Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blissful Library

Somedays in the library just go smooth as silk and today has been one of those days. 

Kindergarten classes are enjoying Eric Carle-we read 1, 2, 3 Zoo and are constructing their own train. Using rectangles of scrapbooking paper students add the wheels and connector between cars.  Next week they will create their animals and we will make a library train.  I found this creative idea right here.

First Graders are studying Nancy Carlson and we read First Grade, Here I Come and they loved comparing their own first grade experiences with Henry's.  They all used their shelf markers really well which makes me giddy! 

Second Grade listened to The Scarecrow's Hat by Ken Brown and because I googled activities for
this book I found this great website and had copies of each animal from the book and the object
each trades.  Students loved participating in this fun story-telling and how they could help each other.

Third Grade listened to the first half of Some Frog! by Eve Bunting and we watched a YouTube video about a real frog-jumping contest.  This was so much fun and we will finish the book next week.  They liked the idea of a chapter book you could finish so quickly; like Frog and Toad, which I used last week for a fiction/nonfiction comparison.

Fourth Grade comes tomorrow.  I hope I'm in this same good mood tomorrow!

Fifth Grade played Where Are Our Library? game with the index cards acting as spine labels.  They enjoyed this and for the 10 minutes it took them to play, the library was a buzz with good fifth grade activity!  After they checked out we all quietly sat and read before Mr. Timmons picked them up.  Another good feeling.

All those were really excellent parts of my day but the best part of my day was when I sat at my desk, put my feet up on my recycling bin and finished the last four chapters of When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  It gave me that warm tingly feeling reading a feel-good book can do and the fact that I finished it before third grade came tromping through the door was so perfect!  The book was excellent and I loved each character a great deal.

Love my job!
Happy Reading...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Miz B. at Should Be Reading hosts this weekly bookish meme. 
Provide a snippet (about two lines) from your current read;
just enough to tease the readers.  Include the title and author
so participants can add it to their wish lists.

My teaser is from A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolick:

The young soldier behind her had whispered in Catherine's ear and pointed as a rainbow appeared.  She could still smell, all these years later, the sweet sweat of his young body in his immaculate uniform.  She could remember it better than all the rest of her childhood, better than the mountains of Virginia that lay beyond where the rainbow shone.  (18)

My handsome husband and I started this book on our little overnight adventure; me reading to him in the car as he drove and we are really intrigued by the characters.  It is an odd book and we are only on the 4th chapter...we'll see what the rest of the pages bring.

Happy Reading!

Laura Resau's Star in the Forest

149 pages, including pronunciation and glossary

     This book is a perfect gem for elementary students, especially at my elementary school.  Not every school population will relate to this story even though they could still take much from it's great characters and friendship theme. 


Zitlally's father has been deported and her mother, in order to earn enough to bring him back, works extra jobs and takes in boarders to their already cramped trailer.  While her family struggles Zitally escapes to the woods behind their trailer and finds a lonely and abandoned dog trailer park and puts all her energy into comforting the dog~which makes her feel closer to her father.  Because of the dog, Zitlally is befriended by Crystal, a girl from her class who also happens to live in the trailer park.  Her and Crystal's relationship to each other and through the act of taking care of Star is filled with kindness and true friendship. They accept each other and Star for what is real.

Random Quote:
Papa's favorite thing in the world is mushroom picking.  I don't remember too much from Xono, but I remember when he took me mushroom hunting.  It smelled like rain and mud, and the ground squished beneath our feet, and it was just me and him because Dalia didn't like walking very far.  (24)
    I can't wait to introduce this to students at Highland as we have a large Hispanic population and many of our students live in a one of two close trailer parks.  I think reading Star in the Forest will give students an instant connection to Zitlally and her family, no matter their background or where they live, because she is a very real and loveable character.

Further Reading:

Laura  Resau's website
Laura's blog-Ocean in a Saucer
Charlotte's Library reviews it and has a link to an interview she did with Laura Resau!

