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There are TWO posts today...Sorry about that :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Sorry, forgot to check
Genre: Fiction, children
Format: Hardback, 162 pages
Source: the library


"Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house . . ."

The door once led to a room, but when the old house was converted into flats the doorway was bricked up. That is, until the day a curious little girl named Coraline sneaks the key from her distracted mother, opens the door . . . and enters an alternate universe, where dogs eat nothing but chocolate, cats can talk, and she is greeted enthusiastically by her Other Parents.

Her Other Mother looks quite a bit like her own mother -- except for the long spindly fingers and shiny black button eyes -- but it's her disposition that is most remarkable. Where her real mother always seemed too busy for Coraline, her Other Mother is attentive and affectionate. She cooks delicious meals, showers the little girl with praise, and asks Coraline to stay with her forever.

But Coraline misses her real parents -- tiresome as they sometimes are -- and insists on returning to the real world. There, she finds her parents trapped in the hallway mirror, victims of her Other Mother's evil spell. Now she must take a dangerous journey back into the other world . . . or risk never seeing her parents again!

My Thoughts:

This was a cute little story. Coraline is an adventurer and as the summer wears on, she becomes bored with her surroundings and parents. So when she finds that secret door, it just calls to her. Coraline visits the Other house. complete with an Other Mother and Other Neighbors. Coraline contemplates for a brief moment what it would be like to live there. She quickly decides that her real life and parents are just fine, but encounters some difficulties when she tries to go back.

I could easily relate to Coraline because in my younger days, I would go on adventures when I visited my Aunt's house. She lived next to a cemetery, that was rather beautiful, and there were all kinds of little grottoes and secret places I could discover. That's what Coraline does when she is in the Other house, goes on a little adventure trying out this Other life. Coraline is much smarter than the Other Mother gives her credit for. And at the end of the story, I was quite impressed with Coraline.

The descriptions in the book were excellent. Gaiman just has a way of putting the reader into his story. And just like my friend TeddyRee, I will never look at buttons the same way again either. Creepy little things aren't they?

My Rating: 85/100

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bingo's Beautiful Blog Award

Teddyree from The Eclectic Reader awarded me and my good friend Staci from Life in the Thumb this award for being neigborly. Which was perfect because Staci and I are already neighborly with each other to begin with. I couldn't think of a better person to share it with.

This award was started by Bookin With BINGO and here are the rules:

This "B-I-N-G-O" BEAUTIFUL BLOG AWARD means that this blog is...

B: Beautiful
I: Informative
N: Neighborly
G: Gorgeous
O: Outstanding

Please look carefully at as many blogs as you can to find the top FIVE blogs that YOU think also exemplify these standards and pass it along to them. Please don't break this chain of FIVE! If you are someone who doesn't want awards or doesn't pass them on, please tell the person who is giving it so they can share it with someone who would want it. Thank you. Also, link your award to the person who gave it to you so when people link on the person's name or blog name, it will take them there to see that person's BINGO-RIFFIC BLOG.

B: Beautiful goes to Blodeuedd from Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell and Sarbear from My Life is an Effing Fairytale. B always has beautiful, dreamy picutures on her header, and Sarbear's blog is darkly beautiful. Plus I LOVE the title! I can so relate.

I: Informative goes to Heather from The Maiden's Court and Susie Tudor Daughter from All Things Royal Both of these gals always has some background information about her current book posted.

N: Neighborly goes to Marie from The Burton Reviews and Toni from A Circle of Books I have chatted with these gals since I first met them. Plus Toni is a fellow knitter. Hello! And last, but certainly not least Rebecca from Just One More Page. Another great chick I instantly connected with. I just get along with the Aussies. What can I say?

G: Gorgeous goes to Susan B from Well-Mannered Frivolity and the gang at Historical Tapestry. These blogs are just so put together.

O: Outstanding goes to several bloggers J. Kaye from J.Kaye's Book Blog Darlene from Peeking Between the Pages and Amy from My Friend Amy

I could have listed so many more under these categories. I hate to choose between people and make decisions. That's what my day job is for.

So, if please check out some of these blogs. You will certainly not regret it :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Author: Lewis Carroll
Publisher: 1865
Genre: Fiction, children
Type: Hardback, 140 pages
Book Source: the library

Brief Synopsis:

A young girl named Alice falls asleep in the afternoon and has the strangest dream. She follows a white rabbit, falls down a rabbit hole and lands in a world where playing cards come to life, animals speak, and everything is quite odd, to her thinking at least.

My Thoughts:

Many people have read this story and loved it. I for one did not read it until now, and unfortunately I do not love it. It is indeed a great story, very imaginative and creative. The combinations of creatures, the rabbit, and of the course the King and Queen of Hearts and their loyal foot soldiers.

I think my problem is that I did not read this as a child, so I have no wonderful and warm memories to draw upon. I felt this was indeed a child's story, because Alice's behavior got to me after a while. She is a child, so I don't know what I was expecting to find :) I'll stick with my Disney cartoon version and the forthcoming Tim Burton version. I can't believe it has taken Depp and Burton this long to re-make this classic story. Link to trailer

My Rating: How can I rate a classic children's story, that has been around since 1865, but I wasn't crazy about because I read it as an adult?
85/100 Although it was not my cup of tea, Carroll was pretty darn creative.

Challenges Met: Library Challenge 2009, and LOST Book Challenge

Analysis for LOST Challenge:

Ah LOST...watching that show is certainly like falling down a rabbit hole, with all those twists, turns, and questions. I do remember two of the episodes are named with this story in mind, and I believe that a white rabbit may have also been spotted on the show itself.

