Monday, June 28, 2010

Review #72: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County Tiffany Baker

Title: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
Author: Tiffany Baker
Genre: Fiction
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)
ISBN: 978-0-446-19422-8
Price/Pages: $13.99/341

My Description:

Truly Place is told she is different; a giant, larger than life. Born and raised in a small rural town, she has no choice but to live through her pain; physically as she grows more each day, and emotionally, as she gets belittled from those around her.
She knows no other way. She was born big, too big, they say, causing her mother to die in childbirth.
Her sister, Serena Jane, is quite the opposite; delicate,
beautiful and the apple of everyone's eye.

Truly, Serena and their father fumble through the years after their mother dies. Unsure of how to raise two girls, he seeks help from neighbors. Unfortuntaely not all are open to caring for Truly. The girls are forced to split up. Serena to the Reverend Pickerton's house, Truly to the Dyersons'. Truly makes a home with their daughter, Amelia, strange and silent in her own way and they forge a bond that will last into their adult years.

A strong central character along side the girls in Robert "Bob Bob" Morgan, the young son of a family of local doctors. Obsessed with Serena, he would do anything to have her. After a shocking incident, Robert, Truly, Amelia and Serena are forever linked.

The story is told in Truly's voice and in three parts. Over the course of many years we see Truly and her family and friends battle with these secrets and demons.

My Review:

This book has so many layers to it it is hard for me to put in words what I really feel about it. It's also hard to explain what happens in the book without giving too much of it away. I went back and forth in my enjoyment in this book. It started out a bit slow for me and heavy. It took me awhile to really get into the mind of Truly. I felt I did about half way through.

Truly is a complicated character. Her voice is supremely honest, emotional, and raw. But also very empty at times and I think that's the part I had the hardest with. I was trying to really get to the heart of her and feel for her but then I realized that she really was just a empty shell at times. Her weight, though large, didn't fill the gaps inside.

I didn't want to save her, so much, but I did want her to find peace and understanding and kindness. So much happens to her and around her that you find yourself breathing through it all with her and hoping that calm will come.

Tiffany Baker has written a very layered, well written first novel. It had elements of the south; the hard work, the tough times, the poverty, the discrimination and also the hope.
Throughout the novel you also get a little bit of witchcraft and local myth and storytelling.

Rating: 4 stars/6 stars
I would recommend this novel for, once again, lovers of serious fiction. It's not an easy read. It's not a fun, happy read though I will say, the ending did bring me joy. But this one is certainly raw; the characters are flawed, the writing is emotional, the setting is desolate and cold at times.

Book Club Rating:
If you have a club out there who reads novels like Fried Green Tomatoes (Fannie Flagg) or Bastard out of Carolina (Dorothy Allison), this would be a good pick for you.

Thank you to Jessica at Newman Communications for sending me a copy to read and review.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Library begins...

Yesterday I started my job at the Library.
I had to re-read one of my favorite books again to get going!
Though I did not walk with a wagon of books, my hair was equally as large and
red as the gal on the cover.

Today I get to learn all about Cataloguing.

Gee, I hope I spelled that right.


red headed book child

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Did you know...

...that July 11, 2010 marks the 50th Anniversary of
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

And did you know that I have not read this book yet?

Yes, I know. I suck.
I tried really hard to avoid the BIG HUGE GIANT DISPLAY at BEA because I was too darn embarrassed that I, as a passionate reader and lover of all things literary, had not read such a classic.

WELL, let me tell you dear readers, I am going to change that! I plan (cross my fingers) to read this book before July 11 or there abouts. I have 2 more books I want to read before then but I think I can. I think I can. Chug Chug Choo Choo.

How about you? Have you read it?

I receive the Hot@Harper (Collins) email newsletter and it had this website to check out for all of the cool events they are planning on doing surrounding this literary event.

Check it out and maybe join the fun!

happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, June 21, 2010

Review #71: The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White

Title: The Girl on Legare Street
Author: Karen White
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: New American Library (Penguin)
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-451-22799-7
Price/Pages: $15.00/335

My Description:

The Girl on Legare Street starts off shortly after The House on Tradd Street leaves off. Melanie, a 39 year old realtor living in Charleston is adjusting to having her parents back in her life and owning a giant historic estate in need of a lot of repair. She is still going around and around in circles with Jack, a former bestselling mystery author using her estate and family history as basis for his next book. It's a headstrong love/hate affair and oh so much fun to read.

Melanie's mother, who deserted her when she was seven, is not leaving her alone. She needs help restoring their old family home on Legare Street and Melanie is the best in the business. But her mother knows the house needs more than a new coat of paint. It needs the power of their combined sixth sense to rid the house of the terrible spirits that inhabit it.

