Sunday, December 30, 2012

YA novels are getting creepier and creepier.

In Kim Harrington's The Dead and Buried, Jade is the new girl in town. She just moved into a lovely house, in an upscale neighborhood with her family, and can't wait for a fresh start. When school begins, Jade gets the typical new girl whispers, but they get unusually worse, fast. Jade quickly finds out that one of the students that went to the school died in her house just a year before. Kayla, who was very popular and pretty much ruled the local high school (think Regina George), was allegedly murdered in Jade's house. Awkward.

Jade's little brother Colby tells her that he sees a girl around the house with long hair. The family thinks his imagination is getting the best of him until Jade sees her too, and little Miss Kayla isn’t happy. Kayla wants to know who killed her, and will stop at nothing to find out. We are talking crazy bossy ghost teenage girl scorned over here. With the help of Kayla's diary (which we get to see), Jade is on the case to find the truth behind Kayla's death in hopes that she can have her own life back.

This novel hits the shelf on New Year's Day!

Friday, December 28, 2012

a very sweet story.

I am a cat lady for sure. Add Christmas to a sweet little kitty cat face, and I'm sold.

Exhibit A: Darrell on Christmas morning.

Exhibit B: Julia Romp's memoir.

Now, Romp's story isn't as simple as a cat wandering off and making it home for Christmas. It's so much more than that. Julie is a single mother to her 9-year-old autistic son, George. George had become progressively withdrawn from his mother, which took away their ability to connect and communicate as parent and child. Then a cute little cat strolled into their yard one day, and George's attitude instantly changed. He became much more engaged and full of life. It seemed like things were looking up for this small family until Ben (the cat) disappeared. It was terrible on George, and the progress that he had been making with Julie started to quickly unravel. Ben was gone for months, but a few days before Christmas, they got a Holiday miracle. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

quite the crossover project we have here.

Clockwork Angels by Kevin J. Anderson is a novelization of the rock band, Rush's new album by the same name. Let me break it down for you. We have a bestselling science fiction author, Anderson, and then we have Rush drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, a collaboration that created a full-length novel unlike any I have ever read.

Not only are the pages beautiful to look at, the lyrics intertwined in the story take this novel to a whole new level of originality. In general, Clockwork Angels is a coming of age story that revolves around the main character, Owen Hardy, who has grown up in a world where everything about your life is planned out for you by The Watchmaker. It is a peaceful existence where everyone accepts their place without question, until Owen, who longs for something more than his predictable life, goes out on a series of misadventures to find more. This leads to rapidly changing settings that put Owen in tough and different situations. The focus is really to show someone's journey to find themselves in a world where they're told what they are without their own exploration. The settings were well described and very different from modern life, always making it interesting.

Give-a-way: For a chance to win a SIGNED copy of this book, follow this blog and send your name, address, and this book title to:!

Monday, December 24, 2012

real heist fictionalized.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Novelist B. A. Shapiro bases her latest, The Art Forger, around the true tale of the 1990 theft of thirteen works of art from the Stewart-Gardner Museum in Boston. In this realistic-fiction, he focuses on one painting in particular, the Degas masterpiece "After the Bath"

In the novel, we immediately enter the world of art museums, galleries, forgeries, and stolen art. To keep us non-art history majors interested, Shapiro includes enough hint of mystery and danger to keep us excited, and constantly worried about the fate of the main character, a struggling artist named Claire.

Claire Roth is an artist that has been involved in an art work scandal and has found herself blackballed in the artistic world. She is forced into reproducing famous paintings to make a living. This career choice gives her an opportunity to salvage her reputation when she is offered the chance to copy a stolen Degas painting. Shapiro uses flashbacks very effectively. In bits and pieces we learn what happened to Claire three years ago and what led to her current situation. As that story unfolds, it seems that history may be repeating itself.

Give-a-way: For a chance to win a copy of this book, follow this blog and send your name, address, and this book title to:!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

from chocolat to peaches.

In her latest novel, Peaches for Father Francis, Joanne Harris gives us the true follow-up to Chocolat.

