Monday, September 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Book Turn Offs

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Book Turn Offs

1. Animal Deaths: First, my number one, the reason I will throw the book across the room and swear to never finish it (most of the time) is gratuitous killing of animals. Bleh. There is no need to always kill the dog, cat, pet, etc. Animal abuse bothers me too. Just leave them alone please. Surprise readers for a change and let them live!

2.  Terrible Cover Art Work: I guess I judge books by their covers, but if it is awful, I am reluctant to believe the book is any good.

3.  Billionaires and Business Men: If I pick up a book and read the blurb on the back, if it mentions So and So is a billionaire - I usually put it back down. Not sure why really, just doesn't appeal to me.

4.  Whiny Needy Helpless Female Characters:  This drives me nuts. I prefer my female characters to be tough or at least independent.

5. Cheating Characters: I don't hate a book because of this, but I will hate that character.

6.  Politics/Spy/Espionage: Same as number 3, just not my cup of tea.

7.  Science Fiction: Again, just doesn't interest me.

8.  Weird/Misspelled Names: I hate this! My friend gave me a book once where all the characters had crazy spellings of normal words and names. So irritating.

9.  War time books: I just feel inundated by them. I will read them occasionally though.

10.  Neat and Tidy or Rushed Endings: There is nothing worse than reading a really well written book that ends crappy, as if the writer rushed into it or did something crazy just to tie things up neatly.

What about you? Anything turn you off from a book?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, where we share what we are reading and see what others are reading as well.

Read Last Week:

I got derailed from my plan last week! Our huge book order for work came in, about 8 of my own library holds came in, and my Amazon pre-orders came in - Doctor Sleep, Dream Thieves, and Winds of Salem. I was overwhelmed by the amount of books at my disposal and couldn't make a choice. I ended up reading:


Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn: Our kids at work love scary books and Mary Downing Hahn. We just got this in, and I read it to scope out the creep factor. I will be showing this book to the kids who ask me for "the scariest book in the library".

Sold Down the River by Barbara Hambly: I love the Benjamin January series. I have read it many times. So powerful and I learned so much about this horrific time period in New Orleans. This series is a fiction story about a freeman named Benjamin January, who is a doctor and a musician.

Reading This Week:

I narrowed down the choices by what I absolutely had to read first. This was not easy, but I did it. 


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt: Another favorite book of mine - so much so that I picked it for my book club to read. We meet on Thursday.

The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice: I am reading this via NetGalley. It archives the 15th of October, so I felt I should get to this way before then.

Reviews and Posts:

I was a busy little blogger last week! I posted the following posts:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fall Flavors Fest - Greenfield Village

I love Greenfield Village. I buy a membership every year, and I use it at least once a month, sometimes more. I especially love to visit in the fall, when they have their Fall Flavors Festival and Farm Market.

Today didn't really feel like fall, with the temperature near 80 degrees, but since it was sunny and gorgeous, we definitely wanted to head to the village for the fest.

The farm market has local vendors, from dairy farmers to vegetable farmers to salt and pepper, to actual broom makers. I love to wander around and check everything out, before making any purchases.

The first booth I stopped at was Grassfield Farms, which is a dairy and meat farm, that is all organic with grassfed cows. I don't eat meat, but I did try their cheese, which was amazing. I especially loved their Edam. Next we checked out the local honey makers, Better Bee Honey. They had tons of flavored honey, including peach, lavender, and lemon, but unfortunately they didn't take debit or credit cards, so we were unable to purchase anything.

Fortunately for us, everyone else there did accept credit/debit. We stopped at a table filled with pretty bottles of salt and pepper, which was run by the nicest people. They were dressed in period clothing, and were a pleasure to talk to. We ended up purchasing Hawiian Black Lava Salt, which is naturally lower in sodium, and Long Black Pepper, which has many flavor profiles, from peppery to chocolate, and is earthy and sweet. We plan on using it on a favorite dessert of ours, thanks to our friend Justin, which is good vanilla ice cream, topped with good scotch and pepper. Sounds weird, but it is amazing! If you are interested in checking out the color of your pepper, here is their website.

Next, I wandered over to the Kings Pantry, which had seeds for sale that I have never seen before! I could have perused them all day, but there were a lot of people so I didn't linger so that others could look too. I ended up buying rare Ukranian Beet Seeds and Soapwort Seeds. Both are organic and locally grown.

