Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Find your next giveaway here: The Lost Dog

I have five copies of The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser to giveaway--courtesy of Hachette Books!

About the book: Tom Loxley, an Indian-Australian professor, is less concerned with finishing his book on Henry James than with finding his dog, who is lost in the Australian bush.

Joining his daily hunt is Nelly Zhang, an artist whose husband disappeared mysteriously years before Tom met her. Although Nelly helps him search for his beloved pet, Tom isn't sure if he should trust this new friend.

Tom has preoccupations other than his book and Nelly and his missing dog, mainly concerning his mother, who is suffering from the various indignities of old age. He is constantly drawn from the cerebral to the primitive--by his mother's infirmities, as well as by Nelly's attractions. THE LOST DOG makes brilliant use of the conventions of suspense and atmosphere while leading us to see anew the ever-present conflicts between our bodies and our minds, the present and the past, the primal and the civilized. (from Barnes and Noble website)

About the author: Born in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Michelle de Kretser emigrated to Australia when she was 14. Her acclaimed first novel, The Rose Grower, was published in 1999, and her sophomore effort, The Hamilton Case, earned her a nomination for the 2004 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers award for fiction. (from Barnes and Noble website)

Rules for the giveaway:
  1. Five copies to giveaway.
  2. Open only to U.S. and Canada.
  3. No PO Boxes
  4. All entries in one comment if possible (I understand that if you are posting to a blog, etc at a later date you will need an additional comment. . .)
  5. +1 Must leave email address in comment -(I have had a winner in the last month that I was unable to track down)
  6. +2 if you are a new or old follower - but please let me know
  7. +3 if you post this on any social network - (limit of 6 entries for this one - so you can post it as many places as you would like, but only 2 will count)
  8. +3 for referrals of NEW followers - if you already follow, you will not get entries for saying someone referred you - you can however get entries for referring new people...
  9. Giveaway ends on Aug 21st

Friday Finds 7-31-2009

Here are my finds this week!

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells

About the book: Known for her beloved Ya-Ya books (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Little Altars Everywhere, and Ya-Yas in Bloom), Rebecca Wells has helped women name, claim, and celebrate their shared sisterhood for over a decade. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood held the top of the New York Times bestseller list for sixty-eight weeks, became a knockout feature film, sold more than 5 million copies, and inspired the creation of Ya-Ya clubs worldwide.

Now Wells debuts an entirely new cast of characters in this shining stand-alone novel about the pull of first love, the power of life, and the human heart's vast capacity for healing.

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is the sweet, sexy, funny journey of Calla Lily's life set in Wells's expanding fictional Louisiana landscape. In the small river town of La Luna, Calla bursts into being, a force of nature as luminous as the flower she is named for. Under the loving light of the Moon Lady, the feminine force that will guide and protect her throughout her life, Calla enjoys a blissful childhood—until it is cut short. Her mother, M'Dear, a woman of rapture and love, teaches Calla compassion, and passes on to her the art of healing through the humble womanly art of "fixing hair." At her mother's side, Calla further learns that this same touch of hands on the human body can quiet her own soul. It is also on the banks of the La Luna River that Calla encounters sweet, succulent first love, with a boy named Tuck.

But when Tuck leaves Calla with a broken heart, she transforms hurt into inspiration and heads for the wild and colorful city of New Orleans to study at L'AcadÉmie de BeautÉ de Crescent.In that extravagant big river city, she finds her destiny—and comes to understand fully the power of her "healing hands" to change lives and soothe pain, including her own. When Tuck reappears years later, he presents her with an offer that is colored by the memories of lost love. But who knows how Cally Lily, a "daughter of the Moon Lady," will respond?

A tale of family and friendship, tragedy and triumph, loss and love, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder features the warmth, humor, soul, and wonder that have made Wells one of today's most cherished writers, and gives us an unforgettable new heroine to treasure. (from Barnes and Noble website)

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder: A Novel
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Collins, July 2009
ISBN: 9780061833090
576 pages

A Stranger's Game by Joan Johnston

About the book: From New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston comes a dazzling new Bitter Creek novel that features all of the passion and intrigue in Texas high society that her readers know and love, mixed with an explosive, spine- tingling tale of murder, wrongful imprisonment, and a woman who counts no cost too high to see a killer brought to justice.

