Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Desires of the Dead (Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting

I couldn't put it down! 

I tore through the second installment of Kimberly Derting's Body Finder series in slightly more than a day.  It has been a long time since I obsessively carried around a book like this, reading at every moment of opportunity. 

It had also been well over a year since I read the ARC of The Body Finder and was worried that I wasn't going to remember all the key characters and plot points.  No need to worry - it all came back to me!  I flipped out over The Body Finder (my review here), and Desires of the Dead lived up to all expectations.  All good.

In Desires of The Dead, Violet is once again drawn to an echo she can't ignore.  This time, her discovery leads to the introduction of a few new characters with secrets of their own.  Most disturbing is the voice of a girl who is jealous of Violet and her relationship with Jay.  Even though I wasn't terribly surprised by the identity of the girl, or how it all was going to unfold, there was still excitement and suspense throughout the book. 

A note on Jay.  Jay is one of the few good guys in YA Lit.  I would put Jay right up there with Maggie Steifvater's Sam.  Put Jay and Sam in a bottle and shake them up and you'd get the perfect boy.  I love that.  It makes me happy to see our main character so loved and cared for. 

The Body Finder books are murder-mysteries wrapped in suspense and romance with a good dose of supernatural abilities.  If you haven't read the Body Finder yet, get to it! 

Book Extras:
Harper Teen
Browse Inside Desires of the Dead

Book Trailer:

About the Book:
Desires of the Dead (Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting
Reading level: Young Adult

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061779849
ISBN-13: 978-0061779848

About the Author:
Kimberly Derting's Official Website
Kimberly Derting on her Blog, Twitter, Goodreads

*Disclosure:  I received a review copy of this book by Book It Forward ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shoes for Adriana!

Adriana Trigiani has asked book bloggers to find her the most beautiful, the most expensive shoes we can find. 

I love fabulous heels, the higher the better!  Unfortunately, I injured my ankle and heels are a no-no right now, so I am feeling a bit melancholy looking around at all the beautiful shoes I can not wear yet.

HERE are the only shoes I can indulge in at the moment.  I dare you to find anything more stunning and more provocative.

Lot 165 at Sotheby's in New York
An untitled work by Andy Warhol circa 1957
Estimated Value: $300,000

Aren't they gorgeous?

The first word I thought of when I saw them was "Sexy" yet Andy Warhol painted these gold shoes in 1957, when uttering such a word was considered crass. The forbidden decadence of this shoe makes it all the more fabulous. 


Are you a book blogger who is attending BEA in May? 
Would you like to meet Adriana?
Click on the Contest Ad to your left and join the fun!

Brava, Valentine: A NovelViola in the Spotlight (Viola in Reel Life)Viola in Reel LifeVery Valentine: A Novel

A Letter From Molly Peacock, Author of The Paper Garden

Molly Peacock, author of The Paper Garden, reached out to me the other day.  We exchanged a few brief e-mails, but I want to share with you the most recent letter she wrote me. 

Dear Alison,

I’m so glad you’ll be posting about The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72. Yes, I do draw inspiration from other artists. I didn’t realize when I fell in love with Mrs. Delany’s breathtaking cut paper botanical collages that I would end up writing a biography of her—and using my instincts as a poet to do it. I knew I just couldn’t write a traditional biography. But what I didn’t know was that unconsciously Mrs. Delany’s invention of collage would seep into my own writing process.

Intuitively I began writing a narrative collage in response to her visual collages. I began with her story, then started including my own experiences as I tracked her down. Then I added the experiences of her great-great-great-great-great-great niece who is now 89 years old. And, since my mother died at the very age when Mrs. Delany began her life’s work, my mother’s life came into it, too. As Dean Delany, her wonderful second husband made his appearance, so I drew in a brief portrait of my own husband. Somewhere along the line I realized that I was cutting and layering these stories with my research on botany and Mrs. Delany’s life, just as Mrs. D. cut and layered her paper.

Here is Mrs. Delany’s “Everlasting Pea.”

Look at the tendril of the pea vine on the right hand side. You’ll see that she has made the tendril into a pair of scissors positioned as if the artist were holding them in her hand. The witty subtlety of her scissor-vine makes me the think of the way the work lured me into imitating her style in my writing.

