Saturday, December 26, 2009



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Review: A Christmas Carol Special Edition by Charles Dickens with Stephen Skelton

Title: A Christmas Carol Special Edition

Author: Charles Dickens with Stephen Skelton

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read it? This is a great Christmas story for the whole family. Because of the added studies at the end of each question, it is also great for a Bible Study Group (I gave one to my sister's bible study group this year) or a Christian family.

What I Have to Say: Somehow, in my 27 years of life, I had NEVER read a Christmas Carol. I've seen about a bagazillion adaptations, so, for me at least, the not reading it thing is just weird. Now that I have finally read it, it far surpassed my expectations. As with most things, the book is just better than all of the adaptations. Dickens's writing is so pure and innocent; he makes you feel that, with a little push in the right direction, anyone can be good. This book is a classic for a reason, and all the hype surrounding it is well-deserved. I would have loved to see Dickens himself do a reading.
Reading it with Stephen Skelton's insight made the reading experience even more satisfying. Every time there was something I didn't understand (or I thought I understood but actually didn't), Skelton was there with an explanation. I felt like I was really able to get righ into Dickens's head and understand the true meaning of his words.
Each chapter was followed by a study guide separated into 4 sections filled with insightful questions. I really enjoyed thinking through some of my answers to these questions, as they helped me to feel truly connected to the story and understand how Dickens's message can apply to how we celebrate Christmas and to me in my daily life. The first two questions in each section, while applying to adults as well, were written so as to be applicable to and easily understood by children. Because of this, it was a great book for parents to read with their children or for a bible study group, as the questions could easily lead to lively conversation.
I'd also like to point out that, while spiritual, I am not a Christian, and yet I still found the study sections thought-provoking and enjoyable.
A superb read!

Summary (from Since its publication in 1843, the tale of a miserly old man and the ghosts who visit him has been bringing the true spirit of Christmas into hearts and homes. Whether you've read the story a thousand times or have only seen the movie, A Christmas Carol Special Edition will enrich your enjoyment of this holiday favorite with:

•The complete text of the Charles Dickens classic.
•Annotations offering interesting insight into the story's biblical allusions, the author's faith, and compelling Christian themes throughout.
•Discussion questions designed to engage and promote dialogue among readers of all ages on such subjects as regret, repentance, and redemption.
•A list of related resources to enhance your study.
Enjoy A Christmas Carol Special Edition in your home, study group, book group, or Advent celebration and learn how to say with Scrooge:

"I will honour Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year."

Disclosure: This book was sent to me by FSB Media to give an honest review.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mini Contest Week 4

So, I had to create a YA cover as one of the Holiday Break Activities, and I ended up with the creepiest picture to use. Seriously, I was almost embarassed to post it. Check it out here.

So now I'll do it again for the Week 4 Mini Contest at the Neverending Shelf and hope I end up with a better YA cover.

Title: Form

Author: Easter M. Contreras

Summary: One unassuming night, Zaccharias woke up in a cold sweat, screaming. Since then, he hasn't been the same. He walks around on his toes, talking to entities only he can see, scratching at his skin until he bleeds, and occasionally adopting facial expressions of sheer terror. As the days go by, his condition is getting worse and worse. He is losing his grip on reality at an exponential speed, seemingly tortured by something only he can see. Tara Lynne, his girlfriend, will do anything to save him, but what she discovers as she glimpses further and further into Zaccharias's new world is more horrifying and unexpected than she ever would have believed.

And there you have it, folks! Enjoy!

Review: The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland

Title: The Christmas Lamp

Author: Lori Copeland


Who Should Read It? Lovers of Christmas story, young and old!

What I Have to Say: The Christmas Lamp is an adorable story of love and tradition. Love when you least expect it and creating new traditions when the old ones are lost. It is a great reminder of just how priceless and important tradition really is.
Nativity, Missouri is a small, dying town, jus trying to stay alive. For them, all of their Christmas traditions, right down to the Christmas tree in the middle of the intersection that gets run over at least three times a year, are more important than anything else. WHen a new consultant comes along to try to help the town with their financial woes, and he says they have to cut back on their Christmas expenditures or else they won't survive, the town is forced to come together and remember what Christmas is really all about.
While the Christmas Lamp is extremely predictable - I had pretty much the whole story figured out from page 1 - it's also an exciting journey of predictability. I was happy to be along for the ride.
I think Roni and Jake, the protagonists, have quite a bit more in common than they think, and reading about them together as they realize they are falling in love left me with a huge smile on my face. Nativity itself seems like the cutest small town - the kind of place I would love to live when I retire - It's filled with kind, happy, generous people.
As Copeland tells her story, the reader can't help but be filled with a beautiful sense of Christmas joy, love, and cheer. She reminds us of the true spirit of Christmas without being preachy or talking overtly about God, which I find to be an amazing feat.
I also loved the way she incorporated the Lamp from "A Christmas Story." It made me feel even more connected to the book.
All in all, this is the kind of book I want to be reading at Christmas time.

Summary (from Amazon): Nativity, Missouri, is in trouble.-

-When the small town is bypassed by the newly constructed highway, it loses its much-needed holiday traffic-threatening not only the town-s financial survival, but its very heart and soul.

-Outside consultant Jake Brisco threatens everything the community loves about Christmas with his budget-slashing solutions.- Nothing is sacred-not even the traditional town Christmas tree. Long-time resident Roni Elliot knows some sacrifices have to be made, but can-t let go of the customs and traditions that have marked her holidays since childhood.- The decorations and customary activities have always generated vitality and joy throughout the whole season in Nativity.-

-Though their priorities and methods clash, Roni and Jake want the same thing-prosperity for the town.- As the two get to know each other and become close, each begins to gain a new perspective on what the real wealth of Nativity-and the season-might be.-

-The Christmas Lamp takes an honest look into the issues and concerns we all face and sheds light on the real origins of Christmas spirit.

