Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fall and Winter Mystery Reading Challenge Wrap up

I joined this challenge back in the fall from my fellow blogger Mysteries and My Musings.

The goal was to read holiday themed mysteries from October 1 to February 28.

I chose to read Leslie Meier's murder mysteries.

I completed Trick or Treat Murder, Thanksgiving Day Murder, Christmas Cookie Murder, Mistletoe Murder, and Back to School Murder.

My goal was 7. I read 5. I failed to complete New Year's Eve Murder and Valentine Murder.

Oh well. I did what I could and I can't do no more!

It was a lot of fun. I discovered a new author and a cute new series. I am confident that I will pick another up some time in the future.

That's good enough for me!

Happy Reading!

red headed book child

Week in Review: Feb 21-27

Week in Review

How fast these weeks fly by it seems, huh?
We had a busy week with school for little one, my husband coming home from a weekend away, and me trying to put the house back in order. I bundled us up each day of this past week to get the heck out of the house. I am so tired of winter! DONE! I'm over it.
Bring on the sunshine and flip flops. Got it, universe?
The little one and I went to story time at the book store, took a walk outside and went to the zoo and conservatory. He made friends with a monkey and enjoyed smelling the flowers in the atrium. Delightful!
And then BAM! Friday he got sick. Boogers, fever, cough. General yuckiness.
Saturday brought us to 4 delightful (not) hours at Urgent Care. What special school do doctors go to to learn customer service and bedside manner for Urgent care? I think they leave that part of the education out because every single time I go, I have the shittiest (sorry) experience.
(shake fists at sky!)

But enough of that, we are hopefully on the mend and on to a good week. Cross your fingers.

My world in books has been surprisingly successful. I finished two books and wrote a review. I even managed to NOT sign up for anymore blog tours.

I have had to say no to many requests as of late too. I am tickled that there are people out there who want me to review but I am really having to be picky or else I could spend all my time reviewing what is sent to me. I just can't do that.
I set out to review what I read on this blog and that means I have to save time for all of the books that currently live with me (and have for years) and the ones that are still out there waiting to be discovered...that I want to discover.

My husband went to the thrift store, like he does every Tuesday after work, because it is 25% off and the books are already cheap, so it just makes them cheaper. He calls me and starts to rattle off some book titles asking me if we have them or not. It was awfully sweet of him to feed my addiction further. And he has been in the mood for old school horror lately.
He scored
Phantoms and Watchers by Dean Koontz
Desparation by Stephen King
The Accident by Danielle Steele (for my mom)
Killer Pancakes by Diane Mott Davidson

All for only $4.00. You can't beat that!

I finally started to compose my Award Love posts to give back to those that awarded me.

This week I plan on finishing up my current book and grabbing a few more mysteries on my pile before my blog tour reviews happen later this month. I also have to sneak in my book club pick too. I think I can, I think I can.

Lastly, I want to say Happy Anniversary to my parents. 39 years! Whoot!

Happy Reading.

red headed book child
(it's a little hard to feed my font addiction when blogger only has 8 choices...grr)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Just a few more days!

So, I'm sure anyone new to my blog would think that I am all over the place with my reading and you know what? They would be RIGHT! I love to read books and that means, I like to read all sorts of different kinds. And because I'm a moody little thing, my mood changes all the time and it reflects on what I am reading.

With that said, after reading an amazing memoir about marriage and divorce (review to come) and finishing up an inspirational young adult novel (review and blog tour stop to come), I am clicking my heels waiting for Ghouls Gone Wild, the 5th book in Victoria Laurie's Ghost Hunter Mysteries. It comes out on Tuesday!

Ghost busting at it's best! Sharp, funny and spooky. I can't wait.

Happy Reading!

red headed book child

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review #46: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Title: Little Bee

Author: Chris Cleave
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-4165-8963-1

Paperback release: February 16

Rating: 6 stars! (why stop at 5?)

My Review and Description:

What a special, special book this is. I read it over a year ago after receiving a finished hardcover copy from the publisher. What a gorgeous cover too. I am reviewing it at this time because, first, I have a blog now and second, it is new in paperback and I was reminded of it once again. I am actually going to bring it along to my book club next month as my pick. Cross your fingers that the others will vote for me!