FBI Special Agent Breed Grayhawk has the hottest sex in his life with a stranger who calls herself Grace Smith, only to discover early the next morning that her real name is Merle Raye Finkel -- and she's a convicted double murderer who broke her parole a year ago and disappeared. Now she's his prime suspect in a terrorist threat against the U.S. president.

Grace Caldwell is determined to find the killer who framed her for the murder of her father and stepmother -- and make him pay. She burgles the home of her #1 suspect and nets a surprising haul: a hot-pink, silk-covered diary -- the record of a sex-addicted wife's adventures -- which suggests that Grace's #1 suspect is a serial killer. But her theft has been caught on tape, and the man she's been chasing becomes the hunter...with Grace as his prey.

With just five days until the president arrives in Austin, Texas, the last thing the FBI needs is a serial killer on the prowl...and a terrorist suspect who will stop at nothing to clear her name. The clock is ticking down, and Agent Grayhawk is racing time to discover the truth about his dangerous lover. (from Barnes and Noble website)

A Stranger's Game (Bitter Creek)
Publisher/Publication Date: Simon & Schuster, July 2009
ISBN: 9780743454391
448 pages

The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak

About the book: One afternoon in May, Zoe Duncan's thirteen-year-old daughter goes missing from her own backyard. The police think Samantha ran away because she's unhappy about her mother's upcoming marriage—but Zoe doesn't believe it. In fact, she's willing to do anything to bring Sam home, even if it means losing her job, her beautiful home, her fiancé. Even if it means divulging all her secrets to a private investigator.

Jonathan Stivers is a P.I. who donates his time to The Last Stand, a victims' charity in Sacramento. He's good at what he does, the best. But never has he had fewer leads to work with—or been more attracted to a client. Jonathan's sure of only one thing: Sam was taken by someone close to the family. He doesn't know how close until he realizes that the "perfect" couple next door is anything but…. (from Amazon website)

The Perfect Couple (The Last Stand)
Publisher/Publication Date: Mira, Aug 1, 2009
ISBN: 978-0778326670
448 pages

What great books did you find this week?? Stop over at Should Be Reading and share yours!

Too Many Visitors for One Little House (Giveaway/Blog Tour/Book Review)

Title: Too Many Visitors for One Little House
Author: Susan Chodakiewitz
Illustrator: Veronica Walsh
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing

My synopsis: This is a cute story about a family who moves into a new neighborhood--where the neighbors don't appear to like kids, pets, or generally anything that might disrupt the status quo. They are always on the lookout for trouble--and they think they see it coming!

A very large RV pulls up in front of the new neighbors house and a myriad of relative proceed to unload. Accompanied by wonderful illustrations depicting all of these relatives, many eccentric, the story rolls along to a satisfying ending of neighbors who aren't really looking for trouble - they are just looking to be included!

My thoughts: This was a very cute book and my 4-year-old has enjoyed me reading it to him. He even reads along when we come to the sentence "Too many visitors for one little house!" The illustrations were adorable--and include a little dog which the author is trying to name. You can visit her on her website to enter the contest to name the dog.

I am also having a contest for one copy of this book, Too Many Visitors For One Little House. Please leave a comment with your email address below to be entered. For an additional entry, visit my interview with the author, Susan Chodakiewitz, and leave another comment relating to the interview in some way ("nice interview" will not count. . .) If you commented on the interview prior to this post - you will get 2 additional entries! This giveaway will end Friday, Aug 7th at midnight CST. I don't know whether this is open internationally or not - will update as I get more info! Added - This giveaway is open internationally - Yeah!

Too Many Visitors For One Little House
Publisher/Publication Date: BookSurge, Feb 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4196-5470-1
40 pages

ARC Arrival: Abbeville by Jack Fuller

Abbeville by Jack Fuller

Publisher: Unbridled Books

I received this book for review from the publisher.

About the book: A story of our time. A novel for all times.

When the economy collapsed, it threatened everything George Bailey held dear. Returning to the little Central Illinois farm town where his grandfather had first prospered and then fallen into ruin during the Great Depression, George seeks out the details of this remarkable man's rise, fall and spiritual rebirth, hoping to find in them a way to recover himself.

