Sunday, October 27, 2013

☀Daily Book Chat #2:☀ What's your favorite horror book?




 Hello everyone! Welcome to my  ☀Daily Book Chat☀ where I ask questions about your favorite books and what you love about reading!  Today's question is "What's your favorite horror book?   It can range from anything like picture books or horror novels.

Personally, I love any horror novel from Stephen King, especially "Carrie" and "The Shining." As for children's books, I've always loved Alvin Schwartz's infamous "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" series (especially the ones illustrated by Stephen Gammell)!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci











Genre: Family / Folktale / Kindness / Manners

Year Published: 1989
 
Year Read: 2008

Publisher: Dial


“The Talking Eggs” is a very lovable yet surreal tale about an innocent little girl named Blanche who overcomes greed and cruelty by helping an elderly woman who may not be who she seems in Robert San Souci’s version of this famous Creole tale.

Robert D. San Souci’s retelling of the ancient Creole tale is marvelous as it contains lots of scenes dealing with magic and also some suspense, especially in the end referring to the fate of Rose and her mother. Robert D. San Souci’s language is simple yet soothing as Blanche makes fast friends with the old woman. Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations are truly beautiful and creative. His drawings display realistic looking people and surroundings as he masterfully gives details in the characters facial expressions and provides appropriate colors for the environment surrounding the main characters.

*SPOILER ALERT!!!!*

Parents should know that the scene where the old woman takes off her head may upset young children. Even though this scene is done extremely delicately since the image does not actually show the old woman taking off her head, children might think that anyone can take off their heads and still live through the whole ordeal. However, small children need to understand that the old woman is actually a fictional character and what she does to her head does not necessarily affect the people in reality.

*SPOILER ENDED!!!*

“The Talking Eggs” is one of the most beautiful and surreal stories I have ever read. Robert D. San Souci’s narrative and Jerry Pinkney’s drawings both created a story that is full of magic and laughter that will be a favorite among both kids and adults for many years. This book also beautifully describes the cultures of the Creole people in the olden days. Children who would like to explore the heritages of the Creole people back then would really enjoy reading this book for references.

* 1990 Caldecott Honor
* 1990 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrator Honor




Sheila Rae, The Brave by Kevin Henkes




Genre: Humor / Family / Bravery

Year Published: 1987
 
Year Read: 1994

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Series: Mouse Books #2



“Sheila Rae, the Brave” is a children’s book written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes and it is about how a brave little mouse named Sheila Rae tells everyone that she is not afraid of anything, at least until she gets lost in the woods when she tried to find a new way home.  “Sheila Rae, the Brave” is an unforgettable classic that children both young and old will cherish for many years to come.

Kevin Henkes has brilliantly written and illustrated the charming story about Sheila Rae showing everyone how brave she is and how her younger sister Louise eventually showed her that she does not have to be brave by herself.  Kevin Henkes makes the theme of the story worthwhile since Sheila Rae claims that she is not afraid of anything and even calls Louise a scaredy cat because Louise was always afraid of everything.  But, when Sheila Rae is lost in the woods, it is her sister Louise who comes to the rescue, proving that the power of love is enough courage for anyone.  Kevin Henkes’ illustrations are colorful and cute as the main characters are mice, which is evident in most of his books.  The illustration that I loved the most was the illustration of Sheila Rae and Louise hugging each other after Sheila Rae gets lost in the woods since it shows how much the two care for each other, despite Sheila Rae calling her sister a coward.

“Sheila Rae, the Brave” is a wonderful children’s book about the true meaning of courage and how love for a family member can bring out the courage inside of you.  I would recommend this book to children of all ages since even the older children would enjoy Sheila Rae’s bravery being displayed throughout this book.




