Friday, October 31, 2008

The Paperbag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne

We often hear people talk about how the spirit of Christmas has been forgotten, how all anyone cares about nowadays is how many presents they get. This book sends out a totally different message.

It's the story of two young boys who go to visit Santa. They know he's not real, but they figure it can't hurt to turn their wish lists in. While they wait in line, they fill the whole page with gift items they want, front and back.

But, when they visit Santa, they find that they are the ones who have to give a gift - a gift of their time at a ward for ailing children. As they play the part of elves for Santa (who is a doctor there), they realize some of these children will never be going home again, and it changes how they look at life.

One child in particular wears a bag over her head because her disease has made her "ugly". This is the one the youngest boy tries to get more involved in daily life at the hospital. But she's not easy to convince. He has to do a gurney race and ends up hurting himself. And she says she won the race anyway!

It takes some creative thinking to get all the patients in the play for Christmas, and the other children join in and make it an event to remember for a lifetime.

It will most likely make you cry, but you won't forget this book.

It'd be a good tale to read aloud with your family and talk about why it makes you feel the way it does, and what you might be able to do in your community to make someone else's Christmas better.

I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another book review...

Did another review for Christine, here's the link to it:

This one was a fun romp through the life a snowbird from Idaho. The Secret Life of a Snowbird by Len Schritter.

Len has a great sense of humor and made me laugh several times as I wandered through his tales. I think you'd have fun reading it, too!

Check out the review, and, if it appeals to you, leave a comment here and send me an email to express interest. I'll be giving this one away, too.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Live Chat with Kathleen Kent (Heretic's Daughter)

Miriam Parker from Hachette has told me that Kathleen Kent (author of The Heretic's Daughter) will be chatting live at 1PM ET on Blog Talk Radio.

She's a descendant of accused with Martha Carrier and will be talking about her novel, Salem, witches, and, of course, Halloween.

Email if you would like your question to be added to the agenda. Please include the area code that will be dialing in from.

If you just want to listen online, visit:

Here's a great opportunity to listen to an author talk about the book she's written and the reason she's written it (her own personal history).

If you have questions, email Miriam. I know she's looking forward to audience participation in this event.

I reviewed this book, and it's an authentic look at the Salem Witch Trials - which are an ugly part of our past. Read it and you will be taking a fascinating walk through prejudice, hate, and a fear of anyone different. Get a copy of it and see for yourself!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October 25th was our 34th anniversary!

We took our anniversary trip last Wednesday and went up to Capitan and stayed overnight.

First off, the store we went up there to snoop in and planned to buy some leather goods was closed - he went out of town unexpectedly for the week. Drat!

We did find that they had redone the old bank and converted it into an art shop, and we toured that. There was some really fantastic art in there, and some that wasn't so great, but it was fun to look at. Nothing grabbed me enough to make me buy it. Most prices were pretty weighty.

We took a little drive out in the country - and there was nothing and nobody out there, let me tell you! If we'd kept going, we'd end up in Roswell, so we turned around and wandered back.

The room had this huge furniture that made me feel like I was Goldilocks sitting in the bears' chairs. We had to use our pillows to be able to make them fit us!

Sadly, the room wasn't well maintained, it was cold, the furniture and the beds were uncomfortable, they gave us two full beds so we had to sleep separately (and this was after I told them we were coming for our anniversary!), the room next to us filled up with construction workers and we got to listen to them talk until about 10 PM and start again about 6 AM (why next to us when the rest of the motel unit was empty???). Oh, did I mention that the toilet seat was almost unattached and you felt like you were swimming when you sat on it?

We knew the restaurant closed early, so we took some of favorite food from Nellie's with us. However, the microwave was too small for the containers to turn, so we had to take the rollers out, turn the plate in the bottom over so it wouldn't turn, and had to watch and manually turn our food around. The fact that the control didn't work right made it a bit more challenging. But we did get our food cooked and ate it.

