Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hero Type by Barry Lyga

Kevin is a hero. He saved Leah from a notorious kidnapper/rapist/murderer known as "The Surgeon." Everyone loves Kevin. They even give him a key to the city.

Unfortunately Kevin finds out that Hero-Worship doesn't last very long. A reporter snaps a picture of Kevin throwing away some "Support Our Troops" ribbons. That one mistake ends Kevin's Hero status.

Everyone assumes that Kevin is anti-America now. The rest of the story is then taken up with the issue of  Freedom of Speech. Kevin maintains that he is patriotic but he doesn't need to plaster that patriotism all over his car or be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance just because everyone else is doing it. His point being that everyone should think for themselves and not just be a follower.

Barry Lyga has some very thought-provoking scenes in this book. I would be careful who I recommended this book too though because of the language and sexual references.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech

Cute book. Poems written by Jack to his teacher. Almost like a conversation instead of poems really. Jack's dog died, he hates a cat that he sees hanging around in a tree, his mom is deaf, and he gets a cat for Christmas. All of these things going on in Jack's life he puts into poems that are assigned by his teacher. A quick read and cute.

Snow Angel A Novel by Jamie Carie

Elizabeth's birth mother was forced to give her up to an orphanage when Elizabeth was two. For almost 20 years her mother has been searching for her.

Elizabeth has gold fever. She is on her way to the Yukon to find her fortune. She is also running from a man who has already harmed her. In search of a man she was told would be a good guide Elizabeth gets lost in a snowstorm. She stumbles onto Noah's doorstep and by some miracle he is able to breathe life back into her.

Being chased by her past Elizabeth is forced to run away from the man that she loves. Noah is not about to let her go so easily so he follows her to the Yukon. The only problem is that he is not the only man following Elizabeth.

With much heart-stopping adventures and dangers Jamie Carie has woven a very captivating novel. I enjoyed this novel very much and find that it is very appropriate for Young Adults as well as Adult readers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Introducing Edifying and Edgy

My friend, Karin of Karin's Book Nook, and I have teamed up for a fun blogging adventure.  We love talking about books and sometimes we like the same things, but sometimes we don't.

I am a very eclectic reader.  I enjoy stories with happy endings, classics, christian fiction, and inspirational novels.  I absolutely LOVE mysteries in all genres.  I am more conservative than Karin, which is good.  We balance each other out.  It really comes in handy when we are working with Middle School students.  It is nice to be able to provide students with a wide range of reading suggestions.

Karin tends to read mostly paranormal, urban fantasy, dystopian novels, and dark, contemporary fiction.

Because our reading tastes are a little different, we decided to use that to our advantage and put our heads together for a new blog.  We’ll both be posting reviews.  I will be posting reviews for books that are Edifying (meaning they will be great stories that don’t contain teens in risky behavior, in other words, they are “clean”). The books Karin will be posting reviews for are considered Edgy and may contain sexual references, drugs, drinking, violence, abuse, and adult situations.

So, help us spread the word. Edifying and Edgy will have recommendations for everyone.  We’ll have reviews for all genres at both ends of the reading spectrum (clean and “edgy”).

Click this link to find out how to enter Edifying and Edgy’s first contest.  You can win a copy of THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB by Heather Vogel Frederick and SWOON by Nina Malkin.  You’ll have the chance for extra entries if you help spread the word about the new blog around the blogosphere.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Candor by Pam Bachorz

Oscar Banks lives in Candor. Candor is the brainchild of Oscar's father. Candor is the most perfect place to live. Families pay millions of dollars to live in Candor. Is Candor really all that perfect?

Oscar knows what Candor's secret is. The music that plays constantly has secret messages inbedded in it. This is how the town remains perfect. Parents bring their wayward children to Candor to make them become perfect children. Oscar is helping those children escape...for a price.

When Nia moves in Oscar and her quickly fall in love. Oscar's goal becomes saving Nia from becoming brainwashed by the secret messages before he has a chance to plan their escape. Will they escape Candor or will they succumb to the inbedded messages like everyone else?

I enjoyed Candor. I did have an issue with some language and sexual references. There were definate nail-biting scenes in the book that caused my heart to race and my fingers to want to turn the pages quicker. I would say this is definately a more mature-themed book.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Elvis Takes a Back Seat by Leanna Ellis

Claudia's husband Stu has passed away. Claudia can't seem to part with any of Stu's things, including a huge bust of Elvis Presley.