Strega Nona Meets Her Match by Tomie dePaola



Genre: Humor / Competition / Italy / Folktale

Year Published: 1993

 
Year Read: 1996

Series: Strega Nona #5

Publisher:  Puffin


Strega Nona is back again and this time she faces her biggest challenge yet… Strega Amelia! Tomie dePaola did an excellent job on both the illustrations and the story and therefore, makes “Strega Nona meets her match” an instant treat.

Tomie dePaola’s storytelling is clever and funny as he details Strega Nona’s efforts to get her job back from Strega Amelia. Also, the storytelling gets extremely hilarious when Big Anthony tried to do everything right for Strega Amelia, but ends up running all the machines backwards and ruining Strega Amelia’s chance for a profitable business. Tomie dePaola’s illustrations are also the highlights of the book as he comically illustrates the Mayor’s predicament when Big Anthony tried to cure his headache, but ended up making the machine malfunction.

“Strega Nona meets her match” is a wonderful story about peer pressure as Strega Amelia tries to get the townspeople to use high-tech products for fixing their problems over Strega Nona’s old-fashioned remedies. However, when things go wrong at Strega Amelia’s clinic, the townspeople realize that sometimes it is better to just stick with the old and simple techniques than try out new techniques that they have no control over. “Strega Nona meets her match” is a wonderful classic that both children and adults will cherish for many years because of its clever humor and its even more clever storytelling.








Sunday, October 20, 2013

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman


 



Genre: Fantasy / Horror

Year Published: 1996

Number of Pages: 370 pages

Date Read:  10/20/2013

Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks



“Imagine living in a world where you think that everything has become familiar to you, but then you realize that there is a different world far beyond the one you know.”

I have not read much of Neil Gaiman’s books geared towards adults, until I first read “American Gods,” which was a book that I enjoyed intensely.  But now, I have a new favorite from Neil Gaiman’s books geared towards adults and that is “Neverwhere!”  Full of adventure, horror and romance, “Neverwhere” is certainly one of Neil Gaiman’s greatest works yet!

Richard Mayhew was an average young man who lived a normal life and had a fiancée named Jessica.  One night however, Richard meets up with a young girl named Door who he found bleeding on the London sidewalk and he immediately goes and try to tend to her wounds.  But, once Richard performs this heroic act, he will soon discover that his life will change forever when he seems to have vanished from the face of the earth and ends up in an alternative world of London, London Below.  Now, Richard must help Door from being killed by the murderous Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar or London Below will be in great danger!

Wow!  This book was simply amazing!  What made this book such a joy to read was the fact that Richard ends up in an alternative universe of London and he realizes that London Below is far more dangerous and different than the London he knew from above! I loved the way that Neil Gaiman made this story so intense and even scary at times, especially whenever the scenes involving Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar showed up in the story.  I was seriously scared of Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar as they were hired by a mysterious person to kill Door at all costs and they are certainly professionals in that field!  But, what was the most chilling aspect of Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar’s characters was that they would just calmly tell their victims about how they will torture them and their torturing methods were truly graphic and disturbing to say the least!  I really loved the characters featured in this book, especially Richard Mayhew and Door as they were truly interesting characters and they brought so much depth and intensity to the story. I did find it heartbreaking that Richard could not get back to his real home in London and all the other characters telling him that it would be impossible to get back to London Above definitely made me feel even worse for Richard.  At the same time, I loved the fact that Richard was such a caring and curious person as I completely sympathize with his confusion in understanding the strange cultures of London Below.  I loved the way that Neil Gaiman went into so much detail about the different cultures of London Below from London Above and I also loved the fact that Neil Gaiman included some historical notes about London’s history and weaved them into the story with such clarity.  Door was another character that I really enjoyed as she was such a strange yet interesting character. I loved the fact that Door just plunges into a situation because of her knowledge of London Below as it proves that she is a truly brave character!  I really loved the Marquis de Carabas, even though at first, he annoyed me a bit at the beginning.  But, once the story starts progressing, I found myself loving the Marquis de Carabas more and more as he proves to be quite a surprising character. I loved the eerie atmosphere of this story as I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering if Richard, Door, Hunter and the Marquis de Carabas will ever find their destination and try to survive London Below without being killed by Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar.  What really stood out for me in this story was the fact that it was like a darker version of “Alice in Wonderland” and I really liked that dark and gritty aspect to this story.

