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Monday, August 31, 2009

Surfer Sunday : Late, late, late...edition

Title: The Book Smugglers: Smuggling Since 2007/Reviewing Romance & Speculative Fiction Since 2008

Hosts: Thea and Ana (UK and US)

Brief Description: Reviewers of romance and fantasy/science-fiction releases.

Neat Features: Lots of in-depth reviews, give-aways, teasers...

What I Like: Cool design!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review: "Excuse Me...Are You a Witch?"

Title: Excuse Me...Are You a Witch?
Author: Emily Horn
Illustrator: Pawel Pawlak
Published: Watertown, MA.: Whispering Coyote, 2003
Genre: Children's picture book (Halloween)
Summary: A lonely black cat named Herbert searches for some witches to keep him company. [Publisher's blurb]

Originally published in the UK, this delightful picture book is recommended for ages 4-8, perfect as a read-aloud for the younger ones (I certainly intend to use it for my preschoolers!) and as a beginner reader for the older ages. Kids will especially like chanting along with Herbert's common refrain of "Excuse me, are you a witch?" as he searches for someone to love him.

The illustrations (chalk? - I don't know art, unfortunately) are fun with a touch of whimsy and a slightly comic-book feel. Each (mostly) two-page spread is large enough to be enjoyed by a group, but also intimate enough for one-on-one reading. And Herbert is absolutely adorable! (He could home with me anyday!)

Though it includes witches and black cats, "Excuse me..." is not necessary a Halloween-specific book (though my work has it classified as such), and can be enjoyed in any season. Good for themes including witches, cats, halloween (on the basis of the previous two subjects), friendship, love, and homes (specificially finding one).

Rating: Definitely a keeper!

Filed in:
Book Reviews at "Wishful Thinking"
PB & J Challenge at "Chasing the Mouse..."

World of...Weekend : First World War England

"World Of" Weekend

Hosted by: Jill at The O.W.L.

Tell us if you would like to live in the world of the book you're currently reading. Would it be fun? Would it be dangerous? Who would you most like to meet in that world? What would take some getting use to? Tell us anything! Be sure to include the author, and make sure to link back to the current "weekend" post!

The book I just set down (before turning on the computer!) is a biography of Beatrix Potter ("Beatrix Potter: the extraordinary life of a Victorian genius" by Linda Lear - published 2007). At the moment, it's 1917, and admidst the First World War furor, she's trying to get on with her farming in Sawrey (Lake District).

Would I like to be there? I certainly would love to meet Beatrix Potter (I've loved her books since I was little - and I'm currently drooling over a hardcover version of her complete works in the bookstore), but I don't know if I could do without (as whiny as it sounds) indoor plumbing! (Hey, I'm a born-and-bred city girl ;-)

Now I want to watch the "Miss Potter" movie that was released a few years ago (even though I don't like Renée Zellweger's acting).

So...were in the world are you this weekend?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday Finds: See Jenn find new books, See Jenn's imaginary TBR pile start to totter...

A weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB, "Friday Finds" allows you to share with other bloggers about the new-to-you books found during the week — books you either want to add to your TBR (to be read) list, or that you just heard about that sounded interesting.

Post about your latest discoveries and then link back to the comment section on the most current "Friday Finds" at Should Be Reading.

My Finds:

"The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper: by Kathleen Y'Barbo
Found this one on "Weavings", through a Teaser Tuesdays post

"Once dead, twice shy" by Kim Harrison
Found this one at "Page Turners", also through a Teaser Tuesdays post

"Sucks to be me: the all-true confessions of Mina Hamilton, teen vampire (maybe)" by Kimberley Pauley
Found on "The Book Owl" through... you guess it! a Teaser Tuesdays post [bloody things...]

"Casting spells" by Barbara Bretton
Found at "Carol's Notebook" on yet another TT post [grumble, grumble...too many tbr's! ;-)]

"Bewitching season" by Marissa Doyle
Discovered over at "Cornucopia of Review" through... [ahem, do I really have to say?]

"Fell" by David Clement-Davies
Found while browsing the teen section in Chapters

"Princess Ben" by Catherine Murdock
Found while browing the teen section in Chapters [but I was a good girl - I didn't buy anything...]

