Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 A-Z Mystery Author Challenge

Welcome to the 2nd Annual A-Z Mystery Author Challenge!

My purpose of creating this challenge was to read more of one of my favorite genres while also discovering new authors. Because I did not "complete" any part of the challenge last year as I outlined in the rules, I've decided to change it this year.
This year I am leaving it opened for you, dear participants, to create your own levels.
Read all "A" authors. Read "A-G" authors.
Read "M-Z" Authors. Or continue from last year and try to complete more letters and get the whole alphabet.

You choose. :)

My plan is to continue to seek out those mystery authors I've always wanted to read and discover new ones as well. I will record on my sidebar what I read for this year and post my reviews and links on my challenge sidebar.

One thing I noticed in myself tin 2011 is that I have a ton of authors in the same letters that I really want to read. For example, "G". Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerristen, Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes.
I found myself not wanting to read other letters, just to fulfill it, because my interest was in the a few letters I had already "completed".

So stress be gone. I'll read whatever mystery I want and record as such. It will be a continuing challenge that might take me a few years to complete the whole alphabet. I'm confident it will happen in time. :)


  • Challenge runs from January 1 - December 31, 2012. Sign up ends February 1, 2012.
  • Each letter represents the last name of the mystery author. G= for Sue Grafton.
  • You decide your level.
  • Mystery genre can include Cozy, Suspense, Thriller, or Noir. All Adult novels please.
  • Sign up on Mr. Linky.
  • Write a post about this challenge and what letters you want to read. You can list the authors you choose or do it as you go.
  • When you post your reviews, mention this challenge and link back to this sign up post.
  • New button will be available that will have my new blog address on it. Feel free to grab this one for now!
I look forward to following all of you on your mystery reading adventures in 2012.

Thank you to all of you who participated in 2011 and congrats to those that completed it!

These ladies read a wonderful selection within the mystery genre.
If you haven't checked them out, please do so!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Year End Wrap Up 2011

"56 Books, Mama? Really? That's all you read this year?"
Toddler shakes head and gives me look pictured above.
"Plum pitiful"

I know. I know. Back off, little man. :)

I kid, obviously but the boy is right. I did only read 56 books this year, down from my 65 books from the year before. But to recap in the fashion of the previous year, my 2011, like my 2010, came with many ups and many downs. I always thought I read more but maybe, in reality, I'm just paying more attention to it and spending more time blogging and reviewing instead of reading. It takes energy and dedication to blog about every book you read. That puts pressure, although most of the time enjoyable, on me as a reader. I struggled with that this year and the ups/downs of my daily life didn't help.

Let's start with the downs, shall we?
My career with Borders came to a screeching halt after the company liquidated. I saw the store I put together with my sweaty little hands get torn apart my savages.

I came to an eye opening, heart pounding realization that I am financially in the crap bucket; my home value is equal to that of a cardboard box on the corner and no help is to be found.

After believing that I was a fertile powerhouse capable of having millions of babies I came to discover that getting pregnant the second time around is like winning the lottery. Not very likely.

And I now have arthritis on my OTHER big toe. Craptastic.

Luckily, with all of these downs, I did have plenty of ups to balance it all out:
First, my peanut of a boy (see awesome photo again), is a smart, feisty, fun, creative, fast talking, bright little guy who loves to go to school and is now POTTY TRAINED (pause for super freaky happy dance here!) He is the light of my life while at the same time running me ragged.

I continue to work at my local library and am still loving it!

I had the chance to go to BEA and the Book Blogger Convention again this year. I had the awesome privilege of rooming with Ms. Stacy of A Novel Source and got to hang out with the wonderful, wonderful Steph from Steph the Bookworm and her equally wonderful mom, Kim. I consider these folks to be my friends now. So happy!
I also got a chance to hang with the super talented, star in the making, mystery author,
Sandra Brannan and my friend, Christine from The happily ever after.
This whole event was a huge deal for me because I went by myself and had a blast. Tours of publishers, networking cocktail parties, tons of books, etc. It was amazing!