Abbeville is the story of a man caught by the tidal wave of economic disaster, of forces beyond his control, and the meaning he finds in his quest for personal survival is as timely as today's news. (from the back cover)

About the author: Jack Fuller has published six critically acclaimed novels and a book of non-fiction about journalism. He has been a legal affairs writer, a war correspondent in Vietnam, a Washington correspondent and a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer. He recently retired as president of the Tribune Publishing Company and lives in Chicago with his wife, Debra Moskovits. He has two children, Tim and Kate. (from the back cover)

Publisher/Publication Date: Unbridled Books, Aug 25, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-932961-90-4
272 pages

Miss L'eau (Blog Tour/Book Review)

Title: Miss L'eau
Author: T. Katz
Publisher: Blue Works

First sentence: Miss L'eau was, without a doubt, one of the best teachers we ever had at Redwood Elementary.

My synopsis: James and David knew that Miss L'eau was special. Her eyes would change colors and become wild like the sea whenever you were close enough to look straight into them. But when James see her ride her bike into the ocean in the middle of a storm he doesn't know what to think. He goes to school the next day prepared to tell everyone that he know why and where she had gone, only to see her standing at the front of the class like any other day!

James tells David what happened and together they plan a way to find out what is going on. What they discover will lead them to organize a Seaside Spring Clean Week and to start them thinking more about how they affect their environment.

My thoughts: This was such a cute book! In an engaging story it introduces young children to how important the environment is and that even though they are children, they are never too young to make things better. This would be a good book to teach as an introduction to the environmental problems that we face today.

Miss L'eau
Publisher/Publication Date: Blue Works
ISBN: 978-1-59092-404-4
58 pages

ARC Arrival: Not So Fast by Ann Kroeker

Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families by Ann Kroeker

Publisher: David C. Cook

I received this for a First Wild Card Tour in August.

About the book: Is every hour rush hour at your house?

We're raising our kids in a high-speed, high-pressured, 24-7 world. Pushing children to get ahead, we cram everything possible into our days to maximize their chance at success. We're overloaded, overextended, and overcaffeinated. And we're paying a price. But how can we possibly downshift without missing out?

Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families explores the jarring effects of our overcommitted culture and offers refreshing alternatives with a Christian perspective. Author Ann Kroeker relates her own story of how embracing a slower everyday pace resulted in a more meaningful family and spiritual life. Practical ideas and insights will spark creativity and personal reflection. Plus, ponder real-life stories from parents reaping the riches of a simpler, slower lifestyle. Not So Fast offers hope that families struggling with hurried hearts and frantic souls can discover the rejuvenating power of an unrushed life. (from the book cover)

About the author: Ann Kroeker is an acclaimed writer and speaker committed to encouraging and inspiring families as they face the demands of daily living. She is the author of The Contemplative Mom and has contributed to the award-winning Experiencing the Passion of Jesus. (from the back cover)

Not So Fast
Publisher/Publication Date: David C. Cook, Aug 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6888-9
240 pages

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hollywood is Like High School With Money (Book Review)

Title: Hollywood is Like High School With Money
Author: Zoey Dean
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing/Hachette

First sentence: Dear Michael, You'll never guess where I am.

My synopsis: Taylor has just moved to L.A. and gotten her first real job. She is working as the second assistant to Iris Whitaker, the seventh most powerful woman in Hollywood. She has dreamed of making movies since seeing Journal Girl as a teenager. What most people had considered a flop, Taylor had claimed a masterpiece and had been sending letters to Michael Deming, the movie's director, ever since.

So now here she was--her first day of her dream job at Metronome. Unfortunately her immediate boss, Kylie, the first assistant, only shows her the bare necessities of surviving and then leaves her to flounder. Since Kylie appears to be the queen of all the assistants, Taylor soon views herself as the misfit and can't seem to fit in.

Taylor realizes that she doesn't wear the trendy clothes or drive a new Prius, but she doesn't know what to do to break through the wall--to be on equal ground with her peers. Then she meets Quinn.

Quinn in the 16-year-old daughter of Iris. She hadn't put much credence in the saying "Hollywood is like high school with money" until now. Maybe with Quinn's help, she can scale the wall and learn how to handle herself better at work! Quinn agrees to help - but only if Taylor promises her one favor--anytime, anywhere--and then the games begin.

First, Quinn brings over a bag of clothes that are 'so last year' to her and her friends, but compared to Taylor's current Gap wardrobe - they are tres chic. As time passes some of the other rules Quinn passes on are - Fake it until you make it- and - It's never your fault. Things seem to be working out in Taylor's favor until she gets a chance at a promotion. Her main competition appears to be Kylie. Quinn's advice is to go after Kylie's boyfriend. She feels that will devastate her and take her out of the running for the promotion. Taylor is not sure she can follow through with something so devious - but after she meets him, she finds herself falling for him! She just doesn't understand how he can be attracted to Kylie - the girl he describes to Taylor as his girlfriend sounds like a different person entirely!

