Sunday Salon

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another Sunday! Sometimes it seems like the weeks just fly by. But sometimes that's a good thing too. First thing I want to share today is my new blog design in case you haven't seen it! Of course, if you're reading this at my site then you already see it, but if you're reading this in a feed reader go ahead and stop on by. It was designed by my husband, Jason, who does freelance graphic design. (His website can be seen at JAR Designs). This is the first blog design he's done and it was a different experience for him to work with blogger, but he has done other websites and business cards, etc. We're still tweaking it and are going to add some things. The main thing I'm trying to figure out is how to erase the space between the posts and the sidebars. I want that to be all one piece. But whenever I get the one sidebar connected, the extra one just sort of hangs out there by itself. Any pointers???

I've had a more productive reading week than I have recently. Granted, I've only finished one book since last Sunday, but that book was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is about 500 pages. I'm still trying to figure out where to sneak in more reading time and still get my other stuff done. One of these days I'll do BOTH well (since this week I did sort of neglect some of my other work, heh). Now I'm finishing up a cozy and starting a blog tour book I have for next week. I'll be posting my review of Brooklyn a little later after my sister finishes it too and we have a chance to discuss!

I have a trip out of state coming up for work. I leave next Monday evening and come back on Wednesday evening. I'm flying to North Carolina and back. While there I'm supposed to testify in court on a child abuse case. However, they're unsure yet if my testimony will be used. So basically I'm going to be hanging out the whole time I'm there. So I figure I can get a lot of reading done during that time. I wonder if it's too ambitious to say I'll read 3 books in that time??

Anyway, back to this week, on Monday I posted about my dislike for books being turned into movies. I was surprised to hear all the responses that felt the opposite. Or if they didn't necessarily feel the opposite, many were still able to point out the positives points to film adaptations! They made me look at things a different way! I joined another challenge, The Dystopian Challenge. I've joined a lot of challenges so it's really just for fun and to see how much I actually accomplish. I'm not in any way pressuring myself to finish them if I don't feel like reading that type of book next. I also posted my review of The Accidental Bestseller.

On another note, I noticed I've lost a few followers in the past few days. =( I guess it happens. I have unsubscribed from other blogs, too, for various reasons. But it does make me wonder why. Does anyone know how to find out how many people subscribe to posts via RSS or atom feeds?

That's about it for this week. Today I only have one client scheduled in the morning and then I am meeting up with my friend (and her mom and MOH) at a bridal show here in Orlando. Should be fun! Then I'm having an early dinner with my sister and parents. I hope to get some more reading done after that, but, well, I need to catch up on some work I neglected this week!

The Accidental Bestseller

Friday, February 26, 2010

(I had a difficult time finding a better image, so this one will have to do. The actual cover doesn't have those lines across it).

Like many readers and writers, I have always enjoyed reading books ABOUT books and reading and writing. And especially with all the excited talk about BEA and the book blog con coming up I thought it would be fun to read a book about a group of friends who meet up at a writing conference and then work on writing a book together!

In Wendy Wax's novel, The Accidental Bestseller, four writer friends start out at an awards ceremony hoping that one of their foursome will win the coveted writing award. The backstory is that these friends initially met at a writing conference and became great friends 10 years ago. Unfortunately, in the current day, each of the women is dealing with their own issues. Mallory is a famous best-selling author who turns out book after book even though it means ignoring everything else in her life. I pictured her in my head as the Danielle Steele of the group. Then there's Tanya who is as Southern as southern can be. She uses her writing for a romance imprint as a third job to make extra money. Faye Truett writes Christian Fiction and is the wife of a famous televangelist. Kendall, the main character, writes the more run-of-the-mill books and hasn't written anything especially successful. In fact, her publisher has decided to end her contract once they get her last book. Even then they don't plan on doing much to promote her last book. Complicating matters, Kendall learns her husband is cheating on her and plans on selling their home. Kendall then escapes to the mountains of North Carolina where she tries to write her last book, cope with her husband's infidelities, and keep all of this away from her children who are away at college.

These four women have a fiercely supportive friendship so when Kendall is too devastated and engulfed in her sorrows to write her next book, the three other women chip in and help her. In fact, each of these women has a secret she's been keeping and they each decide to hide these secrets in the work of fiction they create for Kendall. The biggest secret of all, of course, is that all these women collaborated on the book that will have only Kendall's name on it. Little do they know how immediately popular this book will become, how their secrets will come out, and what they'll learn about each other. Their friendships will be tested in more than one way as they deal with learning these truths and sharing credit for the book.

The Accidental Bestseller was a fun glimpse into the lives of writers and the publishing industry. Some scenes take place in the publisher's office and we see the different things that go into publishing and marketing a book. While I, personally, have always wanted to be a writer and was interested in their day-to-day work, I was also intrigued by the job of the editor's assistant as I think working in publishing would be fun too. The editor that's assigned to Kendall is a mean, unhappy woman very reminiscent of Miranda Priestley from Devil Wears Prada. I related to her assistant's character and found that situation to be funny (but only because I wasn't in it!)