I got to work at the Midwest Booksellers Association Trade Show and worked with a ton of authors and literary folk. I think this is going to be a nice step towards an even
more literary life for me!

I purchased my own domain name and officially became

I participated in a Thrill Week with Marce at Tea Time with Marce.

On top of it all, I got another job. This time at an independent bookstore in Minneapolis, one of the largest in the midwest actually. I am pretty excited with it. It all happened with some connections with literary folks that I know and being in the right place at the right time, I guess. I am really happy with it and look forward to what the new year brings with it all.

And, I discovered New Girl, my favorite new TV show and that I secretly enjoy dancing to Taylor Swift. I know. I know. Would this be considered an up? Well, yes, I think it does. I dance joyfully and it makes me happy. I'm usually accompanied by my remote for a microphone and a fuzzy scarf for jazzy stage dress.

Overall, another full year for me in 2011. What can I say about 2012? I guess I just want to continue to find my happiness within myself and my family and with you all. Of course, I want to read a ton of books but I'm not going to stress myself out on the number or whether I not I complete challenges. I'm going to have fun!

Now on to my year in books...

Books Read:
Books Read including Children's Books:
Review Copies read:
Library Loan:
Owned Books Read:
Challenges participated in:
My A-Z Mystery Author Challenge 11/26, History Challenge 0/2, Memoir Challenge 3/6, Read from your Shelves Project 6/10

Favorite New Author:
Lisa Gardner

Best Review Book I almost said No to:
Wrecker by Summer Wood

Best Discovery:
Creep by Jennifer Hillier
(a frightening new series)

Guilty Pleasure:
Goddess of Vengeance by Jackie Collins

Least Favorite Book of 2011:
Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal
(should have left the past in the past, yo)

Top 10 Favorite Books of 2011:
Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Lot's Return to Sodom by Sandra Brannan
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
Carry the One by Carol Anshaw
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

As always, I had fun reading and that will continue to be my motivation as I enter my third year blogging. I always enjoy your company as my friends and my readers. I will continue to be me and keep it low key and full of my delightful humor (wink). I treasure you all who have been with me from the beginning. I look forward to those I have recently "met" and will continue to "meet". Though I may not stop by as often these days, your readership and support and involvement in this book blogging community continues to inspire me.

Here's to a bright and beautiful 2012!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holy Crap! The End of the Year is coming!

Things I am behind on due to the holidays and sickness hitting our household like a ram truck.

1. Reviews! To come: a review of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and The Night Circus.
2. The Year of Mysterious Giveaways wrap up.
3. December's post for Ladies Book Club. Really, we just drank and ate tons of cookies, but still...worth posting, don't you think?
4. Challenges I'm interested in for 2012. Yes, there are a ton. Am I capable of completing a challenge? Probably not...
5. The 2011 A-Z Mystery Author Challenge Wrap Up
6. the 2012 A-Z Mystery Author Challenge Post! Yes, I'm doing it again folks! Please don't give up on me. I'll get there. It's happening!!!

Still with me?

Whew, thanks!

I hope to find more time this weekend. Sickness, be gone! Or else, I'm coming for you.
(fists in air!)

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Even though we have a sick household, we are making the best of it. The kiddo has croup and an ear infection. No fun! But we are enjoying it as much as we can, staying inside.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all!

Hope your day is full of love and good times.

Thanks for being a reader and support of Red Headed Book Child.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano (review #145)

Title: Wither

Author: Laurne DeStefano
Genre: Dystopian Young Adult
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Format: Review Copy (Thank you to Simon and Schuster!)

Why the sudden rash of Young Adult reviews, you may ask? Well, it's been a long time since I've been in the mood to read Young Adult and I've been very lucky in my choices. I just had to share with you all another amazing read geared towards the young adult reader. I do have to say, though, this one is quite adult in my eyes. It was fast paced, intriguing and if I may add the much too used term and somewhat gag worthy, unputdownable.

Imagine this scenario...

"Males only live to age 25.
Females only live to age 20.

To keep the population from dying out,girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages."