Does Taylor succeed in getting the promotion? Or has she finally gone too far? You must read this book to find out!

My thoughts: This book was a fun read, even though you could take it a step further and get some good life lessons out of it! I really related to Taylor as I was never one of the "popular" kids (I was a book geek - go figure). I found myself rooting for her and wanted her to win against the beautiful and popular Kylie. I wasn't disappointed when things started to turn around. The author does a good job in showing the changes in Taylor and how subtly they can happen. If you want a good summer read - then this would be a good pick!

Hollywood is Like High School With Money
Publisher/Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing, July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-69719-4
288 pages

Blue Like Play Dough (Book Review)

Title: Blue Like Play Dough
Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Multnomah

First sentences: I never thought I could meet God here. In my home. In my mess. In the midst of my ordinary suburban life.

My synopsis: How true are those sentences in your life? I can't tell you how often I could use that reminder - that God is with me. Like when I am struggling and often losing my patience trying to get my 4-year old to brush his teeth. Or after telling my 14-year-old daughter to again, stop texting and pay attention. Or even when my 16-year-old decides that she is the boss. Just knowing that I don't have to wait until Sunday to draw closer to God should be a blessing - but in our hurry-scurry world it, unfortunately, is not my first thought.

The author at one point says that she believes God sometimes allows us to reach those low points, because that is when we need Him the most and rely on Him the quickest. She takes us through her story - the good and the bad - from having an abortion at 15 to interviewing veterans of WWII and writing their story. She has three children and shares both the rewards and the challenges she has faced in raising them - those situations where she feels she could have done things differently, but realizes that regardless - God still loves her - even when she feels she can be a better wife, mother, person...

My thoughts: I found this book to be full of hope - to know that God is in the midst of my struggles with me - even when I am mired down with dirty laundry and Hot Wheel cars! To know that God has a plan for my life - and while I may not be able to see the big picture right now - He sees it - and as long as I am pliable - like play dough - he will continue to take me down the path that He has had for me all along. This book was a quick read - and it was well worth it!

Enter my giveaway for Blue Like Play Dough ending August 5th - or purchase it from Random House.

Blue Like Play Dough
Publisher/Publication Date: Multnomah, July 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60142-152-4
208 pages

ARC Arrival: A Better View of Paradise by Randy Sue Coburn

A Better View of Paradise by Randy Sue Coburn

Publisher: Ballantine Books/Random House

I received this book for a Pump Up Your Book Tour in August.

About the book: Dramatic, moving, and exquisitely written, A Better View of Paradise explores the tender bond between fathers and daughters, ponders the delicate nature of healing, and celebrates the redemptive power of forgiveness and love.

Thirty-six-year-old Stevie Pollack has come into her own as a celebrated landscape architect. Her designs, famed for their evocative natural beauty, reflect her upbringing amid the splendor of Hawaii. But when critics blast her latest efforts and her boyfriend abruptly ends their relationship, Stevie seeks solace in her roots among the dazzling flowers, and comforting traditions of the islands and their calming waters. Still, in the back of her mind, Hawaii holds troubling memories of a childhood with Hank, her emotionally distant father, and a reserved British mother.

Despite her irascible father’s presence, the trip home promises Stevie a welcome departure from her trials on the mainland. But the shocking news that Hank is dying forces the pair’s reunion into high gear. As father and daughter attempt to rekindle their bond, Stevie discovers sides of Hank she never knew, including family secrets that have shaped their lives. And what started as a holiday escape for the beleaguered architect becomes a chance for transformation, one as exciting as it is uncertain. Inspired by her father’s insight, and energized by the attentions of an attractive local veterinarian, Stevie learns to surrender her inhibitions and seize the day. (from Barnes and Noble website)

About the author: Randy Sue Coburn is a former newspaper reporter whose articles and essays have been published in numerous national magazines. She is the author of Owl Island and Remembering Jody, and her screenplays include Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, the critically acclaimed Cannes Film Festival selection that received five Independent Spirit Award nominations, including Best Screenplay. She lives in Seattle. (from Barnes and Noble website)

