November 30, 2008

Review: I, Lorelei by Yeardley Smith

When eleven-year-old Lorelei Connelly's cat named Mud dies, she begins a diary to him. In it she chronicles her daily life with her family and her adventures in the sixth grade. She's also writing the diary to ensure that when she's a famous actress, chef and/or bestselling author her biographers can accurately report her life.

The diary begins with Lorelei trying out for the middle school Peter Pan production. Lorelei wants to try out for Tinkerbelle but her mom, who played Wendy in college, is dead set on her trying out for Wendy in this play. Lorelei wonders how to break the news to her mom when her mom goes so far as to dig out her old Wendy costume.

In the midst of Lorelei's normal tween drama which includes being replaced as Jenny's best friend by the much hated Veronica and being terrified by the school bully Matt Newsome, her parents' marriage begins to fall apart. We follow along in her journey as she shares it all with the much loved and missed Mud.

It's hard to believe that this is Smith's first book. The writing is excellent and she captured the eleven year old voice so perfectly that I truly felt that this book was written by a young girl. Lorelei's diary entries are funny and you can't help but root for her when things start to go wrong. I fell right into the story and the characters became loved. You know a book is great when you find yourself thinking about the characters long after you've finished reading.

This book is perfect reading for the tween crowd, ages 8-12 but I also recommend this book for any adult who loves reading young adult books also. I hope Smith continues writing books and that she ventures into adult books soon.

Review: The Moon Shines Down by Margaret Wise Brown

By the author of Goodnight Moon comes a story that will delight children all over the world. The partial manuscript for this book was found fifty-six years after Margaret Wise Brown’s Death and children’s book publisher Laura Minchew was chosen to complete the book in Brown’s unique style.

A little koala travels the sea at night with the moon shining down on him. As he visits Switzerland, the Far East, Mexico, France, The Outback Wild, An English Wood, Africa and The Oceans Deep the moon shines down over the people and animals and the koala says a little prayer to bless them all.

The book is full of beautifully drawn and colored illustrations. The lands the koala visits are captured so accurately that you can almost guess where he’s visiting even if you hadn’t read it.

The book is geared for children ages 4-8 however I think that children of all ages will love this book. I recommend this one with 2 thumbs up.

November 28, 2008

Review: Written in Blood by Sheila Lowe

Forensic Handwriting Expert, Claudia Rose, was just hired on to authenticate the signature on a wealthy older man’s will after he passed away and left the majority of his estate to his significantly younger widow, Paige Sorenson. Based on Claudia’s analysis, a judge rules that the signature is genuine and Paige can now claim the Sorenson Academy for Girls as her own to the dismay of the widow’s step children.

Against her better judgment about keeping her business and her personal life separate, Claudia befriends Paige and a troubled young student named Annabelle and the trouble soon begins. On Christmas Eve Paige and Annabelle disappear and Claudia is asked by Annabelle’s father to help find the missing pair. Suddenly Claudia is pulled in much deeper than she hoped and now her own life is at risk along with Paige and Annabelle.

This was a great fast paced mystery that I read in two quick days even with the family over celebrating Thanksgiving. The “who-done-it” factor was a little predictable but the story is exciting enough to overcome that part of the story. The way Claudia gets pulled into the drama is very realistic too. Lowe captures the teen angst of the troubled Annabelle perfectly and the relationship between Claudia and Annabelle is not written as a “happily ever after” tale so I liked that about this book also.

I almost forgot to mention this was book two in the Forensic Handwriting Mystery series by Lowe with book one being Poison Pen. It is a stand alone as I had not read book one and didn’t feel like anything was missing. I will be picking up book one and anticipating book two which is due out in August 2009. I recommend this book to all mystery and cozy lovers.

November 27, 2008

Review: Santa Responds by Santa Claus

He's Had Enough...and He's Writing Back!

Product Description:

Ever wonder what Santa does with all those letters? (And all those cookies?) After a particularly long, cold night staring at nine smelly reindeer butts, the old man lets loose with the real answers to those stupid, whiny, hard-to-read letters from kids. Turns out, we really do get what we deserve.