Little Bee is such a unique story that it is almost too difficult to explain what it's all about. So many things happen at the same time that nothing happens. It is simple yet utterly, achingly difficult.

To sum up the bare bones plot; a English couple, while on vacation to the beach, meet a young Nigerian girl in the most unusual of circumstances. That day connects them in ways they won't know until much later. To tell any more would be taking away the joy and the pain of you discovering it as the reader.

What I can say is that the couple is in love yet flawed; their retreat to the beach is welcomed but tragic; the girl is haunting and needing escape.

What plays out is a collision of worlds, a mountain of secrets revealed and unlikely bonds formed. As I type I am reminded of how with each page, it felt like the wind blowing, a door closing, a stair creaking, a breath exhaling.

This book holds so much need; of hope, of humanity and of forgiveness. You learn of the politics of class, the world of refugees, and the wars that rage in the countries we hardly speak of.

Chris Cleave's writing is magical and extraordinary. There are books that come along that are so special that you are so tickled to stumble upon them.

I highly recommend this book for any occasion; your book club, your own winter night reading, a train/bus ride, you name it. It is a must read.
As a bookseller, I crave putting a book like this in the hands of my customers. As a book lover, I am thrilled to be able to now review it for you all.

Long overdue thanks go to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for giving me this gift of reading perfection.

Happy Reading!

red headed book child

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Week in Review: Feb 7-13, 14-20

Week in Review

This picture always makes me smile. I figure since I haven't written a Week in Review in a few weeks due to her passing, I'd throw out one more picture of her in remembrance. I have collected a bunch of pictures and put them up to feel her close but for my blog, I think I need to refocus on my books going forward. Thank you to everyone for listening and commenting. It has helped tremendously. I am going to continue to write and remember, though privately in my journal.

This past week brought post-funeral wrap up. My mom and I worked on Thank Yous and gathering more pictures to send to people. Most of her clothing has been given away to family. She always had the snazziest sweaters and an assortment of decorative pins!
We have made the plans for the burial (due to it being too cold now) for May, the same day of her wedding anniversary. I plan on writing something to say. (gulp)

As for my world of books, I have completed and written several reviews. Thank goodness! I was so behind. I reviewed The 19th Wife, Out of my mind, and Spider's Bite. This week I plan on writing reviews for Little Bee and Falling Apart in One Piece.

Speaking of Little Bee, have you all read it yet? Click on my side bar and check it out! It was one of my absolute favorite books of last year.

I discovered a new cozy mystery series all about cooking! Cooking up Murder by Miranda Bliss. It is Book 1 in the Cooking Class Mystery. I got it from Paperbackswap.

I received First Daughter and The Last Snow by Eric Van Lustbader from the publisher to review. Political Thriller? Sure!!

I also got another award (my head is hung so low in shame for STILL not rewarding those that have awarded me! I promise! It will happen soon!) I got the Prolific Blogger Award from Crazy for Books. Thank you! Thank you!

I also need to catch up on my blog reading. Comments here I come.

I must say, though, the thing that tickled me the most this week was that JODI PICOULT commented on my review for her book House Rules. I just about fell out of my chair. !!! I guess a few people read this little ol' blog!

Anyhoo, Happy Reading!

red headed book child

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review #46: Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

Title: Spider's Bite

Publisher: Pocket Books (Simon and Schuster)
Format: Review Copy from Publisher
Series: An Elemental Assassin Book
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-4391-4797-9

Rating: 8/10

My Review and Description:

I requested this book to review because quite frankly it looked like it kicked a little ass. And I needed a little ass kickin' in my reading. I have to say, I enjoyed the heck out of this book. It was fun, fast and fierce.

Gin Blanco is an assassin, the most feared assassin known as the Spider. She is also a Stone Elemental which means she can hear anything from the walls of a building to the gravel beneath her feet by simply touching. She moonlights at a BBQ joint called the Pork Pit in Appalachian town of Ashland.

