Monday, June 29, 2009

I, Alex Cross by James Patterson

Alex Cross was always one of my favorite characters to read about, but it seemed, as time passed, James Patterson made him harder, more brittle and biting. I'm sure that was his intent, but it tended to put me off. However, not so far off I wouldn't read another one in the series!

This one finds Alex celebrating his birthday with his children and his girlfriend, who just happens to be a cop, and Nana. Right in the middle of it, he gets a call (which is not unusual) to go out on a job. However, this time, it's one of his relatives that is dead.

She's his dead brother's daughter, and he hasn't had contact with her for years. And now she's dead, too. And when he finds out how and why, it hurts him even more.

He becomes determined to find out who did this - and the more he finds out, it appears it might be someone in government.

If he wasn't stressed enough about that, Nana has a heart attack. She's been his strength and his mentor for some time - he needs her with him now while he's confused about his niece could have ended up where she did. But she needs him to help her heal...

His girlfriend takes time off to help Nana heal. He continues on the case. Nana has another attack...

And while he's sure it's someone in government, he can't be certain who. So he keeps hunting, even while the government helps him. (Isn't that an oxymoron?)

Does Nana die? Does Alex get his man? If you want to know, you need to read this book. It'll keep you going!

If you'd my copy of the ARC, leave a comment on this blog and then email me at - you will need to take the no spam out. Tell me why you would like it and give me your name and address for shipping. I'll pick a winner in about a week!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Need bookcases or office furniture?

Being a bookseller means you never have enough bookcases. NEVER!

I am using bookcases I had built for our new in Washington for my own library. Now they are housed in New Mexico in my family room (only ceiling tall enough to take them), and are holding stock. And so are 11 other various sized bookcases. Not to mention the knickknack shelf created where a window used to be - which holds children's paperbacks.

I also have a library stand that I use for my stock that needs to be listed. It has wheels, but it never goes anywhere, LOL!

I got an email from CSN, a company that specializes in office furniture
and offers Budget Bookcases, amongst many other items. That almost turned me off, but when I searched for for what they offered, I was pleasantly surprised. They offer lots of different sizes, some unusual configurations (which I eyeballed, let me tell you!), and some very nice children's bookcases or toy racks.

After looking at all 341 that come in the lowest cost category, I settled on one that is in natural wood finish and can be folded up for transportation.

It will fit between two bookcases and leave me room to get my books in and out plus provide more shelving. (I ALWAYS need more shelving!) Plus, since it folds, it would be great if I ever start doing book shows. 

See what I mean? It's small, compact, but has several shelves to use and is attractive. (They have lots more you can snoop through if you're like me and need another bookcase.)

If I get it, I'll be back to tell you how I like it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini

What caught my eye on this one was the story line and the fact that it was set in Zimbabwe. I have visited with a white female author who lived in Zimbabwe, and her life was threatened, the farm they had in her family for over 100 years was taken over by the black government, and food and fuel cost so much she couldn't even afford to leave the country.

This novel talks about two neighbors, one family white and one family black and the interaction between them. It also discusses all the changes going on for anyone who lives in Zimbabwe and how the cultural differences often cause misunderstandings and anger.

It turns out most people in this story have secrets - many of them from war activities or family troubles.

Lindiwe Bishop is black and has only seen the boy next door from a distance. He's white, older, and it's inappropriate for them to have any contact. But when his stepmother gets burned alive and they charge him with her murder, she doesn't believe it's true.

When his sentence gets commuted for lack of evidence (after he's spent some time in prison) she's fascinated by his return home. And, as time goes on, they become friends. It's very tentative in the beginning and both have reservations with each other. But they also like each other.

When he decides to move on, she tries to get him to take her with him, but he won't. He does write, though. And, when he gets back to town, he comes to meet her and chat.

By the time, she has a new boyfriend, Jean, a Frenchman. She admits this to Ian, and he realizes he's probably waited to long to claim her. But she goes away with him on the weekend because she wants to.

