Saturday, November 14, 2009

Show Me 5 Saturday

Welcome to my Meme!

Each Saturday You will post the answer to these questions. The number indicates the number of answers you will provide.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week
2 Words that describe the book
3 Settings where it took place or
characters you met
4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it

5 Stars or less for your rating?

1 Book: The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate

2 Words: Secret Sister

3 Settings/Characters:
1.Rebecca Strand - she has lost both parents and just found out she has a sister in Maine, 2.Joy Jayhawk - the "secret" sister who isn't thrilled to meet Rebecca, 3.Wiscasset Maine the town Rebecca travels to in hopes of meeting Joy

4 Likes/Dislikes:
1.I liked the plot - the idea of a secret sibling out there that I could find and connect with, though the way she came about was not positive 2.I liked that this was chick lit with some depth. Connecting with a sister and being the sister that was "thrown away"creates some emotional scenes. 3.I liked growing with Rachel as she became more comfortable with herself and what she wanted out of life 4.I liked the other characters that were woven into the storyline. I enjoyed their personalities and stories.

5 Stars or Less:
4 Stars

Thanks to Sarah at Pocket Books for providing me this book for review. I will be giving a full review on November 17th when several blogs will be participating in a book blog tour.

Megan's Way by Melissa Foster - Wattpad

Megan's Way is being featured on Wattpad right now. Join the online book community and vote!

I am especially excited because the opening lines on the feature page are a quote from That's A Novel Idea! Yay me! And, yay Melissa Foster for her much deserved success with this novel. You must read it!

Click on this link to vote for Megan's Way

Megan's Way, by Melissa Foster - writingcontest - Wattpad

Winners - Breaking the Bank by Yona McDonough

Pocket Books allowed me to give 2 copies of this away. The lucky winners are:




I'm emailing you now ladies!!

Winners - The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Finally I am picking the winners for The Historian! I haven't gotten to read my copy yet, but I am very excited to get to it. Here are all the winners who may get it read faster than I do. I have just emailed you.


Karen K

Mary Ann

Melissa F.


Congrats to each of you!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

So You Want to Be a Teacher by Ben Gorden with a giveaway

Ever wonder what teachers think? I mean what they really think.

I grew up in a small town. Many of you would consider 5,000 or even 10,000 small, but I am talking about TINY. The population sign in my town said 153. Many of us actually lived outside the "city limits" on farms. I had 18 people in my graduating class. Ok, you get the idea. It isn't often that any of the people in the town are selling a book on Amazon. I was super excited when my 5th grade teacher announced on Facebook that her husband, my middle school and high school science teacher, Ben Gorden has finally finished the book he threatened us all with over the years. Then, because she is a follower of my blog she sent me an autographed copy to read and review. Score! Here are my totally unbiased thoughts (ok, probably not unbiased).

I wouldn't call So You Wanna Be a Teacher a novel. It is more a 60 page collection of one to two page essays that tell a story and teach a lesson. I loved every minute of it! I know that I recognized at least one story as something that happened to my high school classmates and it made me laugh out loud. Honestly, though I think the story I am referring to would make anyone gasp and then laugh. Buy the book (shameless plug) and you will know exactly which story I am referring to. Mr. Gorden was always funny, but sometimes it was a dry sense of humor that you had to catch on to if you really wanted to enjoy what he was saying. His book is that way as well. You read some of the stories and think they couldn't possibly be true, but trust me they are. He tells it like he sees it.

What I really loved, though, was that he took all of these stories and turned them into some really great lessons for teachers. I, not being a teacher, even got some good information out of it. I also liked the feeling of being in my teacher's head. While teaching these lessons he never, never lost himself. He shined through in this book, and you knew that he meant every word he said.

You really don't have to be a teacher to enjoy this book. It makes a point and you find yourself shaking your head yes or going I never thought of that, but he is totally right. It makes you remember what you wanted in a teacher. I was lucky enough to have several teachers who seemed to "get it". Many of us don't give enough credit to our teachers or our children's teachers, and this book makes you think about all they go through and respect those that are getting it right even more.

Here are some Chapter titles:

Fear Factor

What's In A Name?

The Magic Answer

Rocking the Boat

Here are a couple of quotes:

"If you want kids to act like idiots, treat them like idiots."

"Too many teachers do not know themselves, understand their role in society or have a clue as to what they are trying to accomplish as an educator. Unless you understand yourself, know what you are about and know the direction you are going; it's difficult to direct students."

"As you can see there is no bigger challenge than becoming a teacher. Nothing more rewarding. Nothing more exhausting, nothing more vitally important to the students, the community, the nation and the WORLD!"

