The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

This story follows the lives of three women, set in three time frames (early 1900's, 1975 and 2005) but all linked together through a garden, on an estate in Cornwall. The story mostly revolves around Nell and the mystery of who she is, where she came from and how/why she ended up where she did. Nell was abound on a ship from England to Australia. She was found stranded on an Australian dock at the age of four. At that time, she was taken in by Hugh (who oversaw the dock) and was given a family and a home. On Nell’s 21st birthday, her father told her the truth of how she came to be a part of his family - a truth that changed the rest of her life.

The book mostly revolves around Nell’s mystery although it’s told through several points of view spanning a little over a century - Cassandra (Nell’s granddaughter - 2005); Nell (1975); and Eliza (early 1900's). At first it was a bit disconcerting all the jumping around from character to character, but I quickly got over that and I absolutely loved it.

The writing was splendid, I loved Ms. Morton’s descriptions of London and Cornwall at the turn of the century. Her characters were likeable and well-developed. With an interesting story and plot that had enough twists and revelations to keep the pages turning. The fairytales scattered throughout the story were my favorite part - I kept looking forward to each one. The book itself is a thing of beauty - with it’s illustrations of frolicking fairies on the inner flap of the covers.

This was just a joy to read!! and I recommend it to anyone that loves a good mystery with a beautiful historical backdrop.

Thursday Thunks (4/30/09)

This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by Berleen & Kimber via phone & Skype conference, the color mango and the number 70566.

1. What color is your front door? Dark brown
2. We discussed our folks in previous TT so now tell me about your siblings. If you are an only child, tell me whether or not you wanted siblings, older, younger etc. I have two older - a brother and a sister and a younger brother (whom I am the closest to).
3. What color/type butterfly is your favorite? Sorry, not an insect lover. Not a butterfly lover, nor a dragonfly lover, nor a ladybud lover - you get the picture. I detest bugs.
4. Will you be celebrating Cinco De Mayo? Nope - although we might go out for .50 cent Corona's.
5. Oprah- love her, hate her, or don't care? She doesn't bother me any.
6. Are you worried about the spread of swine flu? Absolutely. I feel like I need to quarantine myself along with my family - like yesterday.
7. Hard or soft pillows? Hard (hehe)
8. How many trees are in your neighbor's yard? None. It's a new community - we got bushes though.
9. What was the color of the last car you saw? I don't remember getting to work this morning - much less the last car I saw.
10. When does your driver's license expire? 08/02/2012 - although it might be suspended for a ticket I paid late (story of my life). One time I drove around with a suspended license for like 3 years.
11. Look at the clock on your computer and type the numbers backwards. 01:1
12. When you put your pants on, what leg do you put in first? Left - is that normal? Now I'm doubting myself. Wonderful.
13. How would you respond to this letter if you were an advice columnist.

I am an ugly woman. I was an ugly baby and child even! It is a fact. I am 36 now and I have never had a boyfriend, and I am still a virgin.

Due to me not having men in my life, I have poured everything I have in to education and my career. At 36 I am the youngest (and first female CEO) at a big, successful, tech company. I have over 200 personal patents and millions of pounds in investments.

I have everything: huge house, holiday villa in Spain, 3 cars, power boat, a race horse, etc. but as much I try to talk myself into everything being “great” I cannot help but to miss that special someone to share it all with.

Most of my friends are married with kids and I feel like I am gradually drifting away from them also.

Where can I find someone to marry an ugly woman?

