Monthly Archives: September 2010

Review: More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (August 24, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0060835214
  • Source: Personal copy

Yesterday, I reviewed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a collection of folklore collected by Alvin Schwartz. More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a continuation of this series. 

As in the first book, Schwartz has collected a wide range of scary stories from all over the country, spanning decades.  Following is a scary story that also teaches a great lesson:

The Drum: Two sisters, Dolores and Sandra, were playing in a field close to the country home in which their family lived.  They come across a gypsy girl playing a drum.  The sisters begged the little girl to let them play with the drum; they were fascinated with the little mechanical man and woman that came out of the drum & danced. The gypsy girl promised to give the sisters the drum, but only if they were really, really bad. 

So the sisters go home and began to do everything they could think of to upset their mother: coloring on the walls, spilling their food, and refusing to go to bed at bedtime.

The next morning, they ran to the gypsy girl and told them what they’d done.  She insisted that they needed to be much more horrible than that, so back home they trudged. That night, their behavior was worse than the previous night. Their mother was outraged, insisting if they didn’t stop, she would take their younger brother and leave them, replaced by a mother with glass eyes and a wooden tale.

The sisters really wanted that drum, so when they were told by the gypsy girl that their behavior wasn’t bad enough, they got worse.  They tore their clothes, spanked their baby brother.  They returned to the gypsy girl and were told that they behavior still wasn’t bad enough.

But when they returned home, their mother & brother were gone.  They assumed she was out shopping, until they spotted their new mother, with her glass eyes and wooden tail!

What’s the lesson? Always listen to your parents!

As in the previous book, Schwartz includes the sources to each of the stories.  While this second book is not quite as scary as the first it is still quite enjoyable!  So, if perhaps the first Scary Stories was too scary for you, perhaps this second book will be the perfect fit!

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Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

In honor of Banned Books Week, I decided to post this review of Scary Stories 3 earlier than I had planned. Why, you may ask?  Well, this series of books is on the list of most frequently challenged books between 1990 and 1999.  So, to celebrate this series and to serve as a little teaser for Fright Fest, I’ve decided to feature one of these books every day for the rest of this week.

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Ill edition (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060835192
  • Source: Personal copy
  • The Scary Stories series is a collection of American folklore collected by Alvin Schwartz.  This series holds a special place in my heart; I remember reading this collection as a child when it was originally published in 1981.

    The first story I recall reading was The Big Toe, a story about a little boy who was digging in a garden, desperate to find something to eat.  He finds a big toe and he rips it from the ground.  As he does so, he hears a groan, so he scampers away.  That night, his mother uses the toe in a soup and serves it for dinner.  The family eats dinner and goes to bed, but the little boy is awakened in the middle of the night to a voice groaning “Where is my to-o-o-o-o-e?”  He hears footsteps approaching as the voice continues to groan.  He hides under the covers, certain that this is a dream.  The footsteps get closer and closer…

    Another favorite of mine is The Guests. A young couple is traveling to visit family. They got off to a late start and have to find a place to stay overnight.  They come upon a small cabin in the woods and inquire a to whether the owners rent rooms.  They do not, but the old couple residing there offter to let them stay overnight.

    The next morning, the young couple awaken before the owners and decide to head out.  They leave an envelope with money in it on the kitchen table, a small payment for the kind treatment they were given.  They drive off  to the next town to have breakfast. When they tell the owner where they stayed the night before, he insists that can’t be.  That house burned to the gound and the couple that lived there died in the fire.

    The young couple were certain there was a mistake.  They got back in their car and drove back to the cabin. In the spot where the cabin existed the night before was a burned-out shell.  They step inside and on the burned table they find the envelope they left that morning.

    These are just two of the many excellent stories contained within this collection.  These stories would be great to tell over a camp fire or late at night during a sleepover.

    The illustrations really complement the stories.  Here is an image taken from one of the covers:

    Spooky, eh?  Another plus to this book is the Sources portion in the back.  In this section, Schwartz lists the sources of the stories contained within the collection.  Some go back centuries!

