Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays, December 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser is from Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

"A few days after Lucy graduated from high school, she and George Orson left town in the middle of the night. They were not fugitives-not exactly-but it was true that no one knew that they were leaving, and it was also true that no one whould know where they had gone."
pg. 5

The Wildest Heart, by Rosemary Rogers

The Wildest Heart
Rosemary Rogers
November 2009
748 pages

The back cover summary:

Lady Rowena Dangerfield travels from the exotic palaces of India to the splendor or the Royal Court of London to the savage New Mexico frontier to lay claim to her inheritence and live freely as only she would dare. In the violent, untamed American Southwest, she finally meets a man as strong as she is: Lucas Cord, a dark dangerously handsome, half-Apache outlaw. Fighting scandal, treachery, and murder, Luke is determined to have Rowena for his own,, and as their all-consuming passion mounts, no one is going to stop him...

My evaluation:

Rosemary Rogers romance is so absorbing you will lose track of hours at a time. Rowena will turn your head as she takes on Todd Shannon when she insinuates herself on the SD Ranch. Her obdurate behavior is lovable, especially as she stands out in this time period of 1872-1876. She is the rightful heiress to half the ranch, but Todd has other plans. After all, he has been working this ranch all along. What Todd doesn’t realize is he will be dealing with a viper and a beautiful one at that. The setting taking place in the New Mexico desert provides picturesque images of expansive land and sky. The ever increasingly entangled plot has been carefully knitted together and cleverly revealed by the author.

I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and with this book being 748 pages, that is a good thing. Honestly you will not want the story of Rowena and Luke to end. The story takes on so many twists, you will often become frustrated, eager for a resolution. The tension is not bad, it makes the story what it is. Romance, lust and love on every level fill this story but the passion of the two main characters will make you want to shake Rowena, and Luke and have you wondering until the very last page. I hope to be able to read another Rosemary Rogers romance very soon. This one was superb!

Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending me this copy to read.

Monday, December 28, 2009

100+ Book Challenge Completed!!!!

I am so excited to say I have completed one of my challenges this year. Yes, I completed the 100 Books Read Challenge sponsored by J. Kaye. I just finished the last book to complete the 100, The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. I know I missed a few books in my list that I have to double check in the next few days, but finishing my 100th gave me such a thrill. It is not the number of books so much as the fact that keeping track has helped me to organize my reading better. I also have kept a better journal this year of my reading thoughts and progress.

I have learned that I shouldn't read more than one book at a time. I used to think I could do this, but this year I realized in doing this, I started a lot of books and didn't finish them. I would put the book aside, and then when I went to pick it up a week or so later, I forgot some of the important details. I would then have to reread parts of the books to get back on track. I realized I was wasting a lot of reading time rereading. Over the past couple of months I have tried to focus on one book at a time. This has made me a much better reader, better focused and happier in my accomplishments and the joy of reading. I love to read and I found that trying to read too many books at one time was causing me too much anxiety and stress.

In 2010 I hope to add another 50 to my challenge and go for 150, but if I do that I will probably start listening to audio in the car. I never really was fond of doing this as I love listening to my music, but it's worth a try in 2010. What do you think?
In any case, I'm excited to say I met the 100 Book Reading Challenge for 2009.

Mailbox Monday December 28, 2009

As most of you know Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Thank you once again Marcia for hosting this weekly event. :)

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Again this year I will be participating in this weekly event. One of my New Years resolutions is to be more diligent in posting each week to the forum. I missed a lot last year. I think this is a great place to see what everyone is reading and what the publishers have available on the book scene.

This week I received:

One Amazing Thing, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A Girl in the Lighthouse, by Roxane Tepfer Sanford

Shadwell's Slaves-Escape to Freedom, by Sandra Kay Merriam

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my blogger friends.

I hope you all have a wonderful season of joy and good times with your family and friends. I'm so happy and grateful to be sharing a part of my time with you.

Blessings and Peace to all. Wisteria

Devil's Cub-Georgette Heyer

Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks Inc.
Published 12/09, c. 1932,310 pages

From the Cover....
“Dominic Alistair, Marquis of Vidal and fiery son of the notorious Duke of Avon, has established a rakish reputation that rivals his father’s, living a life of excess and indulgence. Banished to the Continent after wounding his opponent in a duel, Vidal schemes to abduct the silly aristocrat bent on seducing him into marriage and makes her his mistress instead. In his rush, however, he seems to have taken the wrong woman....”