Poor thing - hasn't she ever heard of plastic surgery? Sadly in today's world, a problem like this can be easily resolved with a couple of thousand bucks and a good plastic surgeon. If not, there's always Alaska. (OMG - I'm going to hell for this)


The 2009 Pub. Challenge Wrap-Up

Another one bites the dust. I also completed the Pub. Challenge this month. Here's my final list for this one:
1. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe (completed 4/09/09)
2. Handle with Care - Jodi Picoult (completed 3/17/09)
3. Laura Rider's Masterpiece - Jane Hamilton (completed 3/29/09)
4. Jantsen's Gift - Pam Cope and Aimee Molloy (completed 4/20/09)
5. I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti - Giulia Melucci (completed 4/06/09)
6. The Side-Yard Superhero - Rick D. Niece (completed 3/19/09)
7. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County - Tiffany Baker (completed 1/26/09)
8. Playing with the Grown-Ups - Sophie Dahl (completed 2/24/09)
9. Dirty Little Angels - Chris Tusa (completed 3/14/09)

Romance Reading Challenge 2009 Wrap-Up

I thought this challenge was going to go a lot faster then it did. I thought I read more romance then I actually do, it seems. But nonetheless, I agreed to 5 books and I ended up with 9.

My List:
1 The Wednesday Letters - Jason F. Wright (completed 1/04/09)
2 Where the Heart Is - Billie Letts (completed 1/06/09)
3 Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Viera Rigler (completed 1/09/09)
4 Time of My Life - Allison Winn Scotch (completed 1/17/09)
5 No Rest for the Wicked - Kresley Cole (completed 2/05/09)
6 Upon the Midnight Clear - Sherrilyn Kenyon (completed 2/10/09)
7 One Silent Night - Sherrilyn Kenyon (competed 2/12/09)
8 Outlander - Diana Gabaldon (completed 2/19/09)
9 One Deadly Sin - Annie Solomon (completed 4/16/09)

Awards, Awards and More Awards!

I am honestly flattered and a little ashamed that it has taken me this long to thank you all and, of course, pass the buck. Over the past couple of weeks I've received several awards that I would like to now take the time to acknowledge and thank you each and every one of you for thinking of me.

One Lovely Blog Award

(iisn't that just lovely) Many thanks to Vanessa at Today's Adventure; Girl that Reads at Ashley's Library; Kathrin at Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic, Sheri at A Novel Menagerie and Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit.

The 2009 Friendly Blogger Award

This one comes from Melissa over at Melissa's Bookshelf. This award is so hip don't ya think.

The Splash Award
Melissa over at Melissa's Bookshelf also splashed this one at me as well.

The You Don't Say Award

This award is from Sheri at A Novel Menagerie. She nominated me for being one of her top commentators... that's easy enough of course. Her blog is so addicting that I can't help but to read and comment on her everyday. So if you haven't been by take the time to check her blog out she has great reading tastes (very similar to mine) :D

Once again, I want to thank all of you guys for thinking of me. It's always my pleasure to drop by and comment on your posts, read all you wonderful reviews and join all those funtastic giveaways. Aren't all my awards so pretty? I know. Carry on.


The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine

Batuk is a 15 year-old Indian girl that was sold into prostitution at the age of 9 by her father (we never really find out the reason why, but there is a reference to the father having lost everything). The Blue Notebook is a journal written by Batuk in between rounds of “making sweet-cake” with her customers. In this journal she tells us of her life prior to being sold - what it was like living by the river, her family, her bout with TB and how she was taught to read and write by the nurses and priest at the ministry where she stayed to recover, her virginity being sold to the highest bidder, and what it is like to live in a cage - making sweet-cake up to 10 times a day with different “bakers”. In the second half of the book she is once again sold- this time to a wealthy businessman named Bubba so that she can help prepare his son to be a husband.

This novel offers a very interesting and real insight into India's prostitution ring, particularly the role played by children. In a setting where children are kept in cages while they wait for men to have sex with them, Batuk writes to save her sanity.

My only complaint would be that as you read Batuk’s entries you feel as if you are reading the thoughts of a much older person than a 15 year old girl. Then again I am sure that leading the life that she is living ages you much faster than the average teen.