Final Question: What is your favorite excess at Christmas time? Do you like the decorations or the presents or the songs or Christmas trees or whatever else? Personally, I can't get over CHristmas lights. I just love them SO much!

Holiday Break Activity #5

Here are the rules for today:
1 - Pick up the book you are currently reading.

2 - Since it is December 22nd, turn to page 22 in your book.

3 - Count down to the 22nd line on the page. (If there is a partial word on the line you can leave it off.)

4 - Post a picture of your book cover along with the 22nd line from the 22nd page on your blog.

Totally easy, right?

. . .counting. . .

And the line is. . .


which comes from the sentence in the previous lines:

"He was going to say 'to a shade,' but substituted this, as more appropriate."

It's from:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Favorite Couple of 2009 and GIVEAWAY!!!!

Alexa from Not Enough Bookshelves has asked us all what our favorite couple of 2009 is. At first I thought that I didn't have one. But now I've been thinking about it for a while, and I realize that, yes, I actually DO have a favorite couple. And while I'm pretty sure they're not from a book that was RELEASED in 2009, they are from a book that I READ in 2009.

Without further ado, my favorite couple of 2009 was. . .

Takeo and Lade Kaede Shirakawa

from the Tales of the Otori Trilogy by Lian Hearn.

There was something about their relationship that just seemed so perfect and beautiful to me. Theirs was a forbidden love, and they would have done (and did do) ANYTHING to be together. . .and yet, they both understood that there were things that had to come before love. Takeo is an intrinsically GOOD person; good like you rarely see, and Kaede is bold and strong despite her frailty. They are wonderful together, and I LOVE them!

Now, in the subject, you might have heard me mention a giveaway. I am excited to have one hardback never been read beautiful copy of "The First Tale of the Otori: Heaven's Net is Wide" up for grabs! It is a prequel to the trilogy, and while I haven't read it yet, it looks FABULOUS!

I read the Otori Trilogy before starting my blog, so I am sad to say that I don't have links to reviews for you. If someone has reviewed these books and would like to put a link in this post, please let me know!!!!

So yes, you could win this beautiful book! All you have to do is fill out this form! Contest ends December 28, 2009, and I'll mail the book out directly on the 29th, as I'll be leaving back to France the 30th. Which is why I am asking for your address in this. Sorry to say that this is ONLY open to US and Canada. :-(

Blog Tour Review: A Deep Kiss of Winter by Gena Showalter and Kresely Cole

**This book is rated R!**

Title:A Deep Kiss of Winter

Authors:Gena Showalter and Kresley Cole


Who Should Read It? Paranormal romance lovers will love this one!

What I Have to Say:
I really enjoyed "Deep Kiss of Winter," which I actually found quite shocking. I like little to no sex in my books, and this book contained massive amounts of sex. That said, since I'm not really a "smut" fan, so to speak, it might be hard for me not to give a biased review. So just know that this is coming from a non-"smut" fan.
My favorite of the two stories was Kresley Cole's "Untouchable." It was a lovely story about two people who seemed meant to be together, despite some of the impossibilities of their relationship. Namely, that they couldn't touch each other. There were a lot of characters introduced in this story, and most of them we didn't really get to know. That didn't seem important. Dani and Murdoch were what was important, and they were well thought out, well-developed, interesting, and likeable characters. Sure, there was mega passion going on, but it didn't take over the story. We really got to know Dani and Murdoch, and the plot line itself was twisted and exciting. A lot happened in a mere 250 pages! This story left me feeling warm and happy inside. :-)
I liked Gena Showalter's "Tempt Me Eternally" a little bit less. The story was interesting, as were Aleaha and Breean, but, without the passionate moments, I think the entire plot line could have taken place in about 10 pages. I really liked the premise with the hot, golden alien and the cute, stubborn, and determined "earthling," and I wanted to see more of them interacting outside of the bedroom. So while I enjoyed this read, and I might have REALLY enjoyed this read if I were the kind of person to love hot, steamy moments, I sort-of felt jilted. Like I didn't get enough because very little happened. Still, it was well written, the story was cool (although it did end very abruptly), and I enjoyed reading it. Though I have to say, if it has just been the Gena Showalter book, I probably would have given in 3 stars.
The thing I liked least about this book was that, aside from them both being paranormal romance, I didn't really feel like the two stories fit together. Which would have been okay, excpet that it seemed like they were TRYING to fit together. It's like someone told them both "Write a paranormal romance using the words bride, vampire, and cold." I found it weird.
Still, I'd say, if you like paranormal romance, this might just be the book for you!

Summary (from GoodReads):
Two never-before-published paranormal stories to delight the senses and tantalize the imagination!

KRESLEY COLE delivers a breathtaking tale of a brutal vampire soldier about to know love for the first time...and a Valkyrie aching to be touched.

Murdoch Wroth will stop at nothing to claim Daniela the Ice Maiden -- the delicate Valkyrie who makes his heart beat for the first time in three hundred years. Yet the exquisite Danii is part ice fey, and her freezing skin can't be touched by anyone but her own kind without inflicting pain beyond measure. Soon desperate for closeness, in an agony of frustration, Murdoch and Danii will do anything to have each other. Together, can they find the key that will finally allow them to slake the overwhelming desire burning between them?

GENA SHOWALTER puts a daring spin on a tale of huntress and hunted...and concocts a sensual chemistry that is positively explosive.

