Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Memories: Bloodline by Sidney Sheldon

Welcome to my meme, Monday Memories, where I feature favorite books we've loved from the past. You can link to an old review, or write something new about a beloved book from your past. Really, what's important is not the book, but why it is memorable to you. So, have fun reminiscing, and leave a comment below, so we can all enjoy your memories.

I also wanted to let you know about another wonderful blog that you should check out. Ashley @ Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing does a weekly post called Memory Monday. She has been posting about her childhood memories of books. What's great about Ashley's site is that she is asking forguest posts for her Memory Monday event!  So hop on over there and check it out.

Sidney Sheldon was another one of my favorite authors as a teen. Bloodline was a favorite, but I read several others. I loved his books because they were mysterious, glamorous and sexy. These were stories about rich people who were in danger. I just ate them up when I was young. I haven't read one for a while, but I think I'll have to put that on my list. I still have a couple titles in the library, but they rarely get checked out. Maybe I'll read one and see if it's worth recommending to my reading teens.

Share one of your cherished book memories!

You can do a Monday Memories post on your blog. Copy my button and link back here, so others can see all the other posts.  Leave a comment below with the link to your post.

Or, just leave one of your Monday Memories right here in the comments.

Be sure to visit some other blogs that have posted their links. Thanks!

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

TGIF -- Finally!

It's been a long week, and I'm happy to be posting my Friday memes, because that means the week is almost OVER!

Ginger @ GReads! asks:

Spooktacular Reads: Which books do you consider festive Halloween reads? Which stories have chilled you to the bone?

Well, one of my favorite scary reads is The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray. Also, I highly recommend The Monstrumologist for some real creepiness.  Recently I read and reviewed The Poisoned House and Darker Still, both of which would be excellent Halloween reads.

I watched Practical Magic last night, which also got me in the mood. I love that movie. I still need to get Hocus Pocus, to make the season complete!

I've really been in the mood for "spooky," so I'm looking forward to seeing what you all have to say this week. Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Reading!

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If I Follow You....

I'm wondering what you all think about "following" blogs. I got started thinking about this because of a question last Friday on GReads!:

Book Blogs That Make You Smile: 
Pick 5 book blogs you visit often & think others should, too.

I found this difficult to answer. I do have some favorite blogs, but if I follow you, I'll visit you every time you make a post (at least in my Google Reader.) I keep up with my Reader every day, or if I miss a day, I catch up the next day. Do I click on every post and actually visit the blog? No. Do I even READ every post? Nope. For example, I don't read Character Interviews. I don't get them.. If I haven't read the book, they don't make sense, and if I have read the book, then I don't care. I don't read Teaser Tuesdays. I don't read reviews of erotic romance (I always say I'll have time for those after I retire.) And, I don't read posts about read-alongs, because I'm obviously not participating. That's just a few examples. But if you post those things, does it mean I will quit following? Absolutely not. I don't mind skipping a post I'm not interested in. (Feel free to skip this one right now, if you want.)

I'm an excellent "skimmer" too. I usually don't read book summaries. I just want to know the genre and what YOU thought of the book. What made it special, or not so special? So, really, keeping up with the 250+ blogs I follow doesn't take that much time, and I truly ENJOY it. I follow blogs because I enjoy reading what others have to say about books and learning about books I've never heard of. This is a hobby for me. Something I look forward to.

So what does "following" mean to you? Do you use a reader? Do you only click on certain blogs every day? How do you handle your ability to interact with other blogs? Or, do you limit the number of blogs you follow?

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Review: The Poisoned House, by Michael Ford

I've been in the mood for spooky books this season, and The Poisoned House did not disappoint.

It's 1850s England, and Greave Hall is a depressing place. The mistress of the house has been dead 20 years. Her sister, Mrs. Cotton, is cruel and tries to take on the roll of the lady of the house. She can do this because the master of the house stays to his rooms and is reportedly going senile. There is speculation that this is because his son, Samuel, is fighting in the Crimean war.

Abi, the narrator, is perfectly depicted as a teen servant girl in the 1850s. After being caught trying to run away, she works hard and tries not to make waves, but of course laments her lot in life and wishes for something better. She is still mourning the death of her mother a year ago. After reading about the harsh Victorian life of servitude and the cruelty of Mrs. Cotton, one can't help but root for Abi.

My favorite thing about this book was the pacing. There was always something happening--ghostly hand prints, objects being rearranged, and apparitions at the window. I never wanted to put the book down. I wouldn't say it was "breakneck," but steady.