Instead of Sophia Challoner, the Marquis is dumbfounded to find he has abducted her sister, less beautiful, but intricately more clever. The plan to deceive the Marquis in order to spare her sister’s ruin backfires on Mary. His temper is legend, and he is enraged by the pretense. Instead of letting her go as she expects, he takes her on board the Albatross as his captive. When he realizes that Mary is a woman of honor and rectitude, his compunction for licentious intentions abruptly end. The story continues with a surprising direction as the Marquis tries to rectify Mary’s ill conceived plan.

The story centers around the family of the Duke and Duchess of Avon, and their son the Marquis of Vidal. He is a source of challenge and concern, and his exploits keep them on their nobel toes. The story contains a complicated family tree of characters who intersect to create an exciting, funny and romantic plot. I loved this Heyer novel. There is quick adroitly executed humor that flows easily in the dialogue. You can visualize this novel as if it were a play performed live. The personalities of the characters as so precise. I recently read No Wind of Blame, a Heyer mystery, and I much prefer her romantic novel genre. I highly recommend this deliciously engaging and fun read.

Thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for providing this review copy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I just added a sidebar link to Bow Wow Trivia from This is a place to play a game of trivia and at the same help to donate kibble and food to dogs and cats in animal shelters. It works very much like the Free Rice Trivia game many of you are familiar with that benefits the United Nations World Food Program.

All my dogs were rescues and I look at them and smile knowing they are safe now. Here are three of mine chilling on the sofa.

Donating through this trivia game is such a simple way to help shelters continue to save and place dogs and cats with new families. and I know that any kibble the shelters can get is a blessing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Salon-What I Know, by Roger Emerson Fishman

The Sunday

What I Know
Uncommon wisdom and universal truths from 10-year-olds and 100-year-olds
Roger Emerson Fishman
Clarkson Potter Publishers

I received this book in the mail recently and was able to slow down this weekend to enjoy the "uncommon wisdom and universal truths" offered in What I Know.
The author reflects upon the stories his grandfather told him as a young boy, stories he gathered from the friends he met. Sadly, his grandfather died when he was only eleven years old, but the author acquired a penchant for his grandfathers need to make friends and listen to the wisdom of everyone.

"He believed that there was wisdom in each person's life story, and that with just a sincere interest and a modest investment of time and care, you could uncover these gems everywhere."(9)

This is just what Roger Emerson Fishman did as he wrote the book What I Know.

This is a happiness book with an element of honest self-reflection. You will chuckle, laugh, agree, perhaps disagree, but one thing is certain, you will leave this book feeling good about yourself and perhaps reaching out to others.

Fishman imparts the insight he gained from interviewing people all over the United States, 100-year-olds and 10-year-olds. In his opinion they share the commonality of not being bogged down by the demands of every day life, they are free from encumbrances. Included in topics discussed are integrity, personal choice, believing in yourself,friendship and others.

Listen to what one ten-year-old said about integrity, sharing and perseverance....

"Integrity is doing good deeds when no one is looking. So if the recess aide isn't watching, that doesn't mean you should spit on school property." (25) jake d.

"Happiness and caring is the key to the door to your heart. When you have no key and no happiness, then your heart is just locked." erica d. (48)

Perseverance: (I loved this one!!!)
"If you're reading and get stuck on a new word, it can be frustrating! Like campaign. I thought it was pronounced 'camp-pigeon.' But if you skip that hard word and come back to it later, the right way will com to you." jenna t. (72)

A great book to pick up for that last minute holiday gift, or treat yourself. You will want to read it again and again, or share it with friends and family.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Wind of Blame-by Georgette Heyer

No Wind of Blame
Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks Inc.
2009, Originally Published 1939
364 pp.

Summary from the Back Cover:

"Everyone had a motive, but who had the means? Wally Carter's murder seems impossible-not one of the suspects was anywhere near the weapon at the time the shot was fired. The superlatively analytical Inspector Hemingway is confronted with a neglected widow, the neighbor who's in love with her, her resentful daughter, a patently phony Russian prince, and a case of blackmail that may-or may not-be at the heart of this most unusual case..."

No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer is a quick fun read. When Willy Carter is murdered, everyone is suspect and Heyer’s imagination creates a complex crime difficult to solve. The characters she assembles for this historical mystery are memorable, some quirky and a bit eccentric. My favorite is Vicky Fanshawe, the daughter of the Carter’s widow. Her appearances are always high drama as she dresses up to play different roles, never herself. She commands attention and will make you laugh. This is the first novel I have read by this author and I can’t wait to read more.

Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending this ARC to read and review.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Widow's War-by Mary Mackey

THE WIDOW’S WAR, Mary Mackey, Berkley Trade Paperback,9/1/09,$15.00US/$18.50CAN, pb, 368pp.

Carolyn Vinton and Dr. William Saylor, both abolitionists were to get married, when he suddenly disappears. As the family assumes he is dead, Carrie is left grieving, pregnant and alone. When Deacon Presgrove, William’s stepbrother offers to give the baby a name, Carrie accepts his offer to wed.

It is 1853 in the years heating up to the Civil War. The Kansas Territory is a battle ground between pro-slavery and the abolitionist factions. Carrie soon learns that her father in law, the famous senator is pro slavery. Feeling betrayed by Deacon, then learning that William is not dead, but alive, Carrie decides to break free to find William.

This is a novel to read again and again. Mackey creates fairy tale magic when she brings together the star-crossed pair of Carolyn Vinton and Dr. William Saylor. This is one of those, “non-stop, can’t put down” books. Carrie’s character is dynamic and strong, a woman of presence and grace. The sparks fly between Carrie and William with a magnetic field of attraction surrounding them. There are few lovers in literature with this connectivity and Mackey’s pair are sensational.

The story is peppered with intricate deception and edgy climactic tension that builds with increasing curiosity till the conclusion. Mackey has created a well researched romantic historical fiction. John Brown, Kansas Nebraska Act, Bloody Kansas and other events are credible, real and memorable. This would be an excellent companion novel when studying the American Civil War in high school or beyond. No doubt The Widow’s War will be one of the “Best of 2009”.

Sunday Salon-December 13, 2009

The Sunday

Wow! It is so hard to believe that December is near half over and the year is coming to a close. I haven't blogged too much for Sunday Salon recently, without getting into details, I really missed this part of my week. Today I am finishing up reading The Yard Dog, by Sheldon Russell.

From the publisher:
A one-of-a-kind mystery, The Yard Dog opens in the final days of World War II, when the remote corners of the Great Plains hosted camps of German POWs captured in Europe. Near one such camp in Oklahoma, a one-armed railroad bull-a yard dog--named Hook Runyon keeps an eye out for hobos illegally riding the rails and thieves robbing travelers.

This week I finished reading a few books, Journeying by Barbara Fleming and The Crimson Rooms, by Katharine McMahon. McMahon also wrote The Alchemist Daughter, After Mary and The Rose of Sebastopol. I guess you could say I had a historical fiction kind of week.

I started to read No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer. This is my first time reading this author, so I am curious to see how I like her writing.

Since I have been reading all of your wonderful posts about Sookie, I found my copy of Living Dead in Dallas and plan to sink my teeth into that too. No, I didn't really say that did I? LOL

I guess I have an ambitious plan ahead, especially for me with school and the dogs, but I'm hoping for another snow day. The possibility looks good. How about you? What are your reading plans.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Christmas Carol, Illustrated by Brett Helquist

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
illustrated by Brett Helquist
adapted by Josh Greenhut
Harper Collins Children
Harper Published 2009,
1st Published 1843

When I first saw the pictures and trailer for this adaptation of the classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, I immediately went out to purchase the book. It is a treasure to have and I wanted to pass on my enthusiasm for this version to you.

Brett Helquist is an amazingly gifted artist who captures the expressions of the characters in a story to perfection. Each grimace, smile, flick of an eyebrow or glaring eye conveys the action of the story with brilliance. A visit to his site is entertaining and offers a look at his vast body of work.

I am a huge fan of this illustrator, who captured my attention many years ago when I first began teaching. I stumbled across the book, The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket. Book One of this widely popular series had just been published and instantly I knew my students would love to listen to it as a read aloud in class. Brett Helquist's spectacular portrayal of Count Olaf had my students scrutinizing each illustration with eager attention. The Baudelaire children were adorable, so ill-fated and loved. You could hear a pin drop when I read this book and they moaned when the class period ended. The series continues to remain one of the highest circulating series in my media center.

Brett Helquist's version of A Christmas Carol is a valuable addition to the list of adaptations available first published in 1843 by Charles Dickens. This expressive picture book will reach many young children who have never heard this timeless Christmas story.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review- Small Kingdoms, Anastasia Hobbet

Small Kingdoms
Anastasia Hobbet
Permanent Press
344 pages

In 1990 Kuwait was humbled in a matter of a few hours when Saddam Hussein invaded and seized control. Small Kingdoms takes place six years later, the people of this tiny country are on edge with fear of another attack. With a daily sense of foreboding and increased tension the people living their go about their daily lives while the bulldozers of Iraq threaten to roll into their land. These menacing machines conjure up memories of the past, heinous crimes buried but not forgotten.

