Monday, February 28, 2011

First Book Blogger Book Club Review: Slam by Nick Hornby

The fine people at First Book reached out to book bloggers all over the Internet inviting us to join their First Book Blogger Book Club.  Each month we will review one of the books First Book provides on its First Book Marketplace.  Together, we hope to spread the word that book lovers like you can help put books into the hands of children in need.  If you know of a school or group that could benefit from the First Book program, or if you can donate to this great program, please go to their website for more information.
Allow some of our favorite authors to explain more about First Book:

I am honored to be a part of this project. 
Now on to my review of February's pick, Slam, by Nick Hornby!


"I'd slammed too.  I'd never had a slam like this, though.  The wheels had come off the trucks, the trucks had come off the deck, and I'd shot twenty feet into the air and gone straight into a brick wall.  That's what it felt like, anyway.  And there wasn't even a mark on me."

I could have pulled quotes from every chapter of Slam.  Nick Hornby's prose is accessible art and hits the mark with both young adult and adult readers. 

Sam narrates his story - one of family, friends, first relationships and being 16.  He is a skater who regularly talks to a poster of his idol, Tony Hawk...only TH talks back with excerpts from his own coming of age autobiography, Hawk - Occupation: Skateboarder.  While Sam experiences the most cataclysmic event in his young life - he gets his girlfriend, Alicia, pregnant - he looks to Tony Hawk for advice, but some things you just have to learn on your own.

While I loved this book, I kept wondering about Slam's intended audience of young adults.  How would they feel about this book?  How would their parents feel about this book? Even though I am not, nor have I ever been a 16 year old boy, I feel like Nick Hornby took a chance with Sam's voice, and he nailed it.  Sam's story is so touchable that even if parents don't quite agree with Sam's actions or the outcome, Nick Hornby was not writing a morality tale.  He doesn't preach to his teen audience.  This was the truth wrapped in fiction with a sprinkle of humor to keep it all from becoming too heavy.

Slam was a great read! 

Book Extras:
The NY Times Book Review (from 2007)
Penguin Reading Guide
Add Slam to your Goodreads TBR list

About the Book:
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition edition (October 16, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399250484
ISBN-13: 978-0399250484

About the Author: (from Penguin) (pardon me while I try not to swoon)
Born in Redhill, Surrey, England, Nick Hornby graduated from Cambridge University and worked for a time as a book reviewer and a teacher of English to foreign students. His first book, a collection of critical essays on American novelists, was published in 1992 and was quickly followed by his celebrated soccer memoir Fever Pitch. The first of his internationally bestselling novels, High Fidelity, was published three years later in 1995. Three others have followed, including About a Boy (1998), How to be Good (2001), and A Long Way Down (2005). Slam is his first novel published for young adults, though virtually all of his work – including his many writings about music – has had widespread appeal to teen readers.
For additional information on Nick Hornby and his other titles, visit

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You love books.  I love books.  Help a child fall in love with books too.

Alison's Book Marks is reviewing this book in support of First Book, through which 18,000 books are placed in the hands of children in need EACH DAY. Donate to First Book HERE. Learn more at their website:

Review: Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey

I may be late getting to this series by Tim Dorsey, but I am an instant fan! 

Never will you meet a more likable and hilarious serial killer.  Serge Storms is a tour guide of sorts, yet as he travels around Florida unknowingly running from the law, he makes the state a little safer for the rest of us.

Serge, along with his sidekick, Coleman, take their website readers on a new adventure - Fugitive on the Run - for people who want to "pretend" to be outlaws, like Arnold Schwartzenegger in Total Recall.  As they make their way along little known roads and outposts criss-crossing their way across the Everglades, they dodge Serge's arch nemesis, formerly retired Special Agent Mahoney. 

Mahoney, Serge and Coleman, along with the most outrageous cast of characters you will ever meet, are each hysterically funny and vividly drawn.  Tim Dorsey has a rhythm so unique, I am only upset I didn't discover his writing sooner.

This is a hilarious ride!  I found myself guffawing aloud in the most inconvenient of places - doctor's waiting rooms, on the exercise bike at physical therapy, in the library.  I think everyone around me was jealous that I had a hysterical book while they were listening to boring Lady Gaga on their iPods. 

I have to tell you, Electric Barracuda is not the first in the series, and while I wished that I had started it from the beginning, this book can be read as a stand alone.  That being said, I can't wait for the next one!  In the meantime, I am going back to the beginning.  This may just be my new favorite, highly recommended series!