He debates what the mixed signals mean, but is resigned to let her make up her own mind. As they get ready to go back after the weekend, he needs some change and she tells him to take some out of her purse.

That, in turn, lets the "cat out of the bag". He finds a picture of her son - who is obviously his!

At the moment, her mother is raising the boy as her own and doesn't even let her visitation rights with him. She gave up all her rights when she became an unwed mother with a white lover as far as her mother is concerned. There are more reasons behind it than this (her father wanted a boy and her mother didn't have one), but Lindiwe didn't want her mother to keep her child - she wanted to love and care for him herself.

Ian decides to go after his son, and she goes with him. Their life continues to be complicated by the differences in race, in culture, and in temperaments.

I enjoyed reading about how they tried to overcome differences, how they were viewed by friends and family, and how they kept on trying despite all that. It's also a good look at the country of Zimbabwe.

To see if they succeeded and if they kept their son, you'll have to read the book yourself.

I am giving away my ARC of this book, so if you would be interested in reading it, please leave a comment on this blog, and email me at info(NO SPAM) . You'll need to remove the (NO SPAM) to make it work. I'll be giving it away in about a week.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

This is an enchanting young adult's book. It has dragons, magic, and mystery in the story.

Within the main story, there are many small storyteller tales that Minli's father tells her as they struggle along in life. There is no rain, so the rice crops are small and everyone is hungry and tired. But the stories bring the Jade Dragon and the Old Man in the Moon to life in Minli's mind.

Her belief, a talking fish, and other fantastical events conspire to lead her towards the way to the Jade Dragon and the Old Man in the Moon. But will she survive her adventure? Will they do the things she hopes they will to bring rain and harvest back to her parent's fields? Or will she just become another statistic on the road to life?

Along with the fantasy tale, there's also an underlying message about how to be happy with what you do have instead of wanting something more.

This a great book for a young one who likes dragons or other flights of fancy. And the illustrations are very colorful and striking and definitely add to the charm of the book. I'd recommend reading this one (even by adults).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Link by Colin Tudge

OK, I have to be honest and admit I thought this one was fiction. I was looking for a rumble in the jungle tale with dinosaurs and such and then I find out it's non-fiction, ugh! However, it was still an intriguing read.

This is the story of Ida. She's 47 million years old, and died very quickly at a young age and fell into just the right kind of mudpit to preserve her body indefinitely. She was found by a private collector and then offered at a later date to Jorn Hurum, associate professor of paleontology at the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo. First he had to determine if she was genuine and actually was that old. Then he had to find funding to buy her. Then he had to get her out of the country she was found in and back to Oslo. That alone was quite an adventure because she'd been in the Messel pit, and that pit was now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. But he wiggle waggles his way through the corners and pitfalls and comes home with Ida.

From here, it gets even more complex. There are various theories on how humans have developed, how the animal kingdom became what it is. And Ida didn't really fit in any of them. Nor was anyone totally sure what kind of creature Ida was. She had attributes of several.

The photos of Ida and a few other creatures found in the Messel Pit are quite eyecatching. It's like taking a trip in a time machine to ages long ago.

And facts that are presented in this book are total news to me. You may know if you've studied the life cycle of ages/times of our earth, but I never knew India had been drifting north from Antarctica and ran into the southern coast of Eurasia and kept going until it ground up the base of Asia and created the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau!

Or did you know that fossil elephants of many kinds have been found all over Europe and in both North and South America?

They feel Ida is an in-between species and that without a species quite like her, there would have been no modern-day lemurs, monkeys or apes.

Of course, the evolution of life's trail is still muddy and there are disagreements about her significance, but she is another clue in our history.

I'm sure you'll learn something if you read this book!

If you'd like the copy I received for review, leave a comment here on the blog and then email me at with your name and address and tell me why you'd like to win the drawing.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Countdown to Summer - J Patrick Lewis

Are your children not really enthused about going back to school - at least after the first few days? How about a book of poetry that they can read each afternoon or night when they come home that helps them count down the days until they are out of school again?