Aleaha Love can be anyone -- literally. With only skin-to-skin contact, she can change her appearance, assume any identity. Her newest identity switch has made her an AIR (alien investigation and removal) agent and sends her on a mission to capture a group of otherworldly warriors. Only she becomes the captured. Breean, a golden-skinned commander known for his iron will who is at once dangerous and soul-shatteringly seductive, threatens her new life. Because for the first time, Aleaha only wants to be herself....

Final Question:Has anyone read anything else by either of them? Will I like them as much as I liked this book? Also, I've been disappointed about the lack of CHristmasyness in my winter/Christmas selection of books this year. Does anyone have any great recommendations for me for next year?

Disclosure: Thanks to Sarah from Pocket Books for sending me this book to write an honest review.

Holiday Break Reading Challenge Activity #4

Here are the rules:
1 - List the title and author of the book you are currently reading.

2 - Use any photo hosting site (Google Images, Flickr, Photobucket, FlickrCC, etc.) to find photos related to your book. "The image(s) you post need to have something to do with the book you're currently reading. You can post a painting or photograph that makes you think of the story or the characters, choose a few pictures that highlight some of the book's most important elements, or do a little of both. The only thing you can't do is just post the cover art and leave it at that, though you're welcome to include a cover image alongside your other selections." (Stella Matutina)

3 - Put a short description with each picture explaining what it means to the book.

Here's my entry:

1- the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickins

It was recently made into a new movie.

It takes place in London in the 1800's.

It's a Christmas story!

There are lots of ghosts involved!

Sorry about the size of the first three pictures! I don't know why they ended up so small like that, and I can't seem to to make them bigger.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

IMM (2)

I don't know why, but, after my first In My Mailbox, I just never did one again. It really doesn't make sense, as I love sharing the fun books I get and reading what other people get.

This week, though, I am back in the states. I've been getting pretty much all of my contest wins shipped to the states, along with a few books I'd ordered and a couple books for review. I couldn't pass up the IMM opportunity!

It's like Christmas came early for me this week!!!!

So, first off, IMM is hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren.

And now,. . .

Books I Bought:

The Sword of Shanharra - Terry Brooks
Soulless - Gail Carriger
Dead is the New Black - Marlene Perez
Define Normal - Julie Ann Peters
Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
The Cupcake Queen - Hepler
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
Need - Carrie Jones

Books won from Contests:

Vampires -
Werewolves -
Sins of the Flesh - Caridad Pineiro
The Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale
Life After Genius - M. Ann Jacoby
Run For Your Life - James Patterson
Julie and Julia - Julie Powell
Out - Kirino Natsuo
The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
Girl on Top - Nicole Williams
Can God Be Trusted? - Thomas D. Williams
A Climate for Change - Katharine Hayhoe, Andrew Farley
Alex Cross' Trial - James Patterson
Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger

Books for Review:

Angels' Gardens - Gabriella Kasoulidou
Lone Star Legend - Gwendolyn Zepeda
Life as I Know It - (although maybe this should be under wins, as I won it from GoodReads)
Eating Animals - Jonathan Safran Foer
Denise's Daily Dozen - Denise Austin

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Review: Look What Santa Brought by Annmarie McKenna

**This book is rated R!**

Author: Annmarie McKenna

Title: Look What Santa Brought


Who Should Read It? People that like book porn and don't mind it having VERY LITTLE actual plot or story behind it.

What I Have to Say: This book was not at all what I expected. I was looking forward to a cute (occasionally rated R) Christmas romance, but what I got was a crude story that just so happened to take place at Christmastime.
I was immediately turned off by the constant and mostly totally unnecessary use of bad language.
The reader easily comes to understand that Tara and Scott are attracted to each other, but that was all. As characters, they were underdeveloped and uninteresting, and we never got to know either of them, or any of the secondary characters for that matter, at all. Tara and Scott's relationship was even more poorly developed than the characters themselves (which really didn't seem possible). Tara made Scott hard. Scott made Tara wet. I feel icky writing that. The end. It seemed entirely based on lust and physical attraction, but since Scott was blind, this really didn't jive for me. Especially since he didn't even "see" her (with his hands) until about midway through the book.
After that, Scott would do things that seemed totally unnatural for a blind man. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure blind people don't roll their eyes. There was also regularly background information that was quickly thrown in then never spoken of again. It was confusing and annoying. There was a whole story behind Scott and Brianna's mother that I wanted to know more about, but we only got a brief glimpse of it, never actually coming to understand what the author was talking about. Two children showed up out of nowhere. Who were they?
The best thing I can say about this book is that it was short and quickly over. It was also free on my kindle. So I thank the author and give her two stars just for that.
Now I'm feeling like maybe I was too harsh.

Summary (from Samhain Publishing):He is looking for the love of his life, she is looking for a little refuge.

A story from The Perfect Gift.

Scott Wyatt knows what he wants for Christmas and it comes in a beautiful-voiced, make-his-heart-race, more than tempting package. If only he could see her.

Tara Patrick needs a man to make her ex see the light. But when her best friend’s gorgeous brother offers himself for the job, she has to say no. How could she possibly use the blind man who makes her heart flutter and not get hurt in the process?

Staring at the business opportunity of a lifetime, Tara finds herself living as close to Scott as one can without sharing a bed. Tara’s ex isn’t happy and he sets out to prove he won’t lose her. But when darkness falls, which man has the advantage, because Scott isn’t willing to let Tara go either.

Final Question: Have you ever read and finished a book that you really just didn't like? It's happened to me in the past, but at least I passionately didn't like them, which made it finishable. This one I just plain didn't like - to the point where it's hard to feel any emotion whatsoever about it. I only finished because of the short length. Have you ever felt that about a book before?

Disclosure: This book was purchased for free for my kindle from Amazon.

