, redemption, survival, faith, and family.

My thoughts:
I didn't read any summaries or reviews of this novel before reading it. It was written by one of my favorite authors so I knew I would want to read it. The approach to this story was different in that a huge chunk of the story was revealed at the very beginning, or so I thought. This story opens with the avalanche, but there is so much more to it. Once the avalanche is revealed Dallas takes you back in time to get to know each of the characters affected by the tragedy. In telling the individual stories, Dallas is able to weave it all back together and tie up the loose ends.

At first I didn't like this approach. It left me with a very disconnected feeling while I was reading. I found myself having a hard time connecting with some of the characters. As I've gotten further away from it and had time to reflect on the story, I've come to appreciate the approach and the characters.

My favorite work by Dallas is still Tallgrass, but I still enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to others.

Disclosure: I received my copy of Whiter Than Snow from the publicist in exchange for my honest review.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Celebrate with me!

I've been blogging for just over three wonderful months!  In that time I've met some great people and gotten some FANTASTIC book recommendations.  

I'm doing the happy dance this morning because I have just hit 100 followers!  Guess what that means... yep, its time for my first giveaway!

I have a new copy of Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright to give to one lucky follower.

Not a lot of hoops to jump through on this one.  I only ask that you are a follower and enter only once.  Since I'll be shipping it out myself it is open to followers in the US and Canada only.

Giveaway open until June 11, 2010 at midnight Mountain Time, winner will be announced and contacted via email sometime that weekend.  Good Luck!

Any information collected during this giveaway will be used for this giveaway only.