Dear Billy,

I know you honestly believe that the good deeds you rattled off represent your behavior for the entire past year rather than the activities that occurred during the two hours leading up to the writing of this letter. Two hours of good behavior hardly justifies a new Playstation, let alone a trip to Disney World!!

Your pal,


The book realy did make me laugh out loud in parts. Some of the responses are too funny, especially the one liners. My favorite features a 3 page letter from Paige and Santa's response is "Dear Paige, When did you turn into such a little bit**? Your Friend, Santa"

The one thing that keeps me from rating the book higher than 3 stars is the fact that after the first few letters, Santa's responses start to become too similiar. I would have liked a little more variety but otherwise I do recommend picking this one up. And just in case you were unsure, this is not a children's book. LOL

November 26, 2008

Review: The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth

Author's Website

In The King’s Daughter Elizabeth of York, daughter of King Edward IV, tells her own story about growing up and becoming the First Tudor Queen.

She leads a pampered life until the king dies and the battle over who is the rightful heir to the throne begins. Once Richard of Gloucester is proclaimed the true successor, Elizabeth is taken from her seclusion in the sanctuary and brought to court as a lady in waiting for Richard’s wife, Queen Anne. But just when everything seems perfect, Queen Anne becomes ill and knowing she has only a short time left, she persuades Elizabeth to see Richard in a new light. Together they begin plotting for Elizabeth to marry Richard after Anne’s death.

Devastated by his true love’s death Richard sends Elizabeth away and recklessly leads his men into what some say was a suicide mission against Henry Tudor. In order to secure his position as the new king Henry marries Elizabeth and together they begin the Tudor dynasty.

This was an amazing book! With the Showtime series the Tudors I fell in love with King Henry VIII so having the opportunity to read his mother’s story, I jumped at the chance.

Elizabeth’s life was full of devastation and loss yet she remained true to the English people up until her death. Forced to marry Henry and dominated by her dreaded mother-in-law, Elizabeth led her life without question and this novel shares some of her deepest secrets.

Much is written about Henry VII and his mother but so few history books tell the tale of Elizabeth. Even though this is only a novel, I feel that you get a good look into her life with this story. I highly recommend this book to all historical lovers and anyone who has a fascination with royalty.

November 21, 2008

Review: The Pre-Nup by Beth Hendrick

Life should have been happily ever after for friends Ellie, Jen & Mara but sadly that wasn’t the case.

Ellie had the picture perfect marriage to Michael complete with wealth, a 3-year old daughter and beloved in-laws. Late one night, Ellie picks up Michael’s phone and sees an email that shakes her to the core. Her perfect marriage is a sham. Michael has been cheating on her and with a hot doctor no less. When the cards are on the table Michael tries to weasel out of his obligations by hiding his true net worth from the lawyers and claiming poverty. Ellie has to find a way to reveal the truth and secure her daughter’s future.

Jen’s marriage is just the opposite. Her husband Eric entered into their marriage knowing that Jen loved him but wasn’t in love with him. As a wedding gift Eric bank rolled Jen’s start up business with a stipulation in the pre-nup that if they divorce before their five year anniversary, Eric owns half the company and Jen has to pay back his investment. Now with the business on the brink of national success, Eric has realized that he was wrong into thinking he could make the marriage work and Jen is left wondering what’s more important; success or her marriage?

Mara and Josh both agree that they’re not going to divorce but they realize that protecting themselves with a pre-nup makes sense. But when Josh adds a “cheating clause” Mara is offended and ends the best relationship she’s ever had. Will she get over the hurt? And if she knows she’s not going to cheat, why did the clause bother her so much?

I absolutely loved The Pre-Nup. The characters were fully developed and well written. I couldn’t help but become a part of their lives and wish that the book didn’t end. Not only is the book about the marriages and relationships but it’s about the lasting bonds of friendship. These girls truly do stick together through thick and thin and all the fun in between while keeping the door open to welcome a new friend.

This is the first book by Beth Kendrick that I’ve read but I’m sure that I’ll go back and read her others. I recommend this book to all lovers of contemporary romance and chick-lit.

