Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | By: Taffy

CROSSING THE TRACKS by Barbara Stuber


At fifteen, Iris is a hobo of sorts – no home, no family, no plan. After her mother’s early death, Iris’s father focuses on big plans for his new shoe stores and his latest girlfriend, and has no time for his daughter. Unbeknownst to her, he hires Iris out as housekeeper and companion for a country doctor’s elderly mother. Suddenly Iris is alone, stuck in gritty rural Missouri, too far from her only friend Leroy and too close to a tenant farmer Cecil Deets, who menaces the neighbors, and Iris suspects, his own daughter.

Iris is buoyed by the warmth and understanding the doctor and his mother show her, but just as she starts to break out of her shell tragedy strikes. Iris must find the guts and cunning to take aim at the devil incarnate and discover if she is really as helpless - or hopeless – or homeless - as she once believed.

I won this book in a contest. The author signed it and left me a gracious note. I opened the book and was immediately drawn into the story of Iris.

All the characters in this book are well drawn, from the ones I liked to the ones I was uncomfortable reading. I not only came to care for Iris, but also the two people she lived with and the dog!
The writing was beautiful, too.
This story has tender, funny and heartwarming themes. Home and family come through very strongly as do love and loyalty.
No story or character would grow stronger without some grief, loss or pain. And Iris gets to deal with all of it in one summer.
Plus! There is a love interest which is handled well.

My copy is dog eared because of the quotes then I found I was marking tons of pages and had to stop.
There were two lose ends for me: Didn't really find out who Dr. Nesbitt's lady friend is though I have my suspicious; I would have liked someone to point out to Iris one good thing her dad did (like sending her away because she ended up with a good family). Maybe it was in the book and I just missed it.

Rating: PG
S: No
L: A few swear words
V: Yes in the form of a leering neighbor and angry daughter

Instead of a page 69 test on this book, I want to give you some great quotes:
"I count her shoes-black pumps, black boots, tan and white, brown with high heels and elastic sides, gray, and ivory with buttons. All six pairs are here-one for every year since I was born." Page x1. (Isn't that a great way to tell age?)

"As we crest a hill I feel the earth release us, then hug us tight going down. Emerald corn fields rustle under the scalloped telephone wires. I hear rivers of clover hum the same soft pink note. Everything is moving, talking, touching above and rooted below. I slow to let a garden snake show off his swivel dance across the dusty road." Page 85

"The sunflowes watch us turn around. Sun aprks off the weather-polished gate like a lighning strike. A choir of locusts tunes up.
We're alltogether too. Heading back north.
Homeward bound." Page 183
Sunday, August 29, 2010 | By: Taffy

Contests Around the Web


*Fire And Ice are giving away a New Infinite Days Inspired Necklace here, a I heart Wickham Pendant here (I borrowed the image because you HAD to see this necklace!), Black Tears book mark here, Pixie Dust! Who doesn't need a little of that once in a while?

*Christine Fonseca is giving away HOLLOW or HAUNTED on her blog. Don't miss the interview with the author.

*From All Ruby Cakes win James Patterson's audio book THE POSTCARD KILLERS.

*Anne Bradshaw is giving away by A QUESTION OF TRUST Carole Warburton.

*Shannon Messenger is having a giveaway also. Check out her Grey Griffins MEGA Giveaway!

*Nicole Zoltack is celebrating her 100 followers by giving away a three chapter critique or a one chapter critique.

*ARC giveaway of HERO by Mike Lupica on Looksie Lovitz blog.

*CUPCAKES! Wanna win a cupcake cookbook? MomsReview4You is giving one away!

*Zoe Winters is giving away a Kindle to help promote her newest book, Blood Lust. Good luck!

*More ARCS to give away over at Carol In Print. Tons of ARCS. Get over there and enter!

**Ok. I didn't want to mention this contest but I will because I LOVE my friends/bloggers/readers. Janette Rallison is giving away MY UNFAIR GODMOTHER ARC! Check it out. I want this book!

***ALSO! Anne Marie is hosting a contest to help us procrastinator's get our drafts done! 2010 Complete Your Draft will start September so get over there and sign up!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | By: Taffy

What I Found Out About TAFFY

I stole this idea from Shannon Messenger (if you haven't seen her blog, pop over soon). I have Googled my name a few times to see what pops up.