The only problems with this book are that it has some strong language, although it does not occur frequently and some scary situations involving the characters being placed in great peril. Some readers might find some parts of this book a bit too dark and creepy, such as the scenes involving Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar.

Overall, “Neverwhere” is a truly brilliant book that deals with deciding what you really want out of life and is probably one of the best books that use dark fantasy in its finest!  I would strongly recommend this book to any fan of Neil Gaiman’s works!






Monday, October 14, 2013

One Night of Scandal by Teresa Medeiros



Genre: Historical Romance

Year Published: 2003

Number of Pages: 370 pages

Date Read: 11/1/2010

Series:  Fairleigh Sisters #2

Publisher:  Avon


I just cannot get enough of Teresa Medeiros' works lately!  Every novel that I read by her always contains lots of drama and hot love scenes that just gets me in an excited mood!  Well, I have just recently read my fourth Teresa Medeiros book called “One Night of Scandal” and believe me, I immediately got hooked onto this book!  “One Night of Scandal” is the second book in Teresa Medeiros' Fairleigh Sisters series, being the sequel to “A Kiss to Remember,” and this time, the book stars Carlotta Anne Fairleigh ( or as everyone's favorite troublemaker, Lottie) as she also goes through the trials of love just as her sister, Laura has done in “A Kiss to Remember.”  Prepare yourselves for a lot of romance, drama and excitement in this second installment of Teresa Medeiros' classic Fairleigh sister series!

Just as Carlotta Anne Fairleigh (Lottie) was about to make her debut into society, her curiosity gets the best of her when she hears terrible stories about Hayden St. Clair or as everyone calls him, “The Murderous Marquess” and Lottie decides to pay the marquess a visit to see if the rumors are true on the night of her debutante ball!   Unfortunately, when Lottie and Hayden accidentally kissed each other, the scandal sheets start sending out rumors about Hayden and Lottie's relationship and in order to save her reputation, Lottie agrees to marry “The Murderous Marquess” and move to his isolated mansion on the hill.  See sparks fly between Lottie and Hayden as there will be loads of secrets revealed that might either save their romance or ruin it.

Whew! Let me get myself together here since I am still wheeling with excitement from reading this book! 

Alright, Teresa Medeiros has done it again in this sequel to one of the most beloved books out of Teresa Medeiros' romance novels as she provides loads of romance and excitement that will have the audience wanting more from the book!  The true highlights in this book were the characters themselves as all the characters were well developed, especially Carlotta Anne Fairleigh and Hayden St. Clair, the main  couple in this book.  Carlotta Anne Fairleigh was probably the most inspirational character in this book as she greatly matures in this book (unlike her murderous younger self in “A Kiss to Remember) and she is shown to be a brave and inventive young woman who believes in her ambitions to be a great writer and also tries to do everything in her power to make people see the good side of Hayden St. Clair, which is why I loved Lottie much better in this book than in her first appearance in “A Kiss to Remember.”  Hayden St. Clair is the handsome yet mysterious new lover to Lottie as he is shown to be extremely mysterious in his ways with society, but also shown to be traumatized over the loss of his first wife, which makes him a truly believable character that deals with the loss of a loved one.  I also loved the way that Teresa Medeiros portrayed the scandal sheets (or in today's world, the paparazzi) having a negative effect on Hayden St. Clair's personality and life as Hayden faces isolation from society and also has a hard time trying to tell Lottie his true feelings for her because it made me really feel sorry for Hayden throughout the book and while I was reading this book, I was wishing so hard that Hayden gets his happily ever after and be able to feel love with everyone again.  The only thing that got me a little frustrated with this book was the fact that Hayden keeps on pushing Lottie away from him, even though deep down he truly loves her, but does not want to show his feelings for her and I can kind of understand why Hayden is acting so isolated towards Lottie because of his past and because he lost his first wife, so it was difficult for him to love another person again, but I sometimes wished that Hayden would let Lottie in his heart a little bit just so their relationship could go a little further.  For romance fans everywhere, there are lots of hot and sizzling love scenes between Hayden and Lottie that will make anyone's skin pulse with excitement and satisfaction and they are so hot that Hayden and Lottie's relationship take flight whenever these scenes come around!