Ok, I have to forewarn you about a couple of things in the book. First, some of you might find a couple of stories to be crude. Unfortunately, sometimes occurrences in a teacher's life can be crude -you are with kids all day - and so you will read about it in the book. Sometimes, those moments help prove an important point or teach a lesson. Secondly, there is a story in So You Want to Be a Teacher about physical punishment. Many of you may adamantly disagree with this chapter. I don't think I would be wrong in suggesting that Mr. Gorden would say he is sorry you are offended, but he wrote what he believes to be true. Keep in mind that where I grew up and went to school you could be paddled in the office for your behavior. Mr. Gorden grew up there and taught in that school. I completely get his chapter on physical contact so it didn't offend me, but I didn't want any of you to be surprised if you read the book.

So, overall, my view is this... This is a great collection of short essays that takes real teacher/student or teacher/administration occurrences and reminds or educates a teacher how to be better at what they do. It reminds them of their importance and shoots straight about what being a teacher is all about.

Two lucky readers can win an autographed copy of So You Want to Be a Teacher for themselves. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me if you think any specific teacher helped shape who you are today. Like it or not they all influenced you in some way, but did any stand out to you? Are there any you still think of fondly?

I will run this contest until December 13th. It is open to residents in the U.S. and Canada only.

Monday, November 9, 2009

So...How You Doin'?

So sorry all! I have had some personal things come up in the last week or two and I have fallen off the radar with my blog. Starting tomorrow I will be back up again with reviews. I have still been fitting in some reading and have several books to post reviews on this week. Come visit me again! I will be visiting your blogs this week too! I have missed everyone so much.

I will also be catching up on my giveaways and posting a couple more so look out for those!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Show Me 5 Saturday

Welcome to my Meme!

Each Saturday You will post the answer to these questions. The number indicates the number of answers you will provide.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week
2 Words that describe the book
3 Settings where it took place or
characters you met
4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it

5 Stars or less for your rating?

After each of you complete the meme on your blog add a comment here and I will put a link on my post.

Here's Mine

1 Book: The Way Home by George Pelecanos

2 Words: Hidden Money

3 Settings/Characters:
Pine Ridge - the Juvenile Detention Center where many of the character meet each other, Chris - the main character. He is a troubled teen who turns into a young man trying to make the right decisions, Thomas Flynn - Chris' dad. He is dealing with the loss of a dream

1. Loved the way the story was told. I wouldn't really call this a mystery or a thriller. It was a father/son novel. 2. I enjoyed the characters. There were quite a few in this book, but I never got them confused. They didn't all have a happy, predictable ending. 3. I liked the realistic stories. Everyone doesn't start living life right and making good decisions. This book showed that. 4. I liked that the narrator switched throughout the book. It added a lot of depth.

5 Stars or Less: 4.5. I read this in 2 sittings. It was hard to put down.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me by Lisa Fineberg Cook

Six days after an InStyle-worthy wedding in Los Angeles, Lisa Fineberg Cook left behind her little red Jetta, her manicurist of ten years, and her very best friend for the land of the rising sun. When her husband accepted a job teaching English in Nagoya, Japan, she imagined exotic weekend getaways, fine sushi dinners, and sake sojourns with glamorous expatriate friends. Instead, she's the only Jewish girl on public transportation, and everyone is staring. Lisa longs for regular mani/pedis, valet parking, and gimlets with her girlfriends, but for the next year, she learns to cook, clean, commute, and shop like the Japanese, all the while adjusting to another foreign concept -- marriage. Loneliness and frustration give way to new and unexpected friendships, the evolution of old ones, and a fresh understanding of what it means to feel different -- until finally a world she never thought she'd fit into begins to feel home-like, if not exactly like home.

I really enjoy reading memoirs and was excited when I signed up for this book tour. The thing I like most about a memoir is seeing someone grow or change over time. Lisa Fineberg Cook did grow a bit during her stay in Nagoya, Japan, but not quite enough for my taste. Lisa was one of those women who never really knew about wanting (without getting). The J.A.P. in the title stands for Jewish American Princess and I would say it describes her perfectly. Her first months in Japan are spent not only fighting with an ancient washing machine but fighting with herself over participating in "wifely duties". She wanted the husband, but the idea of having to cook and clean seems too domesticated.