If I goggle my first name, this is what I get from Wikipedia:

Taffy can refer to any of the following:

  • A type of chewy candy
  • Taffy horses are silver dapple colored (I had friends whose dogs were named Taffy)
  • A nickname for Navy-Task Units in WWII. e.g.: Taffy III
  • Taffy is the daughter of the president in MARS ATTACKS! (I'm writing an alien abduction story!)
  • Taffy is a singer known for her 'I Love My Radio' record. (Couldn't find it to listen.)
  • Taffy is also a song sung by Lisa Loeb (It's, um, interesting. There's also a song called Laffy Taffy. Again, interesting.)
  • Slang for the drug Tafil, used to treat anxiety disorders. (Great!)
When I add Google my whole name I find the top hit is Listorious. Kinda forgot I was on that site. What is it anyway? Can anyone explain it to me? I think it has something to do with Twitter.

The next hit is this blog.
Then my Twitter account.

Someday, I hope my top hit will be one of my books :)

Google your name! Let me know what you find.
Monday, August 23, 2010 | By: Taffy

Skip a Starbucks, Save A Life Donation/Contest



CJ Wine over on THE LAST WORD is finally getting close to adopting her little girl from China. Because the cost has gone up, they are asking for donations. If you donate, you will be entered to win many, many fun things. Go here and read their story!

Sara on Babbling Flow is giving away signed SHIVER and LINGER books if you donate! Click here.

Carol's Prints is also part of the Skip-A-Starbucks AND she's also giving away TONS of ARCS!! Go here to see I'm not lying!

Unrelated contest: Book giveaway over at Christine Fonseca's blog!
Thursday, August 19, 2010 | By: Taffy

Authors In My Dreams


I was walking up to a cute little house when I met Shannon Hale, James Dashner and his wife walking up to the same house. James stopped and asked what I was doing. I told him I came to visit Heather Moore. He said he'd go with me. Mrs. Dashner and Mrs. Hale went on to the Dashner a basement apartment which was below Heather's house.
Heather was rather embarrassed that we were there to visit her because she thought her house was messy (it wasn't). But there was a black snake in her house which James and I tried to catch and take outside.

I woke up and wondered why in the world I would dream about those three authors! I feel back to sleep and dreamed on:

I was staying at Sarah Eden's house. Actually, quite a few of us were staying with her. There was a conference/carnival/party at her house so we were there for the weekend. I really wanted to change into something cooler because it was hot so I was looking for my extra clothes which I had left on Sarah's coffee table (aren't I a good guest?). Sarah had moved my stuff to set up a display of all her books for the conference/carnival/party. She couldn't remember where she stored my things. Jeff Savage came into the house and said he would help look. I glanced out the window and saw Jessica Day George putting on a green sombrero and then chasing people around the yard, trying to make them wear it.

I woke and again wondered why I had dreamed about three more authors.

What do you think??
Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | By: Taffy

Take A Break and Type!

Everyone!
Take a deep breath in...
Now let it all out.
Stretch your hands up over your head. S-T-R-E-T-C-H! Reach for the sky.
Shake out your hands.
Wiggle your legs.
Flex your fingers.


Now get typing!
Try this little typing place to see how fast you are. Click here.
I'll tell you my speed after you tell me yours!
Monday, August 16, 2010 | By: Taffy

Contests!


Shannon Whitney is giving away quite a few books here. Stay tuned! She's giving more away later.

I love stopping over at A Good Addiction. Not only because she has great giveaways, but also great book reviews and author interviews. Check over there for these contests going on right now:
TWEET HEART Prize Pack
LOUDER THAN WORDS books
PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS book
Take Me There Blog Stop from TX

Dashner Dude's Dude is giving away a ARC of THE SCORCH TRIAL by James Dashner. Get over there right now! Click here to enter.

Win a copy of UNLOCKED over here in the cornfield :)

There's a monster Comic Con giveaway on Cindy Pon's blog. Check out the books here.

Dante's Inferno In Two Minutes

Dante's Inferno in under 2 minutes from DECLAN MORAN on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | By: Taffy

WriteOnCon!

I'm not here this week. Well, I'm by the computer but not posting because I'm @ WriteOnCon!!
It's a free online writing conference with awesomesauce editors, authors, writers.
Get over there!
It's A-M-A-Zing!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | By: Taffy

YA Showdown


YA blogger and writer, Heather Zundel has put together a great idea!

Something is going down. Something big.


How would you like to see Edward duke it out against Hermione? Or Katniss and Katsa? Well, guess what? You can, in the first ever YA Fantasy Showdown. In celebration of Suzanne Collin’s final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, a group of bloggers are pitting some of the best-known characters in YA in the ultimate showdown. And you get to pick the winner.

