Monday, July 30, 2012

The Prisoner of Heaven thoughts

I had an excellent surprise a couple of weeks ago, while at my book club at One More Page. We had a lovely discussion of The Gods of Gotham (reviewed here) and then I was doing my usual chatting and browsing when I saw the latest Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I couldn't believe it! With all my knowledge of the book world and publishing dates and the fact that I LOVED The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, I couldn't believe that I didn't know this 3rd book was already out. I love a good surprise like that...doesn't happen nearly often enough. 

The very next morning, I had a lovely email waiting for me from Danielle at Harper, and she offered me a copy of the book to review. Again, until 12 hours before I had no idea the book was out, so she totally made my day. The book I had purchased promptly went into the mail to a friend that loves Zafon as much as I do and from what I hear, she's loving it. 

So, after savoring the impeccable writing and beautiful language and setting that the author seems to be a master of, I've come to the conclusion that this is the first series where I've loved every single book equally. This one focuses mainly on Fermin, a secondary character in the other books and I was so glad to finally get a bit of back story on him. He's hilarious, but also sort of a lost soul and though we've been given glimpses into his past before, it's all opened up in The Prisoner of Heaven. 

Though the main plotline of this story is incredibly tragic and sad, Zafon writes it in a way that still made me laugh and want to keep reading. It wasn't at all heavy, despite the horrors that Fermin endured while in prison and the sadness that Daniel feels while hearing his friend's story. There's suspense and tension in all the right places and such an amazing use of language and setting that you'll feel transported to Barcelona. 

This one is a bit shorter than the other books, but just as intriguing and imaginative, meant to be savored and not rushed through.  Zafon tells us we can read this one as a 3rd book or a 1st or a 2nd, but I would definitely recommend reading them in order, simply to take in the world of Fermin and Daniel, and the elder Sempere, Isabella, Bea, etc. in the order the were written about. I think you'll get more out of it that way. 

Don't hesitate to pick up copies of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game for yourself or pretty much anyone you know. I love, love, love these books and can't recommend them enough!

The Prisoner of Heaven
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
279 pages
Adult Fiction
July 2012
Review copy provided by Harper

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Week in Review

It's been a slow, but pleasant week around this house. My boy and I didn't do a whole lot, as we're in either teething mode or starting-to-get-sick mode, but either way, hanging around the house was ok by me. The next couple of weeks are going to be crazy, so a little relaxing before the madness begins was my plan.

We're heading to home to Upstate NY on Wednesday for a week of family time and we're all very much looking forward to it. There will be a family reunion, runs with my husband and brother, shopping with my mother-in-law, food, and lots of down time. I do have some posts setup, so I won't totally leaving everyone hanging and my stack of books to bring with me is huge. I may get through 1 book, I may get through 5, but you know I have 7 packed!

This week on the blog:

I shared my thoughts on the funny and informative How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopegood.

I reviewed yet another awesome book club pick, Gods of Gotham by Lynday Faye.

For Fitness Friday I talked about what my new bootcamp schedule is going to look like.

Look for an 8 month update on the little guy tomorrow morning. I can't wait to share some great pics with you all!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fitness Friday: Bootcamp has begun!

I, along with 400+ of my new best friends, have joined Tina's latest Best Body Bootcamp, which kicked off Monday. Let's just say...I'm sore. Really sore. This is another time I hate living in a split level, because no matter where I go I have to walk up or down stairs and stairs reallllly hurt right now. Darn you, Tina! (Which really means, THANK YOU TINA!)

We have daily workout combos of strength and cardio and I really thought all the running I had been doing had me prepared for what was to come. I had no idea how sore my legs would be after the lower body workout, leaving me with an entirely new appreciation for lunges and squats. Holy sore quads!

On Monday I used the jump rope as my cardio portion and that seriously kicked my butt. I don't know why I can run a few miles and be ok, but 2 minutes jump roping exhausts me for the day. Either way, it worked its sweaty magic and got my heart rate up. The rest of the week, I ran as usual. Long run tonight!

