Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway Winners!

The winners of my Blogoversary Giveaway are:

Small Review, who won my ARC of Blood Red Road.

Jenni Elise, who won my ARC of Hourglass.

These two winners both have great blogs! Why don't you go visit them and congratulate them on their win!

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Book Review: The Love Goddess' Cooking School, by Melissa Senate

The Love Goddess’ Cooking School is a sweet, heart-warming book about family and romance (and food!)

Holly has just been dumped by what she thought was the love of her life. But, really, she knew she was kidding herself. So she retreats to her grandmother Camilla’s house on Blue Crab Island, off the coast of Maine. She has always spent vacations and summers with her grandmother, a place her mother hated, and she feels comfortable coming back to heal.

Unfortunately, after spending two weeks with her grandmother, Camilla dies. Holly inherits her home which includes Camilla’s Cucinotta (a little store that sells homemade pasta and sauces), and The Love Goddess’ Cooking School.

So Holly loses herself in her cooking, trying to recreate the special recipes that her grandmother was famous for, and trying to do it well enough to also teach others. In the process of conducting her first class, she meets some great people who will become her friends, and also meets Mia, a 12-year-old who wants to be Holly’s assistant so Mia can learn to cook and then her father won’t need to marry that awful, phony girlfriend.

Senate writes beautiful descriptions of the recipes and the cooking methods. I love to cook, so I soaked it up and it made me want to cook something, as well as eat it! There are a few recipes included at the end of the book, too.

This book is the kind of romance I love. It is simple story-telling, with rich characters and settings. The plot isn’t altogether unpredictable, but the journey to the end is delightful. I like that the romance ups and downs aren’t based on the usual lies and misunderstandings. I hate when you are reading about a couple and you just want to yell, “would you just be honest and TALK to each other?” This book, thankfully, was NOT like that. There was honesty, and hurt, and happiness. And it was all nicely tied up at the end.

I want to visit Blue Crab Island, but it doesn’t exist. I think I will plan a trip to Maine, and if not, I’ll be sure to read Melissa Senate’s other books set in Maine. I would suggest this book to adults mostly. There may be a few older, mature teens that would enjoy it too.

Published by Gallery Books, 2010
Personal copy
321 pages

Rating: 4/5

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - So Many Great Titles!

This week I'm joining Jill @ Breaking the Spine for her Waiting on Wednesday fun!

Dragonswood, by Janet Lee Carey. 
Published by Dial, January 5, 2012

Wilde Island is not at peace. The kingdom mourns the dead Pendragon king and awaits the return of his heir; the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is strained; and the regent is funding a bloodthirsty witch hunt, hoping to rid the island of half-fey maidens.

Tess, daughter of a blacksmith, has visions of the future, but she still doesn't expect to be accused of witchcraft, forced to flee with her two best friends, or offered shelter by the handsome and enigmatic Garth Huntsman, a warden for Dragonswood. But Garth is the younger prince in disguise and Tess soon learns that her true father was fey, making them the center of an exciting, romantic adventure, and an ancient prophecy that will bring about peace between all three races - dragon, human, and fairy. (Amazon)

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel & Friends, January 3, 2012

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. (Amazon)

The Springsweet, by Saundra Mitchell
Published by Harcourt Children's, April 17, 2012

It’s a long way from Baltimore to Oklahoma Territory. But Zora Stewart will go any distance to put the tragic events of her sixteenth summer behind her. So this city girl heads to the tiny frontier town of West Glory to help her young widowed aunt keep her homestead going.

When another Baltimorean shows up in West Glory, Zora couldn’t be more surprised. Theo de la Croix made the long trip out west hoping to court Zora, whom he has long admired from afar.

But Zora has developed an attraction to a rather less respectable fellow: Emerson Birch, a rough-mannered young "sooner" whose fertile land is coveted.

As Zora begins to suspect that there may be more than luck behind Emerson’s good land, she discovers an extraordinary, astonishing power of her own: the ability to sense water under the parched earth. When her aunt hires her out as a "springsweet" to advise other settlers where to dig their wells, Zora feels the burden of holding the key to something so essential to survival in this unforgiving land.

Even more, she finds herself longing for love the way the prairie thirsts for water. Maybe, in the wildness of the territories, Zora can finally move beyond simply surviving and start living. (Amazon)

It's so hard to decide what to include in these posts, because it seems like every day I discover more books that I can't wait to be released! Happy Reading everyone. Thanks for visiting.