Peaches for Father Francis opens with Vianne receiving a letter from a deceased friend that appears out of the past. Armande (the role portrayed by Judi Dench in Chocolat) reaches out from beyond the grave in the form of a letter that asks Vianne and her family to return to the village of Lansquenet, which they had left eight years earlier. Vianne, accompanied by her children, arrives in Lansquenet where she learns her arch nemesis, Father Francis Reynaud needs her help as the Bishop has replaced him with a Microsoft priest.  Father Francis, who has always seemed to be her enemy, will now make an unlikely ally as they deal with the ugly changes in their beloved village. The narrative alternates through the viewpoints of Father Francis and Vianne, both of whom have the similar goal of bridging the divide in the village communities, however, their always vast differences are apparent.

You're going to need to be familiar with Harris' first two novels to really enjoy this one.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

a holiday tale.

One of my very good friends, Kristen and I have random girls nights where we usually do the following: drink and watch a movie, drink and cook a meal, drink and run around with crazy fur vests on, or drink while we relax with good books. We call the last activity "a nip and a tale"...which leads me to my next review...

The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd left me wanting only one thing, more. It's a tiny little tale, that packs a punch, but I would have loved a longer version. In this 1914 WWI military romance, Lady Elspeth finds herself in France caring for her dear friend Madeline, who has just learned her husband is being called up for duty and must leave just as she is about to deliver her first child. During her stay with Madeline, Elspeth becomes rather intrigued with Madeline's brother, Alain who she also learns is about to leave to join the war. On their last night together, Alain asks Elspeth for permission to court her when he returns from the war, and offers her his mother's ring as a token of their promise, which she accepts. Elspeth's journey home to England is not easy, she finds herself trapped on the French coast where she is almost killed until her childhood friend, Peter rescued her. Instantly there is a spark between the two, and as she makes her way to London, Elspeth begins to worry about her promise to Alain.

Back in London, Elspeth feels she can't return to her life of luxury while so many are in need. She decides to make herself useful and sign up as a nurse. This way she will be able to learn the fate of the men she is torn between.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

a series to consider.

The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde is the seventh book in the Thursday Next series. A series that is sure to grab your attention and never let go.

Thursday Next, the series' heroine, is a librarian-detective in a world of multiple time dimensions and altered realities. Although nobody goes on any time-traveling adventures in this installment, time travel is the essence of this ingenious plot to stop a madman and his evil corporation destroying the world with a deadly asteroid. Meanwhile, something strange is going on in the newly discovered but very little understood field of Dark Reading Matter. That being said, if you haven't read the earlier books in this series, now's the time because you have no idea what I'm talking about. Fforde has created a crazy world that begins with the first installment, The Eyre Affair, so start there. For those of you who are already a fan? I'm sure you've read this by now, but if you haven't, you won't be disappointed.

Give-a-way: For a chance to win a copy of this book, follow this blog and send your name, address, and this book title to:!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

nonfiction that is short and sweet.

I feel that it would be wrong to ignore the tragedy of Friday, so I'm going to be quick. It is absolutely terrible what happened to those poor innocent children, their teachers, administrators, families and community. I get weepy whenever more news comes to the surface. I just cannot fathom such an act. Prayers and thoughts go out to everyone who was affected.

Review time...

I love books. Although I don't have a grand story of how someone gave me a book, and it saved my life. Books have saved my life, I just typically come across them myself, or they are borrowed from friends. Emily Giffin helped me get through a really tough breakup. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series helped me find myself as a very confused teenager. Water for Elephants taught me to fight for what I really want. The Notebook showed me that love isn't always going to be easy, but it's going to be worth it. Yes, these are fiction novels, but the ideas that went into creating those works of literature had to come from someplace real. I truly believe that.

Jen Adams has created a collection of over two hundred stories based around books that have affected peoples lives and relationships. This collection titled, The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit, features books from Harry Potter to Wuthering Heights, with a real life (short) story attached from the point of view of the receiver. I loved going through each story, seeing how gifts of literature impacted these strangers lives. I couldn't help but think about how much my stories belong in this collection somewhere. Adams, we need to have a chat.

Friday, December 14, 2012

the end of oz.

I was never a huge fan of "The Wizard of Oz" as a child. Visually, I thought it was rather creepy.  However, Wicked by Gregory Maguire is one of my favorite books. Go figure. Three books later, the Wicked Years series has come to an end with Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years.