"Mr Darcy vampyre" by Amanda Grange
Found while browsing Amazon.ca [what is it w/PP and the undead lately...?]

"Jessica's guide to dating on the dark side" by Beth Fantaskey
Found while waiting for a prescription in the drug store

BTT: "Fluffy" Content

What’s the lightest, most “fluff” kind of book you’ve read recently?

Depends on you definition of fluff! ;-)

Light, entertaining, fun, easy to read... I love fluff books! (Except for chick-lit - those I can only take in small doses.) Actually, I rarely consider a book a "fluff" - a lot of so-called fluff books can have excellent characters, wonderful stories, and smart plots. Plus, since they're usually pb's, they're easy to carry around! ;-)

But as for my most recent fluffy read? It was a little while ago, but I would have to say Erin McCarthy's "High stakes", the first book in her "Vegas Vampires" series. It was a fast read, with just a hint of mystery, (vampire politicians? vampire first ladies? in Vegas, no less!) and the match between Alexis and Ethan was fun! ;-)

Title: High stakes
Author: Erin McCarthy
Series: Vegas Vampires
Published: 2006
Genre: Vampire chick-lit
Summary: He's a bloodsucking freak of nature. But, unlike other politicians, Ethan Carrick is actually a nice guy. Not to mention a very hot, wealthy, casino-owning vampire. It's an election year for vampires, which means he'll first have to escape his opponent's hit men. Then he'll have to find a suitable First Lady, preferably here in Vegas. Brittany Baldizzi fits the bill. She's smart, pretty- and sweeter than a glass of diabetic O-Negative. But her protective sister Alexis steps in with a message for Ethan: Bite me. It's then that he realizes it's the sexy, no-nonsense Alexis who raises his stake. And as much as she denies it, Alexis wouldn't mind a romp in the coffin with him. But can a mere mortal, even one who risks her life for him, make a centuries-old, womanizing vampire feel something entirely new? [Fantastic Fiction]

Filed in: Booking Through Thursday in "Chasing the Mouse..."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Vampires, oh la la!

It's Teaser Tuesday!
A weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

Grab your current read, open to a random page and share 2 "teaser" sentences - be careful not to spoil it for others!

My teasers are from A. M. Jenkins' "Night road":

Sandor's attention was sharp on Cole's face. "You're kidding, I hope."
"This guy is dressed like Count Chocula."
[p. 188]

Filed in: Teaser Tuesdays at "Chasing the Mouse..."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Challenges, Challenges...

This is a catalogue of all the challenges I've decided to participate in, listed in order from the earliest end date (Dec. 2009) to the latest (Sep. 2010), with a perpetual challenge at the very bottom. Brief particulars are given (title, running dates, one-sentence description, host(s), and aim(s)), with links to the host's site, the challenge post, and to my progress page.

Nothing like diving in feet first... ;-)

Centuries Reading Challenge - running throughout 2009, the challenge is to read books from different centuries.
Hosted by: Becky of Becky's Book Reviews
The aim:4 to 6, crossovers allowed
My progress: can be found here... I think I'm going to try for books written during various centuries (as opposed to modern books written in various centuries), if that makes any sense...

Science-Book Challenge 2009 - running the entire year, the challenge is to read works (related to science, scientists, how science opperates, etc.) upon the theme of "nature's wonders"; they can include popular non-fiction, histories, biographies, anthologies, etc.
Hosted by: Scienticity, from the people at Ars Hermeneutica
The aim: 3
My progress: can be found here... I think a browse through the 500 aisle at work is calling me!
What an Animal II - running from July 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010, the challenge is to read fiction/non-fiction books where animals are involved (in the title, on the cover, as a character, etc.).
Hosted by:Kristi at Passion For the Page
The aim: 6, crossovers allowed
My progress: can be found here... what really surprised me (and got me interested!) about this challenge was that the list of "acceptable" animals could be real or fictional (such as a dragon, mermaid, centaur, vampire, werewolf...)

