Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thinking About Thursday

Its Thnking About Thursday...

I've decided to get something started! It's Thinking About Thursday!! What Books are you thinking about reading in the near future? Make your list and leave a link.

I'd love to have one of those darling little linky icons but I totally suck at that sort of thing right now... (Help?)

I've never hosted anything and I am knew at this so I will likely screw it up completely....
But anyway...

Here is a list of Books I am thinking about reading in the future:

Sweetie by: Kathryn Magandie
The River Witch by: Kimberly Brock
The Firefly Dance by: Sara Addison Allen
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by: Ayana Mathis
The Year the Colored Sisters Came to Town by: Jacqueline Guidry

What books are you thinking about?

Beth :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly even hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to highlight upcoming books.

This is my first Waiting on Wednesday blog.  I am waiting on...

Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys.
Release date: February 12, 2013

From Amazon:

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

What books are you waiting on? I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays

This is my first Teaser Tuesday. What Fun!
This is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Be careful that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser for today:
"I knelt on the floor, and with a fairly easy push and pull, the floorboard popped up enough for me to get my fingers under it and pull it up. It would have been the perfect hiding spot but for one thing. There was already something there."
Page 20-21 of Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Well, OK, that was three sentences, actually.....

Happy Tuesday!
Beth :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Turtle in Paradise

Title: Turtle in Paradise Author: Jennifer L. Holm Publisher: Random House Pages: 177

I borrowed this book from my school library.

Summary (from the verso):
In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida.

I must say from the beginning that I really enjoyed this book and have found myself repeatedly recommending it to my students. Turtle is a delightful girl with a realistic (and refreshing) outlook on life.  Sure, she has had her share of hard knocks, but she is clever and witty enough to survive and make the best of things.  She repeatedly outsmarts older kids and adults alike. The Depression- Era Key West setting makes a great background for this hilarious and heartwarming story. The ending was not what I expected, but it was exactly what Turtle needed. A great read.

Rad this story if:
*you love children's fiction
*you love historical fiction
*you love stories that take place in an island setting
*you love stories with a strong female protagonist

The Cottage at Glass Beach

Title: The Cottage at Glass Beach Author: Heather Barbieri Publisher:HarperCollins Pages:302

I borrowed this book from my local library.

From the inside cover:
Married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts State history,Nora Cunningham is a picture-perfect political wife and doting mother. But her carefully constructed life falls to pieces when she, along with the rest of the world, learns of the infidelity of her husband, Malcom.
Humiliated bu the press, Nora packs up her daughters- Annie, seven; and Ella, twelve- and takes refuge on Burke's Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine.  Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides.
Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades- not since that long-ago summer when her mother disappeared at sea.  One night while sitting alone on Glass Beach below the cottage where she spent her childhood, Nora succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean.  Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman named Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks nearby.  Is he, as her aunt's friend Polly suggests, a selkie- a mythical being of island legend- summoned by her heartbreak, or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles?

 From the cover blurb, I was a little hesitant.  I was afraid it would be another romance set on a beach.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case.  It was part coming home novel, part mystery, with a little bit of the supernatural thrown in.  The mystery unveils itself a little at a time, and keeps you guessing up to the very last page.  I must say that I found Ela to be a bit irritating, and  unlikable.  As mother of a daughter, I feel guilty saying this, but it is true.  She seems totally unreachable.  I found myself thinking, "Well send her to her dad!! Get her some counseling! Just get her out of this story!"  Sorry, Ela, but you're a selfish brat. Some of her actions were justifiable, but seriously, the child needed counseling.  I can understand her being upset about her parents' separation, but she took it too far. The fact that both parents were so caught up in themselves that they couldn't see the child was mentally unstable was, sadly believable in this day and age. Lastly, I do feel there were a few unresolved issues in the end.  I still had questions.  I won't spoil it for anyone. Let's just say I'd have liked an epilogue. All in all, it was a good read.  Plenty of twists and turns. Not boring at all.

Read this book if....
*you love mysteries
*you love stories with a beach/ island setting
*you love stories about survival after divorce / separation
*you love stories with a supernatural element

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TBR Pile 2013 January Wrap Up

It's January Wrap Up Time for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge!  (If you haven't joined, there is still time. You have until December!)   Check out the TBR 2013 Challenge linky on this page.