Of course, I couldn’t resist trying to cut paper portraits of flowers myself. There is a video on the website that shows me doing my 21st century low-attention-span version of Mrs. D.’s flowers. I was terrified to do one (I’m a poet, not a visual artist) but I really had fun – and the end product wasn’t so bad!

Will I venture into writing novels? Well, my mother always said I should…

Warm wishes,

Images from The Paper Garden, Bloomsbury Books, printed with the permission of The British Museum.

Review: The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock

Two biographies in one, The Paper Garden was more than I expected.

I don't usually read non-fiction or biographies unless it is about a person I am already interested in.  So, why did I choose to read The Paper Garden?  Like the author, I was intrigued by the idea of these beautifully intricate paper collages crafted by a woman at 72 years of age - a time when I imagine a person's fingers to be less than deft and eyesight unclear.  Even more interesting was Mary Delany's life that lead her to this point in time. 

Author Molly Peacock is better known for her award-winning poetry, but when she came face-to-face with Mrs. Delany's paper mosaics, she was so moved by the work and its creator that she was inspired to write The Paper Garden

Unlike any biographies I have read before, Molly Peacock not only sheds light on Mrs. Delany's life before and after her creation of this new art form, she also lends us an unabashed look into her own life and the parallels she makes to her subject. 

I have to be completely honest.  At first, I rolled my eyes when the author started making comparisons between her own life and that of Mrs. Delany.  Even more so when she began talking about the sexuality of the flowers Mary Delany created.  A few weeks ago, I was in a little Italian restaurant in the Bronx.  On the walls, I saw photographs of orchids, and, for the first time in my life, I saw just how erotic those images were.  Molly Peacock did that.  She made me look at a flower in a new way! 

I picked the book again and continued to read, appreciating more and more the connection she felt to Mary Delany.  Artists draw inspiration from other artists and art forms, and never is this so clear as with The Paper Garden.

Unfortunately, the copy I have of The Paper Garden was in black and white, so I had to search out the color images that are in the finished book.  I think this also allowed me to appreciate these images.  When I saw them in black and white, it was in the beginning of a chapter, before I read Molly's insight and fluid architecture of Mary's life.  After I saw them in color, it was as if I was seeing them for the first time, as if Molly turned the light on. 

This book inspired and amazed me, and when I travel to London (hopefully in the near future) I will be sure to stop at the British Museum because I NEED to see Mrs. D's paper mosaics in person.

Many thanks to TLC Book Tours and to Bloomsbury USA for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for The Paper Garden.

The Paper Garden's TLC Book Tour Page

From Publisher's Weekly:
Intelligent and well read, a quintessential member of the British aristocracy but with a mind of her own, Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–1788) was a late bloomer. Born to a noble family of moderate fortune, she was married, first at 17 to a much older, drunken aristocrat, in midlife, more happily, she married a loving Irish clergyman. Widowed, she began at age 72 her remarkable art of cutting and creating the 985 floral "mosaicks" as she termed them—a precursor to collage. Delany rubbed elbows with Handel, Hogarth, Jonathan Swift, King George III, and Queen Charlotte. But Delany was even more fortunate to come under the wing of a duchess who brought the cutting work to the attention of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Horace Walpole. Poet Peacock's (The Second Blush) hymn to Delany weaves in her own life and discovery of her subject and of course all the viewings of those astonishing orchid "mosaicks." 35 color illus. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Book Extras:
Molly Peacock website
Book Website
Read an excerpt
Bloomsbury USA's The Paper Garden page

About the Book:
The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72 by Molly Peacock
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (April 12, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608195236
ISBN-13: 978-1608195237

About the Author:
Molly Peacock, a poet and a creative nonfiction writer, is the author of The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72 (McClelland and Stewart, October 2010, in Canada; Scribe Publications, October 2010, in Australia; Bloomsbury USA, April 2011, in the US; Bloomsbury, July 2011, in the UK) and six books of poetry, including The Second Blush (W.W. Norton and Company, June 2008, in the US and McClelland and Stewart, March 2009, in Canada) and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems (W.W. Norton and Company in the US and UK and Penguin Canada, 2002). Among her other works are a memoir called Paradise, Piece By Piece and How To Read A Poem and Start A Poetry Circle (1998, 1999; both published by Riverhead Penguin in the US and McClelland and Stewart in Canada). She is the editor of a collection of creative non-fiction, The Private I: Privacy in a Public World (Graywolf Press) and the co-editor of Poetry in Motion: One Hundred Poems from the Subways and Buses (W.W. Norton, 1996).