That’s right. You read the battles, evaluate the characters, and vote for who has the honor of moving on to the next round. It’s a tournament like you’ve never seen before (because there’s more). The authors have been asked to participate and advocate their character in writing their own version of the battle. It’s going to be truly epic. Or at least a good way to pass the time until Mockingjay comes out. It all goes down August 10th.

Click here to vote/cheer/rant for the YA Showdown.
Monday, August 9, 2010 | By: Taffy

AWAKENING AVERY by Laurie Lewis


"You're depressed," the doctor declared. "Ya think?" is author Avery Elkins Thompson's sarcastic response to the astute diagnosis for the malaise that set in following her husband's untimely death. Avery's carefully controlled world is imploding, and her adult children fear they are losing her too. "You're just a shadow of the person you used to be...We'd gladly give you up for a while if it meant getting you back." Avery can't write, and questions about their father's death leave the family mired in pain. "We need a healing place," her oldest son tells her, suggesting she find it on Anna Maria Island, Florida, a former family vacation spot. When Avery returns to Baltimore to sell the family's waterfront condo, she meets rodeo-ers-turned-real-estate-brokers Teddie and Rider Davis, and Avery's quiet life will never be the same again. The Davises help arrange a short-term house swap with widower Gabriel Carson from Anna Maria, whose overprotective parenting has resulted in two self-centered, twenty-something daughters. Avery and Gabriel are in for the summer of their lives as they step into one another's messy, complicated worlds. Still, venturing out on her own again is challenging for Avery, whose experiences at the Ringling's magnificent Ca d'Zan mansion, and with the quirky characters she meets there, eventually awaken her to truths she has long forgotten - that as crazy as life can be, it is possible to laugh and love again.

I haven't read any work by this author and after reading this book I might try her other works.
Avery, the main character, has lost her husband and in a sense, has lost herself. She travels to a favorite family place to find and renew herself. Along the way, she meets and introduces us to many intriguing people.
Laurie has given us a book with many characters and their stories, all woven together. I had no problem picturing each character and hearing their voices. Like the Texans, Teddie and Rider (I'd like to meet them), or George and his cooking. Laurie has layered them with depth as well as their lives. I found myself laughing, sorrowing and feeling frustrated with them.
I would have liked more of Gabriel's(older love interest) back story instead of adding it in at the end.
This is a good, clean story with great insights into others souls which turned me to search mine.

Rating: PG
V: None
L: None
S: None

Page 69 test:
"Gabriel closed his eyes and shook his head. "What have I gotten myself into?" he asked himself as he shoved the phone in his pocket. He had to face it. He was committed to this move now. As miserable as that that was, it was the way things were. He pulled the phone out of his pocket and started dialing, amazed that he could recall the number so readily. Voicemail took over and the familiar voice invited him to leave a message.
"Mark. It's Gabriel Carson. Listen, I...i, uh...I'd like to uh...Heck, I know you don't owe me the time of day, but I was wondering if you would meet me at the Sandbar around noon. There're some things I'd like to square with you. If you can't make it I'd appreciate a call back, but it would mean a lot to me if you'd come. I hope to see you then. Thanks.'
He checked his watch and headed for the Star Fish Company to buy some stone-crab legs for their Thursday-night supper. It was the girls' favorite , and he wanted to do something special for them tonight. He tossed the crabs into the company fridge and called his brother-in-law Tino in. The swarthy, squat, fifty-ish man ambled in with a big smile on his face. "You want to talk with me?"
Gabriel pointed to a chair. "Tino,I took that Maryland job."
Tino's bushy salt-and-pepper eyebrows arched in surprise. "You really did it?"
Gabriel tapped a pen against his desk planner. "Yep, I really did it."
"Wow. How are the girls taking the news?"
"Not good. I told them a couple of days ago, but it didn't seem real to me until today. Sorry I didn't tell you sooner."
Tino waved a hand of absolution in the air." For what it's..."

Friday, August 6, 2010 | By: Taffy
Wednesday, August 4, 2010 | By: Taffy

Contests Around the Web

Babbling Flow is giving away SEVEN ARCS! Head over here and check it out.

Good Addiction is giving away SIX books here.

Book Inspired Beauty! Great soap giveaway @ Fire and Ice. There are also really cute orange Popsicle cards to win!