Just when she thinks she might get some quiet, she is pulled into yet another paranormal mystery (see my review for The House on Tradd Street).

Only this time, the spirits are coming just for her.

My Review:

Let me just say, I absolutely ADORE Karen White now. I am hooked. I was told this was going to be a four part book series and from the ending of this one, I could definitely tell there was going to be atleast a third. Talk about cliffhanger!

First, I want to now move to Charleston, South Carolina. From how White describes the community, it sounds so cozy and quaint; rich with history of the war battles, the old money, and the ghosts that roam the streets. I could not get enough!

Melanie continues to shine as the sassy main character but in this novel you really get to see the side characters come out. Jack is smart, wickedly handsome, stubborn and obviously in love with Melanie. Her mother, Ginnette, is a strong force with incredibly powerful sixth sense.
In order to unravel the mystery of the spirit that is after Melanie, everyone is forced to dig deep into their pasts and face some horrible truths about their family line.

This one was a bit darker and had much more paranormal activity in it. There were more talking to ghosts, cold spots, orbs of light, dark visions, that sort of thing. In my opinion, it was woven into the story quite nicely. Obviously having a sixth sense was quite normal for Melanie and her mother. I am a lover of that so it was really enjoyable to read. I'm currently addicted to Ghost Adventures, the TV Show (fyi) so reading about it all is super fun in my book.

Rating: 6 stars/6 stars
I had so much fun reading these and I can not wait for the third and fourth. It just had such a nice blend of a historical novel, a mystery, a romance and a ghost story. All the ingredients that make my toes tingle when I read. Definitely check these out if you want an absorbing read, in the bubble bath with a glass of wine.
Highly Recommended!

Author Website:

I thank Joy, once again, for sending me these to read.
Stay tuned for a review of On Folly Beach by Karen White.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review #70: The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse

Title: The Madonnas of Echo Park
Author: Brando Skyhorse
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Free Press (Simon and Schuster)
Format: ARC from Publisher
ISBN: 978-1-4391-7080-9
Price/Pages: $23.00/224
Release Date: June 2010

Description from Simon and Schuster's website:
(because it explains it far better than I could)

We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours.

With these words, spoken by an illegal Mexican day laborer, The Madonnas of Echo Park takes us into the unseen world of Los Angeles, following the men and women who cook the meals, clean the homes, and struggle to lose their ethnic identity in the pursuit of the American dream.

When a dozen or so girls and mothers gather on an Echo Park street corner to act out a scene from a Madonna music video, they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. In the aftermath, Aurora Esperanza grows distant from her mother, Felicia, who as a housekeeper in the Hollywood Hills establishes a unique relationship with a detached housewife.

The Esperanzas’ shifting lives connect with those of various members of their neighborhood. A day laborer trolls the streets for work with men half his age and witnesses a murder that pits his morality against his illegal status; a religious hypocrite gets her comeuppance when she meets the Virgin Mary at a bus stop on Sunset Boulevard; a typical bus route turns violent when cultures and egos collide in the night, with devastating results; and Aurora goes on a journey through her gentrified childhood neighborhood in a quest to discover her own history and her place in the land that all Mexican Americans dream of, "the land that belongs to us again."

Like the Academy Award–winning film Crash, The Madonnas of Echo Park follows the intersections of its characters and cultures in Los Angeles. In the footsteps of Junot Díaz and Sherman Alexie, Brando Skyhorse in his debut novel gives voice to one neighborhood in Los Angeles with an astonishing— and unforgettable—lyrical power.

My Review:

I took this book along with me to NYC and read about half of it on the way out there. I always try to take a book on the plane that is not huge but thought provoking. I like to be absorbed and intrigued. I rarely take fluff with me on airplanes. I want to be a little lost and forget that I could be plummeting to my death at any moment. :) I was able to finish this in Washington Square Park a few days into my travels in the city.
The Madonnas of Echo Park fit this bill completely. I had read about it earlier in the year and when I had the opportunity to read it before it was released I jumped on it.

First the line,
"We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours" is incredibly powerful and engaged me right away.

Also, the author was compared to Junot Diaz, the author of
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I just adored.

As the description above says, this novel tells many a story, each chapter separate and told from a different voice. But as you read on, each character is connected and pieces of each story overlap and you get to reread it in a sense from different perspectives. This style is not at all redundant or boring. I did not feel that any story was being retold over and over again. It really opened my eyes to the world in general and how easy it is to interpret a situation or judge an individual. We each carry around our own bias and attitudes and our history is what makes us who we are.
As I was reading each character and their story, the author remains very thoughtful to each and every one, though some stories were harsh and raw.