She is tough and good at her job. Independent and detached, the only one closest to her is her handler, Fletcher. He saved her many years ago and there is a soft spot in her heart for him.

When he is murdered and she is set up during a hit, her motivation becomes focused 100% on finding Fletcher's killer. She partners with his son, Finnegan and the only good cop left in Ashland, Donovan Caine (also rugged and hunky, of course!).

Their romp through the seedy underbelly of Appalachia and the fantasical characters they fight, kill and expose makes this first in a series awesome to read. Gin is extremely likable and crush worthy as are Finnegan and Donovan! For being fantasy, it was not overly complicated and character heavy (no offense to Fantasy in general).

I recommend it for fans of Paranormal Romance/Mystery. It's lighter on romance but there are some sexy scenes and definite tension. The build up of who dunnit is done nicely and appeals to the mystery fan in me.

The second in the series is called Web of Lies and is coming soon from Pocket Books.

Thank you to Sarah at Pocket Books for sending this to me to read and review.

Happy Reading!

red headed book child

Review #45: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Title: Out Of My Mind

Format: Hardcover Review Copy
Publisher: Atheneum Books (Simon and Schuster)
Genre: Young Readers
ISBN: 978-1-4169-7170-2

Release Date: March 9, 2010

Rating: 9/10

My Review and Description:

I picked this one up at my bookstore. We get a handful of ARCs that I take a peak through from time to time and this one called out to me. I am a fan of fiction for young readers between the ages of 8-12. I am fan of older young adult titles as well but the age level below I tend to find sweeter stories, stronger messages and hopeful endings. Kind of like childhood before you go and become a teenage and get all angsty and full of acne like I did. :)

Sharon M. Draper is an amazing author and has been awarded the Coretta Scott King Award multiple times. She not only writes amazing books, she also speaks at conferences and is a former high school English teacher. Click above on her name for her website.

Out of my mind tells the story of Melody, an eleven year old girl who has cerebral palsy. The last line of the first chapter is what stuck with me long after I had finished the book. "I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old."

Melody is trapped within her own mind and her voice throughout this book is wonderfully endearing as we "listen" to her struggles and accomplishments. Her family is strong and supportive and nurturing but are learning as they go. They believe in Melody and her abilities but yet they struggle just as much to figure out how to tap in to them.

Melody is a sponge. She knows more than you or I but academically she has never been given a chance to shine. But a Whiz Kids Competition comes up at her elementary school and she scores a 100% on the practice test. Stunning fellow students and teachers, they "welcome" Melody to compete.

I won't give too much more of the story away but overall Melody is a dear to read about. She doesn't have it easy but her outlook is so brazen and honest that you just want her to make it. What really makes someone smart? Why are appearances so important and almost enough for people? How frustrating would it be for you if you literally could not speak your mind?

Out of my mind is refreshing and heartwarming, emotional and powerful. Some "disability" lies within all of us, some of more obvious than others but how we cope and communicate and plug away is what makes us who we are. Melody could teach us all a few things about grace.

I would recommend this book for fans of Lois Lowry or Sharon Creech. If you have a young person in your home or life, this would be a good learning read for them.

Happy Reading!

red headed book child

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review #44: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Title: The 19th Wife

Author: David Ebershoff
Format: Advanced Reading Copy
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6397-0

Rating: 9/10

February Book Club selection

My Review and Description:

I finished this book a few weeks ago actually but because of the circumstances of my life, the review is not being written until now. Strange that it is Ash Wednesday and I am writing a review about a very complex book all about views on religion and faith.

The 19th Wife sat on my shelf for many years actually. I had received an ARC of it and sat on it. I have always been fascinated with the Mormon faith and lifestyle and really the only reason I had not gotten to it earlier was simply because of its size. It's super chunk, you could say.

But everyone in my life who has read it said it was completely readable and fast paced. So I dove in. It was refreshing really taking a book off my own shelves to read, just to read. I admit I had fallen into a review craze of my own doing for January that I had been overlooking the awesome books that I had owned for years.