From this description alone, I could sense this was going to be more of an adult read rather than a teen. Though the characters were young, the world in which they were living in was shockingly adult and insane. I guess this in itself is the world of dystopian lit.

There is a girl. Rhine. She is fearless, pissed off but a darn good actress. All she wants is to escape the world in which she has been forced into. And she will do anything and play any role to get that.

There is a boy. Gabriel. He is a servant raised in a world in which he doesn't know anything different. Until he meets Rhine, he never cared much for the outside. But together they want one thing, freedom.

This was a very fast read for me. Once I got going, it was difficult for me to do much else. For a debut novel, I found the writing to be impressive and smart. It didn't roll out a pile of drama, nor did it smack you with cliche characters. It had a good vs. evil feel but it wasn't the main force of the book. Rhine and Gabriel were only small pieces to the puzzle it seemed. All the characters involved were imprisoned in their own way, missing something that they once had or yearning for something they didn't know existed.

The "bad guy", Rhine's father-in-law and overall, mean science man, does crazy experiments on people in the name of "finding an ancedote" for the whole death by age 20 and 25 thing. He is a cool cucumber who is always hovering within the pages and I was kind of hoping he would fall off a cliff somewhere around page 140. Creepy and a control freak, I pictured him like Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons. Cold as ice.

The ending was as expected but still exciting. It made me crave the next book right away, which is unusual for me. You really got to wow me to make me want to continue right away with a series.

Rating: 5/6
Overall, a very strong debut in young adult dystopian lit. It had some doom and gloom, and some serious adult matters that these girls had to deal with, but it was written with maturity and a depth that made it easy to stomach and understand. The "love story" wasn't over the top. It was simple and sweet and made me want to see what comes of Rhine and Gabriel. I wanted to root for their happiness. Book 2 (Fever) will decide it all.

Author Website:

Buy Brick and Mortar: (actual bookstores, people!)

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Special Holiday Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Darcy, the winner of The Puppy That Came for Christmas by Megan Rix!

I am so thankful to the publisher for offering this book to giveaway this holiday season.

Thanks to all who signed up!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, December 12, 2011

Featured Book (4): The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

The Details:

Title: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
Author: Jenny Wingfield
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Format: Finished Copy from Publisher

Description from Publisher Website:

Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at “the old home place,” a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. The children embrace the reunion as a welcome escape from the prying eyes of their father’s congregation; for Willadee it’s a precious opportunity to spend time with her mother and father, Calla and John. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core: John’s untimely death and, soon after, the loss of Samuel’s parish, which set the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change.

In the midst of it all, Samuel and Willadee’s outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But it is Blade Ballenger, a traumatized eight-year-old neighbor, who soon captures Swan’s undivided attention. Full of righteous anger, and innocent of the peril facing her and those she loves, Swan makes it her mission to keep the boy safe from his terrifying father.

With characters who spring to life as vividly as if they were members of one’s own family, and with the clear-eyed wisdom that illuminates the most tragic—and triumphant—aspects of human nature, Jenny Wingfield emerges as one of the most vital, engaging storytellers writing today. In The Homecoming of Samuel Lake she has created a memorable and lasting work of fiction.

Why I want to read it:
This book came to my attention right around the time I was reading The Help. I don't know if The Help would be considered Southern Fiction but the setting was the South and I liked that. I thought I would enjoy another book set in and around the south. I've read some favorable reviews from some of my favorite bloggers. I've included one below for you to take a peak at. This book was in consideration for one of our book club choices over the fall. I am hoping maybe come spring, we will decide on it and read it. If not, I will read it in time. Thanks to Tom at Random House for sending this to me to consider for review.

Fellow Blogger Reviews:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Friday, December 9, 2011

Delirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (review #143 and #144)

Title: Delirium, Pandemonium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Format: Hardcover , ARC
Publisher: Harper Teen

I've been out of the Young Adult reading loop for most of this year due to a few different reasons. One, I wanted to focus my blog a bit more to give myself a niche. Two, there are a ton of YA bloggers out there that do the genre a hell out of lot more justice than I ever could. Three, I was a bit burned out on the genre. It seemed all the same to me. Dystopian, Paranormal, Girl falls for Bad Boy who saves her, etc. I was a bit tired of it all.