Peacock also wrote and performed in a one-woman staged monologue in poems, The Shimmering Verge, produced by Femme Fatale Productions, which she performed in theatres throughout North America, including a showcase production at Urban

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: Ollie and Moon by Diane Kredensor

I believe Ollie and Moon are going to be the next big thing in children's animation.

Ollie has a surprise for Moon and leads the way through the streets of Paris, passing traditional Paris landmarks, and stumbling across all sorts of things that Moon loves (cheese!) but she doesn't guess her surprise until the last page.

The two pals are so pleasing to the eye, simple lines, great coloring, and the perfect amount of silly.  When the 6 year old was waiting for me to read to him at bedtime, I came in as he was flipping through the pages, just taking in all the pictures and illustrations.  This is one of the books he will pick up when he doesn't want the pressure of reading a chapter book, but instead would rather be taken away by pictures.  And that's OK by me!

I love how Diane Kredensor mixes her drawings with real photos of Paris.  It reminds me of Knuffle Bunny and Trixie set against the New York backdrop - one of our favorites.  Ollie and Moon seem to leap off the page while taking in the sites of France.

There is something so special about Ollie and Moon - I wish I could put it into words, but it's just that gut feeling that tells me this is the beginning of something great.

This new duo is sure to be one of our favorite pairs...but that's not all it is! 

Ollie and Moon is currently in development as their own animated series!

Book Extras:
Ollie and Moon website
Ollie and Moon page at Random House

About the Book:
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (April 26, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375866981
ISBN-13: 978-0375866982

About the Author:
Diane Kredensor is an Emmy award-winning children's television director and artist. She was inspired to write this "buddy story" by her love of people, her love of travel, and her love of cheese! The distinctive art style features Diane's bold, stylized characters superimposed atop Sandra Kress's charming photographs of Paris. French words and landmarks add to the fun. This delightful friendship story will keep readers laughing as they join Ollie and Moon on their cumulative guessing game through the City of Light. Tricycle Films

*Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Our Boy Bill"

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

Many of our common phrases come from Shakespeare - everything from "Knock, Knock...Who's There?" to "The Be-All and the End-All" to "Good Riddance".  This week, having my son home for spring break, I will quote the origin of the phrase
"Eaten me out of house and home!"

Hostess Quickly (Boar's Head Tavern):  He hath eaten me out of house and home, he hath put all my substance into that fat belly of his; but I will have some of it out again, or I will ride thee a-nights like the mare.

Falstaff:  I think I am as like to ride the mare if I have any vantage of ground to get up.

-  Henry the IV, Part 2
Act 2, Scene 1

I must tip my hat to Professor Ronald Levao, for igniting my love for all things Shakespeare.  His was the only class I never missed.  Always on time.  Always in the same seat.  My notes are still tucked safely away in my closet. 

**I must also thank Eleanor Brown, for the "Our Boy Bill" which comes from her new novel, The Weird Sisters.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Help: Movie Trailer

I saw The Help movie trailer this morning and couldn't wait to share it with y'all!

Review: The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers


The title tells the readers everything they need to know.  The Murderer's Daughters begins with nine year old Lulu running for help while her drunk father kills her mother and stabs her 5 year old sister, Merry.  The year was 1971, their mother was dead and their father in jail.  When their grandmother couldn't take them in, and their aunt and uncle didn't want them, they were sent to an orphanage.  Their nightmare wasn't over. 

What follows is the two girls' story of survival - or something very close to it - over a period of time spanning 30 years.  I can promise you, there was no skipping along the Boardwalk holding onto balloons.