In the beginning the author begins the novel with his own Author's Note and how he came to write this story. He tells of a young girl he went to school with named Aurora Esperanza and how during a dance party at school he refurses to dance with her, telling her
"You are a Mexican. I can't dance with you."
After being scolded by the teacher, he goes home to think of why he would say such an awful thing. After some time, he begins to feel bad and is ready to apologize. The next day at school he tells the teacher he is ready to say he was sorry but unfortunately Aurora never comes back.

He states that 25 years later, this novel is his way of apologizing.

With all of the news about illegal immigration, Arizona and border protection, reading this vivid portrait of Mexican-Americans, was such a refreshing eye opener. We are all hear to live, survive, take care of our families and try to do what's best...we hope.
Unfortutately in our society certain individuals get judged harsher than others.

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
I highly recommend this novel to anyone who is a lover of serious, eye-opening fiction. It may be short in length but the stories are so candid and real, the weight of the book comes through there. Book clubs would be advised to read this one. You will find a lot to discuss!

Author Profile:
Brando Skyhorse was born and raised in Echo Park, California. He is a graduate of Stanford university and the MFS Writers' Workshop program at UC Irvine. For the past ten years he has worked in New York as a book editor. He is currently writing a memoir, Things My Fathers Taught Me, about growing up with five stepfathers.

Thank you to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for giving me an opportunity to read this early.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Tales from my Childhood- Little House style

Little House on the Prairie, how I love you so!

While in NYC I had a chance to meet "Mary" from Little House on the Prairie. Very exciting for this country girl who has seen every episode of that show multiple times. It was a staple in our household growing up. Now, I was never THAT country but I had a lot of "Hal Pint" in me. I liked to kick it in the woods, climbing trees, being inquisitive, talking my sister's ear off at night with all of my silly thoughts and sometimes just being a nosy little busy body.
I unfortuntately gave my copy of "The Way I see it" to my mother right away as a gift thinking she would love it. She did, however, yesterday I was watching the Today show and saw that Nellie from Little House as a book out. So now I am totally on a Little House kick!
I absolutely ADORE Melissa Gilbert by the way and not just in Little House. I've seen just about all of the cheesy Hallmark movies and the horribly tragic Lifetime movies. I'm all over it. Her and Nancy McKeon from Facts of Life are my favs on the Lifetime front!
Anyway, I am going to snag my copy of The Way I see It sooner than later and check out the other two memoirs as well. I also dragged out my crusty old copies of the Little House books. (Sigh) They made me so happy as a kid! I don't know if I'll reread them all but definitely
Little House in the Big Woods.

Any Little House fans out there?

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Play Dead Winner!

We have a winner!
(a million years later)

Sorry for the delay, folks. Thanks to all of you who entered!

The winner of the super scary book above is

Here is her Zombie Survival Plan:
"I like zombies! I think the checklist from the movie Zombieland is goo survival tactics. Always remember the double-tap!"

Winner has been emailed and has 24 hours to respond!

Thanks again!

red headed book child

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No nap, No bloggin'

So due to the fact that my little peanut seems to boycotting his nap these days I am not getting a whole heck of a lot of bloggin' time.
Must transition and figure something out!

Because of this, I had a moronic moment and realized I have not picked a winner for
Play Dead by Ryan Brown. Oops!

No worries. This will be this evening. So sorry for the wait.


red headed book child

Monday, June 14, 2010

Review #69: I Love This Bar by Carolyn Brown

Title: I Love This Bar
Author: Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablance
Genre: Romance
Format: ARC from Publisher
ISBN: 978-1-4022-3926-7
Price/Pages: $6.99/384
Release Date: June

My Description:

Daisy is a gorgeous, head strong, tell-it-like-it-is bartender of the Honky Tonk Beer Joint. Jarod is a handsome, tight jean wearin' loner back in town to help his 86 year old uncle
with his ranch.
One night they literally collide in the bar and the rest, well, the rest is a saucy,
toe-to-toe romance novel.

My Review:

I signed on to review this one a few months ago and also the next book in the series due out in August. So you will see a few more romance reviews from me this summer. I will probably still read some occasionally. I just won't be reviewing any more. I honestly can't resist a cover with a shirtless man.
Seriously. Where do the shirts go?
Who knows? Who cares?
It's apparently incredibly windy and shirts just fly off and that's okay with me.

(nervous cough)

Where was I?
Okay, so I really had fun with this book.
It was full of lusty daydreams, flirting adventures and sexy romps in the ol' hay.

The Honky Tonk Beer Joint is a dive bar full of cranky old men, flirty women and lots of beer flowing. Daisy is wicked and funny and holds her own. Jarod is equally full of piss and vinegar and their relationship sets sparks flying.

I kept hearing Toby Keith's song, "I Love This Bar" as I read it. For this country gal, it was really easy to slip into this small town beer joint community. The author slips in many a country reference with familiar songs and artists.