We got up fairly early (for us - we're night owls now) and headed back home. As my husband pointed out, our chairs and our bed felt a lot better than the motel's.

But we did go "out" and saw some beautiful country, so it wasn't a total loss.

I'm amazed we made it this far together. We don't have many problems with each other, but there was his ex and his kids, his family, his work schedule and mine, and his mom always thought I was lying when I said he wasn't home from work (I asked her if she'd like to talk to the cat to confirm it), and life was difficult sometimes.

He's very glad I made the decision to move to New Mexico. We have our freedom here, the weather helps our health, and we've learned to live with each other 24/7 - which was a big change from an hour or two each evening.

So here's to 34 years and more to come!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

This book grabbed my attention and kept me reading until I finished the story, but I found it disturbing.

If you have a boy who doesn't like reading, this one should catch his attention and he'll finish it, don't worry about that. But I think you should pre-read it, so you can discuss what he's reading and how he feels about it.

This is the first book of the Chaos Walking series, and it's not a gentle walk in the park.

A young boy lives in a town of all men, who have to live with the constant noise of other's thoughts. He's near coming of age, and can't wait until he'll be a man, too. However, he has no idea what the ritual of maturity is, and the men who adopted him after the death of his parents appear to be worried about it.

They can't tell him anything, because he doesn't know how to hide his thoughts well yet. And they hesitate to tell him because it's going to turn his life upside down.

But then Todd sees something that is dangerous, and his adopted parents plead with him to leave town and find a new life. He doesn't believe there IS another life. All he knows is what he was taught as he grew up.

But when the men of town come after him, he goes as he is told, and his adventures begin.

First, he finds a girl. He was told all women were dead, had died from disease. Where did she come from?

He also finds his tormentor from town has followed him and is now even more of a danger...

He and his dog (who can talk to him telepathically also) first work on locating the girl, then on following the map to the next town in hopes they will be welcomed there.

Along the way, he finds that much of what he was taught as a child was a lie, that the ritual of manhood is a horror, that there is no real place to run to, and that he may have to kill to stay alive.

The book is full of good and evil, but it's not apparent who is which right away.

And people do die along the way.

There is a real cliff hanger at the end of the book, which will make you wait on pins and needles for the next book. What can happen next???

I enjoyed the read, but this book touched me emotionally, and I think it would be good for parents or siblings to discuss some of the issues with each other.

It's fantasy and science fiction, but it reads like "real" to me.

This would be a good fit for the young adult audience. This book is already available for sale.

If you would like my advance reading copy, leave a comment on my blog and email me to indicate your interest and why you would like it. I'll do a drawing and send it one of you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another great children's book!

I don't know if I've mentioned it previously, but Candlewick Press is one of my favorite publishers. They always have delightful children's books that are well made and will give children hours of happiness reading and re-reading their favorites.

I was lucky enough to review another one of their books coming out this fall. This one is The Foggy Foggy Forest by Nick Sharratt.

This is an unusually formatted book that should tantalize children and show them just how many faces the world of books can have. The pages are like parchment paper, with black art silhouetted on it.

He shows you the shadow and asks what can it be? And when you turn the page, there is color added and you get to see what was hiding in the shadows! What fun for little ones! They can guess and make up their own stories along the way when reading this one.

The illustrations are well done, each one is a pleasant surprise when revealed - even if you think you might know who or what it is. Several fairy tale characters are included (which can lead into reading more books), and just wait until you get to final illustration - it's the biggest and brightest in the book!

This book can be given as a stand alone gift, or you may want to add some other fairy tales to it so the child is encouraged to expand his/her reading.

Or maybe you'd just like to use this book for reading aloud and exploring ideas with your day care kids, who knows?

All in all, I don't see anyone who reads this one being disappointed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Want to "treat" a child with a good Halloween book?

