Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Three Little Words A Memoir

Three Little Word A Memoir
Ashley Rhodes Courter

I think I chose this book by it's cover. I know you aren't supposed to do that but I did.  And it worked out.  I love the picture of the little girl on the cover (who turns out to be the author).  And I love the quote on the front cover (you'll have to get the book  yourself).

Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent the vast majority of her young life in the Florida foster care system. Her life was horrific.  Thankfully, not as horrific as it could have been or as I had imagined it.  But still not how I would choose another human to live.

Ashley's story is poignant.  She's honest about her emotions without being too emotional.  She weaves in the sketchy details of her mother's troubled life. (Because I'm nosy, I'd like to hear her mother's story.  But I in no way advocate her getting 15 minutes of fame as a result of mistreating and discarding her children.  So, I'm happy to die curious about her.)  She has to leave her brother.  Which is both a relief and a source of guilt.  She finds her happy ending then does everything she can to screw it up.  But the Courters stick with her.  She gets her happy ending.

I was surprised by what the Three Little Words actually were...you will be too!

I have always believed and do still believe that I will adopt a child someday.  I LOVE my boys and my husband but I know our family is not yet complete.  Ashley's story melted my heart and reminded me of the need for adoptive families. 

Recommendation: I'd recommend this to 7th grade and up.  Especially kids who've been adopted or are in foster care.  And families who want to open their homes and hearts.
Length: 301 pages
Rating: Love It!

Monday, January 25, 2010


I was shocked to see this tweet after I tweeted about my review of The Dark Divine!

Yep, I'm still a bit giddy....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Dark Divine

The Dark Divine
Bree Despain
"The Christmas dance?" the dance hadn't passed my mind in days.  Did people who knew the secrets of the underworld go to dances?

This is the quandary of Grace Divine, our heorine.  Grace is wonderful.  Grace is flawed.  Grace is caught between two guys.  But not THAT way.  She's caught between being loyal to her brother Jude and her love Daniel.  Grace wants to keep her promises, she really does.  But she isn't always successful.

Mostly, Grace is a fixer.  She wants to fix Daniel.  She wants to fix Jude.  She just wants everyone to be happy, like they were 3 years ago.  The trouble is, Grace isn't sure what happened 3 years ago.  When she finally finds out, she doesn't want to know.

The Dark Divine is a finely crafted book about secrets, redemption and love.  The ending is fabulous.  It leaves the option open for more Grace-ful adventures!

I was hooked on this book before I owned it. I read the first 4 chapters on line.  I entered contests to try to win a copy.  I was so excited when I received a Border's card so I could run out and buy it.  I finished the book last night and I've already passed it on.  I like to post reviews once a week but I love this book so much I wanted to get the word out ASAP.   This is a MUST READ. 

I would recommend The Dark Divine to anyone who enjoys romance with a little underworld mixed in. 
Length: 372 pages
Rating: ALL TIME!!

BTW - you can learn more about The Dark Divine's author, Bree Despain at her blog.  I highly recommend it as well!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature
Robin Brande

Mena Reece is an outcast of the highest order.  Her own parents wouldn't talk to her.  YIPES!  She must have done something really bad, right?  Wrong.  She simply did what she thought was right. 

But, such is life.  Sometimes doing the right thing produces wrong results (or what you think are the wrong results).  At the beginning.  It's the waiting for the turn around that stinks.  Big time.

Brande does an excellent job of bring us to the middle of Mena's misery.  You really get to know and feel how bad is sucks to be her.  And then we get to see the glimmer of hope.  You get to figure it out before Mena and she's the one telling the story.   Mena is so in the middle of her misery that she can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I go back and forth about the ending.  Sometimes I like how it ended, sometimes I want a different ending.  But, again, such is life.  Most times, get better but the misery-causer doesn't get what's coming to them.   In those cases, I'm reminded of what my daddy used to say, "What goes around comes around and gains momentum in the turns."

I loved this book.  I love it when characters are real and working hard to do the right thing.  I love it when characters become who they are meant to me.  It's awesome and one of my new all time favorites!

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to 7th grade girls and up.  It contains a great lesson about becoming yourself and real friends.
Length: 268 pages
Rating: All Time!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Suck It Up

Suck It Up
Brian Meehl

Morning McCobb wants to be a super hero.  Really, who doesn't?  And it almost works out for him.  Almost.
Morning is an average teenager graduating from a school of beautiful people.  Really, who isn't?
Morning thinks a girl likes him but he's not sure if she does or if he likes her back.  Really, who hasn't?

But Morning is completely different.  Morning is a vampire.  He's even different from all the other vampires.  He became a vampire in an unusual way.  And Morning has the opportunity to show us "Lifers" that vampires are perfectly normal.  And that's where it gets interesting.  Really interesting.

I must confess at this point that I don't generally like vampires or stories about vampires.  I didn't even like THE story about vampires.  I'll wait while you regain consciousness.  I know I'm like the only person in America who didn't like THE story about vampires.  But that's for another day. 

I don't want to say that I started reading Suck It Up expecting to not like it.  I mean the title alone will endeared it to me (I say suck it up all the time).  But I did think it would be a bit of struggle.