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Commenting - Let's Kick it up a Notch!

I've been thinking about commenting, since I posted What if I Disagree? Several people mentioned "starting a dialog," so I got to thinking, how do you do that when commenting?

Then I saw this great Commenting post last week at Parajunkee's, and I decided to add a little bit to the discussion. Go ahead--go read it.....


I've started to click the "subscribe to comments" links sometimes when I comment. Not usually if I'm just commenting on a meme or something, but if I make a meaningful comment about a book review, the only way to get a dialog back and forth, is to subscribe to comments, right? I've enjoyed some of the threads. I've even been able to comment back on another's comment.

But the downside is, now not only do I have 150 Google reader posts to read every day, I have 50 extra emails to read. So how do you handle that? Also, sometime the "subscribe to post comments" link hasn't worked.

I really enjoy discussing books. I enjoy commenting on other's reviews and posts. I like to know if they comment back or if others make meaningful comments related to mine, or start other threads of the conversation. It just seems a bit cumbersome to use the email method, but I don't know of any other way.

What commenting system is best for this? I know there's Intense Debate, and I've seen others. Let me know which one you use and why. I'm still just using the default Blogger comment form, and I'm open to suggestions.

Do you "subscribe to comments" often? Do you find it meaningful to do so?

Thanks, in advance, for your comments!

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week at My Library

Here's a picture of one of my Banned Books Week displays, right as you walk in the library. Each bag contains an often challenged book.  It generates a lot of discussion about, "What does banned mean?" "Can I check these out?"

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Book Review: The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling

Oh, gosh, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is such a cute book. First of all, I can't believe J.K. Rowling is the illustrator too! Is there no end to her talent?

It's a quick read that brings you back to the wizarding world and made me want to read some Harry Potter again! The stories are supposedly translated by Hermione, and there's commentary by Dumbledore after each one. Some of the footnotes are by J.K. and it's all very authentic.

If you need a quick Harry Potter fix, or if you just want to make your Potter experience complete, you should definitely read this one. Delightful!

Published by Arthur A. Levine, 2008
Copy obtained from the library
111 pages

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 25, 2011

IMM - Every once in a While, You have a Great Week!

I got a little lucky recently and won some great books, which have arrived! So, here's the loot:

This one has been on my list for so long. It got "stolen" from my library, so I just replaced it, but now I have my own copy, so it will move up the list faster! Thanks to Book Nerds Across America!

Passion, by Lauren Kate
I received an email from RandomBuzzers on May 24 that I won this book. I just got it this week! I had given up! I will donate this one to my library (and read it, of course) since we don't have it yet.

For Review:
Saving June, by Hannah Harrington, from NetGalley.
Got this one after reading Ginger's (GReads!) review.

From the Library:
I've been wanting to read this for a long time. I already finished it and will post my thoughts later this week.

That's it for me! Thanks to Kristi, The Story Siren for hosting IMM each week.  I'm off to go start reading..... Thanks for visiting....

And, don't forget to enter my Bogoversary Giveaway if you haven't already! Have a great week, and happy reading!

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book Review: Circle of Fire, by S. M. Hall

Circle of Fire, Book 1 of The Maya Brown Missions, is an action packed, sit-on-the-edge-of-your seat, rip-roaring adventure that younger teens will most certainly enjoy.

Maya’s family was killed in Serbia during the revolution and she was rescued by, and eventually adopted by Pam. The story takes place in Great Britain, and Pam is head of the government’s Counterterrorism Unit. Maya’s original family was Muslim, but Maya wants nothing to do with her heritage, since terrorists (who are Muslim extremists) have threatened harm to both Maya and Pam.

Pam is kidnapped in front of Maya while they are jogging, and the story never stops after that moment. Maya, of course, is not going to listen to authority. She has her own ideas about where her mother is, and she runs away to rescue her. Rescue doesn’t come as easy as Maya had hoped. There’s much deception and danger, and it is difficult for Maya to figure out who she can trust.

Not only is there the kidnapping, but the terrorists have vowed to blow up tourist attractions in major cities. Will Maya have to sacrifice her mother, or even her own life, to save thousands of potential victims?

This book will appeal to those younger teens who want nothing but action. There’s nothing particularly original here, but the story is satisfying. Hall includes a message about Muslims and the extremist philosophy which isn’t preachy but works well into the story. One must certainly suspend a great deal of disbelief at what Maya is able to accomplish, but if you allow yourself to go along, this is a very suspenseful, exciting story, with a nicely wrapped up conclusion.