I had a hard time getting through The Murderer's Daughters.  I did not run back to it when I had a free moment to read, and it took me quite a while to finish the 320 pages.   This novel didn't call to me - not because it wasn't well written or emotionally effective, but I had a hard time picking up this book because it was so utterly heartbreaking.  I ached with such sorrow for Merry and Lulu, I hurt with every bad thing that happened to them, and I cringed at every bad decision they made. 

I was reading The Murderer's Daughters one morning while waiting for friends to join me for breakfast.  They saw me with the book and asked if I liked it.  My first instinct was to say, "No." But, it wasn't that I didn't LIKE the novel, but instead I think a more accurate thing to say would be that I didn't enjoy reading it, the same way I didn't enjoy reading Room by Emma Donoghue or Still Missing by Chevy Stevens.  Amazing novels, all of them, but to read of the sisters' struggle through life was not easy. 

Not once was the emotion overdone or exaggerated, though.  The subtlety of the drama was too real, so believable, I couldn't help but wonder if it weren't a memoir.   What I found MOST impressive was what Meyers DIDN'T say.  It was the emotion between the words that blew me away.  I could tell her debut novel was a labour of love for Randy Susan Meyers.

Book Extras:
Author, Randy Susan Meyers website
Read an excerpt
See the Book Trailer
Randy Susan Meyers on Facebook, Twitter

About the Book:
Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: St. Martin's (February 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780312576981
ISBN-13: 978-0312576981

About the Author: (from author's website)
The dark drama of Randy Susan Meyers' debut novel is informed by her years of work with batterers, domestic violence victims, and at-risk youth impacted by family violence.  In Brooklyn, where Randy was born and raised, her local library was close enough to visit daily and she walked there from the time she figured out the route.  A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith was the only bible Randy ever owned, her personal talisman of hopefulness. Each time she read it, she was struck anew by how this author knew so much and dared to write it. Randy now lives in Boston with her husband and is the mother of two grown daughters. She teaches writing seminars at the Grub Street Writers’ Center in Boston.

*Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."

-- Mark Twain

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In My Mailbox

Today is Sunday, April 17, 2010...welcome to this edition of In My Mailbox, a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, also known as Kristi. 

The idea behind In My Mailbox is to say Thank You to the publishers who entrust us with our books, the booksellers whose stores we frequently visit, and for you all to see what is sitting on my bookshelf giving me the stinkeye. 

This week I took the plunge and finally downloaded a few eBooks onto my iPad!  It's going to take some getting used to, but I can confidently say I will always prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands. 

On My iPad:

Delirium 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover A Race to Splendor Jane EyreA Cottage by the Sea

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Harper Collins, 2/1/11, Young Adult)
50 Ways To Hex Your Lover (Sourcebooks, 3/1/11, Adult)
A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware (Sourcebooks, 4/1/11, Adult)
A Cottage By the Sea by Ciji Ware (Sourcebooks, 6/1/10, adult)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte -- no, I haven't read it yet!

Children's Books:

Donovan's Big DayMartin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Donovan's Big Day by Leslea Newman, Illustrations by Mike Dutton (Tricycle Press, April 26, 2011; Ages 4 to 7)
Martin's Big Words:  The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport (Hyperion, 2007)

Middle Grade:

The Bad Beginning: Or, Orphans! (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) The Loser List Storm Runners

The Bad Beginning: Or, Orphans! (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) by Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins paperback, May 1, 2007)
The Loser List by H.N. Kowitt (Scholastic, April 1, 2011)
Storm Runners by Roland Smith (Scholastic, March 1, 2011)

Young Adult:

FlipFaerie WinterRotters

Flip by Martyn Bedford (Wendy Lamb, April 5, 2011; ages 12+)
Faerie Winter by Janni Lee Simner (Random House, April 5, 2011; ages 12+)
Rotters by Daniel Kraus (Delacorte, April 5, 2011; ages 14+)


An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs --Timeless Words to Live ByA Discovery of Witches: A Novel

An Apple A Day by Caroline Taggart (Reader's Digest, March 3, 2011)
A Discovery of Witches:  A Novel by Deborah E. Harkness (Viking Adult, Feb. 8 2011)

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