In all of his books, Maguire includes a number of summaries and a timeline that will help you understand the ways in which these books intersect with L. Frank Baum's original series. In the final installment of the series, the land of Oz is in the midst of social unrest, once again. The Emerald City is preparing to invade Munchkinland, Lady Glinda is under house arrest as a possible traitor to Loyal Oz, and the famous Dorothy returns to Oz, where she is put on trial for the murder of the Wicked Witch of the East. The ending will leave some feeling a little conflicted. Let's be realistic guys, nothing can top Wicked, so don't go into this novel expecting it to.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

set aside some time for this read.

The Elephant Keepers' Children by Peter Hoeg is literally 496 pages. That being said, it is a rarity in my current life as a first year teacher, that I am able to sit down and read through a novel so long. As soon as I opened to page one, and met fourteen-year-old Peter, I was hooked.

Peter and his two older siblings are looking for their parents who have mysteriously disappeared. They are both devout members of the one and only church on the fictional island of Fino, where all religions coincide peacefully. Until now it seems, to these three teenagers, desperate to find their beloved parents.

The eccentricity of the novel is apparent in the characters Hoeg as created, as well as the title itself. Peter and his sister, Tilte have a theory that their parents are “elephant keepers, although they don’t know it” this reference to an old Indian saying denoting that “they have something inside them that is bigger than themselves, and over which they have no control." It's really a crime thriller, yet filled with mystical characters and a surprising amount of laughs.

Monday, December 10, 2012

poetry from the past.

I have mentioned once or twelve times how much I love poetry. I would love to do a poetry unit with my students, but my school would rather me turn them into NYS Regent taking robots, than let them show anything even remotely close to creativity. I think that maybe I belong in a school of the Arts. I'd like to trade my principal in for Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, please.

Rumi was a 13th-century Perisan Muslim poet who's work has been translated into three books, the newest released back in September, and the perfect holiday gift. Rumi's Little Book of Life is a beautiful collection of 196 poems by Rumi, previously unavailable in English. Translated by native Persian speakers, Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin, this collection speaks to the inner journey that each of us experience through our lives. Many do not read like traditional poems, I'm sure the translation is to blame. However, the deeper meanings of Rumi's words are not lost on me.

"Tell me," my lover asked me tenderly,
"how could you live without me?"
I said, "without you I am lost
like a fish out of water."
He smiled, "This is only your own fault." 

Friday, December 7, 2012

christmas gift idea.

In my opinion, cocktails and cooking go hand in hand, I'm glad that Rachael Ray and I agree on that. She has created a fabulous collection of recipes that include both in My Year in Meals.

Many of you collect Rachael Ray cookbooks like you need oxygen, My Year in Meals will be a welcomed addition to your kitchen. The recipes are creative, festive, but may be more realistic on the weekends for working people like myself. You cooking veterans won't be able to get enough, while us rookies may need some guidance, or a dictionary, or just more wine. I can't pronounce some of the types of cheeses used and I am an English teacher - not that that says much. There are over 500 recipes to choose from, and one cookbook typically cannot give what Rachael Ray can.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

science, affairs, intrigue.

A man writing a biography about a woman...I'm sure it happens more than I notice, but it's still fun to see.

William Souder has written an engrossing new biography on Rachel Carson, the superstar of narrative environmental nonfiction, titled On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson. Souder draws a portrait of cultural and political life in the middle of the 20th century and places Carson squarely at the center of it. It was a different time for science and a different time for science writers. I find science rather boring, honestly, which is why I was extremely intrigued when I read on to find how spicy Carson's life actually was. In 1954, her and Dorothy Freeman began a very passionate relationship, that was anything but platonic. Carson wrote Silent Spring in which she meticulously described how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals, including human beings, and caused cancer and genetic damage, WHILE she had cancer herself. This chick was wild, and I'm glad a voice that was so unpopular in her day, has become so popular now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

the wisdom of jane austen lives on...