With that said, I jumped into a pretty hefty read. The 19th Wife tells two stories side by side. One story tells of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young, one of most prolific founders of the Mormon Church. Her story tells of her upbringing when plural marriage became the norm for families. As a grown woman and after she becomes Brigham's bride, she sets out to get rid of this practice of wedding many wives. Her story is a powerful one; full of misguided faith, longing, betrayal, greed and sadness.

The other story line tells of a modern day polygamist family; father shot dead, his current 19th wife convicted, their gay son left to solve the crime. This also was filled with heightened emotion and the politics of the current Mormon family.

The writing is detailed and exquisite and rich with history. The author utilized a lot of research to tell Ann's story but still leaves enough room for his own imagination and expansion.

I highly recommend this book for a book club selection because it gives you so much to discuss, whether you find yourself "faithful" or not. It was my choice for our November pick and unfortunately I have to wait until next month to see what people thought of it due to me missing book club this month.

Check out the website for more info. The 19th Wife.

Happy Reading!

red headed book child

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm back.

Hello Everyone.
I am going to slowly start blogging again this week. Admittedly, it is a very nice outlet and I can't seem to stay away any longer even though my heart is still full of so much sadness.

Everything went well with the funeral. I am not going to write too much about it only because it's still so fresh. I have received a lot of lovely tokens of my Grandma's and beautiful pictures through the years. I have them up in a collage frame in my living room. And I am currently wearing one of her very cozy sweaters. :)

I have been finding some moments to read and have learned to read some easy reading the past few days. I have several reviews to post this week and look forward to doing so!

Thank you to everyone who left such kind comments regarding my Grandma's passing. It means so much to me that you all are out there listening and praying.

Respectfully and Sincerely,
red headed book child

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Goodbye, Grandma Adeline

In honor of my wonderful Grandma Adeline
Rest in Peace. I love you.

Red Headed Book Child will be taking a little time off.
Thanks for your prayers and thoughts.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week in Review: January 31-February 6

Well, everyone, I don't have much to say in this week's Week in Review. My mind and heart have been occupied with my Grandma. For those of you new to my blog, my Grandma is 94 years old and she had surgery over a month ago. We were all really worried about her at that time thinking that she probably would not survive it. But she did! The doctors were very impressed with her health at that time.
However, since then, she has lost the will to live. She is tired and was tired before that. The recovery from the surgery was too much for her to do. And it just got worse. After being in the hospital for 3 weeks, she moved back to the nursing home and seemed to be in better sprits and more comfortable. In my mind, she felt more at peace being there to die.
It has been almost 2 weeks since she came back and has not eaten and does not really want to do anything but sleep and maybe drink a little water.
I saw her yesterday and I could tell the end was near.

So, with a very heavy heart, I have nothing to report on the book front this week. I don't know what the next week will report but I hope my Grandma will soon find the peace and rest she so deserves.

red headed book child

Friday, February 5, 2010

Review #43: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Title: House Rules

Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Atria (Simon and Schuster)
Format: Advanced Reading Copy from Publisher
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9643-4
$26.00, 544 pages
Release Date: March 2, 2010

Rating: 10/10

My Review and Description:

As a huge Jodi Picoult fan and someone who has read pretty much all of her novels (minus a few early ones), I am confident in saying that House Rules is going to hit the book world like My Sister's Keeper did. It's going to stir up so much thought, emotion, politics, drama, rage, hope, fear and joy that readers are going to be bubbling with discussion.

First, it's about a child with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of Autism. It would be hard to find a parent out there these days who doesn't have an opinion on this subject.

I am a mother of a two year old and am convinced at all times that the world is going to open up and suck him down under. I'm pretty crazy on the ol' mother worry front. So, as a reader I felt so many different emotions while reading this.

Let me tell you about the story first. Jacob is a 17 year old boy who has Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism. He is the older brother to Theo and son to Emma. His days are filled with color coding and the strictest of routines. He doesn't have a girlfriend, he doesn't really have any friends but he does have a passion, for forensics. His passion is so much that he tends to show up at crime scenes and give his two cents.