It has silly illustrations and fun poems - which should make it a good read even for those who aren't sure about poetry.

For example:

Wet September
The Grasshopper swaying
in the rain
on a spear of wheat
held fast...

Is like a distant
ship captain,
sea swept
against the mast.

Or that old familiar poem (???):

There Was on Old Woman
Who lived in a sneaker
She had so many Keds
Her life was getting bleaker.

She tied their shoelaces
Together for fun,
And now those poor Keds
Have nowhere to run.

Or how about this one?:


Cried a spunky young lady from Bruges,
"Oh, what to be racing the luge!"
But the sled overshot -
The young lady did not -
And it left her behind rather rouge.

C'mon, this is good clean fun and you can take turns reading the poems to each other - how could you not enjoy it?

If you'd like my ARC of this book, leave a comment here on my blog and send me an email at, telling me why you would like the book. This giveaway will last about a week.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman

It's the time of the great Depression, and Allie's father has finally found a job in another city but it forces them to move. She likes living in the house they are sharing with another family, and she has a best friend - why move?

She almost gets enthused when she finds out they're moving to Strawberry Hill, but that doesn't last long when she finds out there are no strawberries...

The best message this book will share with your young one is how to make friends, how to keep them, and what kind of friend is the best type of friend.

There is also discussion of the prejudice some people held for Jews, something that Allie had not seen before.

It's a coming of age story, and while it's not easy for Allie, she is happy with the decisions she ends up making and how it turns out for her.

If your child is having problems making friends, this book could be a good way to open up some dialogue.

I'm giving away my Advance Reading Copy. If you'd like to get in on the drawing, leave a comment here on the blog and then email me at with your name and address and tell me why'd you like it. I'll do the drawing in about a week.

I don't want a posh dog! Emma Dodd

Have you ever searched for the right dog breed for you? It's very important to be sure the pet you choose will be compatible with you and be one you can handle.

This is a fun picture book to read aloud: the text rhymes, the illustrations are big and colorful, some of the dogs look silly, and there is one for every type of child. But she wants the one that's just right for her!

Daycare centers could use this book to make it an interactive reading event. Let the children each choose which dog is right for them. Or Mama and child could just have fun repeating the rhymes and laughing at the illlustrations.

Do you want a fancy, attitudey dog? Or a scritchy, scratchy, twitchy dog? Me neither!

Dinotrux by Chris Gall

We all know the stories of the dinosaurs, but have you heard about the dinotrux?

They're from the same time period, and they were big, and mean, and did anything they wanted!

This would be good for a young boy who isn't sure he likes reading. The illustrations are great, the dinotrux act badly, and there should be enough disgusting things on the pages to keep them reading. Imagine when Cementosauris stomach turned and out came "Yuck!" Or how about the Blacktopadon? You don't even want to know what he does!

When the bad weather comes, most of the dinotrux rust up and stop in their tracks, but some of the smarter ones moved south...

If you want to know if they survived and what they evolved into, you'll need to get a copy of this book!

Lots of action for the young ones looking for adventure.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Each seller is different and has her/her own style, but...

...why would they not do the little clean up things I do?

I get them in with pencil prices from the past, leftover glue from tags that Goo Gone takes off in a minute, dirt on the DJ that a little water removes. These things aren't big things, but I just can't let a book go out of here sticky, dirty, or marked in any way that be cleaned up nicely, completely and without harming the book or DJ.

I'm not talking about just buying a book from them to read, I'm talking about buying their stock they're liquidating and had on their shelves for sale.

That's like when I mail a craft booklet or magazine or oversized softcover children's books, I put them in a plastic bag with a piece of cardboard and then use a rigid mailer. That's just to protect the item I mail from the postal gorillas. (Many other bookdealers prefer to call them postal elephants, so maybe I'm kinder than you think...)

