Monday, October 31, 2011

In My Mailbox- Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

In My Email-box:
The Moonlight Brigade:A Millennial Novel
By: Sarah Jane Stratford

Ooooo, Vampires! Perfect for Halloween!

It's So Easy: and Other Lies
By: Duff McKagan

Barrel Child 
By: Pamela K. Marshall
In My Real World Mailbox:
Glamour (On the Runway)
By: Melody Carlson

****My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie .  A post where we share books acquired via mailbox, library, store, etc.****

Bookie Brunch Trick or Treat Blog Hop

Welcome to Bookie Brunch: Trick or Treat 

Bookie Brunch is a weekly book chat for book lovers. A new Bookie Brunch posts every Sunday, and you're welcome to join any ongoing discussion .

In the meantime, let's have some treats for Halloween. Just click on the badges at the end of the post, for a new treat!

Here's a treat from Me:

I LOVE Halloween! 
I will literally start planning my costume for the next year on November 1st.
Every year I love to do tons of things with the kids too!  This year we are making Apple Sculls.
It's really easy and fun and even older kids enjoy it. (The pics are from my daughters 13th birthday party this last weekend and the kids had a blast with it)

Lets see, all you need are:
Apples (of course)
A Sharp Knife & Cutting Board
A Potato Peeler
Melon Baller (or other tools for making designs/faces)
Cookie Sheet
Oven & Oven Mitts 
(yes I know these two should be obvious, and while my oven hasn't disappeared recently, my oven mitts are known to grow legs and run away right when I need them)

Ok, for the Instructions:

First turn on your oven to 350. (I always forget to preheat the oven, if you do too, that's ok. Just keep an eye on the apples when they are in the oven and leave them in a bit longer)

Then take one apple. 

Cut it in half.

Then peel the two halves.

Next use whatever utensils you choose to carve faces into the round part side of the apple.

Then place the apple (or apples) flat side down on the cookie sheet and put it in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
Times vary according to the oven. And if you are planning on doing this for a party or something, I would suggest you do a trial run before hand.  If you check on your skulls and they aren't browning yet, either wait longer or turn up the heat on the oven a smidge.  Just make sure you keep an eye on them at that point, cause they can cook REALLY quick when they want to.  Then they get kinda rubbery, and the juices start to caramelize on the cookie sheet and it's a pain to get that sticky gunk off!
Anyway here are some pics of the finished apples. (ages of artists varied from 6-30+)

Remember these are edible too!
The kids say that while the tops are sometimes chewy, the bottoms taste like warm applesauce.  And since there is no added sugar or anything, just good old apples, it is a perfectly healthy treat. Plus it makes the house smell AMAZING!!!!!

Don't forget to check out the other Trick or Treat posts by clicking on the linky below! Also be sure to check out:

Bookie Brunch

*Every Sunday*Founder: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
I was a guest at Bookie Brunch at Vvb32reads:
Check out the discussion here!
 See all discussions.

And as a last little treat! (But certainly not least!)

My favorite Halloween candy is:

Candy Corn!

Why?  Mainly because this is the only time of the year I can get it! It also has it's own day! According to
Holiday Insights 
October 30th is 
National Candy Corn Day! 

This year I'm REALLY excited 'cause M&M's came out with an M&M's White Chocolate Candy Corn. I saw an add for them and I almost started drooling on the page! (Unfortunately I have yet to find any :( )  (Apparently it is only available at Walmart! )

What's yours? Tell Me!
Feel free to leave a comment if you like, to share your fave Halloween treat or some other cool link for Halloween. Thanks for dropping by, and...

Happy Halloween!

Find more cute treats by clicking on any of the pix below:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Candy Corn Day!

According to Holiday Insights October 30th is 
National Candy Corn Day! 
So let me just be the first to tell you:

Happy Candy Corn Day!!!

This year I'm REALLY excited 'cause M&M's came out with an M&M's White Chocolate Candy Corn. I saw an add for them and I almost started drooling on the page! (Unfortunately I have yet to find any :( )  (Apparently it is only available at Walmart! )

So whether you are a huge candy corn fan, like me, or just a casual candy corn snacker.  Today is the day to definitely grab a handful and munch away!