November 17, 2008

Review: The Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater

The day before their thirteenth birthday the father of feuding twins Daphna and Dexter Wax, Milton, returns from a book scouting trip with a mysterious old book. Daphna immediately knows what to do with it. She wants to take it to the new rare book shop that just opened up in earlier in the summer, The Antiquarian Book Center (ABC). Somehow the blind owner of the shop, Asterius Rash, mesmerizes Milton into giving him the book and promising to have Daphna return the next day to be his assistant.

What baffles both Daphna is that the book was full of nonsense. The writing was in an unknown language and these nonsense words seemed to change right in front of her eyes. Suddenly her father is stuck ill overnight and Daphna is forced to team up with Dexter in order to solve the mystery of the book because things aren't as they seem at The ABC and their lives are unexpectedly in danger.

The Book of Nonsense is Book One in a planned five book series. I enjoyed the adventure that the twins went on and I'm positive that the target age group of 9-12 year olds will love this book. The plot twists are imaginative and the characters are well developed. The ending was neatly tied up but at the same time there is a cliff hanger that will have readers looking forward to book two.

Review: My Little Girl by Tim McGraw & Tom Douglas

Courtesy of Thomas Nelson

Katie's Dad has promised her a special day. As she's getting ready she is having visions of a royal ball as a princess and an adventurer stomping through the jungle in Africa. What she gets is a typical day with nothing in particular planned. But the time spent with her Dad turns in the best day of all.

I thought this book was too cute. What I especially liked was that there is a special page at the beginning to dedicate this book for your "little girl" and a page at the end to write out your own "love you more" story. I recommend picking this book up for daughters or special girls up to about age 10.

November 16, 2008

Review: Here's the Story by Maureen McCormick

“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” Oh how this line has plagued Maureen McCormick for years. Inside this book Maureen shares her life in shocking detail. To outsiders she was perfect. Cute, smart and stylish with the talent to match. To outsiders she was Marcia Brady. But few people were privy to the real person with real fears who spent a lot of time literally hiding in closets to escape her demons.

From her humble beginnings as the voice of the Chatty Cathy Doll to her impressive win on Celebrity Fit Club, Maureen’s life is chronicled with nothing held back. “Haunted by the perfection of her television alter ego, Maureen landed on the dark side, caught up in a fast-paced, drug-fueled, star-studded Hollywood existence that ultimately led to the biggest battle of her life.”

I’m amazed at how open Maureen was in this book. As she learned later in life, being open and sharing was the solution to bringing her the peace she never had growing up and even into adulthood. Her story of triumph over the demons that tore her live apart for so many years is encouraging in so many different ways. I highly recommend reading this book especially if you were a Marcia Brady fan or even just casually knowing the character as I did.

November 15, 2008

Review: Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead by Saralee Rosenberg

I'm sure there are a few people out there that have had experiences with a neighbor who makes you want to put a note in their mailbox that says, "Dear neighbor, drop dead." This is exactly what Mindy Sherman did to her horribly mean neighbor Beth Diamond.

Mindy is an average overweight wife and mom of three who juggles work, carpooling the kids and the stress of just barely managing not to drown in debt while ducking and dodging mean comments from Beth. Beth and her husband seemingly have it all; new cars, a huge immaculate house and two perfect kids. But all is not as it seems... Beth's marriage is about to fall apart at the seams and she has no real friends to turn to. Suddenly she's apologizing for treating Mindy bad in the past and looking for a shoulder to cry on.

Meanwhile Mindy's own family drama is escalating and they've just learned that Mindy's stepson is coming for a visit which eventually turns into a permanent stay. With everything flipping upside down around her, Mindy channels Oprah and Dr. Phil to help make everything right again.

Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead is a funny madcap look into the life of a soccer-mom. Just when you think things might be looking up for Mindy, Beth and their families another bad thing happens and you can't help but laugh. I enjoyed reading this book but the ending was just too "storybook" for me to rate it higher. It’s a quick two/three day read that I do recommend reading if you have the chance.

November 14, 2008

Review: Going Down by Nicci Talbot

Courtesy of Amorata Press and Mini Book Expo.

I’ve never been one of those girls that say “eeeww” when it comes to oral sex so I was super excited to read this book and it didn’t disappoint. The information is great for those who are both experienced and reluctant. You get tips, techniques and instruction for giving him a mind blowing BJ.