100 Followers Contest Winners!

So, since I reached 200 followers, my 100 followers contest ended up having *5* winners! Yay! Two of them have already been announced and confirmed over the course of the contest.

Now, I used the Contest Winner Picker and Buzz My Blog, and the final three will be announced!

But first, here are the books that were up for grabs:
-one lightly used copy of Hush, Hush (it's not lightly used yet because I haven't read it yet, but it will be)
-one lightly used copy of Evermore (my review here)
-one lightly used copy of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
-one very used copy of the City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clark (my review here)
-The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
-The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy #1 - Douglas Adams
one lightly used copy of the Over the Holidays (my review here)
-lots of surprise goodies - books and swag and all sorts of things!


The Book Vixen

You get to pick three books from the book list and the surprise books list that will be e-mailed - no more than two can come from the contest books.


Kayser/Nazarienne from Kumori Paws

You get to pick two books from the book list and the list of surprise books. No more than one can come from the book list.


Andrea from Buried in Books

You get to pick two books from the books left over. No more than one can come from the book list.

I am e-mailing the three of you now, and you will have up to 48 hours to respond.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blog Tour Review: A Highlander Christmas by Janet Chapman

Title:A Highlander Christmas

Author: Janet Chapman


Who Should Read It? This book is for anyone looking for a whimsical, mostly fluff romance with a small jump into the paranormal.

What I Have to Say: I'd never read a Highlander book before (or a Janet Chapman book, for that matter), though I'd heard lots about them. I was therefore a little bit worried about starting with this one, which is apparently the 7th in the series. I was also a little bit worried because I'd never read a real "romance" before.
I shouldn't have been worried. I LOVED this book. I started it one morning sitting in bed and then just read on and on until I finished, shirking everything else I had to do that morning. It was a literal case of "I can't put this book down."
Not only was this book an amazing love story, it also contained some science fiction-esque paranormal aspects. I realize now that, if I have previously known more about Janet Chapman, I might have expected this. I'm glad I didn't, though, because when it came as such a surprise, it just made the book all that much more enjoyable!
It also was about two scientists falling in love - as a mathematician, I found this especially endearing. It also added a science versus magic aspect, making the book actually feel deep at times, which was yet again unexpected. Interesting points were brought up that left me thinking well after the book was over. Is it really sometimes better to just sit back and trust in the miracle that you can create by just believing? Or should we try to explain everything, even when it seems unexplainable?
I don't know if any other Janet Chapman books live up to the excellence this book has brought me to expect, but I will definitely be reading more to find out. I want to know more about the Mackeage clan and the magic that guides them through life!

Summary (from GoodReads):Camry MacKeage has absolutely no intention of telling her parents that she left her job as a NASA physicist for the small-town life of a dog-sitter -- which is why she's spending the holidays alone in coastal Maine with her furry friends Tigger and Max. Unfortunately, her irresistibly handsome rival, scientist Luke Pascal, accidentally spilled the beans. Now he's on a mission from her mother to tempt Camry home for the family's annual winter solstice celebration. But Luke is hiding his own secret, and he'll need a little bit of magic to earn Camry's trust...and a whole lot of mistletoe to seduce his way into her heart.

Final Question: Do you believe in miracles? Or are you more of a hard facts kind of person?

Disclosure: Thanks to Sarah from Pocket Books for sending me a copy of this book to give an honest review.

French Friday (7)

French Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. We both live in France, so it's where we write about Frenchy bookish things.

So, I had several ideas this week for what my French Friday could be, but for osme reason NONE of them are coming to mind now that I am actually sitting in front of the computer to write the post. I had really wanted to do something Christmasy, but now nothing is coming to mind. :-( Sorry!

In the end, I have no sat so long at the computer thinking of what to do that I no longer have any time, so this will be short!
I've decided to show you guys the French covers of the Night World series by L.J. Smith. I find them absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

1)Night World 1: Le secret du vampire - Nightworld 1: the Secret of the Vampire
2)Night World 2: Les soeurs des tenebres -Nightworld 2: the Sisters of Darkness

And now the American covers:


The third book's not out in France yet (at least I don't think it is), and I can't find a copy of that cover, so I won't show you the American one, either. I don't know about you guys, but I TOTALLY prefer the French covers. How oh so very rare!
I haven't read them yet, but I'm participating in the 2010 Night World Challence, so I'm looking forward to reading them very soon!

Bonnes fetes, tout le monde!!!!
And don't forget to check out Charlotte's post at the Book on the Hill!!

Holiday Break Reading Activity #1

As I mentioned yesterday, I've decided to participate in the Holiday Break Reading Challenge. Occasionally throughout, there will be mini activites with prizes to be won! This is the first of those mini activities!! My entry is down below the directions.


1 – Go to “Fake Name Generator” or click

The name that appears is your author name.

2 – Go to “Random Word Generator” or click

The word listed under “Random Verb” is your title.

3 – Go to “FlickrCC” or click

Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.

4 – Use Picnik or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.

5 – Post it to your site and Write a SHORT synopsis of what your book could be about based on your cover.

Author: Shirley G. Copeland

Title: Suck

What this baby's all about: Gerald has a problem. A big problem. He has a foot fetish. But when he meets Daniella, who can't stand to have her feet touched, he knows that something has to change. She is the girl of his dreams, but she won't even let him look at her feet. She won't even paint her toe nails for him. When he's with her, he lives the innocent life and tells her he's gotten over it. Little does she know, on weekends he has secretly started working in a shoe store, where, in exchange for free shoes, he entices his customers into letting him give them foot massages and suck their beautifully manicured and painted toes. What will Gerald do if Daniella finds out?