I'm glad I took a step back for all of these reasons because I came to read Delirium and Pandemonium with very fresh eyes. I was in the mood for something different. These were both on my pile, wonderful gifts given to me by the Harper rep from the book trade show I worked at in September. Delirium is a book club pick for next May so why not get an early start?

I LOVED these books. I could not put them down. In fact, I read both of them in a week. For some of you speedy readers, you may be thinking, so? For me, little ol' miss reading slump, it's the BOMB!

These books had the perfect blend of love, politics, adventure and the whole dystopian slant on the world. What if you were taught that love is a disease? What if you were forced to be "cured"?

Here is a description from Goodreads:
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does
the unthinkable: She falls in love.


I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

Delirium had more a love story than Pandemonium. Pandemonium zeroed in on more the politics and Lena's growth as a activist and overall hardass. I was with Lena all the way, every move she made. She wasn't a wussy girl character even in her vulnerable moments. She was real and honest and going through a ton of changes through both of these books. Her love interests were neither overly heroic or godly. They were flawed and fierce and just wanted to survive.

I do seem to enjoy more of the dystopian young adult novels rather than the paranormal. I would rather read about humans dealing with a dystopian environment versus vampires, faeries, werewolves, etc. I like when books take one common theme and jack it up. Take away love. It's bad. It will kill you. Get the cure and you will be saved. Whaaat??? That's crazy. How is THAT going to turn out?
I like that sort of story twist. I, of course, was on Team Love, all the way.

Rating: 6/6 My Top Rating!
I'm sure readers of young adult books are already all over this series and dying for the next one. Pandemonium does not come out until March 2012 and a third book is in the works. No news on this yet. For other readers out there willing to try a new genre, Oliver delivers two very fun, fast paced well written books. You got a little bit of everything; love, war, politics, revolution, adventure and one tough chick in the center of it all. You can't go wrong.

Author Website:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton (review #142)

Title: U is for Undertow

Author: Sue Grafton
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Putnam
Series: Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries
Format: Unabridged Audio

This is my very first audio book that I listened to in its entirety. How cool is that? Because of the slump I've been in that last few months, I've been trying all sorts of new things to see if they stick or get me out of this slump. I've read a graphic novel, am currently reading a great young adult book and now completed my first audio book.

I can't say that I am 100% behind audio books. I will have to see how it goes for my next pick. Sue Grafton has been one of my favorite mystery authors for years now. I knew she had her lastest mystery out, V is for Vengeance and I was one book behind. She is one I try to read religiously when a new one comes out.

I thought it would be faster?...perhaps to listen to it rather than read it? Well, that really wasn't the case but I was able to read another book at the same time and listen to this just in my car. It took me about two weeks to finish listening to it. I don't drive great distances anymore so I listened to it while driving to the bank, the store, to work, picking up the kiddo from school, etc. I had a few longer drives while visiting my parents but that's about it. My kiddo wasn't into it at all and kept asking for "his music" every time we got in the car. I politely refused him every time. I know. Bad Mama. I said it was Mama's time, bucko! :)

Anyway, I loved it! The narrator sounded like I thought Kinsey would; tough yet compassionate. The case she was working on was complicated and intricate, coming together nicely in the end. Grafton is a huge talent when it comes to laying out a mystery. You don't know who did it until the end. I love that.

I am also a huge fan of Kinsey. I relate to her in a lot of ways. The books are set in the eighties so it's before cell phones, before the internet, before computers were used regularly, etc. Kinsey uses the library a lot and that rocks my socks! It reminds me of growing up when things seemed to be simpler in a way. She uses her note cards to display her ideas on a case. Her best friend is her 90+ year old landlord, Henry. She eats peanut butter and pickle sandwiches (YUM!). I just loved everything about the experience of this book. Listening to it is different than reading it. It was so alive and fun to hear what was going to happen next.