For some reason I took a bit longer than usual to read this book. Although it’s not a very long book, it would affect me in such a way that I had to keep putting it down. I found the content to be a bit difficult to read at times and it left me feeling raw, emotional and even hurt for Batuk. This is one of the those books that you can’t help but ponder long after you have read the last page. It is masterfully written, well researched, and it delivers you right into the heart of Mumbai with it’s vivid descriptions of the city and its people. Overall, this is a story of a young girl trapped in a situation she cannot control yet even through the unfairness of it all she is quite brave in her actions - that alone is inspiring.

I highly recommend this book as long as you can stomach it's content. Not to mention, your purchase will go to a good cause as the author is donating 100% of the U.S. proceeds from his novel to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children ( This title will be released July 7.


One Deadly Sin by Annie Solomon

Edie Swann heads back to her hometown, Redbud, with one intention only - and that is revenge. She has a list given to her by her dying aunt that has the five names of the men that her father had dealings with shortly before his tragic death. Her only problem is that someone starts off-ing these men making her the main suspect in their murders.

Local lawman and the man that makes Edie's heart race - Holt Drennen is handling the death cases of these prominent Redbud residents... but are they accidental deaths or murders? As his feelings for Edie grow so do his suspicions of her somehow being involved.

This book can be emotional when it delves into Edie's insecurities and fears. Although on the outside she might look tough riding a Harley, tattoos all over and wearing leather - she is rather fragile on the inside. She is a strong character that has to overcome her past and learn to live for herself and her future.

While spine-tingling is not a word that is usually associated with romance Annie Solomon makes it so by her masterful descriptions of these crimes. The not over descriptive intimate love scenes are frequent and varied throughout this read - add in a mysterious murderer, and you have a true page-turner.

There were some interesting plot lines, and the narrative was good enough to keep me intrigued, sometimes to push me to go to the next chapter when I know I should stop and go to bed. It definitely had me guessing as to the twists and turns it was going to take and I was never able to guess whodunnit until the very end. Overall, I enjoyed the book as a nice little romantic suspense read and would definitely recommend it.

GIVEAWAY: I have 5 copies of ONE DEADLY SIN by Annie Solomon to giveaway.

As always, leave a comment for one entry. And if you follow this blog or already are following leave me a note and I'll be glad to give you a second entry.

Rules: Books will be delivered directly from Publisher so giveaway is only available for residents of the US and Canada. No P.O. Boxes please. Winners will be drawn this Friday - May 1.

What are you Reading on Monday's? (Week 4/27/09)

For everyone elses responses, please visit J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog. What am I reading this week?

I'm not agreeing to read too much this week - since I didn't get all that much reading done last week. I still haven't been able to read The Princess Bride so I want to read that as well.

Last week I ONLY read:

- The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow [review]
- The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine [review]

What are you reading this week?


Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure Weekend

On Friday night, I just happen to mention to my husband that it'd be great if we just picked up and took the kids for the weekend to Universal Studios to see Barney and go to Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure - home of The Cat in the Hat and the Grinch! and within 2 hours we were packed up and ready to go. Luckily for us, Orlando is only a four hour drive from where I live. We got there on Saturday around 1am - hit the sack and my kids had us up and ready by 7:30am screaming BARNEY! BARNEY!

After a quick breakfast, we headed out to Universal Studios. The only place where you can see Barney live as he no longer travels from city to city and we were in the front seat and ready by 12pm (the first show). If you don't already know, my son is 100% addicted to Barney so this was very exciting for him. We were able to see Barney, BJ and BabyBop do their thing on stage while my kids danced and sung along to their favorite tunes. We also were able to see and take pictures with Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey since Universal Studios is home of the Shrek 4D ride. From there we rode the Jimmy Neutron Blast ride and we were able to joke around and take pictures with Spongebob Squarepants (another one of our favorites). My daughter was super stoked because we also bumped into Shaggy and Scooby-Doo before we rode the E.T. ride (which she absolutely loved and kept begging us to ride again) before heading out to Islands of Adventure.

Here are some of our Universal Studios pictures for your viewing pleasure:

I have the Universal picture from every trip. I don't know why I keep taking it. And of course, the whole familia with SpongeBob.