I watch LOST purely for entertainment, so I am not swift with all of the deep analysis that goes on with many of the LOST fans. I know one thing though...if LOST ends with "It was all a dream" or "It never happened" or even "We are all saved, yea!", I am going to be sorely disappointed. That show has visited many dark aspects of humanity, for it to turn out peachy keen. Besides, who doesn't like a big showdown between good vs. evil, two fallen angels perhaps. Or even God and Devil himself...Devil went down to the Island baby!

Here is the link for Alice in Wonderland on the Lostpedia website.

Review and guest blogging opportunity

Dearly beloved blog and book readers,

I have a review and guest blogging opportunity for you. I received a YA book from an author that I just can not get into. The writing is lovely, but after 100 pages the plot is just not doing it for me. I generally enjoy YA books, but for whatever reason this one is not for me. However, it may certainly be for you.

The book is Wait Until Twilight by Sang Pak. Here's some info on the book from Sang's website:

A debut coming-of-age novel about a motherless teenage boy who discovers a terrifying secret in his small Georgia town, and finds that sometimes the most gruesome monsters are those inside ourselves.

What I need to do, needs to be done before it gets too dark . . .

Sixteen-year-old Samuel confronts his own inner monster when he discovers a set of deformed triplets whose mother believes they were immaculately conceived. Soon, the babies have taken hold of his waking and sleeping thoughts, and, unable to escape them, he decides to save them, but their shut in mother and violent older brother want nothing to do with him.

Samuel must fight the trouble within him and the trouble he sees around him to determine who he will become in a year that forces him to grow from motherless boy to self-defined man. Set in a small Georgia town, this psychologically complex story of survival and self determination explores the dark, often contradictory worlds of young contemporary life, laying bare the ugly truths and secrets that haunt all of us.

I promised Sang a review so this is where the opportunity for you comes in. I will send you the book to read. You read it, write a review and then I'll post it on my blog. If you have your own blog and would like to post there as well, I'm down with that. The more exposure the better, right?

So, if you are interested in this opportunity, please leave a comment on this post with an email address by Monday August 31st. Timeline is short because I would like to be able to post your guest review rather by September 25th.
I will do random selection. Open to US and Canada only [sorry but the whole postage thing ].

Thanks beloved readers! You are the best :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Winner of Marsha Altman Book Giveaway

Congratulations to:


You have won both books which will be coming from Sourcebooks.

Thank you to all who entered. I have added quite a few of your favorites to my ever growing TBR. And I've discovered some new blogs as well.

A special thank you to Danielle from Sourcebooks for providing me with my review copy and giveaway copies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Teaser Tuesday (Aug 25)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

"What is it?" Amunhotep demanded.
The physician lowered his head. "I am afraid she is very ill, Your Highness."
The color drained from Amunhotep's face.

pg. 163 Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

I have been itching to read this book for quite some time. I just started it because the current books I have are just not doing it for me. So I figured I would take a break and then try them again.

What is your teaser today?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Giveaway and Review: Water Witch by Deborah LeBlanc

Author: Deborah Leblanc
Publisher:Leisure Books, September 30, 2008
Genre: Fiction, paranormal mystery, thriller
Paperback 290 pages
Book source: Publicity firm FSB Associates

Synopsis from LeBlanc's website:

Dunny knew from an early age what it meant to be an outsider. Her special abilities earned her many names, like freak and water witch. So she vowed to keep her powers a secret.

Now, though, her talents may be the only hope for two missing children. A young boy and girl have vanished, feared lost in the mysterious bayous of Louisiana. But they didn’t just disappear; they were taken. By something far more dangerous than the ghosts and spirits living in the swamp. Something with very special plans for the children—and for anyone who dares to interfere . . .

My Thoughts:

I really liked this book. It had a paranormal, spooky, scary element, along with the thrilling search for two missing children. This story is set in the swamps of Louisiana and one of the characters has a local dialect when she speaks. This was a little annoying at first, but as I pictured this woman in my mind, I got over that real fast. The dialect complemented the story, and added to the realism of being in the bayou. The descriptions of the thick humid air and the mosquitoes helps put the reader squarely in the swamp as well.

The main character of Dunny is likable and strong. I was really pulling for her because she must risk exposure of her deep dark secret to help find the missing children. This is not easy for Dunny to do, because it will leave her vulnerable. Dunny battles both her personal demons, and supernatural demons in the story. But she is strong and handles it very well.

Overall this was a great quick read. It was very hard for me to put this down at the night. I just wanted to find out what happened next. The story also kept me guessing until the end. I will definitely check out her other books.

My Rating: 95/100


So, would you like a copy of your very own to keep you reading into the night? I bet you do!
I have one copy to give away and here is the scoop:

Giveaway Rules:

* For one entry, leave a comment on this post with your email address

*For an extra entry, post about it on your blog or sidebar.

*U.S. and Canada only (sorry). No P.O. boxes

*Ends midnight, EST Tuesday, September 8th, 2009. Day after Labor Day.

Thank you to Anna from FSB Associates for sending both my review and giveaway copy.

