Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

The Fourth Stall
by Chris Rylander
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-06-199496-8
Suggested Ages: 8-12
Buy From Indigo

Description: Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.

The Good Stuff
  • Rachel described it as Godfather for middle school & that is exactly what it is - well without the violent deaths of course
  • Dialogue is hilarious
  • fast paced, exciting and funny story that middle school boys will lap up
  • Good message of friendship and trusting and being their for each other
  • Would be great book to talk about for Grade 5/6 classrooms
  • Discusses problems faced by those from lower income families
  • The premise is wonderfully unique
  • Likeable characters that most kids can relate to
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Drags a wee bit, might turn off the more reluctant reader
  • Bullies are put in an almost postive light at times
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"By "they" I mean every kid in the school. First graders up to eighth graders. Everyone comes to me for help, and most of the time I'm happy to provide it. For a small fee of course."

"There are teachers who monitor the halls, but I've found over the years that most teachers are pretty  clueless when it comes to how things work among kids. They are never around when the real stuff comes down."

"Plus, he used "please" and "thank you" more than any kids I knew, and those words were like drugs to adults."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Middle grade boys will love this
  • Even good for middle school girls
  • Adult readers will get tons of giggles with the thinly veiled Godfather plot points and dialogue
  • A must have for middle school libraries
4 Dewey's

I picked this up at OLA last year and hadn't gotten around to reading it till now

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Matched by Ally Condie: Mini Book Review

Matched
by Ally Condie
Dutton (Penguin Books)
ISBN: 978-0-525-42364-5
Suggested Ages:  12 + (Listed as 14+ but nothing objectionable in my opinion)
Buy From Indigo

Description: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


Mini Book Review: Can't believe I have had this on my shelf for so long and haven't read it (and yes I have sequel too, lent it to Keira) A nice fast paced dystopian story for the YA and those who enjoy YA. I have to say I really am a big fan of this dystopian and post-apocalyptic trend as I tend to really enjoy them. They are often thought provoking and put out some interesting moral questions that can lead to some fabulous discussions.  This one reminded me sort of like a cross between Brave New World and Logan's Run and I mean that as a compliment.  The characters are intriguing and develop nicely, especially Cassia, you can really feel her struggle and disillusionment with society.  I like her relationship with her parents, brother and grandparents, it felt real and honest.   You can really see the appeal of the society that has been created and how it came to be, which makes Cassia's struggle so realistic. Nice added bonus the parents are not douche bags which is why I gave it an extra .25, as we know my feelings about the portrayal of parents in YA books. My only issues with this really are just a personal preference sort of things. The angsty stuff gets on my nerves since, well, I'm not a teen anymore and I felt the relationships between Cassia and Em wasn't developed enough.    That's about it guys, I just think its a good story to lose yourself in for a while and look forward to cracking open Crossed when I get home tonight -- that's right Keira I'm taking it back tonight!  Oh yeah and the whole time I was reading it I couldn't get the song Freewill by Rush out of my head -- read it you will get why!

4.25 Dewey's


I am ashamed to say I got this over a year ago at the OLA conference from Penguin and didn't read it till now -- sorry guys!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep

Tangled Threads (Elemental Assasin #4)
By Jennifer Estep
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9263-4
Buy From Indigo

Description: I’d rather face a dozen lethal assassins any night than deal with something as tricky, convoluted, and fragile as my feelings.

But here I am. Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider. Hovering outside sexy businessman Owen Grayson’s front door like a nervous teenage girl. One thing I like about Owen: he doesn’t shy away from my past—or my present. And right now I have a bull’s-eye on my forehead.

Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap me. Elektra LaFleur is skilled and efficient, with deadly electrical elemental magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone powers. Which means there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of us won’t survive this battle. I intend to kill LaFleur—or die trying—because Mab wants the assassin to take out my baby sister, Detective Bria Coolidge, too.

The only problem is, Bria has no idea I’m her long-lost sibling . . . or that I’m the murderer she’s been chasing through Ashland for weeks. And what Bria doesn’t know just might get us both dead. .


Mini Book Review: Another fun, fast and furious Gin Blanco story from one of my favorite authors.  I love Gin she is such a kick ass interesting character - an assassin with a developing heart of gold.  As usual there is tons of adventure, great snappy dialogue, some naughty bits and in this installment lots more of my favorite book boyfriend, Finn (keep your hands off him Bria, he is mine). You know Jennifer really needs to write a story where Finn ends up with a plain but cheeky Canadian Librarian -- just sayin might be an idea.  Fabulous character development in this story with Gin slowly developing into someone who is willing to let people in to her life and more importantly her heart.  Jennifer also has a gift for creating interesting secondary characters that you care about (obviously Finn, but also want more of Jo Jo and Sophia).  Love the big reveal at the ends of this one -- actually made me GASP outloud!  Only minor complaints would be lack of description of Gin's cooking (although probably better for my waistline) that have been prevalent in the other Elemental Assasin books and still some repetition of key plot points.  Although these were slightly helpful since I read Venom a long time ago and my memory isn't as good as it used to be (ok laugh it up, memory was never good)


4.5 Dewey's


I borrowed this from Natasha, but will be buying my own copy as I buy everything Jennifer writes

Enclave by Ann Aguire: Mini Book Review

Enclave (Razorland #1)
by Ann Aguire
Feiwel and Friends:  H.B. Fenn : (
ISBN: 978-0-312-65008-7
Buy From Indigo

Description: In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

Mini Book Review: Fascinating Post-Apocalyptic (Dystopian) novel perfect for the YA set. I would especially recommend this to reluctant YA readers as it is a fast paced exciting story with not too much fluff. I enjoyed Aguire's writing style and will be checking out some of her other stories.  I was  a little disappointed with one of the plot developments (Sorry can't say too much without spoiling story) as I found it a tad disturbing but you have to remember I am a 40 yr old Mom who is a wee bit of a dreamer (Yes, I know I would totally die in a post-apocalyptic world).  This could work as a standalone novel with the ending giving a bit of hope for the future of Deuce and her gang, but I am happy that there is going to be a second novel as well (Sorry haven't looked into that more).  BTW, think for even my mini reviews I am going to stick with point form as I really am not a writer as you can tell from this rambling review.  To make a long story short (too late) just go buy the book its an absorbing story that will help you escape for a little while and your life will look a lot better considering the world that these characters live in : )


4.25 Dewey's

I won this from an Ann Aguire Twitter Contest

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth

Ali in Wonderland: and Other Tall Tales
by Ali Wentworth
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-06-199857-7
Buy From Indigo
Release Date: January 27/February 7, 2011

