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Archive for July, 2012

Young Adult Review – Between The Lines

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Between The Lines

by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer


Review by Brenna B. (demiducky25)


Although she’s been a past recipient of the Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association for an adult book with teenage appeal (My Sister’s Keeper), this latest endeavor by Jodi Picoult is her first young adult novel.  Written in conjunction with her teenage daughter, Samantha Van Leer, Picoult delves into the realm of fairy tale and fantasy in order to tell a modern love story (Picoult notes in the intro that Samantha came up with the story and they decided to write it together).

Briefly summarized, a high school student named Delilah is a social outcast (in part due to accidentally breaking the leg of the head cheerleader during gym class the year before the events in the story) and although she has a best friend named Jules who is an outsider by choice, Delilah prefers to spend her time in the company of books.  One day she comes across the children’s fairy tale Between the Lines and finds herself drawn to this story for reasons she can’t initially explain.  She believes it’s because she can identify with the main character, Oliver, a prince who also grew up without a father just like Delilah, but she’ll soon find out it’s more than that.

It’s not once upon a time. It’s not even twice upon a time. It’s hundreds of times, over and over, every time someone opens up the pages of this dusty old book.

The above quote is noted by Oliver, the main character in the fairy tale Between the Lines.  He lives in a world where he is forced to perform the same story over and over again every time, falling in “love” with the princess he really can’t stand and his best friend secretly loves, and he doesn’t understand why no one else in the story feels the way that he feels.  Although he is “unscripted” when the book is closed, he wants to find a way to escape the story so that he can live the life he witnesses through glimpses of the Readers.  He just needs to find the right Reader willing to listen and realize that he doesn’t belong in this story anymore.  When Delilah discovers that she can hear Oliver she wants to help him escape, though they soon learn that it’s not going to be an easy task.  They start getting to know each other and fall in love, but what kind of life could they have together if they are stuck in different worlds?

Although this book is marketed to young adults, it really could be enjoyed by younger readers and is even suitable to read aloud much in the way that Harry Potter books have been read aloud.  There’s no sex, only “cartoon” violence, and if there was any bad language I can’t recall it.  The illustrations that go with the book, both the silhouettes that are scattered throughout the pages and the full page paintings that tell Oliver’s fairy tale really add to the enjoyment of this book.  I enjoyed learning about Oliver’s world when the book is closed and the characters aren’t forced to perform (think Toy Story when Andy’s not in the room).  Each character has interests and personalities far different from what their stage personas are.  I think I enjoyed that aspect of the story the most.  Overall this is a cute book, though a bit predictable since as you go along you can easily figure out what’s going to happen- though that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the read.  I’m also not the target audience, so someone younger will probably enjoy this book a bit more since it is a very sweet and innocent tale.  This was a solid effort by Jodi Picoult and a great start to her daughter Samantha Van Leer’s writing career.

My rating- 3 ½ out of 5 stars


Thread the Needle Day – July 25th

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

By Carole (craftnut)

Aside from the obvious sewing reference, do you know that there are many definitions to this phrase?


To some it means to tread a fine line between opposing viewpoints.


To the racing enthusiast, it means to squeeze between two competitors and gain the lead.


It is a yoga pose to stretch the shoulders and back.


For the equestrian, it is a drill maneuver on horseback.


Taking a boat or ship between Passage Island and Blake Point on Lake Superior is referred to as “threading the needle” due to the dangerous conditions in early winter.



In football, the quarterback is said to ‘thread the needle’ by completing a pass with several defenders around the receiver.


In older folklore dances, it is a move where a couple holding hands creates an arch that other couples go under, then hold their hands up continuing the arch for more couples to pass.


If you enjoy river rafting, you can visit Thread the Needle on a pool of water on New River Gorge in West Virginia.  It lies between Millers Folly and Fayette Station Rapids where two large boulders create a rapid water area.


It seems that most of the definitions reference going through a tight space with obstacles on either side.  Sometimes those obstacles are figurative, sometimes real enough to cause physical injury.