Rating: 5 stars/ 6 stars
I recommend this one for fans of contemporary western romances.
It had heart. It had sass. It had a lot of sparks and romance.
It had country music.
What more can I say?

Author's Website:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Happy Birthday to me!

Yes, it's true. It's my birthday today. I am 35 years young. I can't believe it. Inside I still fell like the crazy, big haired 12 year old running around in the country with no shoes on and a book stuffed in my pants. Where does the time go?

My day will be like the others; running after a 2 year old and attempting to clean the house BUT I did get a chocolate cake out of the deal yesterday and I will get to see one of my favorite musicians this Saturday. Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller! yeah!

Though it's been kind of a shit year (sorry for the language) with getting laid off, my son's broken leg and my grandma passing, I did have the fortune to be able to spend some wonderful time at home with my son AND I found all of you!

I have to say never in my many years of book selling would I have thought I would be reading and reviewing books online, of all places. But I have found a nice, warm fuzzy place here at
Red Headed Book Child and I hope I will continue into my next birthday!

Thanks for sharing along with me and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review #68: The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

Title: The House on Tradd Street
Author: Karen White
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0-451-22509-2
Format: Paperback from Publicist
Price/Pages: $14.00/339

My Description:

Set in Charleston, South Carolina The House on Tradd Street is a ghost story at heart.
Melanie Middleton is a 39 year old realtor who is good at what she does; practical, smart, sassy and has a "gift" for seeing ghosts. After a meeting about a listing with an owner of a beautiful historic house, Melanie finds herself inheriting it. The owner suddenly dies a few short days after they meet and after having a feeling about her, knows his house will be in good hands with Melanie.

The house holds secrets and ghosts that Melanie discovers right away. She is none too happy with the inheritance, disliking everything about old houses and the work that comes with them. But under the contract of the inheritance she is to live in the house for one year and use the money given to her solely in renovating it.

Along with her best friend (a professor of architecture) her father (an alcoholic trying to get straight), and a handsome new stranger, Jack (a former bestselling mystery author), she goes along with the renovation hoping to get it over and done with.

Jack needs ideas and research for his new book that will recharge his career and he is determined to find out the secrets of the house. The original woman of the house went missing along with a local businessman.
Did she desert her husband and son? Was she kidnapped and murdered?
The truth was never discovered.
Melanie agrees to let Jack "tag along" their renovation and help while poking around the big old house for clues. What she doesn't expect is the tingling feeling she gets when she's around him and the same goes for him.

My Review:

So much happens in this book that I can't really say more without giving too much away. I really, really, really enjoyed this one. Sometimes you just find a book that is completely and totally right for you. Karen White's storytelling ability is remarkable and so much fun to read.

I liked the ghost story aspect of it all. I generally do. Anything paranormal really interests me and especially if you can write about it well and not make it cheesy.
Melanie is a really interesting character. She is really good at her job and is very opinionated. She comes from a dysfunctional family; her father is a recovering alcoholic, her mother abandoned her when she was 7 and she lost her grandmother when she was quite young.

She is very tied to Charleston and the her community though because of her ability to "see" ghosts, she has a hard time existing in such an old world. Charleston is rich with history and every corner there is a different ghost to encounter. She prefers to live in her new, sterile, clean condo where she can relax and be still.

The owner of the House on Tradd Street could sense her abilities and felt she was the best person to inherit his house, which has a story to tell, but only to the right person.

Jack is a handsome, funny, charismatic character ( I kept picturing the actor Bradley Cooper because that just makes me happy!) and his flirting game with Melanie is really fun to read. They are both fierce and motivated and seem to enjoy getting in each other's way, even though they would never admit it.

The whole story is full of so much charm; the town, the old houses, the history, the architecture, the drama, the multiple love stories. I just fell in love with it. I immediately continued with book 2 in the series; The Girl on Legare Street.

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
Highly recommended for fans of solid, character driven fiction with a charming story to back it up. I liked the ghost story aspect but I don't feel it overpowers anything. It's mostly full of family secrets, drama, history and love. If you are a fan of Adrianna Trigiani, I think you would like this one.

Thank you SO much to Joy at Joan Schulhafer, Publishing and Media Consulting for sending me this book to discover. I look forward to reading her newest novel, On Folly Beach and reviewing it for you all!

Author Website:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Friday, June 11, 2010

The House on Tradd Street

Has anyone else read Karen White?
I am absolutely adoring this series. The House on Tradd Street is marvelous. I can not wait to review it. I just had to tell you all because it's been since Tuesday since I blogged about anything and well, I kind of missed you all.

Have a great weekend. I'll be cuddling up with this one trying to finish!