Claudia relegated Elvis to the attic for the past 20 years. While going through Stu's things she finds him(Elvis) along with a note from Stu stating that Elvis needs to be returned to Memphis.

Claudia, her Aunt Rae and Ivy(Stu's best friend Ben's daughter) set out from Dallas to Memphis to try to find out where Stu originally got the Elvis bust. Each woman has a reason for being on this trip.

Rae had a relationship with Elvis when she was a young woman. While on this trip she reveals little by little bits and pieces of her life. Ivy has a secret of her own. One that will change her life forever. Claudia has lost her faith in God and is still tied to the memories of her husband.

Will each woman find the answers they are in need of? Will they eventually find where the Elvis bust belongs? Will Claudia find her faith again? Will Ivy make the right choices for her life?

I can't say this was one of my favorite books to read. I thought it was dis-jointed in parts. I couldn't tell who was talking to whom or even sometimes who was doing the talking! I thought the spiritual content was pretty weak. There was talk of having faith in God, but never how to have that faith. When the characters visit the "church" that the Elvis bust supposedly came from and talk about seeing "the ghost of Elvis" started the book pretty much lost me. Even with all of that though I did feel a connection and enough interest in the book to finish it and find out what happens to everyone. If you are looking for a deeper spiritual message this is probably not for you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dear Pen Pal by Heather Vogel Frederick

Dear Pen Pal is the 3rd installment of The Mother-Daughter Book Club series. A group of girls and their mother have formed a reading group to discuss books that they read throughout the year. In Dear Pen Pal the group is reading Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. This year the mother's have paired the girls up with another Mother-Daughter book club group. This group is in Wyoming. The mother's from both groups decide that the girls should become Pen-Pals. When the mother's say Pen-Pals they do not mean IM'ing, or texting or e-mailing Pen-Pals. They mean actually sitting down and writing a letter and mailing snail mail Pen-Pals. You must read the first two books to be able to follow the characters.

Meet the girls:

Becca: Becca is the newest member of the group. The girls still cannot decide if she is a friend or an enemy. So they call her a "frenemy". Becca's mom has decided that this is the year that she is going to "improve herself" all of her outlandish outfits make quite an embarrassing situation for Becca. Becca's pen pal is Zoe Winchester. Zoe's mom is the mayor of their town. Will Becca and Zoe hit it off or are they too much alike to ever be friends?

Cassidy: Cassidy is a girl-jock. she loves sports. She is the first girl to be on the all-boys ice hockey team. Cassidy's dad has passed away and her mother has recently re-married. To add to Cassidy's disgruntlement with the situation her mother and step-dad inform her and the group that they are going to have a baby. Cassidy is not happy. Cassidy is paired up as a pen-pal to Winky Parker. Winky's family own a Dude Ranch. Cassidy is not getting along with all of the changes in her life. Will this new little one soften her heart?

Jess: Jess's family own a farm. They work hard and there isn't much money to spare. Jess loves her home and loves her friends. Jess is given a scholarship to Colonial Academy. A very prestigious boarding school for girls. Jess doesn't want to leave her friends at Walden Middle School. In order to please her family she agrees to go. She is placed in a room with Savannah, a senator's daughter. Savannah is a typical priviledged girl and the girls do not get along. Jess is paired up as a pen pal with Madison Daniels. Jess's mother figured since Jess loves to sing and Madison loves to play the guitar that the girls should have music as a common interest. Jess likes Emma's brother Darcy. When Savannah asks Darcy to go to a dance with her the little bit of friendship that Jess felt towards her evaporates. Will the girls ever learn how to get along?

Emma: Emma loves to write. Emma loves to read. Walden Middle School has decided to make students wear uniforms this year. Will Emma find that the "Pen is mightier than the sword" and be able to change the faculties mind about uniforms? Emma has a boyfriend, Stewart is Becca's brother. Will Emma be the first club member to be kissed? Emma is paired up as a pen pal with Bailey Jacobs. Bailey's mother owns a bookstore. The girls are sure to get along!