I like to hike around the mountains here in Western North Carolina.  It is a love of the mountains that began when I was growing up.   It seems that there are spots on some trails where it seems to thread a needle, between the hill on one side and a ravine in the other.   I remember one summer when I was a kid, camping in the mountains with my family, and exploring the wilderness.  I remember a particular trail that led to a waterfall.  If you were careful, and threaded the needle, you could squeeze between the water and the rock face to get to a shallow cave behind the falls.  It was magical standing in that cave, with the sunlight coming through the falling water, and rainbows in the spray.  The humid air was cool and there was an earthy aroma of moss and peat.  The rush of water created a soothing sound.  It was a delight to the senses, and I didn’t want to leave.   There was a sense of being part of the world, a piece of something more whole and greater.  To paraphrase John Muir, it was a time when I felt in the world, not just on it.

Devil's Courthouse Mountain in the North Carolina Mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway













Maybe today is the day to get out and thread a needle of your own.  Go hiking, river rafting, dancing, horseback riding, rock climbing, take a yoga class or just take a walk.  Here are some guides to help you get out of the house.



The 10 Best of Everything National Parks – 800 Top Picks From Parks Coast to Coast, National Geographic


Essential Guide to Hiking in the United States by Charles Cook


National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Society


New River Gorge Trail Guide by Steve Cater


A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson


Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway: The Ultimate Travel Guide to America’s Most Popular Scenic Roadway by Randy Johnson





Baxter Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains of Haywood County, North Carolina





Non-Fiction Review – Bare Naked at the Reality Dance

Monday, July 23rd, 2012


Bare Naked at the Reality Dance: Journal One by Suzanne Selby Grenager


Review by McGuffyAnn M. (nightprose)


This book has a unique energy, both invigorating and calming. In her search for herself, Suzanne Grenager teaches us how to find ourselves.

This journal is reflective, inspiring one to reflect on one’s own life and purpose. It is personal yet universal. We all wonder what the meaning of life really is, and where our place in it may be.

Suzanne guides you with her own intimate experiences. She encourages you to find your own way, offering courage to do so. Not only is the journal a tool in finding peace and calm, but it is a celebration of joy and positive energy within and around us.

Awareness of self is something that should be easy, yet it is often elusive. In youth we all seek to “find ourselves”, though it seems not all of us do. Some people are never able to find the courage to be who they are meant to be.

This book not only is inspires us, but encourages us to seek and be all that we are meant to be. Through her own experiences and journey, Suzanne Grenager shows you how to reach inside, to be and celebrate yourself. She makes you feel good about who you are.

The common sense and practical approach to life and living it will make you feel it was written for you. Perhaps this is because we are all basically the same at heart. We all want to be happy in ourselves and in life.

Mystery Monday – The Laughing Fox

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

The Laughing Fox by Frank Gruber


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)



In 1940, Gruber wrote this mystery full of pulp elements that pulp fans expected. The hero is a gambling man with a gift of gab. His sidekick has the loyalty of a canine and the strength of steel.  Gruber valued variety and action so every two or three chapters some unexpected development occurs. Furthermore, unlike the usual urban setting of pulps, most of the action takes place at a Cattle Convention in Cedar City, Iowa. The theme is silver foxes, which exhibitors display with an eye on big profits at the climactic fox fur auction. All of these elements add up to an enjoyable read.

Smart and glib Johnny Fletcher and his sidekick Sam Cragg attend a Cattle Congress. Their day job is selling a body-building book for which Johnny makes the pitch and Sam’s pecs and lats break a chain wound round his chest. The night job is playing craps and poker games, in the subculture of ramblin’ gamblin’ men that didn’t fade in the US until the late 1960s.

Gruber liked writing about men who rambled, living in hotel rooms, making the most of free lunches in saloons, and enduring the endless hot dogs at diners on the road. Written in the late 1930s, the book is an artifact of the time when the US was coming back after the Depression, even though some people of promise have somehow missed the gravy train.

The background touches give us a confident feeling that the author is writing about people, places, and things that he knows like the back of his hand.  The antique slang and turns of phrase, the etiquette of gambling, the mug’s chivalry toward the ladies, and authentic local settings and plain people feel very old-school American – plain, warm, outgoing, confident, resourceful — to me.

It’s still a mystery though. To clear himself of the two killings in the story, Johnny helps the local Sheriff – an import from rough and tough Kansas City so he’s nobody’s hick. Johnny and Sam travel to Chicago – Gruber is careful to appeal to local patriotism by calling lots of streets by name – to interview people about the 20-year-old disappearance of a rich kid that may have a connection to the fox exhibition slayings.


This is well-worth reading, both as a solid puzzle mystery and a wonderful piece of Americana. It was the second of fourteen Johnny Fletcher and Sam Cragg mysteries by Frank Gruber.