They had a lot more but I couldn't get a picture, just too many people.

I loved this broom! It is called a wedding broom. I sadly don't have a place for it, so I left it behind. 

We walked around the rest of the booths, but nothing called to us. We stepped outside, and saw a crush of people around a tent. We of course had to know what was over there. It turned out to be Maple Syrup! How perfectly fall. I know it is tapped in the spring, but whatever, it seems fall to me. We tried the free sample of maple dip, and then smelled the Maple coffee - which was divine, and I had to buy it. The owner of Doodle's Sugarbush was also very friendly, and when I asked her if they tap their own syrup, she said they did, and told us that in the spring they have tours. We can see them tap the trees, and make the syrup, so of course my Laura Ingalls Wilder soul wants to see this. We are definitely going to remember to go!  Check them out here

After shopping the market, we roamed around the village, checking out the cooking demonstrations, but it was so hot in the houses we didn't stay long. I can only imagine what it was like for those early pioneers, who had to just deal with it if they wanted to eat. We also popped into the Wright Bicycle Shop, and saw the 16 foot center of the first plane. Can you believe that only 65 years after the Orville's first flight, Neal Armstrong walked on the moon?

We had a wonderful day, and I can't wait to try out everything we bought, especially the seeds! The village is gearing up for the next event, their Halloween Nights. Whooooo...scary!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Review

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Source: Kindle E-Book ($4.99 when I bought it)

Goodreads Summary:

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

My thoughts:

Imagine going to a party, and waking up the next morning in a bathtub with no recollection of how you got there. When you stumble out to the rest of the house, you discover everyone else at the party was killed during the night. A window was left open during the party, letting in the killer. Who just happens to be vampires. That is just what happens to Tana one morning, changing her whole life.

Through a series of events, Tana, her ex-boyfriend Aidan, Winter and Midnight (two young adults they meet at a rest area), and a vampire named Gavriel flee to their local Coldtown. Not all cities have them, but they do have one close by. There are five major Coldtowns across the country - they are a section of town that was walled off to keep vampires and infected people sequestered, to prevent a further spread of vampirism. Coldtowns are like a glamorous wild party/reality show, with live feeds, live cams, ad streaming video, which those outside the Coldtowns can watch what is happening behind the walls. But Coldtowns are also extremely dangerous, which can't be forgotten.

Tana is the perfect heroine - she was awesome! She is flawed, makes bad choices sometimes just because she wants to, but is brave, loyal, courageous and tough. She is not weak, and does not always wait to be rescued. Gavriel is a perfect Byronic hero and love interest, and Tana does not get her head turned by a handsome face - she does not romanticize the idea of vampires, instead knows them to be the monsters that they are. Although Tana and Gavriel do get a little steamy...

The vampires in this story are not mamby pamby vampires who glitter and forgo drinking blood. They are dangerous, with red eyes, who do drink the blood of people, and will even kill them. Reading this book though, I was more freaked out by the scary wannabes, those people who saw the vampires as eternally young, who never die, no more birthdays. They have no limits to as how far they will go to get what they want, which is eternal life. Isn't this always true though - that zealots can be the craziest people in the room?

I loved this book! I read it all in one sitting, I just didn't want to stop reading it. Black created a world that was different from other vampire books, with an awesome heroine. It was complex, I just grazed the surface of this story. I feel like we didn't quite get enough closure at the end of this book, and I am really hoping that this signifies another book in the series to come!

I loved this book! And it also qualifies as a book in the R.I.P. VIII Reading Challenge!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Moonrise - Review

Title: Moonrise
Author: Cassandra King
Source: LibraryThing

Goodreads Summary:

When Helen Honeycutt falls in love with Emmet Justice, a charismatic television journalist who has recently lost his wife in a tragic accident, their sudden marriage creates a rift between her new husband and his oldest friends, who resent Helen’s intrusion into their tightly knit circle. Hoping to mend fences, the newlyweds join the group for a summer at his late wife’s family home in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Helen soon falls under the spell not only of the little mountain town and its inhabitants, but also of Moonrise, her predecessor’s Victorian mansion, named for its unique but now sadly neglected nocturnal gardens. But the harder Helen tries to fit in, the more obvious it is that she will never measure up to the woman she replaced.
Someone is clearly determined to drive her away, but who wants her gone, and why? As Emmet grows more remote, Helen reaches out to the others in the group, only to find that she can’t trust anyone. When she stumbles on the secret behind her predecessor’s untimely death, Helen must decide if she can ever trust—or love—again.

