Friday, April 30, 2010


Welcome to Blogmania!

My blog is #59 of 123.

Now, aren't you the lucky one!  You've arrived at exactly the right time to explore lots of new blogs, all of which, ARE GIVING AWAY A VERY SPECIAL BLOGMANIA GIVEAWAY.

One day only - April 30th

You literally have the chance to win hundreds of prizes.  We've done all the work for you.  No hunting or surfing for just the right blogs.  Every blog you visit will have more links for you to follow, all of them with a special Blogmania giveaway and just waiting for you to drop by.

Each blog will have a number and each new blog link will have a number.  This will help you to keep track of the blogs you have visited.

I know you'll want to visit as many blogs as possible, so if you see one that really interests you, why not bookmark that site and later, when you have more time, you can discover all its interesting treasures.

Giveaway at Curling Up By The Fire!

Four lucky winners (in the US/Canada) will win one of the following books:

1 copy of Demonfire by Kate Douglas
1 copy of Catch of a Lifetime by Judi Fennell
1 copy of Kitty's House of Horros by Carrie Vaughn
1 copy of Wake by Lisa McMann

One lucky winner (international) will win one book of their choice ($10 value) from Book Depository
(as long as Book Depository ships to where you live)

1) Leave a comment.
2) You must be a follower in order to enter. 
3) Please let me know if you are US/Canada or International in your comment entry.
4) Include your email.
5) You have until midnight tonight to enter and I will be announcing the winners on the weekend.

That's it!!!!

In addition to this giveaway, I also have a giveaway running, Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs, which ends on April 30th.  Make sure to stop by and enter and increase your chances of winning.

Remember! The special Blogmania prizes are only available for one day, April 30th.  The number of prizes you could win is only limited by the number of blogs you visit.

Get ready - Set - Go!

Blog 1 - HOST OF BLOGMANIA - Between The Pages
Blog 2 - Co-host of Blogmania - The Black Sheep Dances
Blog 43 - Co-host of Blogmania - Books, Books Everywhere
Blog 31 - A Dash of Nutmeg
Blog 69 - Book Faery
Blog 85 - Past the Print

So, good luck to everyone and I hope you have fun!!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

by Laurie Halse Anderson
2009 Penguin Group Inc.
Softcover Edition; 288 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Source: Penguin Group Canada

5 / 5 Stars

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest.  But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss - her life - and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend's memory and feeling guilty for not being able to help save her.

This is a story about Lia's struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all - hope.

My Thoughts
I think the only word that best describes how I felt while reading this novel is chilled.  And I couldn't think how apt a feeling that was considering the title of this book is Wintergirls, a title I couldn't understood at first, especially one for a book about anorexia and bulimia.  By the end of the novel, I understood exactly what  Ms. Anderson was trying to portray with her title; the idea of emotions and feelings being so frozen that one can't continue to live without focussing on anything except food and the control of one's body over food.   I also think I felt so chilled because what Lia and Cassie went through over many years is a reality for so many people; it's not supernatural or a movie or a television show or even a novel, it's real life and people die.  I kept thinking of all those girls I teach or have taught over the years who may have suffered with these issues and I especially thought of my amazing little girl who I hope never has to deal with this problem.  This is what chilled me too.

The story is told from Lia's viewpoint, in the first person, making it a compelling read.  We learn about the pact that Lia and Cassie make one eventful evening, a pact to see who can be the thinnest girl in their school, a pact that will lead to devastating results.  When Lia learns that Cassie has died in a motel room one night, all alone, horrifyingly, she spirals out of control.  As we watch her downward spiral and learn about her past incarcerations into medical facilities, we watch in horror the methods she uses to control her appetite.  The way the author scratches out Lia's real thoughts to write the more politically correct thoughts that Lia should be thinking instead of what Lia is actually feeling (so we see both versions) is compelling and scary at the same time.  She has been taught to hide her emotions and feelings and to keep them to herself.  She describes it as evil voices inside herself that need to be released by cutting herself.  These voices dance around her head with a litany she can't escape: 
  :: Stupid/ugly/stupid/b.../stupid/fat/stupid/baby/stupid/loser/stupid/lost::
She limits herself to 500 calories per day and exercises excessively in order to lose the few calories she has eaten.  She goes all out to avoid detection by sewing quarters in her gown when being weighed, to wearing bulky clothes and to drinking excess water.  It's frightening to think that someone can last as long as she did considering the extreme methods she uses to keep her weight down to almost nothing.  And what's scary is that the number isn't really important; Lia mentions that 90 lbs is good, 85 is better, 80 is even better, but 00 is the best.  How scary is that? I felt for Lia so much when she kept thinking those thoughts, wanting to help her, but powerless to do so, kind of how her family must have felt watching her downward spiral yet again.  I sympathized with her mother because as a mother, who would not do anything to help her child live and beat such a diseases?  I would go to any lengths to protect my daughter and my son.

The writing style is haunting and beautiful.  At the beginning, it was difficult to get into Lia's head, but as the story evolved, and Lia 'thawed', you discovered more about her, and you understood a lot more about her.  It certainly gave me a greater insight into the mental thoughts of people who suffer from anorexia and bulimia, and possibly a greater compassion as well.  Although Ms. Anderson states that she has never suffered from an eating disorder, her work demonstrates a lot of research into the subject and those who suffer from these diseases. 

I very much loved Wintergirls and would recommend it to anyone.  Maybe I just got swept up into the subject and the story, but there was very little about the novel that I did not like.  I enjoyed all of the figurative language that was used to make this novel so heartbreakingly real, and it stayed in my thoughts for quite a long time after I finished reading.   This book is a great example of what many women and men face today and highlights some very important issues.  Hopefully this book will touch others as it has touched me.

Jessica Grant wins First Novel Award

Newfoundland writer Jessica Grant is this year's winner of the $7 500 First Novel Award.  Her novel, Come, Thou Tortoise, beat out the nominees for this year's prize and is hailed as a "heartfelt tale". 