    Obviously, this book isn’t for the very young or children who tend to scare easily.  However, there is a portion of the collection that would be appropriate for these children, for it contains humorous stories about ghosts and other things that go bump in the night.

    Be sure to add this book to your Halloween reading line-up and support those books that have been banned!

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    A Wonderfully Bookish Weekend-Part Two!

    This past weekend I had the luxury of participating in two outstanding book festivals!  Earlier, I posted about the National Book Festival. On Sunday, after sleeping in for just a few extra hours, the J Crew (my husband, John, and my boys John-John & Justin) drove up to Baltimore for the Baltimore Book Festival.

    My main reason for attending this event was to see two panels I was particulary interested in: The Wonderful World of Book Blogging and More from The Book Club Toolkit

    First, the Book Blogging Panel:  This panel was moderated by Heather Johnson, known to many of us as Heather from Age 30 Books.  Also on the panel were the following individuals.  I’ve linked to their bios that were posted on the Festival Web site:

    Nicole Bonia
    Candace Levy
    Serena M. Agusto-Cox
    Celeste Sollod
    Dave Rosenthal

    A wide variety of topics were discussed, including why they blog, how they got started, how to be professional about writing negative reviews.  Although I’ve been blogging for over two years myself, I learned a great deal from these bloggers.  What I really found beneficial was the diversity, not only in the people but in the blogs they wrote.

    Candace from Beth Fish Reads

    After the blogging panel there was a short break, so we all enjoyed lunch catered by my husband.  He served jerk-chicken, one of the dishes he’s known for:


    After lunch, it was time for the book club panel.  This panel, once again moderated by Heather, was made up of the following people (once again I have linked to their bios on the Festival web site):

    Faye Houston
    Heather Johnson
    Melissa McCrory Hatcher
    Swapna Krishna
    Julie Peterson

    This was such a wonderful panel! I’m in two book clubs myself, one face-to-face an one online and I took away quite a bit of suggestions to take back to my book clubs.  These included:

    • creating theme nights to spice up your book club meeting. Julie mentioned that her book club had a Mardi Gras meeting.
    • Pair books up with foods (or wine!) to add some spark to the meeting
    • Include information about the author and the book at the start of the meeting.  This is helpful to everyone, including those who might not have the chance to have read the book.
    • The optimal book club size is 6-15 members: just enough to have a good turnout at each meeting, but not too large that it becomes overwhelming!

    Here are a few photos from the book club panel:

    The entire book club panel

    Swapna discusses her face-t0-face book club and her Skype book club.

    Following this panel, my boys finally had the chance to meet up with Heather’s son, Kiddo, and we walked around the festival grounds a bit.  They had a great time; John-John & Kiddo plan on starting up their very own Skype book club!

    The festival wasn’t only about panels though!  We met some great authors including:


    Michael Buckley, author of the N.E.R.D.S  and Sisters Grimm series.

    John-John got his copy of N.E.R.D.S signed!


    I finally got the chance to meet Amy Brecount White, author of Forget-Her-Nots. I’ve been trying to meet Amy for some time now!

    So there you have it, a complete wrap-up of my wonderful bookish weekend.  The J-Crew and I are definitely planning to drive up to the Baltimore Book Festival next year; we had such a wonderful time!

    A Wonderfully Bookish Weekend-Part One!

    Living in the DC metro has it’s perks, two being the National Book Festival and the Baltimore Book Festival, all in one weekend!

    On Saturday morning I joined a good friend of mine, alone with her daughter & friend, and attended the National Book Festival on the Mall with 150,000 book lovers.  The weather was dreadful: sunny and hot.  That didn’t stop me from plopping down on the ground (all the seats were full!) to listen to several of my favorite authors speak.

    I spent most of my time in the Fiction tent, listening to Diana Gabaldon, Elizabeth Kostova, Julia Glass and Ken Follett.  Here are a few tidbits I picked up from a few of the authors.