It was interesting to read a book about 4 women writers who are together writing a book about 4 women writers working on a book together.... still with me? Have you ever stood in a room that had a mirror in front of you and a mirror in back of you and notice that the reflection of you in the mirror is repeated over and over for infinity? Or have you looked at a picture of a person holding a picture of a person holding a picture etc. for infinity? That's sort of how this book was. I imagine that much of the writers' experiences were that of the authors as were the hopes and dreams they had too. Some of what happens in the book (starting with how the book absolutely takes off the way it does) is unrealistic. But that's okay in a book to sometimes have that because that's what makes it fun. Just because I highly doubt much of the subsequent scenarios would never happen in real life doesn't mean I didn't smile and laugh and find myself immersed in the story. The only other gripe I do have to mention is that some of the characters were such caricatures to me. I can see where the author may have done this in order to separate each of the four women from each other, but at first it was a little annoying. The editor of Kendall's book, who I mentioned above, was also a stereotypical soulless boss but then it was easier to relate to her assistant.

I worried that these big secrets that were going to come out were going to be anticlimactic. But when they were finally revealed I felt satisfied, and the secrets did add to the storyline. I enjoyed seeing how each of these revealed truths played themselves out afterward and how everything was resolved.

In all, I thought this was a fun read about 4 women in the writing/publishing industry who inadvertently reveal their innermost secrets to the world and cope with the effects of this. The only thing I want to be sure to add, though, is that much of this doesn't happen until the last quarter of the book. Much of the novel is about the friendship of the 4 women and how they are coping with things that are already going on from the beginning of the book.

Dystopian Challenge

I was going to pass this one up, but I have a few Dystopian books on my to-read list so I thought I would go ahead and join. This challenge is hosted by Parajunkee's View.

dys·to·pi·a (dĭs-tō'pē-ə)
  1. An imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression, or terror.
American Psychological Association (APA):
dystopia. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved January 28, 2010, from website:

Dystopian Fiction in it's basic state is described as the opposite of Utopian fiction, but that is almost too simplistic a term to describe the genre.

Here are features of Dystopian Fiction:
  • Post-apocalyptic setting, usually there is the background story of natural disaster, revolutions, war, climate change, some kind of devastating event that changed society
  • Dystopians are normally future based
  • A difference in the standard of living than what we enjoy in today's society. This can be a poorer standard of living, as in The Hunger Games, or sometimes a more materialistic environment, like such in Brave New World and Uglies.
  • The main character questions society, or is exposed to the baser ideals of their society within the plot, leading them to the knowledge that something is terribly wrong with their world.
  • There is usually a group/revolution occurring within the novel that the controlling state does not have control over that the protagonist teams up with or strives to join/become like, although nothing is being changed by the character or group. In Brave New World, this group is comprised of the people on the reservation.
  • Dystopian fiction typically elaborates on the darker society trends that effect us today. Usually the reader can identify things within our own society that could lead to this future terrible state.
  • Within the plot of a dystopian fiction, the protagonist usually will try to escape or bring down the society that restricts them
Get your Dystopian Fiction Reading on!

Time Constraints:
Jan 1 2010 to Aug 24 2010


  1. Open to everyone (if you do not have a blog, just state in the comments section that you read the book and on what date)
  2. Any book format - Wiki list of dystopian lit
  3. Books can be chosen throughout the year, but must have been read within the timeline. Just because your read Fahrenheit 451 in 7th grade doesn't mean it counts.
  4. Sign-up below with Mr. Linky
  5. Post your reviews in the comments area
  6. Three Levels:
  • Level 1 - Experimental - 5 books
  • Level 2 - Addict - 10 books
  • Level 3 - Junkee - 20 books
Level 3 participants will get a dystopian button with their blog or name on it and entry into a contest to win The Hunger Games: Book 3.

This is on your honor, so please play nice!

Right now I'm going to stick to the Experimental level and read 5 books. I have said that Dystopian books creep me out, so we'll see how many I actually end up reading, haha!

For some strange reason, the comments to this post disappeared. But they can be seen if you go to this link

Throwback Thursday

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Throwback Thursday – this is a weekly event hosted by me! It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic! Leave a comment here and feel free to take an icon and use it on your blog!

This week's throwback is:

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George


Lost on the Tundra

To her small Eskimo village, she is known as Miyax; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When the village is no longer safe for her, Miyax runs away. But she soon finds herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness, without food, without even a compass to guide her.

Slowly she is accepted by a pack of Arctic wolves, Mid she grows to love them as though they were family. With their help, and drawing on her father's teachings, Miyax struggles day by clay to survive. But the time comes when she must leave the wilderness and choose between the old ways an(] the new. Which will she choose? For she is Miyax of the Eskimos—but Julie of the Wolves.

Faced with the prospect of a disagreeable arranged marriage or a journey acoss the barren Alaskan tundra, 13-year-old Miyax chooses the tundra. She finds herself caught between the traditional Eskimo ways and the modern ways of the whites. Miyax, or Julie as her pen pal Amy calls her, sets out alone to visit Amy in San Francisco, a world far away from Eskimo culture and the frozen land of Alaska.

During her long and arduous journey, Miyax comes to appreciate the value of her Eskimo heritage, learns about herself, and wins the friednship of a pack of wolves. After learning the language of the wolves and slowly earning their trust, Julie becomes a member of the pack.

Since its first publication, Julie of The Wolves,winner of thr 1973 Newbery Medal, has found its way into the hearts of millions of readers.

I disliked this book when I had to read it in the 5th grade. I disliked most of the books we HAD to read at any age when I was in school. I also disliked books that were about nature, took place in places I couldn't picture/imagine, focused too heavily on animals, etc. etc. In fact, this may be where my initial love for contemporary fiction began, lol! But it's funny because I actually have fond memories of EVERY book I had to read in school, even if I disliked them! Ironic. And most of them I feel like going back and reading too, hahah.