I did get a bit confused, because Jill and her husband are teachers, but they seem to have a lot of money most of the time. I don't know if her parents were helping or if they had saved well, but they took several trips, and never seemed to have too many money concerns. I know Jill did mention at one point that her parents had supported her prior to her wedding. The other thing that confused me is that she wrote the book as if she was a spoiled rotten rich girl, but she chose teaching as a profession and married a teacher. I think maybe she played up her personality a bit for the story. For me, though, I was turned off by that personality. It isn't cute to be too good to wash the clothes or ride the bus. It was just too over the top. Maybe it is because I have never had a chance to be that carefree, but it got on my nerves.

I also found the sex references and crude talk to be a little much. I can handle sex scenes in a memoir if they are tasteful - you know discreet, but these weren't that. I didn't need to know what sexual act she was performing on her husband. It served little to no purpose in the story most of the time. Now, to be fair, this book isn't loaded with sex. I just didn't like the brash way it was thrown in to her story.

All that being said, I did laugh out loud at parts of this book. I also did see her come around a bit and realize she had to make changes and grow up. I never threw the book down in disgust or anything like that. I just like a really life altering memoir and though she may have felt deeply changed it didn't come across that way. I would recommend this for a light read and an occasional laugh. I would not suggest you read this if you are looking to learn much about Japan. The reader does learn about the cultural differences in the treatment of women to an extent, but not enough to use the book for that.

I was supposed to do this review on October 27th for a blog tour, and didn't get it posted. I started to write it and then didn't realize I had not finished the review. My apologies to Sara at Pocket Books (Simon and Schuster) for the delay. Listed below are the other blogs involved in the tour.
Thank Sara for providing me with a copy of this book!

The Life (And Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object:
The Neverending Shelf:
Drey’s Library:
A Sea of Books:
Libby’s Library News:
Bookin’ With Bingo:
That’s A Novel Idea:
Starting Fresh:
Just Another New Blog:
Blog Business World:
My Friend Amy:
Chick With Books:
Book N Around:
My Book Views:
So Many Books, So Little Time:
Keep on Booking:
Reading at the Beach:
Found Not Lost:
Brizmus Blogs Books:
I Read:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Winners - Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

And the Winners Are...

Laurel-Rain Snow
Natalie W.

Congrats! I am emailing you for your addresses now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Show Me 5 Saturday

Welcome to my Meme!

Each Saturday You will post the answer to these questions. The number indicates the number of answers you will provide.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week
2 Words that describe the book
3 Settings where it took place or
characters you met
4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it

5 Stars or less for your rating?

After each of you complete the meme on your blog add a comment here and I will put a link on my post.

Here's Mine

1 Book: So You Want to be a Teacher by Ben Gorden

2 Words: Funny, Short

3 Settings/Characters:
A small school setting, Ben - the teacher, and various students

Loved the short, funny stories that all ended with a good lesson, disliked that is was so short, LOVED that is was written by my middle school/high school science teacher. I knew some of the people he was referring to and it made me laugh out loud, liked the honesty of the book

5 Stars or Less: For me it is a 5 star because of the personal level attached. I don't know if I can be unbiased in my rating. This was a favorite teacher of mine (as was his wife in the 5th grade) and I am not just saying that because they will read this. However, check back this week when I post my full review and you can win a copy and tell me what you think after you win it.

Winners - Permissions Slips by Sherri Sheperd

Well, this hasn't happened to me in awhile, but it was easy to pick my winners. I had 5 books to give away and 5 entries. Here are the lucky winners:






I'm emailing all of you now.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Over the Holidays by Sandra Harper - Blog Tour

The best holiday traditions are meant to be broken.

It's only December 1, and Vanessa Clayton has been dreading Christmas since she spotted tinseled trees at her local mall in September. Thankfully, she and her husband, JT, can't afford to drag their twin boys across the country to New England for the annual celebration at her stuffy sister-in-law Patience's home. Not that Vanessa has prepared a proper Christmas for her family in years, and she has less time than ever since she agreed to consult on the script of a local play. Her older sister, Thea, is no help -- she'd rather make art and flirt with surfers than babysit her nine-year-old nephews. Then Patience drops a holiday stress bomb: Her family will come to California instead.

In between "baking" cinnamon rolls for the school potluck and overbearing Patience testing her patience, Vanessa can't stop thinking about the difficult but charming playwright at work. Meanwhile, Patience's teenage daughter, Libby, obsesses over a college boy she has met by the pool, and Thea searches desperately for the meaning of Christmas -- for her latest installation, of course. As their holiday plans go comically awry, these four women discover the true spirit of the season is hidden in every festive surprise. From Publishers Website

Holidays can be the most stressful time of the year. There's the money issue, the "how do I get it all done" issue, and, oh yeah, the "how the heck am I going to deal with the visiting family that drives me crazy" issue. Vanessa hoped to avoid dealing with her in-laws by using the money excuse, but imagine her surprise when they decide to visit her instead. Her sister-in-law Patience is so uppity and perfect with her sweater sets and perfect mom gig that Vanessa doesn't even know how to get along with her. Not only that she is already dealing with her own sister Thea who lives close by and never helps with her kids and just lives the single artist life. To top it off she is working with a new play writer and some of her thoughts certainly are not about her husband JT anymore. Should she follow these desires or stay in the arms of the husband she knows she loves? Little does Vanessa know each of these women in her life are also dealing with their own problems.