Rating: 6/6
For my first audio book that I completed, it was the perfect choice! For a great mystery, Grafton hit it out of the park again. I really enjoyed it all. Looking forward to her next alphabet mystery. I have the audio version on hold at my library as well. I am hoping I have the same great listening experience with that one as well.

I can't say I can include this in my A-Z Mystery Author Challenge because I have already read a "G" author but I can include it in trying new things out when it comes to the mystery genre!

Author Website:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Year of Mysterious Giveaways: December 2011

I can't believe it's been one whole of year of Mysterious Giveaways!!! I want to thank all of those who stopped by and entered. Thanks especially to those that stopped by almost every month. I sure do appreciate the support from all of you to spread the love of mysteries out there in the reading world.

I also thank the wonderful publishers, publicists, and authors who have been kind enough to partner with me in my giveaways by supplying me with copies to feature and send to you all. My goal was to discover different mysteries and to share them. I think we had a pretty good selection.

I hope for those who won, that you enjoyed the reads. I hope for those that stopped by and entered, that you had some great titles to add to your reading list.

I wouldn't mind a little feedback from you lovely readers of mine.
Did you guys really like these monthly contests?
Should I do it again next year?
Would you want to see any different kinds of mystery/thrillers?

Before I get to the newest month's giveaway, here is the winner of last month's copy of
Bad Moon by Todd Ritter!

She says...

"Thanks for the chance to read these mystery novels :)
kmkuka at yahoo dot com"

Thank you Karen for stopping by and entering!

The Year of Mysterious Giveaways: December 2011

This is a very exciting thriller for you all. Suspenseful, thrilling with a little bit of a love story there too. Check out the description from Amazon and then sign up below!!

Darkness All Around by Doug Magee

When there’s DARKNESS ALL AROUND . . . some memories are best forgotten

Within the span of one harrowing week, Risa’s alcoholic husband, Sean, disappears, and her best friend, Carol, is brutally murdered. Eleven years later, Risa has seemingly put her life back together again, comforted by the love of her new husband, who is a local politician, and the knowledge that Carol’s killer has been convicted. But then just as suddenly as he disappeared, Sean resurfaces— sober, plagued by horrific recollections of Carol’s murder, and convinced he was the real killer.

Sean’s startling claim buzzes through the small, football-crazy Pennsylvania community, and Risa is left to wonder if the man she still loves actually committed the grisly murder. Her growing belief in his innocence sends her on a treacherous search for the truth: a search that reveals ugly secrets that her new husband and the town’s law enforcement community are hiding.

Contest Rules:

Contest runs from December 3- December 31

Please be a follower of my blog

Please leave an email

Please reside in the United States

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Special Holiday Giveaway!

The Puppy That Came for Christmas by Megan Rix

I can not resist books with cute animals on them. No, I don't read all of them but I do always stop to look. Look at that little guy! Cute, right? I could not pass up a chance to give away a copy of this for the holidays. I thank the publisher for offering one copy to give away to one of my readers.

Here is a brief description of the book from the publisher's website:

Marley, Oogy, Huck-and now, Traffy, the "forever dog" that changed one couple's life.

All Megan Rix ever wanted was a baby. Yet, month after month, Megan's dreams were dashed.

Would her life ever feel complete?

Megan and her husband, Ian, found a surprising answer when they began training golden retriever pups to become service dogs for people with disabilities. But opening their homes and hearts up to Emma, and then Freddy-only to have each move on after six months-eventually took its own toll. Megan and Ian didn't know if they could continue. Then, one Christmas, little Traffy came along ... and stayed. An instant U.K. bestseller, The Puppy That Came for Christmas is a heartwarming and inspirational story that will captivate dog lovers everywhere.

Author Website:

Contest Rules:
Runs December 1- December 14
Please reside in the United States or Canada
Please leave an email address
Please be a follower of my blog
Are you a dog lover?

The winner will be chosen on December 14 and your copy will be sent directly from the publisher (hopefully in time for Christmas!!!!)

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child