Part of the booksellers overpack and it takes me some time to get to the actual book, some don't pack enough. Some have the books they offer in the condition they offered them - others don't.

I've gotten so I keep a mental list of those who disappoint me - I won't be buying from them again.

I guess I'm probably just a bit too anal rententive, but I want my books clean and in as good a shape as they can be for their age/use.

I think the bottom line is that I love books and want to preserve the ones I buy for years to come!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Easy Stuffed Pork Chops

Hubby ordered these for dinner tonight and I thought I'd share my recipe with anyone who likes to put together quick meals.

Get a glass dish big enough for your pork chops, we usually make up two or four. Lately it's just been two. This recipe will work for four, though.

Use a package of stuffing mix for either pork or chicken (both work). Follow the directions to make it on stove top.

Add, according to your taste, diced onion, diced celery, a can of sliced mushrooms, some green pepper if you have it, and even olives if you like them. I put that in the water you're bringing to boil and when you add the dried bread, be sure to mix it well.

You can use all or none of these or any combination you like. Jalapenos give it a kick that I like, but he complains.

Salt and pepper (if you do) your pork chops. Then put the stuffing mix over the top of it, covering them completely. I usually salt and pepper that lightly, too.

Then put it in the oven at 350 degrees and cook it for a half hour or 45 minutes depending on the thickness of your chops.

I've fed this to fussy kids, the guys at the apartment, my Mom, and it's a family favorite. Maybe it will be in your household, too!

By the way, if you want to, you can put tinfoil in the bottom of the glass dish, so you just lift it out after the food is gone. But don't you go throwing any leftover stuffing. Somehow it always magically disappears...

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Edge of the World by Kevin J Anderson

This is a work of fantasy that quite accurately portrays how little it takes for wars to get started and how noble ambitions don't always come to fruition or end the way it was planned. It's a timely book because it helps point out how stupid and hurtful wars can be, and that they can be more a combination of religious differences, language differences, arrogant leaders and misunderstandings than an actual "cause" that needs to be resolved.

The subtitle of the novel is: An Age of Discovery... A Quest for Glory... A Search for the Ultimate Treasure.

Think of a world, long ago and far away, where people still think you'll fall off the edge of the world if you venture too far out on the ocean, and there are parts of the world still unexplored.

When one arrogant leader challenges a merchant ship, the captain of the ship kills him and they escape. However, it's enough to begin talk of war.

The two leaders understand that war is not a good thing and attempt to meet to sign peace treaties. Then one of the vendors selling to the crowd inadvertently starts a fire outbreak, and the entire site of one town burns down. The people believe it was deliberately set, and take steps for retaliation.

Many die on both sides. Even those trying live quiet lives away from the courts find themselves being attacked on the fishing coasts.

While the war continues, the leaders are trying to find new ways to attack their enemies, explore new lands, and find more resources.

The boats sent out on the sea are attacked by the enemy or by sea serpents. Anyone captured is imprisoned and turned into slave labor (if not killed on the spot).

A black man comes into one city and says he's from the desert. They had not believed anyone could survive trying to cross the desert, but he made it. So the leader and a few others go by balloon and meet the two groups of people who live in the desert area: one stays in the desert, the others live on the sea.

There are bandits preying on anyone travelling. And the palace intrigue is it's own story. Anyone who thinks he can have three wives and not have some squabbling needs to think again.

This is not a "happily ever after" story, but it is realistic and shows that life is very uncertain - especially in times where medical knowledge is lacking and where war is the common theme.

There will be a sequel to this book - there are too many open questions. And it's intrigued me enough, I'll be watching for it.

If you'd like to read this book, email me at and tell me why you'd like AND leave a comment here on the blog. I'll pick a winner in about a week.

The Golden Quest by David Delisle

The Golden Quest is a graphic novel about a young boy who embarks on a Hero’s Journey with his dog Shelby to discover the Golden Rules of Mo...