A delightfully offbeat story that features an opiniated tortoise and an IQ-challenged narrator who find themselves in the middle of a life-changing mystery.

Audrey Flowers is living quietly in in Oregon with Winnifred, her tortoise, when she finds out her dear father has been knocked into a coma back in Newfoundland.  Despite her fear of flying, she goes to him, but not before she reluctantly dumps Winnifred with her unreliable friends.  Poor Winnifred!

When Audrey disarms an Air Marshall en route to St. John's we begin to realize there's something, well, odd about her.  And we soon know that Audrey's quest to discover who her father really was - and reunite with Winnifred - will be an adventure like no other.

Shortlisted for the 2010 Ontario Library Association's Evergreen Award

Shortlisted for the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council 2009 Winterset Award

Vintage Canada; 432 Pages
ISBN: 978-0307397553 - Purchase or view here.

Other nominees include:

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon (Roger's Trust Prize Winner)
Goya's Dog by Damian Tornapolsky
Diary of Interrupted Days by Dragan Todorovic
Daniel O'Thunder by Ian Weir
No Place Strange by Diana Fitzgerald Bryden

Waiting on Wednesday and Guest Post: Author Cynthia Roberts

Waiting on Wednesday is a fantastic meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  . 

Today on Curling Up By The Fire, I am introducing debut author Cynthia Roberts.  She is the author of Wind Warrior, being released June 15th.  Let's please welcome her!

Hello everyone.  Like all of you, I lived and breathed reading filled many long, lonely evenings when my husband worked nights in law enforcement and I was raising our children Jason and Alyssa (now 31 and 29).  It proved my constant companion later when my "Cinderella" marriage of twenty-five years came to an unexpected end.  There is a quote I heard once I can't remember verbatim but goes somewhat like..."There is no greater loss than a love once known."

I'm a true believer that when tragedy strikes and you're standing at the edge of a fathomless abyss and all you see is darkness looking back at you, faith lies in knowing one of two things will happen.  You can either let fear consume you, roll up into a ball and waste away or, you can take a leap of faith and learn how to soar like an eagle.

I've always had a passion for writing from that very moment a Crayola was placed in my hand and throughout my career in marketing, public relations and sales writing creativity came easily.  When my marriage ended at the age of 45, life as I knew it was never the same.  It was a time of unrest, uncertainty, losing friends and family and financial ruin because I also found myself jobless which continued nearly two years.

Wind Warrior became my salvation.  One evening I sat in front of the computer and decided to write instead of read.  I loved Cassie Edwards Savage series and read every one of her books and figured all I could do was fail.  It proved my therapy back then but no quite up to par to win the favour of publishers.  I received so many rejections I could have wallpapered a small room in my house and almost gave up on my dream.  That is, until I realized it just wasn't my time.  I needed to live through and get beyond the pain in my own life before I could transform and experience into the kind of passion and emotion I wanted my readers to feel personally through my writing.

Now that the writer in me has been unleashed...look out world!  It I can leave my beautiful five grandchildren any legacy, it will be the strength, conviction and passion put into every story I bring to life. 

Wind Warrior (The Iroquois Series - Book 1)
by Cynthia Roberts
Release Date:  June 15, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-61663-162-8
Also available at Amazon and other venues on release date.
You can also visit her site Romance by Cynthis Roberts.

Leslie Michaels is a visionary, and only those close to her know of her special gift and the visions that come when her mind and body surrender to sleep.  Fate has a way of righting many wrongs, and for Leslie it is a destiny that changes her life dramatically.  But not before she is forced to flee into the wilderness to escape a murderous trapper bent on claiming her for his very own.  Faith and a strong will to survive are her only companions, until she encounters Winnokin, the handsome Seneca war chief who first came to her in her dreams.  Not only does he prove to be her rescuer and protector, he teaches her that tragedy can breed happiness and the passion to live and love deeply once again. 

Wind Warrior plunges readers into the intimate depths of a relationship that unfolds like a live drama before their eyes while painting an insightful and intriguing portrait of Native Indian life in the 1800s.  It is a story of longing, of a wanton need to survive all odds, and a love so strong it conquers human evil.  Wind Warrior expresses with cunning words the simple, raw human emotions that hold readers spellbound and captivates their hearts.

Excerpt from Wind Warrior
Leslie Michaels detected the immediate transformation in the stranger's eyes after she reached out and stroked the tips of her fingers along the strong, angular curves of his chin and jaw.  She looked for a change, some kind of reaction that told her he found her to be too bold or forward.  However, his calm reserve gave away no emotion at all.  She was pleased that he did not draw away from her touch or display any signs of displeasure.  More than anything, she wanted to know what was going on in his mind.

     Did he find her attractive?  Would he want to know her more intimately?  She could not believe that those thoughts were even running through her mind.  By God, she thought, I'm thinking just like one of those dance hall girls always standing outside the saloon at the settlement.

     She certainly was not the kind of woman to just throw herself at a man.  She was generally shy and reserved, and it normally took awhile before she warmed up to someone, especially a man like the one right there in front of her.

     And to think, she sighed, that his lips may just taste sweeter than sugar.  She could feel her cheeks flush and patted them with her hands.  This man certainly made her feel brazen.  She wondered if he found her touch as pleasing as it was for her.  When the moments passed with words unspoken between them, Leslie was afraid she truly overstepped her bounds.

     There must be someone else in his life, a wife or betrothed, she thought.  She searched his eyes to see if disinterest reflected in their depths, but he was too difficult to read.  Leslie leaned back slightly and pondered if his lack of response was more out of duty or respect and not wanting to offend her.

     I am such a - a fool - a stupid, crazy ninny, she chastised silently and lowered her head to hide her embarrassment.  Just because I am drawn to him like a bee to honey does not mean he feels the same way about me, she arged with herself.  After all, we are from from different cultures.  Those in my world would never approve such a union.