Description: Growing up in a family of political journalists--and daughter of President Reagan's White House social secretary--Ali Wentworth rebelled against her blue-blood upbringing, embracing Hollywood, motorcycles, even a few wildly inappropriate marriage proposals. Today she is an acclaimed comedic actress and writer, former "Oprah" regular, wife of political and media star George Stephanopoulos, and a mother who lets her two girls eat cotton candy before bed. Though she's settled down, her rebellious nature thrives in her comedy and her view of her crazy world. In this addictively funny and warm memoir, she takes us through the looking glass and into the wonderland of her life, from a childhood among Washington's elite to a stint in the psych ward they called a New England prep school; days doing L.A. sketch comedy (with then-aspiring artists Will Ferrell and Lisa Kudrow) to a series of spectacularly failed loves (that eventually led her to Mr. Right). Constant throughout is her mother, Muffie--a flawlessly elegant yet firm, no-nonsense force of nature and pure WASP convictions.As charming and off-the-wall as Ali herself, "Ali in Wonderland" is an entertaining look at life that is both intimate and hilarious.

The Good Stuff
  • Self deprecating, charming, down to earth and honest 
  • Funny as hell
  • Quick easy read - perfect when you are stuck at home sick
  • Although she comes from a more elite background, she never comes across as snobby or privledged
  • The story about trying to hand deliver a thank you present to the secretary of defense will make you laugh your ass off
  • Doesn't get all gossipy or mean spirited
  • Loved her description of her experience giving birth
  • Love her Mom, Muffie
  • Her chapter on manners is funny, but also very true to how I was raised (Well without the money part)
 The Not So Good Stuff
  • Stories told in a non linear fashion, which can be difficult to get into  - took me a bit, but than I ended up enjoying it
  • I was a little irritated when she was whining about resort vacations,  as I cannot afford to take a vacation, had a hard time sympathizing with her at first, but since she is so self deprecating and honest, I got over it.
  • Would have liked more
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I dreaded packing my sleeping bag, toothbrush, and clean underwear. As a child of divorce, I saw it as just one more dysfunctional family I had to stay with." (regarding sleepovers)

"My political prejudice toward the Nixon administration was not brought about by Watergate, illegal wiretaps, or the Vietnam War-no, it was their conduct toward my dog. (And by the way, this is by and large how I still judge people today.)"

"I never competed for boys, choosing instead to live by the motto, "if you love something, set it free, if it comes back to you, it's yours; if not, well than he's an asshole."

"I believe in gay marriage, gay rights, everything gay-but any two creatures, be it straight, gay, or amphibian, twisting tongues and flexing their buttocks shouldn't be on public display without a cover charge,"

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Definitely for fans of Wentworth
  • Anyone who needs a light fun read
4.25 Dewey's


I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

The Future of Us
by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Razor Bill (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-1-59514-491-1
Suggested Ages: 12+
Buy From Indigo

Description: It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.


By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.
 
The Good Stuff
  • Unique concept
  • Excellent moral questions brought up which would make for some great classroom discussions
  • Got a huge kick out of the mentions of the technology of the mid 90's -- seems like soo long ago -- AOL - giggle giggle
  • Talks about the importance of  living in the now and not being hooked on technology - nicely done in a non preachy way
  • a hip Librarian that's nice and helpful -- see authors you can have a non stereotypical librarian in your stories (Yes I know I'm  a wee bit sensitive but come on Librarians are not all  frumpy shushing cranky people or slutty nerds)
  • Nice character development and realistic relationships between friends
  • A lot of pop culture references that made me smile
  • Fast paced and humourous at times
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Parents are out of touch  (Hey we all know this irritates me -- but I get it -- teens think we are morons)
  • Emma irritated me, but you have to remember I am a 41 yr old Mom and she's a teen so you can firgure out why
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"The past is over. We can read about it in history books. And waht if in the future we're at war again, or we still haven't elected a nonwhite or non-male president, or the Rolling Stones are still dragging their tired old butts on state? That would depress me way too much."

"I swear, guys in groups are capable of the stupidest things."
"Like war, "Kellan says, heaping napkins and ketchup packets onto her tray.
"And jumping off rooftops."
"And lighting their farts on fire," she says."

"Not that it's any of your business," Emma says, "but I am going to break up with him soon."
"Oh, I see. You just needed your tits grabbed one more time."
Emma's eyes flash with anger, and I know I've gone too far.
"You're lucky I'm a nice person," she says," because I'll pretend I didn't hear that. I know why you said it, but."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Excellent for reluctant readers
  • Adults will get a kick out of all the mentions of technology from the 90's
  • Good for both male and female readers
4 Dewey's


I borrowed this from Jenn

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winner of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Light

Congrats the winner of Martha Stewarts Everyday Food light is.  Will be hosting a new contest in week for another fabulous cookbook - Stay Tuned

Lori Hull

Congrats Lori, hope you enjoy!

The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich: Mini Book Review

The Midwife of Venice
by Roberta Rich
Doubleday Canada (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-385-66827-9
Buy From Indigo

Description: Hannah Levi is known throughout sixteenth-century Venice for her skill in midwifery. When a Christian count appears at Hannah''s door in the Jewish ghetto imploring her to attend his labouring wife, who is nearing death, Hannah is forced to make a dangerous decision. Not only is it illegal for Jews to render medical treatment to Christians, it''s also punishable by torture and death. Moreover, as her Rabbi angrily points out, if the mother or child should die, the entire ghetto population will be in peril.


But Hannah's compassion for another woman's misery overrides her concern for self-preservation. The Rabbi once forced her to withhold care from her shunned sister, Jessica, with terrible consequences. Hannah cannot turn away from a labouring woman again. Moreover, she cannot turn down the enormous fee offered by the Conte. Despite the Rabbi's protests, she knows that this money can release her husband, Isaac, a merchant who was recently taken captive on Malta as a slave. There is nothing Hannah wants more than to see the handsome face of the loving man who married her despite her lack of dowry, and who continues to love her despite her barrenness. She must save Isaac.

Meanwhile, far away in Malta, Isaac is worried about Hannah's safety, having heard tales of the terrifying plague ravaging Venice. But his own life is in terrible danger. He is auctioned as a slave to the head of the local convent, Sister Assunta, who is bent on converting him to Christianity. When he won't give up his faith, he's traded to the brutish lout Joseph, who is renowned for working his slaves to death. Isaac soon learns that Joseph is heartsick over a local beauty who won't give him the time of day. Isaac uses his gifts of literacy and a poetic imagination-not to mention long-pent-up desire-to earn his day-to-day survival by penning love letters on behalf of his captor and a paying illiterate public.