Arthurian Challenge - running from April 2009 to March 2010, the challenge is to read books starring characters found in or inspired by Arthurian legends (i.e. King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, Lady of the Lake, etc.)
Hosted by: Becky at Becky's Book Reviews
The aim: 1-3 books (with the possibility of expansion...)
My progress: can be found here... this is my chance to read about (Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur" will be a definite and maybe T. H. White's "Once and future king") a period in folklore/history (depending on where you are in the spectrum of belief) that I've never really had an interest in...
Much Ado About Shakespeare Challenge - running from September 1, 2009 - April 26, 2010 (Shakespeare's birthday), the challenge is to read any of Shakespeare's works, any book inspired by a Shakespeare play, or watch any movie from or inspired by a Shakespeare play.
Hosted by: Andrea, over at The Little Bookworm
The aim: 6
My progress: can be found here... I wonder if graphic novel adaptions count?
Pre-Printing Press Challenge - running from May 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010, the challenge is to read books that pre-date the printing press (pre-1440).
Hosted by: Elena, over at All Booked Up
The aim: 1-3 (I'm aiming low ;-) , crossovers allowed
My progress: can be found here... I'd like to read the Epic of Gilgamesh (Sumerian), as well as Homer's Illiad/Odyssey and the Welsh Mabinogion (okay, maybe I'll be aiming for 4-6 books instead... ;-) Sci-Fi Reading Challenge - running from August 28, 2009 to August 8, 2010, the challenge is to expand your horizons into science fiction.
Hosted by: Mish, over at Stage and Canvas
The aim: hmmm, I think I'll go with 8 (even though I'm one of those people that tend to stay clear of sci-fi...)
My progress: can be found here... an H. G. Wells is definitely on the list, as is "The iron dragon's daughter" (which I've wanted to read for awhile, but have never really gotten around to), and Neil Gaiman's "The graveyard book", but other than that...
China Challenge - running from September 1, 2009 to September 1, 2010, with 4 various levels (w/funky names!) to choose from, this challenge is an opportunity to learn about a "forbidden" country...
Hosted by: Jennie, found at Biblio File
The aim: 5, which must include 1 translated work and 1 non-fiction
My progress: can be found here... which, at the moment, only includes possible titles (I have yet to make a decision)
PB & J Challenge - perpetual (challengee's choice), the challenge is to read more children's books, including picture, beginner's (early readers) and J (chapter) books.
Hosted by: Becky from Becky's Book Reviews
The aim: hmmm... I'm not quite sure what my personal goal is yet (host suggestions: 12 picture books a month, 12 picture books and 4 J books in 3 months, etc.)
My progress: can be found here... since I currently do Preschool Storytime at work, I read a lot of picture books - here's my excuse to actually record and comment on them!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Surfer Sunday - "My Handbound Books"

Title: "My Handbound Books"

Author: Rhonda from Nova Scotia

Description: A bookbinder/book artist's blog that showcases her skills, techniques and products.

Neat Features: Tutorials for newbies, a subscriber's newsletter (free), an etsy shop, and lots of gorgeous pictures!

Filed in: Surfer Sundays at "Chasing the Mouse..."

I couldn't resist... ;-)

Simon's Cat: "Cat-Man-Do"

BTT Challenge: Best Recent Read

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
(Tell me you didn’t see this one coming?)

For pure personal enjoyment (which is how I'm going to define "best"), Patricia C. Wrede's "Searching for dragons" (book 2 in the Enchanted forest chronicles) was my best recent read.

[original cover]
I read the first book, "Dealing with dragons" a few years back, but then never went through the process of borrowing the remainder of the series. [Watch as I now kick myself] Not long ago, I ran across a review of Wrede's newest series (Cecelia and Kate), which pinged my memory about the dragons, and thus I decided to splurge on the box set of the "Enchanted forest chronicles", which contains books 1-4.

I must warn you: I usually have problems with second books in a series. "Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets" was my least favourite, as was Jim Butcher's "Fool moon" and, more recently, Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's "Return of the emerald skull." I find they tend to make the trilogy, quartet, series, etc. sag, flounder, or otherwise loose the reader's attention. With half a dozen (or more!) plot threads, it's easy to see how this can happen. That said...

I loved "Searching for dragons"! Cimorene was her usually spunky self, and Mendanbar was seamlessly introduced into the world as the king-who-doesn't-want-to-be-king (he's banned all official functions, much to the dismay of his steward) of the Enchanted Forest. What I found most unique was that this book was Mendanbar's story, told from his angle (though still in third person pov). My only fault with the book was the ending wrap-up, which I found a bit rushed.