I've also been reminded how weak my upper body is and, of course, after having two c-sections my lower abs are toast. I love having this workout set up for me, so I don't give up after one or two arm raises or crunches. Tina says to do 12, I'm going to do 12. Or at least as close to 12 as I can muster.

Eating is still going well and looks something like this almost every day:

Breakfast: Green smoothie (spinach, almond milk, chia seeds, ground flax, greek yogurt, frozen banana)

Snack: 1/2 Luna bar

Lunch: Leftovers or whatever I've made myself for the week. This week is was quinoa, corn, and black bean salad.

Snack: 1/2 Luna bar and 2 chunks of cheese

Dinner: This week we've had homemade banana pepper and onion pizza, low-cal chicken parm, smoothies, and zucchini rice.

Snack: Either nothing or a 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt. If I've run that night I usually don't want to eat anything else.

I think, as part of my workout for the week, I'm going to try to convince the husband to hike with me tomorrow. It's my absolute favorite method of exercise (besides swimming) and we have yet to do it this summer. Combine crummy humid weather with having to work around naptime for a child and it has just been impossible. I'm hoping tomorrow just might be the day. 

Finally, I wanted to fill all of you fitness fans in on a new favorite of mine. I bought a new set of weights for this bootcamp, after dealing with really light dumbbells for the last couple of years. I figured it was time for an upgrade. A fellow bootcamp participant sent the group the link to these and I couldn't resist them. A 40lb adjustable weight set with dumbbells. I love being able to easily switch the weight I want to use, without having to have 3 different sets of dumbbells floating around. And $40 was in my budget. 

Hoping everyone has a great fitness week! I'll be on vacation next week, but I'll definitely still be working out, so look for another Bootcamp related post. Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gods of Gotham review

The first police force in New York City has just been formed and Timothy Wilde, a good guy who formerly tended bar before a fire took out his bar and burned his face badly, has been placed in charge of the worst part of the city -- the Sixth Ward, thanks to his older brother. Though Timothy wanted nothing to do with the police, he finds himself actually being pretty good at his job.

When a little girl covered in blood crashes into him one late night, Timothy isn't quite sure what to do. He finds himself thrown into the mystery of dozens of children being secretly buried and how they ended up that way. Tim isn't sure whether he should believe the tales the girl tells or hand her over to the House of Refuge, but he recognizes truth in her where no one else has bothered to look. His compassion for others is Tim's greatest gift and, at times, his biggest down fall. 

Enter in a love interest, a drug-addicted older brother, a strong woman who makes a mean loaf of bread, and a woman named Silkie Marsh and all the makings of an excellent page-turner are definitely here!

Not only was the subject matter of this book interesting and unlike anything I had read before, it was SO engrossing. I had never thought about how police forces were created in NYC or what life was like during the transition of lawlessness to having a bunch of guys telling you what you can't do, but the presentation of that information -- mixed with an awesomely thrilling mystery -- really had me flipping the pages. 

This was the June read for my book club and I had only heard good things about the book, though none of what the plot was actually about. I really loved opening up a book with absolutely no expectations and being blown away by the writing and storytelling Lyndsay Faye was able to do. She really brought me into the world of 1845 New York and I didn't want to leave. 

This would be great for anyone looking for a great read. Men and women alike will be able to appreciate Tim's character and his perseverance to do what's right. 

I've heard buzz of a sequel...would love one!

The Gods of Gotham
Lyndsay Faye
432 pages
Adult Fiction
Amy Einhorn Books
March 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thoughts on How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm

I hadn't heard of this book before Jenn kindly passed it on to me, but it was a really eye-opening read. As a new mom, I'm always wanting a peek into how other moms parent their children and how they attack new situations like introducing foods and potty training. I need all the help and inspiration that I can get!

Each chapter features a different country and culture and one of their parenting practices. We visit Argentina, Tibet, Lebanon, and many others, but I was totally taken with the way the Chinese potty train their kids and how the French instill excellent eating habits from a very early age. Every chapter was interesting and enlightening, but those two definitely stuck out. I would love to for Elliott to be potty trained early and only want to eat great food. Say no to junk! :)

Hopgood has a really great writing style --both informative and easy to read with brief passages about her own family and her children. She really made me think outside of the American way of parenting and look into other options. I'll be handing this one to the guest of honor at the next baby shower I attend!