Back in Venice, Hannah packs her ""birthing spoons"-secret rudimentary forceps she invented to help with difficult births-and sets off with the Conte and his treacherous brother. Can she save the mother? Can she save the baby, on whose tiny shoulders the Conte's legacy rests? And can she also save herself, and Isaac, and their own hopes for a future, without endangering the lives of everyone in the ghetto?

The Good Stuff
  • Fast paced and intriguing, which surprised me
  • Likeable realistic characters that you cheer for that they will be able to overcome the obstacles and reunite
  • Storyline switches between Issac and Hannah's POV - which keeps you intrigued as many of the chapters end with an almost cliffhanger like ending and than it switches to the other character.
  • Didn't want to put the book down 
  • Some beautiful touching moments that made me tear up
  • Author has a gift for making you see the landscape and feel the mood of the story 
  • Obviously well researched
  • It still astounds me how often the Jews have been persecuted and this story brings more of these instances to life
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Took me a chapter or two to get into the story which might put off a more reluctant reader
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Do all Jews reply to a question with another question?
"Is there a reason they should not?"
Gertrudis gave a a laugh that seemed to issue from deep within her."

"This is your last chance. Will you sign?"
"When all the teeth have fallen out of my head and my beard is down to my waist," Isaac answered
"Then my friend make peace with that harsh God of yours. This island will be your graveyard."

"And the Society for the Release of Captives offered me my freedom months ago if I signed a divorce. But without you, what was the point of freedom?"



Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Perfect beach or cold winters night read
  • Definitely for lovers of historical fiction especially Jewish historical fiction
  • This is one that anyone can enjoy even younger readers 13+
4.75 Dewey's

My sister lent this to me because she really enjoyed (And put to the top of my TBR list because of the Random Reader Historical Challenge)


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Graveminder
by Melissa Marr
William Morrow (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-211516-4
Buy From Indigo
Suggested Age: 14+ (Not in YA section of bookstore)
Release Date: January 17, 2012

Description: Three sips to mind the dead . . . Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in Claysville the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected; beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.

Although she is still grieving for Maylene, Rebekkah will soon find that she has more than a funeral to attend to in Claysville, and that what awaits her may be far worse: dark secrets, a centuries-old bargain, a romance that still haunts her, and a frightening new responsibility—to stop a monster and put the dead to rest where they belong.


The Good Stuff
  • Truly unique idea for a story
  • Rebekkah is an intriguing and realistic heroine  
  • Dark with a wonderful almost Gothic like feel to it
  • Descriptions are vivid and make you feel like you are part of the landscape
  • Fabulous in terms of character development
  • Lots of twists and turns which keeps you guessing (but not in a frustrating way)
  • Could not put the book down, I warn you once you start you will not be able to put down -- well unless its really late at night
  • Marr has created a fantastical world unlike anything I have ever read before - and it actually feels like a real place
  • Very suspenseful at times -- you will be holding your breath 
  • Enjoyed the secondary characters - especially Amity 
  • Fabulous ending - could lead to a sequel, but if not still leaves you satisfied 
  • Some nice humour added to keep it from being too dark
The Not So Good Stuff
  • The cover sucks in comparison to the hardcover edition
  • The angst between Bek and Byron felt more YA than adult
 Favorite Quotes/Passages

"At the end of the tunnel, she gasped.  The colors she could see were so vibrant that it almost hurt to look around her. The sky was streaked in violet and gold. The buildings around her were breathtaking.  Even the drabbest of them was cloaked in shades of colors that surely couldn't exist."

"He was tempting in the way that she imagined the devil himself-if there was such a man-would be: polished charm, wicked smiles, and easy arrogance. However, she wasn't sure what game he was playing, and the idea of looking at at dead man with any sort of lustful thoughts seemed inherently twisted."

"Sheer foolishness, if you ask me,but" - Elaine gave Rebekkah a look that would make most people flinch -"no one's asking me, are they?"
"No," Rebekkah said. "I don't think anyone's asking."
Elaine sighed. "Well, sooner or later, one of you will be bright enough to ask my opinion."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • YA friendly - nothing too violent or sexual
  • If you like creepy stories, this is for you
  • Adult readers may be disappointed by all the angst
4.75 Dewey's


I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fire Storm: Young Sherlock Holmes #4 by Andrew Lane

Fire Storm (Young Sherlock Holmes #4)
by Andrew Lane
Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0-230-75850-6
Suggested Ages: 12+
Buy From Indigo

Description:A mysterious fire, a friend who has vanished……a man who claims to raise the dead. Sherlock Holmes is at a loss. His friend and her father have disappeared. Their house is empty, as if nobody has ever lived there.

His attempts to solve the case take Sherlock to Scotland, and into an even darker mystery – one that involves kidnapping, body-snatchers and a man who says he can control the dead. He’s faced death before, but can Sherlock Holmes defeat the forces of Hell?


The Good Stuff
  • Exciting and fast paced
  • Good mystery - not sure what's going to happen next
  • Excellent character development - really see how young Holmes could develop into the fascinating Holmes that Doyle created
  • As mentioned before really like how Lane teaches the readers about history, geography and science in such a brilliant subtle way, kids won't realize they are learning something 
  • Nicely placed humour to lighten  some of the darker bits of the story
  • Set in Scotland which gives in a neat twist and well my background is Scottish (way in the background as most of my family has been in Canada for a very long time)
  • Finally find out more about the sly and nasty Mrs Eglantine
  • Like the realistic relationship between Holmes and his friends and family
  • Wow - quite the cliffhanger ending - now how long do I have to wait for the next installment
  • Highly impressed we these books, they just get better and better

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Maybe a wee bit too dark and scary for younger readers
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"It was so stupid, he thought, that something as simple as inheriting land and a house from your parents could set you apart from other people. When he grew up he would make sure that he never made social distinctions between people like that."

"The Scots themselves are a Celtic race, which means that they are prone to moods that range from maudlin depression to sudden anger."

"There were even -  Sherlock had to suppress a gasp at this - men wearing skirts.
Matty noticed Sherlock's reaction. "Yeah," he said, sorry - I probably should have mentioned that.  Took me by surprise when I was here a few years back."
"Men with skirts? Well, maybe you thought I wouldn't notice,"
"They're not skirts," Matty said firmly. "They're kilts."


Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Will appeal to both male and female readers
  • Would say more for the developed reader over the reluctant reader -- but that's just my opinion - if you need a more educated opinion ask your local children's or school Librarian
  • This will appeal to those who like a good mystery
  • Would be fabulous for a class discussion
4.75 Dewey's


I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

One Girl Cookies by Dawn Casale & David Crofton: Chef Jeff Reviews

One Girl Cookies: Recipes for Cakes, Cupcakes, Whoopie Pies, and Cookies from Brooklyn's Beloved Bakery
by Dawn Casale & David Crofton
Clarkson Potter (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-307-72048-1
Cooking Skill: Intermediate to experienced
Buy From Indigo

Description: Tucked away on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn, New York, is One Girl Cookies: a charming bakery and cafĂ© whose owners have created what they call an Urban Mayberry. Little do most people know that this dessert destination—famous for its gorgeous bite-sized cookies, amazingly moist cakes, seasonal pies and tarts, and dangerously addictive whoopie pies—started simply, with one girl baking cookies out of a tiny apartment. One Girl Cookies shares the recipes for the shop’s sought-after treats, as well as the sweet story behind its beginnings.


To open One Girl Cookies, Dawn Casale looked to her family for inspiration, digging into a treasure trove of heirloom recipes and photos that she uses in her unique packaging designs. She often names her cookies for people special to her: Lucia (Espresso Caramel Squares with White and Dark Chocolate Swirl) is in honor of Dawn’s beloved grandmother, and Lana (Bittersweet Chocolate Sandwiches Filled with Raspberry Preserves) was created for her favorite teacher, who was a little bit bitter but mostly sweet. Dawn’s family life and the shop are so inseparable that it is only fitting that when she hired David Crofton, a professional baker, to expand the business, it turned out that she had found the love of her life.

From simple old-fashioned confections such as Lemon Bars and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Spiced Oat Crumble to modern treats like Orange Butter Drops with Shredded Coconut and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Spiced Filling, the recipes featured here will impress and delight anyone lucky enough to get a taste. With beautiful color photos and tips for wrapping and gift-giving, One Girl Cookies will become a cherished addition to every passionate baker’s kitchen.
 
The Good Stuff
  • Recipes are delicious -- the whoopie pies were shared with neighbors and co-workers and EVERYONE (well except for Jake that is) loved them - Wife actually made them too -- its my favorite thing she has made so far
  • Good variety of baked goods to make
  • Introduction is a little long winded for people like me who don't like to read, but book addict wife enjoyed the story.  Wife really enjoyed this one so much that when she goes to New York in June she is going to visit the bakery (and she better bring back lots for me since I will be watching the kids by myself)
  • The directions in the recipe make sense and are easy to follow
  • The pictures of the finished product are simple, yet elegant and make you want to make them 
  • Nice introduction to each of the recipes
  • I want to make quite a few of the recipes from this one. We actually bought the ingredients this weekend to make 3 more of the recipes.  I will add the pictures as we make them. Tonight we are making the healthy Multigrain Muffin recipe that actually looks like it tastes good
  • Packaging ideas is a nice added bonus
  • There is a recipe for homemade butter (Which I have actually done by accident)
The Not So Good Stuff
  • More pictures would have been nice (that's for the wife --she LOVES to read, but gets all cranky if there aren't enough pictures in a recipe book -- hmm really makes sense doesn't it)
  • Many of the recipes are time consuming and use a lot of ingredients which may turn off more basic bakers
  • Do you have any idea how hard it is to find Dulce De Leche, Hawaiian Sea Salt and Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder in Bolton -- trust me I spent a lot of money on gas going from store to store
Favorite Recipes

Rich Chocolate Cake with Salty Dulce de Leche & Hazelnut Brittle - Pg 73

Multigrain Muffins - Pg 125
Pineapple Upside Down Cake - Pg 58

Toasted Almond Coconut Macaroons - Pg 20
Almond Spirals - Pg 41
Banana Whoopie Pies with Dulce de Leche Filling - Pg 80
Homemade Butter - Pg 129

Who Should/Shouldn't Use
  • More for the intermediate to advanced baker
  • With patience a beginner baker could make, but wouldn't recommend it
Pictures (More to come too)




4.5 Dewey's 


I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review -- I will make you something nice from this for the OLA (Not the whoopie cookies though -- would be too hard to transport)

In My Mailbox

For Review
Thanks Simon and Schuster
Thanks HarperCollins

Won
Won from RedFlagDeals Twitter contest

Borrowed
Thanks Natasha

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Spellman's Strike Again by Lisa Lutz

The Spellman's Strike Again
by Lisa Lutz
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9341-6
Buy From Indigo

Description: At the ripe old age of thirty-two, former wild child Isabel "Izzy" Spellman has finally agreed to take over the family business. And the transition won't be a smooth one. First among her priorities as head of Spellman Investigations is to dig up some dirt on the competition, slippery ex-cop Rick Harkey--a task she may enjoy a little too much. Next, faced with a baffling missing-persons case at the home of an aging millionaire, Izzy hires an actor friend, Len, to infiltrate the mansion as an undercover butler--a role he may enjoy a little much. Meanwhile, Izzy is being blackmailed by her mother (photographic evidence of Prom Night 1994) to commit to regular blind dates with promising professionals--an arrangement that doesn't thrill Connor, an Irish bartender on the brink of becoming Ex-boyfriend #12.
At Spellman headquarters, it's business as unusual. Doorknobs and light fixtures are disappearing every day, Mom's been spotted crying in the pantry, and a series of increasingly demanding Spellman Rules (Rule #27: No Speaking Today) can't quite hold the family together. Izzy also has to decipher weekly "phone calls from the edge" from her octogenarian lawyer, Morty, as well as Detective Henry Stone's mysterious interest in rekindling their relationship...well, whatever it was. Just when it looks like things can't go more haywire, little sister Rae's internship researching pro bono legal cases leads the youngest Spellman to launch a grassroots campaign that could spring an innocent man from jail--or land Rae in it. The Spellmans Strike Again is hands down the most hilarious, thrilling, and moving book in this bestselling, award-nominated series. And it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Isabel Spellman, no matter how much she matures, will never be able to follow Rule #1: Act Normal.