     Leslie's heart began to pound rapidly in her chest when he moved slightly and reached out for her.  She gasped faintly when he tenderly grasped her chin to raise it and gazed into her eyes.  A lump caught in her throat, and she knew she could not swallow even if she tried.  Joy filled her heart when she watched as his beautiful, full lips began to slowly curve into a smile.

     The pleasure she felt overwhelmed her and she pressed her fingers to her lips and sighed softly.  She did not know his name, where he came from, what kind of person he was.  What she did know was that she felt no fear, no apprehension, in his presence.  She did not hold back and drew herself up from her squatting position to kneel before him.

     His beautiful, amber eyes were captivating, and Leslie knew at that moment that she could get lost in their depths for an eternity.  She wanted nothing else.  He clasped a hold of her tiny wrists and placed her right hand upon his shoulder.

     She reacted instantly and did not hold back.  She needed, wanted, to touch more of him and slowly ran the flat of her palm down his naked chest, felling the strength of hard muscle beneath his light copper skin.  It amazed how such a masculine man could feel as soft as a rabbit's pelt.  Her eyes drifted again to the fullness of his lips, and she craved to have her own held captive by them.

     He was the most handsome man she had ever seen, and even though he was Indian, it did not sway her from wanting to share something more with him.  The comfort and safety she felt was far from odd, even knowing it would prove disturbing to others.  Leslie dismissed all doubt and worry from her mind.  She was never a person to be affected by what others thought.  And she was not about to start now.

     If he was an admirable man with a kind and compassionate heart, that was all she needed to know.  She felt an immediate connection and shivered slightly when he reached forward to tenderly move a tendril of her hair away from her face.  It seemed natural and right to rest her cheek against the palm of his hand.

     His thumb glided softly against her skin, and she shivered slightly as she tilted her body to nuzzle the side of her face against the warmth of his touch.  He reached his other hand to cup her face and draw her nearer.

     Leslie could feel his breath caressing her skin, and she knew he was going to kiss her.

     "Come. Let us ride the wind together," he whispered softly in her ear.  Slowly his lips brushed across her cheek, barely touching skin, causing her body to tremble in response.

     This was the moment she hoped for, and she leaned her body closer and raised her chin to meet the pressure of his lips.  The pressure of his arms were tender as they softly folded about her until their bodies were pressed together in a heated embrace.

     The loud, shrilling chatter of gray squirrels playing outside her bedroom loft window jolted Leslie from her sleep as though cold water had just been thrown upon her face, and she bolted upright, into a sitting position.

     "No!" she cried softly.

     She realized it was just a dream as she ran her palm softly across the spot where she could swear she still felt the warmth of the stranger's touch.  Her eyes scanned every corner of her room, and her heart sank from the disappointing realization that she did indeed dream of the beautiful stranger once again.  She turned and watched the humorous antics that continued outside her bedroom window.

     "Shoo - shoo, you two," she scolded.  "Did you have to choose this very moment to wake me?"  she continued as she shook her head and stretched her limbs like a contented feline.

     For a moment she played back the memory of the dream that had haunted her over and over for the past two months.  When is this going to end? she wondered.  What does it all mean?

      It was not this particular incident that bewildered her.  For as long as she could remember, Leslie had always been haunted by such riddles.  Early in her childhood, she had learned not to question her special ability to see what would happy in the very near future through her dreams.  She never feared them, because they were so very much a part of her life, and she naturally assumed everyone had the same experiences in their life.  That is, until she was old enough to speak and express what she saw with her parents.

     Leslie was nearly seven when she finally began to understand what was happening to her, what she was born with.  Her mother, Olivia, had sat her down and carefully told her of the special gift they both shared.  It was a guarded secret that had been passed down for five generations by the feminine line on her mother's side.

     Still, the dream she had just experienced was so different and more personal than any she had before.  This dream involved her emotions.  She knew this particular stranger would play a major role in her future.  She just did not know what, or when, or where.  Each time he entered her sleep, it became more real, and her attraction for him grew stronger.  She was becoming drawn to his long, dark hair and a physique, which looked as though it had been chiseled from stone.  He was a mystery for now, and she was certain it was one that would be solved sooner rather than later.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This Week's Upcoming Releases

This is not a post I've had much of a chance to do lately, although it was something I originally intended to do each week.  But with work schedules, and children's activity schedules, and other things that seem to interrupt a well-meaning blogger, I just haven't been able to get around to it.  I took a bit of a breather this week and decided to do something for myself, well as far as blogging goes, and spent some time checking out some upcoming releases.  Here are a few that I am interested in this week.

Kiss of Death (Morganville Vampires,
Book 8)
by Rachel Caine
Release Date:  April 27, 2010

Vampire musician Michael Glass has attracted the attention of a big-time producer who wants to cut a demo and play some gigs - which means Michael will have to enter the human world.  For this, he's been assigned escorts that include both a dangerous immortal as well as Michael's all too-human friends.  And with that mix of personalities, this is going to be a road trip from hell...

Ghosts and Echoes (A Shadows Inquiries Novel)
by Lyn Benedict
Release Date: April 27, 2010

Sylvie Lightner is no ordinary P.I.  She specializes in cases involving the unusual and unbelievable, in a world where magic is real, where hell is just around the corner - and where death isn't the worst thing that can happen to you...

The Genesis Secret
by Tom Knox
Release Date: April 27, 2010

In this epic thriller, a secret with shocking consequences is buried deep in the Middle Eastern Desert.

Well of Sorrows
by Benjamin Tate
Release Date: April 27, 2010

An epic tale of a continent on the brink of war, and a deadly magic that waits to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

The Deadly Sister
by Eliot Schrefer
Release Date: April 27, 2010

Abby is sure her sister Maya isn't a murderer.  But her parents don't agree.  Her friends don't agree.  And the cops definitely don't agree.  Maya is a drop-out, a stoner, a girl who's obsessed with her tutor, Jefferson Andrews...until he ends up dead.  Maya runs away, and leaves Abby following the trail of clues.  Each piece of evidence points to Maya, but it seems that Jefferson had secrets of his own.  And enemies.