Patience has always defined herself as a mother and now her daughter Libby is going to be leaving for college. She desperately wants to spend time with her, but Libby can't seem to stand her. She spends much time dreaming about the past and longing for a future where she and Libby are close again. She doesn't want to visit California for Christmas and leave New England's white Christmas and her usual holiday transitions. Mostly, she just wants to feel needed, loved and appreciated again.

Thea is an artist in her 30's, but is having a serious block on new art ideas. She is tired of having Vanessa talk to her about not being married or wanting to spend time with kids. She thinks she is happy the way she is, but why does she keep thinking about "the one that got away" and trying to figure out if her entire life is in a rut.

Libby loves her mom but OMG can she get off her case already. She is almost going to be going to college and doesn't want to hang out with her or wear sweater sets. Give her a cute tee and a hot boy please! She is excited to visit California, and even happier when California introduces her to a boy that stirs things her seventeen year old body has never felt before. Could he be her first sexual experience? Should he be?

This book is about growing up, loving who you are, loving your family with all their faults, and most of all SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS.

I found Over the Holidays to be a quick, fun read. There is a bit of sex and foul language, but nothing completely over the top. If you are feeling like the holidays can't get here and get gone soon enough this is the book for you. It reminds you that yes it is hectic, but good can come out of it too. Really though, anyone would love the wit and the honesty presented. Most of us don't want to admit we can't stand our sister-in-law or are attracted to another man. This book puts it all out there. There is a reading guide at the end, and a short interview with the author.

Thanks to Sara at Pocket Books for providing this book for review. Listed below are the other blogs hosting this book on tour today.

Frugal Plus:
The Life (And Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object:
Drey’s Library:
Wendi’s Book Corner:
Opinionated? Me? :
Me, My Book and the Couch:
Libby’s Library News:
Bookin’ With Bingo:
Books, Movies, and Chinese Food:
Psychotic State:
That’s A Novel Idea:
All About {N}:
Starting Fresh:
A Sea of Books:
Just Another New Blog:
Blog Business World:
My Friend Amy:
Cheryl’s Book Nook:
One Person’s Journey Through A World of Books:
I Read:
So Many Books, So Little Time:
Keep on Booking:
Reading at the Beach:
Found Not Lost:
Brizmus Blogs Books:
Book Reviews by Buuklvr81:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Angels A Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer with Giveaway

Whether you consider angels to be divine messengers, spiritual guides, or the stuff of legend, you will find something to marvel at in Chuck Fischer's beautifully illustrated Angels: A Pop-Up Book. Fischer's original art, inspired by classic images from art history, is crafted into astoundingly intricate three-dimensional pop-ups with fold-outs and movable parts. Angels brings to life the most captivating stories of these celestial beings, from the angels of the zodiac to Biblical angels to angels in the arts and popular culture. Much like its subject, Angels: A Pop-Up Book inspires awe and wonder and is a unique gift book for all ages.

Showing the cover of this book does it absolutely no justice. This book is gorgeous. When I opened it up it fascinated a 5 yr old, a 7 yr old, a 14 yr old and me - a 21 year old with 12 years of experience. :) Seriously, the pop-ups in this book are fabulous - some even have moving parts. I have only seen one pop-up that compares to this ever (a dinosaur pop-up given to my 5 year old by a friend). In order to create beautiful full page pop-ups of angels the author was very creative with ways to share the information on angels. There are pull outs and small books attached to pages.

The book is divided into three sections: Messengers, A Hierarchy of Angels, and Secular Angels. The historical information and beautiful artwork make this an amazing book to look at and read. If you know anyone who is into angels I would consider this a must have gift for them.

The only thing that confused me about this book is what exactly Chuck Fischer did. The paper engineering is by Bruce Foster and the text is by Curtis Flowers. I think it is Chuck Fischer's artwork that is made into 3D pop-up and is complimented by art from throughout time.

Update: Anna at Hachette informed me that Chuck Fischer provided, drew and colored all of the artwork for the book. Okay, I guess that would make him the main guy.