The only other person that gets Jacob is Jess, his tutor. Jess spends her time with Jacob teaching him social skills, skills as simple as making eye contact with a cashier. Jess, unfortunately comes with a boyfriend, who calls Jacob "Chief" and wears orange (and that's enough for Jacob to NOT like him at all!).

Jess ends up missing her session with Jacob one Tuesday and is found dead. Soon enough, evidence leans toward Jacob. For the world outside of Jacob's home, Asperger's is not well known or understood. To the outside world, Jacob is strange. Strange = Guilty.

Why this book gets such a strong rating from me and why I think it's going to strike a chord, is that is brings to light a very heated topic these days. An onion of a topic, I'd say, with so many layers.

You have Emma, the mother, left as a single parent to raise two boys incredibly different from one another. She is intense, loyal, passionate, loving, opinionated, and...tired. Tired of fighting every day for balance, for understanding, for help, for a moment.

You have Theo, ashamed to say that he wishes his brother wasn't around but also wonders who would take care of him so well if he were the one with Asperger's.

And you have Jacob, the storm that circles around them; calm at times and bursting at others.

What Jodi Picoult does well is throw in a mess of side characters that wrestle through. Rich, the detective who questions Jacob; Oliver, the very green lawyer who takes the case; and Henry, the father (and ex-husband) who walked away in the beginning.

All these characters collide in such a troubled murder investigation. I had no idea what to believe. Quite frankly, I found myself being kind of pissed at Jacob, wanting to shake him of his disorder to get to the truth. The frustration of everyone around him was so thick it seeped out of the pages. I hated that I felt that but I understood. Yet at the same time, my heart was burning for Emma. I could feel her exhaustion in my bones and the weight of the daily routines and lack of understanding. I wrestled back and forth through the whole damn book. I cried. I got mad. I prayed for a healthy child.

In the end, I was once again amazed at the power of Jodi Picoult's storytelling and her ability to see beyond the black and white. I haven't been this moved since My Sister's Keeper (and seriously, folks, if you haven't read that one...go out and buy it now. Then go rent the movie, a box of Kleenex and some chocolate...because the tears and emotion are going to come big time!).

Thank you so much to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for sending me this super advanced copy to read. I am forever grateful.

Mark March 2 on your calendars and check out her website above for any tour dates. Though she is quite popular these days, if you ever get a chance to meet her in your neck of the woods, do it. She's incredibly kind.

Happy Reading!

red headed book child

Author Love-a-Thon #4: Rona Jaffe

Author Love-a-Thon #4- February 2010

Rona Jaffe

Why I Love Rona Jaffe by Red Headed Book Child

So some of you may be asking "Who the heck is Rona Jaffe?" Well, good thing you stopped by because she just happens to be my dirtiest little book secret from my teen years. Move over Jackie Collins, move over Danielle Steele, move over Judith Krantz, let me introduce Rona Jaffe.

I discovered Rona Jaffe during my teens after I had exhausted all of the V.C Andrews and Danielle Steele books of my moms. I stumbled across Class Reunion, one her earlier novels from the 70s and just ate it up!

A little background story on me. In my early teen years, say 11-14, I wanted to be a writer. By the time I was 14, I had written 3 novels, many short stories and had a large trunk full of ideas. I was FULL of stories and characters and plot lines. I used to create the covers of my books and write family trees of the characters and would clip out pictures from magazines of what I wanted the characters to look like. Oh yeah, I was thorough, people.
I also grew up in the sticks and had no friends. But aside from that I was the IDEA man. I had lots of them. I was a huge Soap Opera fan and used to watch them with my Grandma so I always had lots of inspiration for drama in my stories. You know...Who's the daddy now? Hey, wasn't she dead? and my favorite- I'm pretty sure you were 3 years old last episode and now you're 25?!

Anyway, I was very fanciful and adventurous in my mind with all the places I wanted to go and all the people I wanted to be. So naturally I picked authors that were over the top in romance, travel, drama, heartache, etc etc.