Is Abby getting closer to finding the true murderer?  Or is someone leading her down a twisted false path?

The Thin Executioner
by Darren Shan
Release Date: April 28, 2010

Jebel sets out on a quest to the farawar home of a legendary fire god to beg for inhuman powers so that he can become the most lethal of men.  He must take with him a slave to be sacrificed to the god.  It will be a dark and brutal journey, but the Jebel it is worth it.

To retrieve his honour...

To wield unimaginable power...

To become...

The thin executioner.

Johnny Swanson
by Eleanor Updale
Release Date: April 29, 2010

This one is for my son.

11-year-old Johnny is in business.  He's raking in the money with his advertising scams and his agony aunt persona, Ada Ardour, who offers advice on absolutely anything in return for a shilling.  But his money-making schemes are getting him in too deep.  Everything is spiralling out of control, and now his own mother is in mortal danger.  There's only one thing for it: Johnny must assume another role - undercover detective.

Where Death Delights
by Bernard Knight
Release Date: April 30, 2010

A new series about forensic pathology, written by a former Home Office pathologist.

Lost for Words
by Alice Kuipers
Release Date: May 1, 2010

Lost in memories of the life she once had, Sophie retreats into herself.  But there's only so long she can keep everything bottled up inside before she explodes.  Maybe by confronting the tragedy of her past she'll figure out how to fix her future.

The House on Sugar Plum Lane
by Judy Duarte
Release Date: May 1, 2010

Old friends and new characters mingle in a poignant story of second chances, new beginnings, faith, and family.

Runaway (Airhead, Book 3)
by Meg Cabot
Release Date: May 1, 2010

Emerson Watts is on the run: from school, from work, from her family, from her friends, from herself.

But when she discovers the truth to Nikki's secret, she knows there's only one person she can turn to.

by Lucy Christopher
Release Date: May 1, 2010

Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian outback.  Stolen is the gripping story of her survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare - or die trying to fight it.
Monday, April 26, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.  It's a great way to keep track of what you read, what you are currently reading, and think about what you need or want to read in the week ahead.  It's also a fantastic way to network and see what everyone else is reading.

I didn't really get a lot of reading done in the past few weeks; marking and doing reports has kept me pretty busy, and my son and daughter's First Communion on Sunday also required a lot of work.  I should hopefully have more time during the next few weeks to catch up on some much needed reading and relaxation time.

This is what I read last week:

Heresy by S.J. Parris
You can read my review here.

Dead and Kicking (Book 3, Ghost Dusters Series)
by Wendy Roberts
Read my review here.

Ten Little Kittens
by Marian Harris
Illustrated by Jim Harris
Read my review here.

I am currently reading:

by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Golden Spiral (Book 2)
by Lisa Mangum

Up next:

Vampire Theory
by Lily Caracci
Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kamron and Alyssa's Corner: Ten Little Kittens by Marian Harris

This little corner was designed to highlight books that would interest the younger set and is named after my son and daughter, both of whom complained that I didn't focus enough on children's literature.  This one is for my daughter.

Ten Little Kittens
Written by Marian Harris
Illustrated by Jim Harris
2010 Accord Publishing
Hardcover Edition
Genre: Children's Fiction
Source: Review Copy

4 / 5 Stars

Marian Harris and Jim Harris, the creators of Ten Little Puppies, are back with a delightful rhyming book, this time focusing on the mischievous antics of a variety of little kittens.

Set to the rhyming scheme of "Ten Little Monkeys", children will readily recognize the rhyming pattern and follow along very easily.  They will enjoy watching the kittens meet up with a monster underneath the dock, dance with a pretty butterfly, swing from a Christmas tree, dress up with royal clothes, play checkers, and land in a plate of purple grapes.  I thought the rhymes were absolutely adorable and they were definitely catchy.  My daughter and I had a great time singing the rhymes to the "Ten Little Monkeys" song and rather enjoyed discussing the situations the kittens got themselves into.  My daughter often wondered what I would do if any cat in my house were to ever get into a situation like that; she rather enjoyed discussing that aspect of the book. There is also a brief description of each type of cat used in each rhyme at the end of the book for those children (and parents) interested in cats.

What I particularly liked in this book are the illustrations.  They are bright, detailed, colourful, and very complex.  For a seven-year-old, they are perfect and have given us a lot of discussion sessions as this book has been a favourite these past few days.  I don't think it would fare very well in the hands of a three-year-old as the pages are not very sturdy and with the holes in the center of the pages, I think they would tear very easily.  I also found that I had to hold the book either flat or upright or the googly eyes would fold back and give the kittens a somewhat creepy look.  It didn't seem to bother my daughter as much as it bothered me, but I thought the kittens looked like they were always going to faint. My only other complaint with the googly eyes is they prevent the book from sitting properly on the bookshelf; this may not bother someone else, but it certainly bothered me.  However, I adored the illustrations and every time I read the book with my daughter, we found something new to discuss and look over.  It's been fun to discuss and match the types of kittens with the names at the back of the book.  As a parent, I also liked the diversity in the language as it gave my daughter an opportunity to practice and experiment with her vocabulary.  The rhyming patterns also helped her to remember some of the tricker words.

This is a great book to add to any child's library.  It is fun and silly, with interesting and colourful illustrations and is one that kids will love.

Review: Dead and Kicking by Wendy Roberts

Dead and Kicking (Book 3, Ghost Dusters Series)
by Wendy Roberts
2009 Obsidian
Trade Paperack; 280 Pages
Genre: Mystery/Paranormal
Source: Local Library

4 / 5 Stars

Summary (Press Release)
Sadie's going through a rough time.  When her dad passes away, she's left to juggle her widowed mother, her lying boyfriend, Zack, her struggling business - and the fact that her father's spirit is reluctant to move on.  Now, on top of all that, Zack's former flame hires Sadie to dig out the home of her hoarder mother... and that's when things get messy.