N.B. I realize my cover's a bit wide for a novel; I couldn't seem to get the sides to cut off.
I also realize that with a title like suck I could have totally gone with vampire novel, but the picture I ended up with just seemed so foot fetishy! :-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review: Evidence of Angels by Suza Scalora

Title: Evidence of Angels

Author: Suza Scalora with Francesca Lia Block


Who Should Read It?At the end of the book, it says "this book is dedicated to everyone who has ever felt alone." I couldn't have said it better myself. I have a friend who was just diagnosed with what they think is cancer, and I've bought an extra copy of this book for her.

What I Have to Say: I actually had trouble starting this book, but not for the reasons you're probably thinking. Every time I picked it up, I was just so overwhelmed and awed by the beauty and inspiration of the images that I found that I couldn't help but look through the book at all of them, missing the words. I couldn't bring myself to read because the images were just too beautiful. Each image was vibrant and colorful; each image absolutely took my breath away. The angels in each of Suza Scalora's photos are so realistic and full of light that at times I felt myself believing that they were real angels that she had somehow managed to miraculously catch on camera. And who knows - maybe they were.
When I finally made myself sit down and read the actual words on each page, I was not disappointed at all. The message that Scalora is sharing with us through her images of angels is so beautiful that I almost cried. Angels do exist. We are never alone. Sometimes help and/or comfort comes in odd or unexpected forms.
When asked why she wrote "Evidence of Angels," Scalora's response was "My intention was to create a book which could transport the reader to a place of hope and courage within his or her own self." She succeeded. Every time in the futre that I feel lost, in need of hope or courage, I am sure I will turn back to this book. Just seeing those angels in such average places, watching over everyone, will, I am certain, instill in me the hope and courage that I need.
This book inspired me.
I haven't seen any of Scalora's previous books, but now I will be on the lookout!

What the book is all about: Open your eyes.

Open your mind.

Open your heart.

They are with you every day.

They are everywhere.

They are angels.

Open and begin your journey. . . .

Final Question: You may be wondering why you're seeing this post in the midst of all of my Christmas posts. Or maybe you're not, as you understand that angels are one of the most beautiful things associated with Christmas. So my question to you is this: has an angel unexpectedly helped you out this Christmas season? Have you witnessed or seen evidence of an angel?

Interesting fact: When I sat down to refine this review, I got an e-mail announcing that "Evidence of Angels" was voted A Booklist Top 10 Spirituality Book for Youth.

If you need someone who might need a little push to help get their life back together, this book is definitely a gift to consider!

Disclosure: Thanks to Suza for sending me a copy of this book to give an honest review.

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

I originally wasn't sure if I was going to participate in this, as I wasn't sure quite how much reading time I would have. I've been home for two days now, though, and I've just started my third book. I NEVER read this quickly. So I thought, "Hey, great idea! I'll participate in the Holiday Break Reading Challenge." Now, here I am! :-)

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

I'm going to set a reading goal of 10 books. It's probable I'll read less, but 'm certainly going to try for 10! And, oh so very unlike me, I'm going to list ahead of time what I'll be reading. This list is also subject to change!

1)Deep Kiss of Winter - Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter
2)A Christmas Carol Special Edition - Charles Dickens
3)A Blue and Gray Christmas - Joan Medlicott
4)Decoding the Lost Symbol - Simon Cox
5)Hush, Hush - Becka Fitzpatrick
6)the Cupcake Queen - Heather Hepler
7)Define Normal - Julie Anne Peters
8)Dead is the New Black - Marlene Perez
9)Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
10)Need - Carrie Jones

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blog Tour Review: A Jolly Good Fellow by Stephen Masse

Title: A Jolly Good Fellow

Author: Stephen Masse

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? Anyone looking for a cute, fun, unique, quick Christmas read!

What I Have to Say: This book was wonderful! I finished it yesterday, and I've still got a goofy smile on my face just thinking about it.
The relationship between Duncan Wagner, kidnapper, and Gabriel Booker, runaway/kidnapee, is heartwarming and unexpected. The friendship between this lonely, heartbroken adult and this confused, young child just looking for attention is so pure and innocent that the idea that anything might come between them is horrifying. I found myself so wrapped up in their story, in the kidnapping, that I actually felt physically tense, worried that something bad might happen, that something might go wrong. Even though I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was overwhelmed with suspense!
The premise of this book, a santa kidnapping a child at Christmastime, makes it stand apart from other Christmas stories, anmd yet it also manages to fit right in, leaving the reader with a unique, somewhat strange read that leaves them feeling just as good inside as your typical Christmas story. It was like a steaming mug of oat-milk hot chocolate by the fire. It also had me laughin out loud on a semi-regular basis.
Aside from telling a great tale, Masse's writing was also brilliant. The voice of each character was loud and clear. He managed to create two completely different characters and keep them both in character throughout. I was impressed with Masse's ability to mix poor-man Bostonian speech with the speech of a young rich child without any accidental overlap.
I feel like saying "Good job, Stephen V. Masse, you've written a winner of a book!" This was, without a doubt, my favorite holiday read of the season. :-)

Summary(from GoodReads):Two weeks before Christmas, Duncan Wagner gets into his car for another attempt at kidnapping the son of his most despised enemy, State Representative Win Booker.
When he drives into the wealthy Boston suburb, he is surprised to find the boy hitchhiking. So begins Wagners quest for revenge as he finds himself face to face with a real boy, and without a clue about how to run a kidnapping. Wagner, a self-styled charity Santa Claus, comes to realize that eleven year old Gabriel Booker is truly a runaway, much more curious than scared. Gabriel has no idea who Duncan Wagner is or could be.
In an old apartment in downtown Boston, the odd pair makes an unforgettable team, providing each other with what they have been missing in life. Author Stephen V. Masse captures the friendship with a blend of suspense and humor, showing that love is a resource which can bring redemption to the most damaged souls.