Happy Reading, and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review #67: The School of Possibilities by Seita Parkkola

Title: The School of Possibilities
Author: Seita Parkkola
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: Young Adult
Format: Review Copy from Publisher
ISBN: 978-1-4022-1835-4
Price/Pages: $12.99/app.368
Release Date: June 2010

My Review and Description:

This was a strange little novel.

Though geared towards a middle school age reader, I plant it in a older young adult category myself. It was a fierce little story with edgy characters.

Storm Steele is a pretty normal 12 year old. He is fearless and loves to skateboard.
His parents, however, think he is trouble and needs some guidance.
He is sent to The School of Possibilities, with the ever so kind help of his new step mother.
They tell him this is your last chance. Shape up or Ship out.

Well, not many choices for a kid but he plans on not letting it all get to him.

The school is not exactly what you would call normal. His classmates follow him and seem, well...strange. The headmaster is none too pleasant. And he just doesn't seem to be able to control himself. He is becoming more obedient as if the school itself was controlling him.

Unfortunately I was unable to finish this one. I got almost half way. I didn't dislike it. It just didn't hold my interest. Perhaps it was because, in my head, I was transitioning to wanting to read more literary fiction and I was scheduled to review this one prior to BEA.

It was definitely unique and I do give the writer credit for developing this creative story. Troubled boy, creepy school, dysfunctional family, mean teachers.
Pretty relatable I think.
I think it would be good for an older boy to read, perhaps one that is interested in
more of a fantasy genre.

Author Profile:
Seita Parkkola lives in Turku, Finland. She is a writer, teacher, and mother of two. She teaches graphic arts, photography and writing and she has also worked as a reporter and photographer.

Rating: No rating given.
This has only been the second time I have been unable to finish a book that I was scheduled to review. I don't feel I can adequately rate books I don't finish. With my desire to remain honest, I still will continue to post reviews and express my opinion however. I believe that readers make their own decisions and if the story line of this book sounds appealing, check it out. The author is talented with her writing style. It just did not grab me in the way that I thought it would.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Changes in What I Review

(Totally random picture of Clifford, the Big Red Dog from Scholastic)

Since I've been back from BEA and the Book Blogger Convention I have been thinking a bit about what my blog is all about and how to market it. I feel I am pretty successful right now where I stand. I am happy with my following and the sincere and wonderful comments from my lovely fellow bloggers. Sure it would look neat to have 1000s of followers and do lots more stuff but as a SAHM who works a lot during the weekends, I just don't have that time.

What I do want to keep doing is have fun but also show more of me on this blog. Since I've started last July, I said I would review everything I read, regardless of genre. With that I have also explored a lot of genres that I would not normally read and have made some wonderful contacts at new and exciting publishers. I am very grateful for that.

But when it comes down to it, my shelves are piling up and many wonderful books have been waiting for me for...(cough) years to read. So I have decided to read and review only my favorite genres. This will include also what I will be accepting and considering for review from publishers, authors, and publicists.

My favorite genres are:
Literary Fiction

I will also occasionally read and review some children's and parenting books with the help of my little kiddo. He is now into THUMBS UP so we'll see what he has to say about some of these books.

I have since changed this info on my Contact Page and kind of started to spread that message at BEA and the Book Blogger Convention. I have received a few requests already that fit where I want to go and focus on.

Though I enjoy reading Young Adult and Romance and will continue to read them, I will not be reviewing anymore titles on this blog. There are so many lovely bloggers out there that concentrate and review these genres so well, I'm going to leave it to them!

I hope you all continue to stop by and read what I have to say. I hope my passion for reading and reviewing will continue to come out at Red Headed Book Child.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pictures of BOOKS, you say? Why, yes, I have pictures of BOOKS!

Roughly 80 books total. My son's children's books are not included.
Above are the mystery/thrillers. Wow!
Literary Fiction and Memoirs. (above and below) Oh boy!
Young Adult and Middle Grade. Squeal!

The Mother Load? Lode?

Who cares? Giant pile of AWESOMENESS!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Review # 66: Whiter than Snow

Title: Whiter than Snow
Author: Sandra Dallas
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 978-0-312-60015-0
Format: Hardcover for Review
Price/Pages: $24.99/292

My Review and Description:

Whiter than Snow was such an incredible read. I had never read Sandra Dallas before and when I was asked to review her latest novel, I jumped on it. I knew that she wrote novels that captured very specific human stories of different times in history. This novel takes place in 1920 Swandyke, a small town near Colorado's Tenmile Range.

One afternoon an accident occurs involving an avalanche of snow that falls
upon the town.
9 children are affected and a whole community is changed forever.

Through each of the children, you are told the lives of their parents and caregivers. Each chapter holds a different story, so richly and uniquely told.
The end of the novel comes full circle to the tragic event and how it plays out.