Tomorrow is National Hot Dog Day!

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

 by Linda (Angeleyes)


Who hasn’t enjoyed the taste of a hot dog straight off the grill with mustard or catsup?  When you think of summer, picnics, and baseball it’s hard not to think of the hot dog.  Some call them wieners, frankfurters or just plain dogs but did you know that it’s not a ‘hot dog’ until it’s put on a roll or bun.

The first hot dogs were sold at the St. Louis “Louisiana Purchase Exposition” in 1904. Bavarian concessionaire Anton Feuchtwanger loaned his customers white gloves to protect their hands from the steaming wieners. But because most patrons failed to return these gloves, his supply began running low. His brother-in-law – a baker by trade – improvised long soft rolls that fit the meat, and thus invented the hot dog bun.

Since then hot dogs have become synonymous with summertime and, in particular, baseball.  Can you imagine Americans eat 26 million in major league ball parks each year.  That’s enough to circle the bases 36,000 times.   And to give you an overall comparison from Memorial Day to Labor Day every year, Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs. That’s 818 hot dogs consumed every second.

So just how do you eat your hot dog?  I’m a boiled with catsup person myself.  Most Americans prefer their dogs grilled with mustard though.  Maybe you’re one of those people who loads on the toppings – mustard, catsup, onions, slaw, chili.  Whew !  Too much for me.  My dog would get lost in all that.  But to each his own.


However you like your dogs remember proper hot dog etiquette.


  • Always use paper plates.  Never china !
  • “Dress the dog not the bun.  Put your toppings on the dog not between the hot dog and the bun.  Condiments should be applied in the following order: wet condiments like mustard and chili are applied first, followed by chunky condiments like relish, onions and sauerkraut, followed by shredded cheese, followed by spices, like celery salt or pepper.
  • And when you’re finished and you have condiments remaining on your fingers, lick them off.  I know all the moms are cringing right about now but this is a no-wash zone moms.  And no cloth napkins to wipe your mouth.  As my niece says when she’s coloring – Paper Only !.
  • And to wash down your delectable dog, Beer, soda, lemonade and iced tea are preferable.


The hot dog holds a special place in my heart.  Kids today like chicken nuggets or pizza.  For me it was hot dogs.  I spent many a weekend across the Delaware River in PA at my grandparent’s house.  Friday night I’d knock on the door – doll in one hand, hot dogs in the other with mom pulling up the rear with my overnight bag.  The family joke was “where there’s a hot dog is where you’ll find Linda”..lol

I’ve eaten hundreds of hot dogs since then but none have ever tasted the same as hanging out on the back porch with Grandmom and Grandpop with my hot dog and my dolly.

And who remembers the Weinermobile.  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven the first time I got to see the Weinermobile & got my first WienerwhistleTMI walked around the house for DAYS singingOh, I wish I was an Oscar Mayer weiner, that is what I’d truly like to be, ’cause if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner, everyone would be in love with meeeeee…. !!!!” and blowing my whistle.

Now that the little ditty is stuck in your head for the rest of the day go forth and enjoy National Hot Dog Day – no matter what you put on it!  And I’m going to go find that whistle. : )



Two Hot Dogs With Everything by Paul Haven


All American Snacks: from Hot Dogs to Apple Pie


Hot Dog by Laurien Berenson






Speaking of Winners!

Saturday, July 21st, 2012


The Winner of Robin Murphy’s book Sullivan’s Secret is:


Stefani A. (stef140)


Congratulations, Stefani, your book is on the way to you!


Thank you Diane and Ms. Murphy for a great interview!


Thank you everyone who commented!


The second book in this series  Secret of the Big Easy was just released this week!

The description of the book from her web site is: Dr. Marie Bartek struggles to gain control over the new psychic abilities she encounters while attending a veterinarian conference in the French Quarter of New Orleans. These recent visions prompt her to work with local police and members of the Sullivan’s Island Paranormal Society (SIPS) team to help solve the succession of heinous satanic murders, while fighting against a demon from taking over her mind.





Free Book Friday on Thursday Winner!

Saturday, July 21st, 2012



The Winner of the Free Book Friday on Thursday Contest is:


Nestor A. (nashbery)

Congratulations, your copy of  Catching Fire (Hunger Games, Bk 2) by Suzanne Collins

is on the way!!



Thank you to everyone who left a comment.