The Good Stuff
  • It's funny these reviews are hard to write since I am reading them sort of back to back -- don't want to keep writing the same things about them, I will try my best to mix it up - but please forgive repetition from previous books in series
  • I love these books, they are always rip roaring good fun.  I am constanly laughing about the antics of Isabel and her truly unusual family
  • They are a totally dysfunctional family but in a sweet and loveable way
  • I actually cried a few times while reading this installment. Their were some beautiful touching scenes, yet never shmaltzy
  • All of the characters are unique
  • The relationships, while a little over the top quirky, are still very realistic -- but remember I come from an odd family myself (though my siblings never did blackmail or spy on each other)
  • Isabel is really developing into a more mature adult, but never losing her quirky playful spirit
  • Love the relationship between Isabel and Morty
  • You can't help but laugh at Rae's anctics
  • Some very wise social commentaries thrown in, again never schmaltzy
  • Did I mention you will laugh your ass off -- If you don't like attention, do not read out in public as you will not be able to stop yourself from snorting out loud with laughter
  • The last 2/3 chapters are absolutely hilarious yet wonderfully touching at the same time
  • Like the background bit about the Innocence Project
The Not So Good Stuff
  • It drags a bit in the middle, nothing horrible, but a wee bit more editing would have made it into a better story
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Other than my mom's mild vanity, her most obscene characteristic is that she seems to think meddling in her children's lives is an Olympic event. Her training regime is positively brutal."

"Once Demetrius was incarcerated, the burden of proof fell back on the defense. Turns out my case hinged on circumstantial logic. And you can't free a man just because it makes sense."

"For some people, gardening is a soothing, fun, spiritually nourishing activity. For my sister, who has never met a vegetable she liked, it would be hell on earth. Hard labor, patience, dirt, produce-all things she loathes-and now she would be spending over 13 percent of her waking hours learning how to make things she hated grow. If that isn't justice, I don't know what is."


Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Once again, you don't HAVE to read the previous "documents" to get whats going on, but I highly recommend you do you won't regret it
  • Not for those who like a traditional Private Investigator mystery story -- this is unique folks
4.75 Dewey's


I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Red Means Run by Brad Smith

Red Means Run
by Brad Smith
Scribner (Simon and Schuster)
ISBN: 9781451673999
Buy From Indigo
Publication Date: January 10, 2012

Description: Mickey Dupree is one of the most successful criminal attorneys in upstate New York, having never lost a capital murder case. That is the upside of being Mickey. The downside—Mickey has a lot of enemies and one of them drives the shaft of a golf club through his heart, leaving him dead in a sand trap at his exclusive country club.

The cops, led by a dimwitted detective named Joe Brady, focus their attentions on Virgil Cain. Just two weeks earlier Virgil told a crowded bar that "somebody ought to blow Mickey's head off," after the slippery lawyer earned an acquittal for Alan Comstock, the man accused of murdering Virgil's wife. Comstock, a legendary record producer, gun nut, and certifiable lunatic, has returned to his estate, where he lives with his wife, the long-suffering Jane.

It appears to Virgil that the fix is in when Brady immediately throws him into jail with no questions asked. In order to set things right, Virgil escapes from jail, determined to find Mickey's killer himself. Aside from a smart and sexy detective named Claire Marchand, everybody is convinced that Virgil is the culprit. When Alan Comstock is discovered with six slugs in his body the day after Virgil's escape, his guilt is almost assured. Now it is up to Virgil to convince everyone of his innocence—by finding the killer before he winds up being the next victim


The Good Stuff
  • Canadian author & not at all depressing (Yes I know I have an ``issue``)
  • Dialogue is hilarious at times
  • Lots of plot twists and turns that keep you guessing on whodunit -- I swore it was one person and it ended up being someone else
  • Interesting secondary characters
  • Claire reminds me of Beckett from the TV show Castle
  • Love how Claire and Virgil's  back-stories are given in bits and pieces here and there - gives it a realistic feel
  • Suzanne was a fun character - enjoyed her frank way of speaking
  • Enjoyed some of the thinly veiled pot shots at dumb American cops
  • Perfect read for a cold winters night
The Not So Good Stuff
  • a little slow at times, but mostly because it is giving you a lot of background on Virgil for further books
  • Title sucks & cover is sort of lame (sorry have to be honest)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"She considered not calling Joe Brady for a while. Presumably he and the dogs were still on the trail, stumbling around in the thick woods east of the Hudson. Maybe Joe would bump his head on a tree limb and smarten up a little. In the ends, she did call him, out of respect for Patterson and thew SWAT guys. The dogs too."

"The Mounties will get him," Joe said. "He`s one of theirs."
 "Yeah" Claire said.  "They probably have some special insight on how a Canadian thinks."

 "I`m heading up into Canada," he told her.  "To talk to the Mounties."
He made the announcement as if he were Meriwether Lewis and Canada was the great unknown expanse west of the Mississippi. "


Who Should /Shouldn't Read
  • Mystery fans will enjoy
  • Perfect for fans of Lehane and Deaver
4 Dewey`s


I received this from Simon and Schuster in Exchange for an Honest Review

Monday, January 9, 2012

Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

Revenge of the Spellmans (Document #3 )
by Lisa Lutz
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9339-3
Buy From Indigo

Description: YOU THOUGHT YOUR LIFE WAS COMPLICATED. Private investigator Isabel Spellman is back on the case and back on the couch -- in court-ordered therapy after getting a little too close to her previous subject.
As the book opens, Izzy is on hiatus from Spellman Inc. But when her boss, Milo, simultaneously cuts her bartending hours and introduces her to a "friend" looking for a private eye, Izzy reluctantly finds herself with a new client. She assures herself that the case -- a suspicious husband who wants his wife tailed -- will be short and sweet, and will involve nothing more than the most boring of PI rituals: surveillance. But with each passing hour, Izzy finds herself with more questions than hard evidence.
Meanwhile, Spellmania continues. Izzy's brother, David, the family's most upright member, has adopted an uncharacteristically unkempt appearance and attitude toward work, life, and Izzy. And their wayward youngest sister, Rae, a historic academic underachiever, aces the PSATs and subsequently offends her study partner and object of obsession, Detective Henry Stone, to the point of excommunication. The only unsurprising behavior comes from her parents, whose visits to Milo's bar amount to thinly veiled surveillance and artful attempts (read: blackmail) at getting Izzy to return to the Spellman Inc. fold.
As the case of the wayward wife continues to vex her, Izzy's personal life -- and mental health -- seem to be disintegrating. Facing a housing crisis, she can't sleep, she can't remember where she parked her car, and, despite her shrinks' persistence, she can't seem to break through in her appointments. She certainly can't explain why she forgets dates with her lawyer's grandson, or fails to interpret the come-ons issued in an Irish brogue by Milo's new bartender. Nor can she explain exactly how she feels about Detective Henry Stone and his plans to move in with his new Assistant DA girlfriend...