A Better View of Paradise
Publisher/Publication Date: Ballantine Books, July 2009
ISBN: 978-0345490360
368 pages

ARC Arrivals: God Has Never Failed Me and The Buzzards are Circling

Rediscover Stan Toler’s Endearing Collections of Encouragement

David C Cook introduces new generation of readers to Toler’s gift for

finding faith and joy in life’s tough times

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—Celebrated author of over 70 books, Stan Toler has touched countless hurting people with his timeless stories of hope and encouragement. This summer, a whole new audience of readers will have the opportunity to discover Toler’s best-selling books as David C Cook introduces the updated editions of two of Toler’s most beloved collections—The Buzzards Are Circling, But God’s Not Finished With Me Yet and God Has Never Failed Me, But He’s Sure Scared Me to Death a Few Times (David C Cook, August 2009).

On the landscape of life, buzzards are inevitable—those challenging events and situations that encircle us, eyeing us as prey and swooping down to cause hurt and heartache. A late-night phone call delivering bad news. Losing a job. Struggling with bankruptcy. No matter what form these buzzards take, the pain is universal.

In The Buzzards Are Circling, But God’s Not Finished With Me Yet, Stan Toler takes a lighthearted look at some of life’s more serious subjects. Drawing from his own personal struggles, Toler offers a generous dose of encouragement for the troubled heart, helping readers find hope, joy, and peace, even in the most trying of circumstances. In chapters such as “When the Fountain of Youth Has Rusted” and “I Know I’m Lost, but the Scenery Is Spectacular,” readers will find the strength they need to shoo away any buzzards and face life’s difficulties with the security of knowing that God is in control.

In God Has Never Failed Me, But He’s Sure Scared Me to Death a Few Times, Toler gives a humorous twist to the challenges that place us in faith’s waiting room. Though we know that God’s provision is always on time, we’ve all had close calls waiting for His help. For anyone who has ever felt frazzled, stressed, confused, hurt, angry, undone, or any other emotional response to the difficulties and uncertainties of life, Toler serves up a delightful combination of poignant and hilarious reminders that God is still at work in the world.

Filled with heartwarming stories and humorous anecdotes, this charming collection offers hope and peace for the weary, waiting heart. Toler combines a rich blend of spiritual truths with humorous insights as he reminds God’s children of His unfailing love. Through it all, readers will discover a God who is always faithful, worthy of our trust, and never late with His help.

Repackaged with a fresh look and design, both books will be available for purchase in August.

Author Bio

Stan Toler is senior pastor of Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and was recently elected as the 39th general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene. For several years he taught seminars for Dr. John Maxwell’s INJOY Group, a leadership development institute. He also serves as the executive director of the Toler Leadership Center, located on the campus of Mid-America Christian University, and is the co-founder of BGW Forward in Faith. Toler has written over 70 books, including his bestsellers, God Has Never Failed Me, But He’s Sure Scared Me to Death a Few Times; The Buzzards Are Circling, But God’s Not Finished With Me Yet; God’s Never Late, He’s Seldom Early, He’s Always Right on Time; The Secret Blend; Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry; Total Quality Life; and his popular Minute Motivator series. (publicity email from TBB Media)

God Has Never Failed Me
Publisher/Publication Date: David C. Cook, August 1, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6595-6
246 pages

The Buzzards Are Circling
Publisher/Publication Date: David C. Cook, August 1, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6594-9
194 pages

Too Many Visitors for One Little House Blog Tour

Susan Chodakiewitz is currently on a virtual blog tour with her wonderful children's book - Too Many Visitors for One Little House. She is here today and has graciously answered a few questions for me.

Hi Susan! Thank you so much for taking time out to answer these questions for me and my readers.

1. I have read in other interviews where your inspiration for Too Many Visitors for One Little House came from - and thought it was very entertaining. Can you share that story here?

Too Many Visitors for One Little House - is based on the crazy summer we moved into our new house in Beverly Hills and ALL THESE VISITORS came to stay.

First my sister arrived in a giant BOUNDER (the biggest camper on the market) with 4 children, 1 husband, 1 housekeeper, a set of grandparents and an uncle from Russia. They brought a ton of blankets, pillows, piles of laundry, toys and lots of clothing.

Then my sister-in-law called that she was arriving from Houston. She was getting a divorce and was moving to LA. Where else could she go? She arrived with 3 kids, a housekeeper, tons of suitcases and lots of psychological baggage.