My thoughts:

John Denver sang of the wonder and beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a few summers ago I got to experience them for myself.  I fell in love in an instant, and the area remains one of my favorite places ever. This scenery is reflected in Moonrise, pristine and unsullied, with  gorgeous and lush descriptions of the Highlands area. Unfortunately, some of the characters in the story area a direct contrast to this purity and beauty. Not outwardly, but inwardly.

Helen is the new wife of Emmet Justice, which is the coolest last name ever. They met in the year after his wife died, in Florida where he had fled, trying to get his late wife Roslyn out of his mind in a new place. The change of scenery seemed to work, as Emmet met and fell in love with Helen Honeycutt, a dietician with a cooking show. Helen convinced Emmet to take her to his vacation home, Moonrise, in North Carolina. This is where the story begins.

Helen is introduced to Emmet's (and Roslyn's) close circle of friends - Tansy, Noel, Kit, and Linc and his wife Myna, who is absent from the book most of the time. These people loved Roslyn, and are still grieving her death, and do not react kindly to the new bride of Emmet. Tansy and Kit are scandalized by the quick marriage, and do their best (or worst) to shut Helen out, and make her look foolish in front of the others, sabotage her marriage, and set her up to take falls, literally and figuratively. Linc and Noel are much more likeable, as they are friendlier to Helen, which becomes another strike against her as the story unfolds. Willa, the housekeeper, is the only woman that is willing to befriend Helen.

This book is narrated by multiple characters - Helen, Tansy, and Willa. All three women have a different idea of what is going on around them, and it is interesting to read what each knows that the other doesn't.

Roslyn herself is a major player in the book, although she is dead. She is everywhere, a ghostly presence, in the memories of the people of Highlands, in the essence of Moonrise, and in the decaying and dessicated night garden behind the house. To Helen, Roslyn is an ideal that Helen feels she can't live up to. She is perfect in Helen's mind, to the manor born, full of grace and poise, the ultimate hostess and wife, beloved by those who have met her.

But what Helen didn't know is that the Roslyn's perfect life had some cracks, and the more that she tries to emulate her, the wider they get. The suspense keeps building, and it gets to the point that the reader wants to shake Helen, or Emmet, or Tansy, or Kit, or whoever. As Helen gets slowly driven crazy, so does the reader. Just when you think you can't take it anymore, the secrets break and the walls come crumbling down.

I loved the Gothic elements to this book, the suggestion of ghosts, a big old house, the creepy night garden in back that once was beautiful - if the garden were a human character, I would picture it as Miss Havisham.

I found parts of the story a little slow, but they were worth reading through to get to the good stuff. Moonrise however was also complex, suspenseful, and full of doubts. I really did enjoy it, and think it would be even better if read somewhere you could overlook mountains, and read by moonlight.

 I am happy I was able to read this as part of the R.I.P. VIII challenge

Monday, September 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Best Sequels

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
My Top Ten Sequels - I decided to go my own way and pick multiples from a series, if I really loved them.


Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare - Pretty safe to say I loved this whole series!

Lasher by Anne Rice - I read The Witching Hour so many times, I never thought I would love the sequel. But I did.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - Ahh Hunger Games. You are incomparable.


Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor - I loved these books, I can't wait for the third one to come out. No, really, I can't wait. It needs to come out now. Lol. 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - I kept my Harry Potter love to a maximum of two. I think it is time to reread this series!

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon - Jamie Fraser! Claire! 


The Good, The Bad and The Undead and A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison - I also kept these to only two choices. Also, I met Kim Harrison this year and it was awesome!

The Bookstore - Review

Title: The Bookstore
Author: Deborah Meyler
Source: Netgalley

A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.

Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.

The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?

A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

My thoughts:

When I saw the cover and title of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. What reader doesn't love a bookstore, especially one with some personality and quirk.