When the opportunity presents itself, which is more often than you think, I mention that I am related to Abraham Lincoln. One, because I am, and two because he was a relatively cool president, and no matter what your skin tone, you can agree. Author Rebecca Smith tops my family tree with her relation to JANE AUSTEN. Hello? Awesome. In Miss Jane Austen's Guide to Modern Life's Dilemmas, Smith channels her great-great-great-great-great aunt’s sense—and, of course, her sensibility—to help readers navigate their most pressing problems.

Austen was an author whose writing was much before her time, which allows Smith to easily answer tough modern day questions with Austen's very words. This "guide" is filled with lovely Austen-inspired color illustrations, as well as quotes from Austen’s various novels to support the advice given. This book is the ideal Christmas gift for the Jane Austen fanatic in your life, and I know that everyone has one.

Give-a-way: For a chance to win a copy of this book, follow this blog and send your name, address, and this book title to:!

Monday, December 3, 2012

laugh it off mom and dad.

I reviewed a Baby Blues comic collection back in October, but it is really nothing compared to the enormous BBXX: Baby Blues: Decades 1 & 2 by the ever popular Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott released last month to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this beloved comic strip.


Kirkman and Scott share personal biographies and reflections, never-before-published drawings, and photographs, along with close to 800 of the best of the best Baby Blues strips from the last two decades. As most of you know, the comic follows the very relatable young parents Darryl and Wanda MacPherson as they raise children Zoe, Hammie, and Baby Wren. This family faces the most common of life lessons that are sure to put a smile on even the most overwhelmed parent's face.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

well that was fun.

I enjoy the occasional dark satire in a novel, when I'm in the mood. Author Jordan Okun sets every scene perfectly in his L.A. Fadeaway, which gives readers insight into what happens behind closed doors in Hollywood. The mix of fact and fiction makes me wonder which aspects are true and which are false. The unnamed narrator is absolutely hilarious as he drags us along through his rich and entitled life filled with drugs, alcohol, and a lot of raunchiness. The story is basically a satirical look into the window of the talent agency world (our narrator must start at the bottom, no matter who is daddy is) and Hollywood itself. Think Ari Gold in Entourage.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

for the love of the restaurant.

I am not exactly the fine dining kind of gal. Manfriend and I rarely go out to eat because we'd rather cook at home where it's pants optional. But that's a story for another day. My next review is about the art of restaurants, a book that does not focus on the chef's (for once), but the restaurant owners themselves.

The Art of the Restaurateur by Nicholas Lander includes all aspects of what makes a great restaurant, written by popular restaurant owners. Lander travelled the world to speak with 20 industry leaders who run the top of the top restaurants, from public figures Danny Meyer (Union Square) in New York, Jo Bastianich (Mario Batali's partner) and Trevor Gulliver (St. John in London) to equally accomplished but lesser-known individuals. You will see that the food itself plays a smaller role than one might think. Atmosphere, design, location, and organization matter a great deal as well when creating a fabulous restaurant.

As a former restaurant owner himself, Lander takes his reviews of others' restaurants very seriously, while making The Art of the Restaurateur an honest portrayal of the life of a restaurateur in many corners of the world.

Monday, November 26, 2012

perfect give for the graduating high school senior.

I have a few seniors in a study hall that I supervise in school. I really, really like them. Makes me think that teaching twelfth grade English would be pretty kick ass, considering seniors for the most part are all finished with any and all state tests. When I received a copy of How to be a Person: The Stranger's Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos and Life Itself, I couldn't help but think that this would be such a fun gift to give them at the end of the year. Anonymously, of course.

Linda West and Dan Savage, along with many others, put together this humorous, yet very educational guide filled with real-life scenarios that cover being gay, hangovers, relationships, drugs, alcohol, herpes, and anything else that a college- age kid will be up against in these four crucial years. These scenarios can and will happen to anybody. Some of you will get an STD, some of you may find yourselves in a compromising position with your professor, some of you may want to try ecstasy, or even do your own laundry without your mommy. This guide has everything you need to survive college. I especially enjoy the chapter on How to write good, because honestly, you can get rid of chlamydia pretty easily, it's much more difficult to break bad writing habits.

This would have been nice to have in 2004 when my crazy ass hit the college scene. I learned a few of these things the hard way, but you (or your kid) won't have to!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

don't jump the gun.

In Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, Frank Partnoy argues that we think and act too quickly. In business, in our human interactions, and in both major and minor life decisions. There are two types of people in the world, those who are naturally impulsive, and others who take literally an hour to figure out what they want for breakfast. I go through moments where I am both of those people. Basically, Partnoy believes that we should wait as long as possible before making a decision. As in, if it has to be made more quickly, then make it. If you can get away with waiting a while to mull it over, do that. Because "good things come to those who wait."

My opinion? Well no shit we are impulsive, look at all the debt that Americans accumulate. Look at how many people get divorced. Impulsiveness is an epidemic in this country. We want what we think we want, and we want it now. Procrastinators of the world, unit! Really though, each and every one of us can benefit from reading a book that helps us properly make decisions.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

savoring the seasons...

Hey! Happy Thanksgiving! While you're sitting on the couch being a big fat can read my blog...about food. Yeah, maybe this isn't the best time...

There are very few books that make me WANT to be a housewife/homemaker/Donna Reed, and Savoring the Seasons with our Best Bites by Sara Wells and Kate Jones is definitely one of those few. My mom actually told me about these gal's first book, Our Best Bites, and she is so obsessed that she won't even let me borrow it, rude. I was lucky enough to get their follow-up cookbook for review.

Sara and Kate deliver more than 100 all-new recipes featuring fresh ingredients and holiday-specific dishes, neatly categorized into seasons.  These lady's include precious time-saving tips, recipes that are a little more sophisticated, and they DO NOT include nutritional information. Honestly, it's the holidays, a time for indulgence and savoring moments AND flavors. The beautiful colored photographs make this collection of recipes a really fabulous gift as well.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

more collaborations.

I am totally digging James Patterson's latest collaboration with Maxine Paetro in Confessions of a Murder Suspect, and I am definitely not giving Patterson all of the credit with this one.

Sixteen-year-old Tandy Angel comes from a family of outstanding achievers. Her parents are self-made millionaires. She and her three siblings surpass all other kids in strength, intelligence, performance, talents and focus. Matthew is a famous football player, ten-year-old Hugo has muscle strength beyond imagination, Tandy's twin brother, Harry, is a prodigy in art and music, and Tandy is an absolute genius. Is all this talent genetic, is it normal? Could it be their strict upbringing? Or are we missing something?

Regardless, all of this success comes crashing down when Tandy's parents are found dead in their bedroom. With no sign of forced entry, Tandy and her brothers are the main suspects for murder. Tandy decides she's going to do everything in her power to discover the truth. She begins her own investigation; interrogating the neighbors, searching through drawers and doing anything possible to shed some light and clear the family name. Along the way, she uncovers shocking secrets about everyone in the Angel household, including herself...

Friday, November 16, 2012

i, am ready for another.

I went through a very long James Patterson review drought, and then I drank, and drank, and drank up, lucky readers.

For those of you who are not already familiar with this series, Michael Bennett is a very unique character in the world of James Patterson. He is a highly decorated NYPD detective, which is normal, but he is also a widower with 10 children. Whoa. With the help of Mary Catherine, the family's full-time nanny and Seamus, his lovable grandfather (who, interestingly enough, is a priest), Bennett does a pretty amazing job juggling his professional and his personal life.

In I, Michael Bennett, Detective Bennett is up against Manuel Perrine, the head of the Mexican drug cartel, a ruthless and mega-rich sociopath. As suspenseful and riveting as the previous books in the series, this one divides the action between New York City and the Bennett's vacation house in Newburgh, NY, where the large family hides away after the capture of Perrine leads to the death of one of Bennett's closest friends and colleagues. We soon discover that there is no hiding from the violence Perrine creates, even from his jail cell. The ending is very abrupt, which leaves me wondering what kind of tricks Patterson has up his sleeve for the next installment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

for your reading pleasure...

I really like James Patterson. I like his writing style, his characterization, and the way that he collaborates with others to create all types of genres. My student's summer reading assignment was Maximum Ride, which is the first book in a young adult series by Patterson, that was really enjoyable to read and to teach.

More recently, Patterson released the novel NYPD Red, which is a collaboration with Marshall Karp, and a laugh out loud murder mystery, if that makes any sense. The writing was clever, the reading was easy, and I had a lot of fun page after page. Here's a little taste...