Hobbet’s storytelling takes shape from different perspectives emanating from the lives of her culturally diverse mosaic of characters. As she introduces each one into the story, their unique voice and close-up view will blend together. Their background and different cultures intersect and through them the reader comes to understand the Middle East and the Kuwaiti society in the global arena. Not in isolation, but at the center stage.

The lives of four women, so alike yet so different, strong, obdurate and struggling to achieve their own goals are paramount to the story. Mufeeda, a married upper class Kuwaiti citizen, Kit, the wife of an American businessman and Hanaan, a recalcitrant single, Arab woman. In a society where servants are expendable, Emmanuella, a cook from India tests the limits of her position in order to save another. Her precarious deeds while working for Mufeeda offer a lesson in the fragility and value of human life.

Hanaan is full of intrigue and surprise, laughter and sorrow. She will go to great lengths to save a sick cat, and when she steals a cat from the owner, the scene is is rip-roaringly funny. In contrast, the chilling reality of her fate as an Arab women who engages in a relationship with a non-Arab is sobering. This dichotomy of emotion will cause you to seesaw between laughter and tears throughout. The lives of the people in Small Kingdoms feel genuine, they matter, and they touch your heart.

Through the perspective Hobbet gained from living in Kuwait for five years she unveils the prejudice, stereotypes, history, culture and beliefs. When you finish reading Small Kingdoms, Kuwait will no longer be an enigma.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Owen Beanie

Review-SACRIFICE OF THE SAGE HEN, by Susie Schade-Brewers

Susie Schade-Brewer, Swimming Kangaroo Books, March 2009, $13.99, pb, 229pp, 97819340441567

Charlie is the daughter of Micah Fremont, a trapper and rugged man of the wilderness who, as an Army scout, fought the Apache. Micah raises Charlie alone after her mother dies giving birth. The two share a life together forming a tight father-daughter bond.
Since the age of seven, Charlie has wanted to move west. She marries a storekeeper at the age of fifteen when her father, anxious to provide security for his daughter, agrees to a barter with Grant West. Charlie has an unconventional spirit and a stubborn streak, making it difficult for her to settle into her role as a wife. She resents the secondary inferior position she holds being a wife and finds her life boring. The pair are polar opposites, as she describes her husband “as adventurous as old hay.” When both her dad and best friend announce their plans to go west on a wagon train, she wants to go as well, but her husband shows no signs of moving.
A 24-year-old Texan named Dirks Braelon has decided to make a clean start and travels to Pleasant Gap in the Kansas Territory. His move is precipitated by the way people look at him with dreaded fear in their eyes. Unfortunately, not long after arriving there, his past as a hired gun catches up with him. He must pick up and move again, but to where?
The novel takes place during the period of the Kansas-Nebraska act. Dirks and Charlie both have dreams, and both need to escape. But how? Charlie’s dad provides a cautionary tale to her in the story about a sage hen. He says, “Never trust your future to nobody else....still sometimes dreams come at a price.”
Charlie is a wonderfully entertaining character very true to herself and believable. The story is an entertaining read that will provide a colorful look at this period of history. --
Wisteria Leigh

Snow Day in New England

I was lucky to get an early morning text wake-up call that schools were closed due to snow. I really didn't think as I fell asleep last night that I would be off today. What a welcome surprise this icy mixed bag of precep this is. Snow Days are always fun even when you are the teacher. We love them just as much as our students. We listen to all their superstitious methods of ensuring that snow does fall, in copious amounts, or at least enough to cancel school.

Lion, Wizard

Lion, Mystery


Now how did that snow dance go again, I tried to remember the steps. They did say to turn my pajamas inside out. In any event, whatever they did last night worked, as I reaped the benefits by sleeping late. I am enjoying the day catching up on some reading surrounded by four lazy couch potato sleeping greyhounds, and two black cats purring in a synchronized purring duet.

This is the second snow in Connecticut, as Saturday we had a winter wonderland snowfall in the style of Dr. Zhivago. This snowstorm is the messy kind, and probably won't be around long. Its a cold, raw, icy, gloomy day but I'm all smiles because for now time has slowed down, a restful break in the hectic holiday pace is a gift to be grateful for.

I hope everyone has sometime to slowdown this holiday season and enjoy the simple things life has to give you. It really makes a big difference in restoring the body's energy balance. Peace to all.