[reprinted cover]
Title: Searching for dragons
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Series: Enchanted forest chronicles, book 2
Published: 1991
Genre: YA fantasy
Summary: Cimorene, the princess who refuses to be proper, is back - but where is Kazul the dragon? That's what Cimorene is determined to find out. Luckily - or perhaps not-so-luckily - she's got help: Mendandbar, the not-very-kingly King of the Enchanted Forest, has joined her in her quest. So with the aid of a broken-down magic carpet, a leaky magical sword, and a few buckets of soapy lemon water, they set off across the Enchanted Forest to tackle the dragon-napping and save the King of the Dragons. [back cover]

Filed in: BTT Challenge Index at Chasing the Mouse...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

20 in 2009 Book Challenge - Introduction

Since I'm new to the book blogging world, I thought I'd start off with a fairly easy challenge...

the 20 in 2009!

A little late than never, I suppose.... however, I have left a comment on the blog, and since I'm coming up to vacation time - yay! - I hope to get lots of reading done!

I've created a progress page over at "Chasing the mouse...", which includes the rules, links, as well as my list of twenty books (which will be linked to individual entries here), each added as they are read.

I think (though this may change...;-) I'll try and tackle "serious" books (probably non-fic, since I usually can't stand contemporary lit). I have no qualms about admitting that I read "popular" fiction - and enjoy it (especially romance). It entertains, enlightens, and enriches...I always remember that in her time, Jane Austen was considered "popular" and not a classical author (as she is now).

First book up...
"The elements of murder: a history of poison" by John Emsley (2005) - written by a British chemist, it's a hardback tome just shy of 400 pages

Filed in: 20in2009 index at "Chasing the mouse..."

BTT Challenge: Worst Recent Read

What’s the worst book you’ve read recently?
(I figure it’s easier than asking your all-time worst, because, well, it’s recent!)
[from Booking Through Thursday]
I tend to read most books (good, bad or ugly), but I've rarely (there have been one or two memorable occasions!) given up in the middle of a book (and on those said occasions, acutally thrown the book away) - that said...

The first thing that comes to mind is "The marine's baby" by Rogenna Brewer (a Harlequin Super Romance). Despite the general prejudice against category romance, I (for the most part) love them! The very good ones have memorable characters, a great storyline, and just enough sexy (sometimes more than enough - whoo hoo!)...plus they're an easy (and quick) read. Those authors become sought-after favourites.

This one, however... [shakes head and sighs deeply]. The main problem was that I hated the main characters, almost right from the beginning. She was winey and wishy-washy, and he was an idiot (even at the end when the HEA occured) - but she annoyed me the most! This was the first book I've read by Rogenna Brewer, but (and I hate to say it...) it will probably be my last.

Title: The marine's baby
Series: Bundles of joy (9 months later)
Author: Rogenna Brewer
Genre: Category romance
Published: 2008 (Harlequin Super Romance)
Summary: In just a few months Caitlin Calhoun went from a wife to a widow to a mother-to-be. All she'd wanted was to honor her dead husband by having his baby. But that's not what she got. Thanks to an unfortunate mix-up, her child's father is her husband's half brother, Lucky. So how does she break the news that he's about to become a father? Family is the last thing the war-toughened Marine expected to have--not with all the bad blood in his own. But Lucky would never turn his back on a child...or the woman who's given him a second chance. [Amazon.com]

Filed in: BTT Challenge Index at "Chasing the Mouse..."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Books, Chinese Food, and Cat's Paws

New Books:
1. Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's "Barnaby Grimes: Return of the Emerald Skull" (2009) $17.99
2. "Llewellyn's Witches' Databook 2010" (2009) $12.50

I purchased some chinese food while out, and almost immediately upon returning home and dumping the food into a dish, I see a little white paw come sneaking into my field of vision. Betsy's learned the trick of sneaking her paw into a dish and cleaning what sticks. [non-cat people will be disgusted by this, but I usually push her paw away before she touches anything] She loves rice; what can I say, she's a weird cat.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Beginning: B&B Research

Since once of my future character's (Kee) owns and operates a bed and breakfast, I think it's probably about time I look into some practical research...