Purchase a copy here:

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

I love potatoes

and potatoes added to leeks make a delicious soup, especially once you add cream and buttermilk!  You really can't go wrong with that combination.  Leeks from the farmer's market and fresh dug potatoes from my mother's garden were the inspiration for making soup.  I couldn't find the recipe I had used previously so I googled and found this great recipe featured on the food network's Alton Brown.  I've made other internet recipes of his so I felt confident that it would be great and because his recipe is online-I'm directing you there instead of typing it out...I hope you click and check it out though because this soup, plus a loaf of fresh bread and maybe a small salad, is a perfect Fall meal.

After you add the vegetables and the veggie broth in the recipe you use an immersion blender to blend it all together (making it a smooth soup).  One of the last gifts my grandmother purchased for me was an immersion blender and what a useful tool it is!  Because of this great tool it took me only about 25 minutes to finish this soup.  Thank you Grandma B.!

I am out-of-town for the night, attending a local BBQ, Blues and Brews festival, sponsored by Peace Tree Brewery.  We've been looking forward to this trip for a few weeks even though it is only one overnight.  My mom is hanging with my children and they will be enjoying the leek soup tonight for dinner.  I'm excited to check out this brewery but am a little nervous about dinner-BBQ-doesn't leave a lot of yumminess for vegetarians or locavores.  My husband will scarf up whatever, as his standards are lower than mine, and he believes in being really "flexible."  So we shall see what's on the menu.  He graciously has offered to take me someplace else for dinner but I'm sure I can survive with baked beans and (hopefully) some sweet corn-after all we are still in Iowa!!

Happy eating and reading this weekend!
This post is part of Weekend Cooking hosted by the great Beth Fish Reads reading spot. Check out her post about a helpful harvest cookbook.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blogger Hop Friday

Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books hosts Friday's book blogger hop party.  The question of the day is a good one (from  Elizabeth at Silver's Reviews)  and Jennifer's answer made me laugh so hop there to sign up and then hop around and find some new blogs! 
Here's the question:

When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading
or wait until you have read the entire book?

     Oh, I wish!  I'm not that organized to be jotting notes while I'm reading.  I try to take notes and sometimes I put a sticky note at a particularly great passage but I'm inconsistent.  I want to be better but don't like my reading to be regulated either.  Often I'm reading on the fly also like the past few weeks I've been getting extra reading done while my daughter is at play practice.  I sit in the lobby and read-I never have post-its or my notebook with me.

     I read a post written by a fellow blogger that said she always finished her post for a book before she even started another book.  I admire that but feel like a "kid-blogger" cuz I  want the reading to be number one and blogging, the side writing adventure.  At some points I'm several books behind and I don't review all the books I read either.    Sometimes I have to combine review posts because the library is begging for their books back.  I don't think these things are going to change soon either; my life is fun and crazy busy! 

What about you?  Do you write and read at the same time?  Or are you morea  fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants blogger?

     I have to clean my house tomorrow night because my mom is coming to take care of my children while I head to an undisclosed location for one night away with my husband.  My house needs to be clean for my mom but after the house is clean I will be ready to relax and blog hop my Friday night away!!

Happy Friday....

Ellie McDoodle; Have Pen, Will Travel

170 pages
elementary fiction

     My reader girl and I just finished this book last night.  It is half chapter book, half diary with pages of doodles thrown in for fun!  Think Wimpy Kid but not as crazy.  We loved Ellie and her games.

From the back of the book:

When Ellie McDougal's parents go out of town, she's forced to go on a camping trip with her aunt, uncle, cousins, and baby brother, Ben-Ben.  Mosquitoes and poison ivy she can handle, but a week with crazy relatives?  No way!  Thank goodness she at least has her sketchbook for recording all the excruciating details. 

     As a reader we had a great time listening to Ellie try to fit in with her cousin's family. It is always difficult feeling like the outsider.  She's ticked from the beginning of the trip because her aunt and uncle plan to stay in a cabin and Ellie's family are tent-campers.  Oh, what a big divide that is!  Coming from a long line of tent campers I can relate to her dilemma but have adjusted very nicely to cabin camping and even motel camping on occasion.  They have some many amazing adventures all on one camping trip.  Frogs, marshmallows, rainy days, hurt feelings and getting lost are just a few of the issues to get through for Ellie and her cousins!