I am such a fan of real narrative fiction that I found this book to be compulsively readable. Dallas wrote with such skill and ease that it was as if I was sitting on a porch listening to these characters tell me their story.
Even though each chapter is told from a different perspective you have faith that the author will come back around so you really let yourself go as a reader in enjoying each story. There is definite sadness and hard times throughout but there is also just as much resiliency of spirit.

I picked up The Chili Queen, an earlier novel of hers after reading this (not like I don't have stacks from BEA or anything). I was just so impressed with the author that I wanted to continue.

Thank you to Anne at The Book Report Network for allowing me the chance to read and review this novel.

Rating: 5 stars/6 stars
This was such a strong, enjoyable, heartwarming novel that I will be adding Sandra Dallas as an author to watch for. Truly gifted in a inviting writing style, she captures your attention and holds it. And her characters stay with you. Recommended for fans of literary fiction.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

NYC: Day 6

NYC: Day 6

With BEA over, I was exhausted and ready to sit and absorb some blogger knowledge. I woke up really early on Friday morning to haul my load of books to the post office near my hotel. Thank goodness for suitcases with wheels. It was a very strange sight for the post office crew to have three customers arrive at their doors at 7:30am with carts full of books to ship. We took over the entire post office to pack and label. Good thing it was early!

So for a total of $38.00 I sent out 3 big boxes of books. I can safely say now they are here with me. I was a little nervous waiting on my third box. It was the mother load box I call it, full of so many of my favorites that I picked up. I am so glad it did not get lost. The post office is the way to go. Shipping stuff out from BEA is obnoxiously expensive.
I will include a picture in tomorrow's post of all my books.

I grabbed a quick $400 latte (sarcasm, people) at the closest Starbucks to me and headed on downtown to the Convention. Breakfast and registration started early and the festivities started at 9:00.
The convention was located in the meeting rooms of the Jacob Javits Center, the same place BEA was at. I got my name tag, grabbed another goodie bag of books and headed on in.
The picture above was just a shot of bloggers mingling about in the common area outside the meeting room. I really didn't get that many great pictures of the space as a whole.
I wanted to include my picture of Jenny and Jennifer. If you don't know their blogs by now, shame on you! (j/k)
Aren't they adorable? So very nice and sweet people. I enjoyed talking and laughing with them. They are so smart and down to earth.

I sat with them at breakfast along with the COOLEST AUTHOR THAT I HAVE MET IN A LONG TIME. Why so many caps. you say? Well, the unique thing about the Blogger Convention is that is was not just us bloggers there. We had the opportunity to mingle with authors, publicists and publishers.
The author I met at breakfast was Sandra Brannan. She has a mystery book coming out on September 1 and it is called In the Belly of Jonah, a first in a series featuring Liv Bergen.
I received a copy from her that morning.
Let me just say, in my years of bookselling and doing author events, meeting authors can really make or break my "love" of them. I have had some situations where authors I've enjoyed have been none too pleasant and I have a really hard time supporting them after that. I know, it's silly. We all have off days but sometimes it does taint it a bit.

But Sandra Brannan was a hoot! She was smart, funny, delightful and so genuinely interested in the blogging community. Her book was raw and suspenseful. I liked her so much that I picked her book to read on the plane ride home and I really liked it! I will be featuring a review and maybe a Guest Post with her closer to the release date. Anything I can do to make this book and her successful.

Breakfast was a fun chance to meet others and chat. The convention started at 9:00 and after an introduction the afternoon was spent with panels of bloggers and publicists and publishers and authors. They discussed a range of topics; professionalism and ethics, writing content, social responsibility and relationships between authors and bloggers.

The panelists were thoughtful and honest and very informative. I took away a lot from this, as far as where I want my blog to go, how much I want to do and some tips to keep it going.
It felt like I was able to check out different blogs without physically having to go to them and scroll and read. There were so many different types of bloggers there talking about their styles that I really learned a lot. I have since went to many of them and started following them.

I did not feel overwhelmed by the info. I felt inspired and jazzed. I don't think I'm going to change much about my blog but I have some ideas for where my focus might go. Before this I tried to do some weekly and monthly features but "scheduled" posts have proven to be hard for me. There was a lot of talk on how to keep your blog fresh and I realized for me that, like my reading, I really work better being spontaneous. If I want to blog about Sweet Valley High, I will. So with that, I'm excited to be back and get to it and just have fun!

All in all, I had a really good time in my adventures in NYC. Great people, great books, great food, great shows, (some sore feet) and great memories. I look forward to doing this again next year and meeting more. The community itself now feels closer. Thanks to all of the organizers for making this happen.

"Don't fear the blogger" We are here to stay and have some fun!