My favorite way to eat them is one color at a time, first the white tip, then the orange middle and finishing up with the yellow end.  How do you like to eat them? Are you a biter like me? or Do you like to munch them all in one bite? Feel free to tell me in the comments. And remember today is specifically for all you candy corn junkies out there, so don't be afraid to let you candy corn flag fly!

Friday, October 28, 2011

In My Mailbox 10/28/11

In my real world mailbox:
A Lost Argument: A Latter-Day Novel
By: Therese Doucet
*This one arrived really quick!

****My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie .  A post where we share books acquired via mailbox, library, store, etc.****

Review of Richard Yates By: Tao Lin

Richard Yates
By: Tao Lin

Summery from Amazon:
In a startling change of direction, cult favorite Tao Lin presents a dark and brooding tale of illicit love that is his most sophisticated and mesmerizing writing yet.

Richard Yates is named after real-life writer Richard Yates, but it has nothing to do with him. Instead, it tracks the rise and fall of an illicit affair between a very young writer and his even younger--in fact, under-aged--lover. As he seeks to balance work and love, she becomes more and more self-destructive in a play for his undivided attention. His guilt and anger builds in response until they find themselves hurtling out of control and afraid to let go.

Lin's trademark minimalism takes on a new, sharp-edged suspense here, zeroing in on a lacerating narrative like never before --until it is almost, in fact, too late.

My Review:

Richard Yates is about Haley Joel Osment and his minor girlfriend Dakota Fanning. The novel follows their relationship from the first time they meet to well into their slightly deranged relationship.  Altogether the age difference is the least of their problems.
 I pretty much hated Haley from the beginning. Not only was he taking advantage of an obviously mentally unstable young girl.  Which in itself is just slimy. But he is also whiny and self-absorbed. Dakota is naive enough to fall for Haley's self-righteous schtick.  But she herself is not innocent of the same whiny, self-obsessed traits, however since she is sixteen there is some excuse there.  Or maybe it was just since the novel was told primarily from Haley's perspective.  Maybe if I had heard Dakota's inner thoughts I would have hated her for the same reasons I hated Haley.  Instead of the just utter dislike and contempt I felt for her.   Haley and Dakota refer to pretty much everyone they encounter as 'party-girls' and 'cheese beasts'.  At times it  seems surprising that they could even stand each other. They steal from any store they walk into without a second thought.  Even at one point when Dakota is caught she acts as if it is of no importance.  They throw thoughts of suicide at each other as if it doesn't matter.  
Haley is completely stuck on Dakota.  Constantly questioning every look she makes, every movement, trying to interpret if it means she really wants to be around him.  But as their relationship progresses he becomes controlling and domineering to Dakota.  Giving her orders on what to eat, how to behave, etc.  Dakota wavers between completely needy and obsessed with pleasing Haley, to being an almost pathological liar.  My personal favorite in the whole story is where she sends him an email telling him all the times she's lied to him.  While unfortunately it shows how bad her eating disorder has gotten, at the same time it shows how she isn't being completely controlled by all his manipulative bs.
 In all honesty they reminded me of quite a few people I knew growing up. They are convinced they are better than everyone else.  Not because of money or looks, but because they assume they have a greater intellect than anyone around them. They believe this gives them the right to do as they please, even if this means hurting everyone around them.  Instead of being a deep as they think they are, they are actually shallow and empty. Sorta like the conch shell on the cover of the book.