Okay, now is your chance to win a copy of this beautiful pop-up book. I am giving away 1 copy thanks to Anna at Hachette Book Group who provided me the review copy and one to giveaway. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only (sorry) and will run until November 15th.

Here is what you have to do to enter:

  • Leave a comment with your name and email address. In the comment tell me whether you want this book for yourself or for a gift. Do you believe in or have you ever seen an angel?
  • Sign up to follow my blog for an additional entry.
  • Tweet for an additional entry - include me @alipet813 in the tweet
  • Post this giveaway on your blog for another entry
That's it! Good luck.

Oh and my answers. I am considering giving this book to one of my very best friends. Her name is Angel and she loves Angel items. She doesn't read my blog (in the country with no computer access) so I can talk about about giving her this gift. I love the book and would love to keep it, but I am leaning toward giving it away.
To answer if I have ever seen an angel...not that I know of, but I do believe they are around us. Probably helping in ways we never even know to appreciate.

Once A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him.

The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

Tamsin has spent most of her life trying to get away from her family. It isn't much fun when you are the only one with no "Talent". She just feels like such a loser. When Alistair Callum confuses Tamsin for her talented sister Rowena she doesn't correct him. She knows she should, but it feels good to finally be wanted by someone. Little does Tamsin know Alistair has something sinister in mind and she has played right into his hands. Not only that she has delivered everything he wants including people she loves.

Also in this story is a budding romance between Tamsin and her childhood friend Gabriel. He had just come back into her life and will be her counterpart for the adventure to discover herself, her talent, and her family's history.

I enjoyed this YA novel. I think it ends with the definite possibility of having a sequel which I wouldn't hesitate to read. I do think the storyline was similar to other fantasy/witch books I have read before. One part (which I can't really tell you without feeling like I give part of the book away) even reminds me of Twilight even though there aren't technically vampires. If you read this and have no idea what I am talking about just ask. I think the mix of family, romance, fantasy, and adventure would appeal to many teens. Especially with all of the interest in witches, vampires, zombies right now.

You can find more information on the book at or This is actually Ms. MacCullough's third book and the other two look very interesting as well. If you visit her website you can read an excerpt of each of them.

Thanks to The Picnic Basket for providing me with this ARC. They do request that I provide a number rating on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest rating. I would give this book a score of 3.75. It isn't a must have it now read, but I feel more than neutral about it. It had a nice fast pace and drew you into the story very quickly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Playing House by Fredrica Wagman

When Playing House appeared in 1973, Publishers Weekly hailed it, "A probing descent into madness that will fascinate the same audience that appreciated I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." This nationally bestselling story of one woman's struggle with the lasting effects of a childhood sexual relationship with her brother shocked American readers, and is a literary work of enduring quality and value.

In his foreword Philip Roth writes, "The traumatized child; the institutionalized wife; the haunting desire; the ghastly business of getting through the day — what is striking about Wagman's treatment of these contemporary motifs is the voice of longing in which the heroine shamelessly confesses to the incestuous need that is at once her undoing and her only hope."

With Mackenzie Phillips recently disclosing her incestuous relationship with her father, we have had to think about this unpleasant situation and shudder. Unfortunately, some of you may be shuddering because you know exactly what that is like. I was given Playing House to review before Mackenzie dropped the bomb, but I think now is the perfect time to post this.

This novel is narrated by a woman who spent most of her childhood in a sexual relationship with her brother. Now, as an adult, she is unable to live a productive life. Quite frankly, she is crazy. The novel flows from her mind onto the page and it can feel like you are reading a complete train wreck. The intensity of her love and hatred of her brother - and he for her- can be difficult to read. Without her brother's love and affection she ceases to function. Her brother is unable to deny himself, but also spends a great deal of time treating her horribly both physically and emotionally.

The unnamed narrator attempts to live her life. She marries "The Turtle" and has kids, but it is not enough. Her entire life is spent making comparisons to her brother. Her eventual affair is with a man who reminds her of her brother. She at times realizes that her life will never be complete without her brother. There is never a "fix" in the reader's eyes, but I think the narrator might feel differently.

I don't know exactly how I felt about this book. It was convoluted and intense. It made me feel dirty while reading it. It also made me feel overwhelmed. I kept thinking things like, "It is so obvious their mother knows" or once the narrator is an adult, "What about her children? Who cares for them? Are they neglected?" The feelings of adoration for her brother are disturbing, but are they realistic? Is this how you feel if you are molested by a brother, begin a relationship, and never move past it? Do you compare all men in your future to this level of intensity? Luckily, I have no idea.