One of the first things I found was a list of recommended books...

3. How to open and operate a bed and breakfast by Jan Stankus (2007, 8th edition)
5. Start and run a profitable bed and breakfast by Monica and Richard Taylor (1992)
6. How to start and operate your own bed and breakfast by Martha Watson Murphy (2001)

So, now to start my collection... ;-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Barnaby Grimes: Tick-tock lad

Authors: Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (illustrator)
Series: Barnaby Grimes (so far, 4 books - only 2 published in Canada)
Title: 1. "Curse of the night wolf" (2007)
Genre(s): young adult fantasy/horror

A gloriously macabre tale in a breathtaking new series, packed with intrigue, horror and fantastic illustrations. [inside jacket cover]

Having devoured the "Edge Chronicles," (and, sniff, was sad to see the end) I was keen to try this duo's newest series. I was not disappointed. Though the text printing is larger (in my edition, anyway), it is definitely not for their youngest fans - especially when it comes to the slightly gruesome horror elements (though some kids might be attracted for this very factor!). Packed with non-stop action, mystery, and (of course) Riddell's gorgeous illustrations, "Curse of the night wolf" is definitely a keeper - even for adult fans such as myself!

Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad, a (as he explains it) "...cross between a messenger and a delivery boy, only a tick-tock lad has to be faster than the first and twice as sharp as the second..." (pp. 8-9). Working in a large early Victorian city reminiscent of London, he "highstacks" while delivering, collecting, and witnessing for a variety of sometimes eccentric clients. Along the way, his adventures usually take a turn to the supernatural, and are hinted at (and thus setting up the series) throughout the beginning chapters of the book. Even more intriguing, the reader is set-up for the ending in the first chapter, as Barnaby begins his tale involving patent medicines, impoverished patients and very expensive furs...

"Have you ever felt your skin being peeled slowly away from your arms and legs? Your muscles being torn and shredded as every bone in your body fights to burst through your flesh? Have you ever felt every tendon and sinew stretched to breaking point as your skeleton attempts to rip itself apart from the inside? I have, and I'll never forget it." (p. 1)

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Words on paper come easily - whether they are of any consequence is questionable.

I don't think there has ever been a time in my life that I haven't reached for a pen and paper (relatively speaking). To me, they're as natural as breathing.

Journalling, however, has not been an art that I've been inclined towards. Goddess knows, I've tried. But then daily entries become weekly, and weekly entries merge into monthly ones, and the entire enterprise is forgotten. I even buy pretty (and usually pricy) hardbound books, hoping this will induce continued endeavours. Which is why I now have (and continue to collect) dozens of journals with an itty-bit of "diary-space", followed by my regular writing. Apparently, I'm not very interested in the truth (or at least my version of it).

I am, in some small measure, proud of my penmanship. I have, in the past, received favourable comments concerning my handwriting. To me, it seems no extraordinary thing, being, at various times, a scrawl, small neat half-writing half-printing, large loopy letters, and, on occasion, chickenscratch. But there is nothing more satisfying than the right kind of pen (which varies with my mood and inclination) scribbling across the white expanse of the right kind of paper. (Yes, I am a geek - I will feel paper before I buy it; I leave the recycled and the cheap stuff to the students.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

"First draft" wars

After deciding that the "Writer's Digest" magazine excerpt wasn't going to cut it, I purchased Karen Wiesner's From first draft to finished novel. When I settled down to read it, I soon found out that I should have (silly me!) purchased her first writing how-to book: First draft in 30 days. She constantly makes references to "First draft..." in "From...", as in: see my other book for more details. That's not why I bought the "From..." book! (grrr!) So, since Chapters didn't have a copy of "First draft..." in stock, I've now had to order it in, which will take approximately a week to two weeks. I have yet to decide whether I'll slog through (consciously ignorning the "First draft..." references) the book I have, or whether I'll wait until the first book comes.


"From first draft to finished novel"at Chapters
"First draft in 30 days"at Chapters
Karen Wiesner's non-fiction page (with checklists and outlines available from her books)
"Writer's Digest" article on From first draft to finished novel (including worksheets available in PDF)