     Lucky for Ellie she can doodle her frustrations away and she eventually discovers her relatives aren't so bad.  The camping trip made this a really unique read and my reader girl and I loved all the games she listed to play with doodles for explanation. I believe there are two more in the series and we'll have to check them out as well.  Beyond getting to know her cousins we are anxious to meet her best friend, Amy and her new camping buddy, Scott-we hope they both show up in Ellie's next adventure!

Ellie has her own page!
Ruth McNally Barshaw
Fuse #8 Reviews the next book in the series.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One Crazy Summer

by Rita Williams-Garcia
215 pages

     It's 1968 and LBJ is president, the Vietnam War rages on and Robert Kennedy's funeral takes place at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC.  The Yippie Movement lead by Abbie Hoffman is in  East Coast  while on the West,  the Black Panthers  lead their own movement.  While they  protest Huey Newton's arrest and the death of young Panther, Bobby Hutton, the Panthers also run a summer camp of sorts, a free health clinic and provide breakfast for thousands of children in the Oakland neighborhood.  It was fascintating stuff learning more about this organization, generally shadowed in a negative light.

     The book opens with three sisters, Delphine, Vonetta and Fern,  flying from NYC to Oakland, CA where they will meet their mother-the mother who abandoned them years earlier when Fern was a baby.   She chose poetry over her own children but their father feels it is important for the girls to see her. 

The meeting: 
The stewardess marched us on over to this figure.  Once we were there, face-to-face, the stewardess stopped in her tracks and made herself a barrier between the strange woman and us.  The same stewardess who let the large white woman gawk at us and press money into Fern's hand wasn't so quick to hand us over to the woman I said was our mother.  I wanted to be mad, but I couldn't say I blamed her entirely.  It could have been the way the woman was dressed.  Big black shades.  Scarf tied around her head.  Over the scarf, a big hat tilted down, the kind Pa wore with a suit.  A pair of man's pants.  Fern clung to me.  Cecile looked more like a secret agent than a mother.  But I knew she was Cecile.  I knew she was our mother....
Cecile finally turned as she got to the glass doors and looked to see where we were.  When we caught up, she said, "Ya'll have to move if you're going to be with me." (18-19)

     It is an amazing summer of connections but not between Cecile and her girls but the community and the girls; a world far away from their sheltered life with Big Ma and their Pa.  Here they go to get dinner for themselves from the Chinese restaurant on the corner.  They become part of life at the Black Panter Community Center.  As they move into the larger picture of the world, Cecile realizes a thing or two about these girls she does not claim. 

     My thoughts:  I loved reading about this era and felt Rita Williams-Garcia did a great job of portraying this very hip, yet dark time in our history.  Each character had very distinct qualities and even Cecile had some hidden treasures with in her odd personality. Even though I despised her abandonment I know in my heart many women are just not mothers.  The sisters are loveable and fiesty-how could Cecile not  love them fully-and end up understanding her despite her shortcomings as a mother.  I think this one will win an award or two!

Other Reviews:

Stacy at Welcome to my Tweendom
Nicki at Dog Ear
Jennifer Represents...
Sommer Reading

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Saturday, September 18, 2010


    Fall is definetely peeking around the corner and my recipes are changing as the temperatures drop.  My daughter and I generally go to our local farmer's market every Saturday morning.  Sometimes I have a general idea of what I'm want/need but today we just wandered.  I wanted a basket of groundcherries but felt too stingy to pay the $4.25 they were asking.  I used to pick them up for free from my grandmother's garden and I love them but if I bought that little basket I would have to make a pie and I already had a lot on my plate for today. 

     We did buy a beautiful pumpkin to put at our fairy tale door-it seemed like the right time since we both had to wear our fleeces to the market and leaves swirled around us as we shopped.  My daugher wants me to eventually to turn it into a pumpkin pie.  I just let her be excited about the seeds we will scoop from the insides and didn't get into how pies come from a smaller pumpkin. 