Ok. I knew going into this book that is is suppose to be one of those deep, existential, thought provoking books. And it did make me think. Honestly the characters, besides just reminding me of people I knew, and still know, they also reminded me of that episode of South Park, where people are running around sniffing their own farts and saying how wonderful they smell. Unfortunately this book wasn't quite as funny as that episode. I'm not saying this is a bad book. On some level it's a great study of how shallow and self-absorbed people can be, and how this leads them to isolate themselves.  I'm sure there are many ways it can be translated. If you like existentialism or a book that will make you feel deep and meaningful, or where you can read into someones thoughts and actions and analyze everything that is done. Then read it. If you just want a book to read. Where you actually might like the characters, or at least a story you can get lost in. Yea, this is probably not what you want to read.  I read somewhere that Tao Lin is one of those writers you either love or hate.  I don't hate him.  I just don't like this book. I found it the characters pretentious and pointless.  But I can admire Lin's writing.  His characters never did anything out of character. He didn't shy away from portraying them as he saw them, even when it was offensive or would cause you to hate them more. Since the description of this book says it is a "startling change of direction" for the author I would probably even read more of his work if given the opportunity. 

*****In compliance with FTC guidelines, I'm disclosing that I received this book for free through GoodReads First Reads. ****
(I recommend everybody should go check out all the awesome first read giveaways they have!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In My Mailbox 10/26/11

In my real world mailbox:

This one came rather quick!

Thieves At Heart The Valley of Ten Crescents Book One
By: Tristan J. Tarwater

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows A Flavia de Luce Novel
By: Alan Bradley

My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie .  A post where we share books acquired via mailbox, library, store, etc.****

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In My Mailbox-10/25/11

In my email box:
Eleven Madison Park-The Cookbook
By: Daniel Humm, Will Guidara

Yay! I love cookbooks! Can't wait for this one to get here!

****My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie .  A post where we share books acquired via mailbox, library, store, etc.****

Review of Tempest By: Julie Cross

By: Julie Cross
Release day: Jan 17th 2012

Summery from Amazon:
The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

My Review:
Take away the fact that he can travel into the past and Jackson is your typical young adult male. Sweet, charming, average intelligence and well kinda just going with the flow of young adult life.  He knows he loves his girlfriend Holly, but sometimes  has issues showing it, and opening up to her completely. Not just about his recently discovered time traveling abilities, but even things much more mundane.Things  like how he is still affected by the loss of his twin sister, or how distant his father is. Much like your typical male, check that person, ('cause girls we are guilty of it too!) he doesn't even realize quite what Holly means to him until she takes a bullet meant for him.  Even when he has the opportunity to start over and make things right with a younger Holly in the year 2007, he still keeps trying to go back to 'his' Holly. 
I REALLY liked this book.  Cross did a wonderful job with her main character.  You can see Jackson emotionally mature as the story progresses.  It was also interesting to see the differences in 007 Holly and 009 Holly. The younger version still in high school, not having been molded by her future life experiences. 
This book isn't JUST a love story though.  It is also has it's mysteries. How did Jackson get to be this way? Is his father a heartless CEO or a ruthless CIA agent? Who is the redheaded girl, who looks almost identical to Jackson's long dead twin sister? Just to name a few.  Some questions are neatly answered, some only leading to more questions and others still a mystery.  Yes it is the beginning of a trilogy, so I expected some of the questions to remain unanswered.  However Cross did it in such a way that it made me more intrigued to read the next novel, and not annoyed.  
Some of the explanations of the time travel were a bit confusing. She did use Jackson's voice to help dumb down some of the more technical explanations. But still there were some that I had to reread or just shrug my shoulders and hope it would be explained differently later in the novel, or hopefully later in the series. 
Again, I REALLY liked this book. Even with some of the more technical aspects of time travel and how Jackson's brain works, I was drawn in. This is strong start to her series, and I can't wait to read more.  It's being released a little late to be used as a Christmas present, but might I suggest you pre-order it for yourself?  That way after all the craziness of the holidays is over, you have something to look forward to as a treat to yourself.  