The Good Stuff 
  • Once again Lutz has written a hilarious tale of the wacky Isabelle Spellman and her truly unique (read dysfunctional)  family
  • Some sweet and sad moments which are nicely written (and not schmaltzy) 
  • Third book in a series and I still enjoy this twisted family and their unusual capers
  • Nice slow character development - realistic as in people just don't change their ways, even though they really should (in other words not all neat and tidy)
  • Laugh out loud dialogue and asides (footnotes)
  • The appendix is wonderful (and perfect for readers who are starting with the series)
  • The therapy sessions are a nice addition -- especially the one at the end which I cannot mention anymore about as it would be a total spoiler
  • Addition of a couple of interesting new characters and plot twists
The Not So Good Stuff
  • So much fun, it makes it hard to not pick up the next book in the series, when you should be reading other books on your review list (and I really want to read them too)
  • Might not want to read in public as you will probably laugh out loud and people will stare

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"The evening ended a few hours later when I dropped Henry off at his door. In case you're wondering (and I know you are), there was no goodnight kiss or confession of undying love.Okay?"

"What business is this of yours? I asked.
"I'm your mother."
"It's my life. You're just a member of the audience," I said, getting up to leave.
"Well, I want my money back!" Mom shouted after me as I headed for the front door."Because this show sucks."

"I am a licensed private investigator who has been working for the family business, Spellman Investigations, since the age of twelve. No, that is not a typo. It sounds fun, I know. But after decades of having your boyfriends investigated, your bedroom searched, your phone tapped, your vehicle tracked, and your every move documented, it gets old. In my family, we don't ask questions, we investigate."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Perfect for someone who enjoys reading something just a little bit unusual
  • If you are looking for a stereotypical whodunit or exciting mystery, this is probably not your thing
  • If you just need a good laugh, this will be right up your alley
  • You don't need to read books 1 and 2 to enjoy, but I highly recommend as they are hilarious
5 Dewey's


I received this from Simon and Schuster in Exchange for an Honest Review

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Red Leech (Young Sherlock Holmes #2) by Andrew Lane

Red Leech (Young Sherlock Holmes #2)
by Andrew Lane
Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0-330-51199-5
Suggested Ages:10+ (caution: a wee bit scary and violent at times -- nothing horrific but a heads up for sensitive readers)
Buy From Indigo

Description: Sherlock knows that Amyus Crow, his mysterious American tutor, has some dark secrets. But he didn't expect to find a notorious killer, hanged by the US government, apparently alive and well in Surrey - and Crow somehow mixed up in it. When no one will tell you the truth, sometimes you have to risk all to discover it for yourself. And so begins an adventure that will take Sherlock across the ocean to America, to the centre of a deadly web - where life and death are cheap, and truth has a price no sane person would pay...


The Good Stuff
  • This is my favorite so far of the series
  • Fast paced and exciting with plenty of action and suspense
  • Interesting storyline with a truly unique and  unusual  villain
  • Good amount of humour to lighten up the darker moments
  • Some snippets of interesting historical information immersed within the story  - as ususal with Lane done in a subtle and fascinating manor that the little buggers won't even realize they are learning something (ok, who's kidding who, I learned some stuff too)
  • Once again you can really see how Lane's Holmes could develop into Doyle's Holmes
  • Written so both boys and girls will enjoy - there is a hint of romance for the girls but not in such a mushy way that will turn off the male readers
  • Love the friendship between Matty and Holmes
  • Holmes emotions are very true of your normal 15 yr old boy even one as brilliant as Sherlock
  • Mentions Canada - yes I know we Canadian's have issues  - we feel left out all the time 
  • Some nice moral questions to ponder
  • Will be keeping this series for Jake to read in a year or two
  • Really makes me want to read more Sherlock Holmes stories -- January has definitely been Sherlock Holmes month so far -- 2 Young Sherlock novels and we also went to see Sherlock  Homes: Game of Shadows in the theatre (bloody brilliant movie -- get thee to a movie theatre right away for this one - Downey is marvelous)
  • Learned about the history of sailor's and tattoos -- makes total sense now
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Come on give me more on Eglantine -- I need to know what is the deal with that sneaky nasty women
  • Nasty Leeches -- ick!
  • Did I mention the leeches - gave me the heebie jeebies LOL!
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I swear there's a nursery aspect to British eating habits that no country has. Steamed puddings, jam sandwiches-with the crusts cut off, of course - and vegetables, boiled so long they're just flavored mush. Food you don't need teeth to eat."
Sherlock felt a stab of annoyance. "So what's so great about American food?" he asked, shifting his position on the dry stone wall he was sitting on..."
"Steaks," Crowe said simply."

"A man has the right to make his own decisions, based on a higher moral code.' He grimaced inadvertently. ' I find slavery .... distasteful. I don't believe that one man is inferior to another man because of the colour of his skin.  I may think that other things make a man inferior, includin' his ability to think rationally, but not somethin' as arbitrary as the colour of his skin."

"He couldn't help smiling. That complete honesty was one of the things he liked most about Virginia. No English girl would have dreamed about discussing matter of the stomach like taht."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Good for both male and female readers
  • Some of it is a bit dark and violent so sensitive YA/middle school readers might want to avoid
  • Adults will enjoy reading as well
4.75 Dewey's


I received this from HarperCollins in Exchange for an Honest Review

In My Mailbox

For Review
Thanks HarperCollins US (Been dying to read this!)

Won
Thanks Book Lovers Inc

Purchased

Purchased at Chapters Brampton & lost my bank card there (See had to buy my OWN copy of Touch of Frost)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chef Jeff Review and CONTEST: Everyday Food Light from The Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living

Everyday Food Light
from The Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living
Clarkson Potter (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-307-71809-9
Buy From Indigo

Description: Cook what you want to eat, without all the fat.The editors of Everyday Food magazine know that it’s not enough to get dinner on the table in a snap—it also has to be good for the whole family. Everyday Food: Light features delicious, healthful recipes, all under 500 calories. Organized seasonally so you can take advantage of the freshest ingredients, this book shows you how to quickly make your favorite dishes in a way that’s light but nonetheless tempting.

Making simple adjustments to your weeknight arsenal is easy with the step-by-step instructions on cooking techniques (like stir-frying and roasting), kitchen tools to help cut down on calories (such as a steamer basket and a citrus zester), and great low- or no-fat flavor boosters (marinades, herbs, and spices). And each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful color photograph and nutritional information to keep you motivated all week long.

Tips throughout explain what makes these recipes light, whether by using simple substitutions (such as whole-wheat tortillas instead of pizza crust), smart ways to cut back on fat (topping fish with bread crumbs rather than coating it in batter), or healthy cooking methods (baking onion rings instead of frying them). You’ll also find prep and cook times for each recipe, and plenty of one-pot meals that make great weeknight dinners for the whole family. Staying on track for a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean relying on gimmicky diets or eating flavorless meals. With Everyday Food: Light, cooking fulfilling and tasty dinners has never been easier or more inspiring.