This book was assigned reading in my 5th grade class for the approx. 6 weeks my family lived in Minnesota. We lived in Eagan, which is a "suburb" of Minneapolis, I guess you could say. We lived with relatives and my cousin was also in my class. This book (as well as one other that I will post about as soon as I can remember what it was called) remind me of our short time in MN. (For those interested, we ended up moving back. I have to say I've enjoyed living in Florida. I love the warm weather!)

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst
Release date: June 15, 2010

From the bestselling author of The Dogs of Babel comes a dazzling literary mystery about the lengths to which some people will go to rewrite their past.

Bestselling novelist Octavia Frost has just completed her latest book—a revolutionary novel in which she has rewritten the last chapters of all her previous books, removing clues about her personal life concealed within, especially a horrific tragedy that befell her family years ago.

On her way to deliver the manuscript to her editor, Octavia reads a news crawl in Times Square and learns that her rock-star son, Milo, has been arrested for murder. Though she and Milo haven’t spoken in years—an estrangement stemming from that tragic day—she drops everything to go to him.

The “last chapters” of Octavia’s novel are layered throughout The Nobodies Album—the scattered puzzle pieces to her and Milo’s dark and troubled past. Did she drive her son to murder? Did Milo murder anyone at all? And what exactly happened all those years ago? As the novel builds to a stunning reveal, Octavia must consider how this story will come to a close.

Universally praised for her candid explorations of the human psyche, Parkhurst delivers an emotionally gripping and resonant mystery about a mother and her son, and about the possibility that one can never truly know another person.

Why some people will never pick up a book... aka why I feel like screaming

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Help. Hunger Games. Ramona and Beezus. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.
To name 4.
What do these have in common? They are all well loved books that are being adapted to film. Yes, they're being made into movies.

Whenever I hear that a book is being turned into a movie I feel a sense of loss, like the publishing industry or book lovers are forever losing something that started out theirs. I suppose in a way it's like "selling out", though I'm not generally one of those people that is bothered by this phenomenon. In fact, I'm actually elated for authors who are offered movie deals! How exciting must it be to see your work played out on the big screen? ESPECIALLY when there are famous actors involved!! And the $$$ associated with your book becoming a movie! Everything about this must be an incredible feeling.

So, yes, for the author, turning your book into a movie can be a wonderful thing. But all readers know what the cons are of a book turning into a movie. Probably one of the worst cons is that so much of what happens in the book is lost or sometimes, tragically, changed. And sometimes it's a matter of the beautiful writing that the movie viewer doesn't get to experience. I don't have to convince fellow readers about the advantages of reading -- exercising your own imagination, savoring the words used to tell the story, immersing yourself in the story, knowing the situation and characters better than you do from the movie, or even improving vocabulary and sentence structure, haha (funny, but oh so important). Once a book turns into a movie, though, it seems to distract from all its literary merits. The only people who read the book at that point are those that really enjoy reading anyway. Have you ever spoken with a non-reader who justifies the lack of reading by stating they'll just watch the movie? As if the movie ever justifies the book! (Okay, it can, but it's rare). These non-readers are missing out on so much by not reading the book and, also, by having a reason to justify it.

The books that are made into movies are often those novels that have been highly acclaimed. Whether it's the quality of writing or the captivating storyline that leads to the acclaim, it's all the more reason I feel people should get to know it in it's original form. AND I don't have the willpower to not watch the movie version, lol... so then the characters and storyline are forever cemented in my mind as they are in the movie.

Now, I'm not necessarily one of those people who wants things to myself. If I read a wonderful book, I want everyone else to read it. If I watch an amazing movie, I want everyone else to see it. BUT, I do think if I read a wonderful book, that everyone should NOT be able to just watch the movie version of it. So it's only understandable that I feel like screaming whenever I find out that a book, that is wonderful AS A BOOK, is being made into a movie. For instance, The Help! Phenomenal author debut. Hasn't even been printed in paperback yet. It's still on the bestseller list. And Snow Flower! Hugh Jackman is playing the male lead. It's been a while since I read this, so the fact that I can't remember a non-asian male in the book might not mean I'm right. But I do hope there is and that they're not just taking the liberty of changing something so significant.

So, what are your thoughts? Am I being ridiculous for feeling this way? Is it a big deal to you either way? Do you watch the movie versions? I do want to put a disclaimer here that I do enjoy some movie versions and realize some have become classics in and of themselves... ie. Gone with the Wind. I realize that. In fact, more recently I enjoyed the movie version of PUSH, Precious. And I'm even a little curious about how they'll translate Hunger Games onto the screen because it's limited in my mind and I'm sure it will be way different than I imagined it. But I'm talking here in general.

Just on a side note, this post also fulfills Task #2 of the Blogging Improvement Project 2010 entitled Pumping Up Post Titles. =) In fact, I was working on this post and then stepped away to fold some laundry. When I came back, my hubby was bent over my computer reading. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was reading this "article" because the headline caught his eye. (hahaha!) He didn't realize this was my blog post. So, I guess it worked. ;)

Classics Challenge

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm joining the Classics Challenge 2010 hosted by Trish at Trish's Reading Nook!

I'm going to attempt the Classics FEAST which is reading 6 classics. The challenge runs from April 1, 2010 to October 2010. There are a few classics I had already planned on reading prior ot April (if I get to them) so I'm going to try to read 6 in addition to those.