     I did do some serious cooking though as I had an beautiful eggplant staring me down from last week's FM.  I don't like to leave fresh, delicious produce sit in our veggie basket for that long but we've had a busy week and well, there sat the eggplant.  I looked through a few of my trusty recipe books for something different but didn't find anything that stole my heart and begged to be cooked so I went back to my trusty eggplant standby-which seemed like it was calling my name anyway!  I've made this recipe for the first time like 9 years ago and probably make it 5-6 times a year.  If you ever were to come and visit-this is probably the recipe I would cook for you.  This recipe demonstrates my love of cooking, which sits just an 1/2 inch behind my love of reading. 

    The Healthy Kitchen; Recipes for a better body, life and spirit written by Andrew Weil, M.D. and Rosie Daley hold within its pages this trusted recipe which I share with you tonight.  Once again the five of us around the table left happy and full.  This book is so well-loved there is a break in the spine, right about where this recipe is listed!
Vegetable Lasagna

Marinara Sauce

1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped carrots
3 T. olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
16 blanched plum tomatoes or 28 ozs canned peeled whole toms.
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 T. honey
1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)
1 T. Italian Seasoning

I med. eggplant, sliced length-wise 1/2 inch thick
salt, to taste
less than 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 T. olive oil

2 bunches washed, de-stemmed spinach
5 ozs goat cheese or ricotta
1 T. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. chopped fresh basil


12 sheets oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 cup purified water
1 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded
10 kalamata olives, pitted and halved

     Make the marinara sauce first:  Saute the onion, garlic, and carrots in olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat for 3 minutes.  Add the red wine, oregano, and basil, and cook for an additional 5 minutes until the wine is reduced by half.  Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, honey, salt and Italian Seasoning and continue to cook until the mushrooms become limp, about 15 minutes. 
Preheat the broiler. 
     Broil the eggplant: Brush both sides of the eggplant with olive oil, salt, little bit of cayenne and lay on a baking pan.  Broil for 3 minutes on middle rack under the broiler until it turns brown.  Remove from oven and let cool. 
Prepare the spinach: Steam the spinach for 1 minute in a pot filled with 1/2 cup purified water.  Remove from heat and let cool.    
     Squeeze the spinach, using clean hands, to remove excess water. Put softened goat cheese or ricotta in a medium bowl.  Add the cooked spinach and mix together thoroughly with a fork. Put the olive oil, onions and sliced garlic in a small saute pan over low heat.  Saute for 2 minutes until the onions turn light golden brown.  Remove from heat and cool.  Add it to softened cheese and spinach mixture.  Add the pepper and the fresh basil and mix together.
     Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Assemble lasagna:  Cover bottom of 13 X 9 inch baking dish with 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.  Lay 4 sheets of the oven-ready noodles on top.  Spoon the spinach filling over noodles and spread it around.  Lay 4 more sheets of noodles on top of spinach.  Lay eggplant slices length-wise over the noodles.  Sprinkle the mozzarella on top.  Pour 1 cup of marinara sauce over the cheese.  Lay another 4 sheets of noodles over the sauce.  Slowly pour the water over the lasagna noodles. Pour the remaining marinara sauce on top.  Sprinkle the top with remaining mozzarella cheese and olives.  Cover with foil and cook for 1/2 hours in the oven.  When it is completely cooked, remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes-or longer, it lets everything set and juices to absorb.  Cut into squares and eat.

     Okay, I know it sounds like a lot of steps-and it is, but so well-worth it.  What's funny is the recipe actually includes a white sauce, which I have made exactly once and none of us thought it added to the flavor thus making it not worth the time to make it.  If anybody is a white sauce fan, let me know and I will email the recipe to you.  I have tweaked this recipe quite a bit over the years but I've given you the true recipe.