Sadie finds some unexpected things in the cluttered house - including the seventeen-year-old mummified remains of an infant, along with a very angry ghost who seems determined to keep Sadie away.  Then, aided by a team of her fellow psychics, she unearths something even more terrifying: a host of secrets that someone will kill to keep buried.

My Thoughts
What I love about this series, is its originality.  Sadie cleans up crime scenes for a living and has to deal with all of the stigma that that entails, from her mother, from her friends, and from other people she meets.  The situations that Sadie finds herself in, are usually a result of the crime scenes, and what she discovers at those crime scenes.  To be honest, until I read these books, I don't think I really gave it a thought as to what happens after the crimes are committed and the body/bodies are removed.  This series gives the reader a look into what happens after a death occurs and how a place is cleaned up and restored.  It's a rather chilling thought to have to use a company such as the one Sadie owns.

Sadie is an interesting and intriguing character.  I do have to admit however, that she was presented in this book very differently than in the first two books.  She was much moodier, more angry, often crying over every little thing that happened; yes, I understood that her boyfriend Zack was having issues, that her dad had just passed away, and she was not getting along with her mom as well as she could, but I still felt somewhat irritated at times by all this behaviour.  I felt the old Sadie had more spunk and was much more lively.  And Zack, I normally love his character, but he was very different from the Zack I adored in the first two books.  He has an issue with vicodin and I'm glad the author is showing that drug addictions are dangerous and can reoccur if one is not careful (and Sadie had to do the tough love thing), but I was hoping it wouldn't get too serious and especially, I do not want to see Zack get written out of the series.  I don't want to reveal any spoilers here, but with the addition of another possible love interest, I was a little worried that Zack might not stay in the picture.

One of the things I love about these books is the amaterish sleuth feeling as Sadie goes around, in her sometimes bumbling way, sleuthing to discover who did the crime.  How does she discover some of the deaths are crimes?  She's a psychic too, and the ghosts make this series a lot of fun, and also create a lot of problems for Sadie.  She's been seen talking to herself on many an occasion and now rumours are flying that she is either psychic or ready for a lunatic assylum.  Throw in her best friend Maeve, another psychic, and things can get pretty interesting.  I enjoy these parts a lot and the complications they get themselves into are a lot of fun.

While this book was darker than the other two, with many subplots and twists that are separate from the main mystery, it was still an enjoyable and fun read.  It focused more on Sadie's relationship issues with Zack and her mom, and less on the business of cleaning up crime scenes.  Despite all that, the mystery is cleverly disguised amongst all of Sadie's emotional issues and the plot twists and turns until the very last page.  Ms. Roberts is currently writing the next book in this series.  It will be interesting to see what happens to Sadie next.
Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: Heresy by S.J. Parris

by S.J. Parris
2010 Doubleday
Softcover Edition; 448 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Murder Mystery
Source: Local Library

4 / 5 Stars

Summary (Press Release)
Giardano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite.  This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic.

Bruno's pursuit of this rare knowledge brings him to London, where he is unexpectedly recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation.  Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen.

His mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly murders and a spirited and beautiful young woman.  As Bruno begins to discover a pattern in these killings, he realizes that no one at Oxford is who he seems to be.  Bruno must attempt to outwit a killer who appears obsessed with the boundary between truth and heresy.

My Thoughts
In 1576, Giordano Bruno was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for his heretical beliefs and for reading books that were forbidden by the Catholic Church.  In an attempt to avoid the Inquisition, he fled the only place he had known for thirteen years, and lived on the streets, avoiding those who were searching for him for many years.  When next we see Bruno in 1583, he had managed to become a favourite of King Henri III and good friends with Sir Sydney Philip of London, a personnage with many well-connected friends at the court of Queen Elizabeth I.  With the court swirling with rumours of assassination attempts by Mary Queen of Scots, and herself surrounded constantly by threats from France and Scotland, it came as little surprise that Walsingham would call upon Bruno to help him fight the religious threat against the royal personnage.  Thinking about the wealth he could gain, and the influence at court, Bruno agreed to help Walsingham with his mission, to help find papists aiding and abetting others to overthrow her, although he did have an ulterior purpose in mind.  Bruno had been searching for a missing book for many years that was last thought to be at Oxford University, the site of Bruno's mission.

Oxford University was the perfect setting for a murder mystery.  A tightly-knit community of scholars, the author was able to show how even such a community shadowed the outside world with its religious intrigues and many layers of truths.  John Underhill, the current rector of the university, is shocked when a series of grisly murders upsets his scholarly life.  The author cleverly shows how the religious wars impact even a quiet scholarly community and that you can trust no one.  I was amazed at the twists and turns of the plot, at the deep layers of the characters, and how when I thought I had things figured out, everything got turned upside down.  I did find the book somewhat too wordy however, and sometimes skipped forward to the action.  And if you are not familiar with some of the historical events, you might have a little difficulty understanding some of the ramifications of the some of the events.

Bruno was an enjoyable and intriguing character.  And the knowledge that he actually existed has intrigued me even more; I will be spending some time looking him up and reading more about him.   He was charming, graceful, thoughtful, open-minded, highly intelligent, and very admiring of others.  At the same time, he was a flawed character and made many mistakes, something which I liked.  I prefer my heroes to make mistakes as it makes them seem more human and more personable.  I especially found Bruno's personal conflict to be interesting.  When he first undertook the mission, he didn't realize how difficult it would be to turn people in to Walsingham as suspected papists and the resulting effects of his actions.  Once that realization hit, he became exceedingly conflicted as he understood he could be sending people he knew and cared about to face torture, death, and/or exile.  Suddenly, working for Walsingham didn't seem as appealing.  Sophia Underhill was another complex character that I greatly admired, although she was a tragic character.  Women certainly did not have it very easy during this time period, and reading about Sophia's fate certainly made me grateful that I live in the time period that I do.  I also really liked the bookseller names Jenkes, although he is certainly not a nice person.  I have to admire his courage to survive in a world as turbulent as the one he lived in.