*****In compliance with FTC guidelines, I'm disclosing that I received this book for free through GoodReads First Reads. ****
(I recommend everybody should go check out all the awesome first read giveaways they have!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

In My Mailbox: From this past weekend!-10/22 to 10/24

Sorry, got some of these over the weekend, but was busy with my daughter's birthday! So here's what I got in my mailboxes over the weekend and today! 
In my email box (which I didn't check ALL weekend!) :

Glamour (On the Runway #5)
By:Melody Carlson

A Lost Argument: A Latter-Day Novel
By: Therese Doucet
Thieves At Heart: The Valley of Ten Crescents (Book #1)
By: Tristan J. Tarwater

Cinderella's Magical Wheelchair:  An Empowering Fairy Tale
By: Jewel Kats, Richa Kinra

The Christmas Cookie Club
By: Ann Pearlman

In my real world mailbox:
Word Hero: A Fiendishly Clever Guide to Crafting the Lines That Get Laughs, Go Viral, and Live Forever
By: Jay Heinrichs

Deadly Defiance:A Stan Turner Mystery
By: William Manchee

 This one looks interesting. It came in the mail on Saturday.  But instead of being a book, it is a 2 disk audio book.  Read by Jeffrey Kafer, Arika Escalona and Xe Sands.  I know this might sound weird, but I've never actually listened to an book on tape, or cd as this case may be.  I'm not against them, I just have never actually gotten one and listened to it.  So this will be a first for me.  Any hints or tips on how to enhance my listening pleasure from any avid audio book fans out there are greatly appreciated!

****My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie .  A post where we share books acquired via mailbox, library, store, etc.****

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review of Drops From the Kingdom: The Silver Arrow (Volume 1)

Drops From the Kingdom: The Silver Arrow (Volume 1)
By: Larry Itejere

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback

Summary from Amazon:
As men gather in a final battle that will determine the fate of mankind in a land torn by war, Isaac looks back on the events that led to this pivotal point as he makes his way with an army of men to the Abyss of Rorrah to fight a being with the power of a god.
Born with a gift, unique to a few, known as Anamerians. Isaac learns that he was a counterpoint on events that affected humanity before it happens.
Trained by a patron named Gabram, he is given charge of an elite group of warriors known as Acklans and sent to find three youths that were their hope of stopping an impending war that if not stopped could end in the annihilation of humanity.
In his quest, Isaac finds himself in a small town where everyone was killed by creatures that appear and disappear without a trace. He finds an only survivor in one of these mysterious attack, a young man named Samuel who managed to escape and soon they both discovered how tied their fates are to the oncoming battle.

My Review:
Iseac and Samuel are two boys who who don't plan on doing more than being just boys, however destiny has other plans.  Iseac is his generation's Anamerian.  His task is to find three people who will will help determine the out come of a great war with the Gaid'dum.  Once the Gaid'dum was simply a curious boy like Iseac and Samuel, but after touching one of the sacred scrolls, he has become something of great evil.  Looking only to conquer the kingdoms and take control of the rest of the sacred scrolls.  Samuel is quietly enjoying his own life, when his town in attacked.  His entire family is either slaughtered or captured by the Gaid'dum's army.  While trying to find a way to save his mother and remaining brother his path crosses Iseac's and his life's course is altered forever.   

I'm caught in the middle on this book.  On one hand I love the story.  Itejere's world he has created, with it's different kingdoms and various people, is very intriguing. His characters seemed solid in how they were written and didn't jump all over the place. In fact I really enjoyed the story and how he brought Iseac and Samuel's separate stories together.  In fact there were some unexpected but interesting twists along the way. I would definitely be interested in reading the next book in the series and finding out what else happens to Iseac and Samuel, and who survives the war. 
Itejere was also very descriptive, and here is where the other hand comes into play.  Sometimes he was too descriptive.  It wasn't just that he went into detail, but sometime he would repeat things while describing a character, or in a scene, that he really didn't need to repeat.  I would find myself pulling back from the story and losing interest because of this.  I would say that maybe this is his writing style, but he didn't do it all the time.  There were some sections of the book that flowed quite smoothly and I found myself getting lost in.   
Other than that I think this is a good first effort for this series and it has a lot  of potential.  I would also recommend it if you have a male teenager you are looking to find a book for in regards to the up coming holidays.While there is an underlying romance between Iseac and Elena, it isn't mushy and the story centers more on the war between the kingdoms and how Iseac and Samuel became involved in it. If you are looking for a new fantasy series to get into and you are not a teenage boy, I would also recommend it. As I said before, I personally would be interested in reading the next book in the series. Despite some of the issues I had with the writing style in various parts of the book, I did find myself being drawn into the world the author created and I would definitely like to learn more about it.   