A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW received the Silver Medal in the 2008 Independent Publishers Book Awards, Best Fiction Northeast Region.

Final Question: What was your favorite holiday read this season?

Disclosure: Thanks so much to Tracee at Pump Up Your Book Promotions for sending me this book to write an honest review!


Winners, Winners, Winners Galore!!!!

So, after three cancelled flights and then a four 1/2 hour drive in practically hurricane force winds with rain, sleet, and hail, in a shared rental car with a complete stranger, I FINALLY made it home. Where my internet connectivity, it turns out, is severely limited.

I'm excited, though, to be able to announce some winners to you guys!
First, of all, I used to pick
the winners of 7th Heaven by James Patterson:
#8 - Marjorie
#23 - melydia
#20 - Deb K
#17 - Marilu
#2 - Juju at Tales of Whimsy

I'll e-mail you guys, but it might not be for a few days. If you happen to see this post and want to go ahead and shoot me an e-mail at zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com, I will be super appreciative!!

You might also remember that, for my 100 followers contest, I said I would announce another right then, right there winner if I reached 200 followers. That happened 20 followers ago, so I'm excited to announce that now!
Using the Contest Winner Picker, the winner is


You've won a book from my stack of old books. I'll be sending you an e-mail within the next few days, but if you happen to see this and want to send me a link to your wishlist (if you have one), that would be FANTASTIC!

Congratulations to all the winners! And if you haven't entered my 200 followers contest yet, click the button below to go enter NOW!
I've added the first Lord of the Rings and the first Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books to the book list of books being given away! There will be three winners!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blog Tour Review: the Possiblity of Everything by Hope Edelman

Title: the Possiblity of Everything

Author: Hope Edelman


Who Should Read It? Lovers of memoirs; anyone looking to find a sense of hope in a difficult world; anyone willing to believe in the possibility of everything.

What I Have to Say: This was an amazingly beautiful, hopeful book that ignited my love of travel and adventure while at the same time reminding me how beautiful it is to have the option to choose to believe in whatever we please.
In this memoir, Hope and her family travel to Belize on what starts off as a vacation but in the end turns into a journey of healing and faith. Her daughter is sick, and though she may not have previously realized it, her marriage is in a shambles. On their trip to Belize, Hope will be forced to test her faith over and over and over again. At on point in time in the book, she says "I still have no idea how it's possible to believe in the potential of something while simultaneously refusing it the right to exist, but it is." For me, this one phrase just about sums up the entire book. Hope believes in the possibility of everything, and she wants so badly to believe in more than just the possibility, to believe in the existence of everything. Throughout the entire book she struggles with this, trying so hard to believe for the sake of her sick daughter, whose imaginary friend is changing her personality in so many negative ways. Does she have a negative spirit attached to her?
At some points I found this frustrating. I also believe in the possibility of everything, but after that, I believe we can choose whether or not to believe. And, for the most part, I choose to believe. For example, no one has ever PROVEN that unicorns don't exist, so I choose to believe that they do. For me, it's more a question of choice than faith (is there a difference?), and it was therefore sometimes hard for me to see her struggling with something that seemed to me so obvious. Hope's book taught me, though, that, for most people, it's a question of faith. And Hope's struggle to believe in the power of having faith, and to learn how to have faith, is inspiring and powerful.
With each Shaman they visit, each new mini-trip they take, we see Hope's faith growing. We see her doing things she never previously dreamed of doing for the love of her daughter, Maya. And through it all, we see how this heals her family when she didn't even know it needed to be healed. No, Hope doesn't magically transform from a skeptic to a believer in just this one trip, but we see this awesome voyage making many profound cracks in her skepticism, and we see how just having faith gives us the power to grow.
Aside from the deep, emotional implications of this book, like I said, it also played on my love of travel. It takes place in Belize, and Hope does a great job of weaving on Shamanistic and Maya(n?) history. The book left me begging my boyfriend to agree to go to Belize with me for our next vacation, and I was excited to learn so much about the Maya Indians and their history.
"The Possiblity of Everything" is beautifully written and deeply touching while also being an incredibly enojyable, emotional, quick read!

Summary:From the bestselling author of Motherless Daughters, here is the real-life story of one woman's search for a cure to her family's escalating troubles, and the leap of faith that took her on a journey to an exotic place and a new state of mind.

In the autumn of 2000, Hope Edelman was a woman adrift, questioning her marriage, her profession, and her place in the larger world. Feeling vulnerable and isolated, she was primed for change. Into her stagnant routine dropped Dodo, her three-year-old daughter Maya's curiously disruptive imaginary friend. Confused and worried about how to handle Dodo's apparent hold on their daughter, Edelman and her husband made the unlikely choice to take her to Maya healers in Belize, hoping that a shaman might help them banish Dodo–and, as they came to understand, all he represented–from their lives.

An account of how an otherwise mainstream mother and wife finds herself making an extremely unorthodox choice, The Possibility of Everything chronicles the magical week in Central America that transformed Edelman from a person whose past had led her to believe only in the visible and the "proven" to someone open to the idea of larger, unseen forces. This deeply affecting, beautifully written memoir of a family' s emotional journey explores what Edelman and her husband went looking for in the jungle and what they ultimately discovered–as parents, as spouses, and as ordinary people–about the things that possess and destroy, or that can heal us all.

Final Question: When it comes to believing in unproven things, are you more of a believer or a skeptic? Also, do you believe it boils down to choosing to believe or learning to have faith? Or would you say these are both the same thing?