A Day in the Park with Barney:

They were a bit shy when they first met Barney but they got over that quick enough.

Barney & friends.

This picture was worth the whole trip. My daughter is singing along and look at my son's face... he's amazed and just so happy.

Luckily Islands of Adventure is just across the lake. Although Islands of Adventure is for the older kids, they do have one special Island named Seuss Landing. What is Seuss Landing? Well, as you walk into Seuss Landing you feel as if you are stuck in the pages of one of your Dr. Seuss books. With rides like The Cat and the Hat and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish not to mention all other types of fun areas, restaurants and stores. It is such a funtastical place! I myself was enjoying the place with all it's bright and Seussy names... not to mention all the fun Seussical merchandise - I wanted to buy everything.

Yes, I couldn't help myself, they needed Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts.

I really wanted those cool blue wigs...

If you're wondering about the roller coaster - that's The Hulk in all it's awesomeness... if you're ever in Islands Adventure you must ride it. It will blow you away.

And of course, we had a meet and greet with The Cat in the Hat

Green Eggs and Ham anyone? My favorite! These were taken from above on a train ride through Seuss Landing.

We didn't really do any of the other Islands throughout the park because my children are still too small for the other rides, but I did want to share one more thing with y'all. It's rather a sneak peak into a magical world that is still in the making.... that's right, Islands of Adventure will be the place where us Muggles can visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter... it's still under construction so I'm not sure what exactly will be there, but I got soooo excited over it that I had to take pictures of what I could see...

Does that look like a moat to you? Hogwarts? I truly hope so.

And there you have it.... my fun weekend. I barely got any reading done but since I went to places like Seuss Landing I figure it's almost the same thing.


Giveaway: Made in the USA by Billie Letts

Synopsis: The bestselling author of WHERE THE HEART IS returns with a heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home.

Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father. While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas. As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off to Las Vegas in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number and, clearly, no interest in the kids he left behind.

MADE IN THE U.S.A. is the alternately heartbreaking and life-affirming story of two gutsy children who must discover how cruel, unfair and frightening the world is before they come to a place they can finally call home.

I have read several of Billie Letts' novels and am a devoted fan. Although I haven't had the opportunity to read this one yet, I have read some great reviews about it - so don't miss out on this wonderful giveaway.

I have 5 copies to giveway!

Leave a comment for one entry. And if you follow this blog or already are following leave me an extra comment for your second entry.

Rules: (as always) Books will be delivered directly from Publisher so giveaway is only available for residents of the US and Canada and no P.O. Boxes please. Winners will be drawn May 15.

Giveaway Results: Jantsen's Gift

Winners are in! That's right - I know you're excited. (drumroll please)

2- Clif

3- Pam

4- Vera

5- Tatertot374

Have all won! -- Using - the fab 5 were chosen. I will be e-mailing each of you and/or leaving you a comment. You have until Monday to provide me with your mailing addresses. If I haven't heard from you before Monday, a new winner will be chosen. So get to it you guys, I would really hate for one of you to miss out on such a great book.

If you're interested in another giveaway, you're still in time for The Girl Who Stopped Swimming - contest ends Friday, May 8. I shall have a new giveaway posted this afternoon as well as another listed on Monday so keep an eye for those. Have a great day y'all.


Thursday Thunks (4/23/09)

This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by Berleen, the color eggshell and the number 101.

1. If you could skywrite anything you wanted, what would it be? You are my sunshine.

2. Did you get drunk at your prom? Yes, but don't ask me about it, because I don't remember any of it.

3. What is your favorite spice to use cooking? Water - that's all that you need to make mac-n-cheese in the microwave. I don't cook.

4. What color is your roof? I believe it's a color called dirty. Underneath the soot I think it's red. I've been after the hubby for a while now to get it pressure cleaned.

5. In a land far, far away I was able to sleep in. I haven't been able to sleep in for a little over 3 years. Yes, that's my oldest daughter's age - she wakes up at the crack of dawn.