The other interesting thing about the book is the plot twists. I enjoyed the fact that some of the servants were playing tricks to make Mrs. Cotton believe there was a ghost, but Abi is really experiencing ghostly occurrences, and she believes it's her mother sending her a message. Not only is there a ghost to deal with, but Samuel is coming home, and he is injured. Lizzy, the other servant and Abi's friend, gets herself into trouble, and Abi believes that her mother may have been murdered by Mrs. Cotton.

Even though there is some ghostly assistance, Abi is a resourceful girl who works hard to figure out the mystery of her mother's death, and all of the other mysteries surrounding Greave Hall--and this IS a mysterious place. The ending is great -- maybe too great, but I loved how everything is exposed.

Ford has created a quick, spooky, delightful mystery that can be enjoyed by teens or adults. Add this one to your pile for Halloween!

Published by Albert Whitman & Company, August 1, 2011
Copy obtained from the library.
319 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: The Gospel According to Larry, by Janet Tashjian

The Gospel According to Larry is a thought-provoking book about a teen's attempt to take on society's problem with consumerism. This book was chosen by my teen book club to discuss this month, so this is a re-read for me. I'm looking forward to what they have to say -- there's lots of good stuff to talk about here.

Josh is a backwards, nerdy high school kid. Beth is his only friend, but Josh has always had a huge crush on her, and wished for more than friendship. Unbeknownst to Beth or anyone else, Josh has started writing a website, The Gospel According to Larry, where he writes sermons railing against consumerism and whatever else is bothering him. The website has gained much popularity and Beth is one of it's most staunch supporters. Actually, Beth starts a Larry fan club at their school.

Larry's step dad, Peter, works for an advertising agency, which makes what Josh is doing even more ironic. Things get better and better, as Bono from U2 gets wind of Larry and followers go off the chart. But then things get worse because one follower, betagold, is determined to find out who Larry really is. After Josh is discovered things quickly tumble out of control, and Josh has a terrible decision to make.

Josh is quirky. He owns only 75 items and part of his web entries are pictures of his possessions. Josh is still mourning the loss of his mother, which he does by visiting the make-up counter at Bloomingdale's, one of his mother's favorite places. There are footnoted comments by Josh that had me laughing out loud. He definitely has an interesting take on life.

The novel is written as if Tashjian has been handed this manuscript by a young boy who has asked her to publish it, which works quite well. There are sequels, Vote for Larry and Larry and the Meaning of Life, which are available now. Teens who enjoy contemporary novels about a misfit teen trying to make a difference in the world will like this. Even though this book was published eight years ago, I didn't find it too dated (yet).

Published by Dell Laurel-Leaf, 2003
Copy obtained from the library
227 pages

Rating: 3/5

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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

IMM - A Spooky Week!

Thanks to Kristy, The Story Siren for giving us the opportunity to share our weekly finds once again.

From the Library:

The Poisoned House, by Michael Ford
I saw the review at The Crazy Bookworm and I just had to have this for a Halloween Read.

Other Words for Love, by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
OK, not a scary book, but I've wanted to read this for a long time.

For Review:
The Jinx, by Dougald Lamont, ebook from the author

Darker Still, by Leanna Renee Hieber, eBook from NetGalley
I already read this one! Here's my review.

Book of Lost Souls, by Michelle Muto, eBook for my Kindle/iPad
This was a "must read for Halloween" book, recommended by Fuzzy.Coffee.Books.

Jenny Pox, by J.L. Bryan, FREE eBook for my Kindle/iPod

I also received a cool poster of the Christopher Paolini books from Random House. It was a surprise, and my kids are already checking it out and asking questions at the library!

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a great week, and Happy Reading!

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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: Darker Still, by Leanna Renee Hieber

Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul, is a perfect macabre read for this time of year. I know this book pays homage to Dracula,  The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll, and some of Poe’s writings, but I’m not that familiar with those so I’m just going to base this review on Darker Still and leave out the comparisons.

Natalie Stewart has been unable to speak since the death of her mother when Natalie was four. Her father is a curator at the Met in New York, and Natalie enjoys drawing and is interested in art. When she sees a painting of Lord Denbury, a young English gentleman presumed to have committed suicide, she is inexplicably drawn to the man in the painting.