I just reviewed one that is precious. If your child is fearful about going out trick or treating, this is a good way to show them that it really isn't scary - you just need to take care and not lose your mummy.

The book is: "Where's My Mummy?" by Carolyn Crimi with illustrations by John Manders. The illustrations are great!

Baby Mummy is playing hide and shriek with his Mummy, when he happens to hide "too good" and she doesn't find him...

As he hears noises in the woods, he keeps telling himself he's not afraid and asking "Mama Mummy, is that you?"

He meets all sorts of funny looking characters, like the Glob and Dracula, but he doesn't get scared until he sees a -----... You'll have to read the book to find out!

Mama Mummy is there when he needs her, and she takes him home and gets him ready for bed.

A fun story to read aloud before bedtime. I'm sure any small child you know would love to have this book as a gift for Halloween!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Decluttering, cleaning, sorting and donating...

I've been through most of the house now, and am working in my kitchen.

I had several sets of dishes, pans, bowls, serving trays and dishes, silverware, etc. I have now donated all except one set of dishes, cut down my serving dishes to just a few for us two. We aren't having family dinners with 35 people anymore, I don't need all those dishes, serving trays, or silverware.

I have one cupboard of lead glass dishes - all pretty stuff and worth some dollars - I'm going to keep them.

I have a whole cupboard of Tupperware - now typed by size and they are containers of a size we will use and open and close easily. Three bagfuls are going to Good Start.

I have another cupboard that is full of baking items: measuring cups, spoons, mixer and bowl (one mixer is being donated), sifter, glass cooking pie plates and cake plates, muffin pans. And more that will be added as I find it in other cupboards and drawers.

My George Foreman Grill didn't have it's drip pan - but I found one on eBay and bought it.

We're going to go look at a grill that's on sale tomorrow. Hubby said he was buying it for me, but he wants to cook hash browns and pancakes on it - so guess who it's really for...

I have another week or so in the kitchen organizing, but then I'll be done with walking through the house and cleaning up.

Then it will be back to the rear room and putting all the craft items, Christmas stuff, jewelry and other odds and ends in plastic containers for storage - and then on the shelves of the cupboards in back.

When I'm done, I will be somewhere I've never been in my life. Everything will have a place and everything will be in its place. No more piles, no more boxes, no more hanging on to everything "in case we might need it". I know a portion of that came from having no money and making do. But now I have no money either, and I know I can buy whatever I need, if I need it. I might need to save to do it, but I don't have to keep things "I might need someday".

I've sent 10 pickup loads down to Good Start so far, and I know there will be at least one more.

But then we will have order and a much cleaner house. And I'll be able to find what I need - what a unique concept!

Only those with tendency to hoard will understand what a step forward this is for me!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Review: The Parent's Guide to Family-Friendly Work by Lori K Long, PhD

I am now doing some reviewing for Christine Miserandino who owns the site She has lupus and her site is full of helpful hints about how to live with it. It talks about what medications work for which diseases, how to eat healthier, what to do when you have limitations in movement, and more. There are a lot of diseases that create great pain and limited mobility, and they don't have external signs to show that the person is sick.

This is the first book that Christine sent me that I have reviewed. This author shows parents how to find the balance between employment and enjoyment - how to have a family and work, too, without sacrificing either your family or your work.

The review is shown here:

Read it and see what you think.

If you'd like to have my copy of this book, leave a comment on my blog AND SEND ME AN EMAIL TO REQUEST IT. I'll pick a winner from the entries I receive.

It's a great reference source for a young family learning how to have quality time with their children and work too.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Book Review: When Will There Be Good News? Kate Atkinson

There are several characters in this novel, and when you first begin reading about them, you wonder how they all tie together. Not only do they tie together, the rope of life is intertwined in more than one way.

Joanna is six when a murderer kills most of her family members. She runs away and escapes, but now it's 30 years later and he's due to be released from prison. Will he come after her again?