I would only recommend this to someone who is willing to read something intense that deals with inappropriate sexual behavior. This book is a mere 160 pages, but it took me a long time to read. I had to put it aside several times and read something lighter.

Thanks to Julie at FSB Media for providing me this book to review.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Show Me 5 Saturday

Sorry for the delay today. My 5 year old has had a high fever and a horrible cough since Friday morning, and I had to leave for a little while to do chili judging at our City Chili Challenge. I hope some of you have played without me!

Welcome to my Meme!

Each Saturday You will post the answer to these questions. The number indicates the number of answers you will provide.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week
2 Words that describe the book
3 Settings where it took place or
characters you met
4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it

5 Stars or less for your rating?

After each of you complete the meme on your blog add a comment here and I will put a link on my post.

1 Book: Once A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

2 Words: UnTalented Witch

3 Settings/Characters: Tamsin - born into a family of witches. She is supposed to have the greatest Talent but seems to have none, HELLCRATER - nickname Tamsin has given to her family's home actually a big rambling stone farmhouse in upstate New York, Alistair Callum - college professor that requests Tamsin find a clock his family lost while gambling in the 1800's. Tamsin senses that something is of with Alistair and his request, but she wants so badly to have Talent she is going to help him anyway.

4 Likes/Dislikes: I haven't completed the book but here's what I think so far. 1. I like the storyline - untalented witch on a search through time that I think is going to end up showing us what her Talent really is. 2. I like the relationships that Tamsin has with her family. There is sibling rivalry, discomfort over not fitting in, and a true sense of love and togetherness 3. Love story woven in with a best friend she knew when she was younger 4. The story line is is similar to things I have read before, so I enjoy it, but I don't know if it is very original

5 Stars or Less: Since I haven't actually finished this yet I am not going to rate it. However, so far so good.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Proverbs - Chapter 16

1. To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.

2. All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

3. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

4. The LORD works out everything for his own ends-- even the wicked for a day of disaster.

5. The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6. Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.

7. When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

8. Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.

9. In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

10. The lips of a king speak as an oracle, and his mouth should not betray justice.

11. Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12. Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.

13. Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.

14. A king's wrath is a messenger of death, but a wise man will appease it.

15. When a king's face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16. How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!

17. The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.

18. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

19. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.

20. Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

21. The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.

22. Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it, but folly brings punishment to fools.

23. A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.

24. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

26. The laborer's appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.

27. A scoundrel plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.

28. A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

29. A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good.

30. He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity; he who purses his lips is bent on evil.

31. Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.

32. Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

33. The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Hidden Man by David Ellis

A little girl, snatched from her bed in the dead of night. They knew who killed her. They couldn’t prove it. 26 years later, her brother Sammy doesn’t care about proof. He only cares about justice. Now, only his childhood best friend, attorney Jason Kolarich, can save Sammy from a life sentence for killing a killer.

To defend Sammy, Jason must do what authorities could not, decades ago—prove the guilt of the pedophile who killed Sammy’s sister. But a mysterious benefactor, “Mr. Smith,” suddenly appears, offering money, resources, even alibis for Sammy’s defense. And he will stop at nothing—threatening the lives of Jason and his family—to control the outcome of the case. As the trial draws near, Jason races against time to save his family from Mr. Smith’s team and his friend Sammy from life in prison, while two crimes, decades apart, converge in a stunning verdict.

THE HIDDEN MAN introduces Jason Kolarich, a mid-30s attorney whose career took off after he won a headliner case—a high-profile political corruption trial—when his life suddenly turned upside-down following a personal tragedy. Tough, smart, and wise-cracking, and now recovering from his personal loss, Jason is a lawyer who sees the ends justifying the means.

When Jason Kolarich's wife and daughter are killed in a car accident his life is turned upside down. He quits his job and barely functions. Jason guilts himself each day over what he could have done differently to save their lives.

Sammy Cutler is on trial for the murder of Griffin Perlini. Everyone knows that Griffin abducted and killed Sammy's sister when they were kids, but he was never convicted. The night Griffin was murdered Sammy was in the area, but he has not admitted to the crime. No one really wants Sammy to rot in prison for bringing justice to the case, and with four weeks until trial a "benefactor" has shown interest in getting Sammy acquitted. Smith, spokesman for the benefactor, will provide the chosen defense team with whatever is necessary to make that happen with one major stipulation - no delaying the trial. Sammy is unaware of Jason's recent tragedy and wants Jason to be his lawyer. Jason and Sammy were childhood best friends. Now they are on opposite sides of the law, but maintain a mutual respect for one another.