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm and Other Adventures in Parenting
Mei-Ling Hopgood
304 pages
Adult Non-Fiction
Algonquin Books
January 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

This is Not a Test review

Courtney Summers has done something that only John Green has been able to do so far this year. She made me stay up all night to finish her book. Ok, so I actually only stayed up until 2:30, but with a 7-month-old that totally counts as all night in my world. I wasn't just up late either...I was so incredibly tense with anticipation as to what would happen next that every little noise had me convinced that a zombie was about to break into my house.

Yep, I said it. Zombie. There are most definitely people in this book that are dead, but not dead, and want to eat the few that are actually still alive. Six teens are locked in a school after a virus takes over their town and quite possibly the entire world. The way Summers manages to give each of these kids a distinct voice and realistic actions during a very unrealistic situation is absolutely amazing. 

These teens, especially our main character Sloane, definitely had a lot of "stuff" going on before everything started changing and just because zombies are now attacking doesn't make the stuff go away. There are also an incredible amount of teen hormones in one small place and when under stress, some look for comfort in each other. The feelings are totally believable and understandable. You've all heard me say many times that I don't like sex in books unless it's essential to the story, not just dropped in for drama. These situations work and most definitely have their place. 

Please don't be scared away from this book simply because I've mentioned zombies. It's a survival story, a friendship story, and has enough tension that you'll be turning pages as fast as you can possibly read them. Give it a try and I'll bet you'll end up half the night finishing it too. I loved it. 

This is Not a Test
Courtney Summers
336 pages
Young Adult Fiction
St. Martin's Griffin
June 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Brand New Human Being review and giveaway!

Logan is a guy on a mission...he's just not quite sure what his mission is. His father recently died, his 4-year-old has begun acting like a baby again, and he walked in on his wife with another man. Not cool. Logan has reached the end of his rope and he begins his new mission by taking his son and driving to a cabin in Montana, where his stepmother (a woman only 4 years his senior) now lives, hoping his questions about his past and his future just might be answered.

As a reader, it's hard sometimes to watch the main character of a story make mistake after mistake, digging himself a bigger and bigger hole that he just may never come out of. However, Logan Pyle is the kind of character that I could totally understand WHY he was making the mistakes he was and also see the hope in his decisions. He is most definitely a flawed character, but one I was rooting for the entire book. 

Several times I found myself reading a passage about something awful he had done, but I would give a little sigh, because I understood him and the desperation for love and goodness in his life. A whole lot of changing takes place in the story, as we explore what love, family, fatherhood, and marriage all mean to Logan Pyle. And Julie...ohhh Julie. I just wanted to smack her sometimes. So much for being passive.

I'm now a fan of Emily Miller and I'm hoping you will be too. I have one copy of Brand New Human Being to give to one of you! Please leave a comment believe telling me one thing you're loving about summer. Comment by Sunday night and I'll pick a winner Monday morning. U.S. or Canada only please!

Brand New Human Being
Emily Jeanne Miller
272 pages
Adult Fiction
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
TLC Blog Tours

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week in Review

Happy Sunday! Lots going on this week and I'm totally on the countdown for our vacation home to Upstate NY in a couple more weeks.

Elliott is doing great...ready to crawl any day now and he's loving his peas and pears!

My monthly Birchbox came! Hooray! Christmas in July :)

Alterna Bamboo UV+ Color Protection Fluide -- Haven't tried this one yet, but I don't color my hair, so I'm hoping it will just work as a gloss.

Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint -- It promises to give me dewy skin. Sold!

Oscar de la Renta: Live in Love -- Love me some perfume samples!

Stila Lip Glaze -- The color they sent me was "Lights" and at first glance it was definitely not a color I would typically pick up. I ended up loving it though and have already ordered the full size.