Move over, Stephanie Plum, get ready to share your shelf with Serge Storms!

TLC Book Tours

Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to read this book!

TLC Electric Barracuda Tour Page (everything you need to know about Tim Dorsey or Electric Barracuda!)

Dear Readers, I just realized that Electric Barracuda is Tim Dorsey's 13th book, so I have quite a lot of catching up to do.  As I said, this book CAN be read as a stand alone, but if you, like me, would like to enjoy the series from the beginning, we have two options:

Publication order (with publication dates) Florida Roadkill (1999), Hammerhead Ranch Motel (2000), Orange Crush (2001), Triggerfish Twist (2002), The Stingray Shuffle (2003), Cadillac Beach (2004), Torpedo Juice (2005), The Big Bamboo (2006), Hurricane Punch (2007), Atomic Lobster (2008), Nuclear Jellyfish (2009), Gator A-Go-Go (2010), Electric Barracuda (Jan. 25, 2011)
Chronological order (linear story order) Triggerfish Twist, Florida Roadkill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, The Stingray Shuffle, Orange Crush, Cadillac Beach, Torpedo Juice, The Big Bamboo, Hurricane Punch, Atomic Lobster, Nuclear Jellyfish, Gator A-Go-Go, Electric Barracuda

(Triggerfish Twist is available for download on Kindle for less than $2.00!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Attention NJ Book Lovers!

Special Appearance


The Deranged Stalker’s Journal of Pop Culture Shock Therapy

Book Signing


March 5th

2 p.m.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: We Are In A Book by Mo WIllems

Wonderful addition to our library!

It's no secret that we are HUGE fans of Mo Willems in this house, and this recent Elephant and Piggie book is one of our favorites!

I have to tell the story of how this book came into our home, bear with me for a quick minute.

Last week, my Kindergartner came home from his 100th day of school celebration with 100 pieces of candy - NOT my idea, by the way.  After school, we drove over to our local indie bookstore, Clinton Book Shop, where I picked up a great book for myself and one for The 8 Year Old.  The 6 year old was looking around, and came to me holding We Are In A Book! by Mo Willems - The 6 Year Old can spot his artwork from 50 feet away. 

I offered him a trade - 90 pieces of his candy for We Are In A Book!.  He looked at the book, and I could see his little mind going, taking a mental inventory of the candies that were in his bag.  Finally, he put his hand out and said "DEAL!" 

The 6 Year Old was giggling in the backseat all the way home from the bookshop, and couldn't wait to read it to me again that night before bed...and the next night...and the next night. 

Let me tell you something, even though sugar makes my kids loony, this book has given us all more laughs than a pound of candy could have offered. Elephant (Gerald) and Piggie, who are old friends to us at this point, are sitting comfortably when they realize they are being the reader! They realize that the reader is reading the little word bubbles on the page. Then, Piggie gets a great idea - he wants to see if he can make the reader say a funny word. Elephant, Piggie, and my little reader think this is a hilarious game!

Not only does the humor in We Are In A Book! not get old, it ENCOURAGES the kids to read the book themselves.  Even when I offer to read the book to him, my little guy refuses.  Happy mom, I am!

My new favorite Mo Willems book!  Love it!

Book Extras:
Mo Willems website
Go Mo - games
Pigeon Presents!
Pigeon on Twitter
Mo Willems Blog

About the Book:
We Are In A Book!  (An elephant and piggie book) by Mo Willems
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (September 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423133080
ISBN-13: 978-1423133087

Shop Indie Bookstores

Available February 8, 2011:
I Broke My Trunk! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Giveaway! Horns by Joe Hill (3/4/11)

One of the best books I have read this year!
I am proud to host a giveaway contest for:


More Entries, More Winners! 

No need to avoid the competition - tell your friends!

Entry is easy, just fill out the form below.
Open to ages 18 and up, residents of US and Canada only, please no P.O. Boxes.
(Contest will run from February 22, 2011 to March 4, 2011)

Many thanks to HarperCollins for sponsoring this giveaway!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Horns by Joe Hill

Exciting, trippy, and funny as hell - I couldn't put it down!

As wacky as this book was, Horns was one of the best books I've read this year.  What starts out as something which may be nothing more than a hallucination, Horns turns into a complex story that surprises its readers with what evil really looks like.