Here is what Trish says about the challenge:

Classics: We love them, we hate them, now we are going to challenge ourselves to read more of them.

**Choose Your Level (Keep reading for Bonus)
1. Classics Snack - Read FOUR classics
2. Classics Entree - Read FIVE classics
3. Classics Feast - Read SIX classics

1. Cross-posting with other challenges is allowed (and encouraged!)
2. Audiobooks are fine
3. Re-reads are acceptable, BUT books must be finished after April 1st to count for the challenge
4. Lists don't have to be set in stone; you can change your selections at any time
5. Have Fun!!
6. You do NOT need a blog to participate.

**Bonus!! (Optional)
In the past two challenges we compiled a list of books that we think might be considered classics one day. I've wiped out that old list so we can start fresh, but to get an idea of what others suggested in the past, see HERE and HERE. To start off the list, I'm going to suggest Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Leave your suggestion (one please) in the comments below. If you want to participate in the bonus round, choose a book from the list and read that in addition to the classics you have picked (e.g., if you are doing the classics snack, you will read five books total and so on).

I realize this means you may have to wait to make your list or leave the bonus book as "tentative" if you choose to participate in the bonus round, but I'm hoping this is a modern twist on the old classics challenge.

What is a Classic?
Am I going to define what a classic is? Nope! There are lots of definitions offered on the Internet, but we all have different opinions so don't stress too much. In the comments below, I'd love if you would give a (one please) recommendation for a classic you would suggest to beginners or apprehensive readers--maybe something lighter or something engaging. I'll compile a list. I'm going to suggest Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.

Sunday Salon

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Well, despite my crazy busy schedule I'm trying to get back on track with my reading. In fact, I think I need to make some changes to my schedule; for instance, I've decided I need to take Saturdays off from meeting with clients because working every single day of the week is wearing me out fast! Of course, the next few weeks I'm going to have to work on Saturday because I have plans on Sunday, but at least I won't be doing work the whole weekend. But yeah, I need some time to rest (and read!)

Anyway, this week I finished reading The Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax, so I will have that review up soon. I checked out her website when I was done and saw she has a new book coming out March 2, 2010 called Magnolia Wednesdays. I think the name of the book and the cover are both so adorable. Hopefully the book is good too; I'm looking forward to reading it! I've decided I need to put New York on hold for now. It's not that it's a bad book. But it just takes so much of a commitment since it's so long and it's a multi-(multi-multi-etc.) generational novel. With the little bits of reading time I'm trying to squeeze in here and there, I just can't fit something like that in. So hopefully I can return to it soon. Hopefully before the New York Challenge is over!

So now I'm reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I've been wanting to read it forever so I asked for it for Christmas. My sister also has a copy and she's never read it so we're reading it together. Depending on how engaging this book is for me, I may or may not start another easy book as well -- maybe a cozy since I have my eye on a couple I want to read. But Brooklyn also fits in the New York Challenge, so yay! That is about it for this week!

Not My Daughter

Friday, February 19, 2010

As she so masterfully does, Barbara Delinsky has written another captivating novel involving modern day societal issues. In Not My Daughter, high school principal Susan Tate has successfully overcome her somewhat rough past to excel in her career and prove all naysayers wrong. This all comes crashing down for her, however, when she finds out her 17-year-old daughter, Lily, is pregnant. Not only is she pregnant, but she's excited about the pregnancy and refuses to name the father. Susan quickly realizes the backlash from the community and parents of her students as they judge her for "allowing" her daughter to get pregnant.

Then, to make matters worse, Lily reveals that two of her best friends are also pregnant; they decided together to get pregnant at the same time because they love children and wanted to have children the same age. The novel explores the relationship between mother and daughter as Susan grapples with cricism from the community and trying to deal with the effects of a pregnant teenaged daughter. It explores the process that brought Lily and her friends to make the decision they did and how they deal with what was naively, for them, unexpected negativity.

I have to be fair and admit it's been about 6 weeks since I read this book (yes, I've been lazy about reviews lately... working on that) so I don't quite remember all the specifics about what I thought while I was reading. So what follows are probably the parts that hit me the most.

My initial reaction was skepticism toward the characters. I didn't feel as though they were realistic; Lily is supposed to be a smart, honor roll student who stays out of trouble. This wasn't fitting, for me, to the character she played who chose to purposely get pregnant without thinking through the consequences. I would have found it more realistic had she accidentally gotten pregnant. (But then the whole storyline with the pact would not exist, sooo..) I also felt Susan's reaction was unrealistic. Sure, she wasn't so happy, but she seemed almost too accepting of it. Or if not accepting, then not quite as affected as you might imagine one would be when their "perfect" daughter does something so outrageous.

But then as I kept reading I thought to myself, "why did I ever doubt Ms. Delinsky?" As with all books I've read by her, I was quickly swept up into the story, the controversy, the societal issues, etc. The other characters also helped balance out my original disbelief of Lily and Susan; the mothers of the other girls in the pact had two different reactions than Susan did and it helped cement in my mind that just as with people in general, these mothers dealt with the situation differently. And the slight "twist" involving what led to these girls making their pact and becoming pregnant in the first place was shocking and led to another set of ramifications which was interesting (and fun in some sense) to see play out. (You HAVE to read the book to get what I'm referring to there!)