   I love eggplants-they have such a intense color!  This recipe is perfect on a just-about-fall-table, as a potluck dish, or as a I-love-you family treat.  What about you?  Did you shop at your local farmer's market?  Did you cook with any vegetables today??  What was it?  This post is part of Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking.   Head there to read an excellent cookbook review as well as a list of other Weekend Cooking participants.  I hope you might try this delicious eggpland dish-just to try something different.  There is something so wonderful about making this from start to finish; all from scratch.   

Thursday, September 16, 2010


by Jennifer Cowan
232 pages

    Earth Girl, while interesting, left me unsure.  When I first picked it up the inside liner intrigued me in that the main character, Sabine is on a going green personal journey but also because there was a statement about getting plastered with plum sauce from a McDonald's to go bag.   Hmmm.  In the U.S. we don't get plum sauce with Mickey D's.  Because it takes place in Toronto-perhaps they do or maybe that's what they call Ketchup.  This odd little fact stuck in my brain and for some reason this made me check the book out.

    It's written in very short snippets-good for teens but  felt a little like texting, to me. Sabine shares her thoughts by blogging and we read her rants and the comments, which is an interesting twist.   And unlike Hippie Chick this one gets a little preachy-even though I'm in her corner.  I think it is because she is so new to the whole eco-movement, everything is so like, "OMG, did you know people who make all that cheap stuff earn next to nothing a day..."  I'm not in this age-bracket but I think the book and the character, Sabine serve a very big purpose...to alert teens of these little known facts that many should pay attention to-facts that paint a bigger picture of the world. That fact alone makes this book a should-read.  Maybe if it turned one teen toward a more eco-friendly existence it would be worth it.

    Synopsis:  Sabine, after getting pelted by before-mentioned plum sauce, has an aha-moment of what's important in the real world.  As she researches and discovers more about the environment, third-world markets, and green living she bores her two best friends, who are way more into purchasing cheap junk froom street vendors.  She does gain a hunky earthy boyfriend who appears to have all the right answers. Vray, the boyfriend, is an interesting character but seemed less than real.  The one character  I adored was Ruby-Sabine's co-op coworker, who has all kinds of good karma advice.  If I had to play a character in this made-for-tv-movie, I'd want to be Ruby.

Favorite Quote:

"I'm pretty sure Vray is for me," I sighed. "I think that's what's freaking me out."
"That's awesome.  I love that feeling." Ruby said, doing a little twirl in the aisle.  "Better than drugs.  Love's the elixir of life.  Wish we could bottle it and give it away to everyone in the world."
"So then I'm not overreacting?"
"I hate that expression,"  she answered emphatically. "You're not overreacting.  You're feeling what you're feeling and it's totally fine."   (135)

I love the twirl in the aisle as much as the good advice!  Go Ruby!
     Read EarthGirl by Jennifer Cowan if you are remotely interested in making the earth a better place-or if you have a teenager who needs a push in that direction.  The plum sauce thing still bugs me though...so if you know anything about plum sauce and McDonald's, enlighten me.

Happy Reading, earthlings.
p.s. Library Reading Challenge
More info:

Shameless Mags interview with Jennifer Cowan-who previously wrote for the tele.
SKPL Teens review
Sabine/Earthgirl's own blog

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hippie Chick

  On a recent trip to the public library with Tina (books are my thing) we were browsing through the new section.  She oh, so casually handed me a book because the title snapped her attention to me. A book screaming out for me, she says.  Hippie Chick by Joeseph Monninger(2008) is so much more than just a funky, catchy title-it may be the Julie of the Wolves for today. 

Good Reads Synopsis:

15-year-old Lolly (short for Lollipop) Emmerson is a free-spirit, what others call; the hippie child of a hippie woman. Her favorite thing to do is sail her Boston Whaler in the Florida Keys. One night she runs into an underwater obstacle and the boat founders. After Lolly is knocked out and separated from the boat, she realizes that she's done for and accepts her own fate. That's when the manatees arrive.

Hippie Chick is the story of a girl who forges a bond with these amazing creatures that defies the facile explanations others try to impose. It is a story of survival and enlightenment.