Thankfully, that was not the case.  Suck It Up has lots of action to keep the story going.  It's so outside the normal that you can't guess where's it's going.   It has a little love story that keeps you guessing too.  The supporting characters are interesting.  Although I have to say that the PR agent/mom didn't hit home with me too much as a mom.

Recommendation: Overall, I enjoyed it.  I would recommend it for boys looking for themselves in a character.
Length: 321 pages
Rating: Loved It!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


School's back in session and I have 3 book reviews waiting in the wings.  But first, please indulge me in some musing.
2010 (two thousand ten or twenty ten, your call) WILL be a good year!  That's not wishful thinking, it's fact.  2009 stunk worse than 3 day old fish.  I'll recap for you:

started year worn out from Brennan's Christmas pnuemonia, moving to NY, opps...not moving, hubby laid off instead, Brennan can't stop pooping (TMI I know), hubby out of work, assorted illness for Brennan,  part time job ended sooner than expected, lost 35 pounds, $2000 in dental work for Zac, landed really excellent job, had to wait to start really excellent job, part time job landed, have to stop feed Brennan food - formula only, Brennan bout 2 with pneumonia, hubby starts new 'temp' job, turn 35, finally start excellent job, feel like a middle schooler all over again trying to make friends at the excellent new job, Sam and Zac get swine flu, various financial difficulties, Brennan bout 3 with pneumonia, Breast Cancer 3 Day, asthma fall out, hubby decides 'temp' job is THE one, Brennan decides to eat and grow, freaking about holiday money, holiday money arrives just in time.

So, that's the short version.  Many ups but many many downs.  But Thanksgiving brought an amazing up.

For years, I have wanted to write.  I wrote as a young girl.  I won a poem contest in elementary school (my dog makes me smile, he makes me smile for a mile, he makes me grin until I'm ten, I love my dog).  Impressive since I remember writing it the morning it was due and had no dog at the time (did not have a dog until high school).  I won a Stuart Hall writing contest about the school of the future.  Honorable Mention, I think.  I remember writing the essay but not the subject matter.  Schools of the future, maybe?  Then I forgot about it until huge box of Stuart Hall school supplies arrived.  I hadn't told anyone I had entered the contest, didn't keep a copy of the essay, couldn't remember the contents of the essay.   But LOVED the free school supplies.  I wrote an entire series of books (or maybe short stories) about boy and girl twins - Fred and Rita.  They did the things I did but the outcomes were better.  I never showed them to anyone.  I wish I knew where those notebooks are.

I don't know why I gave up creative writing.  But I did.  Probably some crappy teacher hurt my feelings.  Who knows.  But, as you may have guessed, I enjoy it but I'm EXTREMELY shy about anyone reading what I write.

Two years ago I wrote 2 picture books.  I took a junk course about selling a book.  I followed all the instructions.  I spend a good deal of money to go to New York to Book Expo America to try to sell it (as instructed by the course - course was not related to BEA).  My instructions were to walk up to people and tell them about my books.  OMG - I cried everyday after a day at BEA.  My feet hurt, I was alone in NYC (see country mouse, city mouse story) and I was trying to do something foriegn to me.

So, again, I put writing away.  Until Thanksgiving 2009.  Before Thanksgiving I decided that I needed to read more.  And I decided to start this blog to review books out of our school library.  During this process, I stumbled upon the Young Adult Book Central website.  Somehow from there I ended up on Twitter following Kimberly Pauley and Myra McEntire.  I felt extremely stalker-ish.  Then, to up the stalker ante, I started reading Myra's blog.  She seems a lot like me.  I enjoy her humor and style of writing.  But what's been most helpful is her openness about her journey in writing.  It gave me hope. And something to do.

In the meantime the Friday before Thanksgiving, while in the shower (TMI again sorry) I got THE IDEA.  A sweet young girl named Caley started talking to me in my head.  I had been waiting for years for THE IDEA.  And here it was finally.  What the heck do I do with it now?  Well, I started writing down what was in my head.  And I remembered Myra. She blogged about reading about the craft of writing.

As usual around the holidays, time flew.  I thought of Caley often and wrote down what came up.  But I've never written anything long.   I wasn't sure what to do.  So, I put Caley up and headed back to Myra's blog to find the name of the books she recommended.  I had blown my 'play/me' money on new jeans so I turned to the library.  (the quest for this book in another story)

I checked out Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and How I Write by Janet Evanovich.  I read Evanovich first.  Very helpful.  Quick read. Good stuff.  Then last night after the kidlit chat on Twitter (another Myra recommendation), I started reading Plot and Structure.  WOW!  The first page was written directly to me.  How sweet of Mr. Bell.  I am excited to continue reading, learn the craft and give Caley the voice she needs.

So, there 2009. 2010 is gonna kick your tail.  And if all goes well, 2013 or 2014 or 2015 (or whenever) will see Caley in bookstores.  And maybe I'll be able to inspire a stranger to run out to a library at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday (the library closes at 6) to get a book that changes his or her life.  Thanks Myra!