Then my mother-in-law who was in a wheel chair moved in with her nurse.

Things were not quite complete until a scraggly dog followed me home from the supermarket one day while I was walking home pushing a giant wagon filled with food for all the VISITORS! The dog decided to camp out on our front lawn for 2 weeks until we brought him in.

The neighbors were NOT at all happy to see their once quiet neighborhood transform into a cacophonous carnival of celebration. The police were summoned anonymously on several occasions.

It took 16 years for the story to germinate and finally be set free as the picture book: Too Many Visitors for One Little House.

Isn't that a great story!? I bet some other good stories could come out about what happened DURING the visit too!

2. How did you hook up with your illustrator, Veronica Walsh and how important do you feel that aspect of the book is?

The illustrations are as important if not more important to making the book a success. Illustrations bring the story to life and set the mood, the tone and make the magic happen. I wanted the story to be exuberant in joy and warmth. Veronica’s lovely illustrations totally exude this joy of family. Her rich illustrations are layered with subtext enabling readers to continue to see new things each time they read the book.

I saw Veronica’s work at an SCBWI illustrators’ showcase two years ago in LA and grabbed one of her post cards. A year later I was scouting for an illustrator. I put a notice out about the project on various illustrator websites. I got about 100 submissions. But I did not find what I was looking for.

Then one day I was searching through my files and came across Veronica’s postcard. I called her and asked if she wouldn’t mind submitting a preliminary sketched of a page of the book so I can get a feel for her take on it. Once I saw her work and we spoke on the phone I knew we would work well together.

Veronica and I worked very closely together to develop the characters. We had long conversations about the back story of each character, their personality quirks dressing style, pet peeves, flaws and weaknesses.

I think this collaborative experience has taught me so much about character development as well as how important it to leave room in the text for the illustration to take over the story.

I think that is very interesting about working together developing the way the characters actually look - that alone will make me take a second look at children's books!

3.You are the founder of Booksicals. Can you tell us a little about that?

About 4 years ago I was writing a musical based on a children’s picture book. It was a book that by chance (I don’t believe anything is really by chance) had been left in my garage along with a lot of other junk, by the house’s previous owner. I loved that book and read it often to my children throughout their childhood.

I optioned the theatrical rights to the book and my collaborators and I got to work on the musical.

Two years into writing and work shopping the show, the option rights ran out. Re-negotiating the rights became complicated and the option expired. It was at that moment that a light bulb in my head went off. Why not start to write my own books?

One day while working on Too Many Visitors for One Little House I found myself thinking up songs for the characters and visualizing it as a musical. The idea of a picture-book musical got me really excited.

A few days later I woke up with the words BOOKSICALS in my head. In a flash I understood that this would bring together my two passions - theater and children’s books -- in a way that could really impact children and encourage the love reading.

In 2008 I launched Booksicals with the mission of encouraging a love for reading through the arts. I published Too Many Visitors for One Little House as Booksicals’ debut picture book.

I just went and visited Booksicals and listened to one of the excerpts from the show - it is just adorable. I recommend everyone go and listen!

4.You are also a composer - what sort of music do you compose and what instruments do you play? (I am a piano player myself, as is my oldest daughter - she has taken it a step further than me though and is beginning to write her own music.)

It’s wonderfully exciting that your daughter is starting to write her own music. My sons also play piano and when they started composing there own pieces I no longer had to beg them to play the piano….At one point, I couldn’t get them off the piano!

I started out composing pop songs and recording my own music. Then the bells went off in my head one day at a musical theater workshop—I realized that writing musical theater was my real calling.

I collaborated on two musicals, writing music and lyrics for both. I put composing on hold for awhile when I started pursing writing children’s books. To be honest I was very happy just writing stories as I see myself much more as a story teller than composer….

When I didn’t write a note for 2 years I felt emptiness. I really missed working on music. When I started doing the music and lyrics for Too Many Visitors I felt like I came home to an old friend. I’m glad to be back in balance now.

That is so amazing that you have found a way to combine two things for which you have a passion

5. Who/what are your favorite children's authors/children's books? What kind of influence do they have on your writing?

Roald Dahl’s book Matilda was in the back of my mind a lot while writing Too Many Visitors for One Little House. I love the tone of that book. Roald Dahl’s writing is a real inspiration to me and something I aspire to.