Good Luck Everyone :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review: Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

Author: Katarina Mazetti
Publisher: Penguin Group 2009 (First published in Sweden in 1998)
Genre: Fiction, romance
Paperback, 207 pages
Book Source: FSB Associates

From Penguin Group (USA):

An international sensation, this addictively readable tale asks the question: Why is it so impossible to get a relationship between two middle-aged misfits to work? The answer lies in the story of Shrimp, a young widowed librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order; Benny, a gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village's Old Bachelor; and an unlikely love that should not be as complicated as it seems. Reminiscent of the works of Carol Shields, this quirky, humorous, beautifully told novel breathes new life into the age-old conundrum that is love.

My Thoughts:

This is the story of two 30-something people discovering love and themselves. What a great little story, very entertaining and sweet too. The chapters alternate between Benny and Shrimp, and the both of them are funny in their own right. Maybe even a wee bit snarky, which I personally like.

Benny and Shrimp have both lost someone who was close to them. These people whom have been lost kind if defined who and what Benny and Shrimp were. Although sad, Benny and Shrimp can now focus and pay attention to their themselves, their wants and needs. They can learn to be their own person. In this process they find each other, and unknowingly help each other with their self-discovery process. They figure out what they really want out of life, and learn not to settle. They are such a cute couple!

My Rating: 93/100 Delightful quick read.

Challenges Met: Romance Challenge 2009

Special thanks to Caitlin from FSB Associates for sending me a copy for review.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review: The Awakening and Other Short Stories by Kate Chopin

Author: Kate Chopin
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Fiction, classics
Paperback 205 pages
Book Source: library

From Chopin was one of the most individual and adventurous of nineteenth-century American writers, whose fiction explored new and often starting territory. When her most famous story, "The Awakening", was first published in 1899, it stunned readers with its frank portrayal of the inner world of Edna Pontellier, and its daring criticisms of the limits of marriage and motherhood. From her first stories, Chopin was interested in independent characters who challenged convention.

The Awakening shocked turn-of-the-century readers and reviewers with its treatment of sex and suicide. In a departure from literary convention, Kate Chopin failed to condemn her heroine's desire for an affair with the son of a Louisiana resort owner, whom she meets on vacation. The power of sensuality, the delusion of ecstatic love, and the solitude that accompanies the trappings of middle- and upper-class convention are themes of this now-classic novel.

The book was influenced by French writers ranging from Flaubert to Maupassant, and can be seen as a precursor of the impressionistic, mood-driven novels of Virginia Woolf and Djuna Barnes. Variously called "vulgar," "unhealthily introspective," and "morbid," the book was neglected for several decades, not least because it was written by a "regional" woman writer.

My Thoughts:

Edna married Mr.Pontellier to escape her father, family, and home. Unfortunately several years and two children later, Edna realizes there is no passion or romance in her marriage or her life. There is only convenience and maybe some fondness for her husband and children. She is bored and dissatisfied with her life.

Edna spends her summer vacation falling in passionate love with a young man named Robert. She doesn't realize it immediately, but this affair is everything she has been missing. Her soul, her inner self and feelings are awakened by this love affair. An affair that's not necessarily spoken about, but doesn't need to be, because Edna and Robert know it's there. They also know the complications of this affair could be catastrophic.

Once Edna is back home, she becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her life and her home. When her two boys go off and visit their Grandmother for several weeks, Edna feels at peace. The children's absence is a relief to her. Edna loves her children, but her children do not define her, especially in an era where children and a happy home were supposedly all that a woman needed in her life. And as for Mr. Pontellier, he thinks this is just a phase that Edna is experiencing, and that by leaving her alone it will pass. That could not be further from the truth.

This was a great story. Chopin was a brilliant writer. Her ability to make you sympathize and feel what her characters are going through is remarkable. Chopin also represents her era quite well with respect to the social conventions and mannerisms of the time.

There was one quote in the story which I think represents what the Awakening is about:

"The bird that would soar to see if the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, and fluttering back to earth." pg. 112.

Edna tries to fly in the face of social convention, but unfortunately she is not strong enough. Edna could have dealt with her situation differently, but since she was awakened to her true self, compromise probably would not have worked for her.

My Rating: 95/100 Totally enjoyed it and the other short stories that were also in the collection.

Challenges Met: TBR Challenge 2009, Library Challenge 2009, Romance Challenge 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BBAW New Participant Meme

Sometimes I read things so fast, I miss important this meme for bloggers new to BBAW this year! Duh, Jenny!
So here we go:

1) What has been one of the highlights of blogging for you?

Well there have been many, but the biggest one would have to be all of the friends I have made online. I did not realize there were that many wonderful, warm, and welcoming people out there in blog land. I have connected and become friends with people I may not have otherwise. It truly is a community, because we support and respect each other out there. We are there for one another.

I have also learned many things from friends, such as blog improvements, different authors, and how to improve my reviews. I learn something new almost every day.

2) What blogger has helped you out with your blog by answering questions, linking to you, or inspiring you?

I can't say there has been one single blogger out there. It truly was everyone. I no sooner started, and I guess I was lucky, because some of the first blogs I found are the ones everybody knows about. (I don't think I need to name names. Besides I don't want to accidentally leave anyone out.) It just exploded from there.

3) What one question do you have about BBAW that someone who participated last year could answer?

Hmmm...What was your big take away from last year? Did you learn a new blogging or reviewing skill? Or just discovering new bloggers?

So head on over to the BBAW website and join in on the fun!

Teaser Tuesday (Aug 18)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"This dance exemplifies our entire relationship! You are more than 'a little disagreeable', Alera. You can't conceive that anything I do has merit, is good, is right, has potential. At least my so-called arrogance is backed up my my actions---..." pg. 277, Legacy by Cayla Kluver (this is an ARC so page number may change)
So far so good. I'm on page 139, and the ground work is still being laid, but it's all good.