    • Diana Gabaldon writes from midnight to 4 am.
    • Her next book, Lord John & the Scottish Prisoner, will release in the fall of 2012
    • Outlander is optioned for a movie, with Scottish actor Allan Scott-Douglas playing the role of Jamie
    • It took Elizabeth Kostova 10 years to write The Historian, a book she mainly wrote in secret.  It took her four years to write The Swan Thieves.
    • The Historian  will be hitting the silver screen! Sony/Columbia will be making the movie.
    • Kostova is a fan of Victorian fiction and specifically appreciated how Bram Stoker wrote Dracula (through a series of letters) and so that is how she wrote The Historian.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures of the event.  I was sitting on the side of the stage (along with Swapna from S.Krishna’s Books, Julie from Booking Mama, Candace from Beth Fish Reads and Deborah from Books, Movies Chinese Food) and it wasn’t exactly the optimal spot for picture-taking!

    I had to leave early to fulfill my mom-role; my oldest son had his black-belt test that evening (he did great by the way!).  Despite the heat, it was a wonderful day!

    Check back later for Part Two of my Wonderfully Bookish Weekend in which I discuss the Baltimore Book Festival!

    It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?


    It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? This is a weekly event to list the books completed last week, the books currently being reading, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books so stop by and join in!

    Books Completed Last Week

    The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
    Leaving Before It’s Over by Jean Reynolds Page

    Currently Reading

    Still Life by Louise Penny (audio)

    Books to Complete This Week

    Fright Fest starts on Friday, so I’ll be reading a host of great spooky reads, including:

    The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases by Michael Capuzzo
    Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany
    What are you reading this week?

    Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? Book Event

    This Sunday, the entire J Crew (my husband, John, & my boys Justin & John) trudged down to our favorite independent children’s book store, Hooray for Books! in Old Town Alexandria.  The purpose of our visit? To attend the Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?  book event.  Justin is a huge fan of the book, which we both reviewed a few weeks ago.  We were excited to meet the author, Audrey Vernick, and the illustrator, Daniel Jennewein. 

    The event was quite the hit! Copies of the book were flying off the table, even before the event was scheduled to start!  Following are a few photos we took of the event:

    Audrey reads the book as Daniel serves as the all-important page turner!


    Daniel sports a buffalo hat!



    Daniel, my son Justin, & Audrey




    Justin had his book signed by Audrey & Daniel drew a very special drawing just for him of the buffalo flying through the air!

    The event also served as a mini-reunion for a few of the DC area bloggers, including Michelle from Galleysmith, Swapna from S.Krishna’s Books, Deborah from Books, Movies, & Chinese Food, and of course Lenore from Presenting Lenore (Daniel’s wife).

    After the event, a few of us went out to dinner,where Daniel drew a few more drawings for my boys. They loved each and every one of them, both sleeping with the drawings that night!

    If you have a kindergartener, or a soon-to-be kindergartener, then I urge you to run out and buy a copy of Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?  I guarantee it will be a huge hit!

    Review: Leaving Before It’s Over by Jean Reynolds Page

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Avon A (August 10, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0061876925
  • Source: Publisher
  • Roy Vines and his wife Rosalind, like the rest of the residents of the rural North Carolina town in which they lived, have hit upon rough times. Rosalind is experiencing health problems and they don’t have the money to seek the medical help she needs.  Roy is forced to ask his family for help, the same family that disowned him when he married Rosalind. He’s must do something he never wanted to do, ask his twin brother Mont for money.

    Mont agrees to help his brother but not without a catch: Roy must open his home to Lucas, a seventeen-year-old boy raised believing that Roy was his father and had abandoned him and his late mother. Rosalind is torn; her declining health is forcing them into a situation that is reopening old family wounds.

    Luke resents his “father” initially, but the kindness that Roy and Rosalind, and their two daughters Lola and Janie Ray, show Luke soon puts a damper on the burning hate. Luke begins to realize that nothing is really as it seems and wonders if he will ever know the truth.