My thoughts:

   Lolly was an easy character to love and admire.  She's hippie with out being over the top or preachy.  I especially enjoyed the debate she had with herself about how to stay vegan while foraging for food near a tropical inlet.  She takes her cue from the beautiful manatees and dives under and eats the greens; like a giant underwater salad.  Yum, Yum! 

Random Quote:  The Mugwump picked up speed and finally we began hissing through the water, the chop chucking us under the starboard side of the bow, the wind pushing at my hair.  A tin cup rolled somewhere on the deck, and I puzzled for a second about what it could be.  It didn't sound important, so I ignored it and looked over the bay.  Harry Boyd's fishing boat, the Yoda, chugged along to the south, heading to port, and an enormous yacht, a forty-footer at least, forged ahead of me to the north.  The yacht had its running lights going-red, prot; green, starboard-and I used its bow as a navigation point for a minute or two.  (16-17)

   Monninger's lastest book is Eternal on the Water and he's written several others-I plan to read more of his collection. 
To purchase this book from an Independent bookstore, click on the cover below.   Other reviews include Reading Junky, and the Peace Corps talks about Hippie Chick too!  I've never had the opportunity to swim with the manatees or sail on a regular basis but I would eat greens from the bottom of the sea over bugs!  Hippie Chick was a good fit for me.  **fits the bill for library challenge**

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Monday, September 13, 2010

and the winner is...

A deep bow of gratitude to all who participated and became new followers 
of this blog.  I hope you come back often and participate in life here.

(drum roll, please)

 The winner is Dakota!

I will be sending out my green giveaway items including my treasured Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home book.

**Random.Org was used to generate perfect randomness.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eight-Year-Old Whirlwind Weekend

I'm exhausted!  It's been a memorable weekend celebrating my daughter's birthday.  I still can't believe how much she's grown-really!  I do take time to appreciate the small moments but no matter how much you hold them close they still grow up.  I know 8 is not grown up yet but it seems like yesterday I was holding that tiny thing above.  Happy Birthday to my peaceful sweet girl. 

Thank you to all those who entered my BlogFest Contest and became new followers.  I hope you will visit often and find all sorts of matter to engage your brain.  I will tally all entries and pick a winner-but tonight I have to go to bed.  Yesterday we had six little girls here celebrating, had a beautiful birthday dinner last night with my Mom and today did more celebrating after church.  My evening though has been taken up with lesson planning.  I used to get my plans done for the beginning of the week and see how it went for the rest of the week but now we are required to turn our plans into our principal before Monday.  This takes my lesson planning up a notch and requires more pre-planning on my part.  It's fine but it does require extra time on my weekend.

But the birthday girl was the main focus of the weekend; not the lesson planning or the BlogFest!  I didn't blog all weekend which means I didn't have the chance to enter any of the great giveaways offered on other blogfest sites!!  What with overnight guests and birthday cake making! I didn't even get to post a food-related post this weekend!
 I love my girl and am so happy to share in her celebration of life!! 
She went from being a 3 # premmie to a human being who put together her party gift bags-in the buff!  She is a free-spirit (where does she get that from, I wonder)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

BlogFest 2010

     Way back, oh so many weeks ago when we were still in the heat of the summer, I signed up to participate in Cinnamon's BlogFest 2010 Big Giveaway.  That was when September loomed far in the future and whoop there it is, smack in my lap-September 10th!

What is BlogFest? (from a Journey of Books)

BlogFest is a massive carnival of giveaways with a great collection of participating blogs. Each blog has a giveaway and the idea is to hop from blog to blog, entering all the giveaways your little heart desires. Hopefully you might even come across a few blogs you might want to bookmark and continue visiting.

My giveaway is a brand-new and unopened copy of Food, Inc,  Michael Pollan's Food Rules; An Eater's Manual and a copy of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home.  All very green and eco-friendly prizes.

To enter leave a comment on this post including your email address.
For extra entries (leave a separate comment for each entry):

+1 Follow this blog (via Google Friend Connect, RSS Feed, email subscription,etc.)
+1 Follow me on Twitter and Tweet about this giveaway (include @peacefulreader in your tweet)

3 entry maximum. (Not open internationally.)
The next stop on the hop is Inspired by Fiction.  Keep clicking and entering...