So what are you teasing me with today?

Saw this over at Caite's blog a lovely shore breeze

You Are Like a Dog

You are a natural best friend. You are very loyal and faithful.

In your eyes, your friends can do no wrong. You will stick with them no matter what.

You have a protective streak, and you can be downright nasty if you're being threatened.

More than anything else, you are playful and laid back. You truly live in the moment.

I am not surprised by my result, are you? woof - woof

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Musing Monday (Aug 17)

Musing Monday is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page.
Today's musing is the following:

How do you react to movies made of your favourite books (or even not-so-favourite books)? Do you look forward to seeing them, or avoid them? Do you like to have read the book before seeing the movie?

Well it depends on the movie and the book. I do look forward to seeing books I read made into movies, but sometimes it takes away from my reading experience. For instance, Twilight. Sorry, but that is not how I picture Edward...not a little bit. Pattinson is nice looking but really not my cup of tea. Everyone else I could live with.

Memoirs of a Geisha was another book that didn't translate too well. Beautifully filmed, but the main character's inner struggles and such didn't cross over well. Now that is a book I would read again.

I always try to read the book before seeing the movie. I'm a wee bit OCD about that. That's why I only read half of Potter. Started with book 5 and gotta say, not impressed with the movies thus far. I know books don;t always translate well, especially the Potter books. They are big and cover a lot of material. But I just saw the last installment, and let me say this: When I have to look at my watch to see how much time is left, that is not a good thing. Acting was first rate, as usual, however the script leaves a lot to be desired.

Okay, I'm done ranting now. How about you? How do you feel about book to movie transitions?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Review: The Blue Pen by Lisa Rusczyk

Author: Lisa Rusczyk
Publisher: Club Lighthouse Publishing, April 2009
Genre: fiction
Format: E book, 202 pages
Book source: the author

From Fictionwise eBooks:

Parker didn't expect to find his next great magazine story sleeping off a hangover in the back seat of his car. The homeless woman, Cleo, says she never wakes after dawn, which makes Parker curious. His intuition for finding a unique story is buzzing after meeting Cleo, and he decides to interview her to find out what drove her to live on the streets. Cleo explains how the early death of her first love set the path for her life. She withdraws from the world after he dies, only to re-enter it by going to a strange club called the Beacon.

At the underground club, the patrons channel spirits on the improv stage and share psychic readings in the room behind the beaded curtain. While Cleo describes her spiritual awakening, Parker wonders if she actually fell prey to mental illness. Because of a first article Parker wrote about Cleo, another reporter is after the story, blackmailing Parker to give it up. Parker must decide how to keep his story and not let Cleo down in the process.

My Thoughts:

I really liked Cleo and did empathize with her. She was a great character who was trying to sort herself out, and find her path in life. Cleo's pain when she looses her early love, was palpable. Parker...didn't like him so much, but he was more a means to an end. A way for Cleo to tell her story, and ultimately steer her on her path.

Overall the story was very good, and I think it reminds you to both keep your mind open, and that homelessness is still an issue today. You know it's always there, but it's never discussed. Every homeless person has a story to tell, good, bad, or indifferent and they could use some help. Keeping an open mind with respect to homeless people and the mysterious side of life is important. Explore the many facets of yourself. You may be surprised by what you discover about yourself. Open yourself up to new ideas.

My one issue with the story was the format: e book. I have discovered e books are not for me. This may have lead me to not like the book as much as I may have otherwise. It took me a while to finish this one because of the format, and the story did drag a little. I also wanted to know more of the back story on the Beacon and Ice. What was up with that?

All in all it was a decent read, and I would consider reading something else from this author, just not in e book format.

My Rating: 83/100 I liked Cleo and her story greatly.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Article from Deborah LeBlanc

I will be on vacation at the shore for the next several days, but I thought I would leave you with this article from Deborah LeBlanc. She is the author of the book I teased about yesterday Water Witch.
I like paranormal stories and believe anything is possible, so this book is definitely creeping me out a bit. And the story is moving right along.
So I hope you enjoy this article and see you next week :)

Paranormal Plus
By Deborah LeBlanc,
Author of Water Witch

When I started delving into paranormal investigation years ago, my adventures were done alone and with little more than a disposable camera, compass, flashlight, and a set of brass balls. Over time, I collected more sophisticated tools of the trade, like an EMF detector, infrared cameras, etc. The set of brass balls remained a constant. Eventually, I joined professional paranormal investigation teams, began traveling to purported haunted locations throughout the country, and even did some scouting for MTV's Fear program.

Over the years, I've visited hundreds of cemeteries, and my camera's caught flying orbs near Poe's grave in Baltimore, squiggly strings of white light that wove through tombs in old family plots in Nebraska, and child-size shadows perched atop two headstones in Atlanta, Georgia. Oddly enough, the cemetery known as the most haunted in America, Big Woods Cemetery, offered nothing but hungry mosquitoes.

The most fascinating experience I've had in a cemetery came from a small town in Mire, La., where my maternal grandfather is buried. One evening I took my youngest daughter (who was fourteen at the time) and two of her friends out for burgers. While we're eating, my daughter decides to tell her friends about the weird things her mom does for fun . . . like ghost hunting. They grow wide-eyed, of course, and ask a million questions, their last one being, "Can you take us to a cemetery and show us how to hunt for ghosts . . . like now?"