The societal issues and controversy I referred to also made me think and that's one of my favorite parts about Barbara Delinsky's books. What are my opinions when it comes down to it? Do I feel for the mother who can't really control what her 17-year-old daughter does (or can she?) or do I agree with some community members that as high school principal, both Susan and her daughter should have set better examples and been better role models? Additional elements are added to the storyline that make the reader think and make the characters question what they believed. All of this contributed to a very well done glimpse into the lives of women and their daughters when their beliefs and love for each other are put to the test. If you've enoyed Delinsky's other books or are a fan of contemporary women's fiction, you will enjoy this book too!

Throwback Thursday

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Throwback Thursday – this is a weekly event hosted by me! It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic! Leave a comment here and feel free to take an icon and use it on your blog!

This week's throwback is:

Days in the Lives of Social Workers edited by Linda May Grobman


Spend a day with social workers in 50 different settings, and learn about the many career paths available to YOU.

Did you ever wish you could tag along with a professional in your chosen field, just for a day, observing his or her every move? DAYS IN THE LIVES OF SOCIAL WORKERS allows you to take a firsthand, close-up look at the real-life days of 41 professional social workers as they share their stories. Join them on their journeys, and learn about the rewards and challenges they face.

You will observe social work practice in the following settings and roles: community and inpatient mental health, inner-city and rural schools, prisons, adventure-based therapy, private practice, HIV/AIDS, public health, administration, hospitals, the military, managed care, residential treatment centers for adolescents, hospice, homeless outreach, college counseling centers, public child welfare, nursing homes, international social work, public policy, community organizing, youth centers, and many more.

This book is an essential guide for anyone who wants an inside look at the social work profession. Whether you are a social work student, an experienced professional wishing to make a change in career direction, or just thinking about going into the field, you will learn valuable lessons from the experiences described in DAYS IN THE LIVES OF SOCIAL WORKERS.

Back when I was in college I loved this book! I thought it was so exciting to read about what my daily job would be. I guess if you look at it from that viewpoint of a young, naive, undergrad, social work is fun. I've learned soooo much in this field, and what an experience it has been! Now I'm all about reading books about therapists, lol!

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
Release date: June 8, 2010

Rose Mae Lolley is a fierce and dirty girl, long-suppressed under flowery skirts and bow-trimmed ballet flats. As "Mrs. Ro Grandee" she's trapped in a marriage that's thick with love and sick with abuse. Her true self has been bound in the chains of marital bliss in rural Texas, letting "Ro" make eggs, iron shirts, and take her punches. She seems doomed to spend the rest of her life battered outside by her husband and inside by her former self, until fate throws her in the path of an airport gypsy—-one who shares her past and knows her future. The tarot cards foretell that Rose's beautiful, abusive husband is going to kill her. Unless she kills him first.

Hot-blooded Rose Mae escapes from under Ro's perky compliance and emerges with a gun and a plan to beat the hand she's been dealt. Following messages that her long-missing mother has left hidden for her in graffiti and behind paintings, Rose and her dog Gretel set out from Amarillo, TX back to her hometown of Fruiton, AL, and then on to California, unearthing a host of family secrets as she goes. Running for her life, she realizes that she must face her past in order to overcome her fate—-death by marriage—-and become a girl who is strong enough to save herself from the one who loves her best.

BACKSEAT SAINTS will dazzle readers with a fresh and heartwrenching portrayal of the lengths a mother will go to right the wrongs she's created, and how far a daughter will go to escape the demands of forgiveness. With the seed of a minor character from her popular best-seller, GODS IN ALABAMA, Jackson has built a whole new story full of her trademark sly wit, endearingly off-kilter characters, and utterlyriveting plot twists.

Inaugural Book Festival!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

While randomly looking for tour dates for an author I like who has a new book coming out, I came across a local book festival. I was very excited to see that my alma mater, the University of Central Florida, is having their inaugural UCF Book Festival. This event will include author discussions and book signings!! AND, it's all free!! The list of authors includes:

This event is scheduled to take place April 16 and 17 of this year. The only problem? I'm supposed to go to a baby shower on the 17th, which from what I gather is the day of the main events! I sent an e-mail to find out when the schedule of authors will be available, so hopefully I'll be able to work around it!

Blog Improvement Project 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm a little late to the game on this one but I wanted to go ahead and join the 2010 Blog Improvement Project hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness and Jackie at Farm Lane Books Blog. I have fun keeping up with this blog even though it can get difficult at times because of my crazy schedule. But I'm going to try to do what I can!

The first task is this:

The most important thing you need to do before starting any project is to decide what you aim to achieve by taking part. Everyone will have a different idea about how this project will benefit them, but it is important to set realistic goals, so that you are motivated to reach them and feel proud when they are completed.

So here's my to-do list that I'm throwing together at the last minute:


  • Nag husband some more for my new blog design!!
  • If he doesn't make one for me soon, consider buying one elsewhere.
  • "Branding" also so that I can print business cards.
  • Figure out what all I want to do with my extra "pages" blogger has given us and add those pages.
  • Come up with a regular schedule for posts and stick to it by scheduling posts ahead of time.
  • Come up with bookish posts for days I don't have reviews to post.
  • Stop being a slacker and catch up on actual review books.
  • Create a "landing page" at least for the upcoming conferences, but possibly a permanent one.
Social Networking
  • Figure out how to incorporate Twitter more; right now I stay away from it b/c it's overwhelming and I'm not sure what to really do with it.
  • Build more community/become more part of the blogging/publishing community. (This one's sort of vague b/c I'm not sure what all to do for this yet).
  • Personally reply to all comments every time.
  • Come up with a new reading challenge.
  • Figure out how to become more "social" in the blogging community and follow through.
  • Learn what an RSS feed is and if it is something that would be beneficial to add as an option.
That's it! Now some questions. Twitter. What do you use it for other than to say "here's another review". I don't understand how people keep up with conversations on there because it moves so fast! What would you like to see added to/changed about this blog or myself as a blogger?? What do you personally like in another blog?