Megan: This year Megan's grandmother moves in with her and her family. Megan seems to get along better with her grandmother than she does with her own mother. Megan's mother doesn't understand Megan's interest in fashion. Megan doesn't understand why she is an only child. Why does her mother have to be so different? Megan is paired up as a pen-pal with Summer Williams. Summer sews quilts and Megan sews clothes, it should be the perfect match right?

So far I have enjoyed all three books in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series. I am looking forward to the next installment. All 3 books deal with friendship issues and with social issues. These novels are  so refreshing from the novels that deal with drugs and sex. I know that middle schoolers are dealing with those issues too, but there are also kids that aren't dealing with those darker issues of life. BUT they still are having to deal with acceptance among their peers, family issues, and other growing up issues. Life isn't all rose-colored glasses, and neither are these novels.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

nightlight a parody by The Harvard Lampoon

A parody of course of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. There is some humor in the book, but the laugh-out-loudest line came from the synopsis on the back of the book. I was expecting it to be more humorous than it was. Just an okay read.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cup of Joe by Teri Wilson

Goldie's grandfather who has raised her from childhood has just passed away. This sends Goldie into a depression that she seems unable to get out of on her own. Joe owns the local coffee house and was a friend of her grandfathers.

Every morning Joe brings Goldie a cup of coffee to hopefully draw her out. She refuses to answer the door so Joe leaves the coffee on the doorstep. After several days of this Joe finally insists that Goldie open her door. Goldie lets Joe know that she does NOT like coffee. Not to be put off Joe has his employee(Cinnamon) make Goldie a special coffee drink that she can't possibly resist. When Joe takes it to Goldie the next morning he brings along his dog Java. Seeing that Java actually brings a smile to Goldie's lips Joe decides to bring her a dog. Goldie loves Bliss from the moment she sets eyes on her.

Once Goldie decides to move on with her life she also decides to leave out the most important person in her life~the Lord. Goldie is angry with the Lord but yet knows that eventually she is going to have to work out her relationship with Him. When will she be ready to have "The Talk" with the Lord? Will Goldie realize that she and Joe are meant for each other?

I thought this was a cute story. The relationship between Goldie and Joe was sweet. Their relationship with their dogs Java and Bliss was cute. One thing that bothered me was the authors changing of game show names. Name That Price and Judge Rudy for of course The Price is Right and Judge Judy. I didn't understand that part as she then used the actual name for a drama on TV.  A small thing, but it bothered me when I was reading it. For the most part I enjoyed Cup of Joe and would recommend it to anyone that likes clean romances and pet stories. As I was looking for a picture to post for this review I also found a picture of a gift basket that had the book and coffee with it that I thought was totally FUN! Check it out: I think it is a great marketing idea!

Monday, January 11, 2010

An Interview with author Jackie Gilmore

Jackie Gilmore has been married to Mike, her childhood sweetheart, for 45 years. This is her first book to be published.

1. How long did it take you to write let the sun shine in...? I had the book in my mind for several years.  Once I sat down to write, it came quickly. Within 3 months it was complete. I had much help with editing, two friends read it over and corrected me many times.

2. Do you plan on doing a sequel? I hope to make this a three book series.

3. How did you come up with the story and names? I related it to personal experiences in one way or another.  I wanted an unusual name for the main character and I actually looked online.

4. Have you ever written other novels? I have written a children's book called "Lonesome" about a lonely little boy and a wandering dog.

5. Do you plan on trying to publish another novel? My publishers asked me to submit Lonesome to them once this novel was complete so I'm thinking about it.  One of my daughters likes Lonesome better than this one.

6. What parts of the novel parallel your life if any? Relationships with my grandchildren, the death of the father in the story with my niece being killed at 22 from a reckless teen driver.

Let The Sun Shine Jackie Gilmore

Idella is 19 years old. She lives with her mother and grandmother. Her brother is away at college studying to be a missionary. Their father was killed 6 months before by a drunk driver.

Idella and her grandmother have a very strained relationship. Idella is very self-centered. She has no time for older people. Idella gets a job at Treasure Care a mentoring program for troubled young girls. Idella just knows she has wisdom to impart to these girls and put them on the right path. The only problem is she doesn’t seem to connect with the girls that she is assigned. Meredith hardly talks. Valerie is brash and talks too much. Carla seems to be the only one that Idella can relate to. She has the looks, the friends, and she seems to be very spiritual.