Disclaimer: Thanks to Dorothy from Pump Up Your Book! Promotion for sending me a copy of this book to give an honest review.

Blog Tour: A Blue and Grey Christmas

So A Blue and Gray Christmas is on blog tour today, and I'm sad to say that I didn't get to this book in time for the tour. It's up next on the reading list, so be waiting for a review soon! In the meantime, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about the book!

Summary (from GoodReads):In this stunning holiday story, a cache of Civil War-era letters and diaries sweeps the ladies of Covington up into a dramatic and heartwarming historical saga that inspires them to plan an unforgettable Christmas for two families forever changed by war.

When a rusty old tin box is unearthed at the Covington Homestead, longtime housemates Grace, Amelia, and Hannah discover that it contains letters and diaries written by two Civil War soldiers, one Union and one Confederate.

The friends are captivated by the drama revealed. The soldiers were found dying on a nearby battlefi eld by an old woman. She nursed them back to health, hiding them from bounty hunters seeking deserters. At the end of the war the men chose to stay in Covington, caring for their rescuer as she grew frail. But while their lives were rich, they still felt homesick and guilty for never contacting the families they'd left behind.

Christmas is coming, and the letters inspire Amelia with a generous impulse. What if she and her friends were to fi nd the two soldiers' descendants and invite them to Covington to meet? What better holiday gift could there be than the truth about these two heroic men and their dramatic shared fate? With little time left, the ladies spring into action to track down the men's families in Connecticut and the Carolinas, and to make preparations in Covington for their most memorable, most historic Christmas yet.

I don't know about you, but I think it sounds absolutely adorable, and I'm really looking forward to reading it!

About the Author: Joan Medlicott was born and raised on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She lives with her husband in the mountains of North Carolina. She has written at least 9 books in her Covington Ladies series, along with 4 other novels.
Be sure to check out her website here!

Disclosure: Thanks to Sarah Reidy from Pocket Books for sending me this book to review!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Guest Post: Bill Walker, author of Note from An Old Acquaintance

I am so excited to have Bill Walker guest posting today in Brizmus Blogs Books! He's on tour right now for his awesome book, Note from An Old Acquaintance. Check out my review here and my interview with him here. For this guest post, I asked him to write a few words about fate and soul mates. he was happy to oblige. :-)

For most of my guest posts, I've been asked to write about various aspects of the writing process. For this one, I thought I'd take a few moments to reflect upon the nature of fate. To some, FATE is a four-letter word, worse than all the others, as it flies in the face of those who firmly believe they have complete control over their lives. To others, fate is a force fully woven into the fabric of our existence, a force to be respected, as what one does in this life has repercussions, like ripples on still pond.
I think I sit more comfortably in the latter camp, as I sometimes feel that no matter what I do, certain things are pre-ordained, or at the very least subject to external forces over which I have little or no control. For instance, I believe it was my destiny to write this book, yet I have no control over how that book is perceived or interpreted by others. In casting that literary bread upon the waters, I can only hope my readers enjoy the story and take something away from it, something deeper than mere entertainment.
One of the themes the book addresses is that of "Soul Mates," the idea that somewhere out there is the one perfect match for everyone. This is a very powerful concept for me. In writing Brian and Joanna's story, I portrayed their connection as both primal and sublime. For these two people there is the obvious and undeniable physical attraction, as well as attractions that are intellectual, artistic, and spiritual. Their feelings for each other are profound, sincere, and irresistible. However, as perfectly matched as they are, life--fate, if you will--gets in the way and forces them apart. Still, their love endures over time, neither one of them able to forget the other, even though each has gone on with the their lives.
The other reason for writing this book was because I wanted to create a romantic story from a man's perspective. So many books are written from the female point of view that it's almost considered de rigueur, a convention of the genre rarely breached. Well, I've always been a bit of a boat-rocker, and I believe this book will show the average female reader just what makes their guys tick. We men are brought up to be strong, silent types, something modern life is making harder and harder to reconcile. And I don't believe we should have to hide our feelings. We men love our women deeply and intently and we WANT to show those feelings without fear of rejection and ridicule. Perhaps when society accepts that a man can be intensely romantic beyond the macho stereotypes, then finding our soul mates may be far easier....

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Bill! And thanks so much to Tracee from Pump Up Your Book! Promotion for making this guest post happen!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Home and Presents

First of all, before anything, I forgot to mention that I guest blogged about my favorite Christmas Eve traditions over at Book Blather last week. Go check it out here if you haven't already!

Second of all, I want to say a HUGE thank you to all of your comments of consolation with regards to my last post about the closing book store. I really appreciate all of your sympathy, and I was SO sad to hear that similar things have happened to some of you. It's really just a horrible feeling. So again, thank you all SO much!

Now, before I get to the PRESENTS, I've got a small update for you guys.
On Monday, I am headed home to Louisiana for the holidays, and I'll be there until December 30th. I have NO idea what my internet situation will be like there, but my fingers are crossed that I'll have access. Because, starting next Wednesday, I've got something Christmasy planned for you guys every day up until Christmas.
I AM SO EXCITED! I L<3VE Christmas, and I can't wait to get home and spend time with my family!! :-)
Apparently it even snowed at home last week and stuck for almost an hour. This is the first time this has happened, well, ever in my lifetime. So I might even get a white Christmas this year. Which would be totally awesome! I've never had that before in my life. :-P

Now I get to the point in which I admit that I signed up for both Secret Santa and The Holiday Swap. I couldn't help myself! I just love presents so much!!!! Both giving them and receiving them!
I received my Holiday Swap gift about a week ago and my Secret Santa present on Thursday. They had been sitting patiently wrapped under my (fake) tree until this morning, when I finally opened them!!