My daughter then gives me that, "You've gotta, Mom, 'cause they'll think I'm so cool!" look. Geez . . .

Before long I had three fourteen year-olds (2 girls, 1 boy) begging -- loudly -- to ghost hunt. Although I envisioned angry parents pounding on my front door later that night, insisting I be taken away to a mental ward, I couldn't resist those cherub faces. That, and the fact that they pooled their money and bribed me with a slice of chocolate cake did me in.

Wanting to minimize any risks, I thought of the most benign cemetery I knew -- St. Theresa's in Mire, La. The cemetery sits on a corner lot in the middle of town. Beside it is a church and across the street is a gas station and Mire City Hall. Streetlights line both sides of the street, so in truth, the spookiest thing about the place is the creak of the cemetery gate when you open it.

So, armed with a digital camera and a flashlight, both of which are always in my car, we head for the cemetery. Once there, the kids stay glued to my side, whispering to each other, looking over their shoulder every few minutes as we walked amongst the graves. A car backfired in the distance, and the boy gasped so loudly, I thought he'd swallowed his tongue. We had a good laugh over that, which helped the kids to relax and eventually wonder off on their own to different tombs. All the while I'm snapping pictures, hoping
for an orb or two, but getting absolutely nothing -- note the picture below.

It wasn't long before I spotted my grandfather's grave, (below). I was three when he passed away, so my daughters never knew him.

As I drew closer to the tomb, I got a sudden, overwhelming urge to 'introduce' my grandfather to my youngest. So I called my daughter over, showed her the tomb, then said aloud, "Pop-pop, (which is what everyone called him) this is your great-granddaughter, Sarah." No sooner did the words leave my mouth than another urge hit. Take a picture . . . now! So I did.

And this is what showed up.

This image, which stood at the foot of my grandfather's tomb, wasn't physically seen by any of us. Had it not been for the camera, we would have never known it was there. Is this my grandfather stopping by to say hello? I don't know. But it sure is cool to consider the possibility!

In my many travels, and with the aid of better equipment, I've managed to capture oddities, like the one, as well as strange, disjointed voices on digital recorders. But after fifteen years of investigating, I still can't lay claim to having seen a full-bodied apparition. Maybe I'm too much of a Doubting Thomas for spirits to bother materializing when I'm around. I did learn the hard way, though, that you don't have to see a ghost to make it angry.

©2009 Deborah LeBlanc, author of Water Witch

Author BioDeborah LeBlanc, author of Water Witch, is an award-winning author from Lafayette, Louisiana. She is also a business owner, a licensed death scene investigator, and an active member of two national paranormal investigation teams. Deborah's unique experiences, enthusiasm, and high-energy level make her a much sought-after speaker at writer's conferences across the nation. She also takes her passion for literacy and a powerful ability to motivate to high schools around the country.

She is the president of the Horror Writers Association, the Writers' Guild of Acadiana, Mystery Writers of America's Southwest Chapter, and an active member of Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Women Writers, and International Thriller Writers Inc. In 2004, Deborah created the LeBlanc Literacy Challenge, an annual national campaign designed to encourage more people to read, and soon after founded Literacy Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting illiteracy in America.

For more information please visit

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Teaser Tuesday (Aug. 11)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser is:

"Everyone would see what I showed you, Poochie. That extra finger. They'll find out what it can do. I don't need that kind of hassle in my life again. You have no idea what it was like having people follow me around everywhere, always wanting something form me."
pg. 157, Water Witch by Deborah LeBlanc

Click here for more teasers :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Deborah: A little research required

I am past the half-way point of The Triumph of Deborah, but I still feel as though I do not know Deborah. So I did a little research and this is what I found.

From the Jewish Women's Archive, by by Tikva Frymer-Kensky

Deborah is one of the major judges (meaning charismatic leaders, rather than juridical figures) in the story of how Israel takes the land of Canaan.

The only female judge, and also the only judge to be called a prophet, Deborah is a decisive figure in the defeat of the Canaanites, a victory told in two accounts, a prose narrative in Judges 4 and an ancient song known as the Song of Deborah, probably composed not long after the original events, possibly by Deborah herself, and preserved in Judges 5. In Judg 4:4, Deborah is identified as eshet lappidot, which may mean “woman of [the town] Lappidoth,” “wife of [the man] Lappidoth,” or “woman of torches” (that is, “fiery woman”).

As the story opens in Judges 4, Deborah is already a judge, settling disputes brought to her while she sits under the “palm of Deborah” in the hill country of Ephraim (4:5). Most of the major figures in the Book of Judges are acknowledged as leaders after military victory; Deborah is a judge before the battle, but the narrative does not include the story of how she became judge, why she is called a “prophetess,” or the way in which God commanded her to begin the battle against Jabin, the Canaanite king of Hazor, and his general, Sisera.

Deborah summons Barak to be her general, relaying God’s command to take ten thousand men to Mount Tabor to begin the battle. When he responds that he would go only if she will, she agrees to go, but informs him that Barak will get no glory from the victory, for “the Lord will deliver [NRSV, sell] Sisera into the hand of a woman” (4:9). The reader naturally assumes that the woman will be Deborah. Sisera deploys his army against Deborah, and Barak and the troops near Mount Tabor in Galilee. Deborah announces to Barak that the day of victory has come, and “the Lord is indeed going out before you.” Barak and his warriors destroy all the Canaanites except Sisera, who flees from the battle and seeks refuge with a Kenite woman, Jael, who kills him; Jael is in fact the woman who seals Sisera’s fate.