Fans of Horowitz’s Alex Rider Series will find similarities here. The second book is called Breaking the Circle which is reported to be available February of 2012 (but I believe that’s in the UK.)

Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, Aug. 23, 2011
Copy obtained for review from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
290 pages

Rating: 3/5

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Lovely Friday Blogging Day!

Happy Friday everyone! It's the first day of Fall, and it's beginning to feel a little like Fall around here, and that always puts me in a good mood! And, unlike my very busy weekend last week (niece got married), this weekend should be nice and relaxing. Just have to post a picture of my kids at the wedding:

The only boy is my son, and my daughter is to the left of him. The rest are all nieces! The one on the far left is carrying my first grand niece or nephew!

So, for some weekly Friday fun:

This week Ginger wants to know:

Reading Challenges: Did you sign up for any this year? How has your progression been?

I only signed up for one challenge. I have so much "obligated reading" that I really didn't want to tie myself down too much with things I HAVE to read for a challenge, since I want to have some time to read for myself. The challenge I signed up for was pretty easy, I read long books all the time!

I've read 43 books so far this year that are over 350 pages. Here's a link to my 350 Page Book Challenge Page.

This challenge is hosted by What's Your Story Book Reviews.

I didn't really set a goal, but I think 43 is pretty good. I've read 134 books total so far, so almost 1/3 of the books I've read this year have been over 350 pages.

This week Alison and Parajunkee want to know:

Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it?

I'm not a big re-reader. Many series, I don't even finish. I've read Harry Potter twice. I loved reading it the second time because I could read all seven books one right after the other. It's a different experience when you do it that way. I may read it again some day, but it won't be soon. The only other series I would ever consider reading again is The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I will probably have to read those again some day.

Happy Fall and Happy Reading everyone! I hope you have a great weekend, and stop by again soon.

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: Stork, by Wendy Delsol

In Delsol’s take on the paranormal, certain human women are storks. That is, they decide who will get to have babies. Stork is creative, interesting, and kept me wondering throughout the book.

Very early in the book Katla visits the fabric store across from her grandfather’s store and meets Hulda, the proprietor, who takes her to the basement where she is revealed to be a stork. She meets several other women (all very old) who also have this gift.

Katla has recently moved from California to Minnesota since her parents divorced, and this is her mother’s home. So Kat is trying to fit in, but she always feels like something strange is going on (besides the stork thing.) She’s attracted to Jack, but he’s very hard to read. One day he flirts, and the next he acts like he wants nothing to do with Kat. Then there’s Wade, who for me, was one of the most confusing fictional characters I’ve ever read. It all makes sense in the end, but it takes a while.

That was the only complaint I had with this book. There were certain times I had to re-read a paragraph or two because I got confused. Things just jumped into the plot very quickly and then were left. The biggest example of this was the two paragraphs where Kat describes an uncomfortable encounter with Wade at an abandoned quarry in the back of his car after a couple of beers (pp. 35-36.) This turns out to be an important event that is referred to several times during the remainder of the book, and when it was first mentioned again, I had to go back and read this passage. It just didn’t seem that significant, the way it was thrown into the middle of other things. This happened a few more times, but wasn’t enough to make me want to stop reading.

I loved the current cultural references and Kat’s humor. “Minnesota-nice, or whatever you want to call it, was like Michael Kors at Macy’s: the more you offer it to just anybody, the more it loses its appeal” (p. 42).
Or, speaking of her dad in relationship to Stanley, her mother’s new boyfriend: “Still, I couldn’t help but think that my dad was a big drink of life, whereas Stanley was a sip, as in insipid” (p. 60).

I got many more chuckles out of Kat’s narration as well. The relationship she develops with Penny is authentic and distinctive. This one has an exciting, dangerous climax, and the major trauma is resolved. However, I’m curious enough about what we learn at the end of the book to want to pick up Frost (Oct 11), the next in the series.

Give this to your paranormal romance fans. No love triangle in this one, which some may find refreshing. There’s nothing that would prevent younger teens from reading and enjoying this one too.

Published by Candlewick, 2010
Copy obtained from the library
357 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Review: Shifting, by Bethany Wiggins

shifting1Shifting is one of my first novels where shape shifting is the main premise. I really enjoyed this story, and I think many teens will too.