My Holiday Swap partner was Annabel from Gaskella.

From Annabel, along with an adorable card, I got the CUTEST little felt booty ornaments ever! They're on of my favorite shades of pink, and I absolutely LOVE them! I am planning on hanging them on my mom's tree the second I get home. :-)
I also received an ARC of "the Unicorn Road" by Martin Davies. This is not only the first ARC I have ever even SEEN. Which makes it more than awesome. It's also got unicorn in the title, and I LOVE unicorns. And it's about Asia, and I am obsessed with books about Asia. Total awesomeness! I absolutely can't WAIT to read it!

My Secret Santa partner was Charlotte from The Book On the Hill. I actually also had her. Hmmmm. . .

From Charlotte, I received first off some cookies that she bought without thinking I was vegan. They're not in the picture because I gave them to my friend Tatsuya, who devoured them, saying they were some of the best cookies he ever tasted. Tatsuya te remercie, Charlotte. :-)
I also got "Island of the Sequined Love Nun" by Christopher Moore, which was on my wishlist. I ADORE Christopher Moore, so I am super looking forward to reading this.
I also got the "Vampire Kisses" by Ellen Schreiber box set, which was also on my wish list. I have been wanting to read these for ages!!!!
Since she knows I love Japan, I also got the coolest looking picture book called "Travelling Solo in Japan." I have been thumbing through it, and it looks totally rad. Oh so very me.
You'll notice that the card also has a Japanese theme! So cool - I'm planning on hanging it up on my wall. :-)
The little ladybug you see attached is the most adorable magnetic bookmark.

You're jealous, right? It makes me sad that I have to wait until I get back from the holidays to start my fantastic new books!
And, if you haven't already, you should go check out both blogs. The Book On the Hill is an old favorite of mine, but Gaskella was new to me, and I've been really enjoying it since my discovery.

Friday, December 11, 2009

French Friday (6): the bookstore post

French Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. We both live in France, so it's where we write about Frenchy bookish things.

Lately, I've had a few people asking me where I buy English books in France. My first reaction is that, well, I read quite a few books in French. If it's science fiction, there's a huge possibility that I read it in French, as my boyfriend also loves sci-fi, and he prefers to read in French (sci-fi, at least). And after that, I also buy a lot of books when I'm back in the United States visiting my family.

That's not to say that I DON'T buy English books here in France, though, and there are actually quite a few places that I love. So I've decided to dedicate this post to bookstores here in Paris where they sell English books.

Shakespeare & Co.

The first is, of course, Shakespeare and Co., which is right across the street from Notre Dame. It's also possibly the best known English book store in Paris, and with reason. It's in an adorable old building, and there are just books EVERYWHERE! There is not a single bit of wall space that is not lined with books, and it's hard to walk around because of the massive stacks of books everywhere on the floor. In the center, there's a table with a selection of new books picked out by people working in the store, and it's a great place for new book recommendations. If you dare weave your way through the massive piles of books on the rickety old wooden stairway, at the top you will be treated to an adorable old bookish room with comfortable reading couches. And also, unfortunately, the most measly YA section you have ever seen. Despite the lack of good YA, and despite the fact that it's probably not the place to go if you're looking for something in particular, I absolutely love this place. It's a dream for anyone who just loves being surrounded by books. There's also a great selection of rare books! :-)

Elizabeth, Margaret, and ME! in front of Shakespeare & Co.

Inside of Shakespeare & Co; It makes it look much bigger than it actually is!
picture taken from

WH Smith

Next up is WH Smith by Place de la Concorde. It's a HUGE two-story English book store that has that wonderful new book smell that makes you just want to spend hours and hours on end. For a chain book store, it's actually quite homey and lovely, and I love spending time there. Even though I am, of course, always obliged to buy a book. And they're really quite expensive there. Aside from books, they've also got a nice collection of DVDs and fun journals and notebooks and pens, etc. . . There's even a section of British food, which doesn't help me, but it is nice for those Brits living in Paris, I am sure.

Gibert Jeune

Then you've got Gibert Jeune in the Latin Quarter/St-Michel, and it's about a 5 minute walk from Shakespeare & Co. There are about a million Gibert Jeune stores in the area, each of them specialized (seriously, there's even a Gibert Jeune Esoterism) and one of them is entirely dedicated to foreign language books. A good half of the upstairs of this store is 100% English books, and, oddly enough, I've found that they have the best prices in Paris. They have a great selection, and if you look hard enough, you will find basically new books for used book prices interspersed with all the new books. Outside, before you go in, there's a HUGE section of English language used book section. They have the most AMAZING selection of used books I have ever seen. Seriously.
N.B. Picture stolen from someone's flickr site, but I can't remember whose. Oops!

Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore

The last book store I'll talk about is a cute little shop right off the Marais by the St-Paul metro. It's right next to the store Thanksgiving, which sells all sorts of American food (like grits and canned pumpkin) that you really can't get anywhere else in Paris. It's expensive, and the selection isn't very varied, but it's run by a nice, intelligent old woman who is always willing to help. It's also very comfy. It's another one of those places that you can barely get around because there are just books EVERYWHERE. And I don't know about you guys, but I love being surrounded by books! It also ends up being the one I most frequent, because it is closest to where I live, and it is open 7 days a week.
N.B. Picture taken from the site

I also sometimes check out the English book section at any Fnac. Fnac is the place to go for almost anything electronic. They sell books and CDs and DVDs and concert tickets and, well, I guess it's kind of like Hastings. And, in Paris at least, all Fnacs have a nice English book section.

So there you have it - that's where I buy English books in Paris. :-)

I hope you've enjoyed this weeks French Friday, and don't forget to check out French Friday at the Book on the Hill!!

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