Detective Zach Jordan is a member of the NYPD Red squad. His unit is responsibly to protect celebrities from screen, stage and sports and anyone else rich enough to deserve special treatment. Jordan's partner has recently been injured on the job and he is 'temporarily' partnered with Kylie McDonald, which is super awkward because they used to date. McDonald attended the academy with Jordan and is (of course) drop dead gorgeous . But she is now happily married, to a Hollywood screenwriter. The novel begins as New York is hosting 'Hollywood on the Hudson' and  NYPD Red will be stretched thin to protect the stars that have descended on Manhattan. A much despised producer ends up dead, and the two Red unit detectives spend most of the novel chasing a killer who clearly has a special vendetta against the Hollywood "big wigs," and plans to carry out his murderous acts just like in the movies. And then there's Jordan trying to get a grip on his attraction for McDonald...just to make things a bit more complicated.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

if i had known then what i know now...

When I was in the eighth grade, I remember my English teacher asking us to write a letter to our future selves to be opened when we graduated high school. At the end of my senior year, she delivered all of our letters to us. She was pretty much the best teacher ever, and has been a bit of a mentor to me during my first year of teaching. I remember being eighteen, reading that letter, and thinking, I really hadn't changed all that much. It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties, and found the letter again, that I realized how much I had grown. I still haven't traveled to Australia like my younger self had always dreamed, but I have crossed so many other things off my bucket list. Look at me, I am a first year English teacher in my teeny tiny county, which is practically unheard of in this economy. You don't really notice how far you've come until you take the time to look back at where you've been.

What started me on this tangent is my latest read, The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon. This is a collection of letters written by sixty-four award winning authors to their younger selves. Some include letters (like mine) they had written to their older selves in school, and include a response. Some are filled with advice that they could have used when they were those little kids. These letters were surprisingly powerful, inspirational, as well as funny. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll think back on your own childhood, and all those stupid mistakes you made, and all those worries that didn't actually matter at all.

If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would it say?

Friday, November 9, 2012

a novel that's a bit cutesy.

At the beginning of The Color of Tea, protagonist, Grace Miller is drowning. Not literally, but figuratively drowning in her life.  Her marriage was struggling, she had been moved to China to follow her husband's career, she desperately wanted to become a mother but her chances were slim. Grace was stuck in a life that she seemed to have no control over. Then, she stumbled upon a closed down cafe, and realized what she had been missing: purpose and desire.  That was when Grace decided to make, serve, and sell the finest Parisian inspired macaroons that Macau has ever seen.

Once Lillian's was open it was like reading a whole different book. Grace turned into this loving and spontaneous woman as she met many new faces and shared her passion with the locals in a culture she was extremely unfamiliar with. Author Hannah Tunnicliffe took her debut novel from rather depressing to truly inspiring.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

literary fiction lovers.

The Thing About Thugs is a dark-humored satire that contains everything that makes 19th century British literature so enticing: love, sex, murder, grave-robbing, humor...the works. Tabish Khair's novel follows several characters, including a self-professed Indian thug, a trio of Englishmen who turn criminal, along with various others who complete the package. The chapters are pretty short, sometimes just a page, so the book is one of those that you can dip in and out of a little at a time, yet still follow along easily.

A series of brutal murders start to take place in the city, during which the heads of the victims are stolen. However, there is no real mystery in this story, it more focuses on the social status of the time period. Rich versus poor. Khair paints a pretty bleak picture of Victorian London where most of the action takes place. The novel is very literary, like one you'd read with your AP English class. As an English teacher, I appreciated all of its elements.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

a children's book with a cause.

Mimi and Maty to the Rescue!: Roger the Rat is on the Loose! is a fabulous true to life children's book that every age can get something out of. As an animal lover myself, this story spoke to me. I was the little girl who found a bird with a broken wing on the sidewalk and took it back to my dad to fix, and cried for a whole day when nothing could be done.

Author Brooke Smith  uses Mimi to demonstrate to young people about such vital subjects as compassion for all creatures, co-operating with people, and learning responsibilities and how to act responsibly. This inspiring adventure and the illustrations by Alli Arnold tie everything together in a nice bow.