I love Mrs. Biddlebox by Linda Smith, illustrations by Marla Frazee - probably the best text of any children’s picture book I’ve seen and the pictures have beautiful movement.

I read that book over and over for the lyrical feeling of the words and the way the pictures and words swirl you into the story.

I love the Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neil with illustrations by Laura Huliska-Beith. The characters are delicious. The book is a total inspiration to me and makes me want to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. I wish I had written that book.

I love Kevin Henkes’ books: Julias, Baby of the World, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse – I just love Lilly’s attitude... Being able to create a lovable character with attitude is something to emulate.

Good Boy Fergus by David Shannon is such a lovable book. I love the way you see the world through the eyes of the DOG! A perfect study in point of view.

My all time favorite book is The Little Prince by Saint Exupery. I always keep him in the back of my head when I write and in life in general. The simplicity of his style yet the depth of his ideas are a real inspiration to me. I think has had a big influence on my writing.

When my oldest daughter was in elementary school I can remember her teaching recommending Roald Dahl to us to try to encourage her reading. This was my first "known" introduction to his work, though I realized later that I was award of some of his books - just didn't know he was the author. I love it that you have listed books that are unfamiliar to me - I get to go look them up now to read with my preschooler!

6. What is currently on your nightstand now?

I love historical fiction and just finished reading three books two about the middle ages and one taking place during the renaissance period: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, The Last Jew by Noah Gordon, The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant.

On my bed stand now is The Hope by Herman Wouk (I’m in the middle of that) and Not Me by Michael Levigne.

I just got a copy of Brittney Ryan’s YA fantasy book, The Legend Holly Claus, which is on my night stand as we speak.

Those are some pretty notable books. I find that I cannot read such "heavy" books in the summer- those are my curl-up-and-stay-warm-in-the-winter books!

7.While on this blog tour - has there been any comments or questions that have taken you by surprise?

I’ve been totally humbled by the wonderful reviews. Especially by one reviewer who said that although family reunions are usually quite tense and she avoids them, after reading Too May Visitors she realized how blessed she was to have a loving family. I was moved to tears knowing my book inspired feelings of gratitude and appreciation for family.

I was taken a back by one commentary stating that a grandma with prune juice is a stereotype that should be avoided. Actually Too Many Visitors for One Little House is based on real characters and real events. It so happens the grandparents in our family drink a lot of prune juice! I didn’t realize that some folks would take offense at that.

I happen to like prune juice. And it really works!

8. Is there another book in the works?

Yes I have two books in the works. One is the sequel to Too Many Visitors which is in its preliminary stages. It features the scraggly dog as the main character. And I’m offering my readers a chance to help me name the dog for the next book by entering the Booksicals, Name the Dog Contest, found on the website: www.booksicals.com

I am also working on a new book called Dogstoyevsky about a dog that wants to be a writer but everyone keeps telling him he’s not any good!

I’d like to invite you all to visit my website www.booksicals.com, leave me comments on my blog, download the music to the book, and share your thoughts on writing, reading and ways of inspiring kids to love reading.

I went and entered my dog name suggestion - as well as the suggestion that my son gave me! Thank you Susan for visiting today! It was a lot of fun and I wish you the best of luck with your new books and with Booksicals!

Please everyone come back tomorrow when I will be reviewing Too Many Visitors for One Little House and having a giveaway for one copy of this book!

Please visit these other tour hosts for Pump Up Your Book Promotions and Too Many Visitors for One Little House:
Into the Wardrobe l Pets and Their Authors l Between the Covers l Divine Caroline l The Unadorned Book Review l Mom’s Not All l Introducing WRITERS Radio Show with Kim Smith l Mozie Esme l A Book and a Chat Radio Show with Barry Eva l The Writer’s Life l Beyond the Books l Blogcritics l Lady D Books l Joyfully Retired l American Chronicle l Brimful Curiosities l Marta’s Meanderings l The Review from Here l Write for a Reader l The Book Connection l The Book Faery Reviews l As the Pages Turn

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ARC Arrivals: Six Romance Books From Hachette

I received all of these in a goody bag from Grand Central Publishing/Hachette. They look yummy!

Chosen by Desire by Kate Perry

About the book: Carrie Woods just can't resist temptation. To solve an ancient mystery, she "borrows" a precious, legend-cursed scroll form a Chinese monastery. But with the scroll comes danger: bizarre powers, life-threatening accidents, and, most frightening of all, one sexy Guardian's icy-hot gaze.