6. In the Miss USA pageant, Miss California was asked; "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?" and her answer was; "Well I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. Um, we live in a land that you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and in, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman," Carrie said to a mix of boos and applause. "No offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be between a man and a woman." Do you think that cost her the crown? I have no idea, but I would guess that it did.

7. Do you watch Miss USA/Miss America pageants? No - thus I can't answer the question above.

8. Have you ever driven/ridden on a tractor? No - but I've always wanted to do that and sing "She Thinks My Tractor is Sexy" - then again, I'd probably fall off and get run over by the dang thing.

9. For the parents - what cartoon/children show did your child watch obsessively? (Hey, if you aren't a parent, maybe a niece or nephew...) OMG, really? Are we going there? I am an obsessive person (if y'all remember from last week's post) and my kids have come out with the same trait. If we watch Barney - we watch Barney for a whole month (the same one) over and over. This week it's the Cat in the Hat with Mike Myers ... yes, I know the words by heart. Just in case you were wondering.

10. If I set a level on your living room floor - would it show that it was level? Yes, I'm a perfectionist and I live in Florida. The only hills we have are trash piles.

11. What was the last restaurant you ate at? Chipotle. It's my new favorite thing.

12. What's the picture on your wall calendar for this month? My kids with milk mustaches.

13. Are you superstitious? Sometimes. But not really.

14. If I get into your car and turn on the radio - what type of radio station will I hear? None. It's a Dora DVD that I have playing for the kids. Yes, it's a minivan equipped with a tv so that the kids don't drive me to drink and drive.

15. Would you rather wake up with a snake in your bed or a lizard? Snake (winks) (snorts) (giggles)

16. Do you think schools have changed at all since the Columbine tragedy 10 years ago? In what ways? I believe so - at least we are now aware that something that terrible can happen. Before then, I personally had never seen or heard of anything like that happening in a school.


The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow

Molly Divine Marx is dead!

But that's just the beginning of this book. Molly is in her "Duration". Duration= being able to see your friends, family, etc. and hear their thoughts, yet not be able to do anything to contribute to what they're thinking, feeling, etc. (a little reminiscent of The Lovely Bones). With her guide "Bob" she is able to navigate through this new state of being and is able to flit from one person to another as they try to solve the mystery of her death.

The story starts at Molly's funeral and shows us how her husband, daughter, parents, sister and friends are all affected and are coping with her untimely death. Oh yea, and of course, the investigator who is handling her case and is trying to decipher whether her death was an accident, suicide or murder.

Through flashbacks we are able to read about Molly's relationships with her husband (who is quite the cheater and a very despicable character) and then there's Luke (the man that Molly was in love with). We are able to relive some of the best moments as well as some of the mistakes she made in her life.

I absolutely - hands down - adored this book. I thought Molly was such a lovely narrator. She was just so funny, likeable and so full of life - that it was sad to think that she was dead from the start of her story. Ms. Koslow's characters are well-developed and singularly distinct with little quirks and flaws that make them real. This is one of those rare books that draws you in and you feel as if you are experiencing it rather than just reading it.

Was Molly in such a slump in life that she couldn't find any other way out of her situation other than to kill herself? Or was she murdered? You'll have to read this gem of a book to find out - but I will warn you, this book isn't so much about solving a mystery as it is about relationships. I enjoyed this very much and I highly recommend it.

This book is scheduled for release on 5/19/09 - so mark your calendars as you will not be disappointed.


Because I'm Awesome

I'm so excited about my good luck this month that I wanted to gloat share with y'all what a fantastic month I've been having when it comes to winning giveaways in the book blogsphere.

Firstly, I won the Women's History Month Giveaway from Lisa at Book Brothel that package included all of these babies:

I also won this from Jackie at Literary Escapism through the New Authors Challenge:

And I just recently won this from Michele at A Reader's Respite:

Thank you so much ladies for allowing me to sign up for your giveaways and, of course, WINNING! :D It's always a pleasure.
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