Esme's life is in upheaval. She is British by nationality, in the U.S. on a student visa while she studies at Colombia, and is dating Mr. Old Money himself, Mitch van Leuven. He leaves her high and dry, before she can even tell him she is pregnant with his child. He later finds out, and Esme and Mitch begin to have a very frustrating and annoying relationship. At least in my opinion. I wanted to shake her sometimes for some of her bad choices or just for her naivete.

Esme is able to find a space of calm within the uncertainty of her life. She takes a job at The Owl bookstore to support herself after Mitch leaves her, and begins to carve out a niche of serenity for herself.  The bookstore is open 24 hours, and Esme enjoys the rainy or cold nights, when her coworkers and customers gather inside, listen to Luke play the guitar, and talk about books or movies. Esme feels content and at peace during these moments, and the reader is lulled into the peace as well.

This book had a quiet feel about it, much like the feeling you get while looking for books in a library or a bookstore. You kind of zone out, in your own world, searching through the books, and the world falls away behind you. This book feels like that, if that makes any sense. The supporting characters brought the life to this story, the way I think they did to Esme's life. George with his organic health nut beliefs, musician Luke, who introduces Esme to music that has soul to it, they provide the variety and flavor to the book. I would have had the biggest crush on Luke had I been Esme!

I really liked this book. I would recommend reading it on a wild weather night, a night you want to snuggle down warm and tight, and be cozy for a while.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, where we share what we are reading and see what others are reading as well.

Read Last Week:

Last week was a busy one for me, in general, in every aspect. It was full but I got a lot done, and had fun to boot! My husband and I went to a movie for the first time in months, and we also attended the Michigan Renaissance Festival. It was a wonderful fall day and we had a blast!

As for my reading life, I participated in Banned Books Week hosted by Sheila, and Mary Stewart Reading Week hosted by Anbolyn of Gudrun's Tights. I also participated in the Top Ten Tuesday meme.


The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare: Can you believe this is a banned book? So crazy! I read it and reviewed for Banned Book Week. 

Moonrise by Cassandra King: I thought this book took a little time to get hooked, but once you were you were all in. The kind of book you want to shout at the characters in frustration! 
Review Wednesday.

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart: My favorite of Stewart's books, I reread this and reviewed as part of Mary Stewart Reading Week.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: I really enjoyed this book! I ate it right up with a spoon, and didn't put it down until I finished. Review Thursday. 

Reading This Week:


The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe: We read this for book club when it came out- I have been meaning to reread it and now is the perfect time.

Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan: Since I am reading a witch book, I think I should read a werewolf one as well. 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt : I love this book, and I picked it for my book club to read this month. 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Banned Book Review and Giveaway!

In celebration of Banned Books Week, I am joining the banned and participating in a promotion hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Visit her blog to check out featured posts from bloggers all around the country celebrating the freedom to read books of their choosing!

Title: The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Author: Elizabeth George Speare
Source: On the shelves of the elementary library where I work

Kit is a lighthearted, fey, and impulsive teen, who was born and raised on the tropical island of Barbados. She lived with her grandfather there, running wild and free over the island, until the day he died. Following his death, Kit takes the journey from Barbados to Connecticut Colony to live with her aunt and uncle and cousins. Anyone would have a difficult adjustment period to such a drastic change, even now, but the transistion was much more difficult for Kit in 1687. `Her beloved grandfather was gone, and her way of life had completely turned upside down. She was not prepared for the Puritan way of life that was in store for her.

Nor were her Puritan relatives prepared for life with Kit! She had not warned them of her coming, and were shocked to hear that she was there to stay, the night she arrived on their doorstep. Her Aunt Rachel welcomed her graciously, her two cousins, Judith and Mercy received her with mixed emotions, and her Uncle Matthew did not seem pleased to see hear of her intention to live with them one bit. Regardless of her differences between herself and those of Connecticut Colony, Kit did make a few friends. First, her friend Nat, who was the Captain's son of the boat she took on her long journey, William, the wealthy son of a local landowner, and John, a solemn religious scholar she also met on her trip north.