My books for January (so far) are :

I'll add more if I finish more by the end of the month.
Join up and have fun!

Beth :o)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Because You Are My Own

Title: Because You Are My Own Author: Lauren Buongiovanni Hunt Illustrator: Judith Mogul Publisher: Gingersnap Publishing Pages: 31

This book was a gift from a friend.

From the back cover:
Mama, if I were a baby penguin shivering in the snow, would you keep me warm by your belly until my down turned to feathers?

Kids ask some silly questions- but sometimes what they're really asking isn't silly at all. Inspired by questions from the author's son who was adopted from Korea, this simple story speaks volumes about a mother's love.

I love this book. It made me cry. I am an adoptive mom and also an adoptee.  I have lived both sides.  However, even birth moms, grand moms, and aunts can relate to this story. It is absolutely beautiful! With repetitive text, the baby asks the mommy question after question and she assures him, I will always know you "because you are my own". It speaks to that place inside of every mom (grand mom, aunt...)- that place inside us that loves that baby and owns that baby - that place in the heart that belongs to that baby alone. This story is a beautiful illustration of the fact that a mothers love for a baby grows within the heart, not the tummy.

Read this book if...
*there is a special child in your life
*you are and adoptive parent, grandparent, etc.

Sea Change by Karen White

Title: Sea Change Author: Karen White Publisher: New American Library Pages:392

From the back cover:

For as long as she can remember, Ava Whalen has struggled with a sense of not belonging, and now, at thirty-four, she still feels stymied by her family. Then she meets child psychologist Michael Frazier and thinks her days of loneliness are behind her. After a whirlwind romance, they impulsively elope and Ava moves to Matthew's ancestral home on St. Simon's Isl;and off the coast of Georgia.

But after the initial excitement, Ava is surprised to discover that true happiness still eludes her.  There is much she doesn't know about Matthew including the mysterious circumstances surrounding his first wife's death.  And her new home seems to hold as many mysteries and secrets as her new husband.  Feeling adrift, Ava throws herself into uncovering Matthew's family history and that of the island, not realizing that she has a connection of her own to this place- or that her obsession with the past could very well destroy her future.

Although I'm usually not big on books that pull heavily on romance for the story line, I have been a Karen White fan since I first began reading the Tradd Street series.  I also loved The Color of Light. Some of her books are a little romance-heavy for me but she weaves a good story.  This one I liked in that it relied less on romance and more on the story itself.  I like the setting White chose for the story and her descriptions of St. Simon's island are wonderful. She creates a great sense of place. At first I couldn't put this book down, but as it got toward the end I found myself getting less excited.  I couldn't understand why Matthew was so secretive about his former wife.  He hadn't even bothered to tell Ava about her before they married.  (Agreed, it was a whirlwind romance, but wouldn't a former marriage come up at some point?) I felt like it got a little wordy and I was also left not completely believing the ending of the Pamela/ Georgina/ Geoffrey storyline.  I guess the ending was a little unsatisfying.  All in all, this was a pretty good read, although not my favorite by Karen White.  I still look forward to her next book, and I would still recommend this one to any one who loves a good southern mystery.

Read this book if...
*you love southern fiction
*you love mysteries
*you love books with an island setting

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chicken Cheeks

Title: Chicken Cheeks Author: Michael Ian Black Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes  Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Pages: 40

I purchased this book for my school library.

From the inside cover: (I love this!)
This story has a beginning, a middle, and a whole lot of ends.

A fellow Media Specialist first introduced me to this book.  Having 22 years experience in Early Childhood Education, I knew it would be a hit. Let's face it, potty humor is big in the rug rat race.  Little guys love to talk about rear ends, and this book is full of them- animal hineys, that is.  A bear is trying to discover a way to reach some honey waaaaay up in the top of a tree.  He enlists the help of some animal pals and, as they pile up, so does the humor.  From Polar Bear derriere to Duck-billed platypus gluteus maximus, this book keeps kids laughing.  I've read it to all ages, and they all love it!  It can be used in the classroom and library in several ways, from creative writing  (Can you think of more names for animal behinds?) to teaching cooperation. The illustrations are absolutely adorable. I purchased two copies of this for my school library, because I knew one would not be enough.  They stay in circulation. I highly recommend this book for the little people in your world.  If you can read through it without smiling even once, you might need to see a doctor. Your sense of fun is missing.