The Song of Deborah, preserved in Judges 5, tells more about this final battle. It describes the chaotic conditions that exist until “you arose, Deborah,/arose as a mother in Israel” (5:7). The poem hints that the battle against Canaan was instigated by the people, who call, “Awake, awake, Deborah!/Awake, awake, utter a song!/Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,/O son of Abinoam” (5:12). Deborah’s job would not be to fight. As the prophetic leader, her job would be to sing encouraging war chants and a victory song (such as Judges 5); the actual fighting would be Barak’s job.

YHWH takes part in the actual battle, causing a sudden flood storm: “The stars fought from heaven,/from their courses they fought against Sisera./The torrent Kishon swept them away” (5:21). This disabled the Canaanite chariots, enabling Israel’s infantry to win.

The Song of Deborah concludes with a heroic depiction of Jael as a woman warrior and with a taunt of Sisera’s mother, waiting anxiously and in vain for Sisera to return after the battle. Deborah does not show sympathy toward another woman, Sisera’s mother. Quite the contrary—she portrays her as the quintessential enemy woman, already anticipating the riches that the fighters will bring as spoil when they return. These riches would include both materia1 wealth and captive women—“a girl or two [Hebrew, a womb-girl, two womb-girls] for every man” (5:30). The battle is between Israelites and Canaanites, and the women align solidly with their own group.

There is no other heroine like Deborah in the Hebrew Bible, but other women did have some of her many roles. She is called a “mother in Israel” (Judg 5:7) perhaps because she was a biological mother. This would be important, showing that mothers might attain political prominence. More likely, the phrase may indicate that her arbitration powers as judge were parental, even maternal. “Mother,” like “father,” can be an honorific title for an authority figure or protector in the community (compare 1 Sam 24:1 and Isa 22:21).

Another possibility is that she was a strong administrator of God’s plan, like the matriarchs in Genesis. As a respected politico-judicial authority, she has a counterpart in the wise woman of Abel, who spoke for and rescued the city of Abel where, she said, the people of Israel brought their disputes to be settled (2 Sam 20:15–22). As a singer of victory songs, she echoes Miriam and foreshadows latter women who celebrate David’s military success (1 Sam 18:6–7). And as a prophetess, like Miriam, she anticipates later female prophetic figures, such as Huldah, who prophesied the end of Israel’s time in Canaan, and Noadiah, who appeared during the restoration from exile.

But there are differences in these roles. Women singers and prophets continue throughout Israel’s history, but with the consolidation of the Israelite monarchy, politico-judicial authority of the type enjoyed by Deborah and the wise woman of Abel was handed over to the royal bureaucracies. And except perhaps for some queen mothers, they apparently did not include women.

Based on this and other sources I have read, I can see why the story in my book is written the way it is. It's not that I don't like it, I just feel I can understand it better now.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thoughts on a Thursday: Why do I blog and why am I telling you this?

I have been an avid reader all my life. Ask anyone that knows me, and they will tell you I am never without a book. I frequent my library, bookstores, new and used, and love the smell of new books. New reference books arrive at work, you can find them on my desk. Strange, I know.

But for all my reading, none of my friends and family are as voracious about reading as I am. I have no one to discuss these books with. I am also not great at remembering exact titles or authors, but show me the cover of a book, and I will remember it the next time I am at the book store.

I have never tracked what I read, but I was thinking it would be interesting to see how many books I have read and will read in the future. I started making a list on GoodReads, which contained my growing tbr and past books.

Then I discovered book blogs(BB)! Some of the first blogs I read were Darlene from Peeking Between the Pages , Amy from My Friend Amy, and the author Ann Aguirre. From there the BB community just exploded for me. I discovered all kinds of things that interest me: historical fiction, sci-fi, romance, and T.V. shows! And some of the bloggers I read knit or crochet. Perfect!

I have a knitting blog, but I don't knit as fast as I read, and I didn't feel that book reviews belonged there. Plus I share that blog with my girlfriend, and I didn't want to be a blog hog, so I started Jenny Loves to Read, in December 2008...I think. Obviously not the most original, but it's straight and to the point, and that's me. I just come out and say what I mean, usually diplomatically. I also figured blogging would be a good method for maintaining both my writing skills and critical thinking.

The books I read and review come from the library, my shelf, recently bought, new or used, and yes, some come from publishers or authors. I do not read or finish books I do not like. To me it is a waste of time, especially when there are so many books out there I want to read. Why waste my time with a book I think is crappy? Been there and done that!

Blogging is an outlet for me and I have made some great friends along way. I like to think I am honest and have integrity, but just because I may forget to say where I got the book, doesn't make me a bad person or dishonest. Blogging is not my full time job, it is a hobby. I do the best I can, and I try to provide some good content for my friends and followers. I think you can figure out what kind of person I am from my blog. At least I hope so.

So why am I having these thoughts on Thursday?

For the past few months, there has been some discussion regarding book blogs and the following issues:
* whether people do it for free books
* are bloggers honest with their reviews regardless of where the book came from, i.e. good reviews for free books from publishers or authors vs buying or borrowing books
* blogging with integrity, which probably goes with the one above.