The Good Stuff
  • Good layout and organization of recipes
  • Good variety of recipes
  • Wife says the index is bloody wonderful - but this would only be important to seriously anal library workers & nerds (Jen's note - nice eh, if he didn't cook as well as he did I might have to kick him to the curb for that)
  • Recipes have simple easy to understand instructions, not too much prep time and most of the ingredients are readily available even here in the boonies
  • The introduction to all of the light cooking methods and ways of making all of your meals lighter is extremely helpful
  • Each recipe explain what makes it light and many have tips and tricks as well
  • Nice to have the nutritional info listed on each recipe
  • Each recipe has a picture -- which the wife really likes
  • Unique way of organizing recipes by season - never seen before and really liked this
  • the whole cookbook has a nice bright light laid back look which was a nice surprise as this is done by Martha Stewart (Jen's note: hubby has "issues' with Martha Stewart)
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Recipes are a wee bit slanted to american type recipes -- not a big deal but if you are Canadian you will see what I mean (not an insult in any way - just an observation on choice of ingredients)
  • The One Pot Chicken and Brown Rice dish just looks plain nasty (this is Jake's part of the review) and grits -- really (Jen's Note: we don't get the fascination with grits here in Ontario -- but than again we've been known to eat some weird dishes so really should just shut my mouth)
  • Not a lot of kid friendly recipes if you know what I mean
Favorite Recipes
  • Roasted Shrimp with Spaghetti Squash - Pg 345
  • Light Chicken Parmesean - Pg 67 
  • Sweet Potato and Chipolte Soup - Pg 48
  • Cilanto Lime Rice - Pg 178
  • Lacy Almond-Orange Cookies - Pg 194
  • Light Pineapple Upside Down Cake - Pg 112 (will post pics later)
Who Should/Shouldn't Use
  • Best suited for beginner to intermediate cooks
  • Perfect for my wife who always has a hard time digesting fattier/rich foods (Jen's Note: Thanks for telling everyone hubby)
  • Great cookbook for those wanting to change their diet
  • Not really good for the more experienced advanced cook
4.5 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in Exchange for an Honest Review

CONTEST

Prize: 1 Copy of Everyday Food Light
Canada Only
Ends January 12, 2011

Fill Out Form (use link if form below doesn't work)

The Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

The Curse of the Spellmans
by Lisa Lutz
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4391-8247-5
Buy From Indigo

Description: THEY’RE BAAAAACK.(Re)meet New York Times bestselling author Lisa Lutz’s “SUPERBLY COMIC” (Daily News, New York) Spellmans, a family in which eavesdropping is a mandatory skill, locks are meant to be picked, and blackmail is the preferred form of negotiation.


When Izzy Spellman, PI, is arrested for the fourth time in three months, she writes it off as a job hazard. She’s been (obsessively) surveilling a suspicious neighbor and attempting to apprehend the copycat vandal whose attacks on Mrs. Chandler’s holiday tableaux eerily match the 1991-92 crime spree when Izzy and her best friend, Petra, were at their most delinquent. After the displeased management (i.e., Mom and Dad) at Spellman Investigations refuses to bail Izzy out, her octogenarian lawyer comes to her rescue. But first Izzy must unveil the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as only a thirty-year-old licensed professional can. . . .

The Good Stuff
  • Another wild and wacky tale of the delightfully dysfunctional, yet totally loveable, Spellman family
  • Would love to take mamma Spellman to some of Jake's parent teachers meeting - she totally rocks
  • Love how Izzy refers to potential dates as Ex-Boyfriend #?
  • Don't really have to read the first book in order to understand the plot, it will help and you will love it, but you won't be totally lost if you don't
  • Gives you a synopsis of the first book without too much repetition for those who have read it already
  • Love the relationships between all of the charcters - especially between Izzy, Rae and Henry
  • The dialogues are hilarious -- FYI you will snort out loud - do not drink while reading - it could get messy
  • The transcripts are a fabulous quirky idea
  • The appendix is a perfect addition 
  • Even reading the acknowledgments is fun
  • Looking forward to reading the next installment of the series -- they are totally addictive to read
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Her writing style might throw off some, story jumps around a lot, so you gotta be paying attention
  • Distracts me from getting work done, since I want to keep reading
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Background: When my sister was eight years old, my brother, in the interest of explaining his legal career to Rae, taught her how to negotiate. It was a lesson he and the rest of us would soon regret. Rae took from this lesson that everything - from simple acts of grooming to household chores to homework - could be negotiated to her end."

"I pinched Rae really hard on her arm, which lately is code for "whatever you're doing, stop doing it."

"Rae took the  money and headed for the door. In my family, if one loses a negotiation, we like to pretend that we have won.
"I would have given you thirty," I said
"I would have done it for five," Rae replied."


Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Definitely for those who enjoy reading books about quirky families
  • Hardcore readers of  mystery or PI style books might now enjoy 
  • Readers who just enjoy something a little different, this is for you
  • If you just need a good laugh -- this will do it
  • Obviously for fans of the first book - but you don't have to read it first

5 Dewey's


I received this from Simon and Schuster in Exchange for an Honest Review & I'm bringing you the REALLY good cookies at OLA for introducing me to these books

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Young Sherlock Holmes: Black Ice by Andrew Lane

Black Ice (Young Sherlock Holmes #3)
by Andrew Lane
Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0-330-51200-8
Suggested Ages: 10 +
Buy From Indigo

Description: Sherlock Holmes is fourteen - bu he’s not the ordinary schoolboy he was three months ago. Witnessing death has changed him - and his thirst for knowledge and adventure has become unquenchable. but now danger is very close to home - his brother, Mycroft, faces a terrible decision. And soon Sherlock is following him to a frozen Russia, where both their lives will be threatened, and death has one of them in its icy clutches...

The Good Stuff
  • Enjoyed the fleshing out of the character of Mycroft
  • More fast paced than the first story in series -- which I think will interest the intended audience a little more
  • Nice light humour
  • You can really see how this Sherlock could develop into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock
  • Love how the author throws in some history, science etc so subtlety that kids won't pick up the fact that they are learning stuff
  • The historical notes at the end are a fabulous addition
  • Lots of twists and turns
  • Need to find out what Mrs Egaltine's agenda is
  • Not as dark as book 1
  • Accidentally read book #3 instead of book #2 -- but didn't feel too lost or disorientated from missing it (Now going to start book #2 to fill in the blanks)
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Still a wee bit slow - it works, but might turn off some more reluctant readers
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"This is all very interesting," Sherlock said cautiously, but I'm not likely to take up fishing as a hobby.  It seems to consist of a whole lot of sitting around waiting for something to happen.  If I'm going to sit around for a long period of time, I'd rather have a good book in my hands than a fishing rod."