My final NYC post will be tomorrow and it will include pictures of my books. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading about my adventures! I wish you all could have been there.

red headed book child

Thursday, June 3, 2010

R.I.P Rue

Rest in Peace, Rue.

You will be missed.

NYC: Day 5

NYC: Day 5

Sorry folks, I'm a day late getting this out. I stayed with my parents for an evening and well, their computer is from 1942 or something ridiculous like that and it crashes all the time. !

Of course, I still love them, even if I want to throw the machine out the window every time I try to use it.

So, here we are Day 5, last Thursday, second day of BEA for me and I was ready! Today was the day for Cheryl and I. Trever had had enough and he was heading down to get tickets to Promises, Promises (see picture above!). In the morning we were not sure if this would happen but it was the top show on our list and we had our fingers and toes crossed.

The second day for me was much more relaxed. I knew what to expect and took my time. Overall, even though we got there around the same time it seemed a lot less crazy and hectic. We spent most of our time at the Autographing area hopping from line to line. This is where I met a lot of great people. Every one that I met in line was so super nice, whether they were a librarian, a fellow blogger, an educator or bookseller.

Shelia from Book Journey found me in line and introduced herself. She said she just looked for ladies with red hair and thought she would eventually find me! She is a fellow Minnesotan. Very lovely. I ran into Jenny from Take Me Away again. She was hanging with Jennifer from Crazy for Books, who is also a delight. We bonded over our big hair! (pictures of these lovely ladies will come in tomorrow's post. I took them the the Blogger Expo).
It was really fun finding yourself in line with these people, knowing you have the same tastes. It was so easy to chat it up with them. This day I really got a lot of great books. I met Mary from Little House on the Prairie. I snuck into the Sandra Boynton line and got the Perfect Piggies book for my son. Okay, I was finishing up in the line NEXT to Sandra Boynton right when SHE was finishing up. It was a ticketed event and I didn't want to break any rules or seem pushy because I've worked plenty of events where people ask for exceptions. It can make running an event really hard. So I didn't want to be one of THOSE people but darnit, I was in NYC, I came all this way, my son LOVES all the Sandra Boynton books and well, Cheryl made me do it.
So, I pouted and made eye contact with the publicist and she shooed me over. Hooray!
Perfect Piggies was mine, signed by Sandra to my little Kiddo.!
He loves it.
I met the Stitch and Bitch lady, Carla Neggers, Matthew Van Fleet, Anna Godbersen and a whole host of others. It was so much fun! I filled up two bags and managed to carry them okay for the rest of the day. No reports of anything stolen. Thank goodness.
I met Alyson from Simon and Schuster (picture above) My hair is enormous and I kind of look like a pumpkin in that shirt. I don't know what I was thinking. :( I was unable to meet Wendy, the other rep from Simon and Schuster that I have had email correspondence with for a few years. She was a very busy lady! Oh well. Next year, I told myself.
All in all, it was an amazing day for BEA. I only wish I would have stayed until the very end and went for one more bag. I heard they put out some cool stuff and you could pretty much take anything at that point. I left at 4 and it closed at 6.
Once again, next year.
On our way back we found out we got tickets for Promises, Promises which made us very happy. Sean Hayes AND Kristin Chenoweth. I could hardly wait!
We had a yummy dinner and I had plans to meet Christine from The Happily Ever after before the show but due to rain and traffic we only had a half hour to meet for a quick drink at my hotel. (isn't she lovely? The bartender took our pic!) I really wanted more time with her because she is such a delight but we took what we could get.
Once again, next year. Christine. Me. More time. More drinks.
Promises, Promises was so amazing. Kristin Chenoweth was not there due to throat problems which has always been my luck with shows. There is always someone missing that I love.
Sean Hayes was perfect though! It was a little hard to look past him as Jack from Will and Grace but I did part way through and really enjoyed his performance.
It was kind of like Mad Men with lots and lots of jingles. Really fun to watch!
I included a pic of Strawberry Fields just because I like that area of Central Park but we went there earlier in the week.
After the show we went back to the hotel. I organized my books, squealed a little and went to sleep. Tomorrow, of course, was going to be another BIG day for me.
It was time to put more faces to more blogger names! I could hardly wait.
'Til then.
Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!
red headed book child

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NYC: Day 4

NYC: Day 4

Today was the day! Today was the day! The 1st Day of BEA! Hey, that rhymes!
I was so excited. I got up early and was ready to go and nervously tapping my foot waiting for my friends. Okay, not really, they were pretty enthusiastic as well.

So I thought I had somewhat of an elaborate plan for BEA at home, with lists and charts and a planner. Well, that went out the window pretty much when they opened the doors to the Exhibit Floor. We got there at about 8:30. Trever and I had already registered so Cheryl had to pop down and get her badge to get in.