Jason agrees to take the case even though he knows he really isn't ready for this kind of trial in a "best case scenario", and with only four weeks to prepare this is far from best case. He must prove the Griffin killed Sammy's little sister and is a child molester. He must also bring to light other potential murders- choosing from the many families affected by Griffin's abuse of little girls. During this month he will drag himself further in over his head than any sane man, and will push the limits of those trying to keep the light off of themselves.

I enjoyed this legal mystery. The twists and turns in the plot had me guessing right up to the end. It was fast-paced and easy to read. The court room scenes were realistic to me. I have no actual idea what would happen in a courtroom, but the author David Ellis is also an attorney so I am guessing he does. I could actually seeing this book being a good movie.

Jason, was well developed as a grieving man. His grief pushed him to make decisions another person would not consider. He was repeatedly willing to put his life -or someone else's- on the line, because he just didn't care enough about living to choose differently. This is the first book in a new series featuring Jason Kolarich. My only concern is that Mr. Ellis won't be able to continue portraying Jason at this level of grief for too many books. Of course, as he grows and gets further past the loss of his wife and daughter that opens up the possibility of love interests and more advanced cases.

My only issue with the book was something I found a bit confusing. Throughout the story Jason has flashes of thought of his wife and child. I initially thought these were memories, but then his wife became pregnant in his fantasies and more children were added. I began to assume they were fantasies of what could have been, but it wasn't entirely clear. I emailed the author to ask and this was his response:

Hi, Alison. Thanks for writing. You are not the only one to ask that question. These were not memories ... in fact, none of the scenes featuring his wife (Talia) and daughter (Emily) were flashbacks so much as fantasies going forward ... nothing that really happened but the kinds of things that WOULD HAVE happened, had they lived and been together as a happy family. Jason, you'll recall, was completely consumed by a big trial during most of the three months that Emily was alive before the accident.
So long and short, you were correct, it was just his fantasy projecting forward. I wish I hadn't done it because it confused people. Thanks for writing and glad you enjoyed it.

So, I was glad to know I wasn't the only one a little confused, and it made sense when he confirmed my suspicion.

That being said, I think Mr. Ellis writes an intense legal thriller and I would definitely read the next book in this series.

Thanks to Lydia at Penguin for providing me this book to review.

Proverbs - Chapter 15

1. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

2. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

3. The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

4. The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

5. A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

6. The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings them trouble.

7. The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.

8. The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

9. The LORD detests the way of the wicked but he loves those who pursue righteousness.

10. Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die.

11. Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD-- how much more the hearts of men!

12. A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.

13. A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

14. The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

15. All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

16. Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.

17. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

18. A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.

19. The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.

20. A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

21. Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.

22. Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

23. A man finds joy in giving an apt reply-- and how good is a timely word!

24. The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep him from going down to the grave.

25. The LORD tears down the proud man's house but he keeps the widow's boundaries intact.

26. The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him.

27. A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.

28. The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

29. The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

30. A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

31. He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.

32. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.

33. The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Proverbs - Chapter 14

1. The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

2. He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him.

3. A fool's talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.

4. Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.

5. A truthful witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.

6. The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

7. Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.

8. The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

9. Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.

10. Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.

11. The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.

12. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

13. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.

14. The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his.

15. A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.

16. A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.

17. A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.

18. The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

19. Evil men will bow down in the presence of the good, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.

20. The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends.

21. He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

22. Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.

23. All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

24. The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly.

25. A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful.

26. He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.

27. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.

28. A large population is a king's glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined.

29. A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

30. A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

31. He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

32. When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.

33. Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known.

34. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.

35. A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant incurs his wrath.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Proverbs - Chapter 13

1. A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

2. From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things, but the unfaithful have a craving for violence.

3. He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

4. The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

5. The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.

6. Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

7. One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

8. A man's riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat.

9. The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.

10. Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

11. Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

12. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

13. He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.

14. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.

15. Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard. [1]

16. Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly.

17. A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.

18. He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

19. A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.

20. He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

21. Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous.

22. A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous.

23. A poor man's field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away.

24. He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

25. The righteous eat to their hearts' content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (highlighted above). I think this verse is so beautiful. You want something so badly. You wait and wait...your hope is deferred. You ache with desire. Once you finally receive what you have waited for it is like the tree of life. I don't know how each of you read it, but I think of it on a higher level. You spend your life desiring for that deep relationship with God that deeper desire to know him. When you finally reach that level you have found the true "tree of life" -everlasting life.