Mrs. Northe, a friend of her father, is purchasing the painting but is going to leave it at the Met. Natalie also becomes very close to Mrs. Northe. Natalie discovers that the painting is CHANGING, and she is afraid that she’s losing her mind. But Denbury is definitely calling to Natalie. Fortunately Mrs. Northe, a spiritualist, becomes a confidante and helps Natalie sort out what is going on.

I won’t go into details, but Natalie ends up entering the painting and Denbury has been split into two personalities – the one in the painting and a very sinister one who is wreaking havoc in New York. Natalie, who quickly falls in love with the Denbury in the painting, is determined to find a way to release him.

The story takes place in 1882, and Hieber writes in a more formal language, as would Poe or Wilde. This technique was very well done, but I wouldn’t recommend this one for reluctant readers. I found I had to read a bit slower and that, coupled with a fairly intricate plot, would make this one for more advanced readers. There’s a bit of blood and gore, but I didn’t find it at all off-putting.

The story kept my interest, and the plot moved along steadily. There is a wonderful puzzle to solve and I thought the way the two women worked it out was clever. They had to work for the solution—it didn’t just happen. I really didn’t feel a heart-pounding terror during the climax, but I did enjoy the resolution of the story.

I believe these characters will continue their adventure in another story, and I will certainly welcome the opportunity to read more about them. I really became attached to Natalie. The only other comment I would add is that I can't remember the name of this book. Every time I would try to remember it while I was reading, I just couldn't. It just doesn't mean much to me, I guess.

Published by Sourcebooks Fire, Nov. 1, 2011
eBook obtained from NetGalley. (I read part of this on my new iPad, and part on my Kindle)
336 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Musings

I'm skipping the memes this week and decided to do a personal update. Feel free to skip.....

It's fall on the apple farm, which means Mollie and my husband (the tractor driver) spend all day Saturdays and Sundays hauling visitors around to pick apples. Mollie never RIDES the wagon, and never misses a trip -- she is TIRELESS, but she is also very tired when she gets home. We'd love to hook her up to a pedometer somehow to see how far she runs in a day.
This is a picture "on the north end." The apple trees are to the right -- the field to the left isn't ours. The woods in the background are great for walks in the winter. Mollie had her 5th birthday on Wednesday this week! She still acts like a puppy....

Wedding News: I'm helping my daughter plan her wedding which is next May, and the biggest news is that I bought a dress! We went shopping and I bought the first and ONLY dress I tried on. Am I nuts? But I loved it, and she loved it, and when I got home I put it on for my husband and her fiancĂ© and they both loved it, so I guess that's it!

We've also picked up her dress. They had engagement pictures taken last week and we've picked out invitations. I am in the process of folding boxes for favors. So, I feel like we are making good progress!

St. Louis Cardinals:  We live about 20 minutes from St. Louis, and while we're not huge baseball fans, it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement. It really is a "baseball town."

So, what's up in your world? Thanks for stopping by, and I'll still be reading and enjoying all of your meme posts. Have a great weekend!

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: I'm Not Her, by Janet Gurtler

I'm Not Her is a heartfelt family story, that was somewhat overly dramatic and predictable.

Tess is the unattractive, unpopular, artsy, brainiac sister. Kristina is older, popular, and has a great chance at a volleyball scholarship--until she is diagnosed with bone cancer.

The rest of the book is the family's dealings with the reality of Kristina's illness. I understand that dealing with this is different for every family, much like the grief process. But this family was so dysfunctional that I had trouble feeling very sympathetic. Not until the very end of the book did they mention seeking counseling. Even the doctor was abrupt and unfeeling.  No way would she just dump bad news on this patient and family and then hand them a card and leave. I refuse to believe this happens.

I think the mother was most believable - at first in denial, and then trying to figure out the right thing to do but not being very successful. The father chooses to just work and golf and totally distance himself from a daughter he supposedly loves. Kristina totally cuts herself off from all of her friends. She never grows to see any value to those friendships, and her family did nothing to encourage her to realize this. None of these family members ever progress through the stages of grief. They stay the same throughout the whole book. They needed some counseling, and in the real world they would have gotten some.

Tess, our narrator, was supposedly bearing the brunt of dealing with the situation, but I didn't buy that either. I just didn't feel very sympathetic towards her, and I'm not sure why. Jeremy becomes Kristina's only friend, and I did feel like that was a genuine relationship.

Gurtler's writing was easy, and the plot moved along for the most part. The ending was a surprise, but didn't really impact my connection with this book. My family has experienced a situation similar to this - my brother diagnosed with cancer and being in the hospital for nine months before he succumbed to his illness. We were not perfect, and times were hard, but we were nothing like this family and maybe that's why I had trouble with this story.