The Last Surgeon

The Last Surgeon is Michael Palmer's latest medical thriller. This book kept me intrigued and creeped out at the same time! In this latest work, a psychopathic serial killer is out to get random victims in the name of "work" for which he is highly compensated. The killer has medical skills of his own which only compounds his ability to senselessly murder innocent people and, yet, keep himself clear of any accusations.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nick Garrity, a young war vet suffering from a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder is running a mobile health clinic to help those with less resources receive the medical care they need. Nick is battling with the demons of PTSD on a daily basis. This is made worse by the fact that his best friend, Umberto Vasquez, who also saved his life from a suicide bomber, mysteriously disappeared 4 years ago. Nick makes it his mission to find Vasquez as he feels he owes his life to this man.

Nick then meets Jillian Coates, a psychiatric nurse, who is investigating her sister's recent death -- a death that was ruled suicide but which Jillian believes was, in fact, murder. Her investigation leads her to Dr. Nick Garrity and in order to help her find out what really happened to her sister, she has to help Nick solve the mystery of Umberto's disappearance. Using her inside connections at the hospital, they race to find out what happened to their loved ones before they are targeted by the killer.

This was another great thriller by prolific author, Michael Palmer. It was a horrifying but smart mix of murder and medicine. I found myself completely disgusted and creeped out by the killer. You know who the killer is and what he is doing from the very beginning. The mystery in that is trying to find out who hired him and why he's killing these people. The creepiness is in the fact that this character is so completely evil and soulless and enjoys using his knowledge of medicine to kill. I found myself sometimes frustrated by Nick's inability to live his life fully due to his PTSD, but that frustration may have lent to the credibility and "realness" of his character. There were one or two things about the storyline that I thought were sort of convenient, such as the person behind the secret company, Jericho. But it still made sense in the storyline. In all, I really enjoyed this thriller. It had mystery, action, thrills, and a little dash of romance that add up to a great mystery/thriller. Any fan of this genre will enjoy this book!

Throwback Thursday

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Throwback Thursday – this is a weekly event hosted by me! It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic! Leave a comment here and feel free to take an icon and use it on your blog!

This week's throwback is:
A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

I wonder what I thought Times Square was when I was young. I'm sure I didn't know!

A classic Newbery Honor Book first published in 1960, this quiet story of friendship and loyalty continues to charm young readers, particularly those who love animals. This is a quiet tale: Chester Cricket, Tucker Mouse, and Harry Cat meet at the Bellini's newsstand in New York's Times Square subway station when young Mario Bellini finds the cricket in a pile of trash. The lonely boy decides to keep Chester as a pet, and a series of adventures ensue. Action-and-adventure fans may have a difficult time with the leisurely pace and low-key action of this book, but its loving portrait of real friendship continues to make it a classroom favorite with fourth and fifth graders. Modern parents and teachers may want to take a close look at Seldon's portrayal of Sai Fong, the elderly Chinese man who gives Mario a cricket cage. In 1960 racial stereotypes were still common in American literature, and Sai Fong certainly falls into this category. There's nothing ugly here—on the contrary, Sai Fong could not be more lovingly drawn—but his giggling and fractured-English may give offense, nonetheless. Certainly this is an aspect of the book that adults would want to discuss with young readers. Part of the "Chester Cricket" series. 2006 (orig. 1960), Yearling/Random House Children's Books, and Ages 8 to 12.

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

Hush by Kate White
Release date: March 2, 2010

In her first stand-alone thriller, White (known for her Bailey Weggins series, most recently Lethally Blonde) effectively blends mommy-lit issues with murder and suspense. Recently separated and finally finding her emotional footing, Lake Warren has been hired as a marketing consultant for a Park Avenue fertility clinic and has even started a flirtation with a handsome doctor. But then she's hit by a double whammy. Her soon-to-be-ex is seeking full custody of their two children, and the doctor has been murdered (hours after Lake slept with him). Afraid that the police will suspect her and that her husband will use this against her in their custody battle, Lake keeps quiet about her hookup. Now she is faced with scary late-night calls, an attack on the family pet, a husband looking to trip her up, and the police just this close to coming after her for murder. VERDICT The mix of family pressures and murderous suspense makes this a page-turner that will appeal to readers of Michele Martinez, Lisa Unger, and Karen Rose.

Blog Tour: The Culture of Excess

Monday, February 8, 2010

In The Culture of Excess, licensed psychologist J.R. Slosar explores how our modern day culture has turned into one of over indulgence in many different aspects. He discusses how Americans are so overstimulated and have so many additional stressors and things to think about that anxiety levels have unhealthily increased even for young children.

I'll admit I have mixed feelings about this book. First to keep in mind is that I am not typically a non-fiction reader. This has changed a little bit recently in that I have read some more non-fiction and have found myself wanting to more. However, I have to keep in mind and be aware that I prefer fiction overall. I don't think it would be fair for to fully review this book without making that disclaimer. What interested me in this book was the psychology aspect and the social issues that anyone can relate to in some manner.