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him (highlighted above). Now this is a highly debated and misused verse if you ask me. How many people have you heard use this as an excuse for beating their children. My personal view is this. You must discipline your children. As stated in Proverbs 2 God disciplines those he loves and you have to respect not rebuke that discipline, so teaching your children discipline is not only good for your home, but also for their future relationship with the Lord.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Proverbs - Chapter 12

1. Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

2. A good man obtains favor from the LORD, but the LORD condemns a crafty man.

3. A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

4. A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

5. The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

6. The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them.

7. Wicked men are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm.

8. A man is praised according to his wisdom, but men with warped minds are despised.

9. Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

10. A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

11. He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.

12. The wicked desire the plunder of evil men, but the root of the righteous flourishes.

13. An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble.

14. From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.

15. The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

16. A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

17. A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.

18. Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

20. There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace.

21. No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.

22. The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

23. A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.

24. Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.

25. An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

26. A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

27. The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions.

28. In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.

The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik

When Ava Nickerson was a child, her mother jokingly betrothed her to a friend's son, and the contract the parents made has stayed safely buried for years. Now that still-single Ava is closing in on thirty, no one even remembers she was once "engaged" to the Markowitz boy. But when their mother is diagnosed with cancer, Ava's prodigal little sister Lauren comes home to Los Angeles where she stumbles across the decades-old document.
Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava's constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she's in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister's childhood fiancé. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to re-enter the Nickerson sisters' lives, and always-accountable Ava is forced to consider just how binding a contract really is . . .

It's always crazy how two people can grow up in the same house with the same parents at the same time and turn out to be two completely different personalities. That is exactly what happened with Ava and Lauren Nickerson. Lauren loves fashion. She works in the industry and is in complete debt because she can't stop buying everything she sees. She is fun-loving and flirty and a bit flighty. Ava could care less about her clothes, her hair or makeup. She likes to be functional and comfortable. She has grown up and become a lawyer, and she takes a serious approach to life.

When Lauren decides to get Ava back for making her feel like a punished child by signing a "no spending" contract she knows how to make it count. Can she help it if that "contract" stating that Ava must marry Russell Markowitz came fluttering out of the cabinet? A contract is a contract says Ava so Lauren will make sure she doesn't let this one get broken.

The personalities of all the characters in this book jump off the page. Ms. LaZebnik does a wonderful job creating the sister relationship and personalities. She also does a great job of delving a bit into their psyche to get to the root of why they behave as they do. It was a bit enlightening to see Ava act foolish over receiving a gift of clothing and then have her thoughts of insecurity show me why the clothes hurt her feelings. As is common in the real world the sisters differences highlight the others insecurities. For example, Ava and Lauren look alike, but when Ava felt she couldn't compete with Lauren and win she became the opposite as far as how she presents herself. Lauren had never felt she could be as responsible as Ava so she quit trying.

Another character in the book that I enjoyed was Russell Markowitz. Having grown up with an embarrassment of a mother he lost all respect for women. No wonder he is twice divorced and dates gorgeous women who have little personality. He doesn't see that a woman could truly compliment his life. When he meets Ava and Lauren he knows exactly which one enamors him, but it isn't his usual choice.

Lauren's love interest for a moment is Daniel. He is distant and rude, but his mother is sick and he's a New Yorker so she decided to let it go. She meets him while they wait for their mothers to finish chemo and the bond and attraction is there immediately. She ignores his rudeness and focuses only on the attraction. I won't spoil what happens by telling you, but Lauren learns a great deal about herself by taking part in this relationship.

There is a serious side to this chick lit novel and that is cancer. Ms. LaZebnik does an honorable job while writing about this subject. The dialogue and the effect on relationships is very realistic. Cancer is treatable and terminal and both types were in this book. It reflected the awkwardness and the anger and denial beautifully. I appreciated the respect mingled with the realism.

Though the ending was predictable this was a fun read and I enjoyed watching both girls "grow up" and make self-discoveries. Many of them were things that each of us have dealt with at one time or another or as we grow as women we may eventually face. The biggest lesson of all - and one you need to learn right away if you don't know it yet - being that the truly "pretty one" is the woman that can look in the mirror and be comfortable with the woman who looks back on the outside and the inside.

Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for providing me with this book to review.

Proverbs - Chapter 11

Chapter 11

1. The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.

2. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

3. The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

4. Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

5. The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

6. The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

7. When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expected from his power comes to nothing.

8. The righteous man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the wicked instead.

9. With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape.

10. When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

11. Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

12. A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.

13. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

14. For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.

15. He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.

16. A kindhearted woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth.

17. A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.

18. The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

19. The truly righteous man attains life, but he who pursues evil goes to his death.

20. The LORD detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

21. Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.

22. Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

23. The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

24. One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

25. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

26. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.

27. He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.

28. Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

29. He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

30. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.

31. If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!