The family is facing the trial of the young man that killed their father/husband/son. Will Grandma’s prayers for Idella ever be answered? Will the family be able to forgive the young man? Will Idella see her shallowness and mend her relationship with Grandma? Will she succeed in the mentoring program?

Jackie Gilmore knows how to weave a great story. She draws you into the lives of her characters. I was totally irritated with Idella. I felt the Grandma’s pain. I cried for their loss and for their triumphs. Great first novel and I hope there are more to come!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford

Christopher is spending his summer working in a morgue. One day while sitting in the Medical Examiners office he finds an envelope full of money. Christopher thinks of himself as the next James Bond so he immediately senses something is not right and sets out to find out what it is. When the body of a man is brought in Christopher decides to examine it when nobody is around. What he finds doesn't match up with the death certificate so now he is out to solve the mystery. He teams up with a young newspaper writer to uncover what the Sheriff and other people in authority seem to be hiding. Friendships are tested, danger around every corner, Christopher decides that maybe he doesn't want to be a Spy after all.

I enjoyed the action in this book. There were definate times that I didn't want to have to put the book down. The things that I didn't care for were the language and some sexual references. I think YA books are really disappointing me with the "trying to keep it real" mentality.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Let the Sun Shine In by Jackie Gilmore

This is my mom's book. It is now available for purchase through her publisher:

I'll be doing a review and maybe even an interview soon!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

An Interview With Ronica Stromberg

Ronica Stromberg is the author of four children's books and of stories in eighteen anthologies and numerous magazines and newspapers. Her first book, The Glass Inheritance, came out in 2001, followed by the picture book, The Time-for-Bed Angel, in 2008. Her latest two books, A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down, are inspirational books for tweens and teens. They're available from Royal Fireworks Press at

Here are a few questions that I came up with to ask Ronica about her books:


1. Did getting published take a long time?


After hearing about the path to publication other authors have taken, I'd say no. I quit working as an in-house editor at a small corporation in 1995 and wrote two books while caring for my firstborn. The first book took about a year to write but didn't sell. The second book, The Glass Inheritance, took a little over a year to write and almost three years to sell. The publication process took about a year and a half. So, my second book was published about six years after I started writing seriously. I've heard most authors write an average of five books before selling one, and finding a publisher and seeing a book into publication often take longer than the writing. I think six years is probably a short time to break into publication.


2. Did writing articles for magazines and newspapers help you to get published?


I had sold The Glass Inheritance before I broke into magazines, so I can't say my magazine credits helped with my first sale. I had written for newspapers and corporate newsletters, but not a significant amount and only nonfiction, so I don't think that helped much either. I have written many short stories for magazines since becoming a novelist and think that has improved my writing and given me a platform that may have improved my chances of getting published by later publishers.

3. Who encouraged/influenced you to become an author?


Books themselves. I love reading and have wanted to be an author since third grade.

4. How would you use A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up To Live It Down with classroom curriculum?


Many public schools have a multicultural curriculum in which they explore issues such as religion. My books trace the lives of young teens interacting with their own Christian faith in today's society. The books can be used to spur discussion about Christianity and how it affects our culture.


As the homeschool movement continues to grow and more children are schooled privately, these books are also a natural in a Christian environment for exploring issues. I'm posting questions on my Web site that teachers or leaders of reading/book groups may use for discussion.

5. Do all of your books have a spiritual/inspirational message?

The Glass Inheritance doesn't. It's a mystery surrounding the Depression glass a young girl inherits. As she's solving the mystery, she learns about the Great Depression, World War II, and the Holocaust. This book fits well with the fifth-grade curriculum in most schools.

My picture book, The Time-for-Bed Angel, can be considered inspirational because it has a guardian angel who watches over the accident-prone main character, but angels appear in noninspirational books as well. This book is a "crossover" book in that it's sold in the main market as well as the Christian market, crossing over from one to the other.

Even my latest books, A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up To Live It Down, are crossover books. They address faith directly but are published by a nonreligious publisher for both markets.

6. Are you planning on writing any books for older teens or adults?

I wrote an inspirational romance a couple of years ago and am looking for a home for that. I may write more in The Kirsten Hart Series, which A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down are part of. The character ages in this series so, if I continue to write it, she may reach adulthood and appeal more to older teens and adults.

Thanks to Ronica Stromberg for allowing me to read and review 2 of her books. Those reviews follow this post.