That being said, another reason I have mixed feelings is because I may not have been ready "emotionally" or "therapeutically" to read some of this. A large focus of this book is on social narcissism. And I can definitely understand that. Just think about facebook and myspace for instance... how much more narcissistic can that get? While I don't consider myself a narcissistic person by any means, I realized that many of the things that I do or think can be interpreted as such, at least by the definitions of this book; this thought made me feel uncomfortable -- especially because I don't think, for the most part, that anything I do or think is wrong. But this could be an example of growing up in an ever increasing society of self-importance.

The Culture of Excess is short at less than 200 pages, but it is chock-full of information and a variety of examples of American over-indulgence. It's not a difficult read, per se, but it's not a light read either as the amount and depth of the information shared is intense. Slosar examines our society from a multitude of angles to explain how our culture has led to a society of individuals who no longer have appropriate self-control or who literally cannot deal with negative feedback or criticism. He uses a variety of case studies from both his experience in the field and other real life examples he's seen or read about to illustrate his point. He discusses sports and how perhaps the genuine competetiveness is a sign of individuals craving something "real" in their lives. He also goes on, however, to analyze the manner in which sports starts can be self-absorbed despite playing for a team sport and can sometimes even be led to cheating. He discusses the digital world and how individuals are creating separate identities (literally but also metaphorically). He discusses the integration of narcissism in the business/entrepreneurial world and the affects this has on business and economy. While there are so many different angles that anyone can relate in some way to this book or find something they find particularly interesting, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to those casual readers of non-fiction. I would recommend this to those who enjoy philosophizing and intellectual conversation about sociological issues.

The Hunger Games (mini review)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I know you've all read a million reviews for this! It's been all over the blogosphere for a while now, and will continue to be since it is being made into a movie to come out in 2011! And I read this back in December so this may be a short and not as detailed review...

To make the summary short, this takes place in the future when North America is a country called Panem. It's made up of 12 districts. Every year the country holds what is called "The Hunger Games". Every district sends a boy and a girl to represent the district and they all fight for their lives. The Hunger Games are televised for everyone else to see. We follow Katniss as she represents her district and tries to win by being the last one alive.

I had a couple distinct lines of thought when I was reading this. First off, I am always drawn to the plots in dystopian lit and always find myself getting weirded out by it. I don't know if I would say I enjoy dystopian lit... I tend to think it's like a nightmare... or a train wreck that you can't look away from despite how awful it is. *On a sidenote, the book 1984 terrified me!* So I had a few moments of thinking this.

My second line of thinking was WHY?? am I reading a book about children killing each other?? And all for what amounts to a reality show? This is awful!! I had to be reminded that this was fiction, dystopian lit, and that in reality, I read plenty of books where people are murdered, etc. so I pushed through and read it.

It was an enjoyable read for me and the concept, while still awful, wasn't done badly. I was curious to see what would happen next. I will say that I didn't love this book as much as everyone else. But it was good. And I'm looking forward to reading the sequel Catching Fire which I have in my TBR. I also wanted to add that I read a lot of people really disliked the character, Katniss. I didn't feel that way at all! I didn't find her whiny, as some people did, and the stuff she did "whine" about I totally thought she had every reason to, lol!!

New York Challenge: Mini-Challenge #1

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

As you all know, I am registered to attend the Book Blogger Convention in May and am so excited! And also as you know, I adore NYC!! Love it, love it! So, I joined the New York Challenge by Jill at Fizzy Thoughts where we can talk about how much we
love New York, lol! Actually She says we have to just read one book by May 15th that takes place in NYC. Not a problem for me! I actually have a few on TBR and am always finding more. And as you know, I've been working on New York by Edward Rutherford for a while. It's been taking a while because I've had sooo much going on AND the little reading I have been doing is for reviews. But no problem, it's sort of fun to take a while reading through 400 years rather than flying through it. Plus, I'm really enjoying it so I can "savor" the reading.

Anywho, the mini-challenge for the month of February is:

For the month of February, your task (should you choose to accept it) is to compile a list of ten things about New York. It can be a reading list, a list of songs, restaurants, places to visit (or that you’d like to visit), places to avoid…whatever you want to share.

10 Things I Love About New York: (as if I could put them in order, but I'll try)

1. The Subway
I know so many of you probably think I'm craaazy... but I'm so not used to this mode of transportation and I think it'so fun to hang out in NYC and get everywhere you need on this kind of transportation. I live in Orlando where you have to drive (and far) to get anywhere! (Although stay tuned for 2015 when our Sunrail is slated to start service)!

2. Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
When I first heard this song I thought (other than the fact that it was about NYC) that it was just okay. But it's really grown on me since then and, of course, I love it! And Alicia Keys actually sings a different solo version of it on her latest album, The Element of Freedom. I think I actually like her version better, but it's just something a little different.

3. Broadway
I love going to Broadway shows and what better place to see the shows than on the actual Broadway, in the "original" theaters (I don't know really know that, but they're much more unique than having them at the same concert venue location where everything is when they travel to the different cities). AND you're more likely to see the well-known actors on stage on Broadway in NYC than anywhere else... and also seeing them outside when they get off work for the night.... LOL!! (This is Jude Law right after his wonderful performance in Hamlet... I may have posted this here back in October.. don't remember). Love Broadway!