Many of my book blog friends have posted about these issues, and there have been some really good discussions about it. I felt it was my turn to put my thoughts and feelings out there, and to also show some solidarity with my gals. I wasn't going to until Amy from My Friend Amy and Marie from The Burton Review recently posted again about these topics. Both great posts, but I felt as though these issues were bugging them and I felt bad for them. Almost as if they were defending themselves and their blogs.

Book blog critics, naysayers, and all around general haters, need to realize that the majority of us do this for the fun of it, for the love of books, and to connect with people out there on the web who have similar interests. Book blogs are never going to replace nationally recognized book reviews like NPR or The New York Times or whatever. Sorry, but I never read these book reviews because our interests were different. But that's fine! Everybody can have their say. That's what blogs are all about...having a place to voice our opinions and discuss things that are important to us.

Yes, I know there are people out there who only blog for the possibility of free books. There are freeloaders everywhere, but that is going to happen regardless of what the thing or stuff is. That's just the way people are. If you read blogs, you should be able to tell what kind a person the blogger is. Are they honest? Are they just having fun? Are they someone you like? I wouldn't read someone I didn't like. And newsflash: you don't have to like everybody.

If you as a blogger want to put a badge or button promoting your integrity, hey that's cool with me. It's your space to do with as you see fit, and whether you do or not, I'm still going to read you anyway. And definitely try to comment more :)
I just want you to know, I support you and appreciate all the hard work you do to maintain your blog and interact with others. I know it's not your full time job, but you have a passion for it which completely blows me away. I learn something new almost everyday from my book blog friends.

Look, all I'm saying is that book blogs are here to stay. Do they have an influence? I don't know, maybe. But it's up to you, the reader, to decide what that influence is going to be. But really people, stop badgering my book blogging community. We all love books and promote reading, so can't we all just get along?

Thanks for letting me get that out there :)
Love you guys!

(photo courtesy of Lifelounge-Daily Goodness)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Review: 20 Boy Summer

Author:Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Hachette Book Group (June 2009)
Genre: Fiction, YA
Hardcover, 304 pages

From LB-Teens:

"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?"
"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

My thoughts:

This story has a little bit of everything: tragedy, love, friendship, heart break, understanding, and forgiveness. Anna is the rock for her close knit friends and family. So when tragedy strikes, Anna can't allow herself to properly grieve because as her father tells her, "You'll have to be the strong one, Anna." In addition, Matt was her close friend and secret boyfriend, not exactly family. So how much can she grieve and show? When you are young, you don't realize how sometimes whether you're related by blood or not, you're still family and have every right to grieve. The way Anna handles this situation is commendable.

Anna grieves silently putting on a brave front, meanwhile she is an emotional wreck in the inside, and the secret is not helping her situation. There is no one Anna can talk to. Anna handles herself extremely well, all things considered. She is a sweet kid and pretty funny too. Anna is definitely mature beyond her years.

This book is also about the enduring friendship of two 16 year old girls and their plans for the "Absolutely Best Summer Ever" or ABSE for short. There are some funny moments at the beach that me chuckle to myself. Definitely brought back some memories of own when I was that age...especially when my friends and I would meet some guys. We have all certainly been there, and done that.

Overall this book was a great read. Even though one of the main themes of the book was how Anna deals with her loss and survivor guilt, the ABSE helps to alleviate any tension or sad feelings. It reminded me of my younger days, and that life is precious. Enjoy it while you can, and hopefully you will make some great friends along the way.

My Rating: 93/100

Thank you to Caitlin from FSB Associates for providing me with my review copy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Teaser Tuesday (August 4)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B from Should Be Reading.

The rules are as follows:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share does not give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Revered judge," said the princess, "I have a complaint to lodge against a maid named Nogah."
"Let her be summoned to hear your complaint," said Deborah, charging yet another maid with the task.

pg. 219, The Triumph of Deborah by Eve Etzioni-Halevy

I am not up to this point yet, but am enjoying the book so far. My only complaint so far is that hasn't been too much of Deborah in the story. I still don't feel like I know enough about her yet. Sounds like some research needs to be done.

So what are you teasing me with today?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Blog Tour: Marsha Altman author of the Pride and Predjudice Continues Series

Please give a warm welcome to guest blogger, Marsha Altman, author of the Pride and Prejudice Continues series. My reviews of her first two books can be found here and here.
Make sure you read the entire post because there is a surprise at the end.

I’m Marsha Altman, and I’ve written The Plight of the Darcy Brothers, a sequel to The Darcys and the Bingleys, which is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. And it is a series; book 3 (Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape) is due out in Feb 2010. Jenny asked me a few questions which I was more than happy to answer.

Obviously you are an Austen and Pride & Prejudice fan, but is there another reason why you chose to do the “P&P Continues” series? Or do you consider these books your homage to Austen?

I just get inspired to write about different things, usually spontaneously, or owing to a recent source of inspiration. I started working on my series about six months after the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie came out, after which I reread the book and re-watched the miniseries. As to whether I consider my books a homage to Austen, I can’t bring myself to go that far. Let’s be serious: I’m not doing her any favors and she can’t tell me one way or another, so I’ll just continue to do my work and hopefully get some readers will enjoy it, but I did not start writing because I felt a need to pay tribute to her. I paid tribute to her by visiting her grave, which financially was a little harder but otherwise a far more efficient method than writing a series of fanfic novels.

Would you ever consider writing a sequel series about another Austen book, like Emma or Northanger Abbey?