                       The deadline for entry is Midnight (Eastern Time) September 12th.

And as if that wasn't enough great stuff...

Please don't forget about the massive BlogFest 2010 grand giveaway! Head on over to http://ajourneyofbooks.halfzero.net and click on the Tracking Site link to head to our own exclusive tracking site. Once there you can register with a valid email address (to be used solely for the purpose of contacting the winner). This site will allow you to track your progress through BlogFest 2010! You can log on from anywhere at any time and continue where you left off. The best part is that every blog that you visit and mark off through this tracking site will give you one entry into the massive giveaway! We have a great collection of books, goodies and other swag that is looking for a new home!

Keep it real-

Sunday, September 5, 2010


390 pages

     This is a story about Grace, her two friends, Olivia and Rachel, and a pack of wolves living on the edge of  town.  The summary from the verso page: " In all the years she has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house, Grace has been particularly drawn to an unusual yellow-eyed wolf who, in his turn, has been watching her with increaseing intensity."  Intensity, yes, it is all about the intensity!   Told in two person narrative, erratically flipping between Sam and Grace, which artfully presents this well-rounded love story.  Some readers don't enjoy alternating chapters but I like the duality of it and each person can see the same event differently-it depends on who's eyes your looking through.

     Grace is a strong female character, raising herself, as her parents keep busy with their own lives. She cooks and makes lovely dinners for her family and eventually for Sam.  I'm always happy when a character has a close connection to food and  I just knew I wanted to share this quiche scene. It illustrates how Stiefvater pulls her characters together over a simple common theme.   Grace and Sam find themselves in a tight spot, needing to talk with Isabel.  They are unsure of whether they can trust her or not and so Grace decides to invite her over to help make dinner~in this way Grace and Sam can judge Isabel's character while they all work together!  It's brilliant and I love that Grace's character turns to cooking in a time of crisis. 

     Grace barely seemed to notice her [ mother] leaving.  She gestured at me.  'Isabel, eggs and cheese and milk are in the fridge.  Sam, we need to make plain old piecrusts.  Would you preheat the oven to four-fifty and get us some pans?
     Isabel was staring inside the fridge.  'There's, like, eight thousand kinds of cheese in here.  It all looks the same to me.'
   You do the oven, let Sam get the cheese and stuff.  He knows food,' Grace said.  She was standing on her tiptoes to get flour out of an overhead cupboard; it stretched her body gorgeously and made me want in the worst way to touch the bare skin exposed on her lower back.  But then she heaved the flour down and I'd missed my chance, so I traded places with Isabel, grabbed some sharp cheddar and eggs and milk, and threw it all on the counter. 
     Grace was already involved with cutting shortening and flour in a bowl by the time I'd finished cracking eggs and whisking in some mayonaise.  The kitchen was suddenly full of activity, as if we were legion. 
     'What the hell is this?' Isabel demanded, staring at a package Grace had handed her. 
     Grace snorted with laughter.  'It's a mushroom." ....'Saute those in there for a few minutes till they're nice and yummy.' 
   "How long?'
     'Till they're yummy.' I repeated. (262-263)

     Can't you just feel the pie crust and hear  the butter sizzling, ready for the mushrooms? I can hear Sam whisking the eggs together, everything clicking and snapping into place.  There is something so sexy about couples cooking together-something Stiefvater must know about in her own happy author life.  I wish I wasn't obligated to share the quote's page number so you could be surprised when you do come upon this quiche-making moment.  And what is a book, a good story made up of but wonderfully tailored moments shaped and fit perfectly together.  In Shiver, she has created a harmony of words mixed with likeable characters immersed in a odd yet believable story.  I anxious to read Linger, #2 in the Mercy Falls series.  I can't buy it yet (my reading from my own bookshelves challenge), our public library doesn't have it so I'm left waiting for more about Sam and Grace. 