Reggie, who is 16 and almost alone in the world, works as a nanny for Dr. Hunter. But when Dr. Hunter and her baby son go missing, no one seems to care...

Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is looking for a missing person and finds an old lover.

As these stories move across each other and the puzzle pieces start to fall together, you find that all these characters are related in some way - and there are multiple subplots involved, just like in real life.

You need to pay attention while reading this, but it will grab your interest and keep you reading to the end.

If you'd like my copy of this book, leave me a comment and SEND ME AN EMAIL to request it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Book Review: Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein

Wabi Sabi is an ancient Japanese tradition, having to do with simplicity and accepting the ways and cycles of nature.

This story is of a cat named Wabi Sabi who, when asked what her name means, goes on a quest to find out.

The illustrations are unique, mosaic in type, and very pleasing to the eye. There is haiku in the book, written in Japanese and English and translated in the back.

The book is also bound at the top, which makes reading it unusual and makes you look at it in another light.

Children should find that this book intriguing, introduces them to different art forms (the simple illustrations and the haiku), and makes them view life a bit differently.

This type of beauty and the message within can not be expressed in another medium as well as it it is expressed in a book.

Take your young one on a journey to another part of the world - one must simpler and more in touch with nature.

They'll enjoy it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Book Review: Willow Buds When Toady Met Ratty by Mary Jane Begin

Remember the children's book, Wind in the Willows? This is a new series with the same characters when they were young and growing up - just like your child!

The illustrations are cute and should catch your small one's eye - lots of color, lots of action, and more than one adventure.

Badger introduces his two friends to each other and expects them to like each other as much as he does. But it takes a bit more than that for them to adjust to each other, and he wonders if they ever will really like each other...

This has a good message about friendship, is full of whimsical characters and is easy to read. It would be a good book for reading aloud. And it's a great children's book that should lead them into reading the regular Wind in the Willows series later in life.

Share the magic of reading!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Another customer tale...

One of my most heart-touching moments as a bookseller came when I was fairly new at this business.

I got a phone call about a children's book that a lady was looking for. She wasn't sure the title was right, but asked if I could pull the book and she would tell me the text she could remember. So I grab the book, open it up and tell her to state what she remembered.

She quoted the first three pages of that book verbatim. She told me that she last read the book forty years ago, but it was her very favorite children's book. And then she began to cry because she had found it again.

It took a bit to get back to finishing up that order, but I knew the book was going to a good home!

Never give up on your search for a favorite child's book!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Feedback from a customer!

Hi there Jo Ann,
Just wanted to let you know that I received the book that I ordered from you........A Girl of the Limberlost. I am so happy with it. I have to say that I have been looking for a copy of that book for a long time. When I was a young teen (13 or so) I had a copy just like that. I treasured that book, it was a favorite of mine. Later on when I was in my twenties I moved and unfortunatly my book got lost in that move. I was very sad and didn't think I would ever find an exact copy again. A year ago I started the search on ebay hoping that maybe I would find it. I never did, so the day I ordered the book from you I did a search on one of the search engines and it brought up the web site for Abebooks. So I went on there and went through a lot of pages. I said a prayer and God told me to keep on flipping through and then I came across your listing so I thought I would take a look. When I saw the picture I was delighted. It was the exact match to the book I once had. Today I received the book in the mail and when I opened it up it took me back to having that special book in my early teens. I am so happy and want to say Thank You!! I love books so to have lost a treasured book was sad for me. I know God answered my prayers that day and He talked to me and told me to keep on looking, I was going to find my book. Keep on making people happy and God Bless you!

It sure makes me feel good to have someone tell me they have found a lost treasure from their past. This part of what makes being a bookseller and specializing in out-of-print books fun!

Eeny Up Above! Jane Yolen, Kathryn Brown (Illustrated by)

Eeny is a mole.  Her sisters are very happy in their home but Eeny is more adventuress.  She goes up and samples all of the seasons of the y...