Kit had a tough time adjusting to the hardscrabble and difficult life of the puritans. Not having ever had to lift a finger for her own needs, always having had slaves to do the dirty work for her, she was unused to chores and hard work, although she tried her best. However, she did make mistakes, born out of a lack of understanding of her new community. No one else saw it that way though - she was judged pretty harshly, although she was still learning the ropes. One day after having made a mess of things, Kit runs off, and ends up being comforted by the Widow Hannah Tupper, who lives out by Blackbird Pond away from the town.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the worst thing Kit could have done. In this time of prejudice and religious righteousness, there is an atmosphere of suspicion and judgement, with villagers always ready to condemn someone as a sinner, or worse, a witch. Hannah Tupper had earned the suspicion of many, for her isolated ways, Quaker beliefs, and her refusal to attend the Sabbath meetings on Sunday, even though she was a different religion.  And horror of horrors, Hannah also owns a cat.

When illness strikes the village, Hannah is blamed, and soon after, Kit. They are accused of witchcraft, and Hannah's house is burned to the ground. She (and her cat) would not have escaped without the help of Kit and Nat. In the end, Kit is proven innocent of witchcraft, although I am sure the village would not hesitate to later accuse another person of witchcraft.

Why was this book banned?

This book was challenged as recently as 2003, for promoting witchcraft and violence. In Connecticut no less! This is mind blowing. I feel like the people who tried to ban it have never even read this book, maybe they would have learned from it.

Everyone who saw me reading this book told me how much they loved it as a kid.And the principal of my school told me that when she taught fifth grade, this was one of the books she taught to her class, for years! And you know, not one of those kids were corrupted.

 Its like the narrow mindedness of the 1680s never ended, that you can draw a straight line through over 300 years of history, and still see the same patterns. It worries me that this same sort of attitude exists today, but maybe the more people read books like The Witch of Blackbird Pond, the more they will learn, and the more tolerant they will become.

Help fight the good fight for books, and read more banned ones!

For the giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart Reading Week

This Rough Magic - Review

Title: This Rough Magic
Author: Mary Stewart
Source: Library

Goodreads Sumamry:

British actress Lucy Waring believes there is no finer place to be "at liberty" than the sun-drenched isle of Corfu, the alleged locale for Shakespeare's The Tempest. Even the suspicious actions of the handsome, arrogant son of a famous actor cannot dampen her enthusiasm for this wonderland in the Ionian Sea.
Then a human corpse is carried ashore on the incoming tide ...

My thoughts:

The most important thing to remember when reading a Stewart book, is that they were originally published in the 60s. This was one was published first in 1964, and because of this, parts of the book are pretty dated.  Nevertheless, I still enjoy them.

This book follows the Stewart formula - youngish woman, who is brave. plucky, quick witted, and most of all heroic.  Lucy Waring is taking a break from her life as an actress in England to stay with her well to do sister in Corfu, off the coast of Greece. The descriptions of the sunny warm weather and the everyday swimming bummed me out a bit,  I wish I was at a beach in Greece! I am not a beach person normally, but reading this book may have changed my mind about that. And this woman is always trooping around in just her swimsuit! I am not sure I would go that far.

It seems like Lucy is enjoying a dream trip, but it soon turns into a dangerous mystery. A suspicious accident, a body washes up on the beach, shots are fired in Lucy's close vicinity while she is out in the water. Like all Stewart heroines, Lucy lands smack dab in the middle of the mystery.  There were even some tense animal rescue moments in it for me!

My only complaint is that I personally was not familiar enough with the politics of that area at that time to really be interested in parts of the plot. But that was just me.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. I think it is best read though on a beach under the sun, with a cool drink beside you and the ocean waves as the soundtrack.

*This review was originally posted by me in March 2013. Reposting in honor of Mary Stewart week.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Top Ten Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday - Fall TBR (redo, my original post disappeared into the ether)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I never got around to this last year, and have made it a priority this year.

 Moonrise by Cassandra King - I am currently reading this retelling of Rebecca set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and so far I am really enjoying it.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke - I won this and I can't wait to get it. This cover is amazing!

 The Winds of Salem by Melissa de la cruz - The newest in the Beauchamp witches series. It is also soon to be a tv series.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King - I have always wanted to know what happened to the Torrance family after their winter at the Overlook Hotel

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson - I have heard mixed reviews of this book, but it seems like a good time of year to give it a try.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater - This should be arriving any day now, I am so excited to read it!

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon - My mister told me about this book; it sounded like a great one for us to read together!

 The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black - I just love saying the name of this book. It has a good ring to it.

Blythewood by Carol Goodman - I love Carol Goodman! I would love to just go out for a drink with her, and listen to her tell stories.