Heresy was an enjoyable book and I admire it for its blunt look at life the way it was during the sixteenth century.  There are moments that are uncomfortable for the reader, some of the execution scenes are pretty graphic and some of the death scenes are grisly, but the book gives the reader a great view of what life what like during this time period.  The religious wars definitely caused a lot of problems and tore families apart.  One has to admire the courage of people who stood up for their beliefs knowing that torture and death awaiting them.   While the mystery towards the second half of the novel was somewhat sketchy, there is certainly a lot in this book that was enjoyable.  S.J. Parris certainly left the book open to the possibility of a sequel, and I would definitely read another book by this author.
Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Blogger Hop!

It's Friday and it's time to Book Blogger Hop!

This is a wonderful weekly meme hosted by Jennifer @ Crazy for Books where book lovers everywhere can connect to meet other book bloggers, support each other, discover new authors and new books, and generally discuss our favourite subject, BOOKS.  The only limitation is that your blog should have content relating to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

So, join in the fun, and come and meet others who love books too!

Also, I have a contest running until April 30th, to win one copy of Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs.  See sidebar for all the details.
Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Obsession With Castles - Dragsholm Castle

Last week I featured Bothwell Castle, so I thought it only fitting that this week's feature be Dragsholm Castle, located in Denmark.  Considered one of the most haunted castles in Europe, it reportedly boasts over 100 ghosts within the walls, including the ghost of James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell.  I have always been fascinated by this, and have always wanted to visit Denmark and the famous Dragsholm Castle.

History of Dragsholm Castle
Dragsholm Castle is one of the oldest castles in Denmark.  It was first built around 1215 by the Bishop of Roskilde, modified during the middle ages to a fortified castle and eventually was so strong that it was the only castle able to withstand the forces of Count Christoffer in the mid-sixteenth century.   Around 1536, it passed to the Crown during the Reformation and remained as Crown land for over 100 years; it was used during this time as a prison for noble and ecclesiastical prisoners.   Many famous people were held as prisoners for crimes and behaviours against the throne. 

For Visitors
Currently, the Castle is owned and run by the Bottger family as a hotel, restaurant, and attraction.   The hotel rooms have been refurbished and modernised.  The land surrounding the castle is full of lakes and meadows, a nature lover's paradise; it is an area much loved by artists and nature lovers for its undulating landscape and ever-changing appearance. 

Ghosts of Dragsholm Castle
Dragsholm Castle claims to be one of the most haunted castles in Denmark, with over 100 spirits living within its walls.  Amongst all these spirits, three seem to make the most appearances and to gather the most attention to its visitors.

1) The Grey Lady
While staying overnight, a visitor may awaken to find a ghostly lady keeping watch over them because this spirit still keeps an eye on things in order to make sure things are running smoothly.  Apparently, as the legend goes, this lady suffered from a toothache that was cured by someone in the castle.  This grateful spirit returns to check up on visitors ever since and to repay the kind deed of which she was once in need.

2) The White Lady
Unfortunately, this story is a little more tragic.  In the early 20th century, workers were dismantling a wall during a renovation and came across a skeleton dressed in a white gown.  As the story goes, the daughter of a former owner fell in love with a commoner who worked in the castle.  The girl's father eventually discovered them and in a rage, he ordered his daughter to be locked in a room in the castle.  This spirit still haunts the hallways at night.  There are so many stories like this one, aren't there?

3) The Earl of Bothwell
James Bothwell, the consort of Mary, Queen of Scots, is perhaps the most famous of the spirits to haunt Dragsholm Castle.   He was imprisoned in the cellars of Dragsholm Castle for murder of Lord Darnley for the remaining years of his life.  The story goes that he went mad and died in 1578.   Visitors can see the same pillar where the Earl was once chained and some of the artifacts that he had with him during his imprisonment. 

Hotel And Restaurant
Today, Dragsholm Castle is a beautiful place to visit and stay.  It is open during the spring and summer months on a daily basis for those interested in tours of the castle and to learn a bit about the local history and history of the castle.  For those who wish to stay, the castle is a fine establishment in which to stay the night, with all of the modern conveniences you'd expect.  It is also home to Denmark's oldes wine-cellar, originating to the 13th century.  All produce and ingredients used in the restaurant are locally grown, something the restaurant is imminently proud.

I, personally, would love to visit and learn more about the history of this amazing place.  And, maybe, just a little part of me, would love to see one of these spirits that haunt this amazing place.  Without getting scared and hiding under the covers, that is, and ruining the moment. 

Off to Denmark I go one day and I can't wait!!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Countdown to Blogmania!

Countdown to Blogmania on April 30th!!!!

Here is a sneak peek at some of the prizes you can win here at
Curling Up By The Fire!

Kitty's House of Horrors by Carrie Vaughn
Catch of a Lifetime by Judi Fennell
Demonfire by Kate Douglas

Blogmania Early Bird Check List:
We want all of our visiting guests in our first Blogmania Event scheduled for April 30th to Get On Their Marks - Get Set...

It's not time to go yet, but if you want to have the most and scoop up as much loot as possible, here are a few Early Bird reminders to help you do just that.

1) Be at any of the blogs participating in the Blogmania Event as early as possible on April 30th.  The easiest way to find a Blogmania Blog is to look for the Blogmania Badge.

2) This is an international event, so understand that there will be some differences in time zones.  My advice is to start early and stay late to catch all the blogs.

3) Each blog will have their own giveaway requirements.  Read them carefully, follow through, and then move on as quickly as possible.  If you run across a blog that you really and want to spend some time exploring, copy their URL and then visit them after Blogmania is over.