Not really. I see no reason to view all of her writing as a whole and assign equal credit to each of them. Each book has its individual merits and there is a lot of literary criticism devoted to which one is the best one. In terms of inspiring people and remaining a consistent part of popular culture, Pride and Prejudice is the most important. Everyone who’s literate knows who Mr. Darcy is (a slight exaggeration perhaps) but couldn’t tell you the difference between Fanny Price and Emma Woodhouse.

I think, from a historian’s perspective, it’s important not to consider her “six novels” sacrosanct. History views them differently and she probably did the same. In fact people forget that both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were both published posthumously, so whether she considered them in “final” form for publication is a subject for some debate. As an author, I have to say that I’m not sure I would feel about my family publishing unedited material for material gain, much less my unfinished work (Sandition), works I abandoned (Lady Susan), or stuff I wrote when I was a kid (Juvenilia).

What are some of your other favorite books?

In terms of books I’ve reread many times: Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Haj by Leon Uris, and about half of Philip Dick’s novels. He’s hit-or-miss. I want to put Lord of the Rings in here because I feel compelled to do so, but I actually only read it twice and I don’t think I could read it again. I’m very inspired by sci-fi, like Snowcrash, One in Three Hundred, and Swastika Night. Graphic novels: Watchmen, V for Vendetta.

What are you currently reading now?

The Persian Boy by Mary Renault is the next book of fiction on the list.

Do you have plans to write other books? Would they be historical fiction?

Most of my material is actually urban fantasy or science fiction, but it’s a much harder market to break into. I’m current writing a modern vampire novel, which has a lot of historical flashbacks to the Ancient world and medieval Europe, so I’m always, always reading some history book or another.

Is there another historical period that interests you?

Tokugawa Japan, which lines up with the Regency period pretty well even if Japan was a closed country at the time. For a long time I was into medieval history, but that’s really a very broad spectrum of history and it depends on the place and time period in terms of my interest. I know a lot about Judaism in late antiquity, but that’s mostly from studying religious texts from the period. Currently I’m reading a lot about ancient Greece, specifically the 4th century BCE, for another project. I also enjoy history books about pre-1951 Tibet, but they’re very hard to find and often entirely unreliable because Tibet was such an isolated country because of its geography.

What would be your lazy day dream? Like, if you had a Saturday or Sunday afternoon all to yourself what would you do? Relax, read, a hobby?

I would play the stack of video games on my shelf. I’m afraid to start any of them because I tend to get deep into the game until it’s over, so if I have a writing project on the table I don’t even get started on a game or I just won’t get any work done. I’m mostly into RPGs and adventure games. When Fallout 3 came out last fall and everyone I knew was playing it, I bought Fallout 1 & 2 to catch up on the story, but I haven’t opened the box yet. I said, “Well, it’s play Fallout or write a novel this year. What’s it going to be? Oh wait, I need to pay my rent. The novel, I guess.”

About the Author
Marsha Altman is a historian specializing in Rabbinic literature in late antiquity, and an author. She is also an expert on Jane Austen sequels, having read nearly every single one that's been written, whether published or unpublished. She has worked in the publishing industry with a literary agency and is writing a series continuing the story of the Darcys and the Bingleys. She lives in New York.


The woman likes Jane Austen, sci-fi novels, and playing video games. How could you not love her? Girl after my own heart.

Thank you for the great post Marsha! I will be looking forward to your future books.

And now on to the surprise part. Thanks to Danielle from Source Books, I am able to host a giveaway for Marsha's two books. The prize will be 1 set of both books for 1 winner. Here are the rules:

*Leave a comment on this post telling me what some of your favorite books are, or your favorite video game. Make sure you leave your email address too.
*Earn an extra entry by posting about this contest on your blog or in your side bar.
*Open to residents in the U.S. and Canada. Sorry but no P.O. Boxes please.

Deadline for entries is midnight, EST, Monday, August 24, 2009.

Thanks again to Danielle for providing my review copy and the prize above, and thanks also to Marsha for stopping by and chatting with me.

Good Luck everyone! And thank you, dear readers, for stopping by. I appreciate you all.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week September 14-18, 2009

This the second year for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW), which was started last year by Amy from My Friend Amy.

I didn't start book blogging until December of last year, or something like that. But in my short time as a book blogger I have met so many wonderful, friendly, and caring people. From reading all of your blogs, I have learned historical facts, discovered books new and old, discovered authors, and have basically learned something new eveyrday, whether personal or not. I have also made some really great friends, homw and abroad.

BBAW is a way to show appreciation for your book blogging community. And I think with all the brew-ha-ha over book blogs lately, it's more important than ever to show others you care. Lets take some pride in our community, come together and celebrate this marvelous thing we have going.

So here's the scoop about BBAW from the website:

Last year over 400 blogs came together to celebrate the art of book blogging during the first ever Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I am so pleased to announce that the second annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week will be taking place September 14-18.

WHO Anyone who blogs about books is invited to participate. In fact, we want everyone who blogs about books and reading to be a part of this week!

WHAT A week where we come together, celebrate the contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and recogonizing the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, and giveaways.

WHEN September 14-18, 2009

WHERE Here at the new Book Blogger Appreciation Week Blog! (Please note that this year there are three separate blogs and feeds—one for the main event, one for giveaways, and one for awards.)

WHY Because books matter. In a world full of options, the people talking about books pour hard work, time, energy, and money into creating a community around the written word. I, Amy, the founder of Book Blogger Appreciation Week love this community of bloggers and want to shower my appreciation on you

So please, stop by the website, check it out, register, and nominate your favorite blogs. You will probably even discover a few you never knew about.