Ig wakes up with a wicked hangover - the result of the depression of being the only suspect in the murder of the love of his life, Merrin.  Ig also wakes up with horns.  The horns make him look like the devil, but the powers that come with them open up a whole host of opportunities for Ig to exact some revenge on a the person who killed Merrin.   Only, he has to figure out who the person is, and what the appropriate revenge would be.  What happens in between is pure genius.

This book is part murder-mystery, part supernatural intrigue, and part existential realization.  Its all tightly wrapped up with witty dialogue, smart plot points, and a fast pace. 

As wonderfully weird and hilarious as it is, Horns has a soft side.  The devil himself might possibly be motivated by love.  As crazy as it sounds, the devil is not the scariest thing Joe Hill could think of.

I carried this book with me everywhere for three days, and whenever someone asked me what it was about, I had a very hard time explaining Horns to them in 30 seconds or less. I did say was it was devilishly terrific.

*Horns by Joe Hill will be available in paperback on March 1, 2011.  To celebrate the release, Alison's Book Marks will host a giveaway!!  Come back tomorrow for details.


Book Extras:
Joe Hill's website
Joe Hill on Twitter

About the Book:
Hardcover: 370 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (February 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061147958
ISBN-13: 978-0061147951

About the Author:
Joe Hill is the author of a novel, Heart-Shaped Box, a collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts, and an occasional comic book series, Locke & Key. His second novel, Horns, will be available from William Morrow, in February of 2010. He lives in a small stone cell at the bottom of a chasm; there is only one steep, treacherous trail leading down to it, and the way is protected by fierce goats.

You can get nearly daily doses of his pithy one-liners and mind-numbing insights over on Twitter, where he goes by the inspired handle of joe_hill. Now and then he even updates his blog.

Shop Indie Bookstores

*Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

What Are You Reading?

Today is Monday, February 21, 2011...What Are You Reading? 

Don't you love the fancy schmancy new logo??

This weekly meme is cooked up by Chef Sheila over at Cafe de Book Journey.  She likes to see what's hot and spicy in our reading rooms, while she herself is sweet and comforting like a warm bowl of soup.  So, sit back, grab yourself a tasty morsel and tell me what you're snacking on this week.

I love comparing my books to food - the hearty classic, the sweet romance, the spicy thriller.  Here are the treats that have satisfied my taste buds this week:

Books I Completed This Week:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Horns: A Novel The Fourth Stall

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Horns by Joe Hill
The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

Books I am Currently Reading:

Electric Barracuda: A Novel

Electric Barracuda: A Novel by Tim Dorsey

Book I am Listening To:

Let the Great World Spin: A Novel

Let The Great World Spin:  A Novel by Colum McCann

Books I Plan to Read Next Week:

Slam Angelology: A NovelHush: A Novel

Slam by Nick Hornby
Angelology by Danielle Trussoni
Hush by Kate White

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox

Today is Sunday, February 19, 2010...Welcome to In My Mailbox.

This weekly meme is hosted by The Story Siren. Thank you, Kristi, for giving us a space on our blogs to say thank you to the authors and publishers who entrust us with their books.

The idea of IMM is to share the books I receive for review, borrow from my library and purchase at bookstores, bookfairs and the kids' Scholastic Book Club. I love seeing what books are making their way into your homes as well!

Children's Books:

The 6 Year Old was super sugared-up on Valentine's Day.  Then, he celebrated 100th Day of school by bringing home 100 pieces of candy (NOT my idea).  To save my sanity, and my son's teeth, I traded him 90 pieces of candy for any book of his choosing.  This is what he picked out at Clinton Book Shop:

Middle Grade:

This week, The 8 Year Old has decided to start the 39 Clues series...Yay!

The Maze of Bones (39 Clues, No. 1)The 39 Clues Book 2: One False NoteThe Sword Thief (The 39 Clues, No. 3)

Tall Story Daddy-Long-Legs (Looking Glass Library) Four Seasons Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay (David Fickerling, 2/8/11) (Ages 10+)
Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster (Random House, 1/25/11) (Ages 8-12)
Four Seasons by Jane Breskin Zalben (Knopf, 2/8/11) (Ages 10+)
Amelia Lost:  The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade, 2/8/11) (Ages 8 to12)

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy

Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin (Knopf, 2/8/11) (ages 10+)


You Know When the Men Are GoneIn the Shadow of the Buddha: Secret Journeys, Sacred Histories, and Spiritual Discovery in Tibet

You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon 
*I can't wait to read this book!
In the Shadow of the Buddha by Matteo Pistono
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