Published by Sourcebooks, May 1, 2011
Copy obtained from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
285 pages

Rating: 2.5/5

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: Desert Angel, by Charlie Price

Whoa! Desert Angel opens with Angel in mortal peril, and it pretty much stays that way throughout the entire book. I would definitely call this one a page turner.

Fourteen-year-old Angel regularly escapes the trailer that her mom and Scotty, the latest boyfriend, live in. One morning, after sleeping in a nearby drainage ditch, Angel returns to the trailer and her mother is nowhere to be found, and there is blood. She follows pickup tracks and finds her mother, dead, buried in a shallow grave. This begins Angel’s flight from Scotty. Because she knows that he will stop at nothing to find her and get rid of her.

She returns to the trailer, and he almost kills her by rendering her unconscious and burning down the trailer, but she tricks him and survives. After that, her life becomes one of fighting for survival. Every person she meets (and she meets some great people) that offers her any help becomes a target for Scotty. After living in terror for some weeks, she decides to take matters into her own hands and do whatever it takes to make herself, and those that have helped her, safe.

Price has created a gritty, well-written, plot-driven tale. Angel is sympathetic, but this book isn’t really about character development, it’s about survival. Those teens who crave a good survival story will eat this one up. There’s absolutely no romance, so this is a great boy book, even though the main character is a girl – she’s tough.

There’s a message about friendship, and accepting help, and sacrificing for those you care about which embodies everything that Angel’s life HAS NOT been. She grows a bit throughout this harrowing adventure.

It’s very quick, it’s un-putdownable, and it’s quite a ride. Angel does handle and shoot guns, and there is mention of drug use. Also, it is implied that Scotty may have taken advantage of Angel, but nothing explicit, so I would recommend this to high school students.

Published by Farrar Strauss Giroux, October 25, 2011
ARC received for review from Linworth Publishing
233 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: Body of Water, by Sarah Dooley

Body of Water is a touching story of one girl making the best of a bad situation.

As the book opens, 12-year-old Ember and her family are escaping their trailer because it is on fire. They lose everything. They spend some time in the basement of a church, but for most of the book they live in a camp ground in tents.

Ember has lost her dog, as well as all of her possessions. She has only a pair of sweatpants to wear during the very hot summer months. Her 7-year-old sister is fairing somewhat better, since she doesn’t understand how dire things are.

This is a story about growth, and understanding what is important, and fighting for what you need. Ember’s parents didn’t seem all that savvy about getting back on their feet. I thought the lack of support from the community or social services was a bit unrealistic. When Ember finally goes to school, she has a conversation with the principal who is familiar with her situation and he asks if there’s anything Ember needs. He doesn’t wait for an answer. He just brushes her off. I thought this was also really unrealistic. Their brother, Isaac, is going to college. He presumably has an apartment or some means to live, but he doesn’t help much. The grandmother is the same – she offers almost no support. I found some of this pretty hard to believe.

There’s a lot more to the story. The family is Wiccan. They cast spells and perform rituals. Ember’s suspects her best friend, Anson, is the one who set fire to their trailer. It isn’t clear why she thinks this until farther into the book, so I won’t discuss that here. (Although much of this is revealed in the book blurb, which I would suggest you do not read—WHY do they do that???) Ember writes notes to Anson that she never expects him to read. She is bent on revenging his actions. The notes are dated, but I found it a bit confusing at first as to whether these notes were written in the past or present. They are written in the present, as the story is told, but I think middle school students may have trouble with some of the timeline, given that there are flashbacks as well as these notes.

Ember and Ivy meet several other kids who are staying at the campground. The evolution of the relationships is very well done by Dooley. You really want everything to turn out all right for Ember. Some things are resolved very quickly at the end of the book, but I wanted a little bit more. It seems like maybe they are going to be OK, but I would have liked another chapter—just one more step in the process—before the book ended.

I think this will be a tough sell to middle schoolers. It has a very slow, deliberate pace, although it is well written and easy to read. The story doesn’t have a lot of action, but for girls who like a sweet story about a girl struggling with what seem to be insurmountable obstacles, this would be a good choice.

Published by Feiwel and Friends, October 25, 2011
ARC obtained for review from Linworth Publishing (for Library Media Connection Magazine)
326 pages

Rating: 3/5

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