Larabar -- I love Luna Bars and was excited to give this new brand a try. It was yummy!

Earbuds -- Ran four miles last night with these neon pink earbuds. It's like these people KNOW me. Hot pink! hehe

And on the blog:

I reviewed Shadow of exciting!! 

I talked about 3 new releases that I'm looking forward to. 

I reviewed the super creepy Long Lankin

For Picture Book Saturday I talked up a couple of books about books.

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Picture Book Saturday: Books About Books

For the last few months, I've been focusing this feature on books that Elliott and I are enjoying together, but these two books are ones I've fallen in love with. Both are a bit over Elliott's head for now, but he will most definitely be introduced to them in time!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

I have a love/hate relationship with William Joyce. If I love a book he's written, I love it wholeheartedly and cannot possibly say enough about it. This one definitely falls into that category! The artwork is absolutely amazing and had me staring at each page for much longer than any typical picture book. I mean, it inspired an Academy Award-winning short's gorgeous!

So, basically, I love that Morris Lessmore teaches the reader that it doesn't matter how you get the story...whether it be via traditional book, e-reader, etc., it's the STORY that matters. Isn't that great?! And really, in today's society, with all the chatter back and forth about who reads the best way, Morris Lessmore is exactly who we need to put us in our place. 

A must-have for your book-loving shelves!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore
William Joyce
56 pages
Picture Book
June 2012
Review copy

The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer and Chris Sheban

Oh, this book. Rarely does a picture book actually bring me to tears, but this one succeeded. I love, love, love it and want to push it into the hands of everyone I meet.

It's a fairly simple story about a book used to being loved and checked out and then as it grows older is left on the shelf for longer and longer periods, until it lands in the discard pile. The emotions the words evoke, however, especially in someone who loves books and libraries as much as I do, was anything but simple. 

Kids will enjoy the story, but I almost think adults will appreciate it a lot more. I can't wait to give this as a Christmas gift to a few of my favorite book lovers!

The Lonely Book
Kate Bernheimer
40 pages
Picture Book
Schwartz & Wade
April 2012
Review copy

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Long Lankin review

I don't read a whole lot of ghost stories and when I do, it's typically in the dead of winter, when I need something creepy to add to the chill in the air. I'm weird like that.  I made an exception for Long Lankin though, after several of my fellow bloggers had reviewed it so positively, and it was a delightfully chilling read. Keep the lights on, friends!

Cora and Mimi are sent to live with their Aunt Ida while their father is away on business and their mother is mysteriously ill. Aunt Ida is not a blessing, but yet a scary curse...she's one mean and disturbed lady! Immediately after the girls arrive, they realize that something is not right at Aunt Ida's house, starting with all of the windows and doors being sealed. Apparently, when a window or door opens, bad things start to happen and, as readers find out quickly, they do definitely happen.

The description of the setting is just amazing and really helped me picture the place the girls were living and how inadequately safe it was for them in terms of no communication with anyone else --and the ghosts and witches and dead people. Them too.  The creepiness was slow in building, but was always hovering there in the background, never letting me get my guard down. Aunt Ida made my skin crawl and when the scary moments happened, I definitely had goosebumps.

The songs and poems that are placed throughout the story were probably the creepiest part of all. I get totally worked up (as in horrified) when little kids chant something or sing something scary and I could definitely picture those snippets being said by children. Score another one for the author.

If you're a fan of the scary, I definitely recommend Long Lankin for your summer reading list!

Long Lankin
Lindsay Barraclough
448 pages
Young Adult
Review copy provided by publisher

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Releases (4)

New Releases is a feature I've started to showcase some of the awesome books I've been sent by publishers that I am incredibly excited about, but haven't yet had a chance to get to.

All three of these came out either today or last Tuesday. Happy Book Birthdays!

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

"What happens when happily ever after…isn’t? Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale."

I'm used to be a big Jodi Picoult fan, so we'll see what I think of this one when I get to it.

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

"Summer break . . . and the livin' ain't easy! 