Have you ever seen a LEGO Mermaid? Wanna win one? Check it out here.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010 | By: Taffy

THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY by Kay Cassidy ARC Review


When the Prom Queen becomes your fairy godmother…

Sixteen year old outsider, Jess Parker, gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join a secret society of popular girls dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. The Cinderella Society guides all new recruits through its top secret ultimate life makeover. It’s all part of preparing them to face down the Wickeds and win. Determined not to let the Cindys down, Jess dives in with a passion. Finally, a chance to belong and show the world what she’s made of.

… be careful what you wish for.

Jess’s transformation wins her the heart of her dream crush and a shot at uber-popularity. Until the Wickeds–led by Jess’s arch enemy–begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers the real force behind her exclusive society. It’s a high stakes battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys in power need Jess on special assignment. When the mission threatens to destroy her dream life come true, Jess is forced to choose between living a fairy tale and honoring the Sisterhood… and herself.

What’s a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn’t want to wear it anymore?


I like the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for..." because reality is popularity and heart throbs are not what they seem on the outside.

Kay Cassidy has given girls a handbook for feeling good about themselves and made it into a story. I have to admit, when eagerly read the ideals of the Cinderella Society and I found myself wanting to be a better person; being nicer and doing my best.

I believe the author went from one extreme-in personalities, message and love-to get her message across, so it's not missed. Because of this, the characters have little depth. I'm hoping the sequel shows more depth because the message is in this book. Ms. Cassidy's story is message driven. The message is a good one and gives girls the power to overcome bullies and mean girls with confidence.

Jessica is a loner but also, surprisingly, a cheerleader. Her family moves around a lot and cheer is her constant. In her new school, she made the team over Lexie, who had been on the squad. Lexie is not happy to be bumped and bullies Jess. But Jess is in for a surprise when she's invited by popular to join a secretive Cinderella Society.

Who wouldn't want a pretty, confidant, kind and popular girl taking you under her wing and teach skills that will not only help you get through turbulent high school years but life.
Jessica is taught = Personality+Appearance+Strength. Jessica makes many mistakes as she tries to do what she thinks she is right but soon loses sight of who she really is inside. She has to learn to be herself.

I don't particularly care that the groups are divided into the Cindy's (Cinderella's) and Charmings, and, Wickeds and Villians but it's quickly pointed out that the Cindy's are not perfect and Wickeds are not evil.

This is a good, clean read that also teaches that alcohol, drugs and sex are not for the Cindy's. Even 'Wicked Chatter' (talking badly about yourself or others) isn't tolerated, yet, on a couple of pages, the author threw in 5-6 swear words which really seemed out of character for the story. I read the ARC and hope those words didn't make it to the final cut.
Overall, I think this is a great book for teen girls.

Rating: PG
V: Bullying
L: A few words
S: Kissing

Page 69 test:
"Remember what it means and you'll never go astray. That's the secret to surviving the Alphas."
I knew she was kidding. then I thought about her enormo binder and decided there was probably a hint of truth in there too. After surviving hundreds of pages of lessons and projects, I'd deserve every charm and then some.
"Okay, let's talk basics." Sarah Jane unbuckled and turned toward me. "The goal of the appearance part of your Power Plan is to refine your image to make you feel completely comfortable and confident."
I barely resisted pumping my fists in the air in triumph. Finally, the good stuff!
"Signature style is the ultimate example of you being comfortable in your own skin. Gaby was right about that being the key to confidence with your new look. It's where you pull all the pieces together-hair, makeup, wardrobe, accessories-to show who you really are.. Are you casual or glam or girly or sporty or a combination of two or three? Once you're clear on that, you've got your signature style."
To help me understand, we wandered through the park and checked out the hodge-podge of people. Skater boys with down-to-there waistbands and basketball players in cut-off muscle shirts ad high-tops. Not exactly the fashion mecca you'd expect for a Power Plan intro,
SJ slowed in front of a baseball diamond where I recognized some kids from school. Some teachers too.
"This is the annual Student-Teacher Summer Slam," she explained. "The teachers and students always play each other for bragging rights the next year. Yesterday was the basketball game-we crushed 'em-and today's the baseball game."
Monday, August 2, 2010 | By: Taffy

Feenished

Okay then.
I finished self-editing my WIP!
It needs to go through my critique group now.
I do want to put one more chapter in somewhere but if I do then I'll need to tie up that storyline at the end and do I really want to add more work when I'm so excited to be finished and ready to work on queries now even though the story hasn't been edited hard and if I add any more wordxs will this be a run on sentence or a paragraph and how do you know which is which and so now I end.
*sigh of relief and happiness*