For people who do not like sex scenes, there are plenty of sex scenes in this book, so people could skip over the sex scenes if they get too inappropriate for them.

All in all, “One Night of Scandal” is easily one of the best romance novel sequels I have read so far and  for anyone who loves some good old drama, romance and a little supernatural element, this book is definitely one that every romance fan should check out!





      

A Kiss to Remember by Teresa Medeiros


Genre: Historical Romance

Year Published: 2001

Number of Pages: 368 pages

Date Read: 9/18/2010

Series:  Fairleigh Sisters #1

Publisher: Bantam


Alright!  This is the second book that I have read by Teresa Medeiros and I am starting to really enjoy some of her books more and more everyday!  “A Kiss to Remember” is a historical romance book that is the first of the Farleigh series and it sort of takes on a “Sleeping Beauty” spin on the tale as Laura awakens a total stranger by giving him a kiss and when she realizes that the stranger lost his memory, she gives him an identity of Nicholas Radcliffe which might cause her world to turn!  “A Kiss to Remember” is a romance novel full of secrets, lies, drama and hot steaming romance that every romance fan will love to read over and over again!

Sterling Harlow was seven years old when his parents sold him to his cruel uncle in order to pay off his father’s outrageous gambling debt.  Now years later, Sterling Harlow is the seventh duke of Devonbrooke and is known throughout London as “the Devil of Devonbrooke.”  Years later, Sterling has learned that his mother had died and he realizes that his mother let a country girl named Laura Fairleigh and her brother and sister, Lottie and George, stay at Arden Manor, Sterling’s old home.  Sterling wanted to take Arden Manor of his own, but the only way that he was going to do that is if Laura Fairleigh does not marry a man before her twenty-first birthday, then the manor will belong to him.  So, Sterling goes on a ride towards Arden Manor, but unfortunately, Sterling falls off his horse and hits his head causing him to have amnesia.  Later on, Laura Fairleigh goes through the woods and she finds Sterling’s body in the woods, however, Laura does not know that the stranger lying in the woods is Sterling and remembering that she must marry a man before her twenty-first birthday, Laura tricks the man into thinking that he is Nicholas Radcliffe and is engaged to her since the man has amnesia.  Laura will soon realize that being deceptive towards Nicholas might not only cost her freedom, but might cost her love too if she does not set the truth free!

Mmm… never have I read a book that is full of not only love making scenes but deception and secrets that could cause tension to strike through the sensual story like a knife!  But, before I get to the juicy bits of the story, I like to comment on how well Teresa Medeiros portrays her characters.  This time, Teresa Medeiros provides more background and emotion to her characters that each seem to relate to the audience strongly.  The characters who truly stood out the most in this book are Laura Fairleigh and Sterling Harlow as they both have personalities that might want to make you either hate them or love them.  For one thing, I think many fans might have a problem with Laura deceiving Sterling by manipulating his memory to suit her needs and I must admit that I did find that aspect of Laura a little alarming, but I guess considering that she did not know that Sterling was the unconscious man, it sort of lessen the blow to her character and she did seem desperate at that moment.  Also, some fans might not like Sterling’s cruel attitude towards Laura at times, but seeing as he suffered a betrayal from his family, I cannot really blame him for being so cruel at times.  Now, onto the juicy bits of the story!  Teresa Medeiros does not hold back when it comes to the love making scenes and boy, does this book have so many love scenes, from the beginning to the end!  To be honest, I liked the Laura/Nicholas relationship better than the Laura/Sterling relationship because there was more chemistry and more trust between the characters, even though we all know that Laura played the deception game on Sterling when he took on his alternative and friendlier identity, Nicholas Radcliffe but hey, if it was not for Laura’s deception on Sterling, we would have never seen the friendly and softer side of Sterling Harlow and we would have never seen the most sensual scenes that was ever created in any romance novel!