Books can be ordered from Royal Fireworks Press at

A Shadow in the Dark by Ronica Stromberg

Kirsten Hart, her mother and her younger brother Eric have moved to the country following her parents’ divorce. While out walking the neighborhood to see if there are any girls her age, she comes to an old woman’s home. Before knocking she thinks that she sees someone looking out of one of the windows. As she leans closer to look the old woman opens the front door and catches her peeking in. The old woman is not happy. When Kirsten asks to meet the girl that she saw in the window the old woman denies that there is anyone else in the house. So starts Kirsten’s summer.

Kirsten’s mother remembers that some other neighbors are having their granddaughter stay with them for the summer. Kirsten goes to meet her. Gail and Kirsten spend the rest of their summer trying to find out whom the old woman is hiding in her home. After telling Kirsten’s mother, Gail’s grandparents and the police the girls realize that they are the only ones to “save” the girl being held captive.

One thing that Kirsten learns about Gail is that she is a Christian. Everything that Kirsten has heard about Christians is that they are weird. Gail surprises her with her faith. Throughout the story Gail’s steady faith in God impresses Kirsten. Pressures from old friends, guilt for enjoying her new friend, a dad that never follows through with his promises, and worry about the girl being held captive all eventually lead Kirsten to the one person that can give her peace and ultimate friendship…Jesus.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story has heart-pounding action as well as humor. Ronica Stromberg captures the inward struggles that a pre-teen girl can go through. Struggles of acceptance, relationships with family and friends and ultimately struggles with faith.

Books can be ordered from Royal Fireworks Press at

Living It Up To Live It Down by Ronica Stromberg

In Living It Up To Live It Down Kirsten Hart is starting Jr. High. Shaky in her newfound faith she prays that she will find a friend that shares her faith and can help her to grow in that faith.

On the first day of school Kirsten thinks that her prayers have been answered when she meets Sarah the daughter of a preacher. Surely Sarah will be as enthusiastic to learn about the Lord as Kirsten herself is.

It doesn’t take long for Kirsten to realize that Sarah is not living her life the way a Christian young lady should. Sarah is trying to shake the stigmatism of being a preacher’s daughter.

Will Kirsten’s newfound faith be shaken or will she be able to help Sarah to once again find happiness in the faith that she was raised in?

Once again Ronica Stromberg has captured what struggles Jr. High students face each day. Not just with social issues, but with faith issues as well. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next installment of Kirsten Hart’s life.

Books can be ordered from Royal Fireworks Press at

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pride and Prejudice Adapted by Nancy Butler & Hugo Petrus

This is the first graphic novel that I have ever read. I thought it was done pretty well. Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite book. This adaptation captured the main points of the story. I of course like the original the best but for someone that has a hard time reading classic literature this would work perfect for.

Friday, January 1, 2010

By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

What a depressing way to start the new year! Daelyn wants to commit suicide. She has tried a couple of times and failed. This time she is determined. She comes across a website for other people wanting to commit suicide. While deciding what will be the best and final way to end her life she meets Santana who is dying from Hodgkins Disease. Will Daelyn commit suicide or will she find a reason to live? The book kind of leaves that question up for your own interpretation.

Holiday Break Reading Activity #15

Holiday Break Reading Challenge Activity #15

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful New Year's Eve.  The start of the new year brings the opportunity for reflection about what we've done during the past year and the goals for what we want to accomplish in the coming year.  Take today to answer the following questions on your blog.  If, for some reason, some of the questions to apply to you, just answer what you can.

1.  What was your favorite aspect of your blog in 2009?
Starting a blog was my favorite aspect!

2.  Was there a particular featured/weekly post you participated in that you enjoyed and plan to continue in 2010?

I enjoyed the Holiday Break Reading Challenge and hope that it continues in some form or another during the year.

3.  Is there anything you don't like about your blog that you want to fix? (design, posts, followers, blog host, etc.)

I would love to have some followers or readers of my blog.

4.  Is there a blog you visit that you admire and aspire to emulate?  
Not visited too many blogs. Plus I kind of like to do my own thing.

GOALS (You fill in the blanks)
1. Visit blogs and see what is out there.

2. Have a bigger readership.

3. Be able to review books for authors.

Use Mr. Linky to connect your post to this one.