Just because the students at New York College have flown the coop doesn't mean assistant residence hall director Heather Wells can relax. Fischer Hall is busier than ever, filled with squealing thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls attending the first ever Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp, hosted by pop sensation Tania Trace herself—who just happens to be newly married to Heather's ex-boyfriend, heartthrob Jordan Cartwright. But the real headache begins when the producer of a reality TV show starring Tania winds up dead . . . and it's clear that the star was the intended victim. 

Grant Cartwright, head of Cartwright Records, wants to keep his daughter-in-law (and his highest-earning performer) alive. So he hires his oldest son, black sheep of the family and private investigator Cooper Cartwright—who just happens to be Heather's new fiancĂ©. Heather should leave the detecting to Cooper. But with a dorm full of hysterical mini-divas-in-training, she can't help but get involved. And after Tania shares a really shocking secret with her, this reality suddenly becomes more dangerously real than anyone ever anticipated"

I LOVE Meg Cabot's book...they're funny and always quick reads, but I've never read a Heather Wells mystery. Must remedy that!

The Wurst is Yet to Come by Mary Daheim

"With its cozy atmosphere, delicious fare, and gracious hostess, Hillside Manor is the perfect B&B for a few days of R&R. Okay, so it also features the occasional corpse or two. But is a small (if growing) body count any reason for the state to yank Judith McMonigle Flynn's innkeeper's license? 

Exhausted from being hassled by the state B&B association's meddling critics, Judith warily accepts the assignment of manning a booth during Oktoberfest in the mountain aerie of Little Bavaria. With a reluctant cousin Renie in tow, she hopes to win some allies, solicit new guests, and keep her inn not only open, but prosperous. The last thing she needs is another homicide to sully her reputation. 

But before the beer begins flowing, Judith finds a body—right in the middle of an oompah band and a herd of German polka dancers. Fleeing the scene before the cops arrive, she vows that this time she will not get involved. Alas, her reputation has preceded her to the ersatz Bavarian village. The local police chief begs her to help solve the death of the beloved town patron, nonagenarian Dietrich Wessler. And, if she has a spare moment between her B&B duties and keeping Renie from stirring up trouble, the bumbling cop asks her to finger whoever killed the pancake palace owner the previous summer. 

Caught between a wurst and a hard place, Judith hits on a brilliant idea: Renie will pose as the sleuth. What could possibly go wrong"

I've heard so many good things about these mysteries that I really do plan to read one this winter. I think once the snow is falling outside I'll really be in the mood for a new, fun mystery series. 

Thanks to HarperCollins,

Monday, July 9, 2012

Shadow of Night review and a giveaway

I jumped on the A Discovery of Witches bandwagon reallllly late. Like, as in, finished last week before I anxiously started Shadow of Night. I like to wait awhile for the hype over books to die down, before picking them up, but I never meant to wait that long! One good thing about my waiting though, is that I didn't even have to wait 24 hours to pick up the sequel. And it was really, everything I wanted in a sequel. 


When A Discovery of Witches was ending, Diana and Matthew -- witch and vampire -- were about to time walk back in history. As they arrive at their destination in Elizabethan London, the character development surrounding Matthew (up until now quite a mystery) ramps up and we start to learn more about his past and the people he had previously acquainted himself with. We also witness Diana learning more about herself and her magic, as the pair continue to battle against witches, vampires, and daemons over Ashmole 782. 

The amount of detail and world-building that Harkness manages to write is amazing. You'll feel transported back to the 1500's and will feel for Diana as she struggles to find her place in the past. She and Matthew, though meant to be together, must face relationship troubles in the midst of everything else, as Matthew seems to become a person quite different from the man Diana believes she knows, the longer they remain in London. Even the details surrounding their marital issues are created to be believable and help us readers to love the characters even more, despite their obvious flaws. 

I loved the introduction of famous historical characters to the plot and all the instances of humor that manage to prevent the seriousness of the creature war from overtaking the book. Deborah Harkness is a huge talent and I'm so glad I've finally joined in the fanfare! If you love a great fantasy mixed with a great, contemporary romance, be sure to check these books out. They'd make great vacation reads this summer.