    If I cook while I wait I would whip up this  delicious quiche  from Kim's Easy French Food site.  I should make this for my husband as an anniversary dinner-maybe I can talk him into helping me!!  He's so cute in an apron!   I also discovered this great stuffed eggplant dish-I adore eggplant.  Eggplant has so much flavor when cooked just right.

Check out other tasty reviews of Shiver-someone  may actually write less about the food obsession and more about the actual love story!   This post is part of Weekend Cooking over at Beth Fish Reads Pop over there and see what else is cooking...

Happy eating and reading!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vanishing Cultures-Nonfiction Series

  Vanishing Cultures is the series title for seven books by Jan Reynolds and all  with beautiful covers. Each book showcases an indigenous group and highlights their close relationship to their surrounding environment.  With gorgeous photos and easy text these are fantastic books to share with any age child. 

    Frozen Lands begins: “As the sun sets on the edge of the frozen shores of Qumanituaq, a large inlet of Hudson Bay, Kenalogak asks her grandmother for one more story. They hurry to prepare tea before the chill of darkness comes, and Kenalogak’s grandmother begins her tale.” (p. 1-2)  Inuit history is shared as well as day to day life for Kenalogak’s family. They depend on the caribou, their snow dogs and a shared respect with the natural world that helps them  survive. Kenalogak and her brothers learn how to build a new igloo from their father and it only takes the family about an hour to build it. I think kids of all ages would find Kenalogak’s life fascinating in the frozen land of the Canadian Arctic.

    Down Under shares the aborigines Tiwi tribe who live on an island just off the coast of Australia. It begins: “Far down under, the bright sun sets over one of Australia’s tiny islands. Inside a ring of small fires that keep wild animals away at night, a young aboriginal girl named Ampenula whispers to her mother, asking for one more story. She curls up close as her mother begins her tale about their tribe, the Tiwi.” (p1-2) Amprenula talks about dancing your own Dreaming and how it brings her closer to the land. As the tribe travels from place to place they hunt for food in the trees as their ancestors did before them. They catch a bandicoot and a large carpet snake in the book. Kids will love the close up photos of the snake as it is pulled from an old log.

     Both books show children and adults in native clothing, which in the Tiwi tribe (naturally) means less clothing.  While noone is naked per se there are photos of nealy naked children and the backside of a woman wearing just a skirt.  My girl asked honest questions about this as would kids in a school setting-kids in a school setting might giggle a bit about this but it wouldn't keep me from sharing the story.

    This whole set would make a great addition to any collection but would be especially perfect for a cultural study.  My friend Tina at Books Are My Thing! is posting about two other titles in this series.  Please travel over to her blog to check out what she has to say!  I thought there were only four titles in the series (our public library only had four) but now that I know there are seven I'm anxious to read the other choices.  I loved the connection to the environment each book made a point to share-it is important to realize as we advance our own culture, other cultures would prefer to stay as they have for centuries.  Jan Reynolds reminds us how important it is to respectfully allow them to live in their preferred manner.

Check out this pdf file to use with this series.
I realized while researching this author that she wrote another nonfiction title, Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life-reviewed here by me.  I found an interview with Reynolds at Lee and Low Books about sustainability.
Book Blogger Hop

It's Friday and time for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books. 
The question for today is
Do you judge a book by its cover?

Emphatically Yes!  A beautiful cover draws the reader in and will continually keep a hold on you.
For instance while I read Shiver I kept looking back at the cover, even though it's just some vines and a wolf,  it was
Sam's and Grace's world and I felt drawn into it. 

I will read books with less-than-attractive covers because it could still be a fantastic story within-it just makes me disappointed in the art and perhaps expect more from the story. Once I learned that authors have pretty much no say over their cover art, which is was a shocking discovey and complete failure in the balance of the world, I think I judge less.
No matter what though the cover has the opportunity to pull me in and great attention to detail should be paid in representing that story, the one hand-crafted by the author. 

Hop on over to Crazy-for-Books, check out the rules and the hundreds of blogs participating, and hop, hop, hop!