Not only is the book good for women but if your man has any hesitation about trying new things the book gives you information on how to get him to relax and open up to new experiences. There are plenty of full color pictures to go along with the expert advice.

You’ll learn which hot spots are guaranteed to drive your man wild (I can confirm that stimulating these spots really does work ;) ), exercises to strengthen and stretch your mouth and tongue, how to turn your mouth into a warm playground and much, much more.

Needless to say I enjoyed the book but I also passed it around to a couple of my friends and shared it with my husband and all of us agree the book is fun and entertaining while being educational at the same time. I recommend this book for all women who want to have their men begging for more.

November 10, 2008

Review: Through the Storm by Lynne Spears with Lorilee Craker

Thomas Nelson Book Page
I’ll be the first one to admit it… I was hoping for a juicy tell-all before I started reading this book but right in the intro Lynne tells us that’s not what this book is. It’s mostly a look into her life that led her to make the decisions she did in regards to her children.

Overall it was an okay read but I found the book disjointed and the stories jumbled. I understand the Lynne is not a professional writer but I’ve read other memoirs with co-writers that were put together much better than Through the Storm was. All lot of what’s written is repeated a couple of times in the book and oftentimes within the next paragraph.

I felt Lynne’s emotion trying to burst through the pages but it just didn’t quite make it and this made a lot of the writing seem forced and unnatural. I also felt this way about the Christian aspects of the book. Her faith just didn’t ring true to me.

What was especially shocking to me, was how Lynne glossed over the fact that at aged twenty-one while driving her brother to the ER she accidentally hit a twelve year old on his bike and he later died. To me this would have been a devastating, life changing event but it was mentioned over one or two paragraphs then not mentioned again.

Reading this book did change my view on the Spears family and I’m glad I read it but I just wish it was put together in a more organized fashion. As far as my recommendation goes I’d say read it if you come across it but don’t run out and pick it up expecting and “insider’s look” at the Britney’s life.

November 9, 2008

Review: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Author's Website

As a pup growing up on a rural farm in northern Wisconsin with Gar and Trudy Sawtelle, Almondine knew she was there for a purpose. She knew something big was about to happen and she searched the house daily looking and listening but her purpose wasn’t revealed until the night Trudy brought home the baby. As Trudy slept with the baby in her arms Almondine stayed near their side ever watchful. That’s when she heard a sound. It was a tiny whispery rasp but when she looked upon the baby he was clearly in distress. The baby had no voice. Almondine knew this was her purpose; to watch over Edgar Sawtelle and become more than just a friend and companion.

For fourteen years the Sawtelle family led a peaceful life raising and training the breed of dog know simply as “The Sawtelle Dogs” until one night Gar returned with his brother Claude. Shortly after he comes to stay, the fights begin between the brothers and Claude leaves the farm for an apartment in town.

On one horrible afternoon Edgar finds his father on the floor of the kennel. He signs one last word to Edgar and passes away. Consumed with grief Edgar tries his best to help his mother run the kennel after Gar’s death but when she’s stricken with pneumonia they’re forced to call upon Claude for help. Little by little Claude insinuates himself into their lives but Edgar’s suspicion grows daily and he’s forced to flee the farm. Edgars travels and long lonely nights convince him the only thing to do is to return to the farm and prove to his mother that Claude is a murderer.

It’s a little hard to put a finger on my feelings on this book. In one way I loved it and in another I was disappointed. As proven true with Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn and other over hyped books, there’s a kind of a let down even though the book is great and I think that’s my problem with this one. If I had read it without all the hype from it becoming an Oprah Book Club selection I think I may have loved it more.

To me the greatest thing about the book is the character development. Edgar quickly becomes a cherished character so much so that I felt a strong maternal tug when he makes decisions that I didn’t agree with. The dogs are written about in such a way you can picture them, with each of their unique traits, just as if they are sitting in front of you.

For the most part the storyline is told incredibly well but in some areas the detail drags on way too long with no clear benefit to writing it that way. Without giving away any spoilers there were also a couple of points that never led anywhere when the anticipation is that it would be an integral part of the story. Furthermore, the ending just wasn’t what I imagined and I was left greatly disappointed by it.

All that being said; I do still recommend this read. It’s a huge book but overall worth the time to read.