**For a chance to win a FREE copy of this book, email your name, address and this book title to:!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

stephen white: sending chills since 1991.

Happy Halloween! Today I was a ballerina, or a fairy, or a princess. Whichever my students preferred. I was one of the three teachers who dressed up at my school. I think this makes me extremely hip, and I think you all can agree.

For the occasion, I thought I'd review the very popular, spine tingling, Alan Gregory Series, which began in 1991, and is finally coming to an end with Line of Fire. The good news is that Line of Fire is only the first of the TWO-part conclusion. For those of you who live under a rock, Stephen White has written eighteen books, set in Boulder, Colorado, which will be on everyone's "to see" list once they dip into this collection. If you have yet to start your addiction to these unforgettable novels, you better catch up!

Line of FireLine of Fire
The first of the dramatic two-part conclusion to the bestselling Alan Gregory series.
The Last LieThe Last Lie
Alan Gregory's new neighbors host a housewarming party that ends in quiet disaster.
The Siege paperbackThe Siege(2009)
Sam Purdy finds himself in the middle of a kidnapping on the Yale campus.
Dead Time by Stephen WhiteDead Time
Alan's former wife, Merideth, asks for his help, dragging him into a complicated mystery that reaches back years.
Dry Ice by Stephen WhiteDry Ice
One of Alan's former patients is back for revenge — and nothing will ever be the same.
Kill MeKill Me
What if you could choose when to die? But once you decide you can't change your mind. Ever.
Missing-Persons-MM-ThumbMissing Persons
Alan Gregory finds his own colleague dead while one of her patients goes missing from Boulder on Christmas Day.
This Alan Gregory novel is about the bonds that hold men and women together and the betrayals that tear them apart.
The Best RevengeThe Best Revenge
What price do we pay for keeping secrets—even from ourselves?

Warning SignsWarning Signs
The brutal slaying of Boulder's controversial D.A. strikes deep in the heart of everything Alan Gregory holds dear.
The Program The Program
Kirsten Lord and her nine-year old daughter accept the Witness Protection Program's offer to hide them in Boulder.
Cold Case Cold Case
Alan Gregory and Lauren Crowder are asked to assist a private crime fighting organization known as Locard.
Manner of Death Manner Of Death
Alan's former colleagues' deaths are not occurring from natural causes. Who is targeting them?
CriticalConditionsNewMMthCritical Conditions
Alan is called in after Sam Purdy's 15-year-old niece attempts to end her own life.
RemoteControlNewMMthumbRemote Control
Lauren's friend Emma Spires is the target of a stalker. Can Lauren help save her?
Harm's Way Harm's Way
The murderer of Alan Gregory's neighbor may be the work of a serial killer.
Higher Authority MM New thumbHigher Authority
Lauren Crowder is thrown into a maelstrom of violence in a case of sexual harassment involving the Mormon church.
Private Practices MM New Thumb Private Practices
Alan gets caught in the middle when two seemingly "accidental" deaths occur to a pair of grand jury witnesses.
Privileged Information New MM ThumbPrivileged Information
One of Alan's patients is found dead and her diary describes her sexual obsession with Alan—and his willing involvement.
Winter will be here before we know it folks, and now you have some fabulous reading options to hibernate with. You're welcome. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

unleash the beauty of the web.

I have mentioned once or twice how much I love O'Reilly's missing manuals. They are, hands down, a technologically challenged girls savior. Chris Grover recently developed one for Adobe Edge Animate, and I will be forever grateful. We may live in a world where software is constantly being improved for our benefit, but you can't find printed instructions to save your life.

Adobe Edge Preview is now leading the way for an entire Edge suite. To be clear, the product that was once called “Adobe Edge Preview” is now “Edge Animate,” which fits within the new “Edge family” of apps and services. It is a tool for creating motion and interaction content with web standards like HTML5, and if you are looking to build your first animation, Adobe Edge Animate Preview 7: The Missing Manual is the book for you. This manual is easy to read and understand, and I promise you that all of the answers you need will be found inside. With Grover's help you'll be designing crazy good animations for your iPhone, iPad, and the Web in no time!