4) We will have 100+ blogs for you to visit.  Each one will post their number like this.  (This is blog 47 of 100.)  This is to help you keep track of which blogs you've visited, and which ones you still need to reach.  I'd suggest that you prepare a blog sheet which is numbered from 1 - 120, then mark off each numbered blog as you visit them.

5) All blog links provided will also have a number like (Blog 89 of 100).  Look for the blogs that you haven't yet visited and follow those links until you've checked of all the blogs on your sheet.

6) We have all types of blogs participating in Blogmania, which means that the range of items in their giveaways is diverse.  I have previewed many and they are awesome.

7) Why not contact a friend and partner up.  Compare notes, share loot, or organize your own friendly neighbourhood Blogmania competition.

This is our first Blogmania Event, but it isn't our last.  Blogmania is a bi-yearly Giveaway Extravaganza.  In fact, our next Blogmania event will start September 15th, and do we have some cool stuff planned for you!  So keep in touch with our Blogmania Blogs, because they will be giving sneak previews, secret codes, and who knows what else in the weeks and months ahead.

For further information, visit Between The Pages or contact Lynda at

Hope to see you there!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine.  It highlights books that are soon to be released that we are looking forward to reading.  It's a great way to introduce books and authors to other readers and to find out what other readers are looking forward to reading. 

This is what I found this week:

Discord's Apple
by Carrie Vaughn
Release Date: July 20, 2010

When Evie Walker goes home to spend time with her dying father, she discovers that his creaky old house in Hope's Fort, Colorado is not the only legacy she stands to inherit.  Hidden behind the old basement door is a secret and magical storeroom where wondrous treasures from myth and legend are kept safe until they are needed again. The magic of the storeroom prevents access to any who are not intended to use the items.

Evie must guard the storeroom against evil and malicious forces, protecting the past and the future even as the present unravels around them.  Old heroes and notorious villains alike will rise to fight on her side or to undermine her most desperate gambits.  At stake is the fate of the world, and the prevention of nothing less than the apocalypse.

Princess of Glass
by Jessica Day George
Release Date: May 25, 2010

Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy relunctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other's countries in the name of better political alliances - and potential marriages.  It's got the makins of a fairy tale - until a hapless servant named Eleanor is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince.  Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.

So, what books are you looking forward to reading?  C'mon, please share!!!!
Sunday, April 18, 2010

In My Mailbox

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren that allows us to reflect on the books we received in the mail in the past week, either because we bought them or they were for review or we won them (doesn't matter as it's always exciting to get a book in the mail), or the ones we picked up at the library.  It's also a great way to check out great books out there in the blogging community.  This is what I picked up this week.

Books for review:

Vampire Theory
by Lily Caracci

When mysteriously gorgeous Alan comes to North Willchester High, bringing with him the equivalent of the Apocalypse, Emalyn learns that change isn't always for the best.  It will take take a girl more than her rapier-sharp wit, serious Chemistry lessons and a hunky sidekick to win the race again Alan's fanged armada.

And the worst of it?  She won't escape entirely human.

by Susan Hughes

A gripping story about an ordinary teenage girl drawn into an extraordinary chanin of events, Virginia will have readers questioning their own beliefs and contemplating the secrets that we all carry.

Books I won:

This One is Mine
by Maria Semple

Violet Parry has a picture-perfect life: a beautiful house, a successful husband, a darling daughter.  She has everything under control - except her own happiness.  All it takes is a chance encounter with Teddy Reyes, a roguish small-time bass player with a highly evolved sexuality, to open Violet's eyes to what she's missing and upend her life completely.

Books From The Library:

by S.J. Parris

This historical thriller delivers a page-turning murder mystery set in Elizabethan sixteenth century.

I started this yesterday and am almost finished.  It's brilliant!!!!

Murder Has No Class (Book 3, Bellehaven House Mystery)
by Rebecca Kent

You can read my review here.

Dead and Kicking (Book 3, Ghost Dusters series)
by Wendy Roberts

Sadie Novak cleans up crime scenes for a living, and often finds herself face-to-face with the dead.  Blessed - or cursed - with the gift of second sight, she can't seem to finish a job without being visited by an earthbound spirit.

I love this series and was thrilled to see this in the library.
Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review - Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper

Book of Souls
by Glenn Cooper
2010 HarperCollins Publishers
Paperback Edition; 378 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-172180-9
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Source: Review Copy from HarperCollins

4.5 / 5 Stars

Summary (Press Release)
Only a handful know it exists...
It holds the world's most astonishing -
and terrifying - information...
But one book that is the key to the
greatest secret of all time...
is missing.

Former FBI Special Agent Will Piper solved - and survived - the "Doomsday Killer" case...and his reward was a forced early retirement.  But the shattering truths he learned about the government's most covert operations won't let him rest - and now he's on the trail of a mysterious volume that's been lost for six centuries.  This is the book that inspired Shakespeare and the prophecies of Nostradamus, and once Will gets his hands on it, his life will be worth nothing - his death sentence a top priority handed down from the very high levels of power.

Because there are some truths too dangerous for anyone to know - those that concern the future, world domination...and the end of everything.

My Thoughts
Books of Souls takes place about 18 months after "Secret of the Seventh Son".  If you have not read the first book, I would highly recommend it as you will miss a lot of what is going on in this novel as it makes reference to many events that happened in the 'Seventh Son'.  You will still greatly enjoy this book if you haven't read the first one, but some things may be confusing to you as the author assumes that you have read the first one when referencing events.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  I got caught up in its grip right from the beginning and couldn't wait to get back to it every night.  Throw in a mystery, secrets from hundreds of years ago, a quest, a chase, and you have all of the elements that I absolutely love.  All of this begins when Will goes out running one day, moaning the fact that he is bored and looking for adventure in his life, and discovers that he is being followed.  Those following him belonged to a secret organization that has deep ties to the "Doomsday Case" and soon Will is plunged back into the terror and conspiracy he thought he left behind him. 