*****In compliance with FTC guidelines, I'm disclosing that I received this book for free through GoodReads First Reads. ****
(I recommend everybody should go check out all the awesome first read giveaways they have!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In My Mailbox-10/18/11

In My Mailbox:

By: Julie Cross

****In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie .  A post where we share books acquired via mailbox, library, store, etc.****

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In My Mailbox 10/12/11

In my real mailbox today:

Dead Famous
By: Carol O'Connell

****In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie .  A post where we share books acquired via mailbox, library, store, etc.****

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review of Too Clever By: Julia Antoine

Too Clever
By: Julia Antoine

Amazon Paperback

"Too Clever" is an illustrated collection of 10 short stories about inquisitive children and their adventures in learning. All sorts of subjects are introduced and explored by the curious kids who star in these short stories. Each of them has a lesson to share, making "Too Clever" an ideal learning companion for kids age 9 and up. From Cleo's Tomato Sandwich to Timothy's Man in the Moon, each story deals with a challenge and a passion for the child to tackle and master, both learning and teaching. "Too Clever" tackles a multitude of subjects and interest areas, from taming wild eagles to learning correct grammar rules for difficult pronouns. And let's not forget the subject of math, or how many Johnny cakes will be enough to feed a family of four. Bright, cheery illustrations in comic style enliven the pages of "Too Clever," while peppy heroes and heroines dominate the stories illustrating active learning.

My Review:

Huh, what  can I say? Ok. Let's start with the fact that this is a children's book.  Yes, I admit it, I read kids books.  And not just because I win them... Although in my own defense I do have quite a few small children in my life, and I read to them a lot.  I also will flip through whatever book they happen to be reading on their own so I can get ideas of what they are interested in, and what they are reading in general.

There are even some kids books that I enjoy reading. (Dr. Seuss for example) Maybe not enjoy on some deep  intellectual level, but I can read and re-read them multiple times and not go crazy.  (Some are just down right cute too.)

I am really sorry to say this was not one of those books.    The stories started out well enough, it's just that they all seemed to lack a real ending.  Sometimes it was also a little unclear what the lesson was that the story was suppose to be about.  For example, in the first story Johnny, the little boy is showing his mother how he can count using the dinners johnny cakes.   But he ends up miscounting and ends up with out counting a portion for himself.  The story ends with him thinking " I have to keep working on my numbers...I became so confused that I counted myself out of johnny cakes."   
First I think this was one of the more complete endings out of the ten stories, and even then I kinda wondered if there was more.  Maybe Johnny counts correctly the next time? I don't know, I'm just saying how it felt to me.  Second the lesson was sort of unclear.  I took away from it that Johnny should study his math more.  So maybe that translates into if the child reader is having trouble with a subject in school that they should just study more?  Since the story just ends with Johnny thinking he should work harder on his numbers, and not with some example of how he worked harder and he was able to add better, it is really unclear if that is the end lesson or not. 

I could go through and dissect each story but they are all pretty much the same.  Some the ending is unclear, some the lesson itself is.   A few of the stories, such as Megan's Troublesome Pronouns and Jeanie's Most Prized Possession   did seem more complete than others.  The lesson itself was even quite clear in the former one. (It's how to remember which pronouns to use)   However that did little to completely redeem the book.

If you are looking for something for your child to read  I'm not saying they shouldn't read it.  Anything that encourages a child to read is a good thing.  Just don't expect it to be everything that the summary says it is.  Also don't be surprised if they don't enjoy it as much as the summary says they should.

*****In compliance with FTC guidelines, I'm disclosing that I received this book for free throughGoodReads First Reads. ****
(I recommend everybody should go check out all the awesome first read giveaways they have!)