Maximillian Prescott is all too happy to strip this innocent-eyed thief of her secrets and the scroll, yet he's determined to fight the undeniable attraction pulling them together. But Max isn't Carrie's only pursuer, and there's just one way to keep the scroll safe. This adventurous blonde and brooding Guardian must dare to join forces and bare their souls to each other. . .before their enemies take not only the scroll but Carrie's life. (from the book cover)

Chosen by Desire
Publisher/Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing, October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-54101-5
350 pages

Love You to Death by Shannon K. Butcher

About the book: It's been days since reporter Elise McBride has heard from her sister, Ashley. She's convinced Ashley has met with some kind of foul play, especially when she learns that bodies of other missing women have surfaced in and around Chicago--all victims of a brutal serial killer. Convinced her sister is still alive, Elise vows to risk everything to save her. . .

The last thing ex-cop Trent Brady needs is more blood on his hands. Yet when he catches Elise breaking into her sister's house, full of reckless determination and fear, he knows she needs his help. But just as desire ignites between them, a twisted madman sets his sights on Elise. Hell-bent on possessing her for himself, this psychopath won't rest until he has his perfect woman. (from the back cover)

Love You to Death
Publisher/Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing, October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-51029-5
400 pages

Show no Fear by Marliss Melton

About the book: Lucy Donovan always gets her man. As a fiercely independent CIA agent, she's survived hundreds of death-defying missions. But her latest may just get her killed. Weighed down with a secret she's desperate to keep, the last thing Lucy needs is to be sent undercover with a man who brings out the best--and the worst--in her.

Navy SEAL Gus Atwater never turns down an assignment, even if it means working with the only woman he's ever loved and lost. So with a volatile mix of desire and distrust, Lucy and Gus confront their tangled past. Pretending to be man and wife is risky enough, but now the clock is running out. As their mission escalates from desperate to deadly, will Lucy's secret expose them both? (from the back cover)

Show no Fear
Publisher/Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing, September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-50927-5
320 pages

Lucan by Susan Kearney

About the book: Healer and high priestess of her people, Lady Cael is fated to life without a mate. But a mysterious explorer named Lucan Rourke doesn't know her secrets, and his touch makes her crave a future that her extraordinary birthright has forbidden her. . .

Lucan has just one mission on Pendragon: to find the mythical Holy Grail, Earth's only hope for survival. His powerful attraction to Cael is a distraction he can't afford, unless he convinces her to join forces with him. Yet working so closely together only heightens their passion. . .even when the terrifying truth of Cael's heritage threatens to shatter Lucan's every belief--and the galaxy itself. (from the back cover)

Publisher/Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing, September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-54331-6
352 pages

Tall, Dark & Fansome by Michelle Rowen

About the book: Sarah Dearly's vampire life is not all B-positive cocktails. A curse made her a nightwalker, the most vicious vamp there is; the charm she wears to curb her deadly tendencies is losing its juice; and a hunter from hell is turning up the heat. Gideon Chase will kill the ones she loves most if she doesn't obey his orders. That includes breaking up with master vampire Thierry and turning Gideon into an immortal vamp so he can escape a doom of eternal hellfire.

Making things worse are Sarah's growing feelings for Gideon, a bad boy who keeps showing a vulnerable side. . .but is it for real? Will Sarah's dark side take over? Or can she cure herself of the nightwalker curse in time to stop Gideon and finally live happily ever after with Thierry. . .forever? (from the back cover)

Tall, Dark & Fangsome
Publisher/Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing, September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-50585-7
352 pages

A Highlander's Temptation by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

About the book: Darroc MacConacher spends sleepless nights dreaming of a raven-haired beauty who makes him ache with desire. Then his dream comes true: the lady with her lush curves and fair skin appears shipwrecked on his shores. Darroc is immediately drawn to her strength and beauty, and from the moment she lays eyes on this powerful, broad-shouldered warrior, Lady Arabella MacKenzie knows she'll never want another man.

But theirs is a forbidden love. The MacKenzies drove the MacConachers from their lands and destroyed their honor. Now, Darroc can use this sapphire-eyed seductress to shatter his foes. yet how can he deny the passion that burns between him and Arabella, and ruin the one woman who touches his very soul? (from the back cover)

A Highlander's Temptation
Publisher/Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing, October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-19530-0
400 pages


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