"Less than an hour before he had been running for his life through dark tunnels, and now he was sitting in the sunshine waiting for cake to arrive. Life could be strange, sometimes.  Actually, he reflected, life could be strange a lot of the time."

"The problem with life," Mycroft observed. "is that it rarely gives us what we want, or even what we need. I've heard it said that the Lord does not give us anything that we cannot cope with. In my experience this is not true, and merely serves as a mechanism for helping religious people accept the unacceptable. Life is harsh, and we cannot even hope to survive it."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Perfect for boys 10 and up who like action and mystery
  • Might be more suited for a stronger reader rather than a reluctant reader, but that is just my uneducated guess
  • Jake is going to love this in probably a year or two -- he's a wee bit sensitive so I am going to wait for a while 
  • Girls will enjoy this as well - especially the more "tomboy" type

4.25 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in Exchange for an Honest Review

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top 100 Books - Updated


2013 - In yellow my plans to read
The BBC apparently believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. I was suitably impressed with how many I have ACTUALLY read (39). I have highlighted in RED the ones that I have read & also for fun have highlighted the ones that I know I will probably NEVER read in BLUE. I think a Challenge for next year will to read at least another 10 of them.  What about you guys?


Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Harry Potter series – JK Rowling


To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

The King James Bible

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

(1984) – George Orwell

His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Little Women – Louisa M Alcott


Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

Complete Works of Shakespeare

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien


Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger


The Time Traveller's Wife- Audrey Niffenegger

Middlemarch – George Eliot

Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald


War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

Emma -Jane Austen

Persuasion – Jane Austen

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

Animal Farm – George Orwell


The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Lord of the Flies – William Golding (and will NEVER read again)


Atonement – Ian McEwan

Life of Pi – Yann Martel


Dune – Frank Herbert

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez


Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas (en francais)

On The Road – Jack Kerouac

Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding


Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

Moby Dick – Herman Melville


Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

Dracula – Bram Stoker


The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett


Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

Ulysses – James Joyce

The Inferno – Dante


Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

Germinal – Emile Zola (en francais)

Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

Possession – AS Byatt

Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens


Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

The Color Purple – Alice Walker


The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert (en francais)

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom


Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery 


The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

Watership Down – Richard Adams

A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas (en francais)

Hamlet – William Shakespeare

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

The Pioneer Women: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond - Mini Book Review

The Pioneer Women: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels
by Ree Drummond
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-061-99716-7
Buy From Indigo

Description: "That's when I saw him—the cowboy—across the smoky room." I'll never forget that night. It was like a romance novel, an old Broadway musical, and a John Wayne western rolled into one. Out for a quick drink with friends, I wasn't looking to meet anyone, let alone a tall, rugged cowboy who lived on a cattle ranch miles away from my cultured, corporate hometown. But before I knew it, I'd been struck with a lightning bolt . . . and I was completely powerless to stop it. Read along as I recount the rip-roaring details of my unlikely romance with a chaps-wearing cowboy, from the early days of our courtship (complete with cows, horses, prairie fire, and passion) all the way through the first year of our marriage, which would be filled with more challenge and strife—and manure—than I ever could have expected. This isn't just my love story; it's a universal tale of passion, romance, and all-encompassing love that sweeps us off our feet. It's the story of a cowboy. And Wranglers. And chaps. And the girl who fell in love with them.

Mini Book Review: A truly sweet and adorable quirky love story. If you are a fan of her blog, you will enjoy this book as it is a summary of how she met, married and had kids with the Marlboro Man.  You would have to be a horrible jaded cynic not to enjoy this honest, classy, yet rip roaring funny tale of how a city girl ends up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere with a cowboy. I really enjoyed her self deprecating way of telling the story -- being honest about the ups and downs without giving up too  much personal information.  As for the flaws  - she obviously isn't a writer as some of the writing style  -- well -- its sort of like the way I write and we all know that isn't a compliment LOL!  That being said she is charming so you have to let her lack of ability go. Also way too much repetition about Marlboro Mans strong arms, etc -- yes we get it he`s an old fashioned cowboy and you are a city girl.  Just a simple sweet story to pass a couple of hours, if you are in a foul mood this will put a smile on your face.

3.5 Dewey`s


Natasha lent this to me

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

The Spellman Files
by Lisa Lutz
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9417-8
Buy From Indigo


Description: Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, twenty-eight-year-old private investigator with relentlessly intrusive bosses (Mom and Dad), a chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress), and uncle who randomly disappears on benders ("Lost Weekends"), and a kid sister on her trail (hired by her parents to ascertain the identity of her new boyfriend). When Izzy snaps, the only way out of the family business is to solve an ice-cold missing persons case that leads to the disappearance of someone she loves...




The Good Stuff
  • Hilariously funny -- you will snort aloud while reading about this families adventures
  • Quirky likeable characters
  • Fast paced storyline
  • Love the relationships between all of the characters -- not a dud in the bunch
  • Didn't want to put the book down and immediately picked up the next book in the series
  • Fantastic set up for a series, you got to know everybody without it being set up like an introduction
  • Reminds me of my family -- well without the whole PI business thing -- although I am pretty sure Jesse knows how to pick locks
  • Truly unique writing style 
  • Love all the Get Smart references

The Not So Good Stuff
  • The book ended which made me pick up the next book right away -- hello authors I have a life you know stop writing such brilliant stories that make me laugh
  • Not to be read in public if you do not want to bring attention to yourself by snorting out loud
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I still remember the day Uncle Ray passed me a hammer and told me to smash out the taillight of Dr. Lieberman's Mercedes-Benz. That was a perfect day."

"The relationship continued on it its quasi Norman Rockwell fashion until I mentioned his brothers bankruptcy (don`t ask) and Zack realized that he had never mentioned it.  Petra told me she would never set me up with anyone again until I ``learned to use my powers for good and not evil.``

``I don`t think Uncle Ray was a sex addict. He liked hookers-sure-but it wasn`t a regular thing for him.``


Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • This is perfect for those who like laugh out loud funny quirky stories
  • Great for reading after a difficult or heavy book 
  • Not for those who enjoy a traditional PI or suspense novel -- this is in a league of its own
5 Dewey's

I received this from Simon and Schuster in Exchange for an honest review