4. The Strand Bookstore (and Union Square in general)
Of course I had to mention a book store! This is the home of 18 miles of books if laid next to each other. I'm not all that into rare books or things like that (though I still have that book The Man Who Loved Books Too Much on TBR and that might interest me more, who knows) but The Strand also has "regular" books to choose from just like other stores. I just love the area and the layout of the store. That picture on the right is the tote bag I got as a souvenir... can't wait to get another. =) The pic below is the view from where I was on the second level.. that's my hubby in the black jacket and blue backpack perusing the books. But I also love the Union Square area in general and if I were to live in NYC and had the money, I would definitely want to live in that area! They also have the beautiful 4(?) story Barnes and Noble there. And it's also near NYU so a lot of people can be found hanging out studying, reading, etc.

5. Bryant Park
Speaking of sitting outside and reading, I wish I was near Bryant Park and could just sit there and relax whenever I felt like it. To me, Bryant Park is the perfect mix of nature within the city. It's relaxing but not out in the boonies, which I don't like. One day I'd also like to stay in the Bryant Park hotel (which I refer to as the gold castle) but not this time I don't think.

6. The Restaurants

I couldn't pick just one, haha. The variety of places to go is astounding, of course. I guess we have unique places here too but it's not the same. One of our favorite breakfast places was The Pink Teacup. They serve lunch and dinner too but we had heard they had great breakfast so that's when we went. They serve "soul food" and I could tell by their breakfast that I would looove their other meals too. Apparently, lots of famous soul food lovers have dined there as well. Plus, it gave us a great opportunity to sort of explore the West Village! Another restaurant we went to was Bobby Flay's restaurant, Mesa Grill, while we were there and that was nice, except that we sat thicslose to the people next to us, hehe. Georgio's was another great breakfast place but I couldn't tell you where that one is. We ran across it accidentally, hehe. Ooh!! Another great place we went for dinner one night was Max Brenner's. And that just so happens to be located right in Union Square (see #4 above). It's a "chocolate" restaurant (and yes they had amazing desserts) but dinner was good too. I guess they have one of those in Vegas too so it's not completely original to New York. I don't know how we're going to decide when we go back between trying new places or going to the places we know we love, lol.

7. Times Square
I know, that's very touristy of me. But WHERE ELSE can you go at any time of night where it's teeming with crowds and people are up and about? And where Starbucks is open 24 hours???? And the beautiful lights! And energy! It's soooo fun! I just love the thought of having some place to go where at any time of the night it's awake and safe.

8. Good Morning America
And since we're talking about Times Square... Good Morning America is filmed in their Times Square studio. I love GMA. It's my morning show and I have it on every morning when I'm getting ready for work. When I first started watching it, it reminded me of the times I can remember going on vacation as a child. Wherever we went, no matter what state we were in, everyone was always watching GMA (even hotel lobby tv's were tuned to this) and there was just something about it I really liked (and still do). Of course, it hasn't been as great since Chris Cuomo (and Diane Sawyer) left, but I do like George Stephanopolous and Juju Chang... they are good replacements. And of course I like Robin and Sam too.

9. One of my BFF's, Sarah!
Sarah and I have been friends since the 7th grade (even though we didn't go to the same high school). She's originally from New York and moved back to the NYC area after college. She's living the dream and I'm so happy for her (and totally envious, lol!!) Here we are getting drinks at Houston's one night.

10. Koreatown

I'm actually not sure if I've ever mentioned it on here before but for those of you who don't know, I'm half Korean. So I thought it was so fun that there is a whole area of NYC that is Korean! I loved how the street signs were in Korean too. (I can't speak Korean, really, but I can read it... apparently my husband never totally got that I could read it until I started reading him what the signs said, lol!) There are lots of Korean restaurants there that I would like to try. The only place we went to last time was the Mandu House... Mandu are like dumplings, pot stickers, etc. and this was a restaurant that had a whole bunch of different kinds of mandu. It was a very unique and fun restaurant! Next time I want to try one of the regular restaurants though!

Well, that's 10!! There are plenty more things I could say, but those are the first 10 I thought of, hehe. This was actually really fun... I may have to do this for Orlando one of these days, because I really do love Orlando too. I hope you enjoyed this not-really-bookish post!

Alice in Wonderland Challenge January 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Okay, it's time to check in again!!! Read the instructions carefully though because since we are near the end I need you all to do one more thing for me when you reply to this post.

For those of you who completed any of the tasks for this challenge during January 2010, please link your reviews on mcklinky below. If you completed more than one task, please list them separately. I will also mark them off on my spreadsheet so I can see how far you are (I'm keeping track for purposes of giving out prizes later). MckLinky is only open for 5 days (through Feb. 6, 2010). Remember, only those who link their reviews here are eligible for prizes.

We are nearing the release of the last task! The Tim Burton movie is coming out on March 5th so for those who have left that as the last task, it's coming up! Because I need to be sure to determine who wins, I need to confirm what tasks you have completed. Therefore, after you link to MckLinky, please also leave a COMMENT with a list of the tasks you have completed so I can just double check it with my spreadsheet.

Please also keep in mind that a task does not count until it is linked to MckLinky. I will post another update at the end of this month and then one more in mid March. That means that some of you may have seen the movie prior to MckLinky becoming available. If it comes down to that being your last task, I will go by who posts to MckLinky first when it comes available. I will let you know, though, on what day in March I am going to post the MckLinky so you can plan accordingly

SO IN SUMMARY, please link your tasks to MckLinky below and comment with your list of completed tasks so I can confirm I have them all down.


If you haven't joined yet and would like to, you can join at any time! Click on the picture above and it will take you to the page with the MckLinky sign up!