    LEAVING BEFORE IT’S OVER  is a heartwarming family drama.  The characters, most living in a small, close-knit town, will stop at nothing to help those around them.  All of the characters, not only Luke, go through a bit of self-discovery and actualization. Despite all the family drama, this book is quite the comforting read. The Vine family exudes love for one another, despite all the obstacles they are forced to face.  The meaning of family is clearly apparent in this family. 

    I highly recommend reading LEAVING BEFORE IT’S OVER.  It’s a short, quick read, the perfect book to warm your heart on a cool fall day.

    About the author:

    Jean Reynolds Page is the author of The Last Summer of Her Other Life, The Space Between Before and After, A Blessed Event, and Accidental Happiness. She grew up in North Carolina and graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a dance critic for more than ten years before turning full-time to fiction in 2001. In addition to North Carolina, she has lived in New York, Boston, Dallas, and Seattle. She and her family recently moved to Madison, Wisconsin.

    Find out more about Jean Reynolds Page and her books at her website.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to read this book.  Be sure to check out the other blogs that participated in this tour:

    Monday, August 23rd: Books in the City

    Wednesday, August 25th: Scraps of Life

    Tuesday, August 31st: Rundpinne

    Thursday, September 2nd: Colloquium

    Friday, September 3rd: Reading at the Beach

    Tuesday, September 7th: Lisa’s Yarns

    Thursday, September 9th: Shhh I’m Reading

    Monday, September 13th: Café of Dreams

    Tuesday, September 14th: Bookstack

    Wednesday, September 15th: Book Club Classics!

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    Teaser Tuesday: Leaving Before Its Over by Jean Reynolds Page

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

    Just do the following:

    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


    My teaser this week comes from:



    “A fine mist of rain had set in bringing the smell of damp tar and pavement to the humid air.  Rain smells changed so much dependong on what was around.” (pg. 140)

    What is your teaser this week?

    Review: Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reprint edition (August 26, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0440240999
  • Source: Publisher
  • In the second of Moning’s Mackayla Lane series, Mackayla (Mac) is settling down into her new life in Dublin. She now works for Barron’s bookstore by day, and by night continues her hunt to avenge her sister’s death by tracking down the Fae’s dark Lord Master.  She, along with Jericho Barrons, also continue to hunt down the sinister book of black magic, the Sinsar Dubh.

    In BLOODFEVER, Moning continues to add to the cast of characters, while also building upon the existing slate.  V’lane, the Seelie Prince who makes sex an addiction for women, makes a reappearance and becomes a key player in this book.  One of my complaints about DARKFEVER, the previous book, was Mac’s maturity level.  I can’t complain any longer; Mac goes through quite the change in character and is no longer the Southern princess she was in the first book.  Another improvement was the pacing; DARKFEVER wasn’t slow by any means, but the pace really picks up in BLOODFEVER, the storyline now literally has non-stop action.  Moning also reveals some more information about the mysterious Books & Baubles book store and it’s owner, Jericho Barrons. 

    BLOODFEVER ends in yet another cliff-hanger, leaving me desperate to read more.  I actually appreciate that sort of ending, seeing it as the sign of a great writer. 

    As mentioned above, this is the second book in a series. There is a short summary of the previous book; however I still recommend starting this series from the beginning.  

    I cannot wait to start reading the third book in this series, Faefever.  This series is definitely addictive, one I’m happy I’ve started but will be sad when it ends!  Check back next month for my review of Faefever!

    Thank you once again to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to review this book. Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this tour:

    Wednesday, September 22nd:  Rundpinne

    Monday, September 27th:  Book Lover Carol

    Tuesday, September 28th:  Peeking Between the Pages

    Wednesday, September 29th:  All Things Urban Fantasy

    Friday, October 1st:  Savvy Verse and Wit

    Wednesday, October 6th:  The Cajun Book Lady

    Monday, October 11th:  Luxury Reading

    Wednesday, October 13th:  Dark Faerie Tales

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