In his search for long-lost secrets and a secret puzzle found in a book bought by those who were following him, Will heads to England and discovers lost information from Will Shakespeare, Nostradamus, and John Calvin.  In order to give important information to the reader, the author deftly moves the reader back and forth between the present and the past, entertwining the stories with great skill.  We learn more about the famous Library, the origins of the books that have caused so many problems for Will, and how that information was passed down though the years.  This style of storytelling is quite common for those who are very familiar with these types of mystery/thriller/suspense/archaeological novels.  And it always adds a little something to the story.  It is definitely something I enjoy and looked forward to reading in this novel.

The plot certainly had a lot of twists and suprises, never slowing down, but never going fast to the point where I couldn't figure out what was going on.  Some things did catch me by surprise and some people died who I was hoping would live.  I thoroughly enjoyed the quest and the search for the artifacts when Will was in England, but that is the kind of thing I really enjoy and it was what drew me to the novel in the first place.  The search for ancient treasure and the search for long-lost letters and information always catches my attention and I love reading about it. 

As always, it's the character development that I truly enjoy and Will Piper is a fascinating figure.  There were moments where I didn't really like him in this novel as he is definitely a flawed character.  But then, who isn't?  You don't seen as much of Nancy in this one as she is at home taking care of their son, but she does help him in certain spots when he looking for information concerning the Book.  Will does do some things that aren't flattering to himself, and as he has issues with alcohol; whenever he drinks he does something he shouldn't.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I won't mention what happens, but it does make me think less of him.  In redemption, however, his drinking does save his family later on in the novel, so the circle does complete itself.  He goes through a moment of reflection when he returns to visit Shacketon and realizes he is not always the best person and doesn't always treat Nancy the way she deserves, and I like him much better after that.

I truly enjoyed this book.  What I found really fascinating is the concept of choice; once the world knows that books exist with the information about your birth date and the date of your death, what do you do?  One of the reasons I only gave the novel 4.5 out of 5 is that I don't think it really dealt with this weighty issue enough.  Should the government keep this information secret or should it be given to the world?  And then, what do you do with it?  Should nurses and doctors have the right to that information in making their diagnosis?  What if someone doesn't want to know, but that information is given to them anyways?  What are the ramifications?  The possibilities are endless and utterly fascinating.  The author left the ending open in such a way that there is the possiblity of a third book in this series.  I would love to see what Glenn Cooper would do with Will Piper and the Book and the utterly amazing story he has created.

Review: Murder Has No Class by Rebecca Kent

Murder Has No Class (Book 3, Bellehaven House Mystery)
by Rebecca Kent
2010 Berkley Prime Crime
Paperback Edition; 232 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery/Murder
Source: Library

3 / 5 Stars

Summary (Synopsis)
Headmistress Meredith Llewellyn's assistant is behaving badly, the maids are planning an all-out riot, and the lads from the darts championships are corruption her girls.  But these troubles are not what keep Meredith up at night.  Rather, it's one livid ghost...

Lord James Stalham has continued to claim his innocence in the murder of his father - even after they've hung him for it.  Now Stalham's ghost, desperate to clear his name, is haunting Meredith.  The practical headmistress needs her sleep, so she sets out to find the truth - and discovers a scandal that's far more complicated than upper-level mathematics...

My Thoughts
If you are looking for a light-hearted, easy beach read, than this book is definitely for you.  It was entertaining, quick-paced, with a few twists and turns, and although I enjoyed it, it definitely wasn't thought-provoking or a difficult-to-figure-out who-done-it.

What I did enjoy in this novel were the characters, in particular the headmistress and two of the tutors.  It was interesting to learn about their backgrounds and the hardships they faced as women in what was definitely a man's world. I really don't think I would have fared very well during this time, although I am also thinking in the modern time perspective so who knows.  I have to admire these women's fortitude to try to make a life for themselves and to succeed despite the fact there is little good employment for women during this time period, and they still have to answer to a male as the school is owned by a wealthy male named Stuart Hamilton.  Several of these women faced some difficult times in the past and have been deeply scarred by it.  It certainly made me think how lucky I am to have a lot of the privileges I have today.  And the freedom to do pretty much what I want.

As for the plot, while it was interesting, was very easy to figure out.  I was also somewhat skeptical of some of the events as you just can't walk up to people and start asking questions about a murder that took place around them and expect people to answer the way that they did without getting their backs up.  I just couldn't imagine servants opening up to strangers so easily in real life.  It just made things seem a little too pat, if you know what I mean?  

I found some of the events around the girls in the boarding school to be hilarious however.  The food fight and the scene where some of the girls are drunk and the headmistress has to deal with both of these scenarios, especially in the uptight world of decorum and virtue, were too funny.  It made the girls seem more human and more interesting.  I found the contrast between how Stuart Hamilton dealth with the situations and how the women dealt with them very interesting and it says a lot about the division of men and women at that time. 

This was a light and interesting read, but if you are looking for an in-depth murder/mystery, you will not get that in this novel.  It is too bad that the author has said that this will be the last novel in this series as there is definitely some potential to develop these characters and the stories.  If you like easy mysteries that you can read quickly, involve ghosts, and are set in England, than this is a book for you.
Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Finds

I am in the midst of report cards right now, so of course this would be the time when great books appear on my desk at work or in my mailbox or at the library.  A friend of mine brought this one to show me at work this past week and it sounded so interesting I thought I would share it on Friday Finds, hosted by Should Be Reading.  (I did have to sacrifice and put it away until next week, and wait until after reports are due (sob, sob!!!).)

Pretty Little Things
by Jilliane Hoffman

After a date on Halloween, Lainey Emerson disappears, along with her new boyfriend.  This individual, known only by the nickname of El Captain, is the obvious suspect. Bobby Dees, the tenacious special agent of Florida's crack Crimes Against Children squad, is the one person who may be able to find her - and he is both helped and hindered by the fact that he knows only too well how it feels to lose a child.  But all of his resources are called upon by a nemesis who always seems to be one step ahead - and time is running out for the missing girl.

Doesn't this sound great?