For one lucky reader, I'm giving away a copy of Shadow of Night Now closed. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Week in Review

Can you say HEAT WAVE? Here in the D.C. Metro area, we've had record heat for almost 2 weeks, with today being the hottest yet. 106 degrees with a heat index of 115. Annnnnd...our air conditioner died. I can't say I'm surprised. I mean, aren't bad things supposed to come in sets of 3? Our car broke down, our only tv died and needed replacing, and now our air conditioner went out during a crazy hot week. 

Though our bank account is bleeding, we're definitely blessed to have friends in the area, who we quickly proceeded to move in with. With a 7-month-old and two dogs, Aaron and I knew we couldn't stay at home in the heat. They have central air, a big house with a basement just for us and the pups. Perfect! Our new air conditioner is set to arrive on Wednesday, but hopefully the heat lets up a little before then. 

On the blog this week:

I'm giving away a copy of Shadow of Night. It's the second book in the series by Deborah Harkness....I loved A Discovery of Witches!

I reviewed The Language of Flowers, a fabulous book for a discussion.  

I talked about 2 of my favorite indie bookstores in a new monthly feature by some of my favorite bloggers: Where in the World are you Reading?

Fitness Friday where I talked about coming in 2nd place, an injury, and bootcamp

I'm reading:

The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Have a great week!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fitness Friday: 2nd place, bootcamp, and an injury

It's been a couple of weeks since I've done an update for you all and I've had a lot going on fitness-wise. It seems like this summer is busier than any summer before it, but I've been managing to get in a workout about 4 days a week. I'm happy with that and my body is still responding to the work, so for now, I'm good. This week marks 20lbs lost since I started my get healthy crusade and I'm thrilled! Another 20 and I'll be in a happy place.

I know that the high levels of cardio aren't always going to be enough, which is why I just registered for Tina's Best Body Bootcamp Round 2! I'm really looking forward to getting in a little strength training with my cardio and having an actual plan to follow. As of now, I've just been working out when I can, always running or walking, but this will have a schedule and a set plan for me. I'm hoping it helps me kick my workout level up a notch. 

You may remember that I've been involved in two Biggest Loser-type competitions (a great motivator). Well, one just ended and I came in 2nd place! My brother-in-law and I became each other's best motivators, really competing against only each other each week with me coming in 1st some weeks and him coming in 1st others. Overall, he ending up edging me out by about .14%. Together, we lost 27lbs!

We're both in the other competition, as well, so we're motivating each other again. Healthy competition is great for keeping up the intensity levels. I want to beat him in this one, just to say I won at least one. 

I ran 2 miles in 17:34. This is AMAZING for my slow-poke self. 

I've also, unfortunately, been dealing with a small injury. Well, at least I hope it's small. After doing some research, I think I've injured my TFL muscle (tensor fascia lata). I've been having a lot of hip pain after running and this past week the pain started radiating all the way down my leg. From hip all the way to ankle. After I would run it would HURT. Like throbbing pain, couldn't get comfortable, ice didn't help, nothing. 

Apparently, this TFL muscle can become inflamed and cause spasms all the way down the leg. I've been taking it easy and just walking the past few days and making sure to stretch a lot, hoping it helps. Anyone else ever encountered an injury like this?

I would love to hear what you all are doing to stay in shape this summer!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Where in the World: Local Bookstore

A few of my favorite bloggers: Lisa, Trish, and Kailana are hosting a fun new feature called Where in the World are you Reading. It's a once-a-month thing and this particular month covers one of my favorite topics: local bookstores. I work in one, I shop at several, and I love to get the word out about them. Count me in!

This month they want to know all about where you buy your books locally. It can be an indie (YAY!) or a chain, they just want to know where. Give a shout out to your favorite bookstore!

Now, I have two and both are my favorites for very different reasons, so I feel the need to talk about each one. I don't happen to have personal photos of the bookstores, so I'm stalking their websites. Next time I'll be more prepared!