Read this book if...
*you want to make a child laugh
*you want to make yourself smile

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ghost on Black Mountain

Title: Ghost on Black Mountain Author: Ann Hite Publisher: Gallery Books Pages: 329

I bought this book at Barnes & Noble.

From the back cover:
Nellie Clay married Hobbs Pritchard without even realizing he was a spell conjured into a man, a walking, talking ghost story. But her mama knew. She saw it i her tea leaves: death. Folks told Nellie to get off the mountain while she still could, to go back home before it was too late.  Hobbs wasn't nothing but trouble. He'd even killed a man. No telling what else. That mountain was haunted, and soon enough, Nellie would feel it too. One way or another Hobbs would get what was coming to him. The ghosts would see to that...

 Told through the eyes of five women, this book really captures the folklore, people, and traditions of Appalachia. Nellie was an innocent, yet headstrong girl when she married Hobbs Pritchard.  She had no idea what kind of person he really was, or how badly he was hated on Black Mountain.  The decision she is forced to make in order to survive affects the lives of many people and will come back to haunt her in unexpected ways.  The ghosts in this story add so much to the atmosphere.  Ghost stories are a huge part of Appalachian folklore and Hite captures this and plays it well into the story.  I liked the way the characters were well- rounded.  For example, in the beginning Rose is pictured as simply "the other woman". Later, we come to know Rose and the reasons for her decisions.  Hite is  a great writer. I look forward to reading her next novel.

Read this book if....
*you love southern fiction
*you love stories that take place in Appalachia
*you love a good ghost story

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Last Queen of the Gypsies

Title: The Last Queen of the Gypsies Author: William Cobb Publisher: NewSouth Books Pages: 318

I checked this book out from my local library.

William Cobb's first novel in nine years is a brilliant, quirky, highly readable story as compelling as it is fresh and original. The book interweaves the stories Lester Ray, a 14-year-old boy who was deserted by his mother when he was a baby and has now escaped his abusive alcoholic father, and Minnie, a woman who was abandoned by her Gypsy family of migrant fruit pickers when she was 11--while they journey on parallel quests to find families they never really knew. It ranges from the Great Depression to the new millennium and from the panhandle of Florida, where the novel is basically set, to New York City during World War II, to the Georgia and Carolina coast, to Fort Myers and south Florida. Lester Ray, dimly aware that his mother was probably a Gypsy, runs away from the little town of Piper, Florida, carrying with him a substitute family: Mrs. Mack, an elderly neighborhood woman, and a bizarre 14-year-old girl named Virgin Mary Duck. 

The first thing that drew me to this book was my long-time fascination with Gypsies.  As long as I can remember I have been intrigued by their culture.  Cobb did his research on this one.  The novel portrays Gypsies in the south from the Great Depression through the early 1960's. Minnie, an 11-year-old gypsy girl, is abandoned by her family on a lonely Florida road for no other reason than having one blue eye and one green eye.  Her mother believes this to be bad luck, and so Minnie is dropped off like unwanted baggage to fend for herself in rural Florida.  Minnie quickly learns to take care of herself as she travels from Florida to New York City, and back to Florida again on a journey to nowhere in particular.  She only knows that she has to keep moving.
Lester Ray was abandoned by his Gypsy mother when he was a small child.  Left behind with a drunken father, Earl, he mainly takes care of himself. His only ally is Mrs. Mack, an elderly neighbor who feeds him and often gives him a place to sleep.  At fourteen, Lester Ray decides to search for his missing mother.  He takes Mrs. Mack with him, to protect her from her greedy son, Orville. Orville wants nothing more than to place his mother in a nursing home and forget about her.  The two are joined at the last minute by Virgin Mary Duck, a fifteen-year-old dwarf girl who wants to escape her abusive father.  The three set out together on an adventure- two are running away from family and one is running toward family. 
With colorful characters and settings, Cobb weaves a tale of Gypsy life from migrant farm workers to traveling carnivals in the American south. Although I wasn't all that pleased with the ending (no spoilers) I will say that I found this book to be an OK read.  It made me think.  What made Minnie keep moving, and why was she so afraid of standing still?  Would she ever settle down?  What would make a mother walk away and leave her child, especially with someone like Earl? I still don't completely understand her choices, but the story was believable.  Although she left her old life and started a new one many times, her actions still had lasting consequences.  One day she would have to face up to her past.