Rona Jaffe fit into my life perfectly. I went on to reading many of her early novels in my teens and continued into my 20s. I kind of lost track of her for a bit but then discovered her again in my late 20s when they republished her first novel, The Best of Everything. This novel was all about the secretary pool in NYC in the 60s. VERY Mad Men and I loved it! Funny story= the main male character Donald Draper on Mad Men was actually reading this book in an episode. Hilarious!
I was actually in NYC when it was republished and Rona Jaffe was touring for it. Unfortunately I missed the book signing by a day or so but my lovely friend Cheryl who was living in New Jersey at the time, went into the city and bought the last autographed copy and mailed it to me !!!! How sweet was that!
Good thing too, because Rona died a few years after that. :(

There are a handful of her newer titles I have not read but I pretty sure I will eventually. I have such a warm spot in my heart for her. Is she unique or the best writer out there? No, but the fun of reading is discovering. Sometimes you discover certain things at times in your life and they stick. You may change but the memory is still there.

Why you should love Rona Jaffe:

Because I said so.

No, seriously, her books are full of romance, drama, strong women, exotic locations (to a 14 year old who grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota, ANYTHING is exotic), and humor.

I would suggest reading Class Reunion first as a fun early novel and then reading The Best of Everything next.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crazy Heart

Watch out, Oscar! Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal are on their way!

I was so lucky to see this movie last week on a very rare afternoon to myself. It was truly amazing.

Jeff Bridges and Maggie G. gave extraordinary performances.

I grew up on folks like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard.
Hard drinkin', hard livin', powerful music were quite the norm in the little neck of the country I grew up in.

You should see my record collection...! This movie was like watching the lives of the musicians I've listened to so many times.

Luckily, this movie is getting attention so it should be in most theaters by Oscar time. Go see it!!!

It is fictional and based on a novel by Thomas Cobb (FYI)

Here is the movie trailer. Crazy Heart.

Happy Viewing!

red headed book child

Monday, February 1, 2010

Coming Soon!

Review coming soon!

I was scheduled to review this book yesterday for the Blog Tour. Between work, being sick, having a toddler who is sick, time got away from me and exhaustion took over.

Stay tuned.

I hope to get it done today or tomorrow morning.

Happy Reading!

red headed book child

Review #42: Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione- BLOG TOUR

Title: Ecstasy Unveiled

Author: Larissa Ione
Series: A Demonica Novel
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Format: Review Copy from Publisher for Blog Tour
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Rating: 6/10

Description from Back Cover:

Lore is a Seminus half-breed demon who has been forced to act as his dark master's assassin. Now to earn his freedom and save his sister's life, he must complete one last kill. Powerful and ruthless, he'll stop at nothing to carry out this deadly mission.

Idess is an earthbound angel with a wild side sworn to protect the human Lore is targeting. She's determined to thwart her wickedly handsome adversary by any means necessary- even if that means risking her vow of eternal chastity. But what begins as a simple seduction soon turns into a passion that leaves both angel and demon craving complete surrender.

Torn between duty and desire, Lore and Idess must join forces as they battle their attraction for each other. Because an enemy from the past is rising again-one hellbent on vengeance and unthinkable destruction.

My Review:

This was the first book I have read in the Demonica series. I thought it would be a bit too involved for me considering I opened the first page to a three page Glossary of characters and definitions. Oh boy. But, no worries, I fell into pretty quickly. It was fast paced, edgy and sexy. Lore was a bad ass (pardon my French) and Idess was too, in her own way. I liked their somewhat dysfunctional, intense relationship.

The family dynamic with Lore and his sister and brothers was heated and engaging. With the crazy weekend I had I am about 100 pages shy of finishing it so I don't quite know how it ends. But up to where I left off, it was a pretty good read. The author has certainly created a fantasical world of demons and angels and other complicated beasts all plugging away with desires and rage.

For the very little Paranormal Romance I've read, this was entertaining enough to hold my interest. How it rates in the grand scheme of Paranormal, I can't say. I thought it was sexy and weird and exotic and easily readable. Good enough for me!

Thanks to Hachette for sending me a copy to review for this Blog Tour. (so sorry I am a day late!)

Check out the author's website for more details on her other books in this series.

Happy Reading!

red headed book child