The orphan theme seems to be pervasive in YA lately, and this books follows the trend—17-year-old girl, been through many horrible fostering experiences, finally lands in a home with a good person. Fortunately, after the beginning of the book this is no longer a major plot line in the story.

Maggie Mae has been moved from Albuquerque to a small, rural town in Navaho country. It seems Maggie has been in trouble with the law a few times because of indecent exposure. She soon meets Bridger,our other main character, who is very mysterious.

Maggie is a Shifter. Whenever there is a full moon, she shifts into an animal. Maggie soon finds out she can shift at will, and uses this power to escape from her stressful life at a new school. She and Bridger become friends, and it seems like they could be more than friends, but Bridger is extremely rich and is not allowed to date anyone who is not a part of his social class. So they try to remain friends, but there is much tension in the relationship, because they both cannot deny their feelings.

While Maggie Mae is shifted, she is hunted and almost killed by a pack of wild animals. There’s also a strange man who is hunting for Maggie Mae. Suffice it to say, there are many mysteries to be exposed here. What is Bridger hiding? Why does he disappear at the most inopportune times? Why does Maggie Mae have this power? Who is the strange man stalking Maggie Mae? Why are these animals after her?

The plotting is well-paced, and keeps you reading to find out all of these answers. The characters are interesting and their emotions are real. There are a few times when Maggie Mae makes stupid decisions for the benefit of the plot, such as moving her room into the barn when the danger is the greatest. And…my biggest complaint…was the very abrupt and startling foreshadowing at the end of chapter 23. It was jarring, unnecessary, and somewhat ruined the ending of the book. It was as if Wiggins decided, “I need to use some literary technique somewhere. OK. I’ll used foreshadowing and I’ll stick it in right here.” I’m already 2/3 through the book. I’m invested. Hook me with the story, not with two sentences that jump out of nowhere. I’m hoping this will be removed in the final copy…..

The Shifter/Skinwalker legend is well-described and the ending is satisfying. There are some tense moments that had me flipping pages rather quickly.It was an easy book to read. I would recommend this to paranormal fans, both boys and girls.

Note: I have seen three different covers for this book. The ACR I have has the cover pictured above (and I like this one the best.) The other two involve her ponytail having a snake head at the end. While intriguing, there are no snakes anywhere in the book. Why would you put that on the cover?

Published by Walker & Company, September 27, 2011
ARC provided by Linworth Publishing for review
353 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 3.5/5

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2011 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: Through Her Eyes, by Jennifer Archer

Through Her Eyes has a unique story line, interesting characters and is an all-around satisfying contemporary story with a bit of a ghostly mystery.

Tansy’s mom is a writer. Every time she starts a new book, Tansy, her mother, and her grandfather Dan have to move to a new place--one that is similar to the setting of her mother’s novel. This time they are moving from a big city to a very small town in Texas called Cedar Canyon. This just happens to be the town in which Tansy’s grandfather grew up. They are moving into a very old, run-down house that is allegedly haunted. Tansy’s grandfather is old, and doesn’t speak much anymore, but Tansy senses his unease as they try to settle into this new place.

Tansy’s hobby is photography, and she is stunned and confused when she looks through her lens and sees a scene in the same setting, but appearing to be at a different period in time. She believes that the young man in the lens is a much younger version of her grandfather. The story unfolds as Tansy becomes more and more immersed in this alternate reality, actually becoming Isobel, one of the teens in her vision. She is also is trying to fit into a new school and make friends.

Bethyl Ann is her only friend – a nerdy 13-year old genius who is attending high school. I loved her quirky character – she added much to the story. Tate is the mysterious love interest, but there’s more to him that Tansy is also trying to figure out.

Archer slowly exposes the story, and it is believably resolved. This is a stand-alone for a change, and the writing is clean and easy.

My only minor complaint is a bit of a dragging story line in the middle of the book. Tansy is trying to decide if she’s crazy, or if she should tell someone, and if so, who should she tell. It just seems like the middle part, where she is entering this alternate reality over and over, goes on a bit too long. This wasn’t enough to make me want to quit, but I found myself wanting to get on with the story so I could get some resolution.

This is another book with a beautiful cover that really has nothing to do with the story. Fans of contemporary, family stories with a bit of romance will enjoy this one. Teen girls with an interest in photography would be especially drawn to Tansy.

Published by HarperTeen, April 5, 2011
374 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 3/5

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