Read this book if....
*you are interested in Gyspy culture
*you like stories that take place in the south
*you like stories that take place "on the road"

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Raney by: Clyde Edgerton

Title: Raney Author: Clyde Edgerton Publisher: Center Point Large Print Pages: 287 (Large print edition)

I borrowed this book from my local library.

From the back cover:
Raney opens on the eve of the wedding of Raney Bell and Charles Shepherd, a young couple drawn together by their mutual love for bluegrass music. Raney is a small-town Baptist.  Charles is a big-sty Episcopalian. Though both are southern, Raney is cut from calico and Charles from tweed- and though their love is strong, their cultural differences are sometimes monumental.

This story is an excellent character study.  Raney is an old-south, small-town, Bible-thumping Free Will Baptist.  Charles is a college- educated big-city boy from Atlanta- the only child of a college professor and a teacher.  When these two marry, the culture clash is phenomenal.  Each believes that her/ his way is the only way.  Raney thinks alcohol is a sin and should never be touched or allowed in the home. Charles is unused to large, close-knit families, and is miserable at Sunday dinners with Raney's family. The story is hilarious at times- Raney's family insists on calling women's breasts "dinners".  When everything comes to a head and nearly falls apart, the two must learn to compromise or lose everything.
I enjoyed this story.  It made me laugh out loud at times.  People like Raney and Charles really do exist in the south.  Thankfully, most southerners fall somewhere in the middle.  The story illustrates what is best and worst in the south.

Read this story if....
*you love southern fiction
*you love the south
See this review on

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 TBR Pile Book Challenge

I'm joining the 2013 TBR Pile Book Challenge!  I'm really excited!  I'm going for the Friendly Hug level (11-20 books).  I may try to move up a level later, but I don't want to bite off more than I can chew.  I'm starting with Raney by Clyde Edgerton.  Wish me luck!
Beth :-)

*I have moved up from Friendly Hug Level to A Sweet Kiss (21-30) books. (April 2013)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Good Dream by: Donna VanLiere

Title: The Good Dream Author: Donna VanLiere Publisher: St. Martin's Press Pages: 309

I borrowed this book from my local library,

From the inside cover:
After years of rebuffing the advances of imperfect but eligible bachelors from her small town, Ivorie is without companionship, but with more love in her heart and time on her hands than she knows what to do with. Her life soon changes, however, when a feral, dirty-faced boy who has been sneaking onto her land to steal from her garden comes into her life. Even though he runs back into the hills as quickly as her arrives, she's determined to find out who he is because something about the young boy haunts her. What would make him desperate enough to steal from her garden? But what  she can't imagine is what the boy faces each day and night, in the filthy lean-to hut miles up in the hills. Who is he? How did he come to live in the hills? Where did he come from? And, more important, can she save him? As Ivorie steps out of her comfort zone to discover the answers, she unleashes a firestorm in the town - a community that would rather let secrets stay secrets.

I was drawn into this book from the very first page and I literally could not put it down.  As an adoptee, adoptive parent, and former foster parent, this book spoke to my heart on many levels.  Although I have never personally worked with a child that has been through as much trauma as the boy in this story, I found myself identifying with Ivorie as she dealt with the small mindedness and prejudices of her community.  I cried throughout the entire book.  I cried from heartbreak, I cried from joy.  The Good Dream really touched my heart. This is a beautifully written story. I was taken aback at the ignorance and cruelty of some of the characters, but they were realistically portrayed.  While the innocence and terror the child endures brought me to tears, Ivorie's fierce determination to help the child was inspiring.  This story is a beautiful illustration of the healing power of love. The characters stayed on my mind long after I finished reading.

Read this book if...
*you love southern fiction
*you love "small town" novels
*you love stories set in Appalachia
*you love stories of inspiration
*you love stories about the healing power of love

See this review on Goodreads.
See this review on