For readers who do not like sex scenes, this book has way more sex scenes than “Nobody’s Darling” and readers who are not accustomed to sex scenes might definitely find these scenes in this book completely inappropriate.

Overall, “A Kiss to Remember” is definitely one of the most heartwarming and intense romance novels I have ever read and any romance fan who want to read about what true love is all about, this book is just right for anyone!!




Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas




Genre: Contemporary Romance

Year Published: 2010

Number of Pages: 190 pages

Date Read: 1/8/2011

Series: Friday Harbor #1

Publisher: St. Martin's Press


Whenever I was reading some of Lisa Kleypas’ works, I was always reading her historical romance novels.  Well, I just stumbled upon not only her most recent novel to date, but the first contemporary romance novel I have read from her and it is called “Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor.”  Be prepared to see Lisa Kleypas’ romantic world contemporary style!

One night, a six year old girl named Holly lost her mother, Victoria, in a car accident and ever since the accident, Holly has never spoken a word to anyone.  Because Victoria is not around to take care of Holly anymore, Holly is sent to live with her handsome yet shy Uncle Mark Nolan, who has no idea how to take care of Holly.  However, Mark soon starts to bond with Holly and tries his best to take good care of Holly.  Later on however, Mark meets a beautiful and optimistic woman named Maggie Conroy, who had recently lost her husband to cancer a year ago and she and Holly seem to take a liking to each other.  Is this the beginning of a new friendship between Mark and Maggie or will this relationship sprout into love?

This book was more like those cute little Christmas specials you see on television than an actual romance story since it is more focused on the characters’ background stories about their past lives rather than the romantic aspect of the story, which makes this one unique contemporary romance novel.  This is not your typical romance novel as it focuses more on the trials of having an adopted family and trying to feel loved again, which I thought that Lisa Kleypas had pulled it off extremely well.  What I really loved about Lisa Kleypas’ writing was that she was able to show the audience Holly’s reaction to her mother’s death as she did not speak to anyone and that part of the story was extremely powerful and moving to me since I cannot imagine what the death of a parent can do to a child.  I found myself growing attach to Holly as a character since she is such a sweet little girl who went through so much after her mother died and I always sympathized with her situation since I would have felt the same way that Holly did when her mother died, but every time I see Holly’s happiness towards the middle of the book, my heart just melts for her!  Now let us move onto the hot couple of the story!  Oh my goodness, the best part of this story was Mark Nolan himself as not only does he have one muscular and hot body (which I love) but he has a very sweet and passionate personality that makes him one awesome character.  Even though Mark had no experience with taking care of children, he truly cares for Holly and would do anything for her.  Another character I really loved was Maggie as she was just as sweet as Mark is and because she also lost someone dear to her which was her husband, her loving relationship with Holly was heartwarming and believable that I just loved every minute that Maggie spent with Holly.  From the beginning of the book, Mark and Maggie were meant to be together and what I really loved about their relationship was the fact that they just casually told each other their problems in their lives without feeling uncomfortable near each other.

The reason why I gave this book a four star rating instead of a five star rating is because while Mark and Maggie have great chemistry together, I wanted to see more intimate moments between those two so that this book would be more interesting in the romantic aspect of the story.

All in all, “Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor” is like a romance fan’s dream come true whenever they want to read romance novels during the holidays and I am definitely looking forward to reading Sam and Alex’s side of the story in the next books of the Friday Harbor series! Anyone looking for a good contemporary romance novel check this book out!