I waited in the enormous line and almost illegally hopped on board the Rick Springfield line! But I had no ticket. I didn't get up THAT early.

Once the doors opened, it was madness. We kind of stuck together and tried to meander but it was way too hard to see everything. Trever, who had been to conventions before said, "If the book is on a large stack, it's okay to take without asking. If it's on a display or a smaller stack, initiate conversation and ASK! Politely!" This was good to know.
So I said, "I'm going that way. See ya later!"

We went off our separate ways for about an hour to get a grip of the place.
I stumbled through booth after booth picking up things here and there. I made the mistake of hitting up the Hachette Booth and was totally manhandled. It was fun but a little too crazy for me. I'm not going fight you people. I'm just not.

I decided hitting the major publisher booths would be a better idea later in the day. So I headed to a favorite smaller publisher and had a great little chat with them. Overlook Press publishes some good stuff and I knew they would have a copy of the new Penny Vincenzi novel. They did! (hidden away) But they took one out for me! I picked up a few others that they suggested as well.

I could see that the day was going to be long and exhausting carrying all those books so I really tried to pace myself and not take everything I saw. I hit up Harlequin, Simon and Schuster, Chronicle, Grove/Atlantic, Sourcebooks, Candlewick and Workman.

The Exhibit Floor is really just rows and rows of booths with large numbers hanging above them to help you navigate. I had a map and had some of my favorite publishers written down. The major publishers were pretty much in the middle with the smaller ones to one side, the foreign language publishers in one area and the remainders section separate as well.

By lunchtime I had two bags full and almost got one of them stolen. Thanks people. Where's the love? Thankfully my pal Trever interjected with a glare that would kill a puppy. Yikes! (we don't kill puppies, though...just fyi!)

The floor was a madhouse, lots of knocking in to each other and crazy energy. We needed a break to formulate a better plan. We should have done the whole ship out the books thing right from the post office that day, since we passed one at Penn Station. But, no, we were mentally exhausted and took a cab back to the hotel and had some lunch.

That's rephrase that. A SUSHI lunch. !!!

After some yummy food at the sushi spot next to our hotel (secret cool place that will remain nameless!), we headed back empty handed and ready for more.
This time we were hitting up the Autographing Area.
I thought that you could get the same books at the Publisher booths that you could get in the Autographing lines, but I was wrong. So, it was good that I discovered the Autographing area early because I got a lot of cool books that way.
I will include a pic tomorrow or the next day of all of the books I got but I've only received 2 out of the 3 boxes so far. Cross your fingers that I get the other one!

The Autographing Area was a lot of fun. The lines were a little cluttered and disorganized for some of the well known authors. I personally did not encounter any negativity or rudeness between people in line, especially when you were trying to navigate and FIND your correct line.

I had a few authors I really wanted to see and others I just hopped in line and discovered. I got a ton of mysteries; Tess Gerristen, Lisa Gardner, Jonathen Land, etc. I picked up some really great fiction; Kathleen Kent, Debbie Macomber. I got a TON of Children's picture books for the little kiddo. Lots of Mom's Choice Award Winners! Very exciting.
I'll have to list more when all of the books arrive. I'm having a brain freeze moment.

All in all, the Autographing area was the way to go. We spent the rest of the afternoon there stocking up (instead of heading back to the booths), talking to fellow bloggers in line, chatting up with the authors. I handed out a bunch of business cards. All of the authors I spoke to were really receptive to bloggers and genuinely really excited to meet me!

After this wonderful day, I had dinner with my friends at one of our favorite restaurants.
Thalia on West 50th and 8th. Good wine and such delicious food!

We had tickets to Wicked at 8:00 that night and I wanted to stop by and atleast say HI to the folks at the Harper Collins Celebration of Book Bloggers Cocktail hour.
Okay, I hauled ass (pardon my language). I had from 7 to 7:30 to mingle and then run back 10 blocks to the theater to make it in time for one of my all time favorite musicals.
Well, I did it!
During my very short stint at the cocktail hour I met Jenny from Take Me Away, Marie from the Boston Bibliophile and a Avon Publisher rep. I sucked down a glass of water and before I knew it , I was off. I thanked the ladies at the sign in table for hosting this event, grabbed my Swag bag and made it to see Wicked.

I wish I had more time for mingling but I was NOT missing Wicked on Broadway.
I don't need to say much about this fabulous musical. It's awesome. I resisted singing along.
I almost cried when it was over.
"No one mourns the Wicked."

Unfortunately, the night did not end well for this little blogger. Lots of rushing, not enough water, and eating ice cream on the way back to the hotel made for a sick Michelle in the middle of the night. I thought I would be down for the count the next day but good thing, I woke up fine and ready to go!

But that's for tomorrow's post. Day 5: BEA Day 2!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

After that