Hooray for Books! Children's Bookstore is located in Alexandria, VA, a city named one of the most well-read cities in the country awhile back (if not #1... I can't find the article). I happen to work here, as well, but even before being employed there, I loved shopping anytime I was in Old Town. 

It's chock full of books, games, puzzles, puppets, and anything else a child could possibly want for entertainment. All of the stock is carefully selected, with the owners (and often staff members too) constantly browsing catalogs, reading galleys, trying out games, and chatting up customers to see what they would like to see in the store. 

The events at Hooray for Books! are plentiful...we almost always have fun authors on the calendar and this summer we have various writing camps planned and a huge Where's Waldo Event (going on now). So much fun! We just had a great teen author panel, have regular storytimes for little ones, and have a wide range of book clubs. We also have a great blog and are on Twitter!

Photo credit to Hooray for Books!

Photo credit to One More Page Books

One More Pages Books is located in Arlington, VA. It's about a 25 minute drive and so worth it! Bright and airy inside with awesome book displays that you can tell were put together with care and thought. I love the post-it note "shelftalkers" the staff uses to grab attention for a specific title. Short, sweet, and to the point! Oh and have I mentioned they sell WINE and CHOCOLATE too? My three favorite things in one location. Perfection.

I attend a monthly book club at the store, run by Jenn of Jenn's Bookshelves, and I always have a blast chatting up books with the eclectic group. Some of us are bloggers, but most are just readers that stumbled upon One More Page. It's a great place, with some of the nicest staff you'll ever meet in a bookstore.

Comfy chairs, friendly staff, great book choices, and the combo of wine and chocolate make this one of my favorite places to spend a couple of hours!

Again, I apologize for the lack of photos. Next month I'll be on the ball!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Shadow of Night giveaway!

I don't know about all of you, but I know I'm definitely anticipating the release of Shadow of Night next week. I was late to the A Discovery of Witches party, but now that I'm here, I'm a big fan and can't wait to see what happens with Diana and Matthew. Everyone needs a little vampire/witch story in their lives right??

I am lucky enough, thanks to the awesome people at Viking, to have a copy of Shadow of Night to give away to one of you! A beautiful, brand new hardcover, just for you. Yay for giveaways!

Just leave a comment on this post and let me know what other book you're looking forward to finally reading. Do this by 11:59pm on Monday 7/9. Now closed.

If you Tweet and/or blog about the giveaway, you get 1 extra entry for each. Be sure to leave your Twitter name, so I can check.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

The Language of Flowers review

18-year-old Victoria Jones is an incredibly strong, yet stubborn and hurting young woman who just aged out of the foster care system. Bounced around for most of her life, Vanessa finds herself unable to trust anyone who crosses her path, no matter their good intentions, and almost finds solace in being homeless. She doesn't have to deal with people, makes her own decisions, and stays as far away from people as she can.

When her little bit of money runs out and Victoria manages to wrangle herself a job in a flower shop. Having always been fascinated with the "language of flowers," she spends her days making the perfect bouquets for her customers' personal situations. Still dealing with her past, Victoria is forced to come face-to-face with specific people and events she's wanted nothing more than to leave behind.

The descriptions in this book are top notch and I loved learning all about hidden meanings behind flowers, no matter how true or false they may be. It was fun! I'm slightly concerned that my wedding flowers were peonies and their meaning is ANGER of all things...but, I think Aaron and I are ok for now ;).

Victoria was a tough character to like, because of her abrasive personality (though that certainly wasn't her fault), but even if I couldn't love her, I understood her. The author has experience with the foster care system and it was apparent while I was reading it. She obviously knew how children who spent their lives in the "care" of multiple people could turn out and the issues they could experience. Victoria was haunting in the best possible way.

A fun index of flowers is included, so you can look up all of your favorite flowers and their meanings.

I read this with my book club and would highly recommend it for such a discussion. Lots of excellent elements for a good conversation. 

The Language of Flowers
Vanessa Diffenbaugh
352 pages
Adult